New Link for Iran, China and Asia


There is now a new link for Iran, Chian and Asia on this website: is especialy grateful to Dr. Jamshid Jamshidi for allowing the posting of articles by Dr. Masato Tojo. Interested readers are invited to visit Dr. Jamshidi’s SHAMOGOLOPARVANEH website at:

Shop with modified Persian script in Kashgar, northwest China. This is one of the legacies of the historical silk route straddling between ancient Iran and China, having its orgins in the pre-Islamic era and enduring well into the post-Islamic era. The shop sign reads “Jaanan Zaaferan”  or Jaanan’s saffron.  

Tajik speakers of China: Heir to an Ancient Tradition


Few realize that China is host to s small population of Iranian-speakers who are Tajiks akin to those in Tajikestan and fellow-Iranic peoples in Iran, Afghanistan, Caucasia and the Kurds of Iraq, Turkey and Syria.

More research is required in the study of these peoples in China to help address current misconceptions in this domain. As asserted by Dr. William Saffron:

 “There is a group of 26,000 Indo-Iranian speakers in China in the Pamirs near the Karakorum highway…the Chinese government…calls them Tajiks…However Tajik is not spoken in China” (Saffron, 1998, pp.75).

This claim is contradicted by TV programs in Chinese television which show Chinese Tajiks singing in Tajiki (essentially akin to Persian) – kindly consult U-Tube links below:

Chinese-Tajik girl sings a Persian-Tajiki song at China’s Shisu University

Tajikan – Tajiks on Chinese TV from Taj Qurghan of China

Chinese scholars have provided somewhat more accurate information on these Chinese-Tajiks. One example is Dr.’s Du and Yip who note that:

 “Most Tajiks in China speak Tajik…” (Du & Yip, 1993, pp.93).

The accent of this particular Chinese-Tajiki is phonologically similar to those Persian vernaculars seen in Afghanistan, parts of eastern Khorasan and of course Tajikestan.

Iran and China have enjoyed cultural links harking back to late Achaemenid times (400s to 330 BC). Chinese archaeologists unearthed evidence that non-Chinese workers of Iranic origins helped build the terracotta army mausoleum (near the north-west city of Xian). This is the resting place of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who died more than 2,200 years ago.


The Terracotta Army near the northwest city of Xian which contains (at least) 8,000 life-sized terracotta warriors & horses. It is estimated that up to 700,000 laborers worked on the imperial Tomb.  Chinese archaeologists have discovered that Iranian craftsmen dated to the Achaemenid era worked alongside their local Chinese colleagues to construct these figures.


Emperor Qin Shi Huang who unified China. His legacies include building the foundation of the first Great Wall of China and the great mausoleum bearing the massive terracotta army.

 Professor Tan Jingze, an anthropologist with Fudan University, told the Chinese Xinhua News Agency:

  “One sample has typical DNA features commonly owned by the Parsi [Zoroastrians] the Kurds and the Persians in Iran…”

These finds are highly significant as this  strongly suggests that Iranian craftsmen of the Persepolis tradition were present in Qin China. Earlier studies had suggested that the first Chinese-Iranian contacts had occurred later during Han dynasty (206 BC-220 CE).


Iranian-speaking Tajik women from China. These are mainly clustered in the Karakorum region.

 There are also Tajik-speaking residents in the predominantly Turkic-speaking Uighur region of Xinxiang province of northwest China, especially in the osasis city of Kashgar.

Tajik-speakers from Kashgar.

Shop with Persian script in Kashgar, northwest China.

Further Readings:

Bernstein, W.J. (2009). A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World. Grove Press.

Du, R. & Yip, V.F. (1993). Ethnic Groups in China. Science Press.

Hayashi, R. & Ricketts, R. (1975). The Silk Road and the Sosho-in. Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Saffron. W. (1998). Nationalism and Ethnoregional Identities in China. Routledge Publishers.

United Nations and WAALM School of Cultural Diplomacy


The WAALM – School of Cultural Diplomacy Became an Institutional Member of The Academic Council On The United Nations System – ACUNS. For more information consult the WAALM Diplomacy Journal.

The WAALM School of Cultural Diplomacy for the promotion of international peace, dialogue, learning and inter-cultural communication was recently inaugurated in England. This features five distinct departments with over 20 programs.

For an overview to the organization kindly consult the introductory notes in English (pdf) or in Persian (pdf) as well as the website:



New Course: Persia and World Civilization: A Silent Legacy


Kaveh Farrokh is teaching a new course at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Education Division entitled:

Persia and World Civilization: A Silent Legacy

Course Desciption:

Trace the extent of Persian influence in China, India, Islam and Europe with specific examples such as the city palace of Persepolis and her legacy in Merovingian and Gothic arts; the dress of the Iranian nobility at the time of Darius the Great, and its later appearance among the Germanic Ostrogoths and Polish Szlachta; and Persian miniatures and their influence on Indian and Turkish arts.

UP502F09A 5 Wed, Oct 7-Nov 4, 7-8:30pm; UBC Robson Square. $80, seniors $70, CLS students $120

A Sassanian observatory recently discovered in Gur-City, Fars province, founded by  Ardeshir Babakan (r. 226-241 AD). The city was a major scientific center until the 10th century AD. The abode structure remains in excellent condition and is a masterpiece of Iranian science and engineering.

If you require information on registration and sign-up, please feel free to contact the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division at: (604) 822-1444.

The World’s oldest known Artificial Eye


According to a report by Maryam Tabeshian of the Cultural Heritage News Agency of Iran (December 10, 2006), researchers have excavated a 4,800-year-old artificial eye along with a skeleton and other findings from the Burnt City (located near the city of Zahedan in Iran’s Seistan-Baluchistan province in the southeast of iran).

Skeleton of a young woman from the Burnt City. Note artificial eye in the eye socket of the skull.

The site has yielded numerous interesting finds including an ancient measuring ruler, backgammon game pieces and an animation device.  Researchers have ascertained that the artifical eye belonged to a woman aged 25-30 who hailed from a higher echolon of the local society at the Burnt City. 

Interestingly, the woman’s gravesite also yielded vessels of clay, a leather bag, a mirror of bronze and various other ornaments. Professor Michael Harris, a specialist in the field of optometry at the University of California at Berkeley, has stated that:

It’s unlikely such attention and effort would have been paid to a commoner…She may have been a member of a royal family or an otherwise wealthy individual.”

Prosthetics were of course known in the ancient era with references made to an artificial eye of gold in Hebrew texts (Yer. Ned. 41c; comp. Yer. Sanh. 13c). The prosthetic found in Iran however is different in that it is evidence of the oldest attempt at making this as “realistic” as possible. Professor Mansur Sayyed-Sajadi, who supervised the excavation, has stated: 

At first glance, it seems natural tar mixed with animal fat has been used in making [the eye]…whoever made the eye likely used a fine golden wire, thinner than half a millimeter, to draw even the most delicate eye capillaries…”

A curious feature of the “eye” are parallel lines that have been drawn around the pupil to form a diamond shape.

Two holes at the sides of the “eye” helped hold it in iplace.  The eye socket of the woman however appears to have developed an abscess as a result fo constant contact with the prosthetic.

Further tests are being conducted in iran to determine the exact chemical composition of the prosthetic.