Search Results for: Fravahar

Significance of Flowers in Zoroastrian Religion

 

Soroush is the first creation of Ahuramazda who learnt Gathas by heart, offering its worship to Ahuramazda with a branch of Barsam. It is one of Bahaman’s companions. Listening to Soroush is to hear and obey Ahuramazda’s orders.

Barsam represents all trees, vegetations and plants. It is a bundle of small twigs of a tree, usually cut from Pomegranate tree or Myrtle by a special knife called Barsamchin while reciting some prayers during the procedure. The whole process is a ritual and after the barsams are cut and washed they are tied together with a strand of palm leaf.

In the Book of creation called Bon-dahesh, each Amshaspand is symbolized by a flower-plant: Below is the list of Amshaspands and the flower attributed to them:

Ahuramazda is represented by Myrtle, Bahman with white Jasmin, Ordibehesht with Marjoram, Sharivar with Basil, Sepandarmaz with Melissa, Khorda’d with Iris, Morda’d with Lily.

As we will see, flowers and plants seen in the stone-carvings of Persepolis are symbols of the above Amshaspands and other determining principles of Zoroaster’s faith. This is a very important point overlooked by all Iranologists who identified them wrongly as enumerated below:

The Barsam held in the hand of the King Darius is identified as Lotus.

Flowers surrounding Frahvashi (Fravahar) are identified as palm tree.

The decorations around the neck of the cow as lotus bud calling it 12 petal flower.

Lotus actually found a place in Iranian art and architecture as the flower symbolizing the Iranian goddess of water, Anahita enjoying a very important place in Iranian Mythology. Later we will show that considering the climatic environment of Persepolis (a dry mountainous place), the flower identified as Lotus (famous as flower of marshes) in its stone-reliefs, could not possibly be this flower.

Flowers held by the king and the crown prince are thought to be Egyptian due to the presence of a bud between two blossoms and the arrangement of the stem.

In the images of Persepolis, while the first four passages are pictorially represented by the victory of goodness (in the image of the king or a royal hero) over devils, the last two passages through Khorda’d (perfection) and Morda’d (eternal life) representing the highest aspirations, spring of life and creativity, fertility, growth and final unification with Ahuramazda are illustrated masterfully and in a poetical way, in the form of their symbol, the flower Iris (notice the joined stems of images 10 & 11), particularly in those images conveying the concept of holiness.

Image 10- Stems of Iris: (a) Right Persepolis Stone-carvings. (b) Left, Iris Aphylla

Image 11-(a) The underground rhizomes of iris and their connection with each other (b) Iris growing in a line (c) The stone-carvings with underground rhizomes, (d) A general view of Persepolis stone-carving, notice the similarities b/w the real flower of Iris and the stone carvings in (a) and (b).

It is not in vain that the presence of frahvashi (fravahar), symbolizing the whole path of this spiritual journey (passages through the 6 Amshaspands) and attainment of holiness and eternal life (reaching the light of lights (khavarafkhashia) which is the most important part of the Zoroastrian transcendental philosophy is depicted next to Iris (see image 12).


Image 12- Presence of fravashi (fravahar) as the symbol of spiritual evolution (passage through six Amshaspand) and attainment of holiness and eternal life next to Iris.

On the other hand, the flower symbolizing one of the assistants of Amshaspand Morda’d, the divinity Rashn is Eglantine; a flower with a pleasant calming scent seen repeated in the frames of the stone-reliefs between cypresses like a scaffold, protecting the line of guests like a canopy (Image number 13). The continued presence of Eglantine as a symbol of protection and preservation of life (both humans and gardens) can be found in “Ershad-ol-zera’-eh” (a guidebook of gardening) written in 16th century, containing the history of garden-making in ancient Iran.

Image 13 – Repetition of flowers in the frames of Cyrus Hall like scaffolds of eglantine sheltering the guests as an allusion to the divinity Rashn – (Images of stone-reliefs of Iran, British Museum, 1932).

Now comes the question of lotus and its connection with barsam. As it was mentioned before, a number of researchers have wrongly identified barsam (the symbol of all trees and vegetations) in Darius’ hand as Lotus, and speculated it to be the same flower seen around the neck of animals, overlooking the fact that this flower can hardly grow in dry climatic weather of Pars ( Fars ). In addition to requiring special conditions for its growth, lotus is very sensitive to light and humidity. It is a flower growing in marshes closing its petals when the light fades. Lotus with the sharp end of its blossoms and the inner curving of its petals as well as its sensitivity and impermanence could not be the flower used during long rituals (from the beginning of preparation of barsam to the end of ceremonies) which instead required a longer lasting flower (Image number 14).

Image No. 14- Lotus and its natural bio-ecological environment (aquatic).

Image number 15 shows the similarity of the flower in Darius’ hand, with pomegranate flower. From the bio-ecological point of view, apart from its sacredness and beauty, pomegranate flower is more in harmony with the climatic conditions of the region and physiologically it is more resistant than aquatic flowers, therefore it is a more appropriate flower to be used in long ceremonies.

Image No.15 -Similarity of barsam in Darius’ hand (right) with pomegranate flower (left).

In Avesta we read: “It is said, the divinity Soroush spreads barsam, three times, five times, seven times and nine times and offers the worship to Ahuramazda.”

In Yasna (chapter 43, paragraph 12) it is said: “When you ordered me ‘Appeal to asha and know her’ you told me unheard words: Try to let Soroush penetrate you to recognize divine graciousness granting reward and punishment to both groups.”

Soroush is one of the divinities playing an important role in the struggle against devils. It is said in Bondahesh: “Soroush received the task of guardianship from Ahuramazda. In the same way that Ahuramazda is the Lord of the heaven and the universe, Soroush is the Lord of the world and it is said, Ahuramazda is a spirit protecting the soul, while Soroush is a spirit protecting the world. For Soroush has not slept well since the creation of living beings in order to guard them. According to Abu Reyhan, Soroush is a divinity guarding the night and some say he is Gabriel. The soul of the dead reaches the Chinvad Bridge protected by Soroush. I praise, the brave pious dutiful Soroush. He is brave because when he turns his club toward Khorasan (East), fear is subsided until he points it to the west. He is dutiful because he obeys the God. And he is astonishing because devils are dispersed by his stroke. He is divine because he rules arzeh (the country of the East) and saveh (the country of the West) (zand akasieh 220, Rahim Afifi, Iranian Mythology and Culture in Pahlavi texts).

That is why holding barsam – whether it is the king or an ordinary Zoroastrian – represents continuous remembrance of the presence of Soroush (Gabriel).

Conclusion:

From all that is said above, Zoroastrian religious and ritual beliefs were so blended with everyday life of ancient Iranians that one can trace them in all aspects of life including their architecture. Illustration of the opposition of good and evil, the spiritual presence of Amshaspands in the figure of the king in stone-reliefs and entrapment of devils by using their sculptures as column capital all point to the above integration. Considering that Persepolis was the place where Achaemenids held their religious rites, ceremonies and mysteries, surely the images found there should be an allusion to the ruling ideas and ideals of their era manifested in the form of mythological symbols of their divinities. The subtle intelligent practice of Achaemenids in illustrating their basic religious beliefs for various peoples with different religious faiths living in the vast Persian Empire attending various ceremonies in the Palace is an example of the respect the kings of this dynasty had for the freedom in faith and ethics of their subjects. In all the stone-carvings with an allusion to spiritual beliefs, the Amshaspands Khorda’d and Morda’d have a prominent presence in the figure of Iris flower. Attribution of a flower to each Amshaspand represents the close relationship of Achaemenid religious beliefs with their natural environment and regional climatic conditions in which lotus can not have a logical reasonable place.

The above analysis is an effort made to show the Iranian origin of what is seen in stone-reliefs of Persepolis, their relation with religious beliefs of that era and refutation of non-Iranian root of the images found there. This is a new approach demanding extensive studies for further decoding of the remaining reliefs.

 

extracted from :

A New Approach to Stone Reliefs of Persepolis

By Khoobchehr Keshavarzi (translated By Roya Monajem, Tehran)

Based on ritual, religious beliefs and the impact of the environment

http://www.payvand.com/news/12/sep/1247.html

Farohar / Fravahar Monographs and Call for Images

Mr. K. E. Eduljee has posted a monograph on the “Farohar/Fravahar Motif. What Does It Represent? Use of Icons & Symbols in Zoroastrianism”, on the Zoroastrian Heritage website at

 
 
 
The monograph is available in two versions: a complete version with notations and source texts, and an abridged version without notations and source texts.
 
Mr. Eduljee is interested in knowing if you are aware of the farohar/fravahar motif being used from the end of Achaemenid rule in the 4th century BCE to about three hundred years ago. In addition, what is the earliest known use of the farohar/fravahar motif in the past three hundred years of which you are aware?
 
Please send this information and any images to enquiry@heritageinstitute.com. The information you provide could be very helpful in adding to our knowledge of Zoroastrian heritage.
 

Farohar

Please  note  what we call  as FAROHAR,IS  REALLY THE  KHERP.

The Fravahar can be used to illustrate the basic elements of Zoroastrianism.
The Fravahar can be used to illustrate the basic elements of the Zoroastrian religion. Each part of the Fravahar signifies an idea or a philosophy:
1- The male upper body springing out of the central disk represents the human soul or, as some would say, the wisdom of age.
2- His upper hand extended in a blessing, pointing upwards, is a reminder that the path to heaven lies in higher things or that the path of righteousness is the only path to choose.
3- The other hand holds the covenant ring urging Zoroastrians to remember to hold true to their promises. When a Zoroastrian gives a promise, it is like a ring. It cannot be broken.
(Bisotun Fravahar) Some scholars believe the torso does not represent Ahura Mazda as god has no image in the Zoroastrian faith.
4- The ring in the center symbolizes the eternity of universe or the eternal nature of the soul. As a circle, it has no beginning and no end.
5- Two streamers which extend outward from the central disc illustrate Zoroastrian ethics. They symbolize the two choices humans have between good or evil, or that one should proceed toward good and turn away from bad.
6- The three-layered wings symbolize “good thoughts, good words, and good deeds”, the Threefold Path of Zoroastrianism.
7- The lower part of the Fravahar consists of three parts representing “bad reflection, bad words and bad deeds” which cause misery and misfortune for human beings.
The Fravahar on the façade of a fire temple, Yazd, Iran
The symbol reached its finest and final form in the rock-carvings of Persepolis and it is the Pers epolis Fravahar which has become not only a graphic symbol of the Zoroastrian faith but also a folk motif.
Today the Fravahar decorates Zoroastrian fire temples, has been made into jewelry, woven into wall hangings, carved into marble and semi-precious stones and even glazed onto ceramic heirlooms.

Fravahar has become part of the cultural legacy of every Iranian regardless of their relig ion. The positive meanings this emblem embodies have made it worthy of its prominence as a national symbol.

Courtesy : Jehangir Gilder

Faravahar or Farohar, Zoroastrian Symbol.

 

Interpretation of the Faravahar

&

Explanation of the Faravahar Symbol

 

 

 

Fravahar, pictogram of Persian past may be viewed at http://zoroastrians.net/?s=Fravahar 

since then, we have come across many beautiful & informative explanations which may be read by clicking on the links below :

 

The Significance of FRAVAHAR

 

faravahar-or-farohar 

 

farohar-the-spirit-of-the-matter 

 

faravahar-or-farohar-zoroastrian-symbol 

 

Our thanks to all who have contributed in enlightning us.