ANĒRĀN “non-Iran,” Middle Persian ethno-linguistic term generally used pejoratively to denote a political and religious enemy of Iran and Zoroastrianism. It is etymologically a plural form with negative prefix and contrasts with Ērān (see also Arya). Ērān derives from *Ariyānām, and designated in the Sasanian period those areas which were inhabited by “Aryans” (i.e., Iranians) or in which Iranian languages were spoken. Anērān, the antonym to “Iran,” is found in the Avesta; Yt. 8.2 and 19.68 refer to the destruction of non-Iranian realms by xᵛarnah- (“Brilliance”). On coins, in the inscription of Šāpūr I at the Kaʿba-ye Zardošt, and on a seal (intaglio of Šāpūr I, Bib. Nat. no. 3, 32), the Sasanian kings styled themselves “king of kings of Ērān and Anērān.” In his inscription Šāpūr I apparently included in “Ērān” regions such as Armenia and the Caucasus which were not inhabited predominantly by Iranians; Anērān comprised the areas conquered from the Roman empire: Syria, Cappadocia, and Cilicia. The high priest Kirdēr, thirty years later, gave in his inscriptions a more explicit list of the provinces of Anērān, including Armenia, Georgia, Albania, and Balāsagān, together with Syria and Asia Minor. In Zoroastrian literature and possibly in Sasanian political thought as well, the term has also a markedly religious connotation. An anēr person is not merely non-Iranian, but specifically non-Zoroastrian; and anēr designates also worshipers of the dēws (“demons”) or adherents of other religions (see Dēnkard, p. 147). Arabs and Turks are called anēr, as are Muslims generally, the latter in a veiled manner.


A. Maricq, “Res Gestae Divi Saporis,” Syria 35, 1958, pp. 304-05.

Ph. Gignoux, “L’Inscription de Kartir à Sar Mašhad,” JA 256, 1968, p. 396.

Idem, Glossaire des inscriptions Pehlevies et Parthes, London, 1972, pp. 16. 46.

Bundahišn, pp. 153.15, 154.14.

B. T. Anklesaria, tr., ThePahlavi Rivāyat II, Bombay, 1969, pp. 62, 63-64.

H. W. Bailey, “To the Zamasp-Namak. I,” BSOS 6, 1930-32, pp. 56-68.

Markwart, Provincial Capitals, pp. 69-70.

A. Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 113-14, 220.

(Ph. Gignoux)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: August 3, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 1, pp. 30-31

Cite this entry:

Ph. Gignoux, “ANĒRĀN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, II/1, pp. 30-31, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).