Meeting of “A Thousand Years of Relationships Between Iranians and Hungarians”

The meeting of “A Thousand Years of Relationships between Iranians and Hungarians” was held with the cooperation of the Iranology House and the Information and International Affairs Deputy Office of the Iranology Foundation in the site of the Foundation. In this meeting, which was attended by Janos Kovacs, Hungarian Ambassador in Iran; Gizella Varga Sinaei (Hungarian wife of Khosro Sinaei, the Iranian Cinema Director), some Iranology students, and a group of people interested in this field, Dr. Mohsen J’afarimazhab (Faculty member of Documents Research Center) and Dr. Miklós Sárközy (Professor at Budapest University) delivered speeches on the background of the relationships between Iran and Hungary and the two countries’ shared ethnic, cultural, and linguistic interests and values. With reference to the long history of Iranians’ traveling to Europe through waterways and the presence of some Iranian words and pottery works in a region between the mouth of the Don River up to the mouths of the Danube River, Dr. J’afarimazhab stated that Iranians were present in these regions before the Tartars. However, due to Iranian researchers’ little familiarity with the languages spoken there, such cases have rarely ever been studied or investigated.

He continued by emphasizing that Gilaki, Azari, and Armenian ethnic groups had the greatest amount of trade with Eastern Europe. In fact, the most ancient text found in this region, called Codex Cumanicus, indicates the formation of an Iranian society in the north and northeast of the Black Sea (In today’s Romania and Hungary). Moreover, in a dictionary left from that time which had been written in order to facilitate the commercial relationships with Iranians, there are three columns of words in Latin, Tatar, and Persian, particularly including Gilaki words, which indicates the existence of a rice export line from Iran to that region. Dr. J’afarimazhab also added that the finding of the most ancient text in Gilaki language in Romania demonstrates the transfer of Gilaki and Taleshi culture to this region in Europe. At the end of his speech, he declared that, based on the eight-year studies of Dr. Sárközy, the history of the relationships between Iran and Hungary goes back to about 1050 years ago.

The second speaker of this meeting was Dr. Miklós Sárközy. While referring to the lack of enough books and articles on Hungary in Iran, he pointed out that it is a very difficult task to investigate such relationships. He mentioned that, in his studies he had come across some data on the presence of Iranian tribes in some regions which were later inhabited by Hungarians. He stated that he found this presence in the Eastern Europe greatly influential with regard to, for example, choosing the names of some places, such as the River Danube, whose name is rooted in Old Persian. He also argued that the results of a study of the words used in a 600-year-old text which was found in this region indicates the existence of an Iranian society there. He said that the penetration stage of these words is still unknown, and that the original Hungarians apparently emigrated from the north of Kazakhstan, which was inhabited by ethnic Iranians, to Hungary. Moreover, the finding of some ancient vessels in Romania and Hungary with some designs similar to those of the Sassanid period, the presence of a group of Muslims called Khwarezmians in some Hungarian villages, and the discovery of a Muslim cemetery in this region signify the presence of Iranians there.

Dr. Sárközy continued his speech by elaborating on the different aspects of the relationships between Iran and Hungary in the recent era. He referred to the name of Arminius Vámbéry as the founder of Oriental Studies in Hungary and at the University of Budapest and stated that there are presently120 Persian manuscripts in the library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He ended his speech by referring to the sisterhood of the cities of Jaszbereny and Yazd, and Tehran and Budapest.

At the end of this speech, some time was allocated to responding to the participants’ questions.

Holding the Second Edition of the Series of Meetings on “Iranology in the World” on the Theme of “Iranology in Poland, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”

The Second edition of the series of the meetings on “Iranology in the World” was held on 23 May 2016 on the theme of “Iranology in Poland, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” with presence of Jiliush Gyuo, Polish Ambassador in Iran; Alireza Dolatshahi, researcher and Polonist; Reza Nikpour, Executive Manager of Iran-Poland Friendship Association, and a number of Iranologists and researchers in Mohtasham Hall at the Iranology Foundation.

According to the report given by the Public Relations Unit of the Foundation, at the beginning of this meeting, Dr. Alizadeh, Information and International Affairs Deputy of the Iranology Foundation, welcomed the guests and extended to them the regards of Professor Ayatullah Seyyed Muhammed Khamenei, President of the Iranology Foundation.

He referred to the historical background of the friendly relationships between Iran and Poland. Then, by comparing Iranians’ kind treatment of Iraqi captives at the time of the Liberation of Khorramshahr with their friendly behavior towards the Polish refugees during the Second World War, he introduced Iran as a safe country. He also expressed hope for the creation of an appropriate context by the Iranology Foundation in order to familiarize the people of these two countries (Iran and Poland) with each other more than ever before.

In the next speech, Juliusz Gojlo, Ambassador of Poland in Iran, stated that the main reason of the friendly relationships between Iran and Poland was the emigration of Poles to Iran during World War II and seeking asylum in this country. By highlighting the fact that there has never been any kind of enmity between the two countries in the course of history, and that Poles have always had a positive view of Iranians, he expressed his country’s interest in establishing solid mutual relationships with Iran.

After referring to the cultural relationships between the two countries and the existence of numerous Iranian artifacts in Polish museums, the Ambassador stated that every year 20 Iranology students graduate from different universities in Poland. He also added that a new major called “Teaching Polish Language and Culture” has been recently launched at Tehran University. Finally, he extended his gratitude to his hosts for holding this meeting.

The next speaker, Alireza Dolatshahi, expert on Polish studies, maintained that the first French translation of Manuchehri’s Diwan (book of poems) was done by Albet Félix Ignace Kazimirski, the Polish Iranologist. He also added that Sa’di’s works were translated for the first time into a European language, that is, Polish, in 1610 and, in this way, he introduced the Poles at the frontline of learning about and disseminating Iranian culture.

Next, the speaker discussed the celebration of Nowruz and spring rituals by Slavic ethnic groups and called them Iranians’ second cousins. He also referred to Sofreh-ye Eid and Easter Table as common symbols of the Slavic tradition of Easter and Iranian Nowruz and mentioned that both of them contained similar components.

Dolatshahi continued his speech by referring to the 40-day duration of Easter and explained the time of the beginning and end of this period in the Polish and Iranian cultures. Moreover, he referred to the Slavic mythological symbol of the Goddess of Earth (Mother of Earth) and its identity with the Goddess Anahita as another common feature of the two cultures. Then he talked about the myth of Nane Sarma or Grandma Frost and its relationship with Nowruz or the New Year rituals in the Iranian culture and discussed the similarities between her and an identical character in the Slavic culture. He explained that the Slavic counterpart is an old woman who is called by different names in various branches of Slavic culture. For example, Western Slavs, particularly Poles, call her Marzanna. What makes these two characters similar is the presence of a male character beside each of them. In Iranian myths, he is called Amu Nowruz (Papa Nowruz), who is sometimes referred to as Nane Sarma’s husband. In Slavic myths Jarilo, the God of fertility, and the son of the God of fire, is Marzanna’s spouse. That is why we find them similar to Nane Sarma and Amu Nowruz: a couple who can never visit and stay with each other.

Reza Nikupour, Executive Manager of Iran-Poland Friendship Association, was the next speaker. He also attributed a great part of Iranians’ familiarity with Poles to the events occurring during the Second World War and maintained that the Polish works and artifacts which have arrived in Iran during various historical periods and the exchanges between the two countries have been due to mutual interests and far from any war. He emphasized that the existence of common cultural and historical features and roots is the main reason behind the establishment of a profound friendly relationship between Iran and Poland.

In the rest of his speech, by referring to the history of the relationships between the two countries, he stated that the oldest document related to such relationships is a letter which was sent by the Iranian king to the king of Poland in 1474. He pointed out that the finding of the dirham, Iranian currency in the Sassanid Era, in the archeological excavations in Poland signifies the existence of some commercial relationships between the two countries. During the Sassanid Era, the tradesmen who came to Iran from Poland and other Eastern Europe countries mainly brought fur, honey, wax, ambergris, and beautiful Iranian carpets. He also listed pre-World War II cultural activities in relation to Iran as follows:

1820: Publication of Alexander Orlowski’s collection of paintings in Poland called “Common Iranian Clothes of the 19th century”

1830: Publication of the second poem of Ahuramazda and Ahriman by the famous Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz

1847: Translation of one of the inscriptions of Takht-e Jamshid into Polish by Wladyslaw Kuraszkiewicz

1855: Translation of Ferdowsi’s Shahname into Polish by Lucjan Siemieński

1865: Translation of Avesta into Polish accompanied by a study on Zoraster’s Gathas by Cajetanus Kossowicz

1886: Translation of Manuchehri’s Diwan into Polish by Julian Adolf Święcicki

1890: Publication of Eastern Diwan and translation of Khayyam’s Quadrilaterals by Antoni Lange

1890: Publication of translations of some Iranian literary works by Kwiatkowski

At the end of this meeting, a short documentary on the life of Polish-Iranian people was shown to the participants.

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