Early History of Iranian Myths – Part 1

Brief history of Iranian Myths, Part 1

Early History of Iranian Myths – Part 1

According to Iranian mythology, the national history begins with the reign of Kiumars, the first world-king, who reigns for thirty years. Zoroastrianism calls him the prototype of man, brought forth by Ahuramazda at the sixth stage of creation. Kiumars dies from fatal wounds inflicted by Ahriman, and Siamak, Kiumars’s son (according to Ferdowsi’s book) or grandson (according to the most other sources) is also slain by demons. They are both duly avenged by Hushang, reckoned as Siamak’s son. Hushang founds the Pishdadian dynasty and reigns for forty years. He succeeds in extracting metal from rock and devising a means of drawing water from rivers in order to cultivate the land. Moreover, he is the first to tame the animals and build houses. He also inadvertently discovers fire by hitting the stone against a rock while attempting to kill a serpent, and institutes the festival of Sadeh in the commemoration of this discovery. Hushang is followed by Tahmuras, who is often given the title of the Demon-Binder because he subjugates the demons and rides on the back of Ahriman, whom he has transformed into a horse. Tahmuras reigns for fifty years and is the first to spin wool for clothing, to use dogs to protect flocks, to employ falcons and hounds for hunting, to tame fowls and to exploit beasts of burden. The demons reveal to him the secrets of writing.

Tahmuras is succeeded by his brother Jamshid, one of the most colorful figures of Iranian myth. He rules for over 600 years and during this period, death, pain, old age and evil are driven out of his realm. Three times, by magic, Jamshid enlarges the extent of his domain in order to accommodate the increasing number of people, animals, and the other creatures. In popular brief, Jamshid is often identified with the prophet Solomon, and is credited with many magical attributes, such as the ability to foretell the future with the help of his magic cup called Jam-e Jam. At the height of his power, Jamshid orders the demons to build a carriage in which he rises into the skies. He commemorates this event by instituting the Iranian New Year Festival, Nouruz. His power and success, however, fill him with pride. Seduced by Ahriman, he proclaims himself divine, whereupon his fortune Farr departs from him, leaving him vulnerable to the attack of a monstrous tyrant, Zahak, who seized the fugitive Jamshid and has him cut in half.

The oppressive rule of Zahak lasts for a thousand years. He has many people slain in order to feed their brains to two serpents which have grown on his shoulders. The country is enshrouded in misery until set free by Faridun, a descendant of Jamshid raised in secret without of Zahak knowledge. Faridun is supported by a group of people led by the blacksmith Kaveh, who has lost all but one of his sons to Zahak’s serpents.

Under Faridun, prosperity reigns once more over the World.

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