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  • Times to the Downfall of the Last Zoroastrian Empire, 651 A.D

Zoroastrian civilization from the earliest times to the downfall of the last Zoroastrian empire, 651 A.D

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The Faravahar would remain an ancient relic until the earlytwentieth century, when both British and Indian antiquarians gave itanother life. The general scholarly opinion, at least in the West, wasthat the winged disc represented Ahura Mazda. In 1925 and 1930 a Parsischolar, J.M. Unvala, wrote articles which identified the Faravahar asthe symbol of the fravashi or "guardian spirit" ofZoroastrian teaching. Through the influence of the Unvala articles,and a renewed awareness among Zoroastrians of their Iranian heritage,the Persepolis winged disc began to be used as a symbol forZoroastrianism - not only because of its supposed religioussignificance, but because of its national symbolism as the device of agreat Zoroastrian empire. In 1928, the great Parsi Avesta scholarIrach Taraporewala published an article identifying the Winged Discnot as Ahura Mazda or as fravashi, but as thekhvarenah or royal glory. It was in these early decades ofthe 20th century that the Faravahar began to be incorporated into thedesign of Zoroastrian temples, publications, and ornaments. Aftercenturies of obscurity, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism had a newvisibility, and a symbolic standard to raise.

Once the Winged Disc had been adopted as a symbol ofZoroastrianism, it entered into the community not only as a graphicsymbol but as a folk motif. The Zoroastrian faravahar was"standardized" to the Persepolis model, though, as we have seen, evenin Persepolis there are many variants of the Faravahar. The "standard"Faravahar is now the one you see on this Web page, which appears overthe heads of the Persian kings on the walls of Persepolis. It is thisemblem which identifies Zoroastrian publications and decoratesZoroastrian temples and gathering places, which has also been madeinto forms of jewelry for men and women, woven into wall-hangings,carved into marble and semi- precious stones, glazed onto ceramicheirlooms, and even made into paper and plastic stickers. Not onlyZoroastrians, but patriotic Iranians of all creeds use the Faravahar,and various simplified versions of the Persepolis standard appear incarpet stores, restaurants, advertisements, and other Iranian concernsall around the world.

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