The Lion: Iran or Persia?

The national and historic symbol of Iran or Persia is Lion , and an American has written a book about the Eagle and the Lion (Bill James, The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations. Yale University Press, 1989 [an analysis of relations between the two countries starting from the 1830s]). But why does the Lion has two names, Iran and Persia? In the 6th century BC the territory of present-day Iran was the center of the Persian Empire. For more than 2000 years, the region’s inhabitants have referred to it by the name Iran, derived from the Aryan tribes who settled the area long ago. After the Persian Empire, for about 2000 years Iran was called Persia. In 1935, Reza Shah demanded that the name Iran be used again, changed the name of Persia to Iran . Indeed, Persia is the old name and Iran is a new name and an ancient name. But why did Reza Shan change the name of the country? Mainly because of the corrupt and weak Qajar dynasty, 1794 – 1925. In fact, Qajar dynasty disgraced Persia a lot, as we said before and Reza Shah wanted to say the world that our country has changed and they should forget the disgraced Persia that was run by Qajar dynasty. This story is exactly our today story, and we want to say the world that our country is not the disgraced Iran that is run by the Islamic regime. Iran that means the territory of Aryan people, is not a bad name, but is a disgraced name now, and is mistaken for Iraq too often. Maybe we should think more about turning back our country name to Persia , again.

Iran, that means the territory of Aryans, was settled about 3000 BC by Aryan tribes, the most important of which were the Medes and the Persians . The first prominent leader of the Persians was the warrior chief Hakhamanish, or Achaemenes, who lived about 681 BC. The Persians were dominated by the Medes until the accession to the Persian throne in 550 BC of Cyrus the Great. Zoroastrianism gradually emerged as the official religion of ancient Iran during the Achaemenid dynasty. Inscriptions from the reign of Darius the Great, from 522 BC to 486 BC, are full of the praise of Ahura Mazda. Darius stressed truthfulness and seems to have regarded the lie as a worldwide evil force. At its height the Persian Empire stretched from Greece and Libya in the west to the Indus River in present-day India in the east. The many nations under the empire’s rule enjoyed considerable autonomy in return for supplying the empire’s wealth. Each year at Nowruz or New Year,
representatives from these nations brought tribute to the king. The Persian kings used Persepolis primarily as a residence and for ceremonies such as the Nowruz or New Year’s celebration. Persepolis (Greek, “City of the Persians”) or Parsa, one of the ancient capitals of Persia, established by Darius the Great in the late 6th century BC. Its ruins lie 56 km northeast of Shiraz, and it is known today in Iran as Takht-i Jamshid (“Throne of Jamshid”) after a the legendary king Jamshid. Alexander of Macedonia plundered Persepolis and then set it afire in 330 BC. He needed 20,000 mules and 5,000 camels to carry away the treasure looted from Persepolis, according to Greek biographer Plutarch

We should think more about the name Persia . It’s not a ethnic or racist name. It’s just an ancient and glorious name and we could use it again. Iran’s population is made up of numerous ethnic groups. Persians are the largest ethnic group, and include such groups as the Gilaki and the Mazandarani who live in Northern Provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran. Accounting for more than 60 percent of the total population, Persians live in all around the country. Two groups closely related to the Persians both ethnically and linguistically are the Kurds and the Lurs . Turkic tribes began migrating into northwestern Iran in the 11th century, and now live in Azerbaijan Province and Tehran. Azeris and other Turkic peoples together account for about 25 percent of Iran’s inhabitants. The remainder of the population comprises small communities of Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Baluchis, Georgians, Pashtuns, and others. But we think all of them could accept the name Persia , because it’s just an ancient and glorious name.

(The references that we used are: Iranica Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica and Encarta Encyclopedia)

One Response to The Lion: Iran or Persia?

  1. Sandie Mumm says:

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