Persian Legends | A Review of Ancient Legends of the Land of Iran

Persian Legends | A Review of Ancient Legends of the Land of Iran

Iran is thousands of years old, and has many beauties in itself. From Persian rug and carpet to its legends. Persian legends which are also known as the Persian mythology, have an Aryan root and what is left today from Persian legends go back to Avesta. The foundation of Persian legends are mostly based on good and evil. These legends each have a unique history, which could be really fun to know. So let’s take a gander at Persian legends.

Dragon in Persian Legends

This creature is present in many of the world’s legends. Our country Iran has not been an exception and this creature is present in some Persian legends. Dragon is a creature that in addition to being the symbol of destruction, is also the symbol of prosperity. Many mythologists believe that since human beings have always been trying to find a way to free themselves from the unending power of the dragon, this creature is also a symbol of man’s motivation.

Ashozosht

 The other name of this creature is Morghe Bahman (the bird of December). Morghe Bahman is among the ancient Persian myths which is known for eating nails. In Persian mythology, Ashozosht is the creation of Avesta in order to promulgate food.

Al, Among the Most Well-known Devils
Al

Al which is also known as Zao Tarsan (one who scares the pregnant women) is among the known creatures that even present day Iranians do not know very well. This creature in the belief of Iranians is a devil. People believe that if a woman who has just given birth is left alone, Al will come to her and harm her. Other than Iran, the people of Caucasus, middle Asia, and parts of Russia believe in Al.

The Devil

The devil which goes back to Avesta, is a perilous and decadent creature who has come to being in order to eradicate good. Followers of Zoroastrianism believe that in the world there are the two forces of good and evil, and these two forces are constantly battling each other. But since Ahoramazde is omnipresent, in the in the devil will lose and Ahoramazda will fill the world with good, after prevailing in that was.

Bashkooch

Many know Bashkooch as Shir Dal, which has the body of a lion, the head of an eagle, and the ears of a horse.

Bakhtak

Bakhtak is among those creatures which even to this day some Iranians believe in it. In Persian mythology, Bakhtak is a creature that comes to human beings when they are sleeping and tries to choke them by locking their body. Of course today we know that this is a condition that happens to us when we have a nightmare and we feel heavy and choking after we wake up.

Baba Darya

Baba Darya (Sea Father) in Persian legends is a black tall man who spends his days in the sea. Baba Darya come to shore at nights to sleep and if somebody comes across his path he will take them to the sea.

Barmaye

Barmaye is the cow that present in the story of Fereidun and Zahhak. Fereidun is raised with the milk of Barmaye and this is why Zahhak kills him.

White Devil

White Devil in Persian Legends

This creature in Ferdowsi’s Shahname imprisons that king of Iran Keikavous and his companions and Rostam goes to fight the white devil in order to free them. Rostam goes to its cave and finds it sleeping. Keeping with the traditions of chivalry he wakes the white devil so that they can fight. After defeating the white devil, Rostam makes a helmet for himself with its head and frees the king and his companions.

Persian Legends | White Devil
Persian Legends | White Devil
Rakhsh

Rakhsh is the horse of Rostam and due to the unique features that it has, it has found its way into the heart of people as someone like Rostam himself.

Is Pari a Devilish or Well-intended Creature?

Pari

In many of today’s fantasy stories, there is still talk of Pari. In ancient Iran, Pari has been introduced in two forms. In Avesta, Pari is a devilish creature and is perilous that is appeared with the beautiful face of a woman that wants to fool people into becoming insane. But this creature in the era after Islam is exactly against what Pari was in Avesta. In the era after Islam, Pari is a well-intended creature who take people toward prosperity.

Among the most well-known Pari’s in Persian legends, is the Pari in Jamshid’s stories who divides prosperity among people.

Three-Legged Donkey

In the Zoroastrianism religion, this creature resides in the Farakhkord sea and helps Tashtar in gathering the sea water in which it resides.

The Wise Phoenix Is Present in Many Persian Legends

Phoenix

Phoenix is among the most famous Persian legends. Phoenix lives in the Kanaf mountain and being wise is his feature. Phoenix has a special place in the stories of Shahname. Phoenix raised Zal and helped Rostam in his battle with Esfandiar. But it was not just Ferdowsi who talked about this creature in his stories. Phoenix is among the most well-known creatures in the Mantegh Al Teir by Attar Neishaburi.

Phoenix
Phoenix

Introducing Some Mythical Creatures

Chamroosh

This creature was a very large bird who was in a way the guardian of the land of Iran and would destroy anyone who would try to harm Iran. Chamroosh has a doglike body and its wings are like those of birds’. This creature resides under the tree of Sooma.

Efrit

Efrit, Efrite, and Eblis are all the names of a malevolent person who has no other goal that disseminating evil and in Quran, an Efrit is referred to in the verse 93 of the Naml Sura that talks to the Prophet Suleiman.

Angha

Angha is the same is the Phoenix. Angha is the Arabic name of this mythical creature that is in the form of a large bird.

Foolad Zereh

This creature is among those devils that have a horn and is among the Efrits of the Amir Arsalan story.

Ghoghnoos, a Bird in Persian Legends

Ghoghnoos is present in Persian, Greek, Egyptian, and Chinese legends. A lonely bird that does not give birth and every millennium flies over a clump of fire and sings, and when it is created it ignites its beak and after it is burnt in the fire, an egg is left of it which burns quickly and from that Ghoghnoos is born. Ghoghnoos has the ability to heal wounds and with the pleasant sound that it has, it brings calm for the people around itself.

Ghaf Mountain

This mountain is among the Persian legends that was known as being way too tall and people believed that this mountain surrounds the earth and thus the sun rises from behind that Ghaf mountain. In the literature of many countries Ghaf mountain is used is a metaphor for a very far place. Also this mountain has a spring called the spring of life.

Kiansi

This creature which is also known as Kianse, is a legend in the belief of the followers of Zoroastrianism that will be born in the third millennium after the birth of Zarathustra after a woman takes a bath in the Hamoon lake.

Gorgsar

Gorgsar is the name of a mythical tribe whose residents have the head of a wolf and after being defeated by the Aryans and losing their land they would take refuge in castles.

Gelim Goosh

These creatures looked like people, but with this difference that they had large ears and would use their ears as blankets and something to sleep on. For this reason they were also called Goosh Bestar (one who sleeps on his ears).

In the books of prophets, Gelim Goosh people had a tribe called  Yajooj and Majooj that had a very high birth rate and because were a lot of people in their tribe they would go to different places and finish their resources. They have a very annoying sound and when they would go to a land they people of that land would take refuge in the mountains.

Looloo Khor Khore

This creature which is also known as looloo is an imaginary creature that is used to scare kids. Looloo Khor Khore does not have a certain shape and usually parent use this name to scare their kids especially when they do not eat food so that they would scare them into the fact that if they do not eat their food, looloo will come and eat them.

The name of Looloo Khor Khore has a very special meaning. The appearance of Looloo Khor Khore is not cited anywhere and in general the perception of any family of the devil can be the appearance of Looloo Khor Khore. In the culture of the republic of Azerbaijan, people consider Looloo to be a creature that forces kids to behave well. In their culture, Looloo Khor Khore is known as Khookhan.

In the English culture, looloo is known as the Boogeyman. In the Belgian culture, looloo is known as Rud Ozhen. This creature does not have a face and can turn himself into any shape he would desire. In Greece, looloo has the name of Baboolas which usually hides in the people’s bed.

Mantikoor

The other name of this creature is Mardkhar (man eater) which has a face like a human’s and a body a like a lion’s and a tale like a that of an scorpion. There are two kinds of Mantikoor, winged and brown.

The way this animal hunts is that at first it poisons the hunt with its tale and when the hunt is no longer to walk after being poisoned, it yanks off a part of the hunt’s flesh and throws away. By doing this, poison is extracted from the body of the hunt and Mantikoor can easily eat it. Mantikoor is larger than a lion, but smaller than a horse.

Mantikoor | Persian legends
Mantikoor | Persian legends
Mard Azma (One who tests a man)

This creature is a kind of elf that, in the opinion of the Balooch people, if anybody is not afraid of him, he will be friends with him, and if the person is afraid, Mard Azma will defeat him with fear. It is mentioned in the Persian legends, that Mard Azma comes across the path of travelers and scares them by shifting form, in order to measure their courage. In Southern Khorasan, Mard Azma is known as Morde Azma (one who tests the dead) what has the face of an ugly woman with a vertical mouth and horizontal teeth, which all makes her to have a scary face.

Malmedas

This creature has the face of a beautiful young woman and invites young men to sleep with her. But when they sleep together, her legs turn into saws and it tears the bodies of lustful young men.

Nasnas

It mentioned in Persian legends that this creature is a kind of elf that has half the organs of human body. Some people believe that Nasnas has both genders of male and female. In some culture, a baboon without a tale is referred to as a Nasnas. Previously, in Persian biology, monkeys were referred to as Nasnas.

Amoo Nowruz

Amoo Nowruz, who is also known as Baba Nowruz, is a person who gives presents to kids during the nights of Nowruz. Sistani people, instead of Baba Nowruz, believe in Bibi Nowruz or Bibi Gol Afrooz.

Amu Nowruz | Persian legends
Amu Nowruz | Persian legends
Nane Sarma

Nane Sarma has a personality like Amoo Nowruz who turns up at winter. The roots of this creature goes back to the time of Zarathustra.

Persian legends
Persian legends
Homa

In Persian legends, Homa is a symbol of prosperity and success. This creature which has a bird like shape, will bring prosperity for anyone onto whose head its shade falls. Thus this birds is also known as the bird of prosperity. It is interesting to know that in the ruins of Takhte Jamshid, two statues of Homa have been found which shows that the ancient Iranians believed in the prosperity that comes with this brid.

Hamzad

Hamzad is a person who looks exactly like you and has lived in the world of elves and have grown simultaneous to you. This superstitious belief is common among some Iranians. Among the ancient Egyptians also believed that each alive person has a Hamzad on earth, and of course they used to call him Hamzad Ka. Egyptians believe that when someone dies his Hamzad will live on.

Hadayvosh

This creature is one of the oldest creatures in the Persian legends that goes back to the era of Zarathustra. Hadayvosh who has the entity of a cow, is also called Sarsook, Sarishook, and Sarisook. Hadayvosh used to help people to get across the Caspian sea, or Khazar sea. It is said that when Armageddon happens, a person is created from the fat of this creature who has an eternal entity and is in a way a rapture for people who have done good deeds in their lives.

The skin of this creature is made of varnished brass and has a mane of fire. Its horns, much like any other cow is coming out from two sides of its head. Even though Hadayvosh has a very big body and a high weight, but acts as regular oxen.

Persian legends are filled with different stories of love, pride, brotherhood, loyalty, etc. that have been transferred generation by generation and have been preserved like a valuable treasure chest. We will read about the most well-known Persian legends in the remaining of this article.

The Myth of Leili and Majnun

There are not a lot of Iranians who do not know about the romantic and dramatic story of Leili o Majnun. This romantic myth is composed by Nezami Ganjavi as a poem. The story of this myth is about a boy and girl who fall in love with each other at school and the boy who is named Gheys goes crazy due to his great love for Leili and for this reason the people of the town call him Majnun (which in Persian means crazy). With his family, Majnun goes to Leili to ask her hand in marriage but is rejected. In the end, this marriage proposal is turned into a tribal war and in the path of loving Leili, Majnun becomes even more crazy.

The Myth of Fereidun and Zahhak

Zahhak is the son of king Merdas that one day after being enticed by the devil rebels against his father and replaces him by killing him. In this midst, the devil entices Zahhak again and by kissing his shoulders makes two snakes grow from them. The devil who is looking after the destruction of the people of the world, tells Zahhak that in order to grow the snakes on his shoulders he needs to feed them the brains of young men. One night Zahhak sees a dread whose meaning is the destruction of Zahhak by a young man. Thus, he orders the murder of all infant boys all across the land.

In this midst, only one of the mothers saves his son and takes him to the mountain of Alborz and leaves him with a religious man. The son who was named Fereidun turned out to be the son in the nightmare of Zahhak and goes to war with Zahhak with the help of people and Kaveh the blacksmith. But Fereidun does not kill Zahhak because of the message he receives from Soroosh and locks Zahhak in the Damavand mountain with nails.

Zahhak
Zahhak
The Myth of Khosro and Shirin; One of the Most Well-known Myths Among Persian Legends

This myth is also written by Nezami Ganjavi and also Ferdowsi in Shahname and is also known as Shirin and Farhad. In this story, Khosro the king of Iran falls in love with Shirin the Armenian princess in the first glance. In the story of Khosro, there is no sign of difficult love stories, but in fact every time Khosro has a fight with his lover, he goes to other women, and in a way he is a lustful king.

Many people believe that the love of Shirin for Khosro was much more. But this myth is not solely about Khosro and Shirin and is a small story in the grand story of a young man who is a mountain carver. After hearing the voice of Shirin, Farhad falls in love with her and the story of his love is heard everywhere. After hearing this, Khosro asks Farhad to carve a path between two mountains so that this would make Farhad forget Shirin. Khosro orders him to do so, hoping that he will be unable of doing this. But Farhad, who is madly in love with Shirin, accepts this spends days carving mountain.

One day Shirin goes to see Farhad and this meeting of the lover, gives Farhad a new life, so much so that everyone believed that work of carving the mountain will be finished in a month. By counseling with the people around him, Khosro got to this conclusion that the only way to stop Farhad is to tell him Shirin had died, and right he was, because after Farhad hears this false news, he throws himself off the mountain and his dramatic love story ends like this.

Esfandiar’s Seven Labors

This part of Shahname is about a detailed travel of Esfandiar in which he wants to free his sisters Homa and Beh Afarid from a foreign country. To do so he had to pass seven big threats, and each one of these seven labors will threaten his life in a way. The seventh labor which was killing a Gorgsar (a man with the head of a wolf) gets him to his destination. Esfandiar succeeds in getting to the castle of Roueen and freeing his sisters.

Persian Legends and Rostam’s Seven Labors

The sevenfold battles that are in Shahname are known as the seven labors. The seven labors are the battles that Rostam goes through to save Keikavous the king of Iran who is in custody of the white devil. In this myth, Rostam battles with the white devil and succeeds in defeating him and saving the king. After defeating the white devil. Rostam takes its river for the blinded king Keikavous and by giving him a drop of the devil’s livers, Rostam gives the king his sight back.

Bijan and Manije

This story is one of the most well-known Persian legends which narrates the love between Bijan, the son of Giv, and Manije, the daughter of Afrasiab. In order to get to each other, these two go through many hardships and sacrifice a lot, and in the end they get engaged with each other.

Kadoo Ghel Ghele Zan (The Rolling Pumpkin)

This story is one of the oldest Persian legends which is also a part of the chain legends as well. This myth is the story of an old woman who embarks on a travel to see his daughter and son-in-law and through the travel she is met by wild animals that want to rip her apart.

She persuades the wild animals to wait until she goes to the home of her daughter and becomes fat and chubby and then would come back to the animals so that they would eat her. The animals accept this proposition, but the old woman has fooled them and on her back home, she stays in a pumpkin (Kadoo) and goes home safe and sound passing all of them.

The Rolling Pumpkin
The Rolling Pumpkin

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I think losing your travel documents, money, and your phone in a foreign country is on the top place in the list of top things you must be scared of when you go abroad. You can google the list of the cities famous for their pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Now, if you’re coming to Iran, hearing the financial news in Iran might worry you a little; and in fact, the tourist centres and crowded areas are no exception in this case. But statistics show that Iran is almost a lot better and safer than other countries in this case. But, only in case you want to travel with peace of mind, keep these points in mind: • You don’t have carry your passport with you to everywhere you go; only a copy of that would suffice. No one usually asks for it. • You will need cash, but you shouldn’t carry all the cash you have with you. • I suggest you to put your eggs in different baskets, I mean split your money and put it in different places so in case you get robbed, you will have some money left. • It’t better to use bags and handbags instead of backpack in crowded places like bazaars; so you can always watch the zippers. • And always keep an eye on your phone!