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  • 12/11/2011

A – Z, Iran Culture & People



Abdali Afghans: The most important Afghan tribal group in the eighteenth century. Their most prominent figure Ahmad Khan Abdali was chosen by the tribal chiefs as their leader after Nadir Shah’s death in 1741. He later changed his name to Durrani and is regarded to be the first king of the independent Afghanistan.

Achaemenid: The first major Iranian dynasty formed by the Persians. At their peak, their empire extended from India to Egypt. They ruled from 550 to 330 BC when Alexander the Great defeated their last King.

Afshar Tribes: A well established tribal group in Turkistan, they moved to Iran with the Mongols in 13th century. They mostly settled in Azerbaijan and their language was Turkish. They were removed by the Safavids in the seventieth century from Azerbaijan and settled in Khurasan and Mazandaran.

Alevid: A mixture of pre-Islamic, Zoroastrian, Turkmen shaman and Shi’i ideas that became the basis of a religious sect during the fifteenth century. It is still very popular amongst many including Kurds. The venerate Imam Ali as well.

Ahl-i Hagg: A minor but popular Shi’i sect, mainly in Kurdistan. The followers venerate Imam Ali and have regard for the Safavid dynasty. They contain a large number of Zoroastrian religious ideas.

Ahura Mazda: The supreme god of the ancient Persians, and the most important Iranian deity till the conquest of Islam. His name means the wise lord and he is popularly known as the Lord of Wisdom.

Alani (Alans): Descendants of ancient Scytho-Sarmatian tribes, they first appeared north of Caspian, and later spread into the steppes of Russia and gradually took over the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire.

Alexander the Great (336-323): The young Macedonian king who ended the Persian Empire. Alexander also invaded Egypt, Babylonia, Media, Bactria and the valley of the Indus.

Amir Kabir (1807-1852): Mirza Taghi Khan is regarded as the most able political leader during the Qajar era. From humble origins, he rose to become the prime minister. He guaranteed Nasir al-Din Shah’s Succession to the throne.

Anahita: An ancient Iranian goddess, she is associated with waters and fertility, and was a patron of women and warriors. Her name means "the immaculate one". She was popularized by the Achaemenid, and remained a very important deity with major temples until the conquest of Islam.

Anglo-Persian Oil Company: Was formed in 1909 by William Knox D’arcy. Soon he sold most of his interest to others including Burma Oil Company. British Petroleum became the next major shareholder.

Anjuman: Local assemblies that emerged before and during the constitutional revolution. The assemblies had members from all groups, including non-Muslims who worked and fought side by side the Muslims.

Aq Quyunlu: The name means, tribes with white sheep, a major confederation of Turkmen with many sub-tribes, expanding into Asia Minor and Iran. Very likely they came with the Oghuz Turks into western Asia in 11th century.

Aramaic: The language of many Semitic peoples throughout the ancient Near East. It was replaced by Arabic after the Muslim conquest.  However, the Christians in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Lebanon have maintained the Aramaic language.

Aras River (Araxes): The River starts in Turkey and flows eastward.. It is the international boundary and crossing between Turkey and Iran, and Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Ardalan Kurds: A major Kurdish Group in Iran. The name means mountain dwelling or stronghold. Originally from northern Kurdistan they moved eastward. In Iran they played a significant part in local politics till the 19th century.

Areioi (Aria, Heart):  An ancient city in northwestern Afghanistan, continuously settled since 500BC mainly by the Iranian tribes called Arians or Areians meaning ‘noblemen’. It came under the Afghan control in 18th century.

Armenia (ancient Urartu): Region and ancient kingdom comprising parts of Asia

Minor (Turkey) and the Caucasus. Armenia gained independence from Russia in 1991 and was the first country to adopt Christianity in 301AD.

Ashura: The tenth of the Arabic month, Muharram. It is believed to be the date when Imam Hussein (A.S) was murdered. The death is intensely mourned by the Shiites. The rituals include self-mutilation with chains and swords by males, marches, plays and communal meals.

Assembly of Experts: The 86 members of the assembly are chosen by public vote for 8 years. They all are clergy and the Guardian Council decides who can run for the elections.

Avesta: The sacred literature of the ancient and modern Zoroastrians. It is written in two dialects; Old and Younger Avestan.  The dialects are preserved in the Yasna, or 'sacrificial liturgy' in seventy-two chapters. Chapters 28-53, contain the Gathas, the oldest part of the collection.

Azerbaijan: The ancient Iranian province of Atropatene, Azerbaijan occupies the southeastern part of the Caucasus, descending to the Caspian Sea, between Iran and the Russia. In 1795 the Russians occupied parts of the area. The region since 1813 has been divided between Russia and Iran.

Azeri: The relatively new term is used to denote both a language and people. Most people from Azerbaijan call themselves Azeri and distinguish themselves from other Turkic speakers.

Other Links:

Jade in Iran (part 4)

History of Iranian-Georgian Reations (part 1)

History of Iranian-Georgian Reations (part 2)

History of Iranian-Georgian Reations (part 3)

History of Iranian-Georgian Reations (part 4)

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