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The Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD)
post 11/26/05 03:20 AM
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Sasanian History

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The Sasanians in fact established a relatively tolerant imperial system, creating a vibrant communal life among its Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian citizens. This arrangement which allowed religious officials to take charge of their own communities was a model for the Ottoman millet system. Likewise, the establishment of the Nestorian Church takes place during the same period, as did the codification of the Zoroastrianism's holy scripture, the Avesta. The Gnostic Prophet Mani popularized his vision in the Sasanian period, which spread from China to the Roman world. Finally Mazdak is recognized as the first socialist reformer in the world who preached co mm unal pattern of ownership living under Sasanian rule.

Clearly, the later empires in the Near East , Asia , and the Mediterranean world were impressed with the achievements of the Sasanian era and looked to it as a source of social, economic, and artistic inspiration.
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Sasanian courtly manners were to be adopted by the Late Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as Chinese, Central Asian, and later Muslim Caliphs. The idea of proskynesis or ritual prostration, the hiding of the king behind a veil, and the elaborate crowns associated with king Khusro I
in the sixth century made him and his empire synonymous with the idea of royalty. In fact his arabized name, Kisra , became associated with opulence and royalty in the Near Eastern world.

It was also during the sixth century that Sasanian scholars endeavored to translate Greek, Babylonian and Hindu scientific works and literature into Middle Persian (Pahlavi), thus preserving these invaluable storehouses of knowledge. Following the Sasanian lead, the later Arab Muslims at Baghdad actively sought to save Greek literature and philosophy from oblivion, as well as Sanskrit texts such as Kalila wa Dimna and the oral traditions of the Near East embodied in the book of One Thousand and One Nights through Pahlavi literature.

In terms of art, none could rival the Sasanian's designs on silk which were recognized from Japan to Egypt as the most beautiful designs. The Senmorv (Semorgh) design, which was the mythical Zoroastrian bird, and that of the ram, symbolizing Xwarrah / Farr (symbolizing Glory/Fortuna), were woven onto Chinese, as well as Egyptian silk brocades. Sasanian silver dishes were also a source of emulation by various kingdoms in Central Asia and the Caucuses, and known for their design, beauty and craftsmanship. Sasanian style of dress and interest in details also made it the choice costume, usually associated with royalty. The Sasanian artistic and religious imagery had a broad influence on the Byzantine, Buddhist and Chinese art, as well as on the succeeding Islamic art.

In terms of economy, Sasanian coins which appear to be the first flat coins in the world to be circulated had i mm ense importance for trade. As an important economic medium, Sasanian silver coin ( Drahms ), were recognized and copied by the people in Central Asia and the Islamic Near East. After the Arab Muslim conquest of the Sasanian Empire, the coinage type used
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by the early Muslim was the Sasanian coins with the image of the Sasanian king. This was because for half a millennium, these coins had been recognized as dependable medium of exchange. The Sasanian term for “market” ( Wazar / Bazar ) is the location where the local economy was conducted and Middle Persian ( Karwan ) “Caravans” intersected these local economies. These words are all from the time of Sasanian rule which entered the lexicon of the Islamic Near East.
Such games as the backgammon, chess, and polo where brought about or invented in the Sasanian period. The earliest surviving text on the games of chess and backga mm on is written in Middle Persian, when during the time of Khusro I appears to have been the place of its final redaction. Polo which is considered a kingly sport was also a Sasanian invention. Other lesser known Sasanian sport contests such as jousting ( neyzag-warih ), predated the European jousting and may have influenced the latter.

Then check out:

The Sasanian Family Tree
and for even better information

The Political History of Eran in the Sasanian Period

Also for more Information on The Sasanid Army, here is a great book: (and also the Review for it)

Sassanian Elite Cavalry

AD 224-642 AD

Dr. Kaveh Farrokh-Sassanian Elite Cavalry
AD 224-642 AD (Elite 110)
England: Osprey Publishing
ISBN: 1841767131
Direct Order: ]http://www.ospreypublishing.com/title_deta...le=S7131

Book Review by Dr. David Khoupenia

The Sassanians are one of history’s most enigmatic dynasties. Dr. Kaveh Farrokh has written the first book to be ever written exclusively about the Savaran (elite knights) of Sassanian Persia. Despite very little “press coverage”, these Persian knights inflicted upon Rome, some of her most desperate defeats. The Savaran blocked the Romans from gaining control of the Silk Route and denied their expansion towards China and India. They also fully avenged the conquests of Alexander the Great, almost a millennia before them. Many westerners falsely believe that Alexander’s conquest of Persia was final. In reality, Persia recovered, not only to expel the Greeks from Persia under the Parthians, but to challenge Rome itself under the Sassanians. Farrokh is correct when he notes that Persia was “the other superpower”. Dr. Farrokh’s book is:

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What is also unique about title page of Dr. Farrokh’s book is how it dispels current stereotypes about Persian women in today’s Western world. The figure to the right of the picture shows a Persian female warrior/governess known as the Paygospanan Banu (see close-up below):

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She has fired arrows into two Turanian warriors and is about to draw her fatal arrow against them. In the middle is a late Sassanian commander knight (Framandar) and to the left is the Marzban of Abarshahr who has drawn his sword. In Sassanian Persia, women acted as warriors, commanders and leaders. I was especially fond of the reconstruction of Khosrow II and his beautiful queen, Shireen (see below).

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Dr. Farrokh’s reconstruction of Shireen’s dress is based on his research at Tagh-e-Bostan (near Kermanshah) as well as isolated regions in western Iran, especially the Qaderi Kurds, among whom many Sassanian female dresses still survive. As you see in the reconstruction, Shireen was a Christian (note her cross).

Dr. Farrokh’s book is replete with major color painting reconstructions of the Sassanian knights, their ceremonies, medallions, flags and tactics. There are also many rare photographs in the book. Seven of the full color restorations have been made by Angus McBride, a world class historical painter with decades of distinguished achievements. McBride was given original drawings by Dr. Farrokh along with detailed instructions as to make his color paintings possible. These are spectacular and bring the forgotten Sassanian men and women to life. It took Dr. Farrokh 17 years to complete his research for this book. There are references to the elite units of the Savaran, such as the Pushtighban (see below):

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At first glance, the above painting resembles a “European” knight. In fact, these types of knights first appeared amongst the Iranian peoples and the Sassanians in particular.

The world owes so much to the Sassanian Persians. It is from the Sassanians that we have inherited the term “rank” system in the west – Dr. Farrokh notes how ‘rank” is derived from “Rang” (colour) in Persian. Even the game of chess is Persian – the Sassanian knights engaged in this to develop their mental agility and prowess. The game of Polo is originally Persian – Ardashir I, the founder of the Sassanians, was find of Polo. The Sassanian knights were not only warriors, but also scholars and artists, fond of learning.

Despite their downfall in the 7th century AD, the legacy of the Savaran endures in Europe, the Caucasus, China, India and the Muslim world. It was the elite cavalry of Sassanian Persia who were the forerunners of the later Medieval European knights, the Arabian Faris, the Caucasian horsemen, the Indian Suwar (derived from Persian Savar), and the Turkish Tarkhans. This book has bought an almost forgotten great people back to life. Every year we seen dozens of new books about Rome and Greece in western book stands, and very few book of the caliber of Dr. Farrokh’s book about Persia. It is my hope that more books like these will be printed; after all Sassanian Persia and her Savaran knights are an important part of world civilization.

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The above depicts the banner of Persia’s mythical hero, Kaveh. Dr. Farrokh displays all the banners used by the Sassanians during their reign. Note how similar the eagle symbol is to that seen among many nations of the world today. Persia has given so much to the world and is appreciated so little.

Dr. David Khoupenia


Here is the Sassanid Empire of Iran in its greatest extend (not sure about greatest):

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The last strong King of Sassanids, Khosrow Parviz managed to capture Jerusalem, Palestine, Syria, and Egypt from the Byzantiums, but then after long faught battle he lost the great territories he conquored to a strong king of Byzantium. After, he was assassinated (murdered), then the Sassanid Empire went into decline.

More will be posted on this in future.
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post 11/26/05 07:38 AM
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Thank you for posting this. I will ask the moderators to move this to the Kurdistan room and I'll ask for a more appropriot title...

The Sasanî Dynasty is a truly magnificiant part of my roots... icon_smile.gif
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