Table of Contents


    Mahdi Roschanzamir

    (ganjafa-bāzī, waraq-bāzī), card games were invented in China in the 7th-8th centuries and via India were brought to Persia, whence they reached the Arab world and Europe.


    Hūšang Aʿlam

    hel in modern Persian (from Skt. elā), the aromatic seeds of several plants of the family Zingiberaceae.



    See BĀḴTAR.


    Muhammad Dandamayev

    warlike tribes that in antiquity occupied the hilly country along the upper Tigris near the Assyrian and Median borders, in present-day western Kurdistan.

  • ČARḠ


    See BĀZ.


    Michael Weiskopf

    in the area of southwestern Turkey, under Achaemenid rule first as a part of the satrapy of Sparda (Lydia; 540s-390s B.C.), then as a separate satrapy (390s-30s B.C.) under the Hecatomnid family, whose prominence and self-promotion created a number of mostly Greek epigraphic documents detailing the development of 4th-century Caria.

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    Daniel Balland

    main town of Kōhdāman and the administrative capital of the Afghan province of Parwān, located about 63 km north of Kabul. Throughout history there has been an important urban center at the northern end of the long Kōhdāman depression.

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    See ĀMOL.

  • ČARḴ

    Daniel Balland

    a common toponym all over the Iranian world.


    Nāṣer Ḡolām-Reżāʾī

    (lit. “well wheel”),  a device for drawing water from a well or river or for removing soil during the excavation of a well. It is a type of windlass, consisting of a hollow horizontal cylinder around which a rope is coiled or uncoiled to raise or lower a bucket attached to the end. Formerly they were common.

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    Beatrice Manz, Masashi Haneda

    (Cherkes), term used in Persian, Arabic, and Turkic for the Circassian people of the northwest Caucasus who call themselves Adygeĭ and speak a language of the Abazgo-Circassian branch of Caucasian (see caucasian languages).

  • ČARḴĪ, Mawlānā Yaʿqūb

    Hamid Algar

    an early shaikh of the Naqšbandī order and author of several works in Persian (d. 851/1447).

  • ČARM

    Willem M. Floor

    (Av. čarəman-, OPers. čarman-, Khot. tcārman-, etc.), skin, hide, and leather, which have had a variety of uses in Persia.


    Rüdiger Schmitt

    ancient region east of Fārs province, approximately equivalent to modern Kermān. The Old Persian form is attested only once in inscriptions.


    Farhad Daftary

    (Ar. Qarāmeṭa; sing. Qarmaṭī), the name given to the adherents of a branch of the Ismaʿili movement during the 3rd/9th century.


    Francis Richard

    In 1604 Pope Clement VIII dispatched a mission of Discalced Carmelite fathers to Persia; the embassy represented the culmination of a policy of seeking alliances against the Ottoman empire that had been initiated by Pius V.

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    or čāroq, etc. See CLOTHING xx, xxv, xxviii.


    Multiple Authors

    (qālī; Ar. and Pers. farš), heavy textiles used as coverings for floors, walls, and other large surfaces, as well as for various kinds of furnishing.

  • CARPETS i. Introductory survey

    Roger Savory

    the history of Persian carpet manufacture.

  • CARPETS ii. Raw materials and dyes

    Jasleen Dhamija

    for centuries Persian carpet weaving has depended primarily on local materials processed by traditional traditional techniques. Such materials include sheep wool, camel hair, goat hair, and natural dyes. This article discusses use and preparation of dyes and materials used to make carpets.

  • CARPETS iii. Knotted-pile carpets: Techniques and structures

    Annette Ittig

    The techniques of carpet making are the processes of weaving, knotting, and finishing; structure is the complex of interrelations among the elements of the finished carpet. 

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  • CARPETS iv. Knotted-pile carpets: Designs, motifs, and patterns

    Annette Ittig

    In this discussion “design” refers to the overall composition of decorative elements on a carpet; the simplest elements in designs are single motifs, which are most frequently combined in more complex units; these units in turn may be arranged in various combinations and sequences to form patterns.

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  • CARPETS v. Flat-woven carpets: Techniques and structures

    Sarah B. Sherrill

    Most of the structures in Persian flat-woven carpets belong to the category called “interlacing” by textile specialists; the term designates the most straightforward way in which each thread of a fabric passes under or over threads that cross its path.

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  • CARPETS vi. Pre-Islamic Carpets

    Karen S. Rubinson

    Evidence for textiles of all kinds in pre-Islamic Iran is very sparse. It is necessary to supplement the few remains of actual textiles with examination of representations in art and other kinds of indirect evidence of production, for example preserved impressions and pseudomorphs from excavations.

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  • CARPETS vii. Islamic Persia to the Mongols

    Barbara Schimtz

    Because of the scarcity of surviving materials it is difficult to separate the history of carpet making in Iran from that of the rest of the Islamic world before the Mongol invasion (656/1258). Furthermore, the kind of rigid distinction between carpet and other textile designs that characterizes later production probably did not exist in the early Islamic period.

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  • CARPETS viii. The Il-khanid and Timurid Periods

    Eleanor Sims

    Carpet production in Persia in the 14th-15th centuries has  been inferred from written sources. Carpets and weavings from contemporary Anatolia and the Turkman tribal confederations, and possibly also from Egypt and even Spain, also permits the inference.

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  • CARPETS ix. Safavid Period

    Daniel Walker

    The high point in Persian carpet design and manufacture was attained under the Safavid dynasty (1501-1739). It was the result of a unique conjunction of historical factors, such as royal patronage and influence of court designers at all levels of artistic production.

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  • CARPETS x. Afsharid and Zand Periods

    Layla S. Diba

    Although it is probable that magnificent silk-and-brocade rugs in the style of the Safavid court manufactories were no longer produced in significant quantities, it seems reasonable to assume that production of less luxurious wool rugs continued in many traditional centers, even though on a smaller scale and mainly for domestic consumption.

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  • CARPETS xi. Qajar Period

    Annette Ittig

    There were dramatic alterations in the traditional organization and orientation of the Persian carpet industry and, consequently, in the carpets themselves. Particularly significant was the increase in the number of looms and volume of carpet exports from the 1870s to World War I.

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  • CARPETS xii. Pahlavi Period

    Willem Floor

    Throughout the 14th/20th century carpet manufacturing has been, from the point of view of both employment and domestic and foreign market demand, by far the most important Persian industry after oil refining.

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  • CARPETS xiii. Post-Pahlavi Period

    P. R. Ford

    In the period immediately following the shah’s flight from the country in 1358 Š./1979 the prices for Persian carpets reached record highs on Western markets.

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  • CARPETS xiv. Tribal Carpets

    Siawosch Azadi

    In Persia rural carpets have been made in nearly every possible technical variation and for a wide range of uses. Yet there are many nomadic groups whose works are absolutely unknown, and the weavings of other groups have been only very imperfectly studied and described.

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  • CARPETS xv. Caucasian Carpets

    Richard E. Wright

    The oldest surviving rugs produced in the Caucasus may be a group with representations of dragons and phoenixes in combat. There is, however, no evidence to permit attribution to the Caucasus. 

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  • CARPETS xvi. Central Asian Carpets

    Walter Denny

    These include those woven in the former Turkmen, Uzbek, Tajik, Karakalpak Autonomous, Kirgiz, and Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republics; extreme northern and northeastern Persia; Afghanistan; and the Turkic (Uighur) areas of Sinkiang (Xinjiang) in western China.

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    A. Shapur Shahbazi

    (Ḥarrān), town in Mesopotamia where in May 53 B.C. a decisive battle was fought between the Parthians commanded by a member of the Sūrēn family and the Romans under the triumvir M. Licinius Crassus.


    Hūšang Aʿlam

    the taproot of Daucus L. subspp., etc. (family Umbelliferae), traditionally called gazar (arabicized as jazar) or zardak (lit. “the little yellow one”), and later also havīj in Persian.

  • ČARS


    See BANG.


    Richard W. Cottam

    (1977-81): POLICY TOWARD PERSIA. When the administration of President Jimmy Carter took office in January 1977, United States foreign relations overall were remarkably stable. A modus vivendi had been established with the Soviet Union.

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    Fridrik Thordarson

    Imperator Caesar MARCUS AURELIUS (Augustus), Roman emperor (r. 282-83).


    Ehsan Yarshater

    village in the mountainous area of the Upper Ṭārom district (baḵš) in the šahrestān of Zanjān, at 49°1′ E, 36°52′ N, 42 km north of the district center, Sīrdān. It is one of the few villages in Ṭārom where Iranian Tati dialects have not yet given way to Turkish.

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    Antonio Panaino

    (1852-1925), scholar of ancient Iranian languages and religions and particularly of Pahlavi literature.


    Gernot L. Windfuhr

    term "case" used on at least three linguistic levels: 1. semantic role of a noun (phrase), such as agent, patient, experiencer, and possessor; 2. syntactic function, such as subject, direct object, and indirect object; 3. morphological means, such as nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive.

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    Ṣādeq Sajjādī



    Ebrāhīm Šakūrzāda and Mahmoud Omidsalar

    (lit. “a blow by the eye”), the evil eye: the supposed power of an individual to cause harm, even illness or death, to another person (or animals and other possessions) merely by looking at him or complimenting him.


    Eckart Ehlers

    “spring.”  Iran and Afghanistan, as well as wide parts of Central Asia, have a great variety of natural springs. A very general classification divides all springs into (1) those produced by gravity acting on the groundwater, (2) those that have their origins in tectonic volcanic forces within the earth’s crust.

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    Abbas Alizadeh

    lit. “fountain of ʿAlī,” the name for various natural springs in Iran, the two best-known of which are located near Dāmḡān and Ray respectively.


    Mohammad Reza Ghanoonparvar

    (1952; tr. by John O’Kane as Her Eyes, 1989), a novel considered by many critics as the most important contribution of the noted Persian novelist Bozorg Alavi.


    C. Edmund Bosworth

    literally “taster” (Pers. čāšnī “taste”), the official who at the court of Turkish dynasties in Iran and elsewhere, from the Saljuq period onwards, had the responsibility of tasting the ruler’s food and drink in order to ensure that it was not poisoned.



    Iranian dialects spoken along the Caspian littoral, including Ṭāleši, Gīlakī, Māzandarāni, and related subdialects, and the extinct dialect of Ṭabarestān. See individual entries.


    John H. Hansman

    an ancient toponym identifying a ground-level pass that runs east and west through a southern spur of the Alborz Mountains in north central Iran.


    Multiple Authors

    actually a lake, the largest in the world (estimated surface area in 1986: 378,400 km², volume 78,600 km³; approx. between lat 37° and 47° N, long 46° and 54° E); it is bounded on the south by Persia.


    Xavier de Planhol

    The Caspian “sea” consists of three distinct basins, each characterized by different features. hese differences are reflected in the levels of salinity. 


    Guive Mirfendereski

    A new area of sub-systemic studies in international relations, which encompasses the Caspian basin and its immediate surroundings, emerged in the post-Soviet Union era.


    Eskandar Firouz

    (Phoca caspica), the only mammal in the Caspian Sea. It is a relict species, endemic to the Caspian Sea and the deltas of rivers that discharge into it—the region where its ancestors lived when the sea was still connected to the oceans.

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    Rüdiger Schmitt

    name of an ancient people dwelling along the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea, whether north or south of the river Kura is not clear.


    Muhammad Dandamayev

    wife of Cyrus II, an Achaemenian, sister of Otanes and daughter of Pharnaspes.


    Hūšang Aʿlam

    a genus of shrubs and trees of the family Leguminosae (or Caesalpiniaceae in some classifications).

  • CASSIODORUS, Magnus Aurelius

    Marie Louise Chaumont

    (b. ca. 485, d. after A.D. 580), Latin author of three historical works containing material on Iran.


    Wolfram Kleiss

    primarily fortified country manors but also permanently inhabited defensive installations, maintained by the authorities along important land routes, and urban citadels, which functioned as administrative centers and places of refuge for inhabitants under siege, particularly in prehistoric and early historic times.

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    Michael Weiskopf

    a plain east of Sardis, site of the mustering of troops from the satrapy of Sparda (Lydia) during Achaemenid times.



    See BEAVER.


    Lutz Richter-Bernburg

    (of men; ḵaṣī kardan, ḵāya kešīdan, ḵᵛāja kardan), discussion of castration in Islamic medical literature, on its legal status, and on its historical attestation in Islamic Persia.

  • CAT I. In Mythology and Folklore

    Mahmud Omidsalar

    Cats are not mentioned in literary Persian sources until late Sasanian times. In Zoroastrian mythology the cat (gurbag) is said to have been created by the Evil Spirit, and in the Pahlavi texts it is classed in the much despised “wolf species.” 

  • CAT II. Persian Cat

    Jean-Pierre Digard

    In western Europe and in North America, what are called “Persian cats” are a breed of longhaired domestic cats with a massive body, measuring 40 to 50 cm in length, and up to 30 cm in the height of their withers. According to the standards, these cats must present a strong bone structure, important muscular masses, and short, straight paws.

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    Philip G. Kreyenbroek

    treatises for instruction in the fundamental tenets of a religious faith, cast in the form of questions and answers.


    J. L M. van Schaik

    Manichaeism is said to have been passed via the Paulicians and the Bogomils to re-emerge in the European Cathars but this supposed historical transmission is difficult to demonstrate.

  • ČATR

    Eleanor Sims

    parasol or umbrella, an attribute of royalty in Iran.


    Jean-Pierre Digard, Mary Boyce

    the word “cattle” has no precise equivalent in Iranian languages, in which bovines are commonly designated by the words for “cow,” “bull,” and “calf."


    Multiple Authors

    CAUCASUS AND IRAN. The Iranian world is bordered in the northwest by the high mountain barrier of the Caucasus, which separates it from the vast Russian plains beyond. In relief, structure, and ecology the Caucasus constitutes a clear frontier between eastern Europe and western Asia, though it is more closely related to the latter.

  • CAUCASUS i. Physical Geography, Population, and Economy.

    Pierre Thorez

    The northern side of the range consists of a series of monoclinal folds, in the form of cuestas, with escarpments facing toward the main chain and the more gradual back slopes fanning out into plateaus of varying sizes, all inclining toward the north.


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  • CAUCASUS ii. Language contact

    Fridrik Thordarson

    Languages of the Caucasus. Including Caucasian (or Ibero-Caucasian), Turkic, Indo-European, Iranian languages, Kurdish, Tati, Ṭāleši, Ossetic, and others.


    Bruno Jacobs

    Achaemenid rule in the Caucasus region was established, at the latest, in the course of the Scythian campaign of Darius I in 513-12 BCE.


    William W. Malandra

    the two dadophoroi or torch bearers who often flank Mithras in the bull-slaying scene and who are sometimes shown in the birth scenes of Mithras.

  • ČĀV

    Peter Jackson

    paper currency issued in Mongol Iran in 693/1294.





    Xin-jiang Rong

    Ch’ien Fo Tung (Qianfodong), a large group of grottoes and cave temples carved out of Ming-sha hill in the southeastern Tun-huang (Dunhuang) district of Kansu (Gansu) province, China.


    Hūšang Aʿlam

    ḵāvīar in Persian, the processed non-fertilized roe of sturgeons and some other large fishes, highly valued as a gourmet delicacy.  In Iran the roe for caviar is obtained mainly from three species of sturgeon (family Acipenseridae) caught in the southern littoral or fluvial waters of the Caspian Sea.

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    Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Yūsofī

    or ČĀVŪŠ, used in classical Persian texts with the meanings of 1. army commander; 2. master of ceremony or person in charge of the servants; 3. caravan leader; or, more specifically, 4. a guide on the road to Mecca or holy shrines.



    town mentioned in the Avesta. See ČARḴ.

  • ČĀY

    Daniel Balland and Marcel Bazin

    shrub of the genus Camellia and beverage made from its leaves, probably the most popular drink throughout the Iranian world. It is not known when Persians first became acquainted with the beverage. Bīrūnī,  in his Ketāb al-ṣaydana, written in the first half of the 11th century, gave some details about the plant čāy and its use as a beverage in China and Tibet.

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    Aḥmad Tafażżolī

    a mythical lake in eastern Iran, later identified in the Pahlavi and Persian sources with Lake Urmia in Azerbaijan.


    James R. Russell

    twelfth-century Byzantine historian who edited the Synopsis Historiōn of John Skylitzēs.


    Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Yūsofī

    (Jekel), name of a Turkish people in Central Asia known in Persian poetry for the extraordinary beauty of their youths.


    Pierre Oberling

    or Čeganī, a tribe that originated in northwestern Persia but is now scattered in Luristan, the Qazvīn region, and Fārs.


    Ingeborg Luschey-Schmeisser

    Safavid royal palace used for coronations and the reception of foreign embassies. It stands in the center of a large garden between the Meydān-e Šāh and the Čahārbāḡ. The layout of these gardens, with three walks shaded by plane trees, dates from the period of Shah ʿAbbās I (r. 1588-1629).

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    Nancy H. Dupree

    palace on a small, terraced hill rising at the southern end of a 30-acre walled garden about six miles south of the city center. According to a commemorative marble plaque at the base of the hill the cornerstone of the palace was laid in 1888, and the palace was completed as a seat for Prince Ḥabīb-Allāh three years later.

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    Wolfram Kleiss

    a Safavid pavilion that stands amid gardens in the central meydān (square) of the old city and in which the Qazvīn museum is installed.


    Kerāmat-Allāh Afsar

    (“the forty dervishes,” popularly called Čeltan), a minor takīya (monastery) situated in the northeastern section of Shiraz, a short distance north of the tomb of Ḥāfeẓ and south of Haft Tanān (“the seven dervishes”).


    Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Yūsofī

    (forty parrot [stories]), the designation of collections of entertaining stories about the wife of a merchant and a pair of parrots, several versions of which are current in Persia and which are derived from older collections called ṭūṭī-nāmas (book of the parrots).

  • ČEHR

    Bruce Lincoln

    two homographic neuter substantives čiθra- in Avestan, one meaning “face, appearance,” which is translated in Pahlavi as paydāg, and another rendered in Pahlavi as tōhmag and denoting “origin, lineage,” as well as “seed,” although the latter sense is attested only in compounds.


    Nassereddin Parvin

    (lit. “mirror”), the name of an illustrated Persian newspaper and periodical published in Egypt (1322-1338 Š./1904-59, with interruptions).


    Tahsin Yazici

    (670-719/1272-1320), the son of Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Solṭān Walad and the grand­son of Mawlānā Jalāl-al-Dīn Moḥammad Rūmī.


    Tahsin Yazici

    10th/16th-century poet and author of a Šāh-nāma (Solaymān-nāma) extolling the Ottoman rulers.


    Mahmoud Omidsalar, Hamid Algar

    term referring to any forty-day period. i. In Persian folklore. ii. In Sufism.



    See  BERENJ “rice” i. In Iran, sec. “Rice in the Iranian diet.


    Ṣoḡrā Bāzargān

    a popular Persian dish which consists of cooked rice (čelow; see berenj) and a variety of broiled (kabāb, see below) mutton or veal (though less popular) and is served with butter, egg yolk, powdered sumac, raw onions, broiled tomatoes, and fresh sweet basil.


    Mahmoud Omidsalar

    (qabrestān, gūrestān) in Persian folklore; cemeteries are found both inside and outside cities and villages, usually close to a holy shrine, or emāmzāda, in order to partake of its blessing.



    See ASFĪJĀB.


    Hūšang Aʿlam

    “Oriental plane (tree),” indigenous from southeastern Europe to the Iranian plateau. In Persia proper, spontaneous planes have been observed by botanists. Cultivated planes are popular as ornamental or shade trees.

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