Name of Iran

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In the Western world, Persia (or one of its cognates) was historically the common name for Iran. On the Nowruz of 1935, Reza Shah Pahlavi asked foreign delegates to use the term Iran, the endonym of the country, in formal correspondence. Since then, in the Western World, the use of the word "Iran" has become more common. This also changed the usage of the terms for Iranian nationality, and the common adjective for citizens of Iran changed from "Persian" to "Iranian". In 1959, the government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Reza Shah Pahlavi's son, announced that both "Persia" and "Iran" could officially be used interchangeably. [1] However the issue is still debated today. [2]

Western world Countries that identify themselves with an originally European shared culture

The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various nations depending on the context, most often including at least parts of Europe, Australasia, and the Americas, with the status of Latin America disputed by some. There are many accepted definitions, all closely interrelated. The Western world is also known as the Occident, in contrast to the Orient, or Eastern world.

Iran Islamic Republic in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Its territory spans 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), making it the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the capital, largest city, and leading economic and cultural center.

Nowruz Day of new year in the Persian calendar

Nowruz is the Iranian New Year, also known as the Persian New Year, which is celebrated worldwide by various ethno-linguistic groups.

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Etymology of "Iran"

The name "Irān" is first attested in the Avesta as airyānąm (the text of which is composed in Avestan, an old Iranian language spoken in northeastern Greater Iran, or in what are now Turkmenistan and Tajikistan). [3] [4] [5] [6]

Avesta Zoroastrianist scripture

The Avesta is the primary collection of religious texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the otherwise unrecorded Avestan language.

Iranian languages language family

The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Iranian peoples.

Turkmenistan Country in Central Asia

Turkmenistan, formerly known as Turkmenia, officially the Republic of Turkmenistan, is a country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Ashgabat is the capital and largest city. The population of the country is 5.6 million, the lowest of the Central Asian republics and one of the most sparsely populated in Asia.

The Modern Persian word Īrān (ایران) derives immediately from Middle Persian Ērān (Pahlavi spelling: ʼyrʼn), first attested in an inscription that accompanies the investiture relief of the first Sassanid king Ardashir I at Naqsh-e Rustam. [7] In this inscription, the king's Middle Persian appellation is ardašīr šāhān šāh ērān while in the Parthian language inscription that accompanies the Middle Persian one the king is titled ardašīr šāhān šāh aryān (Pahlavi: ... ʼryʼn) both meaning king of kings of Iranians.[ citation needed ]

Middle Persian also known as Pahlavi or Parsik, 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.

Ardashir I Founder of the Sassanid Empire

Ardashir I or Ardeshir I, also known as Ardashir the Unifier, was the founder of the Sasanian Empire. He was also Ardashir V of the dynasty of the Kings of Persis, until he founded the new empire. After defeating the last Parthian shahanshah Artabanus V on the Hormozdgan plain in 224, he overthrew the Parthian dynasty and established the Sasanian dynasty. Afterwards, Ardashir called himself "shahanshah" and began conquering the land that he called Iran.

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, as well as of its eponymous branches of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia, Arsacid dynasty of Iberia, and the Arsacid dynasty of Caucasian Albania.

The gentilic ēr- and ary- in ērān and aryān derives from Old Iranian *arya- [7] (Old Persian airya-, Avestan airiia-, etc.), meaning "Aryan", [7] in the sense of "of the Iranians". [7] [8] This term is attested as an ethnic designator in Achaemenid inscriptions and in Zoroastrianism's Avesta tradition, [9] [n 1] and it seems "very likely" [7] that in Ardashir's inscription ērān still retained this meaning, denoting the people rather than the empire.

A demonym or gentilic is a word that identifies residents or natives of a particular place and is usually derived from the name of the place.

Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages. Old Persian appears primarily in the inscriptions, clay tablets and seals of the Achaemenid era. 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. 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.

Avestan East Iranian language used in Zoroastrian scripture

Avestan, also known historically as Zend, comprises two languages: Old Avestan and Younger Avestan. The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, from which they derive their name. Both are early Iranian languages, a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages within the Indo-European family. Its immediate ancestor was the Proto-Iranian language, a sister language to the Proto-Indo-Aryan language, with both having developed from the earlier Proto-Indo-Iranian. As such, Old Avestan is quite close in grammar and lexicon with Vedic Sanskrit, the oldest preserved Indo-Aryan language.

Notwithstanding this inscriptional use of ērān to refer to the Iranian peoples, the use of ērān to refer to the empire (and the antonymic anērān to refer to the Roman territories) is also attested by the early Sassanid period. Both ērān and anērān appear in 3rd century calendrical text written by Mani. In an inscription of Ardashir's son and immediate successor, Shapur I "apparently includes in Ērān regions such as Armenia and the Caucasus which were not inhabited predominantly by Iranians". [10] In Kartir's inscriptions (written thirty years after Shapur's), the high priest includes the same regions (together with Georgia, Albania, Syria and the Pontus) in his list of provinces of the antonymic Anērān. [10] Ērān also features in the names of the towns founded by Sassanid dynasts, for instance in Ērān-xwarrah-šābuhr "Glory of Ērān (of) Shapur". It also appears in the titles of government officers, such as in Ērān-āmārgar "Accountant-General (of) Ērān" or Ērān-dibirbed "Chief Scribe (of) Ērān". [7]

Iranian peoples diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group

The Iranian peoples, or the Iranic peoples, are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprise the speakers of the Iranian languages.

Mani (prophet) prophet and founder of Manichaeism

Mani, of Iranian origin, was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of late antiquity which was widespread but no longer prevalent by name. Mani was born in or near Seleucia-Ctesiphon in Babylonia, at the time still part of the Parthian Empire. Six of his major works were written in Syriac, and the seventh, dedicated to the Sasanian emperor Shapur I, was written in Middle Persian. He died in Gundeshapur.

Shapur I Shah of Persia

Shapur I, also known as Shapur the Great, was the second shahanshah of the Sasanian Empire. The dates of his reign are commonly given as 240/42 – 270, but it is likely that he also reigned as co-regent prior to his father's death in 242.

Etymology of "Persia"

Modern reconstruction of the ancient world map of Eratosthenes from c. 200 BC, using the names Ariana and Persis Mappa di Eratostene.jpg
Modern reconstruction of the ancient world map of Eratosthenes from c. 200 BC, using the names Ariana and Persis

The Greeks (who had previously tended to use names related to "Median") began to use adjectives such as Pérsēs ( Πέρσης ), Persikḗ ( Περσική ) or Persís ( Περσίς ) in the fifth century BC to refer to Cyrus the Great's empire (a word understood to mean "country"). [11] Such words were taken from the Old Persian Pārsa – the name of the people from whom Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid dynasty stemmed and over whom he first ruled (before he inherited or conquered other Iranian Kingdoms). Thus, the term Persian is an exonym and Iranians never historically referred to Iran by that exonym.[ citation needed ] The Pars tribe gave its name to the region where they lived (the modern day province is called Fars/Pars) but the province in ancient times was smaller than its current area.[ citation needed ] In Latin, the name for the whole empire was Persia, while the Iranians knew it as Iran or Iranshahr.[ citation needed ]

The Greeks or Hellenes are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.

Cyrus the Great King and founder of the Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus II of Persia, commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Western Asia and much of Central Asia. From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen. Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched at its maximum extent from parts of the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east. His regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Corners of the World. The Nabonidus Chronicle notes the change in his title from simply "King of Anshan", a city, to "King of Persia". Assyriologist François Vallat wrote that "When Astyages marched against Cyrus, Cyrus is called ‘King of Anshan’, but when Cyrus crosses the Tigris on his way to Lydia, he is ‘King of Persia’. The coup therefore took place between these two events."

In the later parts of the Bible, where this kingdom is frequently mentioned (Books of Esther, Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah), it is called Paras (Biblical Hebrew : פרס), or sometimes Paras u Madai (פרס ומדי), i.e. "Persia and Media". The Arabs used to likewise refer to Iran and the Persian (Sassanian) Empire as Bilād Fāris (Arabic : بلاد فارس), i.e. "Lands of Persia", which would become the popular name for the region in Muslim literature.

In Greek Mythology, Perseus is alleged to be the ancestors of all Persians, thus giving its name.

Two names in the West

The exonym Persia was the official name of Iran in the Western world before March 1935, but the Iranian people inside their country since the time of Zoroaster (probably circa 1000 BC), or even before, have called their country Arya, Iran, Iranshahr, Iranzamin (Land of Iran), Aryānām (the equivalent of Iran in the proto-Iranian language) or its equivalents. The term Arya has been used by the Iranian people, as well as by the rulers and emperors of Iran, from the time of the Avesta. Evidently from the time of the Sassanids (226–651 CE) Iranians have called it Iran, meaning "the land of Aryans" and Iranshahr. In Middle Persian sources, the name Arya and Iran is used for the pre-Sassanid Iranian empires as well as the Sassanid empire. As an example, the use of the name "Iran" for Achaemenids in the Middle Persian book of Arda Viraf refers to the invasion of Iran by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. [12] The Proto-Iranian term for Iran is reconstructed as *Aryānām (the genitive plural of the word *Arya); the Avestan equivalent is Airyanem (as in Airyanem Vaejah). The internal preference for "Iran" was noted in some Western reference books (e.g. the Harmsworth Encyclopaedia, circa 1907, entry for Iran: "The name is now the official designation of Persia.") but for international purposes, Persia was the norm.

In the mid 1930s, the ruler of the country, Reza Shah Pahlavi, moved towards formalising the name Iran instead of Persia for all purposes. In the British House of Commons the move was reported upon by the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs as follows: [13]

On the 25th December [1934] the Persian Ministry for Foreign Affairs addressed a circular memorandum to the Foreign Diplomatic Missions in Tehran requesting that the terms "Iran" and "Iranian" might be used in official correspondence and conversation as from the 21st March next instead, of the words "Persia" and "Persian" hitherto in current use. His Majesty's Minister in Tehran has been instructed to accede to this request.

The decree of Reza Shah Pahlavi affecting nomenclature duly took effect on 21 March 1935.

To avoid confusion between the two neighboring countries of Iran and Iraq, which were both involved in WWII and occupied by the Allies, Winston Churchill requested from the Iranian government during the Teheran Conference for the old and distinct name "Persia to be used by the United Nations [i.e., the Allies] for the duration of the common War". His request was approved immediately by the Iranian Foreign Ministry. The Americans, however, continued using Iran as they then had little involvement in Iraq to cause any such confusion.

In the summer of 1959, following concerns that the native name had, as one politician put it, "turned a known into an unknown", a committee was formed, led by noted scholar Ehsan Yarshater, to consider the issue again. They recommended a reversal of the 1935 decision, and Mohammad Reza Shah approved this. However, the implementation of the proposal was weak, simply allowing Persia and Iran to be used interchangeably. [1] Today, both terms are common; Persia mostly in historical and cultural contexts, "Iran" mostly in political contexts.

In recent years most exhibitions of Persian history, culture and art in the world have used the exonym Persia (e.g., "Forgotten Empire; Ancient Persia", British Museum; "7000 Years of Persian Art", Vienna, Berlin; and "Persia; Thirty Centuries of Culture and Art", Amsterdam). [14] In 2006, the largest collection of historical maps of Iran, entitled Historical Maps of Persia, was published in the Netherlands. [15]

Recent debate

In the 1980s, Professor Ehsan Yarshater (editor of the Encyclopædia Iranica ) started to publish articles on this matter (in both English and Persian) in Rahavard Quarterly, Pars Monthly, Iranian Studies Journal , etc. After him, a few Iranian scholars and researchers such as Prof. Kazem Abhary, and Prof. Jalal Matini followed the issue. Several times since then, Iranian magazines and Web sites have published articles from those who agree or disagree with usage of Persia and Persian in English.

It is the case in many countries that the country's native name is different from its international name (see Exonym), but for Persians and Iranians this issue has been very controversial. Main points on this matter:

There are many Iranians in the West who prefer Persia and Persian as the English names for the country and nationality, similar to the usage of La Perse/persan in French. According to Hooman Majd, the popularity of the term Persia among the Persian diaspora stems from the fact that "'Persia' connotes a glorious past they would like to be identified with, while 'Iran' since 1979 revolution... says nothing to the world but Islamic fundamentalism." [2]

Official names

Since 11 February 1979, the official name of the Iranian state is Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ایران Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān).

See also

Bibliography

Notes

  1. In the Avesta the airiia- are members of the ethnic group of the Avesta-reciters themselves, in contradistinction to the anairiia-, the "non-Aryas". The word also appears four times in Old Persian: One is in the Behistun inscription, where ariya- is the name of a language or script (DB 4.89). The other three instances occur in Darius I's inscription at Naqsh-e Rustam (DNa 14-15), in Darius I's inscription at Susa (DSe 13-14), and in the inscription of Xerxes I at Persepolis (XPh 12-13). In these, the two Achaemenid dynasts describe themselves as pārsa pārsahyā puça ariya ariyaciça "a Persian, son of a Persian, an Ariya, of Ariya origin". "The phrase with ciça, "origin, descendance", assures that it [i.e. ariya] is an ethnic name wider in meaning than pārsa and not a simple adjectival epithet." [9]

Related Research Articles

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.

King of Kings title

King of Kings was a ruling title employed primarily by monarchs based in the Middle East. Though most commonly associated with Iran, especially the Achaemenid and Sasanian Empires, the title was originally introduced during the Middle Assyrian Empire by king Tukulti-Ninurta I and was subsequently used in a number of different kingdoms and empires, including the aforementioned Persia, various Hellenic kingdoms, Armenia, Georgia and Ethiopia.

Naqsh-e Rostam necropolis in Iran

Naqsh-e Rostam is an ancient necropolis located about 12 km northwest of Persepolis, in Fars Province, Iran, with a group of ancient Iranian rock reliefs cut into the cliff, from both the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods. It lies a few hundred meters from Naqsh-e Rajab, with a further four Sassanid rock reliefs, three celebrating kings and one a high priest.

Derafsh Kaviani

Derafsh Kaviani, or Derafsh Kavani, was the legendary royal standard (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, who received 30,000 dinars for it. After the jewels were removed, Rashidun Caliph Umar is said to have burned the standard. The banner was also sometimes called the "Standard of Jamshid", the "Standard of Fereydun" and the "Royal Standard".

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.

History of Khuzestan Province

The history of Khuzestan Province, a province in southwestern Iran, extends from the ancient pre-Aryan Elamite civilization to the modern day Islamic Republic.

Anīrân or Anērān is an ethno-linguistic term that signifies "non-Iranian" or "non-Iran" (non-Aryan). Thus, in a general sense, 'Aniran' signifies lands where Iranian languages are not spoken. In a pejorative sense, it denotes "a political and religious enemy of Iran and Zoroastrianism."

Greater Iran Cultural region

Greater Iran is a term used to refer to the regions of the Caucasus, West Asia, Central Asia, and parts of South Asia that have significant Iranian cultural influence due to having been either long historically ruled by the various imperial dynasties of the Iranian Empire, having considerable aspects of Persian culture due to extensive contact with the various imperial dynasties of Iran, or are simply nowadays still inhabited by a significant amount of Iranian peoples who patronize their respective cultures. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains. The Encyclopædia Iranica uses the term Iranian Cultural Continent for this region.

Sāssān, considered the eponymous ancestor of the Sasanian Dynasty in Persia, was "a great warrior and hunter" and a Zoroastrian high priest in Pars. He lived sometime near the fall of the Arsacid (Parthian) Empire in the early 3rd century CE.

The modern Persian name of Iran (ایران) derives immediately from 3rd-century Sasanian Middle Persian ērān, where it initially meant "of the Iranians", but soon also acquired a geographical connotation in the sense of "(lands inhabited by) Iranians". In both geographic and demonymic senses, ērān is distinguished from its antonymic anērān, meaning "non-Iran(ian)".

Albania (satrapy) satrapy of the Sassanid Empire

Albania, or Ardhan in Parthian or Arran in Middle Persian, was a Caucasian satrapy (province) of the Sassanid Empire.

Šahrestānīhā ī Ērānšahr is a surviving Middle Persian text on geography, which was completed in the late eighth or early ninth centuries AD. The text gives a numbered list of the cities of Eranshahr and their history and importance for Persian history. The text itself has indication that it was also redacted at the time of Khosrow II in 7th century as it mentions several places in Africa and Persian Gulf conquered by the Sasanians.

Ariana District in Achaemenid, Parts of Modern day Iran and Afghanistan

Ariana, the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Ἀρ(ε)ιανή Ar(e)ianē, was a general geographical term used by some Greek and Roman authors of the ancient period for a district of wide extent between Central Asia and the Indus River, comprising the eastern provinces of the Achaemenid Empire that covered the whole of modern-day Afghanistan, as well as the easternmost part of Iran and up to the Indus River in Pakistan.

Aryan self-designation of an ancient Indo-Iranian people

"Aryan" has as its root a term that was used as a self-designation by Indo-Iranian people. The term was used by the Indo-Aryan people of the Vedic period in India as an ethnic label for themselves and to refer to the noble class as well as the geographic region known as Āryāvarta, where Indo-Aryan culture is based. The closely related Iranian people also used the term as an ethnic label for themselves in the Avesta scriptures, and the word forms the etymological source of the country name Iran. It was believed in the 19th century that Aryan was also a self-designation used by all Proto-Indo-Europeans, a theory that has now been abandoned. Scholars point out that, even in ancient times, the idea of being an "Aryan" was religious, cultural and linguistic, not racial.

References

  1. 1 2 Yarshater, Ehsan Persia or Iran, Persian or Farsi Archived 2010-10-24 at the Wayback Machine , Iranian Studies, vol. XXII no. 1 (1989)
  2. 1 2 Majd, Hooman, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran, by Hooman Majd, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 23 September 2008, ISBN   0385528426, 9780385528429. p. 161
  3. William W. Malandra (20 July 2005). "ZOROASTRIANISM i. HISTORICAL REVIEW" . Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  4. Nicholas Sims-Williams. "EASTERN IRANIAN LANGUAGES" . Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  5. "IRAN" . Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  6. K. Hoffmann. "AVESTAN LANGUAGE I-III" . Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 MacKenzie, David Niel (1998). "Ērān, Ērānšahr". Encyclopedia Iranica. 8. Costa Mesa: Mazda.
  8. Schmitt, Rüdiger (1987). "Aryans". Encyclopedia Iranica. 2. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 684–687.
  9. 1 2 Bailey, Harold Walter (1987). "Arya". Encyclopedia Iranica. 2. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 681–683.
  10. 1 2 Gignoux, Phillipe (1987). "Anērān". Encyclopedia Iranica. 2. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 30–31.
  11. Liddell and Scott, Lexicon of the Greek Language, Oxford, 1882, p 1205
  12. Arda Viraf (1:4; 1:5; 1:9; 1:10; 1:12; etc.)
  13. HC Deb 20 February 1935 vol 298 cc350-1 351
  14. Hermitage (20 September 2007). ""Persia", Hermitage Amsterdam". Hermitage. Hermitage. Archived from the original on 28 April 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2007. Persian objects at Hermitage
  15. Brill (20 September 2006). "General Maps of Persia 1477 - 1925". Brill website. Brill. Archived from the original on 21 April 2006. Retrieved 3 May 2006. Iran, or Persia as it was known in the West for most of its long history, has been mapped extensively for centuries but the absence of a good cartobibliography has often deterred scholars of its history and geography from making use of the many detailed maps that were produced. This is now available, prepared by Cyrus Alai who embarked on a lengthy investigation into the old maps of Persia, and visited major map collections and libraries in many countries ...
  16. Merriam Webster (5 January 2008). "Persian". MW. MW. Retrieved 5 January 2008. Persian Carpet, Cat, melon...