(in alphabetical order by presenter)
Daryoosh Akbarzadeh, National Museum of Iran [Biography]

Persian Tales of Adam and India

With the help of texts, in the Persian languages the toponym “India” is one of the most recognizable territories. Furthermore, the names of some of the translators of Indian texts into Persian, as well as Indian scholars who were in Iran, can also be understood with the help of Islamic texts. The tale of Adam and his expulsion from heaven is one of the most important and famous tales in Persian-language and Islamic texts. But from the geographical point of view, it is quite apparent that it could not have had any link with India. Nevertheless, it seems that the tale of Adam and his emergence in India was written in the early centuries of the advent of Islam. It is possible that the emergence of Buddhism in India, and the fact that the historical event was well known in Iran, influenced the Persian-language versions of the tale of Adam in India.
Ali Anooshahr, UC-Davis [Biography]

What's God to a Mughal? Religion in Early Mughal India
Scholars have generally analyzed the relationship between South Asian Sufism and Mughal rule in terms of influence on the part of the former on the later. This paper will instead focus on how collaborations with the Mughal court could affect Sufism. To do this I will compare two early sixteenth-century texts from the reign of Humayun: the hagiography of the Chishti holy man Abdulquddus Gangohi (Lataif-i Quddusi) composed in the 1540s and the Shattari manual of Shaykh Muhammad Ghaws of Gwalior (Javahi-i Khama) the final version of which was put together by in the author in the 1550s.

Osmund Bopearachchi, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris & UC-Berkeley [Biography]

Mauryans and Achaemenids: Numismatics and Plastic Arts
It is believed that West-Asian or Perso-Hellenistic art became popular during the Maurayn period following the unexpected death of Alexander in 323 BCE when King Chandragupta established a strong centralized state with a complex administration at Pataliputra. Although the famous old capital is buried under the modern town, archaeological excavations have brought to light remains of wooden beams arranged in a double row, wooden drains and stone columns. However, these findings do not really correspond to the prestigious city described by the Greek envoy Megasthenes who resided at the court in Pataliputra and who noted that the Indian emperor built palaces directly modelled on Persepolis filled with foreign images. Nevertheless, looking at the Asokan pillars and some obvious borrowings from Persian art in early Buddhist monuments, some art historians put forward the so-called ‘Refugee Theory,’ exaggerating the impact of Persian craftsmen on Mauryan art. Others held the opinion that the early so-called ‘indigenous art forms’ were conceived by Indians alone. This paper argues that the study of Indian art demands a multi-disciplinary approach, and that the interaction between two cultures gave birth to a unique form of art which is neither Western nor indigenous, but ‘Indian'.

Carol Bromberg, Bulletin of the Asia Institute [Biography]

ān: The Meeting of Iran and Gandhāra in Ancient Serindia

The paintings on the walls surrounding stupas at Mirān, a Buddhist enclave of the third or fourth century A.D. on the southern Silk Route in eastern Xinjiang, have been described as the easternmost extension of Gandhāran art, reflecting Gandhāran sculpture, and indeed there is a most interesting, and surprising, mixture of Iranian, Gandhāran, and Buddhist motifs. While the paintings were discovered by Aurel Stein in the early 1900s, this mélange of cultures far to the east of actual Gandhāra remains a puzzle to be examined.

Touraj Daryaee, UC-Irvine [Biography]

The White Elephant: Notions of Kingship and Zoroastrian Demonology

There are two strands of thought in Middle Persian literature in regard to elephants. In the Zoroastrian theological texts we see that elephants are thought of as demonic creatures, yet in the epic texts the white elephant is a symbol of royalty and kingship. This paper attempts to explain the way in which the Indian notion of elephant and royalty entered into the Iranian world and how it was able to exist alongside Zoroastrian demonization of this magnificent animal. Also, a historical outlook on the use and importance of elephants in the ancient Iranian world will be provided which furnishes evidence for the way in which elephant and royalty became part of Iranian royal ideology.
Nile Green, UCLA [Biography]

Mutual Fascinations? Indians and Iranians in Japan, c. 1890-1930
In the decades either side of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, both Indians and Iranians turned in fascination to Japan as an independent and industrializing ‘eastern’ (mashriqi) nation. Indian and Iranian travellers made use of the same industrializing travel networks that were transforming the ‘Indian Ocean world’ into a global oceanic arena that now linked India and Iran with Japan and the United States. As they struggled to relate Japan’s achievements to their own societies, these Indians and Iranians brought many of the same questions and conceptions with them to Japan. Yet these decades of rapid transformation also saw Japanese intellectuals turn towards Asia in search of their own heritage. By placing the Iran-India relationship into the larger geographical and cultural exchange made possible by the industrialized globalization of the late 1800s, this paper draws on Persian and Urdu travel accounts of Japan to assess the lessons and limitations of these mutual fascinations.
Frantz Grenet, Sorbonne, Paris [Biography]

In Search of Missing Links: Iranian Royal Protocol from the Achaemenids to the Mughals
Several recent studies have revived the interest in the cosmological aspects of the protocol of the Mughals. Central in this reevaluation is Humāyūn’s "Carpet of Mirth" (bisāt-i nishāt) on which thousands of courtiers could gather at the same time, each taking his place on a coloured ring symbolizing the planet attached to his particular function (the King being enthroned on the solar ring). Far from being a "somehow frivolous distraction" as it has been described, the bisāt-i nishāt was a major piece of visual propaganda which functioned as a microcosm of the early Mughal state. The present paper hypothesizes that the bisāt-i nishāt had forerunners in pre-Islamic Iran. The most obvious match is the huge tent under which Alexander held his solemn audiences when among "Hyrcanians, Bactrians and Indians": The concentric arrangement of guards representing various peoples of the empire, each dressed in a particular colour (or associated with a particularly coloured attribute) had a planetary significance which can be compared with Herodotus’ famous description of the so-called "ramparts of Ecbatana," more likely an echo of a ceremonial palace or camp. The association planet / colour / royal pavilion is also at the core of Niẓāmi’s poem Haft Paykar (12th century), but was its staging in royal audiences a re-invention of Humāyūn or the outcome of a continuous tradition? Retrospective accounts of Sasanian protocol (Tāj-nāme, Fārsnāme, Marzbān-nāme) hint at concentric rows of attendants each dressed in a particular colour, though details are lacking. The Ghaznavid courts of Ghazni and Lahore, with their well-known emphasis on dress and rigid protocol, might have been one of the intermediaries.
Afshin Marashi, University of Oklahoma [Biography]

Patron and Patriot: Dinshah Irani (1881-1938) and the Revival of Indo-Iranian Culture

The cultural exchange between the Zoroastrian community of Bombay and modern Iranian intellectuals played an important role in the history of Iranian nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. The history of this exchange was key in making Iranians aware of their Zoroastrian cultural and religious heritage, a heritage that came to form the basis of the Pahlavi state’s construction of an official nationalism during the 1920s and 1930s. Central to this cultural and intellectual exchange between Parsis and Iranians was the “textual exchange” in Zoroastrian-themed printed works that were published in Bombay through the sponsorship of Parsi charitable foundations and exported to the Iranian “reading market.” The person who played the most important role in facilitating the production of these Zoroastrian-themed texts, and who acted as a key intellectual intermediary between Parsis and Iranians, was Dinshah Jijibhoy Irani, a Zoroastrian writer, translator, and philanthropist based in Bombay. This paper examines the life and work of Dinshah Irani, and details his important scholarly collaborations and publications with Iranian intellectuals of the interwar period. The paper argues that, while largely overlooked, recognizing Dinshah Irani’s life and work can help to highlight the transnational nature of cultural and intellectual exchange in the early twentieth century, as well as the important role played by the Zoroastrian community of Bombay in the history of Iranian nationalism.

Ali Mousavi, Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Biography]

The Proto-Iranians: Archaeological Discoveries and Paradigms
One of the most challenging problems in Iranian archaeology has for long been the unexplained shift in material culture in the mid-second millennium B.C. in northern Iran. It consists of pronounced transformations that affected the nature and distribution of ceramic forms, burial practices, and patterns of settlement. Such changes have generally been thought to be related to the arrival of the Indo-Europeans during the course of the second millennium B.C. Research on the archaeological nature of such a change goes back to the late years of the 19th century when the basic assumption of an invasion/migration already attributed to protohistoric cultures of Greece and Western Europe was embedded in Iranian archaeology. The present paper is a survey of the history of archaeological research on the appearance of the Iranian-speaking peoples on the Iranian Plateau.

Grant Parker, Stanford University [Biography]

Alexander: a Map of Misreading in Southwest Asia
As is clear from Herodotus, early Greek ideas about India were refracted through the Achaemenid world. India thus entered the Greek imagination as a satrapy. The circumstances in which this happened are clearly visible in the Achaemenid world itself. Moreover, this is the milieu in which Alexander would come to play a pivotal role in the ancient history of orientalism: as conqueror of Iran he took on the mantle of Persian kingship. Greco-Roman rhetorical practices of praise and even blame encouraged exaggeration of his supposed Indian conquest, however dubious such claims might have been in practice. Nonetheless, the implications of such exaggeration are enormous. Alexander should be considered a central figure in the conflation of Iran and India from a long-term western point of view.

Alka Patel, UC-Irvine [Biography]

Reading the Medieval through the Modern: 20th-Century Persian Historiography on the Ghurids
This paper will conduct a long-needed analysis of the modern Persian-language scholarship on the Ghurids of Afghanistan (c. 1150-1215). At its albeit short-lived apogee during the 1190s, the Ghurid empire encompassed at least three distinct cultural spheres as it spanned from eastern Iran (historic Khurasan) via its place of origin in central Afghanistan (modern Ghur province) through northern India (Delhi and modern Rajasthan). Pre-modern Persian authors generally elided these regions' on-the-ground linguistic, social, and religious (both pre-Islamic and Islamic) differences, their priorities being more descriptive than analytical, circumscribed by historiographical conventions such as the dynastic history, the biography of Sufi saints and other personages, or the year-by-year compendium of events. Twentieth-century Persian-language scholarship on the Ghurids from Iran and Afghanistan inhabits its own historiographical frameworks, now highlighting the differences among regions of the Persianate world and at times consciously participating in nation-building discourses. By casting a much-awaited glance on recent Persian-language scholarship on the Ghurids, this paper will not only integrate it into the dominant, largely Western-language discussions of the Ghurid empire as a poly-centered formation, it will also underscore the subtle but pervasive power of modern-day historiographical conventions as we read the "medieval" through the "modern."
Khodadad Rezakhani, London School of Economics [Biography]

Central Asia and the Making of the Indo-Iranian World, 300-800 CE
Since the period of the Indo-Iranian migrations, Central Asia - the plains and valleys of Transoxiana and Bactria – had been a clearing house for migrating populations heading to northern India. The first historical dynasty, originating in Central Asia and ending up in India, however, were the famous Kushans. From their base in Bactria, Kushan Emperors penetrated into India, were charmed by its culture and overwhelmed by its riches. The weakening of the Kushan state eventually allowed for a new flood of migrants from Central Asia. In fact, this flow of migrating/invading nomads had never ceased, if we can trust disparate sources which talk about the movements of the Sakas, the Kambojas and the Pallavas, among many others. It was, however, the flow of the so-called “Huns”, sweeping through the Kushan territories in form of various tribes of the Kidarites, the Alkhans, and the Hephthalites that properly made an impression in the creation of what I will call and Indo-Iranian Borderland. Specifically, my focus will be on the patterns of the movements of the Kidarites and the Alkhans, taking a traditional route over the Hindukush to India, and comparing them with the behavior of the Hephthalites, who appear not to have been interested in this movement. Instead, the particular characteristic of the Hephthalite polity created a strange and little known world in the areas of Bactria, Kabulistan, and Zawulistan whose Indo-Iranian reflections can be observed from the early Islamic sources. The paper will consider issues of geography and environment, as well as historical and economic realities, to study the mutual influences of an Iranianized “Central Asia” and the Indian elements in creating this Indo-Iranian Borderland, and how this borderland became the basis for much of the future contact between the two cultural regions.
Martin Schwartz, UC-Berkeley (Emeritus) [Biography]

Sanskrit sārtha- : A Word-Caravan from Arabia to China
Sanskrit sārtha- 'caravan' (Mahābhārata +), with its compound sārthavaha- 'caravan driver, chief of the caravan', attests the importance of Indian trade in that we find reflexes of the word(s) in pre-Islamic Central Asiatic Iranian languages (whence also in Chinese), with important roles in contexts of social history. It is still attested, via the activity of itinerant traders, in the early 20th century as Sart = Uzbek. While the word became particularly associated with the Silk Route, a solution to its mysterious etymology reveals its connection with other commercial activity in the Achaemenid period, when, as evidenced, forms of the word already began traveling eastword. A number of interesting other terms pertaining to related caravan trade between East and West will also be discussed.

Sudipta Sen, UC-Davis [Biography]

The Coming of British Rule in India: Morality, Conscience and History in 18th-Century North Indian Indo-Persian Chronicles
This paper concerns three Indo-Persian chronicles from eighteenth-century Bengal, which directly or indirectly address the transformations of polity through the period of the ascendancy of the East India Company. Patronized by officers of the East India Company or Indians who assisted their administration, they are eyewitness accounts of great factual and observational detail. The first two, Karam Ali's Muzaffarnama for Naib Nazim Reza Khan, and Kalyan Singh’s Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh for Raja Shitab Rai, note the dislocations and changes wrought by the new regime that had displaced the Nawabs of Bengal. The third text is Syed Ghulam Hussain Khan Tabatabai’s Seir Mutakherin (“View of Modern Times”), composed in the early 1780s, a foundational text that Warren Hastings commissioned immediately for translation. Ghulam Hussain sports a markedly pro-English view of affairs in Hindustan, but upon closer scrutiny reveals a sharp critique of the British conduct in India, and incorporates into its rhetoric of declension, the fall of the Nawabs and the rise of the English Company as part of the larger chronicle of Mughal decline: an extended set of reversals and misfortunes (inquilab). My contention is that this text, which has been mistranslated in key aspects, reveals a slightly different authorial persona. Along with the other two texts, it helps us refine our understanding of the inner moral conflicts of aristocratic literati of divided loyalties during a time when they had to serve very different regimes.

Yuhan S.-D. Vevaina, Stanford University [Biography]

Were We Not Once Great? Ancient Iran in the Modern Parsi Imaginary
An incipient Indian nationalism coupled with powerful discourses of romanticism, a burgeoning interest in the occult and esoteric philosophies mixed with the then regnant views of racial theories propounded by western orientalists all served to produce certain striking responses from the Parsi community at the dawn of the 20th century. This paper will examine the central role of Iran in the modern Parsi imaginary, specifically as it relates to Parsi mystics and eugenicists. The former viewed Iran as the ultimate source for mystical revelation embodied in the bodies of hidden masters in Mount Damavand, whereas the latter viewed the physical bodies of Parsis as the enduring legacy of the Iranian Urheimat that vouchsafed claims of Parsi exceptionalism vis-à-vis other colonial subjects in British India. Most remarkably, these two responses to and products of modernity are still commonly mobilized in contemporary Parsi discourse in Post-colonial India testifying to their enduring fascination and astonishing resilience.


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