Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A fire-Altar beneath Echmiadzin Cathedral, Armenia

Participating in the conference "The Middle East and the Caucasus: History, Realities and Perspectives" in Yerevan, Armenia, I had a chance to visit Echmiadzin Cathedral on Friday, November 07, 2008. The excursion was arranged by the conference organisers, the Institute of Oriental Studies of Armenian National Academy of Sciences. By the kindness of our Armenian host, we were able to see a Mazdayee/ Zoroastrian construction, a fire-altar, beneath the main altar of the cathedral. Unearthed in 1950, The fire-place is surrounded by a wall, and there is a kind of complicated carved design facing it on the opposite wall. The existence of such a worship place goes with the legend that Christ came down from heaven with a hammer to destroy a pagan temple and show where the church has to be built. The place is closed to ordinary visitors.

Fortunately, I was able take some photos and shoot two short movies, though not in good quality, by my digital camera. I upload them here. A photo shows the entrance to the construction, while the other looks to the entrance from inside. The design on the wall opposite to the altar is shown in the third one. While narrating the scene, I made a mistake, corrected shortly afterwards, by describing the design on the wall as a "Lotus flower", an ancient Persian symbols carved on many historical remains.
The three photos and two movies © Jalil Nozari
More information in Wikipedia which has a reference to this construction under "Archaeological traces" (click here).

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Georgian - Persian Dictionary

Georgian-Persian Dictionary by Nowrouz Lachinani, Esfahan: Sepahan Publishers, 1386 (2007) is the first of its kind in our recent history.

The following is in Georgian: the characters will not be legible on your desktop unless a Georgian font is installed:
ქართშლ–სპარსული ლექსიკონი (ნუგზარ ლაჩინანი)
You find more information in Georgian by clicking here.

A short account of the Georgian paper follows. I am indebted to dear Manana Kock-Kobaidze, University of Malmö, for providing the link and the English rendering:

"Jamsheed Giunashvili gives a short overview of the history of Georgian-Persian dictionaries. One was compiled in the 17th century by Gorgidzhanidze, some new short
Persian-Georgian dictionaries were compiled and published in Georgia in the 20th century and then one a bit longer dictionary (2500 words) was published in Iran in 2004 as an appendix to Leila Geguchadze's Georgian for Persian learners. The book was published in Rasht, Iran.
The latest Georgian-Persian dictionary compiled by Nouruz (Nugzar)Lachinani includes 16000 words. It was published in 3000 ex. in 2007."

Is a Semiotic Reading hopefully Possible?

According to an obituary on Harvard University website, Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations, died on December 24, 2008.
Since the release of the book, particularly as from the beginning of the current millennium, the world has entered into a hellish situation we are facing now: 9/11, terrors, wars, occupations, shattered economies, etc.
Now, the call for change is widespread, manifested not only in the election results at home, but also the throw of shoes abroad. It is exactly at this time that the death of the foreteller of cultural clashes is announced. What makes Mr. Huntington's death more symbolic is that it happened on December 24, a day before Christmas, the birth of Christ, which is the birth of Mithra, the Sun god.
I am not glad of his death, because "Every man's death diminishes me," and I know the answer "For whom the bells toll?"- It's not only for Huntington and Edward Said, it's for me too. I only hope that Prof. Huntington's demise is the end of an era that has had catastrophic consequences for our Planet ship's passengers.

به گزارش سايت دانشگاه هاروارد ساموئل هانتيگتون هفته ی پيش در 24 دسامبر درگذشت. انتشار کتاب "جنگ تمدن ها" سرآغاز دورانی شد که با توحش عمليات 11 سپتامبر، جنگ ها، کشتارها و اشغال های بعدی به فجايعی منجر شد که جهان امروز ما را مبتلای خود کرده است.
خواست تغيير اکنون از همه جا بگوش می رسد، نه تنها از داخل خود ايالات متحده که خود را در نتايج انتخاب نشان داد، بلکه حتی در پرتاب آن دو لنگه کفشی که مشهور همگان است. درست در چنين وقتی است که مرگ پيش گو اعلام می شود. آن چه اين مرگ را به لحاظ نشانه شناختی مهم تر می کند وقوع آن در شب کريسمس، شب تولد ميترا و فرازتر شدن خورشيد است.
من از مرگ پرفسور هانتينگتون، هم چنان که از مرگ هيچ انسان ديگری خوش حال نمی شوم. "مرگ هر انسانی از من می کاهد"، هم چنان که مرگ ادوارد سعيد چنين کرد، و اين زنگ ها برای من و تو است که به صدا در می آيد. اما، آرزو می کنم درگذشت او مرگ دورانی باشد که زندگی همه ی سرنشينان کشتی سياره ی ما را دست خوش اين همه رنج کرد.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Some corners of Baagh (باغ)

To put in display some corners of the Baagh (باغ), I post here eight photos from places of respect in and around Hamadan, the old city of western part of Iran. I have taken them from a collection of sixteen photos published by Fardin Chardowli.

Ganj Nameh Inscriptions کتیبه های گنج نامه- Two rock carving inscription panels, written in cuneiform, belonging to Acamenid era

The Armenian Grigori Stephanos Church کلیسای گرگوری استپانوس- rebuilt in 1931, part of Hegmataneh complex

Mausoleum of Esther and Mordecai آرامگاه استر و مردخای- building belongs to 7th century A.H.

Tomb of Prophet Habakkuk آرامگاه حبقوق نبی- a minor prophet of the Old Testament, 700 BCE. The building belongs to the Seleucid era

Jame Mosque مسجد جامع- built originally in the Safavid period, rebuilt and expanded in Qhajars period

Gonabad-e Alavian گنبد علويان- tombs of two members of Alavi family, Seleucid era

Avicenna Mausoleum آرامگاه پور سينا- tomb of the Persian philosopher Ebn Sina, constructed 1330 Solar A.H.

Tomb of Baba Taher آرامگاه بابا طاهر عريان- Persian poet and mystic. His couplets are of the most appealing ones in Persian poetry.
چو شو گيرم خيال تو در آغوش
سحر از بسترم بوی گل آيو

Persian Decrees of the Matenadaran

Following the edition and appearance of volumes 1 & 2 of the Persian firmans available in Matenadaran, Yerevan, Armenia, by the late Professor Papazyan years ago, the task was taken by Kristine Kostikyan to give the rest of the manuscripts to print.
She recently published the volumes three and four of "The Persian Decrees of Matenedaran" in Yerevan by the support of Iran Heritage Foundation (both volumes) and Armen and Bersabe Jerejian Foundation Inc.- USA (volume three).

She studied, edited and translated the documents in these volumes. The books provide pictures of about 145 Persian royal documents from Safavid to early Qhajar periods dealing with various issues related to Armenian people and clergy when the land was part of the Persian empire. Together with their transliteration in Persian, the books also provide the Armenian and English translations of the documents.

I met Kristine, a very modest fellow, in Matenadaran Institute, Yerevan and she kindly gave me a signed copy of each volume.
The three photographs by Jalil Nozari, November, 2008.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Mithras Reader Vol II

Mithras Reader volume 2 is published.
Photograph by Jalil Nozari, Temple of Mitra, Garni, Armenia

Metamorphosis- Turtles

I heard the following story of metamorphosis in my childhood in Ramhormoz, Southwestern province of Khuzestan, Iran:

Once upon a time, the sky was so close at hand that people could easily stretch their hands and get from it whatever they wanted. In one of those days, a woman was baking bread while her child was playing by. The child, out of necessity, made itself dirty. To clean it, not bothering to use a piece of cloth or something, the mother used bread to wipe the dirt out.
Outraged by this, the heaven took the hot baking pan and pressed it on the woman's back, pushing at the same time the baking stick inside her from behind through to her mouth, thus transforming her into a turtle. It was in this way that turtles came into being.
Thenceforward, the sky went up, so high and far from access that no human hand can reach.

The Female and the Bear

I heard the following fable in my childhood in Ramhormoz, Southwestern province of Khuzestan, Iran, but I know that it has a wider circulation area. I gave an account of it in one of my critical writing in Persian years ago. Not being sure if the fable is recorded elsewhere, I publish it to post here so that it is not forgotten!

A woman doing the dishes on the bank of her village stream was approached by a bear from behind, grabbing and dragging her to his den. Felling in love with the woman, the bear licked continuously the sole of her feet so that they became utterly thin. As a result, the woman, unable to move and leave the cave, stayed there with him for good.

Are females human and male folk beast?!

Islamic Chinoiserie

Yuka Kadoi's book on the artistic interaction between Iran and China under the Mongols will be published by Edinburgh University Press in coming April.
To quote from the flyer sent to me by the author, "Highly illustrated, Islamic Chinoiserie offers a fascinating glimpse into the artistic interaction between Iran and China under the Mongols. By using rich visual materials from various media of decorative and pictorial arts- textiles, ceramics, metalwork and manuscript painting- the book illustrates the process of adoption and adaptation of Chinese themes in the art of Mongol-ruled Iran in a visually compelling way."
I met Yuka two times, first in Krakow, Poland, participating in ESCAS 9th conference, the second time in London, presenting a paper titled, "Rustam's Tiger-Skin Coat" (خفتان رستم) in the Six Biennial conference of Iranian Studies. She currently works at the Art Institute of Chicago.
The photo showing Yuka and me was taken in a banquet in Krakow.


گر اژدهاست بر ره، عشق است چون زمرد
از برق اين زمرد هين دفع اژدها کن

If the way is blocked by a dragon
Love is like emerald
By the light of that emerald
Do away with the dragon

جلال الدين محمد بلخی
Jalal ad-din Mohammad Balkhi

Sunday, 21 December 2008


It's a long time I have been willing to create a virtual place of my own, preferably under the name of BAAGH (باغ), the Persian equivalent for the English 'Garden'. Varieties of plants and fruits, of various colours, scents, tastes and sizes are to be found in a Baagh. This is the way I see the culture I was brough up and am breathing in.

I have never been able in my life to focus just on a single line of activity, or study. I am, perhaps, an example of what late Prof. Hashtroudi said of our intellectuals: "they resemble an ocean of knowledge, with only half a millimetre depth."

I hope I am able to continue posting on this blog, and the posts will be to the tastes of the omnivorous.