New Course: The Silk Route-Origins and History

A new course by Kaveh Farrokh entitled “The Silk Route-Origins and History” is being offered at the University of British Columbia (final lecture on December 16, 2014):

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The lectures will be delivered at the Tapestry Center in the University of British Columbia’s Wesbrook Village. For information on registration, etc., kindly contact the University of British Columbia-Continuing Studies Division.

 Tajik-Nowruz

Tajik girls celebrate the Iranian Nowruz (New Year) on March 21, 2014 in Dushanbe, Tajikestan.

Below is a synopsis of the course as delivered in the Class syllabus:

The origins and history of the east-west Silk Route that connected the empires of Asia, Central Asia, Persia and the Romano-Byzantine West, as well as the lesser-known north-south route that connected Persia, the Caucasus and East- Central Europe. Emphasis will be placed on the development and transfer of the arts, music, culture, mythology, cuisine, and militaria. The peoples of the Silk Route from China across Eurasia, Central Asia, Persia to Europe are also examined

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The curriculum and impetus of this course is the direct outcome of meetings with the Cultural Diplomacy’s Department of Traditions & Cultural History of the WAALM Academy based in London, England. WAALM is affiliated with the Academic Council On The United Nations System (ACUNS) and The International Peace Bureau. WAALM was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Kaveh Farrokh has been featured in WAALM’s Tribune Magazine (click here…).

silk painting

Chinese painting of Leizu (Xi Ling Shi) the ancient Chinese empress credited with inventing silk in c. 2700 BCE; she was the teenage wife of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi.

shir-dar-samarkand

The “Shir Dar” (Lion Gate/doorway) of the Islamic college at Samarkand built originally in 1627 (Nafīsī, 1949, p. 62). The sun motif is characterized by Kriwaczek (2002, picture Plate 1) as ”…the image of Mithra, the rising and unconquered sun, Zoroastrian intercessor between God and Humanity” (Courtesy of Kriwaczek, 2002).

Chinese women silk-12th century CE

Chinese women produce silk in the 12th century CE.

Kyrgiz MusiciansKyrgyz musicians performing with traditional instruments. Hsiang-Nou races replaced Iranian speaking peoples of Central Asia; Despite this: These greatly assimilated the cultural and mythological traditions of their Iranic predecessors.

UBC-2-Migrations

One of ancient founding peoples of the Silk Route? Mummies bearing Caucasoid features uncovered in modern northwest China; these were either Iranic-speaking or fellow Indo-European Tocharian (proto-Celtic?). Archaeologists have found burials with similar Caucasoid peoples in ancient Eastern Europe. Much of the colors and clothing of the above mummies bear striking resemblance to the ancient dress of pre-Islamic Persia/Iran and modern-day Iranian speaking tribal and nomadic peoples seen among Kurds, Lurs, Persians, etc.  (Source: Kaveh Farrokh’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division – this was also presented at Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006, the annual Tirgan event at Toronto (June, 2013) and at Yerevan State University’s Iranian Studies Department (November, 2013) – Diagram is Copyright of University of British Columbia and Kaveh Farrokh). For more on this topic, see also here…

Archaeologists Discover Ancient Treasures at Russian Burial Site

The report below originally appeared on the Archaeology News Network (see link or in pdf “Archaeologists Discover Ancient Treasures at Russian Burial Site“) on August 6, 2013. Kindly note that:

  • The author of the Archaeology News Network cites the Scythians as “Persian-speaking” when in fact they spoke Northern Iranian languages (or more broadly, Iranian languages).
  • The second and third pictures (and accompanying captions) inserted into the article are by Kaveh Farrokh.

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Archaeologists have found the intact burial chamber of a noble woman from a powerful tribe that roamed the Eurasian steppes 2,500 years ago in southern Russia, an official said Tuesday.

Russia-burial-SiteThe woman’s skeleton covered with jewelry and decorations (Picture Source: State Teachers Training University of Bashkortostan)

The Sarmatians were a group of Persian-speaking tribes that controlled what is now parts of southern Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia from around 500 BC until 400 AD. They were often mentioned by ancient Greek historians and left luxurious tombs with exquisite golden and bronze artifacts that were often looted by gravediggers.

 

[CLICK TO ENLARGE] Saka Tigra-khauda (Old Persian: pointed-hat Saka/Scythians) as depicted in the ancient Achaemenid city-palace of Persepolis. It was northern Iranian peoples such as the Sakas (Scythians) and their successors, the Sarmatians and Alans, who were to be the cultural link between Iran and ancient Europe  (Picture 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).

But the burial site found near the the village of Filippovka in the Orenburg region has not been robbed – and contained a giant bronze kettle, jewelry, a silver mirror and what appears to be containers for cosmetics, said history professor Gulnara Obydennova who heads the Institute of History and Legal Education in the city of Ufa. Professor Obydennova told RIA Novosti:

The find is really sensational also because the burial vault was intact – the objects and jewelry in it were found the way they had been placed by the ancient nomads…”

The vault – located 4 meters (13 feet) underground – was found in the “Tsar Tumulus,” a group of two dozen mounds where hundreds of golden and silver figurines of deer, griffins and camels, vessels and weapons have been found since the 1980s.

Ossetian Girl-1883[Click to Enlarge] Photograph of an Ossetian girl in 1883. The Iranian-speaking Ossetians are the modern-day descendants of the great Sarmatian tribes who once held their mighty sway over Eastern Europe.

The woman’s skeleton was still covered with jewelry and decorations, and her left hand held a silver mirror with an ornamented golden handle, Obydennova said.

The descendants of the Sarmatians include Ossetians, an ethnic group living in the Caucasus region, who speak a language related to Persian.

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):

WAALM-Podcast-2

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

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

best-history-book-of-2008-persian-golden-lionness-award2

Book Review of Farrokh Text by Small Wars Journal

 

Kaveh Farrokh’s third text. Iran at War: 1500-1988-(ایران در جنگ (۱۹۸۸-۱۵۰۰– has been reviewed in the Small Wars Journal by Youssef Aboul-Enein on July 12, 2012.

 

 

Iran at War: 1500-1988. Osprey Hardcover 480 pages, released May 24, 2011 • ISBN: 978-1-84603-491-6. Contact: John Tintera, Marketing Director @ 718/433-4402, john.tintera@ospreypublishing.com.

To order consult Chapters-Indigo or Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover jacket of Iran at War: 1500-1988. [CLICK TO ENLARGE] A photo taken in 1926 of a military assembly in Tehran. The troops are about to pose for a military review. Standing at far left with hand resting on sword is Colonel Haji Khan Pirbastami (of Northern Iranian origin). Note the diverse nature of Iranian troops, reminiscent of the armies of Iran since antiquity. Kurds, Azaris, Lurs, Baluchis, Qashqais, Persians, all partake as one in the assembly.  Colonel Haji Khan and the officer to the right are members of the Gendarmerie para-military forces. Haji Khan died just a year later when fighting as a colonel with the Iranian army against Bolshevik/Communist and Russian troops attempting to overrun northern Iran after World War One.  

Note that this text has also been reviewed by the Wall Street journal (click on icon below):

 

The Farrokh text has been reviewed by the Iran-based Library, Museum and Center of Manuscripts (see also –ارایه کتاب «ایران در جنگ: ۱۹۸۸-۱۵۰۰» در کتابخانه مجلس-).

The review by Youssef Aboul-Enein opens in the following fashion:

Dr. Kaveh Farrokh … has published a timely volume immersing readers in five centuries of how Persians have waged and conducted war.  The book delves deeply into the history and psychology of warfare and provides a grounding of how Iranians see threats and challenges today. 

The book begins with the Safavids, the empire that ruled Persia from 1501 to 1736, and was largely responsible for imposing Shiism in the region, making it the state religion and forcing the conversion of Sunni Muslims, Jews and Zoroastrians.  His insights are fascinating, and include the caste system introduced by the Arabs when they conquered Persia, which led to a yearning for an Islamic system that incorporated and respected Persian identity.  Shah Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid Empire, is detailed and we see a military leader who although was merciless towards Sunnis, personally provided medical care to his soldiers.  Shah Ismail would battle the Uzbeks, Portuguese, and Ottoman.   

[Click to Enlarge]Shah Ismail as depicted by a European painter – the painting is now housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Italy. Note the Latin terms “Rex Persareum” [Monarch of Persia] which makes clear that Shah Ismail was the king of Safavid Persia or Iran. Despite being hopelessly outmatched by the Ottoman armies in manpower and firerams, Ismail stood his ground in Chaldiran on August 23, 1514. Despite their victory, the Ottoman Turks, who had also sufferred heavy losses,  failed to conquer Iran.

Note then the following observation about the Safavids by Youssef Aboul-Enein:

It was under Shah Abbas I that the Persian army began to acquire gunpowder, and readers will be surprised to learn of the intrigues between the Shiite Muslim Empire of the Safavids and various European monarchs wanting to use the Safavids to divert the growing power of the Sunni Ottoman Empire.  Imagine what the Ottomans could have accomplished if it were not for the Shiite Safavid Empire challenging the eastern edges of their empire

 

Rare drawing by a European traveller who witnessed the aftermath of the liberation of Tabriz by Shah Abbas I on October 21, 1603. Local Azari citizens welcomed the Iranian Safavid army as liberators and took harsh reprisals against the defeated Ottoman Turks who had been occupying their city. Many unfortunate Turks fell into the hands of Tabriz’s citizens and were decapitated (Picture Source: Matofi, A., 1999, Tarikh-e-Chahar Hezar Sal-e Artesh-e Iran: Az Tamadon-e Elam ta 1320 Khorsheedi, Jang-e- Iran va Araqh [The 4000 Year History of the Army of Iran: From the Elamite Civilizaiton to 1941, the Iran-Iraq War]. Tehran:Entesharat-e Iman, p.63). Had the Ottomans not been embroiled in Iran and the Caucasus, their armies could have advanced much deeper into Europe.

Youssef Aboul-Enein then notes the following regarding the military career of Nader Shah:

The section on Nader Shah is exquisite, and contains a few unique tactical innovations, like the use of camels with incendiary materials sent within the ranks of Elephants causing them to panic and turn against their Mugal opponents.  Reading Nader Shah’s campaigns matter for it will give you a grounding on fighting in the terrains as varied as Iraq to Afghanistan.  After the Shah Tahmasp I was attacked by the Ottomans, Afghans and Russians, the Safavid Persian Empire was carved up between these powers.  Nader Shah would reorganize the Persian Army and would be instrumental in restoring the Persian Empire created by Shah Ismail and Abbas, he would also put aside the weak figurehead Shah Tahmasp II and assume rule evolving from Nader Khan to Nader Shah, he is right or wrong Islam’s Napoleon and just as controversial.  Nader Shah use of a highly mobile light cannon, the Zanbourak, that can be packed on camels and set up quickly to amass firepower is a must read. 

 

[CLICK TO ENLARGE] A painting of the Battle of Karnal (February 22, 1739) made by Mosavar ol-Mamalek.The battle ended in an overwhelming victory for Nader Shah (see his statue in the inset photo). The Iranians then occupied Delhi and captured India’s royal jewels. Some Indian historians (i.e. Sarkar) have argued that India was severely weakened by Nader Shah; this allowed the British Empire to easily spread its dominance over the entire Indian subcontinent just decades after the battle of Karnal (picture source: R. Tarverdi (Editor) & A. Massoudi (Art editor), The land of Kings, Tehran: Rahnama Publications, 1971, p.228).

The review then discusses the book’s sections on the Zands, Qajars, and Pahlavis. Youssef Aboul-Enein then concludes: 

The section on the Iran-Iraq War is a must read and offers a fresh narrative of the tactics used by the Islamic Republic against Saddam’s armies.  My only critique is that I would have liked to have seen a discussion or even section on Iranian use of proxies like Hizbullah to asymmetrically undermine their adversaries.  That said, the book is recommended for anyone interest in warfare generally, the Middle East, and even Afghanistan.  In short, this is the kind of book worthy of discussion in America’s War Colleges of the 21st century.

 

[CLICK TO ENLARGE] Elements of the Iraqi 12th Armored Division assemble at Fakkeh (in the Dezful area) on March 23rd 1982 to rescue remnants of the Iraqi 4th Army Corps crushed by a powerful Iranian offensive (Left – Steven J. Zaloga, Modern Soviet Combat Tanks, Osprey Vanguard  37, pp.32).  As these units deployed to attack, they were bombed and strafed by up to 95 Iranian F-4 and F-5 combat aircraft.  The Iraqi 12th Armored Division was virtually eliminated. At right are Iranian regular army troops atop an overturned Iraqi tank of the 12th armoured division (source: www.shahed.isaar.ir). Note that the vehicle has been overturned as a result of aerial bombardment by Iranian F-4 and F-5 combat aircraft.  For more see Pars TV (August 27, 2011).

WAALM’s Simin Bari Project Wins Two Turkish Music Awards

[سیمین بری ۲ جایزه ترکیه را بخود اختصاص داد] WAALM’s (World Academy of Arts, Literature and Media) Simin Bari Project has won two Turkish music awards :

The works of WAALM are dedicated towards the fostering of dialogue and understanding between civilizations (see for example WAALM’s Empower Africa Conference in April 7-10, 2010).

 The Simin Bari project and its awards are celebrated in the Turkish press.

The Simin Bari project is part of WAALM’s endeavour for Cultural Diplomacy, by facilitating the artistic works in a duet by Iranian Meastro Sattar and Young Turkish Rising Star Ersin Faikzade. The duet is the song “Simin Bari” which is sung in Turkish and Persian.  

 

Sattar and Ersin Faikzade singing Simin Bari in Turkish and Persian (Facilitated and Co-produced by WAALM). This is part of WAALM’s initiative to re-awaken the awareness of the strong and long-standing Turco-Iranian cultural ties known as the Turco-Iranian or Persianate civilization.  Note that the video is also under post-production

WAALM-School of Cultural Diplomacy works towards the promotion of cultural diplomacy through courses that emphasize cultural links and historical ties that transcend modern-day national and/or political boundaries. There are strong ties for example between the Persianate or Turco-Iranian civilization and those of Europe, Asia and the Indian subcontinent and the Islamic realms. WAALM’s Curricula tend to emphasize the exploration and analyses of such links to propel learners towards the appreciation of world civilization as a single evolving entity composed of its various interdependent cultural and historical entities.

Sattar (left) and Ersin Faikzade (right) have lent their exemplary creativity and musical talents towards the initiative to re-awaken the long-standing and powerful cultural bonds between the Iranians and the Turks. 

WAALM’s project for the promotion of cross-cultural dialogue through the promotion of Persianate or Turco-Persian civilization is consistent with the Iranian Studies initiative of the University of British Columbia’s Asian Studies program which shares the vision of Persianate civilizations transcending nationality and race.