Derafsh Kaviani

Derafsh Kaviani (Persian: درفش کاویانی‎) was the legendary royal standard and vexilloid of Iran (Persia) used since ancient times until the fall of the Sasanian Empire. Following the defeat of the Sassanids at the Arab conquest of Persia, the Sassanid standard was recovered by one Zerar bin Kattab,[1] who received 30,000 dinars for it. After the jewels were removed, Rashidun Caliph Umar is said to have burned the standard.[1] The banner was also sometimes called the "Standard of Jamshid" (Drafš-ī Jamshid درفش جمشید), the "Standard of Fereydun" (Drafš-ī Freydun درفش فریدون) and the "Royal Standard" (Drafš-ī Kayi درفش کیی).

Derafsh Kaviani flag of the late Sassanid Empire
Original color combination of the Derafsh Kaviani banner
Derafsh Kaviani by modern standard size of flags (1.75 ratio)
Derafsh Kaviani shown in a rectangular figure of modern flags by 1.75 ratio in very high resolution. (international standard of modern flags)
Artistic combination of Derafsh Kaviani symbol on the modern flag of iran
Derafsh Kaviani on the qajar flag of iran.
Coin of Bagadates I, king of the Persis during the Seleucid period with Derafsh Kaviani

Meaning and origins

The name Drafš-e Kāvīān means "the standard of the kay(s)" (i.e., "kings", kias, kavis ) or "of Kāva."[1] The latter meaning is an identification with an Iranian legend in which the Derafš-e Kāvīān was the standard of a mythological blacksmith-turned-hero named Kaveh (Modern Persian: Kāveh), who led a popular uprising against the foreign demon-like ruler Dahāg (Modern Persian: Zahhāk). Recalling the legend, the 10th-century epic Shahnameh recasts Zahhak as an evil and tyrannical ruler, against whom Kāveh called the people to arms, using his leather blacksmith apron as a standard, with a spear as its hoist. In the story, after the war that called for the kingship of Fereydun (Middle Persian: Frēdōn) had been won, the people decorated the apron with jewels and the flag became the symbol of Iranian independence and resistance against foreign tyranny.

Sasanian standard

Derafsh Kaviani
Artist rendition of the Derafsh Kaviani banner

By the late Sasanian era (224-651), a real Drafš e Kāvīān had emerged as the standard of the Sasanian dynasties.[1][2] It was representative of the Sassanid state—Ērānšāhr (or "Iranian Empire"). Eran Shahr means Aryan Empire in Middle Persian—and may so be considered to have been the first "national flag" of Iran.[3] The banner consisted of a star (the akhtar) on a purple field, was encrusted with jewels and had trailing red, gold and purple streamers on its edges. The term achtar was significant since the star also represented "fortune", and the capture and destruction of the banner on a field of battle implied the loss of the battle (and hence the loss of fortune).[4] Following the defeat of the Sassanids at the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, the Sassanid standard was recovered by one Zerar bin Kattab,[1] who received 30,000 dinars for it. After the jewels were removed, Caliph Umar is said to have burned the standard.[1]

As the symbol of the Sassanid state,[5] the Drafsh e Kavian was irrevocably tied to the concept of Eranshahr and hence with the concept of Iranian nationhood. Thus, in 867, when Ya'qub-i Laith of the Saffarid dynasty claimed the inheritance of the kings of Persia and sought "to revive their glory," a poem written on his behalf sent to the Abbasid caliph said: "With me is the Drafsh e Kavian, through which I hope to rule the nations."[4] Although no evidence that Ya'qub-i Laith ever recreated such a flag, star imagery in banners remained popular until the ascendance of the Lion and Sun symbol (after 1846).

Standard of the President of Tajikistan

Flag of the President of Tajikistan
Standard of the President of Tajikistan

The Standard of the President of Tajikistan was introduced in 2006, on the occasion of the inauguration ceremony for the third term of Emomali Rahmon as head of state. It uses the same tricolour, charged with a depiction of the Derafsh Kāviān, the Sasanian royal standard; inside the Derafsh Kāviān is a depiction of a winged lion against a blue sky under a smaller representation of the crown and seven stars.[6]

See also

References and bibliography

  1. ^ a b c d e f Khaleghi-Motlagh, Djalal (1996). "Derafš-e Kāvīān". Encyclopedia Iranica. 7. Costa Mesa: Mazda.
  2. ^ Image of the Derafsh Kaviani:
  3. ^ Wiesehofer, Joseph Ancient Persia New York:1996 I.B. Tauris
  4. ^ a b Shahbazi, A. Shapur (2001). "Flags". Encyclopaedia Iranica. 10. Costa Mesa: Mazda.
  5. ^ Shahbazi, A. Shapur (1996). "Derafš". Encyclopaedia Iranica. 7. Costa Mesa: Mazda.
  6. ^ Based on a Russian-language description of the flag posted at in 2006 (archived version from 2007).

External links


Ashkbous (Persian: اشکبوس‎) is a Kashanian hero in Shahnameh who fights with Iranians in the Battle of Kamous-e Kashani. In Bondari's translation of Shahnameh into Arabic, his name is given as Askbos. In the story of Kamous, Ashkbous first fights with Rohham and defeats him, but he himself was defeated and killed by Rostam who was fighting on foot without Rakhsh. The battle of Rostam and Ashkbous was a popular choice in Persian miniature. It has been suggested that Kashanians or Koshanians are related to Kushan Empire.


The Aswārān (singular aswār), also spelled Asbārān, was a military force that formed the backbone of the army of the Sasanian Empire. They were provided by the aristocracy, wore armor, and ranged from archers to cataphracts.


Davan (Persian: دوان‎, also Romanized as Davān, Dawan, and Dovān) is a village in Deris Rural District, in the Central District of Kazerun County, Fars Province, Iran. In the Davani dialect it is pronounced : do'u At the 2006 census, its population was 601, in 178 families.Davan in situated in a narrow valley at the foot of Mount Davān in the greater Zagros range. It is divided into upper (maʿale[maḥalla]-ye bār) and lower (ma ale [maḥalla]-ye duman) quarters. Some ruins dating from the Parthian and Sasanian periods are located approximately 4 km to the south of the village.

Emblem of Iran

The Emblem of Iran (Persian: نشان رسمی ایران‎, neshān-e rasmi-ye Irān) since the 1979 Iranian Revolution features the Arabic word Allah ("God"), rendered in stylized characters.

The logo consists of four crescents and a sword. The four crescents are meant to stand for the word Allah. The five parts of the emblem symbolize the Principles of the Religion. Above the sword is a shadda: in Arabic script, this is used to double a letter. The shape of the emblem is chosen to resemble a tulip, in memory of the people who died for Iran: it is an ancient belief in Iran, dating back to mythology, that if a young soldier dies patriotically a red tulip will grow on his grave. In recent years it has been considered the symbol of martyrdom.

The logo was designed by Hamid Nadimi, and was officially approved by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on 9 May 1980.

The logo is encoded in Unicode, in the Miscellaneous Symbols range, at code point U+262B (☫) under the name "FARSI SYMBOL".


A flag is a piece of fabric (most often rectangular or quadrilateral) with a distinctive design and colours. It is used as a symbol, a signalling device, or for decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed, and flags have evolved into a general tool for rudimentary signalling and identification, especially in environments where communication is challenging (such as the maritime environment, where semaphore is used). The study of flags is known as "vexillology" from the Latin vexillum, meaning "flag" or "banner".

National flags are patriotic symbols with widely varied interpretations that often include strong military associations because of their original and ongoing use for that purpose. Flags are also used in messaging, advertising, or for decorative purposes.

Some military units are called "flags" after their use of flags. A flag (Arabic: لواء) is equivalent to a brigade in Arab countries. In Spain, a flag (Spanish: bandera) is a battalion-equivalent in the Spanish Legion.

Flag of Iran

The flag of Iran (Persian: پرچم ایران‎, translit. Parcham-e Irān) is a tricolour comprising equal horizontal bands of green, white and red with the national emblem ("Allah") in red centred on the white band and the takbir written 11 times in the Kufic script in white, at the bottom of the green and the top of the red band.This flag was adopted on 29 July 1980, as a reflection of the changes brought about by the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which resulted in the replacement of 2,500 years of continuous Persian monarchy with an Islamic Republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution, supported by a wide range of Islamist organizations and student movements. In opposition to the current regime in Iran, a number of Iranian exiles (particularly in Los Angeles) continue to use the Iranian tricolor with the Lion and Sun at the center.

Hooshang Seyhoun

Houshang Seyhoun, (Persian: هوشنگ سیحون‎) (August 22, 1920 – May 26, 2014) was an Iranian architect, sculptor, painter, scholar and professor. He studied fine arts at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and earned a degree in architecture from University of Tehran.

Seyhun is noted specially for his innovative and creative architectural design. His architectural legacy includes countless monuments and over one thousand private villas. After the Iranian Revolution he moved to Vancouver and lived in exile until his death. Seyhoon became famous for his design work in the 1950s in Iran, including: Tehran's Central Railway Station and tombs of scientific/literary figures (such as the Avicenna Mausoleum in Hamadan). He has been a faculty member of Tehran University's College of Architecture, where he also served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts (Beaux arts) of Tehran University for six years.


Kaveh the Blacksmith (Persian: کاوه آهنگر – Kāve ye Āhangar‎), also known as Kawa or the Blacksmith of Isfahan, is a mythical figure in the Iranian mythology who leads a popular uprising against a ruthless foreign ruler, Zahāk (Aži Dahāk). His story is narrated in the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran, by the 10th-century Persian poet Ferdowsi.

Kāveh was, according to ancient legends, a blacksmith who launched a national uprising against the evil foreign tyrant Zahāk, after losing two of his children to serpents of Zahāk. Kāveh expelled the foreigners and re-established the rule of Iranians. Many followed Kāveh to the Alborz Mountains in Damāvand, where Fereydun, son of Ābtin and Faranak was living. Then a young man, Fereydun agreed to lead the people against Zahāk. Zahāk had already left his capital, which fell to Fereydun's troops with small resistance. Fereydun released all of Zahāk’s prisoners.

Kāveh is the most famous of Persian mythological characters in resistance against despotic foreign rule in Iran. As a symbol of resistance and unity, he raised his leather apron on a spear. This flag, known as Derafsh Kaviani, was later decorated with precious jewels and became the symbol of Persian sovereignty for hundreds of years, until captured and destroyed by the Arabs, following the defeat of the Sassanids at the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah. Ya'qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar, who rebelled against the Abbasid Caliphate, claimed the inheritance of the kings of Persia and sought "to revive their glory," in 867 he sent a poem written by himself to the Abbasid caliph Al-Mu'tazz, stating: "With me is the Derafsh Kaviani, through which I hope to rule the nations.". In later times, Kaveh the Blacksmith was invoked by Persian nationalists starting from the generation of Mirza Fatali Akhundov. His name was used as the title of a nationalist newspaper in 1916, and in 1920, adorned the canton of the flag of the Persian Socialist Soviet Republic (widely known as the Soviet Republic of Gilan).Mehregan is the celebration for Fereydun's victory over Zahāk; it is also the time when autumn rains begin to fall.

The dynasty of Karen Pahlav (also known as the House of Karen) claimed to be Kāveh's descendants.

Lion and Sun

The Lion and Sun (Persian: شیر و خورشید‎, Shir o Khorshid) is one of the main emblems of Iran, and formerly was an element in Iran's national flag. The motif, which illustrates ancient and modern Iranian traditions, became a popular symbol in Iran in the 12th century. The lion and sun symbol is based largely on astronomical and astrological configurations: the ancient sign of the sun in the house of Leo, which itself is traced back to Babylonian astrology and Near Eastern traditions.The motif has many historical meanings. First, as a scientific and secular motif, it was only an astrological and zodiacal symbol. Under the Safavid and the first Qajar kings, it became more associated with Shia Islam. During the Safavid era, the lion and sun stood for the two pillars of society, the state and the Islamic religion. It became a national emblem during the Qajar era. In the 19th century, European visitors at the Qajar court attributed the lion and sun to remote antiquity; since then, it has acquired a nationalistic interpretation. During the reign of Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar and his successors, the form of the motif was substantially changed. A crown was also placed on the top of the symbol to represent the monarchy. Beginning in the reign of Fat′h-Ali, the Islamic aspect of the monarchy was de-emphasized. This shift affected the symbolism of the emblem. The meaning of the symbol changed several times between the Qajar era and the 1979 revolution. The lion could be interpreted as a metaphor for the Shia Imam Ali or it could be symbolizing Rostam, the legendary hero of Iranian mythology. The Sun has alternately been interpreted as symbol of motherland or Jamshid, the mythical Shah of Iran.

The many historical meanings of the emblem have provided rich ground for competing symbols of Iranian identity. In the 20th century, some politicians and scholars suggested that the emblem should be replaced by other symbols such as the Derafsh Kaviani. However, the emblem remained the official symbol of Iran until the 1979 revolution, when the "Lion and Sun" symbol was removed from public spaces and government organizations, and replaced by the present-day Coat of arms of Iran.

List of flags used by Iranian peoples

This is a list of flags used by the people of Iranic origin.

List of shahanshahs of the Sasanian Empire

The Shahanshahs of the Sasanian Empire (Middle Persian: Šāhān šāh ī Ērān ud Anērān, "King of Kings of Iranians and non-Iranians") ruled over a vast territory. At its height, the empire spanned from Turkey and Rhodes in the west to Pakistan in the east, and also included territory in contemporary Caucasus, Yemen, UAE, Oman, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Central Asia.

The Sasanian Empire was recognized as one of the main powers in the world alongside its neighboring arch rival, the Roman-Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than 400 years. The Sasanian dynasty began with Ardashir I in 224, who was a Persian from Estakhr, and was descended from the Achaemenid Kings, and ended with Yazdegerd III in 651. The downfall of the Sasanian Empire proved of great significance and effects to Zoroastrianism, the state religion of the Sasanian Empire. The previous Zoroastrian shahanshahs were replaced with Muslim Caliphs who forced the Zoroastrians and their faith to endure harsh conditions, including the destruction of fire temples throughout the previous Sasanian Empire and marginalization of the faith.

Manouchehr Ganji

Manouchehr Ganji (Persian: منوچهر گنجی) is a human rights activist and a former Minister of Education of Iran from 1976 until 1979.

Nauruz in Afghanistan

Nauruz (Dari: نوروز‎; Pashto: نوروز‎) is celebrated widely in Afghanistan. Also known as Farmer's Day, the observances usually last two weeks, culminating on the first day of the Afghan New Year, March 21. During the Taliban rule (1996–2001), Nauruz was banned and considered an "ancient pagan holiday centered on fire worship". Preparations for Nauruz start several days beforehand, at least after Chaharshanbe Suri, the last Wednesday before the New Year. Among various traditions and customs, the most important ones are as following:

Guli Surkh festival (Dari: ميله‌ى گل سرخ‎): The Guli Surkh festival which literally means Red Flower Festival (referring to the red Tulip flowers) is the principal festival for Nauruz. It is celebrated in Mazar-i- Sharif during the first 40 days of the year when the Tulip flowers grow in the green plains and on the hills surrounding the city. People from all over the country travel to Mazar-i-Sharif to attend the Nauruz festivals. Various activities and customs are performed during the Guli Surkh festival, including the Jahenda Bala event and the Buzkashi games.

Jahenda Bālā (Dari: جهنده بالا‎): Jahenda Bala is celebrated on the first day of the New Year (i.e. Nauruz), and is attended by high-ranking government officials such as the Vice-President, Ministers, and Provincial Governors. It is a specific religious ceremony performed in the Blue Mosque of Mazar that is believed (mostly by Sunnite Afghans) to be the site of the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph of Islam. The ceremony is performed by raising a special banner whose color configuration resembles Derafsh Kaviani. This is the biggest recorded Nauruz gathering where up to 200,000 people from all over Afghanistan get together in Mazar's central park around the Blue Mosque to celebrate the banner raising (Jahenda Bālā) ceremony.

Buzkashi: Along with other customs and celebrations, normally a Buzkashi tournament is held during the Guli Surkh festival in Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and other northern cities of Afghanistan.

Haft Mēwa (Dari: هفت میوه‎): In Afghanistan, people prepare Haft Mēwa (literally translates as Seven Fruits) in addition to or instead of Haft Sin which is common in Iran. Haft Mewa is like a fruit salad made from seven different dried fruits, served in their own syrup. The seven dried fruits are: raisins, Senjed (the dried fruit of the oleaster tree), pistachios, hazelnuts, prunes (dried apricots), walnuts and either almonds or another species of plum fruit.

Samanak: It is a special type of sweet dish made from germinated wheat, and is normally cooked or prepared on the eve of Nauruz or a few days before. Women have a special party for it during the night, and cook it from late in the evening till daylight, singing a special song: Samanak dar Josh o mā Kafcha zanem – Dochtaran* dar Khwāb o mā Dafcha zanem (* Dochter means daughter, young lady or girl).

Special cuisine: People cook special types of dishes for Nauruz, especially on the eve of Nauruz. Normally they cook Sabzi Chalaw, a dish made from rice and spinach. Moreover, the bakeries prepare a special type of cookie, called Kulcha-e Nauruzī, which is only baked for Nauruz. Another dish which is prepared mostly for the Nauruz days is Māhī wa Jelabī (Fried Fish and Jelabi) and it is the most common meal in picnics. In Afghanistan, it is a common custom among the affianced families that the fiancé's family give presents to or prepare special dishes for the fiancée's family on special occasions such as the two Eids (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha), Barā'at and Nauruz. Hence, the special dish for Nauruz is Māhī wa Jelabī.

Sightseeing to Cercis fields: The citizens of Kabul go to Istalif, Charikar or other green places where the Cercis flowers grow. They go for a picnic with their family during the first two weeks of the new year.

Jashn-e Dehqān: Jashn-e Dehqan means The Festival of Farmers. It is celebrated on the first day of year, on which the farmers walk in the cities as a sign of encouragement for the agricultural production. In recent years, this activity is being performed only in Kabul and other major cities, in which the mayor and other high governmental personalities participate in watching and observing.

Kampirak: Like "Haji Nowruz" in Iran, he is an old bearded man wearing colorful clothes with a long hat and rosary who symbolizes beneficence and the power of nature yielding the forces of winter. He and his retinue pass village by village distributing gathered charities among people and do shows like reciting poems. The tradition is observed in central provinces specially Bamyan and Daykundi.

Sasanian Empire

The Sasanian Empire (), also known as the Sassanian, Sasanid, Sassanid or Neo-Persian Empire (known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr, or Iran, in Middle Persian), was the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. Named after the House of Sasan, it ruled from 224 to 651 AD. The Sasanian Empire succeeded the Parthian Empire and was recognised as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighbouring arch-rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire for a period of more than 400 years.The Sasanian Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Parthian Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus V. At its greatest extent, the Sasanian Empire encompassed all of today's Iran, Iraq, Eastern Arabia (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatif, Qatar, UAE), the Levant (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan), Egypt, large parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), Yemen and Pakistan. According to a legend, the vexilloid of the Sasanian Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani.The Sasanian Empire during Late Antiquity is considered to have been one of Iran's most important, and influential historical periods and constituted the last great Iranian empire before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam. In many ways, the Sasanian period witnessed the peak of ancient Iranian civilisation. The Sasanians' cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India. It played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asian medieval art. Much of what later became known as Islamic culture in art, architecture, music and other subject matter was transferred from the Sasanians throughout the Muslim world.

Sun cross

A sun cross, solar cross, or wheel cross is a solar symbol consisting of an equilateral cross inside a circle.

The design is frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods of European prehistory. The symbol's ubiquity and apparent importance in prehistoric religion have given rise to its interpretation as a solar symbol, whence the modern English term "sun cross" (a calque of German: Sonnenkreuz).

The same symbol is in use as a modern astronomical symbol representing the Earth rather than the Sun.

The symbol can be depicted using Unicode as U+1F728 🜨 ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR VERDIGRIS. The characters U+2295 ⊕ CIRCLED PLUS and U+2A01 ⨁ N-ARY CIRCLED PLUS OPERATOR are similar in appearance but represent mathematical operators.


A vexilloid is any flag-like (vexillary) object used by countries, organisations, or individuals as a form of representation other than flags. American vexillologist Whitney Smith coined the term vexilloid in 1958, defining it as:

An object which functions as a flag but differs from it in some respect, usually appearance. Vexilloids are characteristic of traditional societies and often consist of a staff with an emblem, such as a carved animal, at the top.

This includes vexilla, banderoles, pennons, streamers, standards, and gonfalons. The first most primitive proto-vexilloids may have been simply pieces of cloth dipped in the blood of a defeated enemy in pre-historic times, and the precursors of all later vexilloids and flags.The use of flags replaced the use of vexilloids for general purposes during late medieval times between about 1100 to about 1400. However, vexilloids still remain in use for specialised purposes, such as for some military units or to symbolise various organisations such as fraternal organisation in street parades.

Ya'qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar

Ya'qūb ibn al-Layth al-Saffār (يعقوب بن الليث الصفار), or Ya'qūb-i Layth-i Saffārī (یعقوب لیث صفاری), born Rādmān pūr-i Māhak (Persian: رادمان پور ماهک‎) (October 25, 840 – June 5, 879), a Persian coppersmith, was the founder of the Saffarid dynasty of Sistan, with its capital at Zaranj (a city now in south-western Afghanistan). Under his military leadership he conquered much of the eastern portions of the Greater Persia consisting of modern-day Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan as well as portions of western Pakistan and a small part of Iraq. He was succeeded by his brother, Amr ibn al-Layth.

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