Professor Dariush Borbor’s Works in 1954-2018

Dariush Borbor Compendium of Articles, Presentations and Interviews 1954-2018, Sahab Geographic and Drafting Institute, Tehran, 2018, 728 pp. has just been published in hard cover. The articles are written in several languages, and the subject matter, deals with architecture, Urban Planning and Iranian Studies, including a complete bibliographical reference. Foreword by Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Distinguished Professor of Persian Language, Literature and Culture, University of Maryland MD.

Cover of Textbook Outlining Professor Borbor’s Exhaustive Academic Works since 1954.

distribution by: www.ketabsara.ir

داریوش بوربور مجموعه مقالات، سخنرانی ها و مصاحبه ها 1333-1397، موسسه جغرافیایی و کارتوگرافی سحاب، تهران، 1397، 728 صفحه به چاپ رسیده است. مقالات ارائه شده به چند زبان میباشند و مطالب آنها مربوط به معماری، شهرسازی و ایرانشناسی است. پیشگفتار از احمد کریمی حکاک، استاد ممتاز زبان، ادبیات و فرهنگ فارسی دانشگاه مریلند.

پخش کتاب: www.ketabsara.ir

About the Book

“Everybody knows that culture is a complex, multifarious concept, but few people contemplate all the diverse dimensions of a culture and still fewer produce works – informed opinions, in fact – in almost all the dimensions of a given culture. Dariush Borbor’s Compendium of Articles, Presentations and Interviews makes us aware of the many sides, not only of modern and contemporary Iranian culture, but of the world as he has experienced it.  That multidimensionality is precisely what makes Dariush Borbor’s observations on making cultures, on cultures of making, and on culture in-the-making – all written with a sojourner’s mental agility and clarity, so compelling for us as to think of culture as a whole. Dariush Borbor’s Compendium of Writings encapsulates a life well and fruitfully lived. In that sense, it stands as a monument to one self-made man’s professional accomplishments as well as to the human capacity for inner and outer growth” (Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Los Angeles, October, 2017).

About the Author

Dariush Borbor is a multi-faceted Iranian architect, urban planner, designer, sculptor, painter, researcher, author and Iranologist. At the age of thirteen he went to the United Kingdom for his secondary schooling, after which he obtained his General Certificate of Education from University of Cambridge (1952), a Bachelor of Architecture (1958) and a Master of Civic Design (1959) both from the University of Liverpool. He then went to specialize on architecture of hot dry regions at the University of Geneva (1959).

Professor Dariush Borbor in 2017.

He has an outstanding record as an entrepreneur: in 1963, he created his own office under the name of Borbor Consulting Architects, Engineers, City Planners; in 1976, he set up Sphere Consultants and proposed a comprehensive National Environmental Master plan for Iran; a few months prior to the 1978 Iranian Revolution, he moved to Paris where he founded the Borbor International Management Consultants (BIMC) that offered consultancy services in design, management and documentation to architects and urban planners; six years later, in 1984, he moved to Los Angeles where he was involved in architectural consultancy and research on Iranian and Persianate subjects; in 1992, he created the Research Institute and Library of Iranian Studies (RILIS) as a private, independent and non-profit institution dedicated to the promotion of research in the field of Iranian and Persianate studies with special emphasis on novel and creative subjects; in 2009, he initiated the Dariush Borbor Series of Seminars on Iranian Studies, for which distinguished scholars and specialists from outside of Iran have been invited.

Cover of Textbook in Persian, Outlining Professor Borbor’s Exhaustive Academic Works since 1954.

He has won many competitions and received a number of international prizes and awards, including the Gold Mercury International Award from Italy (1976), the Pahlavi Royal Award (1978), and the 50 Outstanding Architects of the World from the Second Belgrade Triennial of World Architecture (1988).

He has been described by famous international critics as one of the most avnt-garde architects of the 20th century and the “father of modern urban planning” in Iran. He has made an enormous contribution to Iranian studies, particularly in history, ethnography and linguistics.

Shab-e Yalda: A Warm Welcome to Winter, Felicitous Farewell to Fall

The article Shab-e Yalda: A warm welcome to winter, felicitous farewell to fall” was originally posted by the Tehran Times on December 20, 2016. Kindly note that two of the images and accompanying captions do not appear in the original Tehran Times report. In addition, one of the points made by the article is disputed, and this is entered into the text for the benefit of readers.

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Once again, Iranians from all walks of life and all around the globe are arranging to celebrate Shab-e Yalda (Yalda Night), which falls on December 20.

The auspicious yet thousands-year-old occasion, known as the longest and darkest night of the year, marks the last eve of autumn and the beginning of winter.

Shab-e Yalda is also called Shab-e Chelleh that literally meaning the night of the forty. One of the dominant features of the feast is Chelleh Neshini (sitting for Chelleh), a social context during which families and friends usually gather in the cozy ambiance of home of an elder such as grandparents, aunts or uncles to rejoice in warmth of one another’s company.

Some opt for making phone calls to friends and close relatives or send text messages to congratulate them on this night.

Guests are served with fresh fruits and colorful Ajil (a mixture of dry fruits, seeds and nuts) in bowls. To Iranians however, the dry fruits are somehow a reminiscence of the abundance of summer and the fresh fruits are an invocation for food during winter.

A marquetry work by artist Qumars Sayyad depicts a rural Iranian family reunion celebrating the Yalda Night (Source: Tehran Times).

All food items are arranged on a spread known as Sofreh (traditional table cloth available in various materials and patterns), usually by women of the house.

Following a fresh and hot dinner, people recite poetry, narrate stories, chant, play musical instruments or just chat in the coziness of their company until midnight or so.

Of all ancient rituals, there are mostly two festivals that are unanimously celebrated by Iranians today, Yalda Night and the Persian New Year or Nowruz that means the birth of a new day.

From a wider point of view, human beings often mourn some endings and celebrate most beginnings. The Iranian nation has strong social and historical fibers to celebrate when it comes to the death of a season that gives birth to another.

Welcome to winter varies region to region

Yalda Night is celebrated in different parts of the country traditionally as a welcome to winter, though it encompasses regional variations and themes. In what follows some of them have been given:

Natives to the northwestern Azarbaijan region believe that eating watermelon will not let the cold of winter into their bones. Also, on this night, new brides carry gifts to brides-to-be of the family.

In Tabriz, the capital of East Azarbaijan Province, local musicians known as ‘Aashigh’ play traditional instruments and sing songs from ancient Persian legends on Yalda. Aashighs are local artists who play a great role in preserving oral culture and they can recite poetry spontaneously.

In the northwestern Ardabil Province, people ask the Chelleh Bozorg (first forty days of winter) to promise them to be moderate as they wish for a good winter time.

Watermelon and pomegranates as symbols of bounty are the traditional fresh fruits of this night. It is believed that eating watermelon before the arrival of winter can immunize one against cold and illness (Source: Tehran Times).

Families in the southern city of Shiraz, Fars Province, spread a Sofreh (Persian table cloth, mostly spread on the floor) which is not very different from the Persian New Year spread. They normally place a mirror and an artistic depiction of Imam Ali (AS), the first Shia Imam, on the spread. In addition to typical Yalda food items, Halva Shekari (a kind of paste made of sugar, butter and sesame seeds) and Ranginak (Persian date cakes) are also served.

In the northern province of Gilan, however, Yalda is never complete without watermelons. It is assumed that anyone who eats watermelons on this day would not be thirsty in summer and cold in winter. Aoknous is a tempting and indispensable Gilani dish on Yalda Night.

People in the southeastern Kerman Province stay up most part of the night to welcome the arrival of the legendary Gharoun (Croesus) who is believed to bring wood for poor families in the disguise of a woodcutter. The wood logs would then turn into gold and bring prosperity and luck to the house. The ritual is of course a symbolic one.

One of the oldest Yalda rituals in the western Lorestan Province was when a group of small and teenage boys would go to the rooftops of houses and throw down their bags tied to the end of a long scarf from the chimney holes. They would sing songs, wishing prosperity and happiness for the owner who would fill their bag with Yalda treats. The children would state their gratitude accordingly by singing songs of merriment.

An Iranian lady recites poetry with the Book of Hafez during the night of Yalda; note the pomegranate and melon on the table spread (Source: Public Domain).

In the villages of northeastern Khorasan Province the groom’s family sends out gifts with a group of musical instrument players to the bride-to-be’s house. In this province, after dinner and festivities, people read out verses from the Shahnameh, a long epic poem by illustrious Persian poet Ferdowsi.

In one of the villages of Garmsar, north-central Semnan Province, people of one family or clan get together over a meal of khorous polo (cockcrow meat and rice dish), after which they chitchat with jokes, anecdotes and short stories.

It is customary for people in the western province of Kermanshah that they stay up most of the night by eating, singing and telling stories to abide with the mother of the world in giving birth to her daughter, the sun.

Mosaic of Christ as Sol in Mausoleum M in the pre-4th-century necropolis located below the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica (Source: Public Domain). While commonly interpreted as representing Christ, the figure is virtually identical to the pre-Christian representations of Mithra (note fluttering Iranian-style cloak on the mosaic figure).

Good to know

  • Yalda Night is celebrated on the last day of Azar (the last month of autumn) and before the first day of Dey (the first month of winter).
  • Watermelon and pomegranate are amongst the most distinguished features of Yalda Night, though a few days before Yalda, the fruits’ prices may soar.
  • Yalda, though not very common, is a female Persian name.
  • In ancient Iranian calendar, winter is divided into two parts, Chelleh Bozorg (the bigger forty) from 22nd of December to 30th of January and Chelleh Koochak (the smaller forty) from 30th January to 10th of March.
  • The word Yalda, meaning birth, was imported from Syriac into the Persian language by the Syriac Christians. NOTE BY Kaveh Farrokh.com – the claim of Syriac origins can be disputed – the following observation is made with respect to the linguistic roots of the term /Yalda/:

The term /da/ in Yalda is not of the Hamito-Semetic linguistic family, but instead belongs to the wider Indo-European language families. In Avestan, the term /Daēva/ is broadly defined as “divine being” (Herrenschmidt & Kellens, 1993, pp. 599-602) (in Old Iranian: /Daiva/), which is derived from older Indo-Iranian /Daivá/ (God), which in turn is traced to (undifferentiated) Proto Indo-European (PIE) /Deiu̯ó/ (God). According to Pokorny’s Master PIE lexicon the /Da/ or /Daē/ affix in /Daēva/ is defined as: “day, sun, glitter, to shine, deity, god” (Pokorny, 1959-1969 & 1989, pp.183-187). The legacy of Yalda is an essence rooted in the ancient Indo-European mythological tradition.“ [This excerpt has been published in the Fezana journal: Farrokh, K. (2015). Yalda: an enduring legacy from ancient Persia. Fezana Journal (Publication of the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America), Vol. 29, No.3, Fall/September, pp. 30-33.]

  • Narratives say that Yalda Night marks the birth of winter and the triumph of the sun as the days grow longer and colder.
  • Ancient Iranians assumed Naneh Sarma begins to descend on earth by Yalda Night. Literally meaning coldness grandma, Naneh Sarma is a folklore Persian character who brings in the coldness during the wintertime.

Iranian film received Panda Award on October 19, 2018 in the UK

The first Iranian documentary film to win the Panda Award in the U.K occurred on October 19, 2018. There were 800 film submissions to the Wildscreen film festival in the UK (held from October 15 – 19). Out of these 800 films, 37 films were nominated for the Panda award. Fourteen Panda awards were provided in 14 categories.

Wildscreen is ranked first in Wildlife in the world and was established in the UK 36 years ago.

The major goal of festival is to convene the best photographers, filmmakers and creative professionals with the most committed conservationists to create compelling stories about the natural world; that inspire the wider public to experience it, feel part of it and protect it.

An Iranian film in the talent category received the first ever Panda award. The main goal of Spider-tailed viper film, produced by Mohammad Ala in Iran, is to protect the habitat of this creature. The award for the film and Mahmoud who did not get a visa to attend this festival was collected by its producer, Dr. Mohammad Ala.

This Iranian film was produced in Iran with all Iranian crew and was funded by its independent producer which took six years to produce it.

Click the link here for viewing the list of 2018 Wildscreen Panda Award winners …

Dr. Mohammad Ala received the Panda Award on October 19, 2018. Note that Dr. Mohammad Ala is also the Recipient of the Grand Prix Film Italia Award in 2013 (for more click here …)

Winning the award created interest worldwide to save the spider-tailed viper. Once negotiations for streaming is completed, it will become public for everyone to observe this unique creature which is only found in Iran’s Ilam Province.

A brief video of this documentary can be seen by clicking here …

Finally, readers are encouraged to view this link on a recent German-Iranian film “Liebe auf Persisch [Love in Persian]” …

2500-Year Old Achaemenid Persian Palace Found In Turkey

The article “2500-Year Old Achaemenid Persian Palace Possibly Found In Turkey” was originally posted on the Turkish Daily Sabah News Agency on September 6, 2018. The report published below is a subsequent version by Dattatreya Mandal on the Realm of History website on September 10, 2018.

Kindly note that the head of the excavations alluded to in the article is Dr. Şevket Dönmez who is an  Archaeology Professor at Istanbul University.

Professor Şevket Dönmez of Istanbul University in a news conference (November 6, 2017) attended by Turkish academics and reporters (Source: Ana Haber). Dönmez was presenting his 2017 findings of Zoroastrian religious and cultural artifacts at Oluz Höyük in Asmaya province, Turkey. Note the Zoroastrian artifacts also on display at the lower right side of the photo … for more click here

Dr. Dönmez’s discovery of the ancient Persian Oluz Höyük settlement in Toklucak village, Amasya province, Turkey in 2017 was reported in Kavehfarrokh.com (click this line for more information) and was also also published in the Winter 2017 edition of the FEZANA (Publication of the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America) journal.

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In one of our articles about the Achaemenid Persians, we talked about how their ancient empire (circa 6th century BC) stretched from Anatolia and Egypt across western Asia to the borders of northern India and Central Asia. And pertaining to their imperial presence in Anatolia, researchers from the Istanbul University Archaeology Department have excavated remains of a (probably) Persian palace at the Oluz Mound in the Göynücek district of Amasya province, northern Turkey. The site in itself boasts an expansive urbanized area of 920 ft x 850 ft and has been under excavation since its discovery in the years between 1997 and 99.

Turkish archaeologists and officials at the site of the excavated Achaemenid palace at the Oluz Mound in  northern Turkey’s Amasya province (Source: Daily Sabah).

According to Dr. Şevket Dönmez, the leader of the current excavation project, the site, during circa 450 BC, was probably governed by a branch of Achaemenid Persians. However, the incredible discovery of the palace itself, along with other significant structures, was made in this very year:

“New units of this city have been revealed. We now know about a path, a mansion and a fire temple. All these are firsts in world history. A reception chamber with columns and a throne chamber have also started to emerge for the first time this year. We are in the beginning phase of the excavation work for these chambers. This current phase and discoveries are very exciting. These belong to a very significant period of the Anatolian Iron Age, Anatolian Old Age, and Persian archaeology.”

Turkish archaeologists engaged in the excavation of Achaemenid columns in the Persian palace (Source: Daily Sabah).

Dr. Dönmez further added how the site also harks back to older Iron Age cultures, like the powerful Hittites, thus alluding to its enigmatic status in the ancient world as a place of sacredness:

“They are very important discoveries which will add to their identity and uniqueness. We have found six column bases so far. A clear plan has not yet been revealed, but hopefully we will find it in one or two years of excavation works. We found a bull figurine belonging to the Hittite period this year during excavations. There is a very big Hittite city under the Persian city. We think that it is Shanovhitta. It shows us that this is a traditional sacred city and every new civilization built a temple here. We did not know that we would find such a Persian city. Neither such a temple nor such a reception chamber…we did not expect any of this.”

One of the Turkish archaeologists engaged in the excavation of the structures of the Achaemenid palace at the Oluz Mound (Source: Daily Sabah).

As further averred by Dr. Dönmez:

However, we came across an entirely different situation. The entire world has started to watch Oluz Mound on the basis of Mid-Anatolian and Anatolian archaeology. I believe that it has started to become a significant center in updating and changing Anatolia’s religious history after Göbeklitepe.”

Article on Persian Heritage journal publishes article on links between Germania and ancient Iranian Peoples

The Persian Heritage has published the following article by Kaveh Farrokh which can be downloaded in full, from Academia.edu:

Farrokh, K. (2018). Germania, Vikings, Saxons and Ancient Iran. Persian Heritage, 90, pp.28-30.

Below is a select excerpts from the above article:

“Professor Christopher I. Beckwith (Professor of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University): “The first-century AD Germania by the Roman historian Tacitus gives the earliest detailed description of the Germanic peoples…The account of Tacitus and other early records reveal very clearly that the early Germanic peoples, including the ancestors of the Franks, belonged to the Central Eurasian Culture complex which they had maintained since Proto-Indo-European times, just as the Alans and other Central Asian Iranians had done. This signifies in turn that ancient Germania was culturally a part of Central Eurasia and had been so ever since the Germanic migration there more than a millennium earlier” (Empires of the Silk Route, Princeton University Press, 2009, pages 80-81).”

The Iranian Kandys cape and its legacy in Europe (click to enlarge). (A) Medo-Persian nobleman from Persepolis wearing the Iranian Kandys cape of the nobility 2500 years past (B) figure of Paul dressed in North Iranian/Germanic dress from a 5th century ivory plaque depicting the life of Saint-Paul (C) reconstruction by Daniel Peterson (The Roman Legions, published by Windrow & Greene in 1992, p.84) of a 4th-5th century Germanic warrior wearing Iranian style dress and the Kandys. The Iranian Persepolis styles of arts and architecture continued to exert a profound influence far beyond its borders for centuries after its destruction by Alexander (Pictures used in 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).

As noted further in the article (geopolitically rationalized) terms such as “Middle East”, “Islamic Civilization”, etc. have served to distort historical connections between not just Germanic and Iranian peoples but the broader links between Europa and Iranian peoples across the millennia (download the 2017 article Farrokh and Vasseqhi in the Persian Heritage journal). As noted Dr Sheda Vasseghi a document written by a well-informed CIA official (whose name has now been redacted from the original document):

“… the CIA tends to be “alert and responsive to official changes in the names of individual political entities.”  However, when it comes to geographic terms, the CIA adheres “to usages that are imprecise, egocentric, and anachronistic“. … According to the CIA Memo, terms such as “the Middle East” are, and always were, imprecise and egocentric given they reflect “the world as viewed from London and western Europe.”  The [CIA] author is alarmed at how widespread the usage of these imprecise terms among the intellectual circles were, including as part of titles for respected publications such as The Middle East Journal.”

To read more of the above article click here … As noted by Dr. Vasseghi in the abstract of her 2017 Dissertation (for more click here…):

“Western Civilization history marginalizes, misrepresents, misappropriates, and/or omits Iran’s positioning. Further, the mainstream approach to teaching Western Civilization history includes the Judeo-Christian-Greco-Roman narrative.”

A depiction of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae and Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d”Arthur. Note the windsock carried by the horseman (Farrokh, Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War, 2007, pp.171) – this item was bought from the wider Iranian realm (Persia, Sarmatians, etc) into Europe by the Iranian-speaking Alans. The inset depicts a reconstruction of a 3rd century CE Partho-Sassanian banner by Peter Wilcox (1986).

As noted further in the Persian Heritage journal (links also inserted in below paragraph for further reference):

“The links between Europa and the ancient Iranians have been extensive in history. It was during the Partho-Sassanian era where Europe experienced direct interactions with Iran, a process in place since the Achaemenids (see for example Farrokh, K. An Overview of the Artistic, Architectural, Engineering and Culinary exchanges between Ancient Iran and the Greco-Roman World. AGON: Rivista Internazionale di Studi Culturali, Linguistici e Letterari, No.7, pp.64-124, 2016) [Download in full from Academia.edu]. It was also during the reign of the Parthian and Sassanian dynasties in Persia when several waves of Iranian speakers migrated into Europe. These are known variously in history as Sarmatians, Alans, Roxolani, Yas, etc. Put simply, the influence of ancient Iranian civilization came through two general channels: the Partho-Sassanian empires and fellow Iranian peoples who lived in Eurasia and Eastern Europe at the time. Many of these tribes were to successfully migrate into Central, Northern and Western Europe.”

The Oseberg longship at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo (Picture source: Heritage Trust). Viking ships like these sailed to northern Persia in search of trade.

Another quote from the article is as follows (links also inserted in below paragraph for further reference):

“Contacts between the Germanic peoples and the Iranian world were especially among the North Germanic Nordic peoples and their Viking successors in the post-Islamic era of Persia. The famous Viking Ulfbehrt sword has in fact a Persian connection. Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist of Stockholm University has researched the Volga trade route of the Vikings and their ships between Lake Malaren in Sweden to the ports of Northern Iran between the early 800s to mid-1000s where: “…it is very likely that the steel that you find in the Ulfberht swords originated from Iran…I would guess that they bought it [Persian steel] from friendly trading connections in Iran paid with furs and other Nordic commodities and took it back on the small ships that they used on the rivers” [see full article here …]. While Sassanian Persia had fallen to the Arabo-Muslim invasions of the 7th century CE, Northern Persia remained defiant with its metallurgical technology continued persisting after the fall of the Sassanians, a factor that benefited Viking traders who sailed with ships to Northern Iran along the Volga trade route. The Vikings however, were already well already in contact with Iran during the Sassanian era.”

Viking Helmet (Right; Picture Source: English Monarchs) and reconstruction of earlier Sassanian helmet at Taghe Bostan, Kermanshah, Iran (Left; Picture Source: Close up of Angus Mcbride painting of Sassanian knight at Taghe Bostan, Wilcox, P. (1999). Rome’s Enemies: Parthians and Sasanid Persians. Osprey Publishing, p.47, Plate H1).