A new bibliographic blog!

As was planned, I have now moved this blog to a new location at Bibliographia Iranica. While purpose and scope remain largely the same, the new blog will be maintained by Sajad Amiri, Shervin Farridnejad, Yazdan Safaee and myself (Arash Zeini). I hope that we will be able to post more frequently on the new blog. On Facebook, the posts will be available on a dedicated page called Bibliographia Iranica. A Twitter account and Google+ page are forthcoming. Please do send us information about events and publications that you would like to see on the blog.

Thank you very much to all friends and colleagues who liked the idea of this bibliographic blog, encouraging me to widen its scope. And many thanks to Sajad, Shervin and Yazdan for agreeing to collaborate on the new site.

Getting to know Sogdian

When I started this bibliographic blog my main goal was to keep things simple, hoping that a modest and well-defined goal would allow me to update the site on a regular basis. I am very excited that with the help of my SOAS colleague and friend, Adam Benkato, we now take a first step towards hosting original content. Adam has written a very useful introduction to Sogdian, of which I post the first part today. The goal of this and hopefully forthcoming introductions is to offer brief and somewhat informal overviews. We hope that scholars from neighbouring disciplines and non-specialists will find them useful.

Read the first part of the introduction here.

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Richard N. Frye

Richard Neslon Frye, the Aga Khan Professor of Iranian Studies Emeritus, who passed away on 27 March 2014, has unfortunately become the subject of a political row in Iran. It is good to remember him for what he was, a scholar with a unique and refreshing style and a sharp eye for methodology:

There is always the danger in Avestan studies of seizing upon a device or a theory as the key to the understanding of that enigmatic book to the exclusion of all contrary evidence (which is declared corrupt and untrustworthy), proclaiming that the true meaning of the Avesta lies in this key. Johannes Hertel is the shining example of a competent Indo-Iranian philologist who proposed his Feuerlehre as the key to the understanding of both the Avesta and the Vedas. His ubiquitous fire was not taken seriously by others but his linguistic skill in support of fire was impressive. Just as Th. Noeldeke said of Pahlavi, “In Pehlewi stumpfen wir alle”, so the Avesta may drive all who study it slightly mad.

Frye, Richard Nelson. 1960. Georges Dumézil and the translators of the Avesta. Numen 7(2). 161–171.

See here for an obituary at the HARVARDgazette and here for one by Burzine Waghmar.

Mantiq al-tayr ‘The Speech of the Birds’

Among the recently digitised Persian manuscripts of the British Library is the manuscript BL Add. 7735, an illustrated copy of Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār’s Manṭiq al-ṭayr ‘The Speech of the Birds’. The Asian and African studies blog of the British Library discusses this manuscript and the Manṭiq al-ṭayr in a multi-part blog, featuring superb miniatures.

To find out more, see part 1, 2, 34.

Introduction to TEI and oXygen

As part of our group’s ongoing engagement with the Yasna, I will be leading a one day workshop on TEI and oXygen. This is an internal meeting with the aim of introducing the participants of the Yasna project to the ideas behind encoding texts and exploring features offered by the oXygen XML editor.

This is the first session in a series of meetings to be held at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge.

Date & time: Saturday 25 Jan 2014; 14:00–18:00
Location: AIIT, Cambridge

Sasanian elites and kinship ties

I found Prof. Macuch’s lecture at the FAMES, entitled Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances in Sasanian Law, very engaging. The lecture was in two parts. First, she gave an overview of the  Sasanian interpretation of kinship and discussed wealth, property management and inheritance. In the clearly structured introduction she defined the various models of matrimony such as fully qualified marriage, proxy, temporary and fictive marriages and their purposes. In the shorter second part she interpreted the social purpose of these legal institutions. She argued that the complex Sasanian legal system was carried by the Zoroastrian clergy and served to protect the elites’ wealth, preventing it from passing to commoners. In her view, the protection of wealth in this manner resulted in a two class society with a severe imbalance of wealth. She closed her lecture with the suggestion that this imbalance of wealth may have contributed to the collapse of the Sasanian Empire in the wake of the Islamic conquests.

The Everlasting Flame

Sogdian Ashem VohuThe study of Zoroastrianism is nothing new to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. A number of formative figures in Iranian Studies have taught at SOAS: W. Henning, M. Boyce, D. N. MacKenzie, J. Hinnells, N. Sims-Williams, F. de Blois. And it houses the only endowed chair in Zoroastrian studies (A. Hintze). The Brunei Gallery at SOAS has been the home of ‘The Everlasting Flame‘ for the past three months, which is even by the standards of SOAS a unique event. See my interview with Sarah Stewart.

Zoroastrians – Washingtonpost.com

Washingtonpost.com has a multimedia-like feature on Zoroastrians in Iran. A quick scan of the first page does not reveal any date for the feature, but I think it could be from the year 2000 or so. It is available in an HTML and a flash version. Enjoy it:

Among the Zoroastrians – Washingtonpost.com