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Surveys of Zoroastrian Literature in New Persian

Though New Persian grammatical forms can be found in late Pahlavi literature, the earliest extant Zoroastrian compositions in the New Persian language are dateable to the 13th century AD, probably when the Zarātushtnāma of Kay Kāʼūs b. Kaykhusraw and the later works of Zartusht b. Bahrām-i Pazhdū were composed. The establishment of the Gujarat Sultanate in the 15th century was accompanied by the introduction of New Persian as a prestige language to the area of Western India where the Parsis had settled, and the adoption of Persian by the Parsis was reinforced with the beginnings of the Persian Rivāyat correspondence in 1478. As the primary literary language of Iranian Zoroastrians for almost 750 years, and in use among Indian Zoroastrians for several centuries, the Persian corpus of Zoroastrian texts is quite significant in its extent. Yet to date, no full outline of this literature has yet been executed.

Among Western scholars, the most lengthy treatment of Persian Zoroastrian literature was carried out by E. W. West. His "The Modern Persian Zoroastrian Literature of the Parsis" was published as an appendix to his survey of Pahlavi literature in the Grundriss der iranischen Philologie II (Strassburg, 1904), pp. 122-129 (Google Books). Writing in Persian, Professor Jaleh Amouzgar (ژاله آموزگار) has published a more extensive survey "Adabiyāt-i Zardushtī ba Zabān-i Fārsī" (ادبیات زردشتی به زبان فارسی) in the Majalla-i Dānishkada-i Adabiyāt va ʻUlūm-i Insānī 17 (1348/1970): 172-199 (pdf). Yet the most extensive survey of Zoroastrian Persian literature was written not by an academic, but by a dedicated member of the Irani community in Bombay, Mr. Rashīd Shahmardān who, with intimate knowledge of the Iranian Zoroastrian community and full access to the collections of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, especially the important manuscripts of the Manekji Limji Hataria collection, was able to produce a bio-bibliographical survey of Zoroastrian authors writing in New Persian in his Farzānagān-i Zartushtī (Learned Zoroastrians), Tehran, 1951.

E. W. West (1824-1905) & Rashīd Shahmardān (1905-1983)

Reference Works on the Dialects of Iranian Zoroastrians

Though virtually all literary works composed by Iranian Zoroastrians in New Persian are written in either Standard Persian or in what is sometimes referred to as Pārsī (Pāzand in Persian script, often intermingled with Standard Persian), mention should be made here of reference works to the spoken dialects of the Zoroastrian communities of Yazd and Kirmān (sometimes referred to as Darī, Behdīnī, known by outsiders as Gabrī, etc.). These dialects have attracted considerable linguistic attention from scholars. Most of the older scholarship on the Behdīnān dialects has been summarized by Gernot Windfuhr in his 1989 Encyclopedia Iranica article. The main points of reference for Dari include V. Ivanow's "The Gabri Dialect Spoken by the Zoroastrians of Persia." Rivista degli studi orientalni 16-18 (1935-39): 31-97, 1-39, 327-414.  (hosted at the Dari Language Project) and Jamshid Soroushian's Farhang-i Bihdīnān, Tehran, 1956 (pdf). More recently, see:
  • Fereydun Vahman and Garnik Asatrian. Notes on the Language and Ethnography of the Zoroastrians of Yazd. Copenhagen, 2002.
  • Kaykhusraw Kishāvarz. Farhang-i Zartushtiyān-i Ustān-i Yazd. Stockholm, 1993.
  • Katāyūn Mazdāpūr. Vāzhanāma-i Gūyish-i Bihdīnān-i Shahr-i Yazd. 2 vols. published to date. Tehran, 1995-.
  • Farānak Firuzbakhsh. Barrasī-i Sākhtamān-i Dastūrī-i Gūyish-i Bihdīnān-i Shahr-i Yazd. Tehran, 1997.
  • Annahita Farudi and M. Doustdar Toosarvandani. The Dari Language Project – 2004 Fieldwork Endeavour: Summary of Findings. Morgantown, WV, 2004. (pdf)