of Faravahar, Derafsh Kaviani and Persian Colors
May 12, 2007
I wrote this
document a long ago, when we started the IPC, but recently, I have
revised and updated it.
Kaviani (The Mythical History)
history of Iran and Shahnameh by Ferdowsi takes Derafsh
Kaviani back to the ancient times of Kianian Era. Kaveh the
Ironsmith torn his leather shirt and put it on a spear-top, risen
it in the sky and this is how Derafsh Kaviani started its existence. Kaveh became the symbol of revolutionaries and started a
revolt against the Tazi (Arab) King Zahak, who occupied Iran.
This rebellion expanded to a full blown revolution and ended up
in Fereydoun (The Iranian King) of Kiani Dynasty to eliminate
Zahak and for Iranians to once more rule Iran. Of course some historians
report that Ferdowsi's Shahnameh is inspired by actual history.
Some believe that Zahak represents Astiak (Azhidahak) the Median
King and Fereydoun is actually Cyrus The Great, starter of the Achaemenid
Dynasty. The problem with this theory is that Meds were Persian
(Iranian) and not Arabs!
Then there is
the theory that Kaveh was actually based on "Yaqub Leis Saffarid"
the liberator of Iran who kicked the Arab Caliph (supposedly Zahak)
out of Iran and revived the Iranian rule of Saffarids (Fereydoun's
Kiani Dynasty's rule).
many, but even thought Shahnameh is inspired by true history, yet
it is not the actual history of Iran. Shahnameh is a great epical
book but it is far from actual history. Kiani Dynasty could have
been a dynasty in Pre-Median Iran or it could be Saffarids; however,
either way, the details do not match the actual history. It seems
like Ferdowsi mixed and matched various eras of the Persian History
to create Shahnameh. Great epic, yet not actual history indeed.
Kaviani (The Actual History)
the historical evidence, so far we can date the Derafsh Kaviani
all the way back to the Pre-Avesta Era (850 BC - 728 BC)
and The Kingdom Era (728 BC - 559 BC).
For more information,
History of Iranian Flags
at those times, was in its primitive form. Later on it had evolved
to its Sassanid form.
The Original Derafsh Kaviani
Kaviani (The Sassanid Era)
Derafsh Kaviani (224 AD - 651 AD) was supposedly originated from
the torn leather shirt of Kaveh; therefore, it was made of leather.
The Sassanid Version of Derafsh Kaviani
had evolved to 7 meter long and 5 meter wide and each Sassanid Shahanshah
used to add a few more precious stones to the Derfsh. As we see,
the Derafsh was reported to have been made from the Panther Skin.
Derafsh was a square piece of valuable and fine crafted Panther
Skin Leather placed on a spear. The tip of the spear was clearly
visible on top of the banner. The pattern on the banner was a large
star with a central circle and four pieces of diamond, oval or paisley
shaped wings on four sides of the central circle. On top of this
large star was also placed another small star represented by another
circle (Ferdowsi states it as "Akhtar Kaviani"). Four
sides of this banner was designed with precious shreds of gold and
silver thread fabrics and silk. At the bottom of the banner there
were four roots in form of sashes. These sashes were made of precious
fabrics such as silk, satin and other shiny textile material, each
containing various numbers of precious stones along the body and
end-piece of it. These sashes were in yellow, purple, red and white
fabrics. There were jewels all over the banner stitched in the leather.
These jewels were of large size pieces and extremely valuable. These
pieces were consisting of diamonds, emeralds, rubies, turquoise,
onyx, amethyst, and other precious stones. Each Shahanshah of Sassanid
used to ad more jewels and patterns to the Derafsh.
Pattern of Derafsh Kaviani
often carried and risen in battles by Commander in Chief of the
Persian Forces and mainly Arteshbod (General) Rostam Farokhzad.
After the Arab
victory and establishment of the first AIOG (Arabo-Islamic
Occupational Government), Arabo-Muslim had captured the Derafsh. Omar the Arab Caliph was simply amazed by the glory and value
of this banner. Omar wanted to keep the Derafsh intact; however, Ali, Amir al Mo'menin (the 4th Caliph of Rashedin and the
1st Shiite Imam) who was at the time, in charge of the loots and
logistics of the Mesopotamian region (Khashtarah or State of Ctesiphone),
strictly ordered the Arabs to snatch and rip all the valuable stones
off the Derafsh and then to further insult Iranians, Ali ordered
his troops to burn the Derafsh Kaviani. By burning Derafsh Kaviyani,
Ali in fact destroyed centuries of Persian Tradition, Culture and
History. Ali despised Iranians.
hear all kinds of garbage from Shiite Mullahs and Iranian Seyeds,
Half-Breeds and Iranian Muslim (Persian Traitors), that Ali loved
Iranians and Ali was the protector of Iranians! They say Ali was
flawless, innocent and clean from the guilt! They put the blames
for all the Arab war atrocities on Omar! In reality, Omar was
an angel compare to Ali! The fact was that Ali slaughtered
Iranians by thousands and he even personally beheaded a great number
of Persians via his famous double edged scimitar (Shamshir-e Zolfaqar)
himself! Burning the Derafsh and tearing the Mighty and Gigantic
Baharestan Carpet in to hundreds of pieces and shipping them back
to Arabia was only the tip of the iceberg amongst the War Crimes
of this animal named Ali ibn al Abi Talib (Alayh al Salam) or so
called the first Shiite Imam!
Muslim who worship this Arab Beast, are either ignorant to history
or are simply Persian Traitors betraying their own culture by their
Star and the upper star were of color gold. The banner itself was
also a goldish yellow color with black spots because it was made
of the panther skin. The spear was a gold spear. Stones and jewels
all around the banner were of various colors depending on the stone
type. On the spear top were often a golden eagle placed as the symbol
of the Persian Imperial Power. The sashes hanging from the banner
were in yellow, purple, red and white fabrics.
Light, wisdom, Sun, Heat
Purple = The official color
of the Imperial Immortal Guards and Sassanid courthouse
Red = Persian Bravery, Blood
White = Peace and prosperity
history, Derafsh Kaviyani was off and on the official banner of
the Persian Empire. Derafsh Kaviani was a symbol of Persian Resistance
to tyranny and a national symbol.
What are the
representation and meaning of the new Persian colors of Green, White,
and Red of the Persian Flag?
about the true tone of each color Green, White, and Red and then
examined and experimented with 25 different shades of Green,
3 White, and 6 Red with html web design official colors,
using the html color codes. Finally I got them right, the way they
suppose to be in the original three-color flag of Iran. Here are
the actual shades of the Persian Tricolor:
background history of the flag and the history of how we ended up
with the present colors.
According to Persian mythology, Kaveh was a ironsmith or a blacksmith
and led a rebellion to overthrow Zahak [Azhidahak (Dragon) in ancient
persian] who had reigned on Iranveyj for 1000 years. Kaveh put an
end to a millennium of Zaratostrian Religion. Each millennium corresponds
to a stage in the never-ending fight between Ahreeman (Ancient God
of Evil) and Ahuramazda (Ancient God of Good). Although Kaveh was
the winner, he was not of celestial origin, so his role in the history
finishes here and Iranveyj was ruled by another king.
assumed to be the land consisting of modern Iran, Turkmenistan and
parts of Anatolia.
During his movement,
Kaveh used a piece of blacksmith leather as his flag. This flag
is not used nowadays but is a well-known flag in Iran and is a sign
of nationalism. It is called Derafsh-e Kaviani, which means "the
flag of Kaveh".
the great Persian Poet, Father of Persian Language had a crucial
role in this matter. The Shahnameh (The Epic of the Kings) is
an epical book of poetry written in Pahlavic or pehlevic (a middle
Persian dialect) delivered to King Mahmoud of Qaznavid in 1010 or
1011. It is traditionally attributed to Ferdowsi (The Heavenly),
the nickname of Abolqasem Mansour, born in Shadab, Khorasan area
on 934 or 949, lived in Tus city of Khorasan state, and passed away
in Tus on 1020 or 1021.
In the English
translation by Reuben Levy (London, 1967), p. 20, the following
the end of a spear, Kaveh fastened a piece of leather, of the kind
which blacksmiths wear in front of their legs (Apron) when using
their hammers ... The young prince Faridun (Fereydoun) saw the piece
of leather attached to the spearhead and he beheld in it the foundation
of prosperity to come. The leather he decorated with Greek brochade
and as background to it he had a golden figure outlined with jewels
sewn on it. Ribands of red, yellow, and violet cloth were hung from
it and it was given the title of The Kaviani (Kaviyani) Banner.
Since those days anyone who has assumed kingly rank and placed the
crown of royalty on his head has added fresh jewels to that trifling
thing of blacksmith's leather."
of ancient Persia, adopted by Cyrus, according to Herodotus, and
Xenophon, and perpetuated, was a golden eagle with outstretched
wings painted on a white flag." Today we call it the Eagle
of Cyrus. This was the official banner of Cyrus The Great and
the Achaemenid Empire.
The Eagle Banner of Cyrus The Great
colors of the Persian Flag, What do they mean?
The colors of
the Iranian flag are traditional, they can be interpreted as representing
the fertility and great agriculture (green), peace (white), and
courage (red). They were first designed in tricolor form in 1907.
The Tricolor Flag of Iran
Reza Shah Pahlavi Flag 1933 - 1964
Modern Translation of Green, White, and Red
came down to:
We as Iranians are a very fertile and generous nation and we have
many green lands covered with greens, grains, fruits, plants and
We are peaceful people and a peaceful nation.
Yet if the foreign enemy invades us, we are courageous people and
will go to war and drop as much blood as necessary, so the whole
world will become blood red!
The IPC tricolor flag of Iran with the
lion holding a Persian Straight Sword.
the 3 colors of the Persian flag right on the original IPC site
(destroyed by Hezbollah) then it was needed to find the proper emblem.
Well we had temporary emblems, yet we needed something, which would
represent our history, culture, and most of all our people. Our
roots as Iranian, an emblem which would complete it all, yet not
towards any political fractions. A type of emblem, which would be
Iranian, yet free of ideological sidings of the left, right, or
the middle! So I finally came up with this idea to choose this logo,
and then searched the whole net for the proper design, something
catchy, a different kind of Faravahar, with fine shadings to make
the logo brighten up. The final graphic design came out like this:
Flag of IPC: The "Iran Politics Club"
The Official and Original Flag of IPC. Faravahar as one of the cultural,
historical and traditional emblems of Iran were best suited to become
the official logo of The Iran Politics Club. The IPC Faravahar is
white (Color of Zoroastrian Purity and Aryans). The White IPC Faravahar
stands in the center of the flag. Behind The IPC Faravahar, is a
specific light spectrum, with rainbow colors (of the sky) on top
and watercolors (of the sea) at the bottom.
history and tradition of how we came up to the present logo for
IPC and the true
origin and meaning of it:
Ahuramazda and Ahreeman, Two Sides to The Same Coin!
Faravahar by IPC graphic artist Mandana
the original Zoroastrian Scriptures and Doctrine, Ahuramazda (Ancient
God of Good) and Ahreeman (Ancient God of Evil) were two sides of
the same coin. It has been stated that:
Ahreeman are two sides of the same entity. To back this up, there
has been archeological discoveries, which certain statues were discovered.
These statues were representation of Ahuramazda. Inscriptions on
some of them, stated that Ahuramazda and Ahreeman are the same entity.
There were other statues with actual two faces (one back and one
front), one representing Ahuramazda and one Ahreeman. These artifacts
are highly valuable.
and Scholars believe that The Element of "Duality" has
been inputted in the original Zoroastrian Doctrine. Ahuramazda
and Ahreeman were two sides of the same coin. All elements in
the globe have Good and Evil, both inside of them. There is a Good
and Evil balance in all elements of the world. That is how everything
remains balanced and a state of homeostasis rules the world. Pure
Good or Pure Evil can cause catastrophe; therefore, a Balance is
needed for the universe to operate.
go as far as interpreting that:
consists of both Ahura and Ahreemanic symbolism. The half-human
part is representing Ahuramazda and the half Beast part representing
Ahreeman. Faravahar is a Zoroastrian Symbol.
of Duality can also be witnessed in all creatures from all walks
of life. The duality factor was the original doctrine of the Zoroastrian
Philosophy and it has been stated that it is up to us (human being)
to choose between the two; however, the path to salvation is to
keep a balance in between the two!
In later years,
The Hierarchy of The Zoroastrian Fire Temples and Mubed-e Mubedan
(High Priests) has tampered with the original doctrine, done major
forgeries, deducted some and added some texts to the original doctrine.
What we have today, has been fabricated many times over. The original
valid parts of the scriptures are few, because:
Vandalization and Burning of the Persian Libraries during Greco_Macedonian
Invasion_Occupation (Alexander) and Arabo_Islamic Invasion_Occupation
(Omar, Ali, Hassan, Hussein), and ................
Forgeries, deduction_addition of Texts to the original Zoroastrian
Documents by Mubeds.
and Reformation of the original scriptures by scholars, to adopt
and harmonize with the literature of the Conquering Occupational
Arabo_Islamic Government and Religion of Islam. The original Zoroastrian
Scriptures and Zoroastrian Fire Temples had to soften their tones
and blend in with Islam to survive! The Arabo_Islamic Occupational
Government (1st Arabo_Islamic Invasion_Occupation), had no tolerance
for anyone except Muslims!
In Islam there
is Allah and then Shaytan but in Zoroastrianism, Ahuramazda and
Ahreeman are two parts to the same Entity.
For more information,
view the book:
Years of Struggle for Independence of Iran (651 AD - 873 AD)
As we see, the
Duality Factor has an ancient root in Persian Psyche.
can be the reason that the Top preacher for Zoroastrianism and the
Best protector of Ahuramazda, is no one but The One and only Ahreeman
a Persian Symbol (Historical Review)
Faravahar our Heritage as documented .....
It is pretty
clear that there is a resemblance between Isis, the ancient
Egyptian Goddess of Fertility and Faravahar.
Isis the Egyptian Goddess of Fertility
It has been
clearly stated that the "Faravahar," with a man's upper
body that is commonly used as a symbol of the Zoroastrian faith,
has a long history in the art and culture of the Middle East. Its
symbolism and philosophical meaning is an ancient heritage that
extends through three millennia to modern times. The history of
the Faravahar goes back to ancient Egypt, with a stylized bird pattern
which is known as the "spread-eagle." A "spread-eagle"
(as it is called in heraldry) features a flying bird shown from
below, with its wings, tail, and legs outstretched. Such designs
have been used in cultures throughout history, including American,
where the seal of the U.S. Government features a "spread-eagle."
"spread-eagle" device is featured in the treasure of Tutan
khamun which has a bird's body with a human head, and in which hieroglyphic
symbols are held in the outstretched talons. These features will
later re appear, transformed, in the Faravahar. Closer still to
the Faravahar are Egyptian designs which feature a sun-disc with
wings. This winged sun-disc represents Horus, the hawk-god believed
by the ancient Egyptians to be incarnate in Pharaoh, the god-king.
The winged disc
was from the beginning a symbol of divine kingship, or the divine
favor upon a king. Very early on second millennium BC, this design
had migrated from Egypt to the ancient Near East. It appears above
the carved figure of a Hittite king, (The Hittites flourished from
about 1400-1200 BC) symbolizing a god's favor in the "spread-eagle"
form. In Syria it is shown on a seal from the Mitani civilization
symbol may also have a native Mesopotamian origin, which was combined
with the Egyptian symbol in ancient Assyria. Assyrian art also associates
the winged disc with divinity and divine protection of the king
and people. It appears both with and without a human figure. Without
the human figure, it is a symbol of the sun-god Shamash, but with
the human figure, it is the symbol of the Assyrian national god
Assur. This appears on many carvings and seals. The Assyrian versions
of the winged disc sometimes have the kingly figure inside the disc,
and others have him arising from within the disc in a design that
is very close to the Faravahar as
it appears in Persian art. The graphic evolution from the "spread-eagle"
is evident in the stylized Assyrian version of the design, where
the bird's legs are abstracted into wavy streamers on either side
of the disc which end either in "claws" or in scrolls,
as they do in the Persian design.
By the time
of the Achaemenid kings (dynasty flourished from about 600 BC to
330 BC), the design that would become the Faravahar had already
been in use for at least 1000 years, from Egypt to Syria and then
to Assyria. The early Achaemenid conquered Mesopotamian lands in
the 6th century BC, and re-patriated all the peoples subject to
Babylonian rule, the Jews among them (Cyrus The Great freed 42,000
Jews from the slavery of Babylon). These same Achaemenids also adopted
Assyrian and Babylonian motifs for their monumental art, including
the winged symbols.
Faravahar is carved on the rock-cut tombs of the Achaemenid kings
at Bistun in Iran, and varies from one carving to the other. In
one it is very much like the Assyrian version, with squared-off
"wavy" wings, but it is in the carvings of Persepolis,
center of the Achaemenid dynasty, that the Faravahar reaches its
most elaborate and finely wrought perfection. The Faravahar of Persepolis
is the one that has been adopted by Zoroastrians as their symbol.
It appears in more than one form at Persepolis. When it must fit
a horizontal, narrow space, the winged disc is depicted without
the human figure in the disc, but when there is enough space, the
Faravahar is shown in all of its glory, with kingly figure, disc,
streamers, and many-feathered wings and as it had done throughout
history, from Egypt to Mitani to Assyria, it represents the divine
favor hovering above the king.
about just what the symbolism of the Persian faravahar indicates.
Is it a symbolic image of Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian name for
the One God, the "Wise Lord?" If it represented Assur
for the Assyrians, is it is Ahura Mazda for the Persians? Many scholarly
writings on the image still identify it as such. But in the Zoroastrian
faith, Ahura Mazda is abstract and transcendent. God has no image
and so cannot be represented in any form. (The only exceptions are
during the later Persian Empire, in the Sassanian era, when Lord
Mazda was represented as a divine, kingly figure handing a diadem
(Ring of Power) to the Persian Emperor and this was not used in
For more information
Mythology, Gods and Goddesses
The human figure
above the disc, though possibly he was borrowed from a pagan Assyrian
god-image, has no specific identification, nor is there any evidence,
as some folk beliefs have it, that he is the Prophet Zarathushtra.
More recent scholarship has given the Persian Faravahar a more precise
meaning. The winged disc as depicted by the Persians above the image
of the King represents the Royal Glory, which is known in ancient
Iranian (Avestan) as khvarenah, or "Radiant Glory." After
the Achaemenids the image of the Faravahar disappears from Persian
art. There is no evidence for it in the remaining art of the Parthian
period, and it is absent in the art of the Sassanian period, the
resurgent Persian empire of about 250-650 AD; However, Sassanian
art does echo some of the individual features of the Faravahar.
One of the main symbols of the Sassanian monarchy and its divine
protection was the crescent in a circle, with ribbons streaming
from either side. The ring (Ring of Power) which is held in the
Achaemenid Faravahar's hand is still used in Sassanian art to depict
the royal diadem, which is handed to the new King by the symbolic
representation of Ahura Mazda himself or by the yazata (guardian
spirit) of Waters, Anahita.
The spread wings,
though in a somewhat different configuration, adorn the crown of
a 6th or 7th century AD Sassanian king. After the Arab conquest,
the winged disc, the winged crown, and the ring of kingship fade
into obscurity, though ironically the crescent became the prime
symbol for the new religion, Islam!
would remain an ancient relic until the early twentieth century,
when both British and Indian antiquarians gave it another life.
The general scholarly opinion, at least in the West, was that the
winged disc represented Ahura Mazda. In 1925 and 1930 a Parsi scholar,
J.M. Unvala, wrote articles which identified the Faravahar as the
symbol of the fravashi or "guardian spirit" of Zoroastrian
teaching. Through the influence of the Unvala articles, and a renewed
awareness among Zoroastrians of their Iranian heritage, the Persepolis
winged disc began to be used as a symbol for Zoroastrianism - not
only because of its supposed religious significance, but because
of its national symbolism as the device of a great Zoroastrian empire.
In 1928, the great Parsi Avesta scholar Irach Taraporewala published
an article identifying the Winged Disc not as Ahura Mazda or as
fravashi, but as the khvarenah or royal glory. It was in these early
decades of the 20th century that the Faravahar began to be incorporated
into the design of Zoroastrian fire temples, publications, and ornaments.
After centuries of obscurity, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism
had a new visibility, and a symbolic standard to raise.
So what does
the Faravahar represents? The Faravahar is of great antiquity, as
we have seen. But what does it mean? Is it just a royal insignia,
or does it have deeper significance? Now we will explain some of
the philosophical and spiritual meaning of this rich and beautiful
The word "faravahar"
actually is Pahlavi, or Middle Persian. It derives from ancient
Iranian (Avestan) word fravarane which means "I choose."
The choice is that of the Good, or the Good Religion of Zarathushtra.
Another related word is fravarti or fravashi, which may derive from
an alternative meaning of "protect," implying the divine
protection of the guardian spirit, the fravashi. From these words
come the later Middle Persian words fravahr, foruhar, or faravahar.
Whatever the origin of the word, the use of the word faravahar to
describe the Winged Disc is modern. No one knows what the ancient
Persians called their winged disc. But the history of the symbol,
both before and during its Persian use, has a continuous meaning,
and that is one of divine favor for a king. As the Winged Sun-disc
of Horus it hovered over the Pharaoh of Egypt; it hovered over the
Hittite King, and in Assyrian art it is depicted over the Assyrian
King, often with weapons in its hands, helping the Assyrian monarch
wage war. So when it enters Persian art, it is already a symbol
of divine guardianship of the king.
consensus on what the Faravahar meant to the ancients who carved
it is that it represents not Ahura Mazda, but the Royal Glory of
the Persian King. This view is held by scholars such as Boyce and
Jafarey. This Royal Glory is an important concept in Zoroastrian
teaching; the Avestan word for it is khvarenah.
means Royal Glory and it comes from the Avestan root khvar or
"shining;" it is also the word for the sun. The word khvarenah
is more abstract; it has the connotations not only of "glory"
but of "divine grace." The sun-symbolism of the disc and
the Mazdean concept of divine grace are thus combined. Khvarenah,
in later Persian, became khurrah or farnah or farn, and still later
became farr. If the Faravahar symbol actually represents khvarenah,
then it should more accurately be called the "farr" rather
than the "faravahar."
the Persian Empire, came to mean a specifically royal glory. It
was a God-given gift, almost like the Greek word "charisma,"
which insured and legitimated the King's rule. However, though it
was a gift of God, it could be abused, and if the King turned to
evil-doing, the khvarenah would leave him.
This myth of
the khvarenah is present in the story of the mythical Iranian King,
Yima or Jamshid. He was the greatest of the prehistoric kings of
Iran (Pishdadiyan and Kianian eras), and possessed the glorious
khvarenah. But he became too proud and arrogant. Some stories say
that he even called himself a god. Because of his pretension and
pride, Yima lost the khvarenah. This myth is alluded to in the Gathas
of Zarathushtra, in Yasna 32. In the later scriptures of Zoroastrianism,
this myth is retold in the Zamyad Yasht, the prayer- song to the
spirit of the Earth: "But when he (Yima) began to find delight
in words of falsehood and untruth, the Glory was seen to fly away
from him in the shape of a bird." (Yasht 19, 34) Thus in both
word and image, Glory has wings. In the Shahnameh, the national
epic of Iran, the Glory is also referred to as the "Glory of
the Auspicious Bird," which hovers over the heads of royal
or princely personages. The Glory was symbolized on the battlefield
by an eagle feather in the King's crown, which served as standard
and inspiration to the warriors of Iran. In Sassanian art, where
the Winged Disc is no longer used, the khvarenah is depicted as
a circular halo around the head of the King, a halo very similar
to that of Christian saints.
halo and the idea of the khvarenah can be compared to Jewish and
Christian light-symbolism. In Jewish tradition, Moses' face shone
so brightly after his meeting with God on Mount Sinai that the people
could not look directly at him and he had to veil his face. (Exodus,
chapter 34). In Christianity, the divine Glory shines around the
figure of Christ during the Transfiguration (Gospel of Matthew,
chapter 17). The light of the Transfiguration is known among Eastern
Christians as the "Uncreated Light," and in its association
with saints, heroes, and Christ it is similar to the khvarenah of
the Zoroastrians. In this there may indeed be some Zoroastrian influence
on Christian thinking, as the two cultures lived side-by-side in
the Middle East for centuries.
In the Zoroastrian
tradition the khvarenah is not just the Glory of the king, but has
a wider range, as can be seen in the Avesta. The Zamyad Yasht praises
the glory not only of the ancient Kings of Iran, but of the whole
Aryan people, its mountainous land, and its Prophet, Zarathushtra.
In the Atash Nyayesh, the Zoroastrian prayer to Fire, the khvarenah
is identified with the light of the Sacred Fire. The revelation
of Zarathushtra from the beginning has been associated with light.
The Gathas are filled with light and sun imagery; light is not only
physical, but metaphysical, the prime symbol for Goodness and God.
Thus the khvarenah in Zoroastrian teaching, though specified to
the glory of the King, also has a much more universal meaning.
Zoroastrian scholar Dr. Farhang Mehr, the khvarenah is granted to
those human beings who are great benefactors of the world: good
kings and rulers, prophets like Zarathushtra, or heroes. In the
Gathas, these benefactors are called saoshyant, an Avestan word
which means "savior." In later Zoroastrianism the term
saoshyant acquires a messianic, mythical meaning, and this Saoshyant
also enjoys the blessing of the khvarenah. Thus khvarenah also has
the meaning of God's Grace but is this grace only for the Great
Ones of the World, or do we lesser folk have - khvarenah, too? As
Mehr has written, the khvarenah is enfolded within everyone. With
those who are great in virtue, it is more radiant and powerful.
Our work on this earth is to grow in goodness and thus show forth
our own God-given khvarenah, which is the light of our excellence.
This, then, is what the Winged Disc signifies both for the ancients
and for us: the shining khvarenah, or "farr."
has another possible meaning, and that is its association with fravashi.
Earlier we mentioned that J.M. Unvala identified the Winged Disc
as a symbol of fravashi. This interpretation can be connected with
the other linguistic meaning of faravahar as "protection."
The Winged Disc is often called a fravashi rather than a faravahar,
especially by the Indian Parsi Zoroastrians. What exactly is a fravashi?
The origin of the word, as has been said here, relates either to
divine protection or to one's moral choice of Good or Evil, and
one's choice of the Good Religion. But there is much more to it
of the fravashi as guardian spirit does not occur in the Gathas
of Zarathushtra. But in later Zoroastrianism, it becomes a most
important idea. The Fravashi is the part of the human soul that
is divine, unpolluted, and uncorrupt. It is not only our divine
guardian but our guide; its perfection is always within us, as an
ideal towards which we can reach. Every human being has a fravashi;
even the divine spirits have them. Once a human being has finished
life on earth, the fravashi, the higher individuality of that person,
returns to Heaven. The fravashi may be the inspiration for the Jewish
and Christian belief in the "guardian Angel," which always
beholds the face of God (Matthew Gospel, 18:10).
In the later
books of the Avesta (the Zoroastrian scriptures), the fravashis
of the righteous are invoked as fierce and mighty warriors for the
Good. In a long prayer called the Farvardin Yasht, there are litanies
praising and reverencing the fravashis of the early "saints"
and heroes of Zoroastrian tradition. The fravashis of the good departed
are supposed to return to earth on special days, and towards the
very end of the Persian year, in March, just before the Persian
New Year, there are ceremonies to honor the fravashis of the righteous.
The Winged Disc
may or may not represent Fravashi in ancient Persian art, but there
is a precedent for this meaning in the popular religious art of
ancient Egypt. There, the immortal soul of a human being, called
a Ba, is represented by a stylized bird with a human head. The "Ba-bird"
is depicted in many different styles and positions, including the
familiar "spread-eagle" configuration we recognize in
the Faravahar. In Egyptian lore just as in Persian, the spirits
of the dead could leave their tombs and fly about the land of the
living, just as the fravashis gather just before the New Year. Amulets
depicting the "Ba-bird" often adorned mummies, even after
the Greek occupation of Egypt in Hellenistic times.
fravashi is unrelated theologically to the khvarenah, they both
serve as embodiments of divine guidance and grace. The Winged Disc,
for Zoroastrians, has come to signify the divine fravashi hovering
above, an image of the perfection of the soul that can lead us forward
to good thoughts, words, and deeds. Whether it symbolizes the khvarenah
or the fravashi, or both, the Winged Disc is a symbol of the radiance
of Divine Grace, and it truly soars on wings of light.
Now let us talk
about the Folk interpretations of the Faravahar. Once the Winged
Disc had been adopted as a symbol of Zoroastrianism, it entered
into the community not only as a graphic symbol but as a folk motif.
The Zoroastrian faravahar was "standardized" to the Persepolis
model, though, as we have seen, even in Persepolis there are many
variants of the Faravahar. The "standard" Faravahar is
now the one which you can see all over this website, which appears
over the heads of the Persian kings on the walls of Persepolis.
It is this emblem which identifies Zoroastrian publications and
decorates Zoroastrian fire temples and gathering places, which has
also been made into forms of jewelry for men and women, woven into
wall-hangings, carved into marble and semi- precious stones, glazed
onto ceramic heirlooms, and even made into paper and plastic stickers.
Not only Zoroastrians, but patriotic Iranians of all creeds use
the Faravahar, and various simplified versions of the Persepolis
standard appear in carpet stores, restaurants, advertisements, and
other Iranian concerns all around the world.
Along with the
widespread use of the faravahar as a heraldic and decorative motif
have come many interpretations of the symbol and its components,
which have little or nothing to do with the actual historical meaning
of the symbol. None of these interpretations of the Faravahar design
are found in any extant Zoroastrian scripture. But Zoroastrian priests
and elders now use the Faravahar as a visual tool to illustrate
the basic elements of the religion, especially when they are teaching
Meaning of Faravahar
A sample of
such an interpretation can be found in the book "Message of
Zarathushtra" by the Iranian mobed (priest) Bahram Shahzadi,
who presides at the California Zoroastrian Center in Los Angeles.
This book is meant for middle-school children, but is read by people
of all ages. In a short chapter called "What is Fravahar?"
Shahzadi enumerates the symbolism of the various parts of the design.
The bearded old man springing out of the central disc symbolizes
the human soul. His upper hand is extended in a blessing, pointing
upward to keep us in mind of higher things and the path to heaven.
The other hand holds a ring, which is the ring of promise: it reminds
a Zoroastrian always to keep one's promises. There are three layers
of feathers in the wings, and these three layers stand for the Threefold
Path of Zoroastrianism: good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.
The central disc, which as a circle has no end, symbolizes eternity.
The two streamers extending out from the central disc symbolize
the two choices, or paths, that face human beings: the choice of
good or the choice of evil. The streamers thus illustrate the ethical
dualism taught by Zarathushtra. Do you recall we were speaking of
duality in Zoroastrianism?
Faravahar body art by Martin Armand
interpretation of the Faravahar comes from an educated Zoroastrian
layman. Some of his descriptions are the same as those in the Shahzadi
book, but he adds more details. The open wings, as in Shahzadi's
book, represent the Threefold Path. But the closed skirt of the
human figure within the disc represents evil choices, divided into
three layers: bad thoughts, words, and deeds. The circle at the
waist of the figure represents not the Sun nor Eternity, but the
law of consequences, which is comprised in the divine "Asha",
the Zoroastrian concept of the divinely created order of the universe.
Good or evil deeds have their consequences, which "come around"
to the person who acts morally or immorally. Thus the circle denotes
moral returns according to Asha.
interpretation of the Achaemenid design comes from an esoteric point
of view. There are some Zoroastrians who are influenced by Theosophy,
an eclectic esoteric movement of the nineteenth century. These have
added Hindu and Buddhist esoteric ideas to Zoroastrianism, such
as reincarnation, karma, and astral planes. For these believers,
the Faravahar is a symbol of the soul's progression through many
lives. The head of the man reminds one of God-given free will. The
ring held in the man's hand symbolizes the cycles of rebirths on
this earth and in other planes of reality. The central circle represents
the soul; the two wings are the energies that help the soul to evolve
and progress. In this interpretation, there are five layers of feathers
in the wings (a particularly elaborate version of the Persepolis
emblem) and these five layers signify the five Gatha hymns of the
Prophet, the five divisions of the Zoroastrian day, the five senses,
and also five esoteric stages that the soul must pass through on
its way to God. As in the other explanations, the two streamers
represent the two choices before human beings, the Good Mentality
and the Evil Mentality. The tail (which is not mentioned in the
other interpretations) is the "rudder" of the soul, for
balance between the forces of Good and Evil. There are three layers
of feathers in the tail, which stand for the Threefold Path of Good
Thoughts, Words, and Deeds.
has flown a long way since it first saw the light in ancient Egypt.
The winged sun-disc has shone its grace down upon divinely gifted
kings, and it has spread its wings as protector of the glory of
Iran. After millennia of obscurity, the symbol of the holy and radiant
khvarenah again shines clearly. As world communications become ever
more elaborate and widespread, the Faravahar has entered into a
wider world. It has flown free from the walls of Persepolis and
now shines among new people on new continents. It is now found on
computer screens instead of ancient carved stones. Let us hope that
the Faravahar, with its universal meaning of light, wisdom, righteousness,
and God's grace can take its place among the great symbols of spirit,
to inspire people all over the earth.
The bottom line
and my belief is that according to the original Zoroastrian Doctrine,
Faravahar consists of both Ahura and Ahreemanic symbolism. The half
human part (the upper half) is representing Ahuramazda and the half
Beast part (the lower half) is representing Ahreeman.
Factor can also be witnessed in all creatures from all sides
of life. The duality factor was the original doctrine of the Zoroastrian
Philosophy and it has been stated that it is up to us (human being)
to choose between the two; however, the path to salvation is to
keep a balance in between the two! The balance between Good and
Evil is the key to salvation because in reality,
is no absolute Good and there is no absolute Evil."
Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds (English)
Pendare Nik, Goftare Nik, Kerdare Nik (Modern Persian)
Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta (Avestan
A piece from The Faravahar Sci-Fi Art Collection by Ahreeman X
Review the Faravahar
Bless you all
with Iranian Pride, may Derafsh Kaviyani, Green, White, and Red,
and indeed Faravahar be with you. We (IPC) are here to protect and
serve the Persian Culture. We are here to safe keep and preach our
Persian Culture to the future generation.
Eternal be IPC,
Eternal be Iran,
More power to All
Pure Persian Pride
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