Speaker Saloumeh Gholami
Research fellow at Goethe University of Frankfurt
Speciality is Iranian linguistics (Bactrian Grammar).
She’s going to speak on the endangered Zoroastrian dialects of Kerman.
* three aspects of Zoroastrian heritage; Dari language (Gavri), Avesta & other Zoroastrian manuscripts, Historical Documents.
*Zoroastrian Dari (Gavri, Gavruni); different to Afghani Dari (which is a dialect of Persian). Gavri is closer to Kurdish; it’s a northwestern Iranian language (Persian is Southwestern).
Critically endangered language. Kermani dialect (today’s topic) extinct. Some sub dialects of Yazdi are extinct. 20 sub dialects of Yazdi need to be documented. Kerman and Yazd are the two centres in Iran.
*Reasons for Endangerment if ZD: Migration (shift from Kerman/Yazd) to Tehran.
*Zoroastrians have migrated to the West and stop using the language / lack of intergenerational transmission. Zoro parents speak Persian to their kids.
*Dari is “falling under the shadow of Persian.”
* Status of Persian as a prestigious language. Only Persian is considered to be a prestigious language in Iran.
* Accent of non-Persian speakers ridiculed hence why Zoros drop Dari in Tehran. where ever Dari has kept function it survives (why Yazd does better than Kerman).
* Shows a picture of three ladies, who are the last 3 speakers of Kermani Dari. No one speaks it as either first or second language. She’s discussing her attempts to save the language.
*her efforts to save Dari are impressive (and extensive). She’s now discussing how she’s documented ZD.
*there was assumptions no Avestan scripts in Iran. She has discovered 96 Avestan scripts; she’s digitised them and she’s describing what they found.
* they found the manuscripts in Yazd (clearly the most important centre). There is a “Priests’ Quarter” in Yazd.
* One of the manuscripts is called Story of Vivedad. Copied by 1608-1609 copied by Bahrain Mazban (most famous manuscript family in Zoroastrian Iran).
*Edward Brown (the famous chronicle) saw this manuscript during his visit in Yazd in the house of Mubed Tirandaz.
* The story she’s relaying is absolutely shocking. A drug addict sold the manuscript after stealing it from the High Priests house; the current owner of the manuscript called up Saloumeh Gholami and threatened to burn all the Avestan manuscripts he had.
*Its obvious Iranian government not supportive of preservation efforts.
* She’s showing the efforts to digitise and restore the manuscripts. They are in awful condition. It’s interesting I was in a seminar on Safavid book binding last week and the difference could not be more different.
*why are Avestan Manuscripts important? transmission of Avesta / Liturgical Use / Genealogical information / Historical and cultural information
* Avesta language is attested solely by manuscripts
* Newly discovered manuscripts in Iran have changed theories about transmission of Avesta. Initially in the old editions of Avesta the Iranian manuscripts were underrepresented (primary basis was on Indian manuscripts).
*Interestinf she is mentioning correspondence between the Parsis and Iranis. The Parsis were asking for Q&A, Hom and Vars. this is 1722. All the Parsis have Iranian names with “jiv” added at the end.
* the scribe mentions that it was about 1100 since the Parsis has come from Iran to India. His journey from Yazd-Surat took a year. But was kept back for a further 5 month to translate the Pahlavi characters to Persian manuscripts.
* there are Avestan manuscripts in Qom.
* shocking every Zoroastrian house in the Qajar period had a “hidden” room to escape in case of persecution.