An autumn course in Zoroastrianism

Pir-e Sabz, Zoroastrian pilgrimage site in central Iran. Photo: Courtesy of Kaiyan Mistree. Copyright: UiB.

The University of Bergen (Norway) and the Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies at SOAS, University of London, offer this autumn (23–27 September 2019) a short course on Zoroastrianism. This free course takes place in Rome and offers international students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the study of this religion with its rich history. The course is taught by Sarah Stewart (SOAS) and Michael Stausberg (Bergen) who will be joined by Jenny Rose (Claremont). Application deadline is 24 June 2019.

This year’s topic is “Zoroastrianism in modern and contemporary Iran”, where Zoroastrianism exists as a recognized religious minority. The course will address matters such as lived religious praxis, gender and community organizations, social, religious and ritual change, memory and visions of history, nationalist ideologies and minority rights.

For more information, see this page.

Ritual Matter(s): Nowruz Ceremonies of the Zoroastrian New Year in Tehran – Ajam Media Collective


Another photo essay by Behrad Mistry, again from last year and over at the Ajam Media Collective.

The Zoroastrian New Year coincides with the Spring Equinox. It marks not only the beginning of the calendar, but the renewal of life in its perennial struggle with death. This annual milestone is an occasion for celebration, and involves a series of ritual arrangements and acts.

Source: Ritual Matter(s): Nowruz Ceremonies of the Zoroastrian New Year in Tehran – Ajam Media Collective

Zoroastrian Nowruz in Tehran: Celebrating the “Big Five” – Ajam Media Collective

A commented photo essay from last year by Behrad Mistry over at the Ajam Media Collective.

The following is a photo essay by Behrad Nafissi Mistry. Born into the caste of Zoroastrian priests, Behrad is half Indian Parsi, half Iranian and is currently training to also serve as a priest. Behrad is a photo-journalist at Amordad Zoroastrian News Agency and Humans of Tehran. He holds a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Shahid Beheshti University. This series will focus on Tehran’s Zoroastrian community and their practices before, during, and after Nowruz.

Source: Zoroastrian Nowruz in Tehran: Celebrating the “Big Five” – Ajam Media Collective

Reception of Islam in Iran

Reposted on the occasion of the volume’s publication:

Crone, Patricia. 2016. The Iranian reception of Islam: The non-traditionalist strands (Islamic History and Civilization 130). Collected Studies in Three Volumes. Vol. 2 edited by Hanna Siurua. Leiden; Boston: Brill.

Patricia Crone’s Collected Studies in Three Volumes brings together a number of her published, unpublished, and revised writings on Near Eastern and Islamic history, arranged around three distinct but interconnected themes. Volume 2, The Iranian Reception of Islam: The Non-Traditionalist Strands, examines the reception of pre-Islamic legacies in Islam, above all that of the Iranians. Volume 1, The Qurʾānic Pagans and Related Matters, pursues the reconstruction of the religious environment in which Islam arose and develops an intertextual approach to studying the Qurʾānic religious milieu. Volume 3, Islam, the Ancient Near East and Varieties of Godlessness, places the rise of Islam in the context of the ancient Near East and investigates sceptical and subversive ideas in the Islamic world.

Continue reading “Reception of Islam in Iran”

The Multimedia Yasna

Y 35 in J2
Y 35 in J2

“Alt-Iranistik” has always been considered a small and exotic field, a so-called “Orchideenfach”. Despite its small size and the limited financial resources available for research, Alt-Iranistik is an unexpectedly vibrant field. The many job announcements of the past year will hopefully continue as a trend and create stable research and teaching environments for the many talented people active in the field. May there be more announcements like this:

SOAS academic awarded European Research Council grant of €2.5 million to study core ritual of Zoroastrianism

Congratulations to Prof. Hintze for receiving this important grant.

Sasanian law in its social context

The 2015 UCLA Biennial Ehsan Yarshater Lecture Series will be delivered by Prof. Maria Macuch:

Sasanian law in its social context

November 9-18, 2015

Legal texts are among the more important sources for the reconstruction of the political and economic institutions, and cultural practices, of late antique Iran, as they considerably further our understanding of past social complexities that are decisively different than our own. This year’s Ehsan Yarshater Biennial Lectures shall provide a sweeping overview and detailed analysis of the principal fields of jurisprudence in Sasanian Iran (third to seventh centuries CE). The five lectures will be investigating the genesis of legal institutions that were instrumental in consolidating the social status of Sasanian élites, notably, the Zoroastrian clergy and the Iranian aristocracy.

As far as we know, the lectures are announced individually. The brochure for Prof. Macuch's lectures is available here: UCLA Yarshater Lectures 2015 Macuch

The Lectures:

    1. Legal Sources and Instruments of Law
      The opening lecture will provide an overview of the available legal material, dispersed in a great variety of sources, and discuss the many pitfalls Iranists encounter in reconstructing the Sasanian legal system.
    2. Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances
      The second lecture examines questions pertaining to Family Law, in particular, the role of kinship ties that are of paramount importance in Sasanian jurisprudence. The lecture also elaborates on the significance of legal institutions within the context of marriage and succession.
    3. Property and Inheritance
      The third lecture explores the general concept of property, in particular,
      how it gave rise to complex categories crucial to preserving the possessions of affluent élites, while ensuring that proprietary rights were preserved from one generation to the next.
    4. Civil and Criminal Proceedings
      The fourth lecture reviews the judicial system, the foundation upon which the privileges of the élites were built, and the position of religious minorities, the Jews and Christians, within the framework of the judiciary.
    5. Sasanian Law and other Legal Systems
      The final lecture discusses the impact of Iranian law on other important legal systems of the Near East, be it Rabbinic and Nestorian-Christian, or be it Islamic and especially Shi’ite, law.

On obnoxious creatures!

Some nifty and original observations by my colleague and friend Shervin Farridnejad on a passage in the Nērangestān, discussing the priestly duty concerning the care of xrafstars, commonly referred to as obnoxious creatures:

Farridnejad, Shervin. 2015. Take care of the xrafstars! A note on Nēr. 7.5. DABIR 1(1). 11–13.