Kaveh Farrokh Presentation at University of Yerevan November 2013

Kaveh Farrokh provided a presentation at (بخش ایران شناسی دانشگاه دولتی ایروان) the University of Yerevan Iranian Studies Department at the “Shirvan, Arran, and Azerbaijan: A Historical-Cultural Retrospective” conference (kindly click here for more information on all conference participants and their topics).

YSUFrontal view of the State University of Yerevan, host to theShirvan, Arran, and Azerbaijan: A Historical-Cultural Retrospective” conference  on Nov. 1-2, 2013. The university is host to an excellent Iranian Studies program, staffed by exemplary researchers such as Professor Garnik S. Asatrian (Chair, Iranian Studies Dept., Yerevan State University; Editor, “Iran and the Caucasus”, BRILL, Leiden-Boston) and Professor Victoria Arakelova (Associate Professor, Department of Iranian Studies, Yerevan State University; Associate Editor, “Iran and the Caucasus”, BRILL, Leiden). The conference has been made possible through the works of Professors Asatrian and Arakelova.

YSU-Committee-2013-1Cover page, dedication and list of organizers of the conference. Kindly note that Kaveh Farrokh was one of the members of the organizing committee for the conference at Yerevan State University (Click to enlarge to see list of organizers). For more information on the conference kindly click here for more information on all conference participants and their topics.

Kaveh Farrokh’s presentation and abstract for the conference was as follows:

Cultural Links between Iran and Arran (Modern Republic of Azerbaijan) from Antiquity to the 1900s” (November 2, 2013)

This paper will provide an overview of the cultural and historical links between ancient Albania/Arran and Iran from antiquity to the early twentieth century. A comprehensive series of Classical and pre- Islamic Iranian sources as well as archaeological studies are referenced for the pre-Islamic (Medo-Achaemenid and Partho-Sassanian) era. Examples cited include discoveries of Achaemenid palaces in the region as well as the role of the Albanian knights in the Sassanian army (Spah). The post-Islamic era is discussed with respect to Islamic and European primary sources and cartography with references to languages, the Safavid and post-Safavid eras to the early 1900s.

Zoroastrians-BakuModern-day Zoroastrians from Iran at the Baku Atash-kade (Zoroastrian Fire-Temple) being led in religious ceremonies by Mobed Kourosh Niknam (Source: Image by Farroukh Aliev with this first appearing in Fravahr.org).

تالار فردوسی - ایران شناسی- دانشگاه دولتی ایروانThe Hall of Firdowsi at (تالار فردوسی در بخش ایران شناسی دانشگاه دولتی ایروان)  the Iranian Studies department of Yerevan State University.

After the conference, Farrokh delivered an additional lecture on November 4, 2013 at the University of Yerevan entitled:

Cultural Links between Iran, Armenia and Georgia from Antiquity to the early 1800s 

This lecture will provide an overview of the cultural and historical links between ancient Iran, Armenia and Georgia,notably with respect to the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanian eras. The role of Northern Iranian peoples in the Caucasus and their impact upon the Caucasus is also examined. Topics addressed the role of the Naxarar Armenian knights in the Sassanian Spah (Army) and the role of Armenia and Georgia in cultural contacts between the Iranian Plateau and Eastern Europe. The discussion will conclude with the promotion of Persian language and literature in the Caucasus during the post-Islamic era up to the early 1800s.

Surva-Zorvan-BulgariaThe Surva festival in Bulgaria. Local traditions ascribe this festival to the ancient Iranian cult of Zurvan (Master of Time); the Caucasus has long acted as a conduit between Eastern Europe and the Iranian plateau.

The “Shirvan, Arran, and Azerbaijan: A Historical-Cultural Retrospective” conference has been dedicated to the memory of the late Professor Enayatollah Reza.

Prof Enayatollah RezaThe late Professor Enayatollah Reza (1920-2010).

Letter of Appreciation to Kaveh Farrokh

Appreciation-WAALM-2013Kaveh Farrokh has received a Letter of Appreciation from the London-based WAALM (World Academy of Arts, Literature and Media) for having contributed to the WAALM Podcast “Arts for Peace” for the celebration of the International Day of Peace September, 21, 2013. Kaveh Farrokh is the Head of the Department of Traditions & Cultural History at WAALM.

WAALM-Certificate of Appreciation-2013[Click to Enlarge] The Letter of Appreciation to Kaveh Farrokh for the London-based and United Nations affiliated WAALM society for assistance accorded to the “Arts for Peace” project on behalf of the International day of Peace.

ACUNS-WAALM-NobelThe Nobel Peace Prize nominated World Academy of Arts, Literature and Media (WAALM) has endeavored to promote peace through dialogue in the arts, culture and academia. Readers are encouraged to listen to the entire Podcast “Arts for Peace” which also features excellent musical pieces from world-class artists – to listen, kindly click poster below (Kaveh Farrokh is featured 31:30 minutes into the Podcast):


Readers are also encouraged to read the interview of Iranian Maestro Sattar with the Persianesque magazine:


Kaveh Farrokh received the Best History book Award in 2008 – click on image below:


The Hui Communities of China and Admiral Zheng He

The article below has been forwarded to Kavehfarrokh.com by Sheda Vasseghi. Kindly note that a number of pictures and their accompanying captions have been inserted by Kavehfarrokh.com into the original text by Sheda Vasseghi. A number of sentences and paragraphs have also been added by Kavehfarrokh.com (esp. after the Chinese map of 1418) into the Sheda Vasseghi article.


Sheda Vasseghi has a Master of Arts in Ancient History, with honors, emphasis on Ancient Persia, from American Military University (West Virginia) and a Master of Science in Business Administration from Strayer University (Washington, DC). Ms. Vasseghi is an adjunct professor of history at Northern Virginia Community College. She is also a correspondent with Freepressers in relation to Iran’s affairs. Ms. Vasseghi is a spokeswoman for Azadegan Foundation, a non-profit organization in support of a secular, democratic Iran. She joined persepolis3D in 2003 in handling historical consultation on Iran’s history as well as public relations matters. Ms. Vasseghi may be contacted in relation to the following: (1) planning exhibitions for advertising purposes in promoting historical and cultural awareness of ancient and modern Iran (2) educational services such as conducting and providing classes, workshops, and seminars featuring interviews and speeches in the field of Iranian affairs (3) custom writing services in the field of Iranian affairs and (4) writing of articles for professional journals in the field of Iranian affairs. Ms. Vasseghi may be contacted at sheda@persepolis3D.com.


The Chinese word HUI (“whey”) referred to all immigrant Muslims of different ethnic groups such as Arabs, Persians and Turks residing in China. According to the 13th c. Persian historian Juvaini, after the fall of Central Asian cities such as  to Mongolians, the lives of some 100,000 artisans and craftsmen were spared by the Mongols after they conquered Samarqand and Bukhara: the Mongols forcibly deported them to China. These were the founders of many early Hui communities.

chinese-hui-operaChinese Hui opera performer on stage during the 25th Chinese Drama Plum Blossom Award competition at Xinan theater (June 4, 2010 in Chengdu, China). The Drama Plum Blossom Award is the highest theatrical award bestowed by China (Picture source: 123RF).

During the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), the three dominant administrative languages became Chinese, Mongolian and Persian. Michael Dillon has noted on the  persistence of Persian words and the “special” vocabulary that continue to permeate among the Hui communities.

China-Iran-Table 38-Iranica[Click to Enlarge Table] Persian and Central Asian Nesbas discovered in the funerary inscriptions in China. As noted by For more on this topic consult Professor Cheng Da-Sheng’s article “Chinese-Iranian Relations: Persian Settlements in Southeastern China during the T’ang, Sung, and Yuan Dynasties ” in the Encyclopedia Iranica (Picture source: Encyclopedia Iranica).

Descendants of the Hui also mixed Confucianism with their ancestral beliefs. Given ancient Iranian tradition and philosophy in relation to the concept of law (Old Persian “dada”), one may not bypass the notable 16th c. Hui personality in Chinese history known as “the incorruptible and upright judge Hai Rui,” who is a political icon for having been credited with cleaning up corruption in regional government. On another matter, note the similarities between Hui ethnic clothing with Iranian Tajiki attire as seen in the music video below:

Ethnic Hui folk song “Flower and Juvenile” performed by Hui pop singer Ha.

The Mail article “Does this map from 1418 prove historian’s controversial claim that the New World was discovered by the CHINESE 70 years before Columbus?” has stirred a considerable amopunt of controversy.

The article pertains to the famous Chinese explorer and diplomat Admiral Zheng He (1371–1433) who was of Persian descent. His great great great grandfather was a Persian called Shams al-Din Omar, who was appointed as governor of Yunnan during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). His great grandfather’s name was Bayan.

Admiral ZhengStatue of Chinese admiral of Persian descent, Zheng He (Picture source: Business Week)

As a man of science, Zheng He is credited with having improved the places he visited by introducing them to the calendar, meteorological system, medical advancements, technologies of agriculture, manufacture, and the like. Tradition has it that because of Zheng He’s visit, the people of Malacca learned how to build city walls and dig water wells.

1-Admiral Zheng and FleetChinese Admiral Zheng He is recognized for having sailed with his giant fleet to Europe and Africa. Historian Gavin Menzies has proposed that Zheng He also reached the New World (Source: Chris Heller/CORBIS & The Mail).

Zheng He is also credited with having taught the Siamese water treatment and how to fertilize farmland. In 1911, the “Zheng He Stele” dated 1409 was discovered in Sri Lanka. The stele not only describes Zheng He’s donations to the Buddhist temple, but in accordance with his Iranian ancestral spirit of tolerance, Zheng He and his company paid respect to all local deities and customs.

1-zheng-he-SteleThe Zheng He stele which has inscriptions in Chinese, Tamil and Persian languages (Source: 4.bp.blogspot).  It is notable that Zheng He made a determined effort to pay equal homage to all of Sri Lanka’s religions. 

Perhaps most intriguing is a recent discovery of an ancient Chinese map dated to 1418. This  map is claimed to show the Americas. If true, this would indicate that the Chinese knew of the Americas centuries in advance of the Europeans. Such a paradigm shift would challenge the notion that Christopher Columbus was the first explorer to discover the New World.

Chinese Map-1418A Chinese map dated to 1418 which shows remarkable accuracy with respect to cartographic representation of all the continents, including North America. According to Gavin Menzies, Chinese knowledge of the Americas is derived from the voyages of Zheng He. This is interesting as Columbus did not set foot onto the New World until 1492; technically he had discovered islands off the coast of America which then opened the door to other voyages towards the New World. It was Amerigo Vespucci who actually reached America in 1498-99. More recently, the notion of Columbus being the first European to discover the Americas has also been challenged (Source: Chris Heller/CORBIS & The Mail).

At the time of his death, Zheng He had visited 38 countries in 28 years. Ironically, in 1433, Zheng He died while returning from a trip to his ancestral homeland, Kingdom of Hormuz within the Persian Gulf! As the case with many great admirals, he was buried at sea.

persian-gulf--Hormuz-iran-antique-map-by-bellin-1746[Click to Enlarge] The Kingdom of Hormuz as depicted in a European map by Bellin in 1746 (Picture source: Map and Maps). Also known as Ohrmuzd, the term “Hormuz” is another variation of the Zoroastrian term “Ohrmazd” (the supreme monotheistic spiritual entity). By the 13th century Hormuz was under the rule of Persia. Zheng He made his final voyage to this island in the Persian Gulf.

The links between China and Turco-Iranian or Persianate civilization continue to endure. The two realms have had a rich interchange of culture, especially in cuisine, technology, musical instruments and the arts.

Mehdi Farrokh and Chiang Kai Shek in Nanking 1949Ambassador of Iran to China, Mehdi Farrokh (1886-1973), greeted in Nanking by President of nationalist China, Chiang Kai Shek (1887-1975) in 1949. The two men developed a close friendship and often discussed the ancient ties of the Persianate and Chinese civilizations. Chiang Kai Shek became deeply embroiled in major battles against Mao Tse Tung’s Communist armies – Farrokh was to witness the occupation of Nanking by Mao’s troops. Chiang Kai Shek and the nationalist forces then fled to modern-day Taiwan.

Mehdi Farrokh wrote a book on his mission to China entitled “Safar be Keshvar e Asrar Amiz e Chin” [Travel to the Wondrous/Mysterious Country of China]” in which he highly praised the people, culture, cuisine, civilization and work ethic of China. Mehdi Farrokh also noted the deep sense of integrity, intelligence, kindness, and spirit of generosity in the person of Chiang Kai Shek and all Chinese whom he had the opportunity to contact during his mission to China.   This book along with scores of others from the late Mehdi Farrokh’s office, had been donated by Kaveh Farrokh to the “Ketabkhaneye Melli Iran” [National Library of Iran] in Tehran in the summer of 2001.

Flags of Nader Shah’s Army Discovered in the Caucasus

Nader Shah, was one of post-Islamic Iran’s most brilliant military leaders.

Statue-of-Nader-Shah[Click to Enlarge] Statue of Nader Shah Afshar in Mashhad, the provincial capital of Khorasan. Nader Shah’s tomb restoration project was led by Houshang Seyhoun in the 1950s, with the 6.5-meter statue being sculpted by Abolhasan Seddighi. The latter reconstructed Nader’s face and features in accordance with historical illustrations.  The sculpting process took place in the Borooni workshop supervised by the Italian Embassy in Tehran (Picture source: Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division and Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006).

Nader’s reign over Iran lasted just barely over a decade in 1736-47. Rising from humble origins among Iran’s Afshar tribes, Nader distinguished himself with a meteoric military career which not only rescued Iran from certain fragmentation, but also inflicted crushing military defeats upon the Afghans, Ottomans and Mughuls.

5-Afsharid Musket[Click to Enlarge] Flintlock muskets were introduced into Iran during the Afšārid period. Iranian-built flintlock musket of the Afsharid- Qajar type [A] and the barrel of an Iranian flintlock shaped like a dragon’s head with two red stones serving as the “eyes” of that dragon! [B] (Picture Source: Khorasani, Manouchehr, Mosthagh (2009), Pistols and Gun Accessories in Iran. Classic Arms and Militaria, pp. 23-24).

At the zenith of Nader’s military career, Iran’s sway extended over northern India, segments of Central Asia, and much of the Caucasus. Even imperial Russia decided against testing the mettle of the armies of Nader Shah and his genius at military leadership. The Russians evacuated Iranian territories that had been occupied by Peter the Great (1672-1725) in Iran’s north and the Caucasus following the fall of the Safavids in 1722. The  area where Nader faced constant military challenges was the Lezghian region. Nader’s brother, Ibrahim-Qoli, lost his life battling the Lezghians.  It is in this context where a number of Iranian army banners from Nader Shah’s legions have been discovered in the Caucasus. In a sense, these discoveries are nothing new as the items had been stored in Georgian archives and tabulated as far back as the 1920s, however these had gone virtually unnoticed by mainstream scholarship. The Georgian National Museum has now made significant efforts to display these for the benefit of knowledge, historiography and mainstream scholarship. This information was forwarded to Kavehfarrokh.com by Guseyn Guseynov.

Nader-Kafkaz-1One of the banners from Nader Shah’s armies discovered in the Daghestan region and housed in the National Museum of Georgia (reported by Russian-language website: Gazavat). These had been captured by Lezghian fighters in the Daghestan region of the Caucasus in 1741.

Nader Shah launched a number of  punitive expeditions in 1741-1743 into Daghestan against the Lezghians in retaliation for his brother’s death. Unlike his previous brilliant successes against mighty opponents such as the Ottomans, Nader’s campaigns against the Lezghians proved inconclusive.

Nader-Kafkaz-2Another banner from Nader Shah’s armies in the Daghestan region on display by the National Museum of Georgia (reported by Russian-language website: Gazavat).