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Behnam Ataei

Behnam Ataei

PhD Candidate

Fabeckstr. 23-25
14195 Berlin

Thesis Title: Pāzand: A Philological Approach to a Long-neglected Issue

Abstract: The vast Zoroastrian corpus has been developed in diverse languages and scripts since the second millennium BCE. Initially, it was an orally transmitted text in the Avestan language, an old eastern Iranian language. Long-time later, during the Sassanid era, the Avestan texts were written down by developing an exclusively devised script, i.e. the Avestan script. The written Avestan liturgies, also consist of ritual directions (i.e. Nērang) and translations (i.e. Zand) in Middle Persian. After the Arabic invasion, manuscripts were produced also in association with the new languages and scripts: New Persian in the homeland, plus Sanskrit or Gujarati in the exile, by Parsis in India. Also, one further innovation took place during this time, Zoroastrians rendered aforesaid languages by loaned scripts; e.g. on the one hand, the Perso-Arabic script was utilized to represent Avestan or Middle Persian (i.e. Pārsī) and on the other, the Avestan script was employed to represent the New Persian or Middle Persian (i.e. Pāzand) and even the Gujarati language and so on.

This research is a discussion on a portion of Zoroastrian authentic texts which are recognized by a specific term: Pāzand. However, the exact definition of Pāzand and its boundaries is fuzzy and not well established. Frequently, Pāzand is interpreted as “Transcribed Zoroastrian Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts in the Avestan script”. This sketchy interpretation is based on the script such as those of inscriptional or Manichaean; good enough to merely explain the outward appearance of Pāzand texts. However, we are not well-informed of cloaked inner philological peculiarities and neither principles; e.g. an essential unanswered question over the language is: if the language exactly conforms to Middle Persian or not.