Browse results

Garnik Asatrian

The article is an attempt to interpret the toponym Bardeskan/Bardaskan, which is the name of a city and a šahrestān (“county”) located in the south of the Khorasan-e Razavi province in Iran, on the northern edge of the Great Salt desert (Kavīr-e namak). Parallelly, the author discusses also the origin of a number of other place-names from the same area.

David Leupold

More than a century years ago Talât Pasha declared famously that in the Eastern Provinces “The Armenian question does not exist anymore”. Today, far from being resolved, the former binary coding (Armenian/Turkish) is even further complicated by a third element— the ongoing Kurdish question (doza Kurdistanê). While most research and journalistic works frame the Armenian issue and the Kurdish issue as two separate events that merely coincide(d) in the same geographical space, this work explores their interdependence and the historical trajectories of two peoples fatally “tied together” across a spatio-temporal scale.

In my paper I identify two opposing lines of continuity through which both peoples are tied together: friendly and fatal ties. With regard to the first (friendly ties), I turn to the SSR Armenia and her role in fostering Kurdish culture and advancing Kurdish nationalism. Hereby, I argue that a marginalized community of Kurmanji-speakers—the Yezidis, previously othered as “devil-worshippers” (şeytanperest)— emerged as the vanguard in forging a novel, secularized Kurdish national identity. With regard to the latter (fatal ties), I link the irrevocable erasure of Ottoman Armenians to the emergence of an imagined “Northern Kurdistan” stretching over large parts of historic Armenia. This, finally, raises the question of Kurdish complicity in the Armenian Genocide—as state-mobilized regiments, tribal members and ordinary residents—in a geography where, as Recep Maraşlı put it, the descendants “are the children of both perpetrators and victims alike”.

Thomas Jügel

This article discusses the publications of two documentation projects of the Gorani varieties of Gawraǰū and Zarda. It offers a number of alternative interpretations, corrections and additions to the grammatical description of two understudied and highly endangered West Iranic varieties, which are under strong influence of neighbouring Kurdish dialects.

David B. Buyaner

The paper deals with the etymology of NP pōlād “steel” suggested by Ernst Herzfeld more than seventy years ago, but overlooked both by his contemporaries and by the following generations of scholars. Some slight emendations are proposed to Herzfeld’s reconstruction of the stages of borrowing from Middle Indian into Old Persian, without, however, diminishing his role as trailblazer.

Evgeny I. Zelenev and Milana Iliushina

This paper focuses on the theory and practice of jihād in the Mamlūk Sultanate, especially during the Circassian period (1382-1517). Some ideas of Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), Ibn Khaldūn (d. 1406), Ibn Kathīr (d. 1373), Ibn al-Naḥḥās (d. 1411), as well as scholars of the pre-Mamlūk epoch are taken in consideration. The authors explore the issue of understanding jihād as the responsibility of the community (farḍ al-kifāya) and/or personal duty (farḍ al-ʿayn) and the role of jihād ideology in the inner- and international Mamlūk politics.

Timirlan Aytberov and Shakhban Khapizov

The paper presents the publication of several inscriptions in the Arabic Kufic script carved on stone in the period of the 10th-13th centuries and discovered in the Avar ethnic area of Dagestan. All of them, except the first one, are published for the first time. This epigraphic material indicates that the process of the gradual spread of Islam started in Dagestan already at the end of the 10th century.

Victoria Arakelova

The paper is an attempt to analyse the emergence of virtual “alliances” based on imagined kinship between some ethnic groups and peoples of the Irano-Caucaso-Anatolian region. It focuses on several illustrative examples, particularly the case of the Talysh-Zaza rapprochement, which has been developed recently as a result of popular interpretation of the postulated theory of the Caspian-Aturpatakan language union, implying a close symbiosis, in the historical past, of the ancestors of the present-day speakers of several New Iranian dialects.

Ali Bahadori

This article, focused on the Persian Gobryas, the head of Patischorian tribe and a member of the mysterious circle bringing Darius I (the Great) to the throne called the “Seven” by Herodotus, aims to argue that the concept of seven families was originally derived from the tribal structure of the Achaemenid society rather than from traditions found in classical writers. Mainly based on the administrative Elamite texts from Persepolis, the paper attempts to add contextual and practical detail to the classical narrative about the status of the “Seven” in the Achaemenid imperial system. This data leads us to the Fahliyān region in southwestern Persia as the house of the Patischorians and shows how Gobryas and his house were involved in the political, economic and administrative structures of the Persian Achaemenid Empire especially during the reign of Darius. The case also provides a valuable context for the study of various aspects of social organization particularly the land tenure.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Ronen A. Cohen and Dina Lisnyansky

The main effort of the Azerbaijani government regarding the historical conflict between the Shiites and the Sunnis in the state, is to keep the status quo between these factions. However, the Arab Spring’s regional impact and the emergence of ISIS (ISIL and IS) led to waves of religious radicalisation, especially in the Sunnite part of Azerbaijan, which is more Turkic aligned, yet far territorially from the immediate influence of the Islamic radicalism. The article’s main conclusion is that the Islamic radicalisation in Azerbaijan could emerge only as a result of the structurally unbalanced status quo, which the Sunnis view as favouring more the Shiites.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Anastasia Fedorenko

Traditionally, functioning of major classes of lexical items is described as follows. Nouns prototypically function as arguments, but can also serve as predicates and attributes; verbs are normally used as predicates, but can also appear for arguments and attributes; and adjectives are categorically attributes, while secondary they can be used as predicates. The question arises, whether adjectives can serve as arguments (and how). The answer is, undoubtedly, “yes”, they can. When an adjective is used without a head, it begins to function as a noun. The current research aims to describe the morphological behaviour of such nominalised adjectives in the East Caucasian languages. The study of 31 grammatical descriptions of these languages, based on the analysis of nominalised adjectives, reveals 5 groups of the East Caucasian languages.

Roshan Noorzai

This study analyzes the post-September 11 Taliban’s discourse, exploring particularly the sujet of the battle of Maiwand (July 27, 1880) in the Taliban’s tarani (pl. of tarana “chant, song”). After providing a brief history of the post-September 11 conflict in Afghanistan, the paper examines Afghanistan’s experience of colonialism in the 19th century by discussing the Anglo-Afghan wars, with a focus on the battle of Maiwand and its importance in the modern history of Afghanistan. This study takes a postcolonial and postmodernist approach to discourse analysis. Using a postmodernist approach, the author tried to understand how the Taliban saw the post-September 11, 2001 conflict, and how they legitimized their actions. This study concludes that the Taliban used Afghanistan’s past experience of colonialism in their discourse. In fact, they refer to the historical events and personalities, those led resistance against colonial powers in the 19th century, for propaganda purposes. In addition, the paper shows that the colonial past is an important factor in the success or failure of interventions and peacekeeping missions, particularly in Afghanistan.

Julian Kreidl

Although our knowledge of Pashto etymology has greatly increased in the last century, most notably due to George Morgenstierne’s “A (New) Etymological Vocabulary of Pashto” (1927, 2nd and improved edition 2003), the origin of many Pashto words remained unknown so far. The present paper discusses eight further Pashto etymologies. Four of these are inherited from Proto-Iranian, two are Indo-Aryan, one is of mixed origin, and one is originally Arabic. Discussing the hail word in Pashto, I also argue for the loan of the Bactrian cognate into Persian.

Ahmad Fazlinejad and Farajollah Ahmadi

The Great Plague, generally known as the Black Death, swept many parts of the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe in the mid-14th century repeatedly for decades and inflicted widespread demographical, social and economic consequences. Contrary to the common attitude of researchers in neglecting the spread of the Black Death in Iran during the 14th century and its relapse periods, findings of this study indicate that the Great Plague, which had numerous victims in Iran, mostly disrupted the country’s commercial relationships with the plague-stricken trade routes and centers. Moreover, due to the tragic consequences caused by the Black Death, Iran lost its position as one of the main routes in the international trade. In this study, based predominantly on historiographical sources in Persian and Arabic, Iran’s position in international trade in the era of Black Death is analyzed.

Shakhban Khapizov

The article focuses on folk beliefs related to the cult of plants and particularly that of the mandrake in the Eastern Caucasus, revealed predominantly in folk magical procedures. The research is based on field materials, including those reflected in relevant publications, as well as on sporadic data found in historical sources.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Irina V. Kokushkina and Maria A. Soloshcheva

The “New Silk Road” or “One Belt–One Road” (also “Belt and Road”) is a global project initiated by China, the implementation of which affects various areas of development of many states and regions of the world, including security issues, socio-cultural, political, diplomatic and civilisational aspects.

A total of 173 agreements with 125 states and 29 international organisations have been signed under this initiative. The project is gaining momentum every year and attracts ever more researchers who analyse the economic, political, and cultural sides of the project and the interaction of the different countries and regions with China within the framework of this global enterprise. This article assesses the participation of five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan) in the Chinese project and aims to define the mutual interests of the parties on the basis of economic indicators (i.e., ESI, RCA, TDC, and G-L indexes).

George Moroz and Samira Verhees

This paper evaluates the inter speaker variation in noun class assignment among speakers of the Zilo dialect of Andi (a Nakh-Daghestanian language spoken in the Republic of Daghestan). The nominal lexicon in Andi is divided in three to six classes, depending on the dialect. In dialects with more numerous classes, there are two to three classes for inanimate objects with no obvious semantic distinction between them, while the remaining three classes (male, female, non-human animate) are semantically transparent and predictably refer to either male, female or non-human animate referents respectively. We designed an experiment to test whether the assignment of inanimate noun classes is consistent across speakers in different layers of the lexicon, including native words, older loan words, and more recent borrowings from Russian. As we will show, speakers are fairly consistent in assigning certain noun classes, though some variation occurs in all layers of the lexicon; variation is considerably higher with respect to more recent loanwords and among younger speakers.

Dániel Balogh


Located in Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, the area of Badoh-Pathari is home to a rock shelter with a sculpted panel depicting seven mother goddesses. A weathered inscription next to the sculptures was reported as early as 1926. The inscription is dateable to the fifth century on the basis of its palaeography and the art-historical dating of the site. Though partly effaced beyond hope of decipherment, roughly half of the text can be read with confidence, while some of the rest may be restored conjecturally, and some speculatively. The epigraph pays homage to Rudra and Skanda in addition to the Mothers themselves, and is thus a key resource concerning mātṛ worship in the Gupta period. It mentions the otherwise unknown local ruler Jayatsena of Avamukta (a region also named in the Allahabad pillar inscription), and may refer to the reign of Kumāragupta (I).

John Nemec


The present article examines Somānanda’s understanding of the denotative capacity of speech (śabda) as presented in his Śivadṛṣṭi, āhnika four. Somānanda argues that this denotative capacity is innate in words because based in a real sāmānya or universal; that a permanent connection links śabda and its object (artha), not convention (saṃketa); and that the referent of speech is an object innately imbued with linguistic capacity in the form of an ever-present, innate sāmānya. Each of these positions is also supported by the Mīmāṃsā, and Somānanda, citing both Śabara and Kumārila, assents to their positions on these points on the understanding that they may only be accepted as philosophically sound if one presumes the existence of a Śaiva non-duality of all as Śiva-as-consciousness. These positions, in turn, are all deployed as arguments against those of the Buddhist Pramāṇa Theorists, whose views in each of these three areas Somānanda contests.

Paolo Visigalli


The essay demonstrates the longevity and pervasiveness of Indic and Indic-derived etymological analyses (nirvacana) across literary traditions, in Sanskrit, Pāli, and Chinese. To exemplify different indigenous approaches to etymology, the essay explores emic analyses of the word araṇya ‘wilderness’. It traces the analyses found in Chāndogya Upaniṣad (8.5) and in the works of the etymologists (Nirukta) and grammarians (vyākaraṇa; uṇādisūtra). It also considers Paramārtha’s nirvacana-inspired analysis of Chinese alianruo 阿練若 (araṇya), and identifies a similar analysis in Aggavaṃsa’s Saddanīti. The essay shows etymological analyses’ sophistication and variety of purposes.

Jonathan Silk and Peter Bisschop

Trans-Sectual Identity

Materials for the Study of the Praśnottararatnamālikā, a Hindu/Jaina/Buddhist Catechism (I)

Jonathan A. Silk and Péter-Dániel Szántó


The Praśnottararatnamālikā is a small tract containing 62 questions, paired with their answers. It is extraordinary that this text has been transmitted within Hindu, Jaina and Buddhist traditions, in Sanskrit, Prakrit and Tibetan, variously attributed to different authors. The present study examines what is known of the text, which from early on drew the attention of modern scholars, and presents editions of its Sanskrit and Tibetan versions, along with a translation and annotations.

Editors’ Note

A Call for Reviews and Reviewers

Fire, the Greatest God (ātarš … mazišta yazata)

The Cult of the “Eternal” Fire in the Rituals in Avestan

Alberto Cantera


The lack of evidence for the existence of fire temples in ancient Iran has been used as an argument for the absence of the concept of the “eternal fire” in the Avestan texts. However, a new analysis of the final section of the Long Liturgy shows that the fire was usually removed from the sacrificial area before the recitation of Yasna 62.7 and transported back to the “house of men” from which it had been taken. As such, the Long Liturgy partly appears as a functional equivalent of the bōy dādan ceremonies performed for the feeding of the fire at the fire temples in later times. This new reading of the final section of the liturgy is the result of a re-evaluation of the manuscripts, highlighting the shortcomings of previous editions of the Long Liturgy. Furthermore, the new interpretation approaches the Long Liturgy from a non Yasna-centric perspective, taking into account the Yasna as well as the Visperad (and other variants).

Rosa Ronzitti


The following paper is concerned with a comparison between the Vedic hymn RV VII 55 and the Vīdēvdād chapter XVIII 16. It is argued that little lullaby-themes, aimed at quieting men as well as animals, have come to be included into sacral and religious texts from popular sources (e.g. magical charms to be performed on sleepless babies), revealing Proto-Indo-European formulae and stylistic patterns that can be reconstructed. A Hittite text and some fragments of Greek poems by Simonides and Alcman are also included in the list of the passages to be compared.

Ch. Chojnacki


Apart from exegetical texts and short edifying stories, Jain monks wrote several literary narratives in Sanskrit, Prakrit, or Apabhraṃśa, between the 8th and 12th centuries. While they aimed at creating works as sophisticated as Hindu kāvyas in their style and plot, they also included technical passages borrowed from various knowledge systems. One of them is the science of physiognomy, which deals with human marks and their interpretation. In the past decade, K. Zysk has studied this knowledge in various Hindu and Buddhist sources and proposed several hypotheses as regards the development of the science of physiognomy in India. Since passages included in the long Jain medieval narratives have not been taken into account so far, this paper aims at exploring to what extent these sources can throw further light on the gradual establishment of this knowledge system and on its channels of transmission in India.

Emine Dağtekin and Semra Hillez

Southeast Anatolia in Turkey is a region where important centres of early Christianity could be found. In Gaziantep, which was named “Little Bukhara” during the reign of Egyptian Mamluks, many Armenian churches have been documented. However, most of them have been destroyed or used for different purposes. The paper is dedicated to the study of three Armenian churches in Gaziantep where Armenians lived until the early 20th century. The history, the plan and frontal structures, ornaments of these churches are presented for the first time.

Hrach Martirosyan

This paper aims to present seven Armenian personal names of Iranian origin from the Armenian historical provinces of Siwnik‘ and Arc‘ax: Dadi/Dadoy, Kohazat, Marhan, Mrhapet, Niw-dast, Niw-Xosrov, and *Oyz/Uz. These names are scantily attested in literature (almost all of them being hapaxes) and are, therefore, little known to scholarship.

Murtazali Gadjiev

The article describes a Muslim grave, dated 915 A.H. (1509-10 A.D.), found near the citadel of Derbent. According to the epitaph, the stela was erected on the tomb of Shah Vali b. Shaqil who was assigned the title of šahīd al-sa‘īd (“happy martyr”). The date on the grave refers to the period of the military actions at the walls of Derbent, particularly to the siege of the city by the troops of Shah Ismail Safavi.

Pauline Niechciał

The article reflects on the idea of both calendric time and its material supports used by the Zoroastrians of Iran in reference to the identity of the group. The qualitative analysis of the data collected during the fieldwork among the Zoroastrian community has shown that a distinctive time-reckoning system plays the role of an important marker that strengthens the community’s Zoroastrian identity in the face of Muslim domination. In the post-Revolutionary Iran, the calendar is one of the key pillars of the Zoroastrians’ collective self-awareness—both as an idea of a specific time-reckoning system designating ritual activities, and as a material subject that acts as a medium to promote specific values and ideas.

Charlotte Hille and Renée Gendron

This article recounts the story of how the Circassians have been able to raise awareness of their deportation in the 1860s during the Caucasian Wars. After a brief methodology the authors provide an overview of the Circassian history. The second section analyses the period when the Circassian population came under Russian rule after the 1860s. The third part focuses on three broad approaches or strategies used by several Circassian groups to increase the awareness of the Circassian subjugation in the 1860s. The last two sections discuss some of the changes that have occurred as a direct result of the work undertaken by Circassian organisations. The authours argue that the Circassians have created lieux de mémoire, especially since the beginning of the 1990s, what does not always overlap with the dominant Russian perception of history in the North Caucasus. The analysis demonstrates how the Circassians have (re)discovered their story and the impact of this new information on their actions.

Hamid Ahmadi

Taking Iran-Tajikistan cultural relations as its case study, this article tends to say that despite the important role of culture and civilization in foreign policy, politics and the political factors also have a vital place in shaping the relations between states in global and regional levels. Moreover, as the author argues, political factors play even more important role and are able to somehow overshadow the common cultural and civilizational ties. The destiny of Iran-Tajikistan cultural cooperation, especially the efforts in reviving the ancestral Arabo-Persian alphabet to replace the Russian (Cyrillic) one, explains how politics in general and political differences in particular, brought those enthusiastic and cherished efforts into a stalemate if not a deadlock.

Haggai Ram

The paper presents a review of a monograph by Lior Sternfeld, Between Iran and Zion, published recently on Jewish histories in 20th-century Iran. The author analyses this book within the context of previous scholarship on Iranian Jews and other Middle Eastern Jewries.

Peter Nicolaus and Serkan Yuce

Yezidi communities throughout the world are struggling with their collective identity; each at a varying and somewhat differing stage of self-discovery. While the present paper does seek to elaborate upon this journey for the Yezidis in Transcaucasia, Germany, Canada, and the USA, its main focus remains the analysis of the political developments in the Yezidi heartland of Northern Iraq. This is so that the reader may have a fuller picture of the catalysts spurring this Yezidi reimagining. On the one hand, you have the traditional Yezidi leadership caught within a complex series of client-patron relationships with Kurdish leaders: ethnic identification is leveraged for promises of influence and power. While, on the other hand, newly minted Yezidi military commanders, as well as grassroot figures and Yezidi NGOs, are trying to establish themselves as heads of a Yezidi community that is undeniably distinct from their Kurdish neighbours. This paper will further show that the withdrawal of the Kurdish Peshmerga in the face of the ISIS attack in 2014, the half-hearted responses of the regional Kurdish and Federal Iraqi governments, all coupled with the stalled return of Yezidi refugees contributed to a growing Yezidi movement to cement their identity, as well as satiate a growing urgency to define themselves as a distinct ethnoreligious entity.

Arsen K. Shahinyan

The article is an attempt to restore the approximate number of the people classified by the Shariʽa law as ’ahl aḏ-ḏimma, i.e. gentiles (mostly Christians), who were under the protection of the Arab (Islamic) Caliphate in the vilayet of Armīnīya and in its three administrative units—Armīnīya I, Armīnīya II (Arrān), and Armīnīya III (Djurzan/Ǧurzān).

Soroush Akbarzadeh

The article presents an analysis of the place-names with the formants -(v)īγ/-(w)yq/ and - vīǰ, attested in the South Caspian and the north-western provinces of Iran.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Francesco Calzolaio and Francesca Fiaschetti

The Ilkhanid vizier and historian Rashīd al-Dīn’s section on China (the History of China) in his world history, the Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh, is the first Persian history of the Chinese world. Among other information on China, this text includes accounts of the lives and deeds of the founders of the three major religious and philosophical schools of China: Buddha, Laozi and Confucius. These are probably the first discussions of Laozi and Confucius in the Islamicate world. This paper focuses on Rashīd al-Dīn’s life of Buddha in his History of China. Reading these excerpts against the background of Chinese sources, striking similarities can be found between Rashīd al-Dīn’s account and the narratives of Buddhist ‘universal histories’ of the early Yuan period, belonging to the historiographical production of the Chan school.

Francesco Calzolaio and Francesca Fiaschetti

The Ilkhanid vizier and historian Rashīd al-Dīn’s section on China (the History of China) in his world history, the Jāmiʿal-tawārīkh, is the first Persian history of the Chinese world. Among other information on China, this text includes accounts of the lives and deeds of the founders of its three major religious and philosophical schools: Buddha, Laozi and Confucius. As a continuation to the first part of the paper, devoted to Rashīd al-Dīn’s account on the Buddha, here we focus on the excerpts on Laozi and Confucius, which probably constitute the first discussions of these two figures in the Islamicate world. Reading these excerpts against the background of Chinese sources, striking similarities can be found between Rashīd al-Dīn’s accounts and the narratives of Buddhist ‘universal histories’ of the early Yuan period, belonging to the historiographical production of the Chan school.

Antonio Panaino

The present article analyses the etymological history of Yaghnobi waxn “blood” in the framework of the Sogdian background, and offers a new investigation of the pertinent Avestan Sprachgut with close reference to the stem vohu-, n., “blood”, its derivatives (vohunı̄̆-/vohuna-) and compositional forms, considering their textual occurrences and literary implications. This investigation revises old and new etymological hypotheses (e.g., Bartholomae, Henning, Gershevitch, Schwartz, etc.) about the origin of the word for “blood” in Iranian, finally suggesting a derivation (with some further alternatives) from * su̯asu̯an-/* su̯asun-, explained as an -n-derivative (or even -n-/-r-) from * su-asu-, “good life”. In particular, the author discusses the possible interferences with similar Avestan stems meaning “good” (vohu-) on the steps of Schwartz in the framework of a very complex semantic area as the one covering the image of “blood” and “bleeding” in Indo-Iranian after the progressive collapse in the linguistic Iranian area of an ealier inherited word as * ahr(a)- “blood”.

Matteo De Chiara

Swāt valley, located in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KPK) province of the northern part of Pakistan, was known since the antiquity with the names of Uḍḍyāna (‘the garden’) and Suvāstu (‘the place of fine dwellings’). The Yusufuzai Pashtuns, whose penetration in the valley begun towards the 16th century, little by little replaced the probably autochthon Dardic populations who are actually confined in the northern mountainous part of the district, i.e. the Tehsils of Bahrain and Kalam. This article focuses on hydronymy and presents the first results of the toponymic project of the Swāt valley, held with the support of the Italian archaeological mission, working in Swāt since 1956 and continuing its researches under the direction of Luca Olivieri and the auspices of the ISMEO of Rome. As it is known, hydronymy is one of the most conservative branches of the toponymy: in the Swāt context, nearly all stream names are of Indo-Aryan (Dardic) origin, except names derived from the denomination of the Pashtun villages: this confirms all data provided by the archaeological excavations. This article will also provide some specific etymologies, aimed at showing the frontier position of Swāt at the border between Iranian and Indo-Aryan languages and cultures.

Roberto Dan

This article describes an interesting archaeological site located in the Van region, Turkey, called Garibin Tepe or Alaköy fortress. It is located not far from the important Ayanis fortress, an Urartian site that dates to the 7th century B.C. Illegal excavations have brought to light remnants of unique andesite sculptures and diagnostic pottery, which allow it to be dated with certainty to Urartian times. The site stood on the main road which joined the capital of Urartu, Van fortress, with the Muradiye plain and the Ararat valley.

Encyclopaedia Iranica

Volume XVI Fascicule 4


Edited by Elton L. Daniel

The Encyclopædia Iranica is dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent. It also includes scholarly articles related to the reciprocal influences between Persia and its neighbors, extending from pre-history to the present. The disciplines represented include: anthropology, archaeology, geography, art history, ethnology, sociology, economics, history of religion, philosophy, mysticism, history of science and medicine, Islamic history, botany, zoology, folklore, development of agriculture and industry, political science, international relations, and diplomatic history. Fascicule 4 of Volume XVI (pp. 337-448) starts with the article on the Kešaʾi Dialect and ends with the entry on the Khavaran-nama.

Vincent Eltschinger


The present paper focuses on Aśvaghoṣa’s treatment of King Śuddhodana and Kapilavāstu, the latter’s kingdom, in the Buddhacarita (BC) and the Saundarananda (SNa). As I shall try to demonstrate, the poet’s depiction of Śuddhodana is strongly reminiscent of, and, I think, very likely based on, Brahmanical accounts of the rājadharma (BC 9.48) and the dharmarāja (BC 1.75) as they can be found, first and foremost, in the Mahābhārata (MBh). As for his description of the Śākya kingdom, it is obviously meant to be evocative of the “golden age” or, conversely, of its lack of any characteristic of the kaliyuga, which again points to Aśvaghoṣa’s likely acquaintance with epic descriptions of the kaliyuga and/or the yugānta as they can be found, e.g., in the so-called Mārkaṇḍeya section of the MBh (esp. 3.186 and 188).

Buddhist and Śaiva Interactions in the Kali Age

The Śivadharmaśāstra as a Source of the Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra

Peter C. Bisschop


In a much-discussed passage of the Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra it is taught that Avalokiteśvara produced Maheśvara from his forehead. Maheśvara is introduced as a representative of the degenerative Kali age. In this connection, the Kāraṇḍavyūha quotes a doctrinal verse about the worship of the liṅga, which for a long time has been mistakenly attributed to ‘the Skandapurāṇa’, but whose source can now be identified in the Śivadharmaśāstra. After a comparative discussion of this verse in both texts, the article considers the possible broader implications of this quotation, in particular in relation to the question of the origin of the six-syllabled mantra oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ and its Śaiva counterpart oṃ namaḥ śivāya. The article concludes with some observations on distinctive features that characterise Śaiva versus Vaiṣṇava interactions with Buddhism.

An Opaque Pun

Tentative Notes on Kāśyapaparivarta § 68

Ruixuan Chen


Various interpretations of Kāśyapaparivarta § 68 have been attempted in the Yogācāra-Vijñānavāda tradition. This passage, which consists in a simile likening a magician devoured by his own creation to a monk involved in meditation practice, appears prima facie absurd, insofar as the similarity between the tenor and the vehicle is not readily apparent. This article mainly consists of two parts: The first part examines the received interpretations of the simile and reconstructs their interrelationship from a historical perspective. The second part explores the literary dimension of the simile and argues that its ostensible absurdity is rooted in a pun which is visible only in Middle Indo-Aryan and seems to serve no purpose. Coming to terms with the opaque and pointless pun, this essay is aimed at a new interpretation of Kāśyapaparivarta § 68 and, it is hoped, a deeper understanding of the literary playfulness inherent in the making of the Kāśyapaparivarta as a so-called early Mahāyāna sūtra against the backdrop of the Sanskritization of Buddhist sūtra literature.

O. v. Hinüber


From the very beginning the Buddhist order was dependent on donations, which were attractive for laypeople because of the merit thus accumulated. Therefore, names of donors were carefully documented in both, inscriptions, and, as soon as manuscripts are extant, also in colophons. Sometimes joint donations were made by families, whose members are named, under lucky circumstances even with an indication of their mutual relation such as parents, brothers, sisters etc. as participating in the merit made. This allows occasionally glimpses of the composition of average families and estimating their approximate seize in the ancient Indian cultural area. Hardly anything is known otherwise about this facet of Indian social history.

Iain Gardner

This paper will present new evidence to resolve a long-standing problem in the biography of Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, who lived in Sasanian Iran during the third-century A.D. There are a number of important early references to Armenia in Manichaean texts. These include a Sogdian account of how Mār Gabryab brought the religion to Armenia and contains the earliest known literary reference to the name of the capital city of Erevan; and various notices of Mani’s own Letter to Armenia in Arabic, Middle Persian and Sogdian. But the principal focus for this paper is to resolve the question as to whether Mani himself travelled to Armenia in the early/mid 270s A.D. The account of his final travels, before his imprisonment and death under King Bahrām I in Gondēšāpūr, has been the subject of sustained debate since late antiquity. The early Christian polemical tradition represented by the Acts of Archelaus (ca. 330 A.D., extant in Latin, with parallels and elaborated traditions in Greek, Syriac etc.) placed him in the mysterious Castellum Arabionis near the border of the Roman Empire, and in the 19th-century it was common to locate this in Armenia. However, discoveries of primary Manichaean texts in Coptic and Middle Iranian languages in the 20th century turned attention to sites in Mesopotamia. This paper aims to reconcile these accounts and will utilise a newly-edited Coptic source to demonstrate that Mani did, indeed, travel to Sasanian Armenia in the company of a local nobleman named Baat.

Garnik Asatrian

The paper aims at analysis of the terms denoting “ice” in New Western Iranian dialects. Most of the attested forms reflect NPers. yax. However, an attempt is made to identify several genuine designations of “ice”, which do not fit the common pattern, particularly based on the data obtained from toponymy of the region. In addition, some conjectures regarding the origin of yax are proposed.

Wolfgang Schulze

This is the second part of the article dedicated to the discussion of some methodological problems related to the history of Khinalug, published in the current volume of Iran and the Caucasus (see Schulze 2018). Whereas the first part analyses some basic data on Khinalug in its genetic problem and addressed some questions of loans and cognates, the second one turns to grammatical issues. Khinalug, a minority language spoken by some 1500 people mainly in the village of Khinalug in the north of Azerbaijan Republic, is generally regarded as the most divergent East Caucasian language. Its exact genealogical place within the world of the roughly 30 East Caucasian languages has been debated since long. Still, at least some of the relevant contributions to this debate ground their arguments in just a rather small piece of evidence, usually taken from a handful of assumed lexical correspondences and typological analogies. The same holds for grammar. As for morphosyntax, the problem is complicated by the fact that hitherto it is virtually impossible to safely reconstruct a more systematic inventory of Proto-East Caucasian morphemes together with their function values. A closer look at the morphosyntax of Khinalug may lead to just the same conclusion that seems to emerge from a more comprehensive analysis of the lexicon: I suggest, to consider the possibility that Khinalug is not an East Caucasian language from a genetic point of view, but a non-East Caucasian language that has become ‘Caucasianized’ over times.

Tomáš Hoch

In many respects, de facto states play a highly specific role as actors within the international system of sovereign states. The lack of international recognition has tangible political and economic impacts on the functioning of such states, and so the attempt to persuade domestic actors and the international community of the legitimacy of their claims to independence ranks among the most important components of these states’ policy—not only in foreign policy, but also in domestic policy. The aim of this text is to contribute to our understanding of how internal legitimization strategies for Abkhazian statehood are constructed and how they impact upon the foreign policy of this de facto state. Field research was carried out via interviews with important official state representatives of Abkhazia and important non-state actors—including journalists and representatives of nonprofit organizations, universities, the Church and other key institutions, which influence public opinion within and beyond this de facto state.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Babak Rezvani

This paper critically discusses the current mainstream views on Russia’s involvement in Georgia and Ukraine and implements geopolitical reasoning and analyses. Russian Foreign policy is guided both by (neo-)realist and constructivist theoretical perspectives. However, reviewing Russia’s policy in its near abroad, it appears that it is formed on reactive decisions the results of which may not always be understood as advantageous from a rational actor perspective. In the Post-Soviet Space, Russia behaves in accordance with its imperial experience, which bestows upon its geopolitical interests a layer of moral obligation, combining with either altruism or expansionism, or with both at the same time. The Russian alliance with Iran, and their interventions in Syria, are explained mainly by security concerns. Russia’s support of separatism in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Eastern Ukraine, and incorporating Crimea, do not yield advantageous results for the Russian interests from a rational actor’s perspective.

Victoria Arakelova

For the last decades, the Yezidi identity whose main marker was for centuries based on a unique religion, the Sharfadin, has undergone specific transformations. One of the most stable trends playing a crucial role in the mentioned process, is the spread of Orthodox Christianity, particularly among the Yezidis of Georgia and Russia. This phenomenon is especially interesting regarding the fact that, unlike neo-Protestant missions, Orthodox Church has never been active in proselytism particularly among the Yezidis; no Orthodox mission has ever focused its activities on this group. Yet, the number of the Yezidis converting to the Orthodox Christianity gradually grows. The paper is an interim result of a project on the modern transformations of the Yezidi identity. Compiled on the materials collected by the author through interviews and questionnaires among the converted Yezidis of Georgia and Russia, it focuses on several particular cases reflecting the shaping of a principally new identity, when Christian mentality replaces the Yezidi eclectic religious outlook.

Antonio Panaino

The present article deals with the methodological treatment of the problems connected with the interpretation of a series of astral omina concerning the political life of the Pontus king Mithridates VI Eupator (about 120-63 B.C.), as referred to by Classical authors like Pompeus Trogus (via the Epitomae of Justinus, XXXVII, 2, 1-3) or Seneca (Naturales Quaestiones VII, 15, 2). If some scholars have tried to find the explanation of these events invoking some presumed Iranian religious patterns, this study shows that in reality these attempts are completely groundless, not only with direct reference to the properly Zoroastrian sources, but also to the more complex and pertinent astrological literature. The political use and abuse of these astral events for propaganda needs can be better framed without assuming a pseudo-Iranian favourable vision of the comets or of the falling stars. More reasonably, Mithridates VI, having lived between different cultures, knew well the Mazdean hostile tradition, which considered all these unpredictable celestial bodies as demons, not only and simply for a superstitious hostility, but according to a clearly framed theological interpretation of the world and of its cosmology.

David B. Buyaner

The rare Pahlavi word <k(w)pyn(')> “sling”, which, in particular, renders Avestan fradaxšanā- “id.” in V 14.9, 17.9, 17.10 and P 20, has until now defied etymological explanation. As early as 1889, Paul Horn compared Pahlavi <k(w)pyn(')> “sling” with New Indian gophan “id.”, but this proposal was neglected by scholars, as was often the case with Horn’s ideas. In the present paper, Horn’s suggestion is rehabilitated with some corrections: the spelling of Pahlavi <k(w)pyn(')> is reconstructed as *kōpīn, and an additional instance of the phonetic transition Middle Indian -ChaC- → Middle West Iranian -CihC > -CīC, namely that took place with the borrowing of Manichaean Parthian <zyncyhr>, <zynjyhr> (*zenjihr) “chain, fessels”, Pahlavi zncyl(k)/zenjīr(ag) “id.” (> New Persian zanjīr “id.”) from Prakrit siṅkhalā, is discussed.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Birgül Demirtaş

The perception of Turkey as a model of attractive country in the region has started to change in the recent years. In the first decade of the JDP rule Turkey was seen as an emerging power with its strong economy, improving democracy and inspiring foreign policy. However, the developments since the Arab Uprisings in the neighbourhood, Gezi movement at home, end of the Kurdish peace process, as well as coup attempt and subsequent de-democratisation harmed the soft power of Turkey. This study argues that the JDP’s understanding of democracy and democratisation has been full of flaws from the very beginning of its rule. The Turkish example shows that countries can experience subsequent processes of de-democratisation and de-democratisation if governing parties did not endogenise the basic norms of democracy. Therefore, it is argued that the reverse wave of de-democratisation characterises Turkey more than the “selective” processes of democratisation. It is also argued that JDP elite via its discourse has been constructing the West as the ‘Other’.

Manuel Castelluccia

During the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age the lands around the Lake Sevan basin witnessed the emergence of a distinctive local culture, marked by characteristic burial practices, abundant metalwork and varied pottery production generally called the “Lčašen Culture”. It was named after the numerous finds from the village of Lčašen, but its features are spread throughout the lake basin also seen in neighbouring regions. Its intriguing nature has attracted the attention of numerous scholars, and different interpretations, as well as definitions, have been proposed. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the main archaeological features of the Lčašen Culture, with particular reference to its landscape archaeology, burials and material culture.

Magdalena Rodziewicz

The article is devoted to the Persian concept of āberū, which in contemporary Persian expresses the meanings of ‘good reputation’, ‘good social image’, and ‘honour’ that a man possesses in the eyes of others. This concept, fundamental to the Persian culture, can be studied from multiple perspectives—linguistic, sociological, religious, or ethical. However, the present article’s main objective is to draw attention to the parallelism between the concept of āberū and the idea of light and luminosity. The author attempts to reconstruct the ‘memory’ of this concept by analysing the etymology of the term āberū, its semantics and selected contexts of its use in the classical Persian texts.

Peter Nicolaus

The Prophet Noah is not a predominant figure within the Yezidi mythology, and so it should come as no particular surprise that he is often absent from the Yezidi sacred hymns. This peculiarity seems easily explained by the Yezidi cosmogonic myth, which places the emergence of Yezidis as a separate and wholly distinct occurrence from the genesis of the rest of humanity. Hence, a mythical catastrophe reducing mankind to merely one family would certainly contradict said cosmogony. And yet, the tale of “Noah and the Serpent” somehow finds itself recounted within every Yezidi community. The present paper will demonstrate that this veneration of Noah is a remnant of an essential Gnostic myth and has the makings of a Wandersage—containing elements of Central Asian beliefs and Mesopotamian mythology,—which is not only widely attested among the Muslim and Christian neighbours of the Yezidis in Northern Iraq but narrated throughout Asia Minor, Central Asia, as well as South-eastern and Eastern Europe.

Garnik Asatrian and Gohar Hakobian

The *-d- > -l- and *-š- > -l- changes in New Iranian are usually regarded as Eastern Iranian phonetic features. However, a thorough study of the Western New Iranian lexicon, particularly that of the dialects located geographically at a great distance from Eastern Iranian linguistic domain, unveiled a considerable number of lexemes, definitely genuine forms, with the same characteristics. The paper presents a comprehensive corpus of all lexical units in WNIran. in which these phonetic peculiarities are manifested.

Ronen A. Cohen and Olga Petrova

The structural tensions that exist in the religious dynamics between Shi‘its and Sunnis in Azerbaijan Republic has led the country’s government to establish a new institution to monitor and supervise the religious issues. This article not only aims to surface the tensions between the “State Committee for Religious Affairs” and the informal religious institutions, but also to show if the secular image of the Azerbaijani State has been affected by this tensions.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Hamidreza Pasha Zanous and Juping Yang

In the reports of Chinese travellers submitted to the Emperors, they mentioned the places they had visited or heard of. Although some scholars have tried to identify these Chinese names as specific places in the Iranian Plateau and its bordering plains, their locations are still somewhat vague and debatable. This article discusses the place-names mentioned in Chinese sources and attempts to verify that they could have denoted the localities along the ancient Great Khorasan Road and other routes, which were once the main sections of the Silk Road. Among them, the route that Chinese traveller Gan Ying might have passed before he reached the western frontier of the Arsacid Empire will also be discussed in this study.

Armen Petrosyan

Among the attested personal names in the Hayasa onomastics, there are some of the probable Aryan origin. Three of them are associated with the religion (Akni, Š(a)ummatar, takšanna) and one, with the ruling elite of the kingdom (Mariya). If this is correct, it can be assumed that the Aryans could constitute a considerable part of the population of Hayasa.

Mary Elizabeth Smith

This paper presents “social moves” as a new strategy de facto states can use in their interactions with the international community, with or without the possibility of a formal recognition of sovereignty. Special attention is paid to Abkhazia’s continuing desire for an independent state compared to South Ossetia’s desire for Russian absorption in light of both regions’ ethnic histories and turbulent relationships with Georgia. Key analysis includes discussion of the diplomatic soft power “social moves” the Abkhazian Foreign Ministry has begun in the last two years and the absence of similar “social moves” within the South Ossetian Foreign Ministry.

Richard Foltz

The role of Iranian merchants in the maritime trade of the Indian Ocean basin from antiquity up to the 16th century is often underestimated. From scholarly histories to popular culture the “Muslim sailor” is typically portrayed as being an Arab. In fact, from pre-Islamic times the principal actors in Indian Ocean trade were predominantly Persian, as attested by the archaeological data, local written records, and the names of places and individuals.

Ervand Margaryan

The article deals with the relationship of such concepts as the world-system and civilisation, both living independently and co-existing in time and space. World-systems and civilisations may be forced to unite into hyper-systems, or world-empires of different kind—self-sufficient, militarist-parasitic, and mixed type. Militarist empires-parasites can be settled and nomadic. Nomadic or bivouac empires are empires-armies, which exist only in movement. Stopping leads either to the death of the empire-army, or to the transformation into one but usually several stationary empires, mostly also militarist-parasitic.

Akhmed Osmanov, Magomedkhabib Seferbekov and Ruslan Seferbekov

The paper describes several interesting details from the rich repository of folk beliefs, cults, rites and ceremonies of obviously pre-Islamic nature, recorded among the Gidatlis. The latter are a sub-ethnic group of the Avars living in the Shamil region of Dagestan.

Philip O. Hopkins

This paper overviews the American missionary activity in Iran from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Foreign Mission Board. Much of the research is based on the Board of Trustee minutes of the Foreign Mission Board, as well as archival material from the International Mission Board, the new name for the Foreign Mission Board that includes personal correspondences, letters, communications, statistics of churches in Iran, strategies for missions, and other documents. Academic papers, diaries, composed and written oral histories, and other information from Foreign Mission Board missionaries of this period also are used. Therefore, the significance of this paper lies, I hope, at least in presenting documents previously unknown and inaccessible.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Mahāyāna Sūtras in Khotan

Quotations in Chapter 6 of the Book of Zambasta (I)

Ruixuan Chen and Diego Loukota Sanclemente


In this article we propose a series of twenty-three new identifications of sources for chapter 6 of the Book of Zambasta, whose tradent claims to have quoted a verse “from each sūtra.” In this installment we offer a detailed analysis of the first five newly identified quotations, highlighting their place within Mahāyāna and Khotanese literature.

Yūto Kawamura


In his Abhidharmakośabhāṣya, Vasubandhu accepts the expression tasmai praṇipatya ‘having prostrated myself to that [teacher]’. However, there is a difficulty in introducing the dative ending Ṅe after tad. According to the traditional interpretation of Aṣṭādhyāyī 2.3.16: namaḥsvastisvāhāsvadhālaṁvaṣaḍyogāc ca, a dative ending follows a nominal which is syntactically connected with the word namas ‘reverence, revering’ and not its synonyms like praṇipatya. Sthiramati argues that this rule includes the synonyms in its domain as well, thereby accounting for the dative form tasmai: both namas and praṇipatya involve the same meaning, reverence, so that the latter as well as the former can fall under the domain of the rule. According to him, this inclusion of the synonyms is to be inferred from Pāṇini’s use of the expression -yogāt in A 2.3.16; otherwise, Pāṇini’s wording would become meaningless.

Michaël Peyrot


The Khotanese and Sogdian genitive plural endings cannot be satisfactorily explained from the traditionally posited ending *-nām. Instead, Khotanese -nu and Sogdian -nw point to *-nam. Instead of assuming a special rule that shortens the expected *-nām to *-nam, it is argued that the evidence from East Iranian is to be taken at face value. A short ending *-om can be reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European as well and the East Iranian reflexes of a short ending are probably an archaism.