English translation of the book Azerbaijan and Aran (Caucasian Albania)

An important and seminal history book “Azerbaijan and Aran (Caucasian Albania)”, written by the late Professor Enayatollah Reza (1920-2010) was originally published in Persian in 1980, and so far has gone through eight reprints and editions. The book deals in depth with the problems of naming the newly established country of Azerbaijan with a name borrowed from its southern neighbour, the Iranian Province of Azerbaijan in 1918, including the conflicts and problems that this action has created. One of the major issues at present is the official re-writing of history that has been taking place within the Baku establishment as documented in the video below (originally announced in Iranian.com by Dr. Mohammad Ala, recipient of the 2013 Grand Prix Film Italia Award):

The above video (also available in Russian, Turkish, and Persian) documents the process of historical revisionism that has been taking place with the Baku establishment of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Note that the latter was named as “Azerbaijan” in May 1918; prior to that date this south Caucasian region was known as the Caucasian Khanates (i.e. Ganja, Sheki, Shirvan, Darband, Mughan, Kuba, Baku, etc.) and/or Arran. The historical Azerbaijan or Azarbaijan was located (according to cartographic and primary sources) below the Araxes River in Iran. The video has been well-researched and documented.

The book has been translated into English by Dr Ara Ghazarian of the Armenian Cultural Foundation of Arlington Massachusetts. it must be noted however that this project was initiated and finally made possible through the hard work and dedication of Rouben Galichian, an accomplished scholar in his own right.

FrontCover_2014“Azerbaijan and Aran (Caucasian Albania)” Published by Bennett & Bloom, London, 2014, 174pp with 12 colour plates. Price $25 or £20.

The book has so far been translated into Armenian and Russian, but until now there had not been an English translation of this extremely valuable work. This gap had to be filled and Galichian decided to act upon it. In 2008 he spoke to Professor Reza asking his permission to translate the book to English, to which he graciously consented. Galichian began the hard work of the translation but due to other urgent projects and commitments the partially completed work had to be abandoned.

YSU-4-Prof Galichian-2Rouben Galichian at the opening seminars in November 1, 2013, at (بخش ایران شناسی دانشگاه دولتی ایروان) the University of Yerevan Iranian Studies Department  entitled “Shirvan, Arran, and Azerbaijan: A Historical-Cultural Retrospective” conference (kindly click here for more information on all conference participants and their topics). Galichian has written numerous books outlining the history and cartography of the Caucasus. He is also the author of a number of cartographic articles published in various magazines and has lectured extensively in Europe, the USA, Iran and Armenia. For his services to Armenian historical cartography, Rouben was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia in November of 2008. In 2009 he was the recipient of “Vazgen I” cultural achievements medal. He is married and shares his time between London and Yerevan. Kaveh Farrokh wrote a review of Galichian’s recent text “The Clash of Histories in the South Caucasus” for the prestigious IranNameh Persian language journal.

Then, in 2011, Galichian heard from his friend and scholar Dr Ara Ghazarians of the Armenian Cultural Foundation of Arlington Mass., that he has started the translation of Dr. Reza’s work. Galichian encouraged him and promised to locate suitable maps for the book. Afterwards, Galichian assisted in getting the financial backing and the publication for the English translation of the book. This has resulted in Dr. Ghazarians’ excellently translated and beautifully produced book, to which he has added important explanatory footnotes and complementary information.

Dr Ara GhazarianDr. Ara Ghazarian, curator of the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington, Massachusetts. Ghazarian holds a PhD in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Editorial assistant and manager of the Armenian Review (1987-91) and Director for Resources and Archives of the Zoryan Institute (1989-90), he has been on the faculty of the Emerson College (1984-1998) and translated and edited nine books, among them Heinrich Vierbücher’s Armenia 1915 (2006) and Murad of Sepastia by Mikayel Varandian (2006), Jakob Künzler’s In the Land of Blood and Tears (2007), The Widening Circle and Other Early Short Stories by prolific Armenian writer and journalist Hakob Karapents (2007), and The Astrologer of Karabagh by the nineteenth century Russian novelist Platon P. Zubov (2013).

Subject of the book

Historic defeats of the late Qajar period resulted in loss of territories for Iran to its north and east. In the early decades of the twentieth century, a group of political leaders in the historic Aran (Caucasian Albania), to the north of the Araxes River, which, during the 17-19th centuries was known as Shirvan, renamed their country Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan.

2-Ottoman Map-1893Ottoman map [Click to Enlarge] outlining Western Iran and the Caucasus in 1893.  Note that Azarbaijan is clearly shown to be the land below or to the south of Aras (Araxes) river – the territories corresponding to the present Republic of Azarbaijan were not known as “Azarbaijan”, but variously as the Caucasian khantes (i.e. Baku, Sheki, Nakhchevan, etc.) or as “Albania” or “Arran”.

Prominent Iranian scholar and historian, Professor Enayatollah Reza (1920-2010), based on extensive research of historical geography of Iran and the Caucasus, provides a picture of the boundaries and the two territories of Azerbaijan to the south and Aran to the north of the Araxes River, respectively, and the advent of the Turks on the world stage, their movement and penetration into Azerbaijan, the Caucasus and Anatolia. A chapter in this book discusses the cultural character of these lands at the time of the arrival of the Turks, followed by a response to the claims of the Pan-Turkist historians in Turkey and Azerbaijan, who claim that the Turkish racial element had been present in these territories before others. Other topics in the book include a discussion of the arrival and incorporation of the Turkish language in Azerbaijan and the Aryan roots of the people of Azerbaijan upon whom the Turkish language has been imposed.

Post-Soviet Propaganda Map

A post-Soviet era propaganda map produced in Baku. The above map (click on the above map to see the video) promotes the false notion that a “Greater Azerbaijan” was divided in two by Russia and Iran in 1828. Historically false claims such as these were first promoted by the pan-Turkists of the early 20th century which were then propagated by the former Soviet Union and the Communists, notably Joseph Stalin and Mirjaafar Baguirov. Unfortunately the legacy of historical amnesia has continued to persist at the official level in the Caucasian state.

The book consists of the following main chapters.

1. The names of Azerbaijan and Aran (Caucasian Albania) in ancient times
2. Changes over history in the names for Caucasian Albania
3. Geographical boundaries of Caucasian Albania and Azerbaijan
4. Views of Pan-Turkists concerning the Turks
5. Ethnicity and language of the people of Caucasian Albania
6. Ethnicity and language of the people of Azerbaijan
7. Migration of the Turks and spread of the Turkish language in Azerbaijan
8. How Aran came to be named Azerbaijan

 

Persian Book Review Journal Evaluates Farrokh 2005 On-Line Book

The Persian Book Review Journal has evaluated Farrokh’s 2005 On-Line Book entitled: “Pan-Turanism takes aim at Azarbaijan“. The Review of the 2005 On-line book is available for download from Academia.edu.

    VamberyArminius (Hermann) Vambery (1832-1913) seen above in eastern dress (left) and European attire (right) (Picture Sources: Public Domain). Vambery was a Hungarian professor, philologist and traveler working as an advisory to the Ottoman Sultan in 1857-1863. Vambery is one of the leading founders of pan-Turkism which is essentially a European invention. In a sense, it may be stated that the anti-Persian philosophy of pan-Turkism has never originated among the Turks – this was first created among European thinkers and through Russian support of anti-Persianism in the southern Caucasus in the 19th century.

Kindly note that the 2005 on-line book is being extensively updated and revised and will appear as a monograph with a different title under the guidance of Professor Garnik S. Asatrian (Chair, Iranian Studies Dept., Yerevan State University; Editor, “Iran and the Caucasus”, BRILL, Leiden-Boston) and Professor Victoria Arakelova (Associate Professor, Department of Iranian Studies, Yerevan State University; Associate Editor, “Iran and the Caucasus”, BRILL, Leiden). Below are excerpts of the review of the 2005 On-line text.

Saberi, 2005-2006, pp. 89-90:

“...heavy investment has taken place among Western governments towards the study of domains pertaining to Iran with a large number of Think Tanks engaged in the research of the sociology, psychology, economics, politics, culture and history of Iran and utilizing these against Iran with respect to politics, diplomacy, and propaganda…a book named “Pan-Turanism Takes Aim at Azarbaijan” has been written by Kaveh Farrokh of the University of British Columbia in Canada and it is fortunate that this has been placed on-line on the internet. As far as can be ascertained, this book has not been translated into Persian, and it is incumbent upon translators to engage in this task. The writer of this book has engaged in the attention to a series of issues which are not paid attention to at the present time, but which could due to international circumstances transform into a major political crisis for Iran and profoundly impact upon the life of Iranians. This book considers a number of Western objectives towards Iran, especially with respect to the promotion of Democracy and Human Rights in Iran.”

Ralph Peters’ version of the Bernard Lewis Plan (Professor Bernard Lewis denies being the originator of this plan). The above is a “revised” map of Iran and the Middle East as proposed by Ralph Peters (source: Peters, R. 2006. Blood Borders: How a better Middle East would Look. Armed Forces Journal, June Issue). Note that the Republic of Azarbaijan has absorbed Iran’s Azarbaijan province, a Greater Kurdistan has absorbed Iran’s Kurdish and Luri regions, Iran’s Khuzistan province has become joined to a southern Iraqi Arab state, Iran’s southeast is joined to a Greater Baluchistan. Interestingly, Peters has “compensated” Iran by “granting” it the city of Herat, which was in fact a part of historical Iran until its official detachment from the country by the British Empire in the late 1850s.

Saberi, 2005-2006, pp. 90:

Pan-Turkism, or in its broader sense, pan-Turanism, is a racist ideology akin to pan-Arabism, pan-Iranism, Fascism, Nazism which conveys the message that the culture and history of the Turks is superior to all other peoples in the world, with the aim of creating a Turkish state stretching from Europe to Asia… “

 Super-TuranA map of the proposed pan-Turkic or pan-Turanian state (Picture Source: The apricity). Much of this philosophy can be traced to European thinkers such as Leon Cahun (see below).

David-Leon-CahunDavid Leon Cahun (1841-1900) proposed that the Turks were a superior race or more specifically “supermen” (Picture Source: Public Domain). The notion of racial superiority is an alien concept among the Turks who have always been (and remain) warm, open, friendly and hospitable to all who visit or settle in Turkey. Racism has never existed among Turks or Turkic-speakers – the importation of this concept can be traced to European thinkers such as Cahun who placed a heavy emphasis on drafting pan-Turkism as an anti-Slavic, anti-Islamic  and anti-Persianate philosophy.

Saberi (2005-2006, pp. 91) provides the following overview:

In summary this book provides a detailed description of pan-Turkism and how this is being sponsored by Western economic interests…the writer notes how this ideology claims that the founders of human culture, civilization and language are Turks and that the civilizations of Iran, Greece, Rome and Sumeria were founded by Turks. Tajiks, Kurds and native (North American Indians) are claimed as Turks.”

Pic20-indianTurk Painting of the mythical Grey Wolf (Ashena) and what is presented as a Turkish Indian warrior (Picture Source: Network54). One of the assertions of Pan-Turkism is that the entire spectrum of the native Indian population of North America are essentially Turks as these crossed Asia into the North American continent along the Bering Strait. Turkic peoples however had not formed as an ethnic group tens of thousands of years ago and linguistic analyses fail to provide any correlations between any indigenous Indian languages in North America (which are highly diverse in their own right) and any Turkic languages.

it is important to note that in contrast to the current establishment in Baku (modern-day Republic of Azarbaijan known as Arran and the Khanates until 1918), many modern-day Turkish historians seriously question the premises of pan-Turkism and acknowledge its ideological nature. Turkish professor  Ayse Gül Altinay has summarized seven premises of pan-Turkism in her 2004 book: The Myth of the Military-Nation: Militarism, Gender, and Education in Turkey, Published by Palgrave-Macmillan, pages 22-23:

  • The original homeland of the Turks is in Central Asia or Turkistan and not on Mongolia.
  • The Turks are a white race of the Brachycephalic type and are not derived from the Asiatic or ‘Yellow” races.
  • The Neolithic civilization of mankind was invented by the Turks in Central Asia.
  • Climactic factors (mainly drought) forced the Turks to migrate out of Central Asia. This resulted in the Turks introducing Neolithic civilization to Asia, the Americas and Europe.
  • Early civilizations of the Near and Middle East such as Mesopotamia, Egypt and Anatolia (especially the Hittites) were founded by the Turks.
  • Turkish is the oldest sophisticated language of mankind and is the basis of ancient Hittite and Sumerian languages.
  • Turks are the founders of several states, kingdoms and empires in history.

As noted Saberi, 2005-2006, pp. 91 with respect to the 2005 Farrokh text:

In part II of the book, the writer engages in the description of pan-Turkist claims to [Iranian] Azerbaijan…being a part of Greater Turkestan. These claims are being mainly promoted by Western petroleum interests…The writer also engages in the examination of the false thesis that Azerbaijan was a large kingdom split between Iran and Russia during the Qajar era resulting in a “South Azerbaijan” and a “North Azerbaijan” which must be “re-united” like Vietnam…

A post-Soviet era propaganda map produced in Baku. The above map (click on the above map to see the associated video) promotes the false notion that a “Greater Azerbaijan” was divided in two by Russia and Iran in 1828. Historically false claims such as these were first promoted by the pan-Turkists of the early 20th century which were then propagated by the former Soviet Union and the Communists, notably Joseph Stalin and Mirjaafar Baguirov. Unfortunately the legacy of historical amnesia has continued to persist at the official level in the South Caucasian state.

Saberi (2005-2006, pp. 91) notes that pan-Turkists claim that:

“...poets such as Shabestari, Ganjavi and Molavi were Turks who were forced to write in Persian…

False Statue in RomeBaku Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov at Nizami Ganjavi monument at Rome’s Villa Borghese park in early February 2013. The Aliev Foundation  funded the installation of this statue as part of the initiative of falsifying Iranian historical icons (see Petition to correct the historical identity of the statue in Rome). Ganjavi composed his poetry in Persian and wrote extensively on the Iranian cultural realm.

Saberi, 2005-2006, pp. 92:

Among the other falsifications examined by the writer is the notion that Turks have resided in the Caucasus for over five thousand years and have spoken Turkish for that time…

Saberi then notes of the writer’s use of primary sources to disprove such claims and demonstrate that Turkic languages are historically-speaking, relative newcomers to the region, beginning from the post-Islamic era in the 11th century CE.

Polo_game_from_poem_Guy_u_ChawganA Persian miniature made in 1546, during the reign of the Safavid dynasty of Iran (1501-1722). This artwork is of the Persian poem Guy-o Chawgân (“Ball and Polo-mallet”) depicting Iranian nobles engaged in the game of polo, which has been played in Iran for thousands of years (Picture Source: Public Domain). The Baku establishment initially attempted to convince UNESCO that Polo was part of the “Azerbaijani heritage”, however in a positive development, their authorities acknowledged the diverse historical legacy of the game lin 2013. The term “Azerbaijan” never existed in the South Caucasus until May 1918. The only historically attested Azerbaijan is in Iran’s northwest which has been a cultural and historical part of the Iranian realm for thousands of years.

Azerbaijan Republic acknowledges Historical Legacy of Polo Game

One enduring legacy of the former Soviet Union is its school of falsifying history. That same school of historical falsification now continues to endure in one the former Soviet Union’s satellite regions, the modern Republic of Azerbaijan (known as Arran and the Khanates until 1918). Nazrin Mehdiyeva, a historian from the Republic of Azerbaijan, has noted that:

“…the myth [of a North versus South Azerbaijan] was invented under the Soviets for the purpose of breaking Azerbaijan’s historical links with Iran. To make this historical revisionism more acceptable, the Soviet authorities falsified documents and re-wrote history books. As a result, the myth became deeply ingrained in the population [of the Republic of Azerbaijan-known as Arran and the Khanates until 1918] … as part of the rhetoric” (Mehdiyeva, N.,2003, Azerbaijan and its foreign policy dilemma. Asian Affairs, 34, pp. 271-285, cited from p.280).

A post-Soviet era propaganda map produced in Baku. The above map promotes the false notion that a “Greater Azerbaijan” was divided in two by Russia and Iran in 1828 [Click above map to view the official Baku establishment narrative]. Historically false claims such as these were first promoted by the pan-Turkists of the early 20th century which were then propagated by the former Soviet Union and the Communists, notably Joseph Stalin and Mirjaafar Baguirov. Unfortunately the legacy of historical amnesia has continued to persist at the official level in the Caucasian state.

The Baku administration has based its falsification of history by appropriating the historical legacy of its neighbors, especially Iran as well as Armenia. In mid-September 2013 for example, the Baku establishment replaced the Persian-inscribed tiles at Nezami mausoleum – for more on this topic consult: Lornejad, S., & Doostzadeh, A. (2012). On the Modern Politicization of the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. Yerevan Series for Oriental Studies (Volume I), Edited by Garnik S. Asatrian. Yerevan: Caucasian Center for Iranian Studies. (pdf) – NOTE: This is the Official Digitized Version by Victoria Arakelova; with errata fixed from the print edition. False Statue in RomeBaku Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov at Nizami Ganjavi monument at Rome’s Villa Borghese park in early February 2013. The Aliev Foundation  funded the installation of this statue as part of the initiative of falsifying Iranian historical icons (see Petition to correct the historical identity of the statue in Rome). Ganjavi composed his poetry in Persian and wrote extensively on the Iranian cultural realm.

The very name “Azerbaijan” had never been applied to the region of the modern-day Republic – this was first proposed by pan-Turkist elements of the Musavat movement on May, 28, 1918 – prior to that date, the only historical reference to Az/a/rbaijan was to the historical province located in northwest Iran. The succeeding Soviets who followed the Musavat regime in Baku retained that incorrect name for the region. As noted by Barthold:

The name “Azerbaijan” for the Republic of Azarbaijan (Soviet Azerbaijan) was selected on the assumption that the stationing of such a republic would lead to that entity and its Iranian counterpart to become one…this is the reason why the name “Az/a/rbaijan” was selected (for Arran)…anytime when it is necessary to select a name that refers to the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, we should/can select the name Arran …” (Quote from Bartold, Soviet academic, politician and foreign office official. See Bartold, V.V., Sochineniia, Tom II, Chast I, Izdatelstvo Vostochnoi Literary, p.217, 1963).

Ata Yurduتبلیغات ضد ایرانی در کتابهای درسی رژیم حاکم بر باکو!-[Anti-Iranian propaganda in school textbooks printed by the current regime of Baku]. History books are being re-written in Baku and exported to major Western libraries and universities in the effort to undermine Iranian history.

Most recently the Baku establishment had contacted UNESCO to consider the game of polo as an “Azerbaiiani” sport. For more see: Fars News (October 28, 2013): Iran urges UNESCO to reject Republic of Azerbaijan’s claim on ancient Polo game. Polo is the one of the world’s oldest known competitive team sports, in which players use mallets on horseback to shoot a ball through the opposing team’s goal post. The game continues to be intensely popular in modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. In fact, as noted by Mehdi Hojjat (Deputy Director ICHHTO) Afghanistan, Pakistan and India who have claims to the legacy of Polo, have also objected against the Republic of Azerbaijan’s application to UNESCO. As noted by Hojjat:

 “We will tell UNESCO that the traditional game is a common element that should be not registered exclusively in the name of a single country.”

Polo_game_from_poem_Guy_u_ChawganA Persian miniature made in 1546, during the reign of the Safavid dynasty of Iran (1501-1722). This artwork is of the Persian poem Guy-o Chawgân (“Ball and Polo-mallet”) depicting Iranian nobles engaged in the game of polo, which has been played in Iran for thousands of years (Picture Source: Public Domain).

The efforts of Mehdi Hojjat have borne success and the truth of history has prevailed – see Tehran Times based report Payvand News Report (December 5, 2013): below:

Azerbaijan concedes chogan is not an Azeri game: Iranian official

Below is the full report provided by Payvand News – readers are encouraged to read further comments further below after the Payvand News report:

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An official of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) has said that Azerbaijan has officially accepted the fact that chogan (polo) is not an Azeri game.

ICHTHO’s Department for Registration of Natural, Historical and Intangible Heritage Director Farhad Nazari made the remarks on Tuesday after UNESCO registered chovqan (the Azeri word for chogan) as a traditional Karabakh horse-riding game for the Republic of Azerbaijan on its List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding during the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The efforts made by the Iranian delegation at the meeting convinced Azerbaijan to officially acknowledge verbally and in writing the fact that chogan is not an Azeri game,” he said.

He added that the efforts also led to the modification of Azerbaijan’s file on chogan in the meeting.

In the file, Iran’s West Azarbaijan Province and East Azarbaijan Province had been referred to as “south Azerbaijan”, but this reference was removed when, during the meeting, it faced opposition from the Iranian delegation.

As a result, Iran also can to apply for registration of the Iranian chogan on the list. In addition, UNESCO experts in the meeting agreed that chogan would be registered as a multinational element on the UNESCO list,” Nazari stated.

ICHTHO Director Mohammad-Ali Najafi asked UNESCO in October to register chogan as a multinational element on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

ICHTHO Deputy Director Mehdi Hojjat previously said that Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, along with Iran, have a claim on the game.

The 8th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue in Baku until December 7.

The Paach ceremony, a corn-veneration ritual celebrated in San Pedro Sacatepequez in Guatemala was also on the List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

The Committee is also scheduled to review four other nominations for the list and 30 nominations for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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In summary, this has been a very positive development and shows once again that with reference to proper historical sources combined with an academic and objective approach, the truth of history is safeguarded.

So what about the origins of Polo? There certainly is diversity of opinion, however reputable mainstream academia simply does not place the origin and invention of polo in the southeastern Caucasian territory north of the Araxes River (known as “Azerbaijan” since 1918). There are suggestions that this was invented in Iran and/or by Iranian peoples in antiquity, examples being:

  • Goel and Goel (1988, p. 318) who attribute this to the Persians in 2000 BCE (Goel, R. G. & Goel, V., 1988. Encyclopaedia of Sports and Games. Vikas Publishing House).
  • Craig (2002, p.157) who attributes the origins of polo to the Medes in the 100s CE (Craig, S., 2002. Sports and Games of the Ancients. Greenwood Publishing Group)

Singh (2007, p. 10) however challenges the Iranian origin thesis by highlighting Polo’s possible origins in China and India for example (Singh, J., 2002. Polo in India. London: New Holland).

Meydan Naghshe Jahan-Isfahan-Iran[Click to Enlarge] The Safavid era Meydan e Nagshe Jahan in modern-day isfahan which was a major venue for the game of polo in Iran (Picture Source: Public Domain).

Polo is indeed an international sport, whose origins overlap several modern nations in Western and Central Asia. The Republic of Azerbaijan is one of the heirs to this tradition, especially given its long-standing cultural and historical ties to Iran until 1828.  The south Caucasus region such as Armenia and modern-day Azerbaijan Republic (known as Arran and the Khanates until 1918) were introduced to Polo and equestrian sports by  thousands of years of cultural interaction with the Iranian realms.

Polo is referred to as “Chovgun” in the Republic of Azarbaijan – this term is actually derived from the Persian word “Chowgan” which means polo stick. It is possible that the term “Chowgan“, may have entered Western lore as “Chicane” (French), “Choca” (Spanish and Portuguese), “Schaggun” (German) or “Chekan” (Russian). On the other hand, the name of “Polo” is believed to have been derived from the Tibetan word “Puulu” which means ball (Crego, 2003, p.23 – Crego, R., 2003, Sports and Games of the 18th and 19th centuries, Greenwood Publishing Group). Etymology however is  insufficient at academically “proving” a Tibetan, Iranian or other (Indian, Chinese, etc.) origin for Polo – but it certainly is suggestive of an east-west cultural dynamic.

Ardashir1[Click to Enlarge] The founder of the Sassanian dynasty (224-651 CE) Ardashir I (180-242 CE) depicted in a lance-joust scene at Firuzabad. Ardashir and the Sassanians in general, were greatly fond of Polo (Picture source: Photo taken by Farrokh in August 2001 and shown in 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).

While the questions of origins remained debated, it is generally agreed that Polo has been an integral aspect of the culture and history of Iran since pre-Islamic times. Below are some excerpts from the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

A game of Central Asian origin, polo was first played in Persia (Iran) at dates given from the 6th century bc to the 1st century ad. Polo was at first a training game for cavalry units, usually the king’s guard or other elite troops. To the warlike tribesmen, who played it with as many as 100 to a side, it was a miniature battle. In time polo became a Persian national sport played extensively by the nobility. Women as well as men played the game, as indicated by references to the queen and her ladies engaging King Khosrow II Parvīz and his courtiers in the 6th century ad. From Persia the game spread to Arabia, then to Tibet (the English word polo is the Balti word meaning “ball”), to China, and to Japan. In China (910) the death of a favoured relative in a game prompted Emperor A-pao-chi to order the beheading of all surviving players. Polo was introduced into India by the Muslim conquerors in the 13th century…

Polo-Tang Dynasty[Click to Enlarge] Chinese Polo players of the 8th century CE during the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE) (Picture Source: AsiaSociety.org).

Despite the aforementioned official efforts with UNESCO and negotiations with the Republic of Azerbaijan by Iranian authorities, Dr. Mohammad Reza Said-Abadi (دکترمحمدرضا سعیدآبادی), the chair of Iran’s commission to UNESCO ( دبیرکل کمیسیون ملی یونسکو ) has contradicted his Iranian colleagues by stating:

مهم این نیست که قدمت و ریشه چوگان در کجای این منطقه است و توسط کجا به ثبت رسیده است بلکه مهم این نکته است که این بازی و مهارت در کجا فعال و به خطر افتاده است ،بنابراین اگر بخواهیم در چارچوب حقوقی صحبت کنیم با وجود اینکه قدمت چوگان در ایران است اما این اشتباه است که بگوییم آذربایجان نباید آن را به ثبت برساند و چوگان مال ماست! درباره اینکه ما زودتر باید این را به ثبت می‌رساندیم سؤال دیگری است

Dr Said-AbadiTranslation: It is not important which region of this locale is identified with the antiquity and roots of Chowgan [Polo] or who has registered this [with UNESCO] – what is important is where this game and its skills/expertise have been endangered, therefore if we wish to speak in legal terms even-though the antiquity of Chowgan [Polo] is in Iran, it is wrong to say that [Republic of Azerbaijan] should not register Chowgan [Polo], because Chowgan [Polo] belongs to us! As to whether we should have registered this sooner is another question…(Picture Source: UT.ac.ir)

First, as noted previously by Mehdi Hojjat (Deputy Director ICHHTO, Iran’s official position is not that Polo is exclusively Iranian. Instead Hojjat’s argument is that Polo is a shared heritage not exclusive to just one country. Second, Mr. Said-Reza appears to be stating that “it’s ok” to distort history and register this with UNESCO.   Perhaps it may be conjectured that Dr. Mohammad Reza Said-Abadi is speaking from an ideological standpoint  consistent with pan-Islamism which downplays the history and legacy of Iran in favor of the wider pan-Muslim dynamic. Much like the former “pan-internationalist” Communists of the Soviet Union, all forms of “national” history are dismissed as “bourgeois”.

Baku to replace Persian-inscribed tiles at Nezami mausoleum

Below is a short report first issued by Iran’s Press TV entitled “Baku to replace Persian-inscribed tiles at Nezami mausoleum” (September, 12, 2013) (see also Payvand News (September 18, 2013) report entitled “INLA asks Azerbaijan to stop replacement of Persian inscriptions of Nezami’s tomb“). Kindly note that the pictures and accompanying captions inserted below did not appear in the original Press TV report.

Before reading the report, readers are invited to consult:

Lornejad, S., & Doostzadeh, A. (2012). On the Modern Politicization of the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. Yerevan Series for Oriental Studies (Volume I), Edited by Garnik S. Asatrian. Yerevan: Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies. (pdf) – NOTE: This is the Official Digitized Version by Victoria Arakelova; with errata fixed from the print edition.

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An Azeri official says the Persian-inscribed tiles in the mausoleum of renowned Iranian poet Nezami Ganjavi will be replaced with the Azeri translation of his poems.

Director of Nizami Ganjavi Centre of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) Khalil Yusifli said the poet’s chosen poems inscribed on tiles were translated into Azeri from Persian.

Earlier this month, the Azeri government destroyed all tiles with Persian inscription on them at the mausoleum in Ganja using restoration work as a pretext for the measure.

On August 19, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi expressed regret over Azerbaijan’s reported move at the Nezami Ganjavi mausoleum.

11-Boniyadov-StalinFalsifiers of history: the late Ziya Bonyadov (1921-1997) (left) and Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) (right). Stalin referred to Iranian historical icons such as Nizami Ganjavi as “Azarbaijani historical figures”. Stalin’s myths (called “Stalin’s school of historical falsification by Leon Trotsky) have been adopted by the modern day citizens of the Republic of Azarbaijan. Ziya Bonyadov for example deliberately falsified history to omit the fact that Babak Khorramdin is identified as a Persian in ancient sources. Instead, he promoted Stalinist terminology which is essentially Persophobic.

The Azeri government has been waging an extensive campaign to falsify the identity of the renowned 12th-century Persian poet, whose formal name was Jamal ad-Din Abu Muhammad Ilyas ibn-Yusuf ibn-Zakki.

Ata Yurduتبلیغات ضد ایرانی در کتابهای درسی رژیم حاکم بر باکو!-[Anti-Iranian propaganda in school textbooks printed by the current regime of Baku]. History books are being re-written in Baku and exported to major Western libraries and universities in the effort to undermine Iranian history.

In 2012, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which is run by Azerbaijan’s first lady Mehriban Aliyeva, paid Rome City Municipality EUR 110,000 to install a monument of Nezami in the Villa Borghese Park in the Italian capital.

False Statue in RomeBaku Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov at Nizami Ganjavi monument at Rome’s Villa Borghese park in early February 2013. The Aliev Foundation  funded the installation of this statue as part of the initiative of falsifying Iranian historical icons (see Petition to correct the historical identity of the statue in Rome).

Meanwhile, Baku has introduced Nezami as an Azeri poet in all the country’s text books. This is while Nezami (1141 to 1209) has not written any poems in Azeri, and the Republic of Azerbaijan gained independence from Russia only 22 years ago.

Map of Greater Azarbaijan by ROAA historically false map published in Baku of an alleged “Greater Azarbaijan” during the Arab Caliphate. Historically all contemporary Islamic sources clearly distinguish between the real-historical Azarbaijan described south of the Araxes River in northwest Iran versus Arran or Albania (re-named “Azerbaijan Republic” in 1918) located to the north of the Araxes River. There are no maps or references that cite ancient Arran in the Caucasus above the Araxes River as “Azarbaijan”. 

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Comments sent to Kavehfarrokh.com

—- Original Message —-

From: Terence xxxx <xxxxgmail.com>

To: Dr. Kaveh Farrokh <manuvera@kavehfarrokh.com>

Sent: Sun, Sep 15, 2013 5:17 am

Subject: Re: Baku to replace Persian-inscribed tiles at Nezami Mausoleum

Dear Kaveh,

The Turkification policy pursued by the Russians, both Tsarist and Soviet – They in Baku are being torn from their true roots to be given a false identification. To begin with, following Ahmad Kasravi’s word, Azari is properly the term for a Persian dialect, not a Turkic one. Hence, the Tati-, Hazrani- and Taleshi-speakers are the last representatives of the true Azari.

Now, of course, the Turkish language was introduced into Azarbaijan only 4 centuries ago. This means that Azaris are Iranians who happen to speak a Turkic dialect. Also, the ‘Turkification’ of Azarbaijan came hand-in-hand with the Shi’fication of it. As a result, in modern-day Azarbaijan, whichever side of the border, Turkic-speakers tend to be Shi’ite and Azari-Persian-speakers Sunni and Sufi (either Qaderi or Naqshbandi), like the Kurds.

All the great Azari Sufi masters and poets of the past – Shams-e Tabrizi, Shah Qasem-e Anvâr, Sheikh Mahmud-e Shabestari, Kamâl-e Khojandi (buried in Tabriz), and Mohammad Shirin Maghrebi – were all Persian-speakers, not to speak of the great classical poets Nezami and Khaqani. Only two prominent poets were bi-lingual: Nesimi and the late Shahriyar. Sheikh Safi-ye Ardabili spoke only Persian Azari, which is close to the Gilaki of his master Sheikh Zahed-e Gilani. In the biography of Sheikh Safi – Safvat as-safâ – conversations between master and disciple are quoted in the popular language of the two, i.e., Azari Persian and Gilaki.

Finally, who is the greatest son of Azarbaijan in all of history? Zoroaster, who spoke not a word of Turkish!

How do we get this point across dear Kaveh?

Cheers,

Terence

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From: Fazli xxxx <xxxx@xxxx.net>

To: Dr. Kaveh Farrokh <manuvera@kavehfarrokh.com>

Sent: Fri, Sep 13, 2013 4:53 pm

Subject: Re: Baku to replace Persian-inscribed tiles at Nezami Mausoleum

Kaveh Jan,

It is interesting that the level of misinformation and political muckraking is degenerating to this point. It seems that pure imagination and political expediency has taken precedence over historical facts. Has any of these people even heard of Minorsky’s “A History of Sharvan and Darband in the 10th-11th Centuries”, Cambridge, 1958?

In his book, Vladimir Minorsky has photographs of the gateway in Derband that is attributed to the Sassani time. Derband (Derbent) is north of Baku so by definition Baku was Sassani territory. He also mentions that there was a wall built by the Sassani extending from Derband on the Caspian coast toward the Black sea. His estimate was the the wall was 40 km (I have to check this number) and the rest of the distance was guarded by fortifications that I assume were similar to Ghaleh Babak.

The wall I refer to is mentioned in Minorsky pages 87-90. On page 87 Minorsky has a map and identifies a northern wall built by Khusrau Anushirvan 531-578 Ad and a southern wall built by Qubad 488-531 AD. These walls were dismantled and rebuilt many many times in the following centuries, but they were so massive that some sections are still existing today (see attached photo from Minorsky). Minorsky specifically mentions that Masudi, an early geographer, claimed the walls were 200 km but he says that realistically they were 15 km with another 25 KM covered with fortifications. Minorsky quotes extensively from Monajem Bashi “trarik bab al awab” recording events of around the first millinium AD. At that time apparently the “Turks were new invaders” – Minorsky page 3.

The travels of Ibn Fadlan are described in “Ibn Fadlan’s Journey to Russia” by Richard Frye. (attached is the map, page 13). Even Frye raise the question of why Ibn Fadlan made such a long detour and a possible answer is the chaos on the Darbend (also known by the Arabic word “Bab” -meaning door) and Shirvan. Ibn Fadlan was traveling with a large entourage (5,000 men and 3,000 pack animals, page 81) and with such a responsibility it would be prudent to avoid an area which was not really secure.

The Arab dominance of the region of Shervan/Derband was never complete and in fact the Arab governors hardly ever set foot it into the region. The area was mostly governed by local tribal clans and/or lords who did or did not look to Bagdad, depending on their proclivity and mood. The map drawn in your link is complete fiction, and no bearing on anything historical. A better map is shown in Minorsky’s book which has historic references as a base.

It is interesting that during the time of Caliph al Moghtadir in the 10th century CE, when Ibn Fadlan was sent as an emissary of the Caliphate to Russia, he chose to traveled thru Khorassan to Russia, since the Shirvan/Derband area of the Caucauses was so independent of the Caliphate, that the writ of the al Moghtadir was worthless. Thus Arab control of the area at best was “iffy” and any Arab map showing political control – if it existed – is imaginary.

So the map shown in the link is a figment of someone’s political imagination and politics, to quote a Persian proverb, has neither a father nor a mother. (Siyasat pedar madr nadard)

I think the issue of the name of Azerbaijan is self explanatory and requires no further elaboration.

Finally I kinda wonder what the Khamseh of Nezami would sound like in Turkish.

How would:

“pir zani ra setami dar gereft

Dast zad o daman sanjar gereft”

Be poetically translated??

Best

Fazli

PS: by the way the city of Derband is a name from Sassani times and referrers to the gate in the Wall separating “Eranshahr” from the ‘barbarians to the north’. Also the very name Azar Baijan, comes from the Pahlavi word “Azar” meaning fire and “baijan” (a corruption of “abadegan”) meaning developed area. One of the major exports of Shirvan/Darband, even during the Sassani, was pitch, i.e., crude oil, which is why the area was named Azar – fire! So, maybe they should also change Azerbaijan to gelismis alani yangin?

 

Petition to Correct the statue of Nezami Ganjavi in Rome

Please support the Petition below – this is to protest the falsification of history and correct the recent statue in Rome that was donated by the government of Baku in the Republic of Azarbaijan – kindly click the link below:

Petition ot Correct the Statue of Nizami Ganjavi in Rome

As the text is in Italian, kindly consult the key words below to facilitate your signature:

  • Nome – Name – اسم
  • Cognome – Family – فامیل
  • E-mail – آدرس پستی
  • Città – City – شهر
  • Italy –country-  کشور
  • Codice Postale – Postal Code – کد پستی
  • Perché è importante per te? – why is this important for you – چرا برایت مهم است
  • Firma – Signe –امضا کن

For an overview of the falsification of the history of Nizami Ganjavi, kindly consult below:

See also: