Middle Persian also known as Pahlavi or Parsik (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪 pārsīg), is the Middle Iranian language or ethnolect of southwestern Iran that during the Sasanian Empire (224–654) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions of the empire as well. Middle Persian is classified as a Western Iranian language. It descends from Old Persian and is the linguistic ancestor of Modern Persian.
Traces of Middle Persian, or Parsik, are found in remnants of Sasanian inscriptions and Egyptian papyri, coins and seals, fragments of Manichaean writings, and treatises and Zoroastrian books from the Sasanian era, as well as in the post-Sasanian Zoroastrian variant of the language sometimes known as Pahlavi, which originally referred to the Pahlavi scripts, and that was also the preferred writing system for several other Middle Iranian languages. Aside from the Aramaic alphabet-derived Pahlavi script, Zoroastrian Middle Persian was occasionally also written in Pazend, a system derived from the Avestan alphabet that, unlike Pahlavi, indicated vowels and did not employ logograms. Manichaean Middle Persian texts were written in the Manichaean alphabet, which also derives from Aramaic but in an Eastern Iranian form via the Sogdian alphabet.
|𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪 Pārsīk or Pārsīg|
|Era||evolved into Early New Persian by the 9th century; thereafter used only by Zoroastrian priests for exegesis and religious instruction.|
|Pahlavi scripts, Manichaean alphabet, Avestan alphabet|
"Middle Iranian" is the name given to middle stage of development of the numerous Iranian languages and dialects.:1 The middle stage of Iranian languages begins around 450 BCE and ends around 650 CE. One of those Middle Iranian languages is Middle Persian, i.e. the middle stage of the language of the Persians, an Iranian peoples of Persia proper, which lies in the south-western highlands on the border with Babylonia. The Persians called their language Parsik, meaning "Persian".
Another Middle Iranian language was Parthian, i.e. the language of the northwestern Iranian peoples of Parthia proper, which lies along the southern/south-eastern edge of the Caspian sea and is adjacent to the boundary between western and eastern Iranian languages. The Parthians called their language Parthawik, meaning "Parthian". Via regular sound changes Parthawik became Pahlawik, from which the word 'Pahlavi' eventually evolved. The -ik in parsik and parthawik was a regular Middle Iranian appurtenant suffix for "pertaining to". The New Persian equivalent of -ik is -i.
When the Arsacids (who were Parthians) came to power in the 3rd-century BCE, they inherited the use of written Greek (from the successors of Alexander the Great) as the language of government. Under the cultural influence of the Greeks (Hellenization), some Middle Iranian languages, such as Bactrian, also had begun to be written in Greek script. But yet other Middle Iranian languages began to be written in a script derived from Aramaic. This occurred primarily because written Aramaic had previously been the written language of government of the former Achaemenids, and the government scribes had carried that practice all over the empire. This practice had led to others adopting Imperial Aramaic as the language of communications, both between Iranians and non-Iranians, as well as between Iranians.:1251-1253 The transition from Imperial Aramaic to Middle Iranian took place very slowly, with a slow increase of more and more Iranian words so that Aramaic with Iranian elements gradually changed into Iranian with Aramaic elements.:1151 Under Arsacid hegemony, this Aramaic-derived writing system for Iranian languages came to be associated with the Parthians in particular (it may have originated in the Parthian chancellories:1151), and thus the writing system came to be called pahlavi "Parthian" too.:33
Aside from Parthian, Aramaic-derived writing was adopted for at least four other Middle Iranian languages, one of which was Middle Persian. In the 3rd-century CE, the Parthian Arsacids were overthrown by the Sassanids, who were natives of the south-west and thus spoke Middle Persian as their native language. Under Sassanid hegemony, the Middle Persian language became a prestige dialect and thus also came to be used by non-Persian Iranians. In the 7th-century, the Sassanids were overthrown by the Arabs. Under Arab influence, Iranian languages began be written in Arabic script (adapted to Iranian phonology), while Middle Persian began to rapidly evolve into New Persian and the name parsik became Arabicized farsi. Not all Iranians were comfortable with these Arabic-influenced developments, in particular, members of the literate elite, which in Sassanid times consisted primarily of Zoroastrian priests. Those former elites vigorously rejected what they perceived as 'Un-Iranian', and continued to use the "old" language (i.e. Middle Persian) and Aramaic-derived writing system.:33 In time, the name of the writing system, pahlavi "Parthian", began to be applied to the "old" Middle Persian language as well, thus distinguishing it from the "new" language, farsi.:32-33 Consequently, 'pahlavi' came to denote the particularly Zoroastrian, exclusively written, late form of Middle Persian. Since almost all surviving Middle Persian literature is in this particular late form of exclusively written Zoroastrian Middle Persian, in popular imagination the term 'Pahlavi' became synonymous with Middle Persian itself.
The ISO 639 language code for Middle Persian is pal, which reflects the post-Sasanian era use of the term Pahlavi to refer to the language and not only the script.
|History of the|
|Proto-Indo-European (c. 3000 BCE)
|Proto-Indo-Iranian (c. 2000 BCE)
|Proto-Iranian (c. 1500 BCE)
|Old Persian (c. 525 – 300 BCE)
|Middle Persian (c. 300 BCE – 800 CE)
|Modern Persian (from 800)|
In the classification of the Iranian languages, the Middle Period includes those languages which were common in Iran from the fall of the Achaemenid Empire in the fourth century BCE up to the fall of the Sasanian Empire in the seventh century CE.
The most important and distinct development in the structure of Iranian languages of this period is the transformation from the synthetic form of the Old Period (Old Persian and Avestan) to an analytic form:
The modern-day descendant of Middle Persian is New Persian. The changes between late Middle and Early New Persian were very gradual, and in the 10th-11th centuries, Middle Persian texts were still intelligible to speakers of Early New Persian. However, there are definite differences that had taken place already by the 10th century:
Pahlavi Middle Persian is the language of quite a large body of literature which details the traditions and prescriptions of Zoroastrianism, which was the state religion of Sasanian Iran (224 to c. 650) before the Muslim conquest of Persia. The earliest texts in Zoroastrian Middle Persian were probably written down in late Sasanian times (6th–7th centuries), although they represent the codification of earlier oral tradition. However, most texts, including the translated versions of the Zoroastrian canon, date from the ninth to the 11th century, when Middle Persian had long ceased to be a spoken language, so they reflect the state of affairs in living Middle Persian only indirectly. The surviving manuscripts are usually 14th-century copies. Other, less abundantly attested varieties are Manichaean Middle Persian, used for a sizable amount of Manichaean religious writings, including many theological texts, homilies and hymns (3rd–9th, possibly 13th century), and the Middle Persian of the Church of the East, evidenced in the Pahlavi Psalter (7th century); these were used until the beginning of the second millennium in many places in Central Asia, including Turpan and even localities in South India. All three differ minimally from one another and indeed the less ambiguous and archaizing scripts of the latter two have helped to elucidate some aspects of the Sasanian-era pronunciation of the former.
Below is transcription and translation of the first page of the facsimile known as Book of Arda Viraf, originally written in a Pahlavi script.
pad nām ī yazdān
ēdōn gōwēnd kū ēw-bār ahlaw zardušt dēn ī padīrift andar gēhān rawāg be kard. tā bawandagīh [ī] sēsad sāl dēn andar abēzagīh ud mardōm andar abē-gumānīh būd hēnd. ud pas gizistag gannāg mēnōg [ī] druwand gumān kardan ī mardōmān pad ēn dēn rāy ān gizistag *alek/sandar ī *hrōmāyīg ī muzrāyīg-mānišn wiyāb/ānēnīd *ud pad garān sezd ud *nibard ud *wišēg ō ērān-šahr *frēstīd. u-š ōy ērān dahibed ōzad ud dar ud xwadāyīh wišuft ud awērān kard. ud ēn dēn čiyōn hamāg abestāg ud zand [ī] abar gāw pōstīhā ī wirāstag pad āb ī zarr nibištag andar staxr [ī] pābagān pad diz [ī] *nibišt nihād ēstād. ōy petyārag ī wad-baxt ī ahlomōγ ī druwand ī anāg-kardār *aleksandar [ī] hrōmāyīg [ī] mu/zrāyīg-mānišn abar āwurd ud be sōxt.
In the name of God
Thus they have said that once the righteous Zoroaster accepted a religion, he established it in the world. After/Within the period of 300 years (the) religion remained in holiness and the people were in peace and without any doubt. But then, the sinful, corrupt and deceitful spirit, in order to cause people doubt this religion, illusioned/led astray that Alexander the Roman, resident of Egypt, and sent him to Iran with much anger and violence. He murdered the ruler of Iran and ruined court, and the religion, as all the Avesta and Zand (which were) written on the ox-hide and decorated with water-of-gold (gold leaves) and had been placed/kept in Stakhr of Papak in the 'citadel of the writings.' That wretched, ill-fated, heretic, evil/sinful Alexander, The Roman, who was dwelling in Egypt, and he burned them up.
A sample Middle Persian poem from manuscript of Jamasp Asana:
Šābuhr šāhān šāh ī hormizdān hamāg kišwarīgān pad paykārišn yazdān āhang kard ud hamāg gōwišn ō uskār ud wizōyišn āwurd pas az bōxtan ī ādūrbād pad gōwišn ī passāxt abāg hamāg ōyšān jud-sardagān ud nask-ōšmurdān-iz ī jud-ristagān ēn-iz guft kū nūn ka-mān dēn pad stī dēn dīd kas-iz ag-dēnīh bē nē hilēm wēš abar tuxšāg tuxšēm ud ham gōnag kard.
Shapur, the king of kings, son of Hormizd, induced all countrymen to orient themselves to god by disputation, and put forth all oral traditions for consideration and examination. After the triumph of Ādurbād, through his declaration put to trial by ordeal (in disputation) with all those sectaries and heretics who recognized (studied) the Nasks, he made the following statement: ‘Now that we have gained an insight into the Religion in the worldly existence, we shall not tolerate anyone of false religion, and we shall be more zealous.
Andar xwadāyīh šābuhr ī ohrmazdān tāzīgān mad hēnd ušān xōrīg ī rudbār grift was sāl pad xwār tāzišn dāšt t šābuhr ō xwadāyīh mad oyšān tāzīgān spōxt ud šahr aziš stād ud was šāh tāzīgān ābaxšēnēd ud was maragīh.
During the rulership of Shapur, the son of Hormizd, the Arabs came; they took Xorig Rūdbār; for many years with contempt (they) rushed until Shapur came to rulership; he destroyed the Arabs and took the land and destroyed many Arab rulers and pulled out many number of shoulders.
|Middle Persian||English||Other Indo-European||Example(s)|
|A-||Privative prefix, un-, non-, not-||Greek a- (e.g. atom)||a-spās 'ungrateful', a-bim 'fearless', a-čār 'inevitable', a-dād 'unjust'|
|An-||Prevocalic privative prefix, un-, non-||English -un, German ant-||an-ērān 'non-Iranian', an-ast 'non-existent'|
|-ik (-ig in Late Middle Persian)||Having to do with, having the nature of, made of, caused by, similar to||English -ic, Latin -icus, Greek –ikos, Slavic -isku||Pārsīk 'Persian', Āsōrik 'Assyrian', Pahlavik 'Parthian', Hrōmāyīk/Hrōmīk 'Byzantine, Roman', Tāzīk 'Arab'|
|Middle Persian||Other Indo-European||Example(s)|
|-gerd||Russian -grad, German -gart||Mithradatgerd "Mithridates City", Susangerd (City of Susan), Darabgerd "Darius City", Bahramjerd "Bahram City", Dastgerd, Virugerd, Borujerd|
|-vīl||-ville, villa, village in English/French, Italian villaggio||Ardabil "Holy City", Erbil, Kabul and Zabol|
|-āpāt (later -ābād)||Ashkābād > Ashgabat "Land of Arsaces"|
|-stān||English stead 'town', Russian stan 'settlement', common root with Germanic stand||Tapurstan, Sakastan|
There are a number of phonological differences between Middle Persian and New Persian. The long vowels of Middle Persian did not survive in many present-day dialects. Also, initial consonant clusters were very common in Middle Persian (e.g. سپاس spās "thanks"). However, New Persian does not allow initial consonant clusters, whereas final consonant clusters are common (e.g. اسب asb "horse").
|Early Middle Persian||English||Early New Persian||Notes||Other Indo-European|
|Drōd 𐭣𐭫𐭥𐭣||Hello (lit. 'health')||Dōrūd (درود)|
|Pad-drōt 𐭯𐭥𐭭 𐭣𐭫𐭥𐭣||Goodbye||Bē dōrūd (به درود), later bedrūd (بدرود)|
|Spās 𐭮𐭯𐭠𐭮||Thanks||Sipās (سپاس)||Spās in kurdish||PIE *speḱ-|
|Pad 𐭯𐭥𐭭||To, at, in, on||Bē (به)|
|Az 𐭬𐭭||From||Az (از)|
|Šagr𐭱𐭢𐭫, Šēr1||Lion||Šēr (شیر)||From Old Persian *šagra-. Preserved as Tajiki шер šer and Kurdish (شێر) šēr|
|Šīr𐭱𐭩𐭫 1||Milk||Šīr (شیر)||From Old Persian **xšīra-. Tajiki шир šir and Kurdish (šīr, شیر)||from PIE *swēyd-|
|Asēm 𐭠𐭮𐭩𐭬||Iron||Āhan (آهن)||Āsin (آسِن) in Kurdish||German Eisen|
|Arjat||Silver||seem (سیم)||floodlike "silvar" ("سیل وار ")||Latin argentum (French argent), Armenian arsat, Old Irish airget, PIE h₂erǵn̥t-, an n-stem|
|Arž||Silver coinage||Arj (ارج) 'value/worth'||Same as Arg (АргЪ) 'price' in Ossetian|
|Ēvārak||Evening||Extinct in Modern Persian||Survived as ēvār (ایوار) in Kurdish and Lurish|
|Tābestān 𐭲𐭠𐭯𐭮𐭲𐭠𐭭||(adjective for) summer||تابستان Tābestān|
|Hāmīn 𐭧𐭠𐭬𐭩𐭭||Summer||Extinct||Hāmīn has survived in Balochi, and Central Kurdish.
Survived as Hāvīn in Northern Kurdish.
|Stārag 𐭮𐭲𐭠𐭫𐭪, Star 𐭮𐭲𐭫||Star||Setāre (ستاره)||Stār, Stērk in Northern Kurdish||Latin stella, Old English steorra, Gothic stairno, Old Norse stjarna|
|Fradom||First||Extinct||Preserved as pronin in Sangsari language||First, primary, Latin primus, Greek πρίν, Sanskrit prathama|
|Fradāk||Tomorrow||Fardā (فردا)||Fra- 'towards'||Greek pro-, Lithuanian pra, etc.|
|Murd 𐭬𐭥𐭫𐭣||Died||Mōrd (مرد)||Latin morta, English murd-er, Old Russian mirtvu, Lithuanian mirtis|
|Rōz 𐭩𐭥𐭬||Day||Rūz (روز)||From rōšn 'light'. Kurdish rōž (رۆژ), also preserved as rōč (رُوچ) in Balochi||Armenian lois 'light', Latin lux 'light'|
|Sāl 𐭱𐭭𐭲||Year||Sāl (سال)||Armenian sārd 'sun', German Sonne, Russian солнце|
|Mātar 𐭬𐭠𐭲𐭥||Mother||Mādar (مادر)||Latin māter, Old Church Slavonic mater, Lithuanian motina|
|Pidar 𐭯𐭣𐭫||Father||Pēdar (پدر)||Latin pater (Italian padre), Old High German fater|
|Brād,Brādar 𐭡𐭥𐭠𐭣𐭥||Brother||Barādar (برادر)||Old Ch. Slavonic brat(r)u, Lithuanian brolis, Latin frāter, Old Irish brathair, O. H. German bruoder|
|Xwāh(ar) 𐭧𐭥𐭠𐭧||Sister||Xāhar (خواهر)||Armenian khoyr|
|Duxtar 𐭣𐭥𐭧𐭲𐭫||Daughter||Dōxtar (دختر)||Gothic dauhtar, O. H. German tohter, Old Prussian duckti, Armenian dowstr, Lithuanian dukte|
|Ōhāy 𐭠𐭧𐭠𐭩||Yes||ārī (آری)|
|Nē 𐭫𐭠||No||Na (نه)|
1 Since many long vowels of Middle Persian did not survive, a number of homophones were created in New Persian. For example, šir and šer, meaning "milk" and "lion", respectively, are now both pronounced šir. In this case, the correct pronunciation has been preserved in Kurdish and Tajiki.
There is a number of Persian loanwords in English, many of which can be traced to Middle Persian. The lexicon of Classical Arabic also contains many borrowings from Middle Persian. In such borrowings Iranian consonants that sound foreign to Arabic, g, č, p, and ž, have been replaced by q/k, j, š, f/b, and s/z. Here is a parallel word list of such terms:
|Middle Persian||English||Indo-European Cognates||Arabic Borrowing||English|
|Tarjōmak||Translator||Borrowed into Persian from Akkadian targumānu, borrowed later into Middle Greek as δραγομάνος. Subsequently borrowed from Middle Greek into Mediaeval Latin as dragumannus. Note that these Latin and Greek forms are not, however, Indo-European cognates of the Persian word, they are loanwords.||Tarjama (ترجمة)||To translate|
|Burg 𐭡𐭥𐭫𐭢||Tower||Germanic burg 'castle' or 'fort'||Burj (برج)||Tower|
|A-sar; A- (negation prefix) + sar (end, beginning)||Infinite, endless||A- prefix in Greek; Sanskrit siras, Hittite harsar 'head'||Azal (أزل)||Infinite|
|A-pad; a- (prefix of negation) + pad (end)||Infinity||-||Abad (أبد)||Infinity, forever|
|Dēn 𐭣𐭩𐭭 (from Avestan daena)||Religion||Dīn (دين)||Religion|
|Bōstān (bō 'aroma, scent' + -stan place-name element)||Garden||Bustān (بستان)||Garden|
|Tag||Crown, tiara||Tāj (تاج)||Crown|
|Pargār||Compass||Firjār (فرجار)||Compass (drawing tool)|
|Ravāk (older form of ravāg; from the root rav (v. raftan) 'to go')||Current||Riwāq (رواق)||Place of passage, corridor|
|Gund||Army, troop||Jund (جند)||Army|
|Rōstāk||Village, district, province||Ruzdāq (رزداق)||Village|
|Middle Persian||New Persian||Old Persian||English|
|Āleksandar, Sukandar||Eskandar||Alexander the Great|
|Ōhrmazd||Hormizd||Ahura Mazda||Ahura Mazda, astr. Jupiter|
The Book of Ardā Wīrāz (Middle Persian Ardā Wīrāz nāmag, ardaː wiːraːz naːmag, sometimes called the "Arda Wiraf") is a Zoroastrian religious text of the Sasanian era written in Middle Persian. It contains about 8,800 words. It describes the dream-journey of a devout Zoroastrian (the Wīrāz of the story) through the next world. The text assumed its definitive form in the 9th-10th centuries after a long series of emendations.Dadestan-i Denig
Dādestān ī Dēnīg (IPA: [daːdestaːn iː deːniːɡ] "Religious Judgments") or Pursišn-Nāmag (IPA: [puɾsiʃnaːmaɡ] "Book of Questions") is a 9th-century Middle Persian work written by Manushchihr (Manūščihr), who was high priest of the Persian Zoroastrian community of Pārs and Kermān, son of Gušn-Jam and brother of Zadspram. The work consists of an introduction and ninety-two questions along with Manūščihr's answers. His questions varies from religious to social, ethical, legal, philosophical, cosmological, etc. The style of his work is abstruse, dense, and is heavily influenced by New Persian.Dana-i Menog Khrat
The Dana-i Menog-i khrat, (Persian:دانای مینوی خرد) or 'opinions of the spirit of wisdom', a Middle Persian book which was written about 8th century.
It comprises the replies of that spirit to sixty-two inquiries, or groups of inquiries, made by a certain wise man regarding various subjects connected with the Zoroastrian religion. This treatise contains about 11,000 words, and was long known, like the Shikand-gumanic Vichar (53), only through its Pazand version, prepared by a Persian zoroastrian writer, Neryosang in middle age.
This book is translated to English by West in 1871. followed by a translation of the Pahlavi text in 1885.Dari language
Darī (Dari: دری [daˈɾiː]) or Dari Persian (فارسی دری Fārsī-ye Darī [fɒːɾsije daˈɾiː]) or synonymously Farsi (فارسی Fārsī [fɒːɾsiː]) is a variation of the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan. Dari is the term officially recognized and promoted since 1964 by the Afghan government for the Persian language, hence, it is also known as Afghan Persian in many Western sources. This has resulted in a naming dispute. Many Persian speakers in Afghanistan prefer and use the name "Farsi" and say the term Dari has been forced on them by the dominant Pashtun ethnic group as an attempt to distance Afghans from their cultural, linguistic, and historical ties to the Persian-speaking world, which includes Iran and Tajikistan.As defined in the Constitution of Afghanistan, it is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan; the other is Pashto. Dari is the most widely spoken language in Afghanistan and the native language of approximately 25-50% of the population, serving as the country's lingua franca. The Iranian and Afghan types of Persian are mutually intelligible, with differences found primarily in the vocabulary and phonology.
By way of Early New Persian, Dari Persian, like Iranian Persian and Tajik, is a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of the Sassanian Empire (224–651 CE), itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of the Achaemenids (550–330 BC). In historical usage, Dari refers to the Middle Persian court language of the Sassanids.Greater Khorasan
Khorasan (Middle Persian: Xwarāsān; Persian: خراسان Xorāsān, Persian pronunciation: [xoɾɒːˈsɒːn] listen ), sometimes called Greater Khorasan, is a historical region lying in northeast of Greater Persia, including part of Central Asia and Afghanistan. The name simply means "East, Orient" (literally "sunrise") and loosely includes the territory of the Sasanian Empire north-east of Persia proper. Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of so-called Jibal or what was subsequently termed 'Iraq Ajami' (Persian Iraq), as being included in a vast and loosely-defined region of Khorasan, which might even extend to the Indus Valley and Sindh. During the Islamic period, Khorasan along with Persian Iraq were two important territories. The boundary between these two was the region surrounding the cities of Gurgan and Qumis (modern Damghan). In particular, the Ghaznavids, Seljuqs and Timurids divided their empires into Iraqi and Khorasani regions.
The main cities of Khorasan in the Islamic period were Balkh and Herat (now in Afghanistan), Mashhad and Nishapur (now in northeastern Iran), Merv and Nisa (now in southern Turkmenistan), and Bukhara and Samarkand (now in southern Uzbekistan). The cities of Merv and Nisa have since been abandoned but the other cities remain integral parts of their respective states. The term Khorasan tended to further extend from these urban centers into the rural regions of their respective west, east, north and south. Sources from the 10th-century onwards refer to areas in the south of the Hindu Kush as the Khorasan Marches, forming a frontier region between Khorasan and Hindustan.Greater Khorasan is today sometimes used to distinguish the larger historical region from the modern Khorasan Province of Iran (1906–2004), which roughly encompassed the western half of the historical Greater Khorasan.Manichaeism
in Modern Persian آیین مانی Āyin-e Māni; Chinese: 摩尼教; pinyin: Móní Jiào) was a major religion founded by the Iranian prophet Mani (in Middle Persian Māni, New Persian: مانی Māni, Syriac Mānī, Greek Μάνης, Latin Manes; also Μανιχαῖος, Latin Manichaeus, from Syriac ܡܐܢܝ ܚܝܐ Mānī ḥayyā "Living Mani", c. AD 216–274) in the Sasanian Empire.Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. Through an ongoing process that takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light, whence it came. Its beliefs were based on local Mesopotamian religious movements and Gnosticism.Manichaeism was quickly successful and spread far through the Aramaic-speaking regions. It thrived between the third and seventh centuries, and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east as China and as far west as the Roman Empire. It was briefly the main rival to Christianity before the spread of Islam in the competition to replace classical paganism. Manichaeism survived longer in the east than in the west, and it appears to have finally faded away after the 14th century in south China, contemporary to the decline of the Church of the East in Ming China. While most of Manichaeism's original writings have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived.
An adherent of Manichaeism was called a Manichaean or Manichean, or Manichee, especially in older sources.Menog-i Khrad
The Mēnōg-ī Khrad (ˈmeːnoːgiː xrad) or Spirit of Wisdom is one of the most important secondary texts in Zoroastrianism written in Middle Persian.
Also transcribed in Pazend as Minuy-e X(e/a)rad and New Persian Minu-ye Xeræd, the text is a Zoroastrian Pahlavi book in sixty-three chapters (a preamble and sixty-two questions and answers), in which a symbolic character called Dānāg (lit., “knowing, wise”) poses questions to the personified Spirit of Wisdom, who is extolled in the preamble and identified in two places (2.95, 57.4) with innate wisdom (āsn xrad). The book, like most Middle Persian books, is based on oral tradition and has no known author. According to the preamble, Dānāg, searching for truth, traveled to many countries, associated himself with many savants, and learned about various opinions and beliefs. When he discovered the virtue of xrad (1.51), the Spirit of Wisdom appeared to him to answer his questions.The book belongs to the genre of andarz ("advices") literature, containing mostly practical wisdom on the benefits of drinking wine moderately and the harmful effects of overindulging in it (20, 33, 39, 50, 51, 54, 55, 59, 60), although advice on religious questions is by no means lacking. For example, there are passages on keeping quiet while eating (2.33-34); on not walking without wearing the sacred girdle (kostī) and undershirt (sodra; 2.35-36); on not walking with only one shoe on (2.37-38); on not urinating in a standing position (2.39-40); on gāhānbār and hamāg-dēn ceremonies (4.5); on libation (zōhr) and the yasna ceremony (yazišn; 5.13); on not burying the dead (6.9); on marriage with next of kin (xwēdōdah) and trusteeship (stūrīh; 36); on belief in dualism (42); on praying three times a day and repentance before the sun, the moon, and fire (53); on belief in Ohrmazd as the creator and in the destructiveness of Ahreman and belief in *stōš (the fourth morning after death), resurrection, and the Final Body (tan ī pasēn; 63). The first chapter, which is also the longest (110 pars.), deals in detail with the question of what happens to people after death and the separation of soul from body.It is believed by some scholars that this text has been first written in Pazend and latter, using the Pazend text, it was rewritten in Middle Persian, but others believe that this text was originally written in Middle Persian and later written in Pazend, Sanskrit, Gujarati and Persian. The oldest surviving manuscripts there are L19, found in the British Library, written in Pazend and Gujarati, which is believed to date back to 1520. One of the characteristics of L19 text is that the word Xrad "wisdom" is spelled as Xard throughout the text. The oldest surviving Pahlavi version of this text is K43 found in Royal Library, Denmark.
The Mēnōg-ī Khrad was first translated into English as West, Edward William (1885). Sacred Books of the East: Pahlavi texts, pt. 3. Clarendon Press..Middle Persian literature
Middle Persian literature is the corpus of written works composed in Middle Persian, that is, the Middle Iranian dialect of Persia proper, the region in the south-western corner of the Iranian plateau. Middle Persian was the prestige dialect during the era of Sassanid dynasty.
The rulers of the Sassanid Empire (224–654 CE) were natives of that south-western region, and through their political and cultural influence, Middle Persian became a prestige dialect and thus also came to be used by non-Persian Iranians. Following the Arab conquest of the Sassanian Empire in the 7th century, shortly after which Middle Persian began to evolve into New Persian, Middle Persian continued to be used by the Zoroastrian priesthood for religious and secular compositions. These compositions, in the Aramaic-derived Book Pahlavi script, are traditionally known as "Pahlavi literature". The earliest texts in Zoroastrian Middle Persian were probably written down in late Sassanid times (6th–7th centuries), although they represent the codification of earlier oral tradition. However, most texts, including the zand commentaries and translations of the Zoroastrian canon, date from the 9th to the 11th century, when Middle Persian had long ceased to be a spoken language, so they reflect the state of affairs in living Middle Persian only indirectly. The surviving manuscripts are usually 14th-century copies.Other, less abundantly attested varieties of Middle Persian literature include the 'Manichaean Middle Persian' corpus, used for a sizable amount of Manichaean religious writings, including many theological texts, homilies and hymns (3rd–9th, possibly 13th century). Even less-well attested are the Middle Persian compositions of Nestorian Christians, evidenced in the Pahlavi Psalter (7th century); these were used until the beginning of the second millennium in many places in Central Asia, including Turfan (in present-day China) and even localities in Southern India.Old Persian
Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages (the other being Avestan). Old Persian appears primarily in the inscriptions, clay tablets and seals of the Achaemenid era (c. 600 BCE to 300 BCE). Examples of Old Persian have been found in what is now Iran, Romania (Gherla), Armenia, Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, with the most important attestation by far being the contents of the Behistun Inscription (dated to 525 BCE). Recent research (2007) into the vast Persepolis Fortification Archive at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago have unearthed Old Persian tablets, which suggest Old Persian was a written language in use for practical recording and not only for royal display.Pahlavi scripts
Pahlavi or Pahlevi is a particular, exclusively written form of various Middle Iranian languages. The essential characteristics of Pahlavi are
the use of a specific Aramaic-derived script;
the high incidence of Aramaic words used as heterograms (called hozwārishn, "archaisms").Pahlavi compositions have been found for the dialects/ethnolects of Parthia, Persis, Sogdiana, Scythia, and Khotan. Independent of the variant for which the Pahlavi system was used, the written form of that language only qualifies as Pahlavi when it has the characteristics noted above.
Pahlavi is then an admixture of
written Imperial Aramaic, from which Pahlavi derives its script, logograms, and some of its vocabulary.
spoken Middle Iranian, from which Pahlavi derives its terminations, symbol rules, and most of its vocabulary.Pahlavi may thus be defined as a system of writing applied to (but not unique for) a specific language group, but with critical features alien to that language group. It has the characteristics of a distinct language, but is not one. It is an exclusively written system, but much Pahlavi literature remains essentially an oral literature committed to writing and so retains many of the characteristics of oral composition.Parthia
Parthia (Old Persian: 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 Parθava; Parthian: 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 Parθaw; Middle Persian: 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 Pahlaw) is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran. It was conquered and subjugated by the empire of the Medes during the 7th century BC, was incorporated into the subsequent Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC, and formed part of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire following the 4th-century-BC conquests of Alexander the Great. The region later served as the political and cultural base of the Eastern-Iranian Parni people and Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire (247 BC – 224 AD). The Sasanian Empire, the last state of pre-Islamic Persia, also held the region and maintained the Seven Parthian clans as part of their feudal aristocracy.Parthian language
The Parthian language, also known as Arsacid Pahlavi and Pahlawānīg, is a now-extinct ancient Northwestern Iranian language spoken in Parthia, a region of northeastern ancient Iran. Parthian was the language of state of the Arsacid Parthian Empire (248 BC – 224 AD), as well as of its eponymous branches of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia, Arsacid dynasty of Iberia, and the Arsacid dynasty of Caucasian Albania.
This language had a huge impact on Armenian, a large part of whose vocabulary was formed primarily from borrowings from Parthian. Many ancient Parthian words were preserved, and now can be seen only in Armenian.Persian language
Persian (), also known by its endonym Farsi (فارسی, fārsi, [fɒːɾˈsiː] (listen)), is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan (officially known as Dari since 1958) and Tajikistan (officially known as Tajiki since the Soviet era), Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.
The Persian language is classified as a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of the Sasanian Empire, itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of the Achaemenid Empire. Its grammar is similar to that of many contemporary European languages. A Persian-speaking person may be referred to as Persophone.There are approximately 110 million Persian speakers worldwide, with the language holding official status in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. For centuries, Persian has also been a prestigious cultural language in other regions of Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia by the various empires based in the regions.Persian has had a considerable (mainly lexical) influence on neighboring languages, particularly the Turkic languages in Central Asia, Caucasus, and Anatolia, neighboring Iranian languages, as well as Armenian, Georgian, and Indo-Aryan languages, especially Urdu (a register of Hindustani). It also exerted some influence on Arabic, particularly Bahrani Arabic, while borrowing much vocabulary from it after the Arab conquest of Iran.With a long history of literature in the form of Middle Persian before Islam, Persian was the first language in the Muslim world to break through Arabic's monopoly on writing, and the writing of poetry in Persian was established as a court tradition in many eastern courts. Some of the famous works of Persian literature are the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the works of Rumi, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Panj Ganj of Nizami Ganjavi, the Divān of Hafez and the two miscellanea of prose and verse by Saadi Shirazi, the Gulistan and the Bustan.Persian people
The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group that make up over half the population of Iran. They share a common cultural system and are native speakers of the Persian language, as well as closely related languages.The ancient Persians were a nomadic branch of the ancient Iranian population that entered the territory of modern-day Iran by the early 10th century BC. Together with their compatriot allies, they established and ruled some of the world's most powerful empires, well-recognized for their massive cultural, political, and social influence covering much of the territory and population of the ancient world. Throughout history, the Persians have contributed greatly to various forms of art and science, and own one of the world's most prominent literatures.In contemporary terminology, people of Persian heritage native specifically to present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are referred to as Tajiks, whereas those in the eastern Caucasus (primarily the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan), albeit heavily assimilated, are referred to as Tats. However, historically, the terms Tajik, Tat, and Persian were synonymous and were used interchangeably, and many of the most influential Persian figures hailed from outside Iran's present-day borders to the northeast in Central Asia and Afghanistan and to a lesser extent to the northwest in the Caucasus proper. In historical contexts, especially in English, "Persians" may be defined more loosely to cover all subjects of the ancient Persian polities, regardless of ethnic background.Psalter Pahlavi
Psalter Pahlavi is a cursive abjad which was used for writing Middle Persian on paper, it is thus described as one of the Pahlavi scripts. It was written right to left, usually with spaces between words.It takes its name from the Pahlavi Psalter, part of the Psalms translated from Syriac to Middle Persian and found in what is now western China.Qaen
Qayen (Persian: قائن, also Romanized as Ghayen, Qaen or Ghaen; from Middle Persian: kʾyyn Kāyēn) is a city in and the capital of Qaen County, in South Khorasan Province, Iran. The population at the 2006 census, was 32,474 in 8,492 families.
Qaen is also called the City of Saffron because it is a major saffron producer and saffron from Qaen is prized for its unique aroma and strong colour.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.Scheherazade
Scheherazade (; Persian: شهرزاد, translit. Šahrzād, derived from Middle Persian Čehrāzād) is a major female character and the storyteller in the Middle Eastern literature One Thousand and One Nights.Shabuhragan
The Shabuhragan (Persian: شاپورگان Shāpuragān), which means "[the] book of Shapur", was a sacred book of the Manichaean religion, written by the founder Mani (c. 210–276 CE) himself, originally in Middle Persian, and dedicated to Shapur I (c. 215-272 CE), the contemporary king of the Sassanid Persian Empire. The book was designed to present to Shapur an outline of Mani's new religion, which united elements from Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Buddhism. Original Middle Persian fragments were discovered at Turpan, and quotations were brought in Arabic by Biruni:
From aeon to aeon the apostles of God did not cease to bring here the Wisdom and the Works. Thus in one age their coming was into the countries of India through the apostle that was the Buddha; in another age, into the land of Persia through Zoroaster; in another, into the land of the West through Jesus. After that, in this last age, this revelation came down and this prophethood arrived through myself, Mani, the apostle of the true God, into the land of Babel (Babylonia - then a province of the Sasanian Empire).(from Al-Biruni's Chronology, quoted in Hans Jonas, "The Gnostic Religion", 1958)
Contemporary Persian and Classical Persian are the same language, but writers since 1900 are classified as contemporary. At one time, Persian was a common cultural language of much of the non-Arabic Islamic world. Today it is the official language of Iran, Tajikistan and one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.
Italics indicate extinct languages.
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