Didem Doğan

The Lion and the Sun, Šir o Xoršid and the Faravahar

This figure that we saw on one of the walls of the Golestan Palace in Tehran is the Šir o Xoršid. It is the lion which bears the Sun on its body: this figure with origins in Babel mythology represents the period of the year that coincides with the Leo sign in astrology when the sunlight is at its strongest. The sunlight is at its strongest between the 20thof July and 20th of August and in this period the Sun moves into the Lion constellation. The same figure was adapted to Shih Islam during the rule of Safevi and Kachar dynasties. The lion represents the state and the religion, and some of them refer to Ali. 

The construction of the Golestan Palace in Tahran started in the 16th century, during the rule of the Turkish Safevi Dynasty. It also served as the royal palace during the rule of the Kachar dynasty.

Another famous symbol from ancient times is the Faravahar. Two wings, a disc between the wings and in the centre, a representation of Ahura Mazda: The spiritual world of the ancient civilizations that emerged in Iran was expressed through the religion of Zarathustra. Ahura Mazda is the figure representing a higher spirit. Its name is Sanskrit in origin: the word “mazda” means reason and wisdom, while Ahura Mazda denotes the path to wisdom, good thoughts, good words and good deeds that lead to wisdom. You can find this figure in many sites in Iran, it is engraved in stones, for example, in the ancient city of Persopolis, the capitol city of the Persian Empire, which is 70 kilometers away from the city of Şiraz in today’s Iran. Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions, its origins going back to 5th century B.C., it is accepted as a monotheistic religion and has influenced most of the current religions that can be seen in the practices of praying, from wearing white to some forms of collective praying. As a belief system it has also influenced European philosophy from Italian Renaissance to Nietzsche one find many common ideas.

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