Samar Abbas: Common Origin of Croats, Serbs and Jats

The article “Common Origin of Croats, Serbs and Jats” has been written by Samar Abbas and published in the journal: Jat Jyoti, Vol.4 no.11 (Nov. 2003) p.13-18 (Magazine of the World Jat Aryan Foundation, 248, Ram Krishna Vihar, 29, IP Extension, Delhi-110 092).

Kindly note that the pictures/illustrations and accompanying descriptions do not appear on the original journal article by Samar Abbas.


Croats as Hrvati, Haravaitii, Arachosians or Sarasvatians, descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the Harauti province & the Haravaiti or Sarasvati River. Their mention on legendary inscriptions of Darius the Great. Croatian flag based on the chessboard, Croatian religion derived from primordial Iranic Sun-worship. Common origin of Croats and Serbs. Their relations with the Sarmatians, Saura Matii or Surya Madas, the Solar Medes. False claims of The Indian Express refuted. Scythian or Saka origin of Jats. Consequent commmon origin of Jats, Croats and Serbs. Genetic proof for the same is presented.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Sahib Singh Verma, Union Labour Minister, was not allowed to attend the recent World Jat Conference in Belgrade (“Sahib Singh wanted to visit Serbia to meet fellow Jats, PM put his foot down and spiked his bonding-in-Belgrade plans”, Indian Express, 21/9/2003). Sad indeed, because there actually do exist strong connections between Jats, Serbs and Croats. Several historians view these communities as sharing a common ethnic origin as is evident from a study of the following submissions.

Philology: Croats as Hrvatis

Let us commence our investigation with the Croats. The science of linguistics provides several connections with Iran. Thus, the Croats of Croatia call themselves “Hrvati” and their country “Hrvatska”, whence the Croatian domain name on the internet is .hr. The name “Hrvati” is derived from the Avestan province “Harahvaiti” (Greek: “Arachosia”). The scientific philological argument for the identification of the Croats with the Haravatis is given in (Sakac 1955, pp. 33-36; Sakac 1949, 1937)

1-Oton Ivekovic HrvataThe Arrival of the Croats to the Adriatic (painting by Oton Iveković) (Source: Public Domain).

As Dvornik notes:

P.S. Sakac thinks that he discovered the name ‘Croats’ in Darius’ inscriptions from the sixth century B.C. There an old Persian province and people are mentioned, called Harahvaitai, Harahvatis, Horohoati...” (Dvornik 1956, p.26).


After an earlier Persian citation of the Croats cited by Dvornik, there is another ancient mention of the “Horovathos”  on two stone inscriptions written in the Greek language and script; this is dated to approximately the year 200 CE (housed in the St. Petersburg Archaeological Museum) (Source: Croatian History). This was discovered at the Black Sea region, in the ancient seaport of Tanais on the Sea of Azov in the Crimea. 

Further, the Roman leader Ammanius Marcellinus mentioned that two cities arose in ancient Persia called Habroatis and Chroates. In this regard, Prof. Mandic writes:

The Croats of the Don, then had to come in ancient times from Iran. On a stone inscription of the King Darius (522-486 B.C.) the nation of the Haruavat-is appears among the 23 subject nations. The Persian sacred books of the Avesti (Vendidad) call that nation the Harahvaiti. The provinces settled by that nation encompassed in those times the southern half of modern south Afghanistan, the whole of Baluchistan and the eastern part of modern Iran. In that ancient province ought we to look for the paleo-fatherland of the modern Croats.” (Mandic 1970, Chapter 1)

Furthermore, the name of the Croatian capital, Zagreb, is related to the Zagros mountain range of Iran. The Dinara mountains in Dalmatia and the Dinar currency may be connected to Mount Dinar (Dene) of Iran. The name Serbia is similar to the Seropi or Surappi River in Elam. Moreover, certain authorities note that the name of the Carpathian mountains is derived from Croatia:

Here the Iranian Croats mingled with the numerous local Slavic tribes and adopted the Slavic language from them. Meanwhile after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire the Croats organized the local Slavs into a state and gave them their national name. Before the invasion of the Avars ca. 560 the White or Western Croats created along with the Antes a great state extending north of the Carpathians from the upper Elbe to the upper Dniester.” (35: Niederle, 263-266; Dvornik, The Slavs, 277-297) R. Heinzel is of the opinion that the Carpathians of the old Germanic Hervarsaga took their name from the Croats who called them the Harvate mountains i.e. Croatian mountains. (36: Heinzel, 499; Dvornik, op. cit., 284, sq.)” (Mandic 1970, Ch.1)

Indeed, philologists trace the migration of the Croats from Harahvati (Arachosia, Sarasvati) in the following manner using fossil place-names along the path of migration:

  • Harahvaiti and Harauvati in Iran and Afghanistan
  • Hurravat and Hurrvuhe in Armenia and Georgia
  • Horoouathos in Azova and the Black Sea
  • Present day Croats Horvati and Hrvati along the Adriatic

It is important to note that the Avesta – the sacred scriptures of the ancient Aryan Zoroastrians – mentions the lands settled by the Iranic peoples. Hapta-Hindawa (ie. the Punjab, “Sapta-Sindhu” in Prakrit) is mentioned in the Avesta amongst the Irano-Aryan lands. Even today, the Punjab is the primary home of the Jats. Since the Croats are named after the Harahvaiti or Sarasvati River, and the Jats are the present-day inhabitants of the lost Harahvaiti, it would appear that Jats and Croats would be very closely related indeed.


Further compelling evidence comes from vexillology (the scientific study of flags). Thus, the Croatian flag is based on the chessboard, whence many Croatian historians consider Croats as eponymic descendants of the Sassanid chess master and minister Bozorgmehr, just as the Kambojas are eponymic descendants of Cambyses and Georgians are viewed as the eponymic descendants of King George II. In this regard, Prof. Mandic notes:

Ancient Croatian folk art bears eastern and Iranian traces, particularly the Croatian “troplets”. The Croats also brought over from Iran their national coat of arms with its 64 red and white checkers” (11: Strzycowskyi, 15-63, 156-181; Dado-Peranic, op.cit., 21-24; Mandic Hrvatski kockasti grb, 639-652)” (Mandic 1970, Ch.1).


The organization of the state among the southern Croats with the king, bans and zupans at its head similar to that of the northern Croats; in addition the religion, national customs, dress and arts of the southern Croats bear Iranian traces, just like the Croats in the north” (Mandic 1970, ch.3).

Indeed, a total of 120 Croat and non-Croat university professors and several academics have published 249 research works elaborating the Old Iranic origin of Croats (Tomicic 1998).


A researcher notes similarities in folklore as well:

There are old Croatian customs and national poems that have been cited as evidencing lingering traces of the fire and sun worship of the Iranians. Fire, the essence of human origin, the sun, and the great boiling cauldron around which the warriors spring in the age old kolo or circle dance, all these are ingredients in the national lore of the Croatian nation. The Croat vilas or fairy witches resemble the peris of Iranian mythology. Then there is the legendary Sviato zov, the personification of strength, a being almost too huge for the earth to bear. He is strongly reminiscent of the “elephant-bodied” Rustum of Persian legend” (Guldescu 1964, pt.1.II).

3-Cheshmeh AliThe circle dance partly seen on c.5000 BCE (?) ceramic piece (Louvre museum) from Cheshmeh Ali in the ancient Rayy region (near modern-Tehran, Iran) (Source: Iran Atlas). Other ceramic pieces like the above can are also housed at the Iran Bastan Museum. The Kurds in general have retained this ancient dance form. Despite vast geographical distances and the passage of thousands of years, variations of this dance can still be seen not only among the Croats but also among several eastern European, Anatolian and Caucasian regions.

Research studies on Croatian clothing reveals similarities with Sassanian and other Iranic styles both in terms of male and female clothing.

2-Khorvat-Ancient Eire-an(Left) Traditional Croat attire (Source: Folk Costume) and (Right) Mede nobleman at Persepolis (Source: Photo by Moradi, 1971). The lady’s embroidery is almost identical to that seen among tribal elements in Iran, notably Kurds and Lurs. Her shirt nbears striking parallels to those produced by the Kurds of Khorasan in NE Iran and the front panel of her skirt also found among Iran’s tribal elements.  Her cap features a peacock feather; the peacock is a sacred entity in ancient Iranian mythology, as seen among present-day Yezidi Kurds.  The gentleman’s attire has stylistic parallels among Iran’s nomadic tribes, with his boots reminiscent of ancient soft Iranian riding boots. What of interest however is the man’s ancient Iranian Kandys slung over his shoulder: the Kandys was a sign of nobility in ancient Persia as seen among the Perso-Mede nobility of Persepolis of the Achaemenid Empire thousands of years ago in 6th – 5th Cent. BCE. The kandys is also seen among Gothic nobles from the 5th century CE.

White Croatia, Red Croatia, Green Croatia

The Iranic origin of Croats is in fact the only way one can comprehend the traditional distinction existing between White Croatia, Red Croatia and Green Croatia:

After the Iranian fashion the ancient Croats ascribed a specific colour to each of the four cardinal points of the compass in the territory which they inhabited. The colour white designated the west, red the south, green the east, and black the north” (10: Saussure, Le Systeme 235-297; idem, L’origine des noms 23; Sakac, op. cit., 37-40) Hence White or West Croatia, Red or South Croatia and Green or East Croatia.” (Mandic 1970, Ch.1)

Further, Dobrovich notes:

It should be noted that only the thesis of the Iranian origin of the Croats can explain the name “Horvath”, the title of a Croat dignitary Banus, the names “White” and “Red Croatian”, and the Bogumile phenomenon. According to this theory, the Croats were a branch of the Caucasian Iranians, who lived somewhere in the western Caucasus during the era of the Roman Emperors. The Caucasian Anten were another branch of this group.” (Dobrovich 1963)

Let us conclude this section on Croats with the words of the learned Prof. Mandic:

The oldest historical evidence, the ancient Croatian social organization, religion, national customs and art indicate that the Croats are of Iranian origin.” (Mandic 1970, Concl.)

Sarmatians, Sauro Matii, Surya Madras or Solar Medes

Now, the exact path of migration of the Croats from Iran to the Balkans is still disputed. Some hold that they migrated via Anatolia, others that they migrated via Central Asia and the Pontic region. Some of the latter historians link the Sarmatians with the Croats and Jats. Thus, Dvornik traces both Serbs and Croats back to the Sarmatians of Southern Russia (Dvornik 1956). The Sarmatians were generally identified as Scythians. Thus, Sulimirski, author of “The Sarmatians” also makes mention of the referral of the Emperor’s to the Belochrobati or White Croats who “exhibited certain Sarmatian characteristics … [they were] of Iranian origin” (Sulimirski 1970, p.190-1) Their interest to history stems from the fact that their matriarchial Scythian society probably formed the basis of the Greek legends of the Amazon female warriors. In this connection, it is interesting to note numerous reference to the fighting ability, combat skills, bravery and great freedom of Jat women – the Jat amazons.


A reconstruction by Cernenko and Gorelik of the north-Iranian Saka or Scythians in battle (Cernenko & Gorelik, 1989, Plate F). The ancient Iranians (those in ancient Persia and the ones in ancient Eastern Europe) often had women warriors and chieftains, a practice not unlike those of the contemporary ancient Celts in ancient Central and Western Europe. What is also notable is the costume of the Iranian female warrior – this type of dress continues to appear in parts of Luristan in Western Iran (for more on this topic see – Fezana article on Ancient Iranian Women).

The name Sarmatian is an Anglicization of the original Sauro Matii, the Latin form of the Prakrit Surya Madra or Surya Mada. The name means “Solar Medes”, in English, another testimony to the worship of Surya, or Cyrus, the Ashur of Assyria, the Ahura Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the splendid Sun-god of the Iranic peoples. In this regard, Mandic notes:

Indeed from the end of the I to III century A.D. in the city-state of Tanais, in the region of the Don, lived various Iranian tribes of Samatians as well as Croats who must have been Iranians” (4: Concerning the Iranian tribes in present-day southeastern Russia around the Don and the Iranian origin of the Croats, see: Niederle, I, 321-434; Rostovtzeff; Vasmer, I; Hauptmann; Nartical; Sakac, 313-340; Dabo-Peranic.

For a summary of the theories on the Croatian name see: Sisic, Povijest Hrvata 238-240) Furthermore the national name “Croat” is of Iranian origin. According to the Russian Vselod Miller the name “Croat” comes from the Iranian word Hor-va (t)u meaning: the sun’s bed or path. (5. Miller, 259 sq.) M. Vasmer derives the Croatian name from Hu-urvata meaning, “friend”. (6. Vasmer, op. cit., 56) And the terms used to designate the high officials among the Croats, “kral, ban, zupan”, are of Iranian origin. (7 Sakac, The Iranian origins of the Croats, 30-46; RP 195-201) (Mandic 1970, Chapter 1)

Slovaks & Jats

Prof. Mandic notes:

The great resemblance between the Croatian and Slovak languages tell us that the Croats for the most part moved south from northern Slovakia. For they are far nearer to each other in affinity than to any other Slavic language.” (Mandic 1970, Ch.1) Thus, the Slovaks would also share the same Saka origins as the Croats and Jats.


Regarding the roots of Bosnians, Dodan notes that Bosnia is historically a Croatian land, that Bosnia belonged to Croatia in the early mediaeval times, that the majority of Bosnian population used to be and are still Croats, and that mediaeval Bosnian kings were ethnic Croats. Even their surnames end in “-an”. Dodan quotes Draganovic’s and Mandic’s research according to which 95 % of Muslims and 30% of Serbs are actually Croats. He also elucidates the Iranian roots of the Croatian people (Dodan 1994).


Now, we turn to the connection with the Serbs. Several historians maintain that the Serbian ruling caste shared the same origin as the Croats. Prof. Malcolm recently wrote a book “Bosnia” (Malcolm 1996), in which he clearly elucidates the Iranic origin of both Serbs and Croats. For instance, Prof. Salzman notes while reviewing Malcolm’s first chapter:

The Croats and Serbs (who were either Slavic tribes with Iranian ruling castes or Iranian tribes with Slavic subjects) arrived in the Balkans in the 620s, a land already occupied by the Slavs.” (Salzman 1999)

The view of Prof. Malcolm is thus that the Croats and Serbs were originally Iranic speakers who adopted a Slavic language (Malcolm 1996). Examples of a conquering immigrant group adopting the language of its surrounding subjects abound in history. For example, the Scandinavian Normans adopted the Romance French language in Normandy, while their ruling kinsmen in England adopted Anglo-Saxon; the Germanic Franks, Merovingians and Carolingians adopted the Romance French language; the Nordic Visigoths adopted the Romance Spanish language; the Germanic Lombards adopted the Romance Italian language, and the Tungus Manchu adopted the Chinese language of their subjects. Likewise, the Jats were originally speakers of Scythian or East Iranic languages, who subsequently adopted an Indo-Aryan language. Hence, that the Iranic Croats and Serbs should adopt a Slavic language would not be unusual in any way.

Saka paradraya-European ScythiansScythians on the steppes of the ancient Ukraine. Scholars are virtually unanimous that the Scythians were an Iranian people related to the Medes and Persians of ancient Iran or Persia (Painting by the late Angus McBride).

The Croats were also commonly named by the medieval chroniclers as “Goths”:

The old Croatian chronicle ‘The Kingdom of the Croats’ and the ‘Chronicle of Pop Dukljanin’, based on Croatian national tradition and on the ancient records, states that the Croats whom they misnamed the Goths arrived for the north through Pannonia and Templana (6) in Dalmatia, which they conquered and settled. (7)” (Mandic 1970, ch.3)

This is important because the ethnonym “Jat” is widely considered a variant of “Goth” and its Greco-Latin variant “Getae”. In this connection, Prof. Lozinski notes: (Lozinski 1964, Vernadsky 1952)

Professor Vernadsky [25. Vernadsky, G., Ancient Russia (New Haven, 1951), pp. 50-55; an older, less scholarly attempt in this direction: Cuno, J. G., Forschungen im Gebiete der alten Voelkerkunde. Die Skythen (Berlin, 1870), pp. 225-286] was the first, in modern times, to suggest that the Slavs had direct Iranian antecedents. The derivation of both names from religious designations, as suggested above, may be considered as additional evidence, especially as most of the Slavic gods bear purely Iranian, or Indian, names” [26. Vernadsky, G., Kievan Russia (New Haven, 1951), pp. 50-55; Krappe, A. N., “La chute du paganisme a Kiev,” Revue des eludes slaves, XVII (1937), 208. Rozwadowski, J., “Stosunki leksykalne miedzy jazykami slowianskimi a iranskiemi,” Rocznik orientalistyczny, I (1914/15), 95-110, esp. 110]

One of the Slavic groups, the Poles, called themselves Sarmatians; this name was recorded very early in Western Medieval chronicles [27. Ulewicz, T., “Okolo genealogii sarmatyzmu,” Pamietnik slowianski, I, (1949), 105-107], which lends credence to the traditions recorded in Polish chronicles edited at the waning of the Middle Ages, according to which they were in touch with the Iranians. [28. Bohomolec, F., Zbior dziejow polskich (Warszawa, 1767-68), III, Cromer M., Kronika, 5, 17, 19, 28; IV, Guagnino, A., Kronika Sarmucyey europeyskiey, 1 f., 7, 13, 16, 513.; Magistri Vincenti ep. Cracoviensis, Chronica Polonorum, ed. A. Przeidziecki (Krakow, 1862), 76 (cf. Paszkiewicz, op. cit., 360); Bielski, M., Kronika Polska (N. ed., Krakow, 1597), Introduction, passim., cf. Chrzanowski, I., Marcin Bielski (Lwow, 1926), 101-108, 504.]


Iranian-speaking Alan warrior circa 5th century CE (Painting by the late Angus McBride). The descendants of the Alans are found in the Caucasus as well as in the old Iranian province of Ard-Alan (Royal House of Alan) in western Iran. The legends of the Alans are recalled in the Kurdish folklore  epic “Memi-Alan o Zhin e Bohtan”.

In Antiquity the Sarmatians, as is well known, were the Alans. [29. Vernadsky 1952] The meaning of the name “Sarmata” in Iranian is the “council.” [30. Vernadsky, G., and Dzanty, Dzambulant, “The Ossetian Tale of Iry Dada and Mstislav,” Journal of American Folklore, LXIX (1956), 234, n. 39.] It refers not to the nationality or language, but to the social organization of the Alans, ruled by a supreme council, appointing the king. [31. Strabo, XI, ix, 3.] The role of the council in early Slavic history is well known, especially among the Western Slavs. Thus the social, or political, organization of the Iranian Alans and Polish Slavs offers evidence of their affiliation.” (Lozinski 1964)


It may also be stated that several scholars have noticed Iranic elements amongst the Proto-Bulgarians. (Beshevliev 1967, Schmitt 1985)


The celebration of “Surva” in modern-day Bulgaria. Local lore traces this festival to the Iranian God Zurvan. This folklore system appears to be linked to the Bogomil movement. Interestingly, much of the Surva theology bears parallels with elements of Zurvanism and Zoroastrianism (Picture Source:


The Iranic or Irano-Aryan race as a whole is dolichocephalic (long-headed), leptorrhine (having long, narrow noses), tall, robust, dark-haired, large-boned and fair-skinned with straight hair. These features are found amongst the Jats, Pathans, Persians, Rajputs and Kurds.

4-Old talysh man in Gilan

Elderly Talysh man in Gilan relaxing with his flute as his sheep grazes next to him (Source: Iran has been multi-faced in several ways since ancient times, with its Indo-European character linking her to both India and Europa. 

Due to the common features of Iranic skeletons with Nordics, some authorities consider the Nordics and Iranics as belonging to a common Nordic-Iranian macro-race. It is a further strong support for the Iranic origin of Croats and indeed, West Slavs in general, who display strong Iranic racial features.

Thus, the majority of Croatians today tend to be tall statured, with narrow facial features. Many historians consider these western Slavic features to be a trait passed on from the Iranic tribes mentioned above. The Alans in particular are thought to have had considerable impact on the Croatian racial “type”.

Now, there are three sub-types of Croats proper: Dinaric (Iranoid race), Mediterranean (Latinoid race) and Panonian (Slavoid race) The Dinaric type to which many Croats belong is often viewed as an Iranic sub-type:

In the central mountainous regions settled by the Croats upon their arrival on the Adriatic the Dinaric type of Croat developed. This type is quite remote from the general Slavic type. The Dinaric Croats are tall in stature (ca. 1.8 metres), long-headed but with a skull of short circumference (cephalic index of 80-85)” (Mandic 1970, ch.3).

The main feature of the Dinaric sub-type of Iranics is that the head is long when viewed from front, but the circumference is short, giving the illusion of brachcephaly when viewed from the top. It is common amongst Armenians as well, and is often viewed as a breeding isolate of the Iranoid race.

Refuting the view that the Croatians were of Illyrian or Roman stock, Mandic notes:

“…. Nevertheless one has to say that the contribution of the local Romanized remnants [Illyrian] of the prehistoric Dinaric folk, hardly amounted to more than 20% to 30% in forming the Dinaric Croat (Mandic 1970, ch.3). These Mediterranean Croats are “intermediary in stature, a little smaller than the Dinaric type. They have quite oval skulls, dark hair and eyes and an olive complexion.”

The Panonian Croats, however, are largely descendants of the Slavic populations. The Slavoid race in general (to be distinguished from the speakers of Slavic languages) is short-statured, brachycephalic (round-headed), with blond hair. Thus:

When the Croats conquered Lower Pannonia and Savia they at one began to assimilate with the Kaikavian Slavs of those areas. Out of that came the third type of Croat, the Pannonian, of intermediate stature, blond hair, ruddy complexion and of a rather sizeable cephalic index. …. [A] conspicuous type of Pannonian Croat was preserved up until this day. They of all the Croats are the closest to the general Slavic type in their physical and psychological make-up (88)” (Mandic 1970).

Thus, the round-headed blond Panonian Croats are not members of the Iranoid race, but instead are of the round-headed Slavoid race. They are, however, outnumbered by the Iranic or Dinaric Croats, who form the dominant element of Croatia


A scholarly Croatian society called ZDPPH recently held a conference on the Iranic origin of Croats, where genetic evidence was presented. According to the society’s president Nedjeljko Kujundzic:

Swedish geneticists have confirmed, in 75 percent of cases, that Croats are of Iranian origin.” (Hina 2000)

Two days after the news conference, the book “Indo-Iranian Origin of Croats” by Mate Marcinko was released in which much additional proof was presented.

Croatia-Eire AnCroatian map providing an overview of the east-west links between the Croats and the ancient Iranian realms (Source: Croatia in English).

Croatian elements among Serbs

Furthermore, even if the Serbs represent primarily the descendants of round-headed Slavs, there has been much Croat infusion into the Serb genetic stock. Thus, Mandic estimates that one-third of Serbs are ethnically Croat:

Our investigations have led us to believe that of the Serbs presently in Bosnia and Herzegovina 32 to 35% are descended from Orthodox Croats, 50 to 52% are from non-Slavic Wallachs, 6 to 7% are from Serbianized Bulgarians, Greeks, Armenians and Albanians and 8 to 10% from genuine ethnic Serbs who came there mainly during Austro-Hungarian rule and during the time of the two Yugoslavias” (Mandic 1970, ch.7).


Where do the Jats come into this? Now, the Jats are generally held to be of Scythian descent. The Jat-Sikhs are also of Saka descent, for indeed the very name “Sikh” is derived from “Saka” (Sara 1978). Noted historian Satya Shrava notes:

The Jats are none other than the Massagetae (Great Getae) mentioned in Diodorus as an off-spring of the ancient Saka tribe…. a fact now well-known” (Shrava 1981, p.2-3).

scythian_female_modernSikh girl dressed in the ancient attire of her ancient Saka/Scythian ancestors (Source: Sikh Archives). The ancient Iranic legacy is still seen in the word for “Punjab” (Panj-Ab: Five waters/Rivers) and other Punjabi words of Persian origin such as “asemana” (sky; aseman in Persian), etc.

Eminent scholars like Tod, Toynbee, Trevaskis, Keene, Kephart, Dhillon, Dahiya, Prakash and Bingley directly or indirectly connected Jat, Goths and Scythians. Thus, the famed Anglo-American historian Toynbee notes:

It may not be fantastic to conjecture that the Tuetonic-speaking Goths and Gauts of Scandinavia may have been descended from a fragment of the same Indo-European-speaking tribe as the homonymous Getae and Thyssagetae and Massagetae of the Eurasian Steppe who are represented today by the Jats of the Panjab.” (Toynbee 1934, p.435).

Furthermore, some scholars hold that the Scythians and Iranics originated in the Punjab and from thence migrated across the world. Whatever the details of the original home of the Iranoid race itself, all scholars agree that the Jats, Serbs and Croats predominantly belong to the same ethnic stock.


It is a pity that Dr. K.S. Singh, former DG, Anthropological Survey of India, erroneously asserted there was no Jat-Serb connection (Indian Express, 21/9/2003). Compounding this, he went further and wrongly bracketed Jats into what he called an “Indo-Pak stock”. This is a term non-existent in standard anthropology. Indeed, Pakistan was first created in 1947. How can the DG’s hypothetical “Indo-Pak stock” by any stretch of the imagination refer to ancient history? The length of this article has been necessitated in order to provide sufficient counterweight to the DG’s misleading statements. He is invited to read the references contained in this article and correct himself.

It is thus clear, Belgrade was indeed an appropriate choice for the location of the World Jat Congress. This article amply shows that close kinsmen of the Jats abound all across the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Now, given the tragic recent history of the Serb-Croat divide during the break-up of Yugoslavia, it might be more advisable to first establish Jatism in Croatia, for it is in Croatia that the Iranic connection has recently become official history. Sadly, Serbian historians are still split between the Slavic and Iranic theories. Once the first base has been established in Croatia, one may look beyond to the surrounding regions to develop further Jat connections in the Balkans.


Beshevliev 1967: “Iranian elements in the Proto-Bulgarians” by V. Beshevliev (in Bulgarian)(Antichnoe Obschestvo, Trudy Konferencii po izucheniyu problem antichnosti, str. 237-247, Izdatel’stvo “Nauka”, Moskva 1967, AN SSSR, Otdelenie Istorii)

Dobrovich 1963: “Volk an der Grenze – Schicksal und Auftrag. Zur Geschichte der burgenlaendischen Kroaten,” (People on the Border – History of the Burgenland Croats), by Johann Dobrovich, Burgenlaendische Forschungen, vol.47, Prov. Archive of Burgenland, Eisenstadt 1963, tr by Frank Teklits;

Dodan 1994: “Bosna and Hercegovina, a Croatian land”, by Sime Dodan, Meditor, Zagreb, 1994.

Dvornik 1956: “The Slavs. Their Early History and Civilization.” by F. Dvornik, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston, USA., 1956.

Guldescu 1964: “History of Medieval Croatia”, by Stanko Guldescu, Mouton (pub), The Hague, 1964;

Hina 2000: “Scholars assert Croats are Descendants of Iranian Tribes”, Hina News Agency, Zagreb, Oct 15, 2000 (

Lozinksi 1964: “The Name Slav” by B. Philip Lozinski (Essays in Russian History, Archon Books,1964)

Malcolm 1996: “Bosnia: A Short History”, by Noel Malcolm, New York University Press, New York, 1994; 1996, new ed.

Mandic 1970: “Croats and Serbs – Two old and different nations,” by Dr. O. Dominik Mandic, Chicago 1970, Nakladni Zavod Matice Hrvatske, Zagreb, 1990; tr. Vicko Rendic & Jacques Perret,

Sakac 1937: “Del origen caucaso-iranio de los croatas” (“Of the Caucasian-Iranian ancestry of the Croats”) by S. Sakac, Zagreb 1937.

Sakac 1949: “Iranisehe Herkunft des kroatischen Volksnamens”, (“Iranian origin of the Croatian Ethnonym”) S. Sakac, Orientalia Christiana Periodica. XV (1949), 813-340.

Sakac 1955: “The Iranian origin of the Croatians according to Constantine Porphyrogenitus”, by S. Sakac, in “The Croatian nation in its struggle for freedom and independence” (Chicago, 1955); for other works by

Sakac, cf. “Prof. Dr. Stjepan Krizin Sakac – In memoriam” by Milan Blazekovic,

Salzman 1999: “Book Review: Noel Malcolm, Bosnia” by Todd Salzman, Creighton Univ.; J. Religion & Society, Vol.1 (1999),

Sara 1978: “The Scythian Origin of the Jat-Sikh”, I.Sara, The Sikh Review, 1978, pp. 15-27 (pt.1), pp. 214-233 (pt.2) (

Schmitt 1985: “Iranica Proto-Bulgarica” (in German), Academie Bulgare des Sciences, Linguistique Balkanique, XXVIII (1985), l, p.13-38;

Shrava 1981: “The Sakas in India”, S.Shrava, Pranava Prakashan, New Delhi 1981.
Sulimirski 1970: “The Sarmatians,” by T.Sulimirski, Thames & Hudson, London, UK, 1970.

Tomicic 1998: “The old-Iranian origin of Croats”, Symposium proceedings, Zagreb 24.6.1998, ed. Prof. Zlatko Tomicic & Andrija-Zeljko Lovric, Cultural center of I.R. of Iran in Croatia, Zagreb, 1999, ISBN 953-6301-05-5,

Toynbee 1934: “A Study of History,” by A. Toynbee, Vol. 2., Oxford University Press, London, 1939, 1st pubd in 1934; cited by Sunny Singh (pers. comm.)

Vernadsky 1952: “Der sarmatische Hintergrund der germanischen Voelkerwanderung,” (Sarmatian background of the Germanic Migrations), G. Vernadsky, Saeculum, II (1952), 340-347.

Sharon Turner: The Persian Origin of Anglo-Saxon Words

The article below was written in a letter Sharon Turner in 1827  and was first posted in the CAIS (Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies) venue hosted by Shapour Suren-Pahlav.

Kindly note that the images and accompanying descriptions inserted below do not appear in the original article posting in CAIS.


If more important communications be not, at the present moment, occupying the attention of the Royal Society of Literature, it may not perhaps be wholly uninteresting, if I submit to its consideration a few circumstances in regard to the Asiatic origin of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, which have lately occurred to me on examining the affinities of their ancient language.

It has been stated in the History of the Anglo-Saxons, that the most probable derivation of this people which had been suggested, was that which deduced them from the Sakai or Sacae, who, from, the Caspian, besides branching into Bactriana on the east, had also spread westward into the most fertile part of Armenia, which, from them, as we learn from Strabo, was called Sakasina.

Pliny terms the Sakai, who settled there, the Sacassani; which is so similar in sound to Saca-sunu, or the sons of the Sakai, that we are tempted to identify the two appellations. It was Goropius Becanus who first hinted this etymology: the celebrated Melanchthon adopted it; and though, as is usual on such subjects, others doubted and disputed, our Camden gave it the sanction of his decided preference.

Eastern Scythians or “Saka Tigrakhauda” (Pointed cap Saka) as depicted in Persepolis. The Scythians played an important role in the military machine of the Achaemenids. A branch of the Scythians or Saka, the Parthians, were to revive the Iranian kingdom after Alexander’s conquests and his Seleucid successors.

It appeared to me to be the most rational derivation which had been mentioned; and the fact that Ptolemy, writing in the second century after Strabo and Pliny, actually notices a Scythian people, who had sprung from the Sakai, by the very name of Saxones, seemed to verify the conjecture, that the appellative Saxones did originate from Saca-sunu, or the sons of the Sakai.

The Romans spelt the word with a c instead of a k, and we therefore call them Sacae, with the s sound of the c.But this is only our mispronunciation of the Roman c; for we find that Cicero’s name is written in the Greek authors who mention him, as Kikeroo.

The preceding derivation thus leads to the opinion, that the progenitors of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors came from Asia into Europe; and that before they made this emigration, they had dwelt in Armenia and in the regions about the Caspian.

The Honourable Mr. Keppell, in his late interesting travels, visited this country, and thus notices it. After crossing the river Arras – the Araxes of Plutarch – he says:

“Between this river and the Kur – the ancient Cyrus or Cyrnus – is the beautiful province of Karabaugh, formerly the country of the Sacae or Sacassani, a warlike tribe of Scythians, mentioned by Pliny and Strabo, and supposed to be the same people as our ancient ancestors the Saxons.”

After quitting Karabaugh, Mr. Keppell proceeded to Shirwan, the Albania of the ancients. The beautiful province of Karabaugh, between the Arras and the Kur – the ancient Araxes and Cyrnus – may therefore be considered as one of the Asiatic localisations of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors. The Kur has been the late boundary of the Russian acquisitions in this district.

The late war between the Russians and the Persians has been chiefly carried on in or near the regions where the ancient Sakai or Sacassani were seated, and which appear to have begun from the south of the Kur. If the Russians make any further acquisitions in these parts, they will become possessed of the country of our Sakai ancestors.

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).

These circumstances, drawing the mind to this part of the world, led me to recollect that former antiquaries had observed a few words in the Persian language to resemble some in the Saxon. Camden mentions, that “the admirable scholar, Joseph Scaliger, has told us that fader, muder, brader, tuchter, band, and such like, are still used in the Persian language, in the same sense as we say father, mother, brother, daughter, and band.” (Camden’s Brit. Introd. cxxiii.)

Musing upon this intimation, it occurred to me, that if five words, so much alike as these, were found in the two languages, an attentive comparison of the Persian with the Anglo-Saxon might discover many more, if the allegation were really true, that the Saxons had come from these regions; and in that case, if any considerable number of similarities were really existing in the two languages, they would tend to confirm the belief, that the origin of our Saxon forefathers should be thus sought in Asia, and that their primeval ancestors had gradually moved from the Caspian Sea to the German Ocean.

Scythians on the steppes of the ancient Ukraine. Scholars are virtually unanimous that the Scythians were an Iranian people related to the Medes and Persians of ancient Iran or Persia (Painting by Angus McBride).

This view of the subject induced me to attempt a cursory examination, whether such resemblances could, by a general inspection, be perceived, as would satisfy the mind that the chorographical relationship was not an unfounded conjecture.

But it was obvious, that whatever the ancient identity between these languages may have been in their original state, no very great proportion of it could be expected to be visible now, because the Saxons have been separated from these regions at least 2000 years; and in their progress along the north of Asia, and through the whole breadth of the upper surface of Europe, and amid all the evils, sufferings, triumphs, and events, which must have befallen them before they reached the mouth of the Elbe; and from the new scenes and conflicts which accompanied their three centuries of depredations on the Roman empire and upon the ocean, and which afterwards, for four hundred years more, awaited them in Britain, before those works were written which display their language to us; – from all these causes, the Anglo-Saxons, in the days of Alfred, must have used a very different tongue, in the mass of its words, from that simpler and ruder one which their progenitors had conversed with in the beautiful province of Karabaugh, and on the Araxes, the Kur, and the Caspian.

So, during the same lapse of time, the Persian language has ceased to be what it was in the days of Cyrus or Darius. It has become, within the last 1,000 years, the most polished language of the Eastern world, and has been most exercised in clothing with select and ornate phrase the finest effusions of the Oriental genius.

Persian (Zoroastrian) inscription in Ateshgah (Source: Farroukh Jorat).

Modern Persian can, therefore, be scarcely less unlike the original language of those, in his war, against whom the self-confident Julian found an early grave, instead of the victorious triumph he expected, than our present English is to the Anglo-Saxon of the same period. Neither Persian nor Saxon are now what they were when the Sakai and the Persae confronted each other on their dividing rivers, and from their bordering mountains. Hence no such pervading identity could be expected as may yet be traced between the Welsh, the Bas Breton, the Irish, and the Gaelic, however originally similar.

The likeness would be also less, because the Saxons did not spring from the Persians. No one has alleged this parentage. The Sakai were the relatives only, not the children of the Persae. So far from any filial or paternal feelings existing between them, the most furious hostilities disparted the two tribes; and at one epoch, the Persians, by attacking the Sakai by surprise, nearly exterminated them.

This disaster disinclined our valuable antiquary, Sheringham, from adopting this derivation of our ancestors. But as it is manifest that no attack of surprise could annihilate at that time more than the forces which were surprised, the calamity is more likely to have been a reason for the rest of the Sakai, after this weakening catastrophe, to have moved hastily out of their pleasing settlements in those parts of the world, and to have migrated westward to a safer locality.

The main fire altar at the Atash-kade (Zoroastrian Fire-Temple) of Baku in the Republic of Azerbaijan (known as Arran and the Khanates until 1918) (Picture Source: Panoramio). This site is now registered with UNESCO as a world heritage site. 

This defeat may have forced them from Armenia to other districts nearer Europe; and the war of the Romans, or of Mithridates, or similar disturbing causes, may have afterwards impelled them to proceed onward to the Vistula, and at last to seek refuge on the islands and peninsula of the western extremities of the continent.

The probability is, that all the tribes which anciently inhabited the immediately conterminous countries were, for the most part, branches of the same main parental stem. The Persae, the Sakai, and their neighbours, may be therefore considered as ramifications of the great Scythian stock – part of the audax genus of Japetus, or Japhet; and as such, although the old Persians and the Sakai would not have spoken the same language in all its words and forms, yet their respective tongues would be dialects of their family original, and therefore would have many terms in common, as we still find between the ancient Franco-theotisc and the Saxon.

Of these assimilating terms, I expected that many fragments would be preserved, both in the Anglo-Saxon and in modern Persian, notwithstanding all the changing fortunes of the two nations; but that they would, from these mutations, exist and be perceptible now only as fragments.

Remains of the Temple of Mithra at Carrawburgh, England (Source: Britain Express). The culture 0f Mithras continues to endure among the Iranians (within Iran and the Kurds of the Near East beyond modern-day Iran. The Kurds speak West Iranian languages (i.e. Kurmnaji, Gowrani, etc.) that are akin to Persian and Luri.

Proceeding on this principle – that if the ancestors of the two nations did once live in vicinity to each other, although this was 2000 years ago, some indications of their neighbourhood would appear from subsisting similarities in their languages, and expecting to find these only as occasional fragments, I have compared the Anglo-Saxon with the modern Persian. The result has been, that, upon a general examination, I have found 162 Persian words which have a direct affinity with as many Anglo-Saxon terms of the same meaning; and these I beg leave to submit to the notice of the Society.

But before I attach the list of these, I will take the liberty also of mentioning, that I thought it right, after these similarities had been ascertained, to consider that two other languages, older than the modern Persian, had prevailed in that country. These were the Pehlvi and the Zend. The latter, the most ancient that we know of in those parts from actual specimens; the other, the Pehlvi, an intermediate one, in point of chronology, between the Zend and the Persian.

A detail of the painting “School of Athens” by Raphael 1509 CE (Source: Zoroastrian Astrology Blogspot). Raphael has provided his artistic impression of Zoroaster (with beard-holding a celestial sphere) conversing with Ptolemy (c. 90-168 CE) (with his back to viewer) and holding a sphere of the earth. Note that contrary to Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” paradigm, the “East” represented by Zoroaster, is in dialogue with the “West”, represented by Ptolemy.  Prior to the rise of Eurocentricism in the 19th century (especially after the 1850s), ancient Persia was viewed positively by the Europeans. For more see Ken R. Vincent: Zoroaster-the First Universalist

Of both the Zend and the Pehlvi, M. Anquetil found some specimens among the ancient manuscripts which he consulted in exploring and translating the Zendavesta, or sacred book of the still subsisting worshippers of the sacred fire in those regions. Recollecting this fact, I have been led also to look into these specimens, and I have observed fifty-seven words in these fragments of the Zend language, which resemble as many in the Anglo-Saxon, and forty-three of accordant similarities between our old tongue and the Pehlvi.

These one hundred and sixty-two Persian words, fifty-seven Zend, and forty-three Pehlvi, present to us two hundred and sixty-two words in the three languages that have prevailed in Persia, which have sufficient affinity with as many in the Anglo-Saxon to confirm the deduction of our earliest progenitors from these regions of ancient Asia.

The Three Wise Men as depicted in Ravenna (Sant’Apollinare Nuovo), Italy (Source: Public Domain). Note the European depiction of Partho-Sassanian Iranian dress, caps and cloaks. 

That these affinities are too many to be ascribed to mere chance, there seems to be no difficulty in affirming. But on adverting to the positions suggested in my former papers, of a primeval oneness of language among mankind, and of the abruption of that into the diversities which now pervade the world, it is a reasonable question, whether these two hundred and sixty-two similarities are only remains of the primitive unity, or whether they be indications of specific subsequent relationship of two of the newer languages that were formed after the dispersion.

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).

Both the nature and the number of the analogies I have remarked satisfy my own mind that they are more truly referable to the latter than to the former cause, and therefore I will proceed to enumerate them, as corroborating testimony of our Sacassenian derivation, beginning with the Persian affinities, and then proceeding to those of the Zend and the Pehlvi.


am, I am.
aelan, to burn
alaw, a flame of fire
afora, a son
afa, the eldest son
andega, an appointed term
andan, a term
abidan, to abide
abadan, an abode
are, honour
aray, decoration
arian, to honour
arayidan, to adorn
ase, as
asay, like
andget, the intellect, sense
angar, reason.
andgashtan, to think
enge, trouble
anjam, grief.
andjugh, a sigh
angel, a hook
angulah, a button
ewe, water
aw, water
earmth, misery
urman, trouble
ende, the end
anjam, the end
berend, fruitful
bar, fruit
beeran, to carry
bar, a load
brother, a brother
bradar, a brother
barn, a barn
barn, a covered place
bearn, a son
barna, a youth
bedan, to offer
bedroz, a present
balew, depraved
bulad, a malefactor
beal, destruction
bulaghan, a calamity
bilewite, simple
biladah, foolish
beado, cruelty
bada, wickedness
barbacan, a front tower
burbik, a portico
bur, a chamber
barkh, an open room
blessian, to bless
balistan, to bless
blad, fruit, the blade
balidan, balandan, to grow
basing, a pallium, a chlamys
basuian, to be clothed in purple
baz, a habit, rich dress
bered, vexed
barat, disgusted tired
beard, a beard
barbar, a barber
breost, the breast
bistan, the breast
bysmor, infamy
bazat, a crime.
basaj, depravity
bysgu, business
bishing, business
bile, the beak, the bill
bull, the beak
bio, I exist
bud, existence
benn, a wound
bunawar, a sore
bil, a mattock
blowan, to flower
bilak, a flower
bidan, to expect, to await
bidar, watching.
bidari, vigilance
byld, firmness
bilah, firm
bend, a bond
band, a band, a chain
bendan, to bind
bandan, bandidan, to bind
bold, a town
balad, a city
bolt, a house
bulud, a dwelling
byan, to inhabit.
binland, cultivated land
bingha, a dwelling
beam, the sunbeam.
beamian, to beam
bam, the morning
sifer, pure, chaste
saf, pure
safa, purity
samod, together, in like manner
saehim, a partner, even
mirran, to hinder
maraw, go not.
marang, a bar
man, wickedness
mang, cheating, a thief
mona, the moon
mang, the moon
mxden, a maiden
madah, a female
moder, mother
madar, mother
mara, the night-mare
mar, sick
mal, pay, reward, tribute
malwar, rich
maldar, a rich man
mani, many
mali, many
morth, death
murda, dead
morther, murder
murdan, to die
mearc, a limit
marz, a limit
mus, a mouse
murz, a mouse
must, new wine
mustar, new wine
na, not
nah, not
naegl, a nail
nakhun, a nail
nafel, the navel
nal; the navel
nama, a name
nam, a name
iiameutha, illustrious
nami, illustrious
necca, the neck
nojat, the collar
neow, new
no, new
nu, now
nun, now
nigan, nine
nuh, nine
hol, health
hal, quiet, firmness
hare, hoary
harid, venerable
isa, ice
hasir, ice
eam, I am
hayam, I am
iuc, a yoke
yugh, a yoke
rad, a road
rah, a road
reste, quiet
rast, secure
duru, a door
dar, a door
deni, slaughter
dam, a groan, black blood
dim, obscure
damah, a cloud
gabban, to deride
ghab, a foolish bitter expression
gaf, loquacious
guftan, speech, to relate
cu, a cow
go, a cow
gers, grass
gryah, grass
gifr, greedy
guri, avarice
faeen, fraud
faj, a lie
sum, some
suman, a little
reel, prosperity
salaf, luxurious
steorra, a star
sitarah, a star
losewest, deception
losidan, to deceive
leogan, to tell a lie
lay, lying
hlogun, they laughed
lagh, a jest. lof, praise
laf, praise
lufa, love
laheb, love
lam, lame
lam, crooked
lang, lame
lippa, the lip
law, the lip
laf, the remainder
lab, remaining
less, the less
lash, small
lar, learning
lur, ability
lust, delight
lustan, to sport
lust, luxuriousness
lashan, nice, soft
blyd, tumult.
hlydan, to rage, to make a noise
lud, furious altercation
list, knowledge
listum, skilfully
lazir, clever
thu, thou
to, thou
thinan, to decline, to become thin
tanik, thin
tinterg, torment
tang, tight
tintregan, to torture
tangi, anguish
tawian, to cultivate
tan, an inhabitant
teman, to teem, to bring forth abundantly
toma, twins
wen, hope
awanidan, to hope
wenan, to expect
awanidan, to expect
ysel, a spark
azar, fire
raene, pride, glorying
awrang, power, glory
ae, a law
aym, a law
paeca, a deceiver
pak, vile
paecan, to deceive
pakh, ingratitude
paeth, a path, a footway
pay, pa, a footstep
pal, a stake
palar, a beam of wood
paell, colour
paludan, to besmear
pyndan, to shut up, impound
pynding, a fettering
paywand, a chain, a shackle
to, to
ta, to
taer, a tear
tar, moist
tarb, torture
taeran, to tear
tarakidan, to split
telan, to tell
talagh, a voice
teiss, affliction
tasah, grief
teisse, a stripe
tazyanah, a scourge
tir, a lord. tir, a chief
tir, glory
tur, a hero, bright
siofotha, bran
sapos, bran
seel, time
sal, a year
seepah, age
sul, a plough
suli, a plough
sac, discord, quarrel
sakht, violent, stubborn
sur, surig, sour
sirka, sirkah, vinegar
salh, a willow
salah, a wicker-basket
sorg, sorrow. sog, grief
sugwar, sorrowful
sol, solen, a shoe, a sandal
salu, a coarse shoe
supwah, a shoe
sole, the sole
sul , the sole
thunar, thunder
tundar, thunder
thunrian, to thunder
tundidan, to thunder
tan, a bud
tundar, the bud of a leaf

It is remarkable that all, or nearly all, of the Anglo-Saxon words spelt in the Lexicon with sc, which are now used in our English phrase, are at present pronounced by us as sh, and are written with this orthography. Thus the Anglo-Saxon sceap, scyp, sco, scine, and sceam, are spoken by us as sheep, ship, shoe, shine, and shame.

Whether the sh was the original sound of those words, which, by a sort of conventional orthography, were written as sc by our ancestors, to distinguish their sound of sh from the proximate one of s, or whether it became changed by one of those gradual alterations of pronunciation which occur in all languages from various causes, we cannot now decide; but the Persian has some analogous terms with the sh, instead of the sc, as

sea, excellent
shadbash, excellent
seama, shame, bashfulnes
sharm, shame, bashfulness
shama, naked
sceaming, confusion
shamidan, to be confounded
sceaphan, to shape, to put in order
shaplidan, to smooth
sceaft, a shaft, an arrow
shaftu, a quiver
sceaft, a point
shafar, the edge
sceawian, to see
shuwaz, the eye.

The other resemblances which I have remarked between these two languages are:

faegan, glad
farghan, gladness
faeran, to go
feridan, to walk
faroth, a journey
faraz, progress
fyr, fire
faroz, inflaming
ferhth, the mind
farzah, wisdom, knowledge
ferht, fear, fright
farasha, dread, trembling

The congruities which I have perceived in the few specimens that have been published of the Zend with the Anglo-Saxon are the following:

beran, to bear
bereete, to bear
ba, both
betim, the second
the, thee
te, thee
eahta, eight
aschte, eight
dochter, daughter
dogde, daughter
dohte, he did
daschte, he did
steorran, stars
staranm, stars
frend, a friend
frem, a friend
feder, a father
feder, a father
mid, with
mad, with
meder, mother
mediehe, mother
medo, mead
medo, wine
me, me
man, me
metan, to measure
meete, measure
med, a recompense
mejdem, a recompense
maest, chief
meze, meso, great
micle, much
mesche, much
mecg, a man
meschio, a man
mal more
mae, great
na, not
noued, not
nafel, the navel
nafo, the navel
we, an oak
hekhte, an acorn
hera, a lord.
heretoge, a chief
herete, a chief
paeth, a path
petho, a way
purl pure
peratche, pure
uppa, above.
upper, above
opero, above
threo, three
thre, three
thrydde, the third
thretim, the third
thu, thou
thvanin, thou
bane, a floor, a board
baenthro, a floor, a board
rot, splendid.
rof, illustrious
erode, illustrious
astandan, to subsist
asteouao, existence
beoth, they are
beouad, he is
beo, be it
boiad, be it
theof, a thief
teio, a great thief
dreori, dreary
drezre, a desert
daeth, death
dajed, he is no more
rewa, order
reso, he puts in order
reswian, to reason
razann, intelligent
froe, a lord
frethem, greatness
guast, the spirit
gueie, the soul
mxnde, he mentioned
manthre, words
midda, middle
meiao, middle
morth, death
mrete, mortal
merran, to mar
merekhsch, to destroy
gear, year
yare, year
earmth, poverty
armete, humility
starian, to look at
astriete, he sees
ba, both
bee, two
singan, to say
senghan, a word
scir, sheer, pure
srere, pure
snid, a cut
snees, he strikes
seon, to see
sodern, to see
gnad, he bruised
ghnad, he strikes
athe, easy
achiato, easy
scina, shina, brilliant
scheeto, brilliant.

I will now only trouble the Society with the few coincidences that I have found in looking over Mr. Anquetil’s short vocabulary of the Pehlvi, as he has printed it from his old manuscripts.

bonda, one bound
bandeh, a slave
nam-cutha, famous
nameh, famous
starian, to look at
astared, he sees
halig, holy
halae, pure
eahta, eight
ascht, eight
sare, troublesome
sareh, wicked
morth, death
marg, mortal
a-marg, immortal
thu, thou
tou, thou
sex, six
sese, six
bysmor, opprobrium
besche, wicked
suht, languor
satoun, weak
dom, legal judgment
din, law
reasan, to attach
resch, a wound
secgan, to say
sokhan, a word
gaf, loquacious
goft, he said
ofer, over, above
avvar, above
dem, slaughter
damma, blood
med, recompense
mozd, recompense
cneou, knee
djanouh, knee
steorran, stars
setaran, stars
setnian, to be in ambush
sater, war
sceacan, shakan, to shake, to pluck
schekest, he breaks
athe, easy
asaneh, easy
cu, cow
gao, ox or cow
ma, more
meh, great
bar, bare
barhene, naked
morth, death
mourd, he dies
mourdeh, mortal
meder, mother
amider, mother
nafel, the navel
naf, the navel
na, no
na, not
bog, a branch
barg, a leaf
purl, pure
partan, pure
agytan, to understand
agah, understanding
ac, an oak
akht, an acorn
brader, brother
berour, brother
bye, a habitation
bita, a house
secg, a little sword
saex, a knife
sakina, a knife
clypian, to call out
cald, called
kala, crying out
mare, greater
mar, great
necan, to kill
naksounan, I kill
band, a joining
banda, a band
raed, a road
raeh, a way
eortha, earth
arta, earth.

From what I have seen of the three languages of ancient and modern Persia which I have inspected, I think that by a more elaborate investigation of all their analogies with the Anglo-Saxon, a greater number of satisfactory congruities might be traced.

But the preceding specimens will perhaps be sufficient to support the probability of the geographical derivation of our ancestors from the vicinity of the Caspian and of Persia; and we are now too many centuries removed from the actual period of the migration, to have any stronger evidence upon it than that of warrantable inference and reasonable probability.

I have the honour to be,

32, Red Lion Square
22nd March, 1827.

N.B. – Since this letter was written, I have found several affinities of Anglo-Saxon words with others in the Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Sanskrit, Japanese, Coptic, Laplandish, Georgian, Tongo, Malay, and Susov, which are printed in the fifth edition of the Anglo-Saxon History [The History of the Anglo-Saxons].

These present a range of similitude, amid general dissimilarity, which corroborates the principle formerly stated – of the original unity of the primeval language, and of its subsequent abruption on the compulsory dispersion of mankind.

But these affinities are not, in each language, near so numerous as the preceding collections from the Persian and its cognate dialects; and therefore do not lessen the weight of the argument, that so many Persian correspondences with the Anglo-Saxon, favour the derivation of the latter nation from the ancient Sakasani, who inhabited the regions near the Kur.

V. I. Abaev and H. W. Bailey: The Alans

This article on the Iranian speaking Alans by V. I. Abaev and H. W. Bailey first appeared in the Encyclopedia Iranica on December 15, 1984. The Alans were an ancient Iranian tribe of the northern (Scythian, Saka, Sarmatian, Massagete) group, known to classical writers from the first centuries CE.

Kindly note that a number of pictures displayed in the Compareti article below are from Kaveh Farrokh’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006 and Farrokh’s textbook  Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War-Персы: Армия великих царей-سایه‌های صحرا.

Alansan ancient Iranian tribe of the northern (Scythian, Saka, Sarmatian, Massagete) group, known to classical writers from the first centuries A.D. (see, e.g., Seneca, Thyestes 630; Annaeus Lucan, Pharsalia 8.223, 10.454; Lucian, Toxaris 51, 54, 55, 60; Ptolemy, Geographia 6.14.3, 9, 11; and other sources below).

Saka Paradraya[Click to Enlarge] The Scythians or Saka Paradraya in Eastern Europe before the arrival into the region by another Iranian people: the Sarmatian-Alans (circa 4th century BCE). As noted by Newark: “They [Scythians] were Indo-European in appearance and spoke an Iranian tongue that bought them more closely to the Medes and Persians” (Source: Newark, T. (Historian) & Mcbride, A. (Historical Artist) (1998). Barbarians. London: Concord Publications Company, p.6; Color Plate p. 7).

The name of the Alans appears in Greek as Alanoi, in Latin as Alani or Halani. The same tribes, or affiliated ones, are mentioned as the Asaioi (Ptolemy 5.9.16), Rhoxolanoi, Aorsoi, Sirakoi, and Iazyges (Strabo 2.5.7, 7.2.4; 11.2.1, 11.5.8; 7.2.4). In early times the main mass of the Alans was settled north of the Caspian and Black seas. Later they also occupied the Crimea and considerable territory in the northern Caucasus.

Alan-Warrior[Click to Enlarge] Iranian-speaking Alan warrior circa 5th century CE. The descendants of the Alans are found in Western and northern Iran as well as the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. Large numbers of Alans also assimilated with Europe’s Germanic tribes, notably the Ostrogoths (Painting by the late Angus McBride).As noted by Professor Abaev and bailey in this article “The name “Alan” is derived from Old Iranian *arya-, “Aryan,” and so is cognate with “Īrān” (from the gen. plur. *aryānām)“.

The history of the Alans can be divided into three periods: (1) from the beginning of the Christian era to the great migration of peoples; (2) from that period to the Mongol invasion; (3) subsequent to the Mongol invasion. During the first period, the Alans appear as a nomadic, warlike, pastoral people who were professional warriors and took service, at various times, with the Romans, Parthians, and Sasanians. Their cavalry was particularly renowned. They participated in Mithridates’ wars with Rome (chronicled by Lucan), as well as in Roman campaigns in Armenia, Media, and Parthia in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. (see Josephus, Jewish Wars 7.244-51,Antiquities 18.97; cf. accounts in Moses of Khoren, History of the Armenians [Langlois, Historiens II, pp. 105-06, 125] and the Georgian Chronicle [Kartlis tskhovreba, in M. F. Brosset and D. I. Chubinov, Histoire de la Georgie I, St. Petersburg, 1849]). Ammianus Marcellinus (31.2) describes the Alans’ nomadic economy and warlike customs.

Iranian Sword Worship-Excalibur Lenged[Click to Enlarge] (left) A reconstruction by Brzezinski and Mielczarek (2002 ) of Iranian-speaking Sarmatian warriors paying their respects to a fallen comrade in Europe (circa 1st century AD) – note the ritual of thrusting the fallen comrade’s sword  into the earth. At right is a screenshot of the Excalibur sword of King Arthur thrust into the stone (Movie “Excalibur“, 1981, John Boorman). This is one of many parallels between the Arthurian legends and the mythologies of the ancient Iranians  (Pictures used in Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division).

The invasion of the Huns split the Alans into two parts, the European and the Caucasian. Some of the European Alans were drawn into the migration of peoples from eastern into western Europe. With the Germanic tribes of Visigoths and Vandals they passed into Gaul and Spain, some even reaching North Africa. The Alans fought on the side of the Romans in the battle of the Catalaunian Fields (A.D. 451), when Aetius defeated Attila, chief of the Huns. In 461 and 464 they made incursions into Italy. After Attila’s death they struggled, together with the Germanic tribes, to free themselves from Hun domination. Large Alan hordes settled along the middle course of the Loire in Gaul under King Sangiban and on the lower Danube with King Candac (the historian Jordanes sprang from the latter group). Another settlement is indicated by the name of the Spanish province Catalonia, which is but a slight deformation of Goth-Alania, “province of the Goths and Alans.” The French proper name “Alain” and English “Alan” are an inheritance from the tribe. The Alans also left an imprint on Celtic folk-poetry, e.g., the cycle of legends concerning King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table (see M. Hesse, “Iranisches Sagengut im Christlichen Epos,” Atlantis 1937, pp. 621-28; J. H. Grisward, “Le motif de l’épée jetée au lac: la mort d’Arthur et la mort de Batradz,” Romania 90, 1969, pp. 289-340). Part of the European Alans remained in the lands bordering the Black Sea, including the Crimea.

Alan at Orleans 451 AD[Click to Enlarge] Alan warrior in combat at Orleans (circa 451 CE). Many of these Iranian speakers settled in what is now modern France and assimilated into the local population. To this day their legacy resonates in Eastern Europe with names such as Alan, Alana, Irene, and Rita. The Alans are now believed to have introduced much of their folklore into the Arthurian legends of the British Isles. Painting by Angus McBride.

The Caucasian Alans occupied part of the Caucasian plain and the foothills of the main mountain chain from the headwaters of the Kuban river and its tributary, the Zelenchuk (in the west), to the Daryal gorge (in the east). They became sedentary and took to cattle-breeding and agriculture. Towns developed, elements of state organization appeared, and political and cultural ties were established with Byzantium, Georgia, Abkhazia [see Abḵāz], the Khazars, and Russia. Dynastic marriages were concluded with these countries. From the 5th century on, Christian propaganda was conducted, first by Byzantine, later also by Georgian, missionaries. The Alans adopted Christianity in the 10th century, and an Alan episcopal see was created.

In 244/857 Boḡā, a general of the caliph of Baghdad, invaded Transcaucasia and the northern Caucasus, devastating Georgia, Abkhazia, the Alan country, and the Khazar lands. The Alans soon recovered, however, and restored their state. They are often mentioned by medieval writers, both western (Procopius of Caesarea, Menander, Theophanes of Byzantium, Constantine Porphyrogenitus) and Arab and Persian. The latter use the name “Alān” or “Ās”; and in Russian chronicles and Hungarian sources the form “Yas” is found. In the 4th/10th century the Arab historian Masʿūdī indicates that the Alan kingdom stretched from Daghestan to Abkhazia. He describes its prosperity: “The Alan king (can) muster 30,000 horsemen. He is powerful, very strong and influential (among?) the kings. The kingdom consists of an uninterrupted series of settlements; when the cock crows (in one of them), the answer comes from the other parts of the kingdom, because the villages are intermingled and close together” (trans. V. Minorsky, A History of Sharvan and Darband, Cambridge, 1958, pp. 156-60). The anonymous Ḥodūd al-ʿālam (trans. Minorsky, pp. 83, 161, 318, 445) describes Alania as a vast country with 1,000 settlements; the people included both Christians and idol-worshipers, mountaineers and plain-dwellers. The text makes the important statement that, in the north, the Alans bordered on the Hungarians and the Bulgars (the ancestors of the Chuvash). In the east they gave their name to the Daryal gorge, called “Gate of the Alans” (Arabic Bāb al-Lān, Persian Dar-e Alān, hence Daryal).

Chester[Click to Enlarge] Sarmatian warrior clad in scale armor. Fluttering behind him is the distinctive Iranian battle standard, a dragon made like a windsock. Fragments of a funeral stele from the Roman camp at Chester, England. Chester Museum. Photo: Chester Archaeological Society. From The Sarmatians (New York, 1970), pl. 46.

The Mongol invasion of the 7th/13th century and Tamerlane’s wars in the 8th/14th proved fatal to the Alan state. Its organization was destroyed, and the population suffered heavy loss. Ebn al-Aṯīr reports: “The Tatars attacked the Alans; they massacred them, committed many outrages, plundered and seized prisoners, and marched on against the Qipchaqs” (XII, p. 252; for the events of 1221 A.D., seeCamb. Hist. Iran V, p. 311). The remnants of the Alans broke up into three groups. One retreated into the foothills and gorges of the central Caucasus and lives there up to the present [see Ossetes], numbering some 400,000. The people of their eastern branch call themselves “Ir”, those of the western branch “Digor.” The name “Alan” survives among them, in the form “Allon”, only in folklore. (Russian “Osetiny” is from Georgian Oseti, “Alania.” The Georgians had long called the Alans Os- or Ovs- and their country Oset-.) A second group of Alans migrated with the Qipchaqs (Comani) into Europe, settling in Hungary. The territory they occupied is to this day called Jászság, “province of the Yas;” and its capital is Jászberény. They preserved their language and ethnic identity until the 15th century, but gradually adopted the Hungarian language and became assimilated. The third group took service under the Mongol khans. According to the Chinese chronicle Yuan-shi, these “Asu” played an important role in further Mongol expansion. The Catholic missionary John de Marignolli, who spent five years in China, states that there were up to 30,000 Ās there (H. Yule, Cathay and the Way Thither III [Hakluyt Society, second ser., no. 37], London, 1914, pp. 180ff.). In the course of time they perished in warfare or were absorbed into the local population.

Osetia_woman_working[Click to Enlarge] A Russian photograph of Ossetian women of the northern Caucasus working with textiles in the late 19th century CE. Ossetians are the descendants of the Iranian speaking Alans who migrated to Eastern Europe, notably former Yugoslavia, and modern-day Rumania and Hungary (where their legacy remains in the Jasz region).

The name “Alan” is derived from Old Iranian *arya-, “Aryan,” and so is cognate with “Īrān” (from the gen. plur. *aryānām). The ancient Alan language may, to some extent, be reconstructed on the basis of modern Ossetic (after excluding the latter’s Turkic and Caucasian additions). The Alans created no writing, and no texts survive in their language except an inscription in Greek letters on a tombstone from the headwaters of the Kuban (Grund. Iran. Phil. I, Anhang, p. 31). A few sentences are recorded by the Byzantine author Tzetzēs (Gerhardt, “Alanen und Osseten,” pp. 37-51).

Modern-day Ossetian girls in traditional attire in Tskhinval (Source:

Various personal, ethnic, and place names are also known (see M. Vasmer, Die Iranier in Südrussland, Leipzig, 1923, pp. 25-29). This material at least indicates clearly the Iranian character of the Alan language.

Modern-day Ossetian boys in in Tskhinval attired in Kafkaz dress (Source: The Ossetians of the Caucasus speak an ancient Iranian language akin to modern Persian and Kurdish.


Yu. Kulakovskiĭ, Alany po svedeniyam klassicheskikh i vizantiĭskikh pisateleĭ, Kiev, 1899.

Vs. Miller, Osetinskiye etudy III, Moscow, 1887, pp. 39-116.

W. Tomaschek, “Alani,” Pauly-Wissowa I/2 (1893), col. 1282-85.

E. Täubler, “Zur Geschichte der Alanen,” Klio 9, 1909, pp. 14-28.

Bleichsteiner, Das Volk der Alanen (Berichte des Instituts für Osten und Orient 2), Vienna, 1918.

G. Vernadsky, “Sur l’origine des Alains,” Byzantion 16, 1942-43, pp. 81-86.

Idem, “Der sarmatische Hintergrund der germanischen Völkerwanderung,” Saeculum 2, 1951, pp. 340-92.

V. I. Abaev, Osetinskiĭ yazyk i fol’klor I, Moscow and Leningrad, 1948, pp. 248-70.

D. Gerhardt, “Alanen und Osseten,” ZDMG 93, 1939, pp. 33-51.

Vaneyev, Srednevekovaya Alania, Stalinir, 1959.

Z. D. Gagloĭti, Alany i voprosy etnogeneza osetin, Tbilisi, 1966. V. Kuznetsov, Alania v X-XIII vv., Ordzhonikidze, 1971.

W. Barthold and V. Minorsky, “Alan,” EI2 I, p. 354.

B. S. Bachrach, The History of the Alans in the West, Minnesota, 1973.

Additional Notes

An inscription of A.D. 238-44 was set up in Ribchester, Lancashire, England, by the local Sarmatian veterans who had been sent to Britannia in 175 by Marcus Aurelius (161-80). He had defeated Sarmatians in 175, taken some of them into the Roman army, and adopted, as victor, the name Sarmaticus. The inscription reads “numerus equitum Sarmatarum Bremetennacensium Gordianus” (N. EQQ. SARM. BREMETENN. GIORDANI). It is published with a commentary by I. A. Richmond, “The Sarmatae, Bremetennacum veteranorum, and the Regio Bremetennacensis,”Journal of Roman Studies 1945, pp. 15-29. The road through Rheims was called the Via Sarmatarum. The Poles at one time meditated calling their country Sarmatia. T. Sulimirski published The Sarmatians in London in 1970. The earliest reference to the Sarmatians is in the Avesta, Sairima-, which is in the later epic Slm *Sarm and Salm.

Tamar (r. 1184-1212), queen of Georgia in its golden age, was daughter of King Georgi III and his consort Burduḵan, the daughter of the Ossetic prince Ḵuddan. Tamar’s consort, Soslan, was an Ossete.

Konstantinos VII Porphurogennetos entitled the ruler of Alania exousiokratōr(De administrando imperio 11.11, ed. Moravcsik and Jenkins, 1949), andexousiastēs (Book of Ceremonies 2.48).

The Gate of the Alans (not Albanians) is named in the inscription of Šāpūr I, Parthian 2 (the Persian and Greek are lacking) TROA ʾlʾnn, and in the Kartīr inscription BBA ʾlʾnʾn, that is Dar Alānān (with the two Aramaic words TROAand BBA “gate”).

The Archbishop of the Alans in the 13th century was named Theodoros (Kulakovskiĭ, Alany, p. 58).

Masʿūdī’s ʾrsyh *arsiyah is discussed by T. Lewicki, “Un peuple iranien peu connu: les *Arsīya ou *Orsīya,” Hungaro-Turcica, Studies in Honour of Julius Németh, Budapest, 1976. The Ās, Āṣ are cited by Minorsky, Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, pp. 445, 481. The modern Ossetes use Āsi, with the adjective āsiāg, of the neighboring Balkar (who speak Turkish). Similarly the Megrel (Mingrelians) call the Karačai, who speak Turkish, Alani. In Megrel also alani kʾoči is “heroic man” and alanuroba is “tournament.”

The Mongols used As, plural Asut, adjective Asutai, of the Ās of the Caucasus, of whom they took part to act as Qubilai Khan’s Imperial bodyguard in Khan-baliq, Ta-tu “Great City” (the later Peking). From there these As (Alans) wrote letters to Rome for Christian teachers (see A. C. Moule, Christians in China before the year 1550, London, 1930, pp. 196, 253-54, 260-63).

The Alans in the West are well documented by B. S. Bachrach, The History of the Alans in the West, Minnesota, 1973.

The name Ās was changed in Slavonic and Hungarian to Iās (Yās, Jász). The Iaskiy Torg “Iās Market” is the modern Jassy. In Hungary the Jász settled east of Budapest in the Jászsag district, with their chief city Jász-berény, and other places with the name Jász. A manuscript of A.D. 1422 contains a short vocabulary Jász-Latin in which the words are clearly near to modern Ossetic. There is a facsimile and full study by J. Nemeth, Eine Wortliste der Jassen, der ungarländischen Alanen, Berlin, 1959; see further R.-P. Ritter, Acta orientalia hungarica 30, 1976, pp. 245-50.

The Jász loan-words in Hungarian were treated by H. Sköld Die ossetischen Lehnwörter im Ungarischen, Lunds Unversitets Årsskrift 20, 1925.

The region Alaneṭʿi is briefly cited by the Prince Vakhušt, Geograpʿiuli aγcʾera, Description géographique, 1842, p. 413.

Iohannēs Tzetzēs (ca. 1110-1180) wrote of himself as of a pure Hellenic father and of an Abasgian mother. Among citations of foreign phrases he had one in Alanic. This reads tapanchas (glossed kalē hēmera sou), mesphili (authenta mou), chsina (archontissa), korthin . . . (pothen eisai), to pharnetzi kintzi (ouk aischinesai), mesphili (authentria mou), kaiterfoua(sm)ougg (not glossed). Earlier interpretations are in D. Gerhardt, ZDMG 93, 1939, pp. 33-51. It may be explained thus: dä bon xuarzmeʾfsinäi (vocative singular); äxsinäku . . . (not clear); du farnäd`in kindä äi “you have been made happy;” for the final unglossed phrase possibly: käi de ʾrfua *äm uingä “that your blessing is fully felt.”

The Anglo-Iranian War of 1856-1857

The article below by J. Calmard “The Anglo-Persian War of 1856-1857” was first published in the Encyclopedia Iranica on December 15, 1985 and last updated on August 5, 2011. This article is also available in print in the Encyclopedia Iranica (Vol. II, Fasc. 1, pp. 65-68).

Kindly note that the photos/illustrations and accompanying captions inserted below do not appear in the original Encyclopedia Iranica article.


Following their defeat in the Russo-Persian wars of 1219-28/1804-13 and 1242-44/1826-28, the Qajars, tried to compensate for their losses by reasserting Persia’s control over western Afghanistan. Attempts to bring the principality of Herat under their rule in 1249/1833, 1253-55/1837-39, and 1268/1852 were strongly resisted by the British: If Herat were in Persian hands, the Russians—whose influence was paramount at the Persian court—would directly threaten India. In Afghanistan, Persian ambitions complicated internal struggles for the control of the “Khanates” of Kabul, Qandahār, and Herat. Since the 1820s, Kabul, and then Qandahār, had been ruled by the Bārakzī or Moḥammadzī, while Herat was held by the Sadōzī. In 1258/1842 Kāmrān Sadōzay was murdered by his vizier, Yār Moḥammad Khan. When the latter died in 1851, his son and successor, Ṣayd Moḥammad Khan, asked Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah Qāǰār for assistance against the Bārakzay amirs, in Kabul, and Kohandel Khan in Qandahār. In spite of warnings from the British minister in Tehran, Colonel Sheil, the Persians moved into Herat the next spring, but faced with British threats to break diplomatic relations and reoccupy Ḵārg island, the shah withdrew his troops (G. H. Hunt, Outram and Havelock’s Persian Campaign, London, 1858, pp. 149f.; P. P. Bushev, Gerat i anglo-iranskaya voĭna, Moscow, 1959, pp. 43f.), agreeing not to send them to Herat again unless it was threatened from the east and not to interfere in Herat’s internal affairs (engagement of 15 Rabīʿ II 1269/25 January 1853: see parts regarding ḵoṭba and coinage in C. U. Aitchison, A Collection of Treaties, Engagements, and Other Sanads Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries, Delhi, 1933, XIII, no. XVII, pp. 77f.; see also Hunt, Outram, pp. 155f.; Bushev, Gerat, pp. 44f.).

1-Sir Charles Augustus MurrayThe bumbling diplomat? An 1851 photo of a seated Charles Augustus Murray (1806-1895) prior to his diplomatic mission to Iran (Source: Public Domain). As soon as he arrived as British ambassador to Tehran in 1854, it became clear that he and Nasseredin Shah (r. 1848-1896), monarch of Qajar Iran, disliked each other. Murray’s inept diplomacy helped contribute to the rupture of Anglo-Iranian relations.

In 1853, Sheil was succeeded in Tehran by Charles Augustus Murray, who had no Indian experience and has been strongly criticized by both contemporaries and historians (e.g., Sir D. Wright, The English amongst the Persians, repr. London, 1977, p. 23); his troubles in Tehran were among the causes of the Anglo-Persian war. Before his arrival the shah knew him to be on friendly terms with his old enemies, the rulers of Egypt and Masqat, while an article published in the London Times predicted that he would soon force the shah to accept British policy regarding Herat. Moreover, he came “with neither an expected loan nor a draft defensive treaty nor presents,” to the disappointment of the court (ibid.). His lack of experience in Eastern diplomacy had disastrous results. Soon after his arrival, he became embroiled in a dispute with the ṣadr-e aʿẓam over the appointment of a former government official to the British Mission in Shiraz; the confrontation escalated to the point where the official’s wife, the sister of one of the shah’s wives, was imprisoned, and both Murray and his senior assistant were accused of improprieties with her. In a rescript to his ṣadr-e aʿẓam, Mīrzā Āqā Khan Nūrī, (later annexed to the Treaty of Paris of 1857), the shah called Murray stupid, ignorant, and insane (ibid., p. 24); copies of the document were then sent to the foreign missions in Tehran, who were also informed by the ṣadr-e aʿẓam of the alleged offense. Murray was authorized by his government to break off relations with Persia; mediations by the Ottoman chargé d’affaires and the French minister were of no avail (Hunt, Outram, pp. 160f.; Bushev, Gerat, pp. 55f.). On 20 November 1855, Murray struck down his flag; he left Tehran for Tabrīz on 5 December and moved to Baghdad in May. The British consul, R. W. Stevens, remained in Tehran, where he was the only link with the Foreign Office and the India Board till September, 1856.

In Afghanistan, Persia’s threatening attitude caused Dōst Moḥammad to conclude a treaty of perpetual peace and friendship with Britain (30 March 1855; see Aitchison, A Collection, pp. 237f.). The ruler of Herat, Ṣayd Moḥammad, was deposed and killed, and in September-October, 1855, Moḥammad Yūsof Sadōzay, who was regarded as a Persian nominee, seized power there (Ḥ. Sarābī, Maḵzan al-waqāyeʿ, ed. K. Eṣfahānīān and Q. Rowšanī, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965, introd., p. 23). Despite the engagement signed by the shah in 1853, a Persian army soon marched toward Herat. Afraid of being crushed between the shah and Dōst Moḥammad, who had taken Qandahār in August, Moḥammad Yūsof tried to temporize, but Ḥosam-al-salṭana Solṭān Morād Mīrzā, commander of the Persian force, was ordered to push forward with all speed. In desperation, Moḥammad Yūsof hoisted the British flag at Herat, only to be treacherously seized and sent as a prisoner to the Persian camp by his vizier, ʿĪsā Khan (M. J. Ḵormūǰī, Ḥāqāʾeq al-aḵbār-e Nāṣerī, ed. H. Ḵadīvǰam, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 176f.). The Persians began to capture forts and other sites around Herat as far as Farāh, but Persian troops who managed to invade Herat with the complicity of local Shiʿites were driven out by a bloody uprising (ibid., pp. 181f.). In renewed fighting ʿĪsā Khan hoisted the British flag and even offered Herat to the British crown in return for aid (J. F. Standish, “The Persian War of 1856-1857,” Middle Eastern Studies 3, 1966, pp. 28-29). Under threats from the shah, Solṭān Morād increased his pressure against Herat, which fell to the Persians at the end of October, 1856.

2-Citadel of Herat 1880sThe citadel of Herat in 1885 (Source:

In the meantime, the diplomatic scene had changed since the end of the Crimean War in April, 1856: Russia could consider further progress toward India, and France was no longer Britain’s ally (Standish, “The Persian War,” p. 30). In Istanbul, the Persian chargé d’affaires tried to settle diplomatic difficulties by negotiations with the British minister Lord Stratford de Redcliffe (interviews of January and April, 1856; see Hunt, Outram, pp. 167, 178-79). In July, the shah sent Farroḵ Khan Amīn-al-molk (later Amīn-al-dawla) Ḡaffārī on an extraordinary embassy to Paris. Meeting in Istanbul with Lord Stratford de Redcliffe at a time when the British were preparing a military action against Persia (Sarābī, Maḵzan, introd., pp. 34f., text, pp. 117f.), Farroḵ Khan was presented with an ultimatum insisting on the dismissal of the ṣadr-e aʿẓam; finally, he accepted the terms of another, more conciliatory, ultimatum sent by Lord Stratford de Redcliffe to the Persian chargé d’affaires during the summer (Hunt, Outram, pp. 181-84, 189). With British authority divided between Britain and India and contradictory advice being given by men in the field (Stevens in Tehran, Edwardes in Peshawar), the Indian government was confused (Standish, “The Persian War,” pp. 26-27, 31-33). From Baghdad, Murray continued to send Foreign Secretary Clarendon proposals for a punitive expedition against Persia, yet overtures made to secure Dōst Moḥammad’s cooperation (Treaty of 26 January 1857 in Aitchison, A Collection, pp. 238f.) were of no avail (Sir P. Sykes, A History of Persia, 3rd ed., 1915, repr. London, 1969, II, p. 349). In both Persia and India, first-rank officials were opposed to war (Sarābī, Maḵzan, introd., p. 30; H. C. Wylly, “Our War with Persia in 1856-57,” United Service Magazine, London, March 1912, pp. 642f.).

After the capture of Herat, British agents were expelled from or left Persia; the last to go was Felix Jones, the political resident at Bushire, who left in November, 1856, only four days before the arrival there of three English warships (Fasāʾī, I, p. 313). To avoid public outcry against Palmerston’s government, the British declared war from Calcutta, on 1 Novernber 1856 (Wright, The English, p. 56). After considering direct action on Herat through Afghanistan or from Bandar ʿAbbās, they decided to operate in the Persian Gulf (Sykes, History II, pp. 349f.). A naval expedition under the command of Major-General Stalker occupied Ḵārg island on 4 December; on 10 December Bushire surrendered and was placed under British administration (Fasāʾī, pp. 313f.). On 27 January 1857, Sir James Outram landed at Bushire and took command.

Anglo-Persian War-KhorramshahrCaptured territory in the Khorramshahr area on the mouth of the Persian Gulf in 1857; note British flag (Source: Antiqua Print Gallery).

On the Persian side, ǰehād was proclaimed and changes made in the army leadership, but the Bushire campaign was ill prepared. Taking the initiative, Outram marched on the main body of Persian troops encamped at Borāzǰān, about 100 km northeast of Bushire. The British column occupied Borāzǰān on 5 February, bur the Persian army had already retreated to the north, leaving behind equipment and weapons. After destroying the Persian arsenal, the British marched back to Bushire but were met with a combined attack from the Persian regulars and the Qašqāʾī cavalry on the night of 7 February. At dawn, the British cavalry and artillery look the offensive and inflicted a massive defeat on the Persians (who lost 700 men to 16 on the British side; see Outram’s report in The Annual Register, 1857, p. 444; Sir J. Outram, Lieutenant-General Sir James Outram’s Persian Campaign in 1857, London, 1860, pp. 33-35; Wylly, “Our War,” p. 648; different figures given by Fasāʾī, I, p. 317; A. D. Hytier, ed., Les dépêches diplomatiques du Comte de Gobineau en Perse, Paris and Geneva, 1959, p.71, n. 95, et al.).

Despite Ottoman objections, the next operation was directed against Moḥammera (later Ḵorramšahr), which had been made over to Persia by the Treaty of Erzurum in 1847 and strongly fortified later on. In a purely naval battle fought on 26 March, Outram and Henry Havelock (who had arrived in reinforcement with his division) pounded the shore batteries with mortars. After some two hours’ fire, the shore batteries were silenced; troops were landed “only to find that the Persian force had fled, after exploding their chief magazine, but leaving everything behind them” (Wylly, “Our War,” p. 650; see also C. D. Barker, Letters from Persia and India 1857-1859, London, 1915, pp. 26f.). An armed flotilla sent up the Kārūn river reached Ahvāz on 1 April and returned to Moḥammera two days later. Military action at Moḥammera ended on 5 April when news was received that peace had been signed on 4 March.

Qajar Zanbourak unitA case of obsolescence: a Qajar Zanbourak (small cannon fitted on camel) military unit (Source: Iran’s military state by the 1850s was one of poor leadership, disorganization, low morale, poor training and substandard military equipment.

In fact, the Persian government had sued for peace directly after the capture of Bushire. Through the mediation of Napoleon III and his foreign minister, Count Walewski, Farroḵ Khan managed to start negotiations with Lord Cowley, British minister in Paris. This led to the signature of the Treaty of Paris on 4 March 1857, with ratifications exchanged at Baghdad on 2 May 1857. Persia was obliged to relinquish all claims over Herat and Afghanistan, while Britain was to serve as arbiter in any disputes between Persia and the Afghan states (article 6). British consular authorities, subjects, commerce, and trade were to be treated on a “most favored nation” basis (article 9). In a separate note to the treaty, the terms of Murray’s return to Tehran were set out in “humiliating detail” (Wright, The English, p. 24). Otherwise, no guarantees, no indemnities, and no concessions were exacted; there was no demand for the ṣadr-e aʿẓam’s dismissal (Standish, “The Persian War,” p. 39), and the shah’s note of December 1855 insulting Murray was even annexed (see Aitchison, A Collection XIII, no. XVIII, pp. 81-86).

Although he was received in Tehran in July, 1857, with the agreed ceremonial, Murray was not to see the end of his troubles till the fall of the ṣadr-e aʿẓam Mīrzā Āqā Khan Nūrī (20 Moḥarram 1275/30 August 1859). Count de Gobineau, the French chargé d’affaires in Tehran, who had taken charge of British interests, complained bitterly about the problems caused by the British protégés (Gobineau, Les dépêches, pp. 32f.). Murray complained in turn abort the lack of support these got from the French Legation (ibid., p. 93, n. 136 and Murray’s dispatches in FO/60/230 and 231). Both in 1855 and 1857, Murray complained about the eviction of the British Legation from the seats of honor it had formerly occupied on official ceremonies, including taʿzīa (passion play) performances (see J. Calmard, “Le mécénat des représentations de taʿziye, II,” Le Monde iranien et l’Islam 4, Paris, 1976-77, pp. 157f., and Moḥarram Ceremonies and Diplomacy, in Qajar Iran, Edinburgh, 1983, pp. 213-28. But the main troubles arose from the necessity of enforcing the terms of the treaty. Although the last British troops were not withdrawn from Ḵārg island till the spring of 1274/1858, the main body had left the Persian Gulf for India at the outbreak of the mutiny (May-June, 1857; see Outram, Persian Campaign, pp. 321f.). In Herat, the Persians were slow in evacuating the area of Lāš-Jovayn (see Murray’s dispatches in FO/60/230); there were problems connected with minorities (e.g., Herat Jews imprisoned at Mašhad) and the settling of the reciprocal atrocities and exactions between Sunnites and Shiʿites which had taken place during the war (on Colonel R. L. Taylor’s mission to Herat see FO/60/218, 219, 220; Bushev, Gerat, pp. 155f.).

Battle of KhosabThe Battle of Khushab (February 8, 1857) as depicted on a British postcard which reads “Lieutenants Malcolmson and Moore at Khushab” (Source: The postcard is making specific reference to Captain J.G. Malcolmson, and Lieutenant A.T. Moore who ere awarded Victoria Crosses by the British Empire for their battlefield exploits during the Anglo-Iranian War. The British and Iranian sides were evenly matched in numbers (4600 British versus 5000 Iranians) at Khoshab, but the British held the technical edge in terms of military equipment, a factor which significantly contributed to their victory at Khushab in Iran’s Bushehr province.

In Herat, ʿĪsā Khan had been put to death on 6 Rabīʿ II 1273/4 December 1856; Moḥammad Yūsof met a similar fate at the hands of Ṣayd Moḥammad’s relatives (Ḵormūǰī, Ḥaqāʾeq, pp. 191, 229f.; R. C. Watson, A History of Persia . . . to the Year 1858, London, 1866, pp. 463f.). Before they withdrew, the Persians installed Solṭān Aḥmad Khan, the nephew and son-in-law of Dōst Moḥammad, as Herat’s ruler. Effectively a vassal to the Persian crown (though this was never officially proclaimed), he enjoyed de facto British recognition as well. He was overthrown by Dōst Moḥammad in May, 1863; until then the Persian government managed to keep control over Herat while adhering to the Treaty of Paris (Standish, “The Persian War,” p. 35).

The success of the British soldiers, more than a half of whom were Indian, was mainly due to technological superiority and new English rifles. Even so, British commanders faced the strain of barely sufficient means and lack of training. Three of them, Outram, Havelock, and John Jacob, were to become legendary Anglo-Indian figures, but the two service commanders committed suicide during the early stages of hostilities (Standish, “The Persian War,” p. 35; see also Barker, Letters, pp. 23f.). Disorganization on the Persian side is illustrated by the lack of enthusiasm for the ǰehād against the British preached by the ʿolamāʾ and Mīrzā Āqā Khan (see H. Algar, Religion and State in Iran, 1785-1906, Berkeley, 1969, pp. 154f.). Connections between the Persian war and the Indian mutiny remain inconclusive (Standish, “The Persian War,” p. 39). It should be also noted that repeated Persian claims of the necessity to pacify Khorasan from constant Turkman raids were considered by the British as a mere pretext for the seizure of Herat.

Early 19th century Map of IranMap of Iran in 1805 before her territorial losses in the Caucasus to Czarist Russia and the losses of Herat and Western Afghanistan due to British military actions. Just as the treaties of Golestan (1813) and Turkmenchai (1828) forced Iran to relinquish her territories in the Caucasus to Russia, so too did the Treaty of Paris (1857) force Iran to relinquish her territories in Afghanistan as per British objectives (Picture source: CAIS).

It has often been said that Britain’s relations with Persia improved after the war. Although from the British standpoint this may be partially true, there was a widespread tendency among the Persians to consider the British as the main source of their troubles, and Anglophobia was also felt elsewhere. Although allied with the British in the Crimean War (1854-56) and the second opium war in China (l856-61)), the French were alarmed by British expansionism in the Persian Gulf (E. Flandin, “La prise d’Hérat et 1’expédition anglaise dans le Golfe Persique,” Revue des deux mondes 7, 1857, pp. 690f.), and British diplomats also felt a lack of support from their colleagues in Iran. The Russians considered British action in Persia in this period as deliberate aggression, and concern over British expansionist plans was felt by Russian diplomats at all levels, as well as by local civil and military authorities in the Caucasus (Bushev, Gerat, pp. 23f.).

Cartoon of Persia 1911In a tight spot: British 1911 cartoon showing Iran (as the Persian cat) caught between the British lion and the Russian bear who sits on the (unfortunate) “Persian Cat” (Source: The Federalist). The social and geopolitical impact of Iran’s military defeats in the 19th century resonate to this day.


See also: 1. Unpublished official documents: Public Record Office (mainly FO/60 series); India Office Library and Records (mainly Factory Records for Persia and Board’s Drafts); National Record Office of Scotland (private papers of Hon. C. A. Murray, GD/261).

2. Published documents, other sources and studies: P. P. Bushev, “Angliĭskaya agressiya v Irane v 1855-1857,” Kratkie soobshcheniya Instituta vostokovedeniya, Akademiya nauk SSSR, Moscow, 8, 1953, pp. 21-26.

Idem, “Angliĭskaya voennaya ekspeditsiya v Akhvaz,” ibid., 29, 1956, pp. 65-71.

Correspondence Respecting Relations with Persia, London, 1857.

B. English, John Company’s Last War, London, 1971.

ʿA. Farrāšbandī, Ḥamāsa-ye marzdārān-e ǰonūbī-e Īrān, Tehran, 1357 Š./1978.

Idem, Jang-e Engelīs o Īrān dar sāl-e 1273 h.q., Tehran, 1358 Š./1979.

Farroḵ Khan Amīn-al-dawla, Maǰmūʿa-ye asnād o madārek-e Farroḵ Ḵān Amīn-al-dawla, ed. K. Eṣfahānīān and Q. Rowšānī, I, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967.

A. Kasravī, “Jang-e Īrān o Engelīs dar Moḥammera,” Čand tārīḵa, Tehran, 1324 Š./1945, pp. 6-80.

Reżā-qolī Khan Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā-ye Nāṣerī X, Tehran, 1339 Š./1960.

Moḥammad-Taqī Sepehr, Nāseḵ al-tawārīḵ, ed. J. Qāʾem-maqāmī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, pp. 231f.

A. Ṭāherī, Tārīḵ-e rawābeṭ-e bāzargānī o sīāsī-e Īrān o Engelīs II, Tehran, 1356 Š./1977.

The Mushtaid (Mojtahed) Garden in Tbilisi

The Mushtaid Garden in Tbilisi (see more about this garden/park in the Georgia About webpage) was established in the 1830’s by Mir-Fatah-Agha who was originally from Iran. By the 1830s Georgia had been fully incorporated into the Russian empire. This was made possible by forcing Qajar-ruled Iran to relinquish her Caucasian territories to the Czarist Russians.  Iran signed the Treaty of Gulistan (September 24, 1813) after her defeat in the first Russo-Iranian war (1804-1813) and the subsequent Treaty of Turkmenchai (February 21, 1828) after the second Russo-Iranian war (1826-1828). As a result of these defeats,  Qajar-ruled Iran was to permanently lose her territorial links to eastern Europe. For more on the Russian-Iranian wars of the early 19th century consult Kaveh Farrokh’s third text “Iran at War 1500-1988“.

Entrance gateway into the Mushtaid Garden in Tbilisi in the late 19th century (Source: Georgia About).

Mir-Fatah-Agha was a mujtahid (Persian: religious leader) – hence the name Mushtaid for the garden. After Nino (Mir-Fatah-Agha’s Georgian wife), passed away of an illness, Mir-Fatah-Agha buried her close to his house and had roses planted around her resting place. This became the foundation for the future Mushtaid (Mujtahid) park, which became an official public park by 1858.

Public restaurant in the Mushtaid Garden of Tbilisi in the late 19th century (Source: Georgia About).

A key question that arises is how (or why) did the Russians decide to grant this prime real estate in one of Eastern Europe’s most lush regions to an Iranian national? This would seem interesting given that the Russians had fought so hard to wrest the entire Caucasus from the Iranians in the early 19th century. The reason the Russians did this is because Mir-Fatah-Agha had greatly helped the Russian empire’s military campaign against his homeland. Mir-Fatah-Agha had been accused of spying during the Russian-Iranian wars and expelled from Iran in 1828, the same year the Treaty of Turkmenchai was signed between imperial Russia and Qajar-ruled Iran.

A view of the Mushtaid (Mujtahid) Garden as it appears today in Tbilisi. As noted in the Georgia About website: “The famous Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani (Niko Pirosmanashvili) (Georgian: ნიკო ფიროსმანი) saw French dancer/actress Margarita perform in Mushtaid Garden in 1905. He was immediately besotted and it is said that he sold everything he owned to buy thousands of roses that were strewn in front of Margarita’s hotel.”

In appreciation of Mir-Fatah-Agha’s services to their empire, the Russians not only granted him asylum but also rewarded him with five hectares of land in Tbilisi (known as Tiflis in Persian and during the time of the Russian Empire).

Children’s railway in the Mushtaid garden or park of Tbilisi. As noted in the Georgia About website: “The first children’s railway in the world was opened in Mushtaid Garden on 24th July, 1935. Operating on a 1.2 km track, it was a narrow-gauge railway, complete with real wagons and locomotives.”

Nevertheless the case of Mir-Fatah-Agha should be considered in context. While more studies are needed in this topic, it would appear that the Qajar era (1789–1925) witnessed the rise of rampant self-interest among government officials and religious clergy (Mullahs and/or Mujtahids). The primary motivation in almost all of these cases was to acquire more wealth, property, recognition and influence. This was so transparent that British officials soon realized that they could easily buy off (often at a relatively low price) most Iranian government officials and clergy (Mullahs). This has been duly noted by Christopher Andrew in his book “Her Majesty’s Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community” (London, Penguin Books, 1987):

“The Long drawn-out ‘Great Game’ with Tsarist Russia…reached its peak in the later nineteenth century, gave rise to an equally long drawn-out series of intelligence operations…the Foreign office…particularly in Persia which acquired growing importance in British eyes…The Mullahs, who were the main authority within the country, proved vulnerable…to the ‘Cavalry of St George’. Sir Charles (later Baron) Hardinge, who became British Minster at Tehran in 1900, quickly concluded that there were few Persian clerics ‘whose religious zeal is proof against bribes’. The bribes to both Mullahs and civil officials sometimes took unusual forms: among them hyacinth bulbs, cigars, colored spectacles, silver clocks and – on one occasion – an artificial limb presented to a Persian brigand who had lost an arm in an attack on a caravan. The Marquess of Lansdowne, the foreign secretary … in Persia … acknowledged, he had ‘not hesitated to use secret service money’.” [Andrew, 1987, Pages 5-6]

In this context Mir-Fatah-Agha, a Mojtahed, was simply acting as many of his Qajar-era contemporaries would have acted: immediate self-interest even if it meant cooperation with a national adversary.