The posts in this weblog are mainly about history, heritage, language, art, and culture of Persia (that is named Iran since 1934). Persia is, therefore, equal to Iran, and Persian is equal to Iranian. Note that Persian is a nationality not an ethnicity. Pars (or Fars) is the major ethnicity in Persia but there are also Persian Kurds or Arabs. Similarly, the official language in Persia is Persian (Farsi is the local name and may not be used internationally). For more details please read my posts.
You may have noticed that in this blog I use the term "Persia." This may cause a bit of confusion for some people who think Persia is an ancient empire and does not exist anymore. I'd like to explain it in this post.
In ancient times, during the first, second and the third Persian Empires
, Persia was very large, covering almost all of the area that we know as the Middle East
. Those three empires were the Achaemenid Empire
(648–330 BC), Parthian
/ Sassanid Empire
(250 BC– 650 AD), and Safavid Empire
(1501–1736). After the Safavid Empire, big pieces of land were detached from Persia in east, north and west (I may explain the role of Russia and Britain in those periods in later posts). By the beginning of 20th century, Persia reached to its smaller size in the whole history (which remained until now).
During all those years (since more than 3000 years ago until the beginning of the 20th century) people inside Persia called their country Iran
(Persian: ایران). That is not strange, as German people also call their country Deutschland
, while the international name is Germany. Iran
, in Persian language, is derived from the word Aryans. In fact, the race of Persian people is Aryan, and they used to have blue/green eyes and blond hair (even today, you may still see few people with that characteristics if you travel to Persia). Dark hair and eyes were dominated in that land after Arabs conquered the second Persian Empire.
In 1935, after Dr. Hjalmar Schacht
, the Nazi
Economics minister, commented on the Aryan origin of Persians, Persian ambassador in Germany encouraged Reza Shah Pahlavi
(who was the king of Persia at that time) to issue a decree asking all foreign delegates to use the word "Iran" (meaning "Aryan") instead of "Persia" in formal correspondence. After the Second World War
that led to the defeat of Nazi's, a Persian committee looked into this matter. The committee announced that "changing the name is not justified", so Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi
(who was then the king of Persia) announced that both "Persia" and "Iran" could be used interchangeably.
I use, therefore, the name Persia throughout this blog for the following reasons:
- The decision on changing the name was politically motivated, and (happily) with the removal of Nazi's we don't need to keep it. Actually, there is no reason to use local name of a country in international conversations. It is just like using the name Deutschland in English conversation.
- The name Iran causes many people to confuse it with Iraq (an Arab state west of Persia). In fact, during the Second World War, Winston Churchill ordered to always use the name Persia in brackets in front of the name Iran to prevent such confusion during military actions.
- The act of changing the name brought cultural damage to the country and separated it from its past from the point of view of Westerns. I give you one example:
The word Persia immediately reminds us of the land which Persian cat, Persian carpet, Persian pistachio, and Persian caviar come from. It also reminds us of Persian language, Persian poetry, Persian mysticism, Persian miniature, and famous Persian scientists. It holds on to the name of Persian Empires, Persian Gulf, and many other historical issues. An entity with the name Iran has none of those capacities (at least not in the point of view of Western people).
Labels: Persian heritage, Persian history