Iran as the Historical Tri-Continental Bridge, and Ireland? An Ethno-Cultural and Etymological Interconnectedness
by David Rahni
Wed 29th Mar 2017
Over forty years ago, a number of Irish professors visiting the University of Tehran disseminated their research findings that there is a firm anthropological connection between Iran and Ireland from the distant past. I then found myself among the many sceptics; in my early teenage naiveté, I perceived this announcement as a part of the royal propaganda by Shah Pahlavi to embellish an [ultra-nationalistic] Aryan heritage, before his self-coronation on the “Persian Peacock” throne in 1967. I have since learned that there are indeed much more credible ethnographic and mythographic commonalities between the Irish and Iranian peoples and cultures, than ever fully recognized by either. The term “Aryan” must NOT be misconstrued herein by any irrational stretch of the imagination as condoning Hitler’s ultra-racially driven crimes against humanity which denigrated the use of the otherwise noble term Aryan. Aryanism, spanning from northwestern India, passing through Iran, and stretching through northwest Ireland, is one historical racio-ethnic and genetic trait in a series of cornucopia of heterogeneous races and creeds that later emerged, each with its duly recognized stature in evolutionary anthropology. For instance, although Iranians may claim to be [pure] Aryans, most if not all Iranians today, are “mutt Persian cats” in that their pedigree, has over time become enriched with diverse pools of genes and cultures that go far beyond and well above the single “Aryan” race. That’s why Iranian phenotypic completions span the entire spectrum, i.e., from blond haired and blue eyed to more deep hazel and brown eyed and olive skinned. In fact, most Iranians in diaspora can easily pass-due to their varied complexions, multi-linguism and acculturations-as natives from well over a hundred countries and ethnicities located in Southern and Eastern Europe and North Africa, Southcentral and Southwest Asia, [southern] Russian republics and Armenia, Ossetia, and the Caucuses, and the Americas. This author’s recent DNA analysis discerned, in addition to possessing the Aryan and Persian pedigree, the statistically significant indigenous Jewish Mizrahim of Persian and Russian and Ashkenazim, as well as traits from the Aramaic and northern Mesopotamia.
Figure 1. The historical lingo-cultural influences of Iranian tribes
No one has succinctly delineated the Irish connection to the Iranian language, mythology, ancient monuments, and cultural rituals and psyches better than the legendary 19th century Victorian era poet Francesca Wilde.
Figure 2. Map of Modern Iran
Francesca Speranza Wilde (1821-1896) aka Lady Jane Wilde (Eglee) born in Dublin Ireland, was an unknown (in cognito) poet, folklorist and Irish nationalist for independence from England. Lady Wilde had prolifically written a plethora of books and manuscripts including Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland, as well as [wise] Words of Women. Many literary and historian scholars cite Lady Jane Wilde as the first post-renaissance feminist worldwide although due to societal restriction, she may have written mostly with her “male” sounding now decoded pseudonyms. In her manuscripts she clearly demonstrates the origin of Gaelic language, spiritual and birth/mourning and burial rituals (mouyeh) and psyche of the Irish people as deeply rooted in the Persian/Iranian origin of several millennia ago. She deciphers for instance, several dozen words in all contemporary European languages especially in Gaelic (Guilak in Persian is still a distinct alive Iranian ethnicity, 2-3 million inhabitants strong, with their Guilaki vernacular spoken along the southern Caspian Sea) which philologists conclude belonged to the original tongue that came with the migrations from the east vis-à-vis Iran of the distant past. Today, there are at a minimum nearly 1,000 Persian words integrated into modern English. Due to its impassable isolations from mainland Europe in general, and as evidenced by the unadulterated dialect in Erin, a much sequestered island west of the green Emerald Ireland beyond which lies the vast Atlantic ocean, Irish language is nearer to Sanskrit via the Iranian languages than any other living and spoken language in Europe. Whereas Erin is also a common name given to a woman in Ireland, Iran is its equivalent for naming a woman in Iran. According to the American archives, a Princeton University scholar estimates up to 10 million Iranians were annihilated due to famine and widespread epidemics including anthrax, presumably instigated by the British colonialists, during the early part of the 20th century and throughout WWI.
Figure 3. The Family of Indo-European Languages of the Aryans spanning form India to Iceland including transplanted Tocharian in Northwest China
What has further confluenced both cultures is the hardships imposed from within and without on both peoples over time. This has in turn led to literal and artistic expressions and ways of life, anchored on their melancholic lamentation of the nostalgic past, expressing the injustices and hardships of the present, and the uncertainties and trepidations of the future. Ireland has been invaded by the 1st century Romans (thus, today’s expression of the black Irish of the southern shores of Ireland vs. the red Irish from the northern territories), by the Vikings of the Nord in the 10-11th centuries, and by the British from the southeast since the 14th century. Nonetheless, these hegemonic meddlings were either repelled or its impact simply dissolved into the indigenous Irish cultures. Presumably, the rich literary poetry and prose of the Irish, engraved into the Irish people’s psyche, has remained the most perseverant expression of her people. The same concept of cultural dissolution of invaders and their ideas (the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Mongols, British, and/or the Russians) into the indigenous Persian culture has also occurred in Iran for the past several thousand years, and with similar assimilation outcomes. The Iranians have selectively adopted bits and pieces of language and culture and genes from such invaders and synthesized them into their own. This has, in turn, yielded a much stronger social infrastructure than the sum of the two! Lady Jane Wilde when elaborating on the mythological convergence between Tree, the Woman, the Well, and the Serpent-memories as well as other daily chores like mourning rituals and folklore lyrics in Iran and Ireland, states, “This original source of life, creed, and culture now on earth, that “there is no reason to doubt, will be found in Iran, or Persia as we also call the historic nation, and in the ancient legends and language of the great Iranian people, the head and noblest type of the Aryan races.” “Endowed with splendid physical beauty, noble intellect, and a rich musical language, the Iranians also had a lofty sense of the inter-relations between humans and the spiritual world, and mother earth and celestial objects, but never admitted animate or inanimate idols into their temples, but only the supreme ONE creator.” So, no conundrums puzzle philologists who recognize the first syllabus in Ireland and Iran as Ær- from Sanskrit-the precursor to all Indo-European languages including the family of Iranian languages- the prefix Ær- means Arya- and for both nations, Iran and Ireland mean “the Land of the Aryans.” For more information on her writing, please visit www.amazon.com and check out Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland among other bibliographic sources. After all, is it really coincidental that the flags of Iran, Ireland and India are each comprised of three stripes of green, white and orange/red.
Figure 4. Achaemenid Persian Empire, comprised of 30 autonomous nations, administered from Persepolis (2,500 years ago).
Iran has enjoyed a continuous form of government comprised of a dozen royal dynasties for at least 2,500 years. Nonetheless, according to archaeological findings, remnants of established organized agriculture and animal domestications on the one hand, and human settlement and creation of cities excavated on the other, emergence of civilization on the Iranian plateau is traced to no less than 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, respectively. The Iranian plateau, due to its geographic location of bridging Africa, Asia and Europe, has remained the transitory juncture for human migration and exchange of discoveries in the past 150,000 years and plausibly more. In fact, the three major Aryan tribes of Medes, Persians and Parthians, who arrived southbound to warmer climates from central Asia and settled over 3,500 years ago, must have mixed in with the earlier indigenous settlers who may have migrated southbound or simply traversed and settled from the horn of Africa. For instance, the first world Empire, the Achaemenes, known by its founder Cyrus the Great credited as having declared the first Human Rights for all and saving the Jews from captivity by the Babylonians, must have been preceded by earlier less known precursors. Ferdowsi (Paradiso) the Persian “Homer”, in his epic the book of the Persian Kings, Shahnameh, narrates through 30,000 poem verses the story of earlier kings such as the Pishdadian and Kayanian Dynasties founded by King Jamshid who is credited for having first celebrated Nowruz, the spring vernal equinox. The solar New Year is still observed by not only Iranians but also by over 200 million brethren in the region. Mithraism and Zoroastrianism were conceived in Iran. Mithraism was adopted in Europe through the fourth century.The caste driven Zoroastrianism, especially when declared as the official religion of the Sassanid Empire, led to justice seeking sub-sects as Mazdeism and Manicheism. The aim here is to fully appreciate the early Persian origin of many religious texts, rituals, philosophies and decrees that were later incorporated into Judaism, and by its extension into Christianity and Islam. Legend has it that when the first Zoroastrian, aka Parsi pilgrims, arrived on the shores of Gujarat, the local Maharashtra sent them his emissaries to offer the pilgrims a filled to the rim bow with local milk. In doing so, he was in essence welcoming them for a short stay, while indirectly asking them to move on to another shore. After the Zoroastrian pilgrims drank a portion of the milk, they overfilled the bowl with the local honey brought from their motherland Iran, and sent it back to the Maharaja to taste. As soon as he drank it, he found it as the milk and honey from paradise, got their indirect message of what they could offer if allowed in, and so invited them to settle in his territory, realizing they would enrich the local culture. The rest is history, as the Parsis have remained amongst the most vibrant immigrant group not only in India, but also by all accounts, anywhere and anytime in history.
In a related note, the New York Times ran an article on November 19, 2008 titled, “The dead tell a tale China doesn’t care to listen to.” It describes the several hundred well preserved mummies discovered in northwest China’s Xinjiang’s region as belonging to Iranian stock according to their DNA determination. The mummies excavated in Kshghar, Astana and Lop Nur areas of Xinjiang and on display at the Museum in Urumqi - the territory’s capital - demonstrates they must have come from the west, thus with Indo-European descent, rather than east Chinese traits. One called Loulan Beauty lies on her back in the glass sarcophagus, with her shoulder-length hair, high cheekbones and long pointy nose, phenotypic features that are not Chinese, but rather Uyghur of Iranian stock. The ten million plus inhabitants of the province currently speak a Turkic/Altaic-Middle Persian hybrid dialect and every aspect of their daily lives is as Iranian as the one million Turkmen of Iran who live southeast of the Caspian Sea.
An infusion of Iranian culture and ethnicity in places as diverse as Croatia, Ossetia and Albania, Kashmir and Tajikistan, and as far as the southern Persian Gulf and Zanzibar has persisted since antiquity. The evidence collectively leads us to accept the free (south or west bound) movement and intermingling of the Iranian foragers and hunter-gatherers turned into nomadic herders and wanderers, especially after the recession of the last European ice age of 10,000 years ago. This in turn led to some of the earliest permanent settlements, cities, etc. After the advent of Islam in Iran, then known as Persia, in the late 7th century, and in the 16th century when Shiite Islam was politicized in Iran by the Safavid Dynasty, two mass exoduses of Persian Zoroastrians occurred for fear of religious persecution to the shores of Gujarat and Mumbai India. Many in retrospect, surmise such involuntary migration as returning to the very root of the “Sanskrit” derived language and culture. It is immensely intriguing to trace the human journey back to Ardi’s fossil remains in Africa of 4.4 million years ago. Moving fast forward, it is believed we all descended from a man in Africa 60,000 years ago. An unspectacular minute fossil found in central Asia has given us to hypothecate the existence of a man 35,000 years old, considered to be the common ancestor of all humans in the northern hemisphere.
Figure 5. Loulan Beauty: the Mummy on display in Urumqi whose features suggest a people who came from the west, Iran (NY Times Nov. 19, 2008)