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Faravahar relief in Persepolis.

The Faravahar (Persian: فروهر‎), also known as Farre Kiyâni (فر کیانی), is one of the most well-known symbols of Iran and Zoroastrianism, the primary religion of Iran before the Muslim conquest of Persia, and of Iranian nationalism.[1][2] There are various interpretations of what the Faravahar symbolizes, but there is no universal consensus.[3]


The New Persian word فروهر is read as forouhar or faravahar (pronounced as furōhar in Old Persian). The Middle Persian forms were frawahr (Book Pahlavi: plwʾhl, Manichaean: prwhr), frōhar (recorded in Pazend as 𐬟𐬭𐬋𐬵𐬀𐬭‎; it is a later form of the previous form), and fraward (Book Pahlavi: plwlt', Manichaean: frwrd), which was directly from Old Persian *fravarti-.[3][4] The Avestan language form was fravaṣ̌i (𐬟𐬭𐬀𐬎𐬎𐬀𐬴𐬌).

In Iranian and Zoroastrian culture[edit]

Faravahar on a coin of Vadfradad I (Autophradates I).

Even after the Arab conquest of Iran, Zoroastrianism continued to be part of Iranian culture. Throughout the year, festivities are celebrated such as Nowruz, Mehregan, and Chaharshanbe Suri which relate to Zoroastrian festivals and calendar.. These are remnants of Zoroastrian traditions. From the start of the 20th century, the Faravahar icon found itself in public places and became a known icon among Iranians. The Shahnameh by Ferdowsi is Iran's national epic and contains stories (partly historical and partly mythical) from pre-Islamic Zoroastrian times. The tomb of Ferdowsi (built early 1930), which is visited by numerous Iranians every year, contains the Faravahar icon as well.[5]

The Sun Throne, the imperial seat of Persia, has visual implications of the Farahavar. The sovereign would be seated in the middle of the throne, which is shaped like a platform or bed that is raised from the ground. This religious-cultural symbol was adapted by the Pahlavi dynasty to represent the Iranian nation.[6] In modern Zoroastrianism, one of the interpretations of the Faravahar is that it is a representation of the human soul and its development along with a visual guide of good conduct.[1] Another popular interpretation is that it is a visual representation of a Fravashi, though Fravashis are described in Zoroastrian literature as being feminine.[3] One of the most prevalent views in academia as to the meaning of the Faravahar is that it represents Khvarenah, the divine power and royal glory.[3] Although there are a number of interpretations of the individual elements of the symbol, most are recent interpretations and there is still debate as to its meaning.

After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Lion and Sun, which was part of Iran's original national flag, was banned by the government from public places in order to prevent people from being reminded of life prior to the revolution. Nevertheless, Faravahar icons were not removed and as a result, the Faravahar icon became a national symbol for Iranians, and it became tolerated by the government as opposed to the Lion and Sun.[7] The winged discs has a long history in the art, religion, and culture of the ancient Near and Middle East, being about 4000 years old in usage and noted as also symbolizing Ashur, Shamash, and other deities.[1]



  1. ^ a b c "What Does the Winged Symbol of Zoroastrianism Mean?". About.com Religion & Spirituality. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  2. ^ "Sacred Symbols". Zoroastrianism for beginners. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  3. ^ a b c d Boyce, Mary (15 December 2000). "FRAVAŠI". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  4. ^ MacKenzie, David Neil (1986). A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-713559-5.
  5. ^ "FERDOWSI, ABU'L-QĀSEM iii. MAUSOLEUM – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  6. ^ "ZOROASTRIANS OF 19TH-CENTURY YAZD AND KERMAN – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  7. ^ Najmabadi, Afsaneh (2005). Gender and sexual anxieties of Iranian Modernity. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-24262-9.

External link[edit]

Media related to Faravahar at Wikimedia Commons