After the Arab Conquest of Iran - Looking Back



"He made his entry to the Fane of Fire with wailing. They set up a throne inlaid with gold, and spread thereon the Zandavasta ... The Shah approached offered praise and prayer before the Maker of the world, and asked for victory, for mastery, and guidance upon the path of justice ..."
(Shah Nushirwan's visit to the fire temple before going to war against Rome, Shahnameh)

The combination of pre-Zoroastrian myths and Zoroastrian doctrine found expression after the Arab conquests of Iran in the 7th century through poetry and literature. The epic Shahnameh, compiled in the early 11th century CE by the poet Ferdowsi (940-1020 CE), is an outstanding example of the quintessential ‘Iranianess’ of pre-Islamic culture in which certain religious ideas are preserved. According to the Zoroastrian myth of creation, the first man, Gayomaretan was slain by Ahriman along with the first animal, the bull, and the destruction of the first plant.

From his seed, purified by the sun following his death, the first man and woman develop from the rhubarb plant. The developed legend of Gayomaretan in Iranian literature sees him as a masculine figure, the inventor of kingship and tamer of wild beasts from whom Ahriman schemes to take over the world. In another ancient proto-Indo-Iranian myth of creation, the descent of man began with the androgyne first attested in the Avesta as Yima, a masculine human twin who was known in a variant Iranian myth as Jamshid, the first human and earliest king.

The Zoroastrian divinity Sorush appears in the Shahnameh a number of times. In the Sasanian story of Khosrow Parviz in which he tries to capture the kingship from Bahram Chubin and is forced to flee, Sorush appears clad in green and riding a white horse and leads Khosrow to safety. The ancient Zoroastrian ordeal by fire, the subject of the Yasht addressed to divinity Rashnu is revisited throughout Persian literature. In the Shahnameh it is Siyavush, the son of the Sasanian Kay Kaus who rides through the fire in an effort to prove his innocence against the accusation that he has violated Sudabeh, one of his father's wives. Illustrated manuscripts of the Shahnameh often depict Zoroastrian themes such as the seven physical creations sacred to Zoroastrians.

The Court of Kiyumars Sorush Rescues Khosrow Parviz Siyavush Undergoing a Fire Ordeal 7 Creations of Zoroastrianism, Shahnama Jamshid Enthroned (Tile)