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A Z, Iran Culture & People
Last Updated: October, 2009

Oghuz Turks: One of the major branches of Turkish tribes migrating south into Persia from 10th century. The followers of one of their leaders, Saljuq, became known as Saljuq Turks and ruled many territories including Iran.

Old Iranian: A sub-group of Indo-European languages which spread across the Iranian plateau 1350-350 BC. Of these languages, Avestan and Old Persian are textually preserved. Others such as Median, Parthian, Sogdian, Carduchi and Scythian are known from Greek sources.

Old Persian: Old Persian was spoken in southwestern Iran, was contemporary to Avestan spoken in northeast. The oldest traces of Old Persian date to the 6th century BC, but it was spoken until the 3rd century BC, and is preserved in cuneiform tablets from Achaemenid dynasty.

OPEC: The Organization of petroleum Producing Countries was
created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. More members joined in later. It has the objective to co-ordinate and unify petroleum policies among Member Countries.

Ottoman Empire (1350-1918): Following the breakdown of the Saljuq Empire many small Turkish states were formed including the Ottomans. Soon they absorbed all the neighboring states. In 1453 they captured Constantinople (Istanbul) and ended Byzantium Empire.

Pahlavi: Both a language and a script. Pahlavi is an Iranian language spoken between 3rd century BC and 9th century AD. The Pahlavi script evolved from the Aramaic script and was written from right to left. The last Iranian dynasty in Iran adopted the same name in 20th century.

Parni: Nomadic tribe from Central-Asian steppe, they were Iranian in origin and are unknown before the third century BC. Moving south they joined a major confederation of Dahae tribes. The Dahae disintegrated after the fall of the Achaemenid Empire, and amongst many groups that emerged out of the larger group were Parni.

Parsis of India: The Zoroastrian community of India. They left Iran around eight century AD to escape persecution in Iran. They maintained a prosperous community in India and in late nineteenth and early twentieth century helped the Zoroastrian community in Iran.

Parthia (Parthava): Belonging to the Parni tribe, these Iranian tribes moving south became known as Parthians, and created a major empire. They were settled in northwest Iran before expanding and were praised for their archery and horsemanship.

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK): The leftist organization was set up by Jalal Talabai, a Kurdish leader, in 1975 in Iraq.  With the KDP they have jointly administered northern Iraqi territories after the Gulf War. They have been opposing Barazani group for decades.

Persians: An Indo Iranian group who entered Iran around 1000 BC, conquered the whole area, and created the Persian Empire.

Peshmerges(ready to die): Kurdish guerrilla fighters who perform suicide attacks. They were very active in Iraq against Saddam Hussein. Currently they are helping the US troops in Iraq.

Pish-e Kuhi: The name is applied to a region and also Luri/Kurdish tribes inhabiting the area. The name means ‘in front of the mountain’.

Pizhdar Kurds: Border Kurdish tribes living in Iraq and Iran. Their language is Sorani in origin.

Prophet Muhammad: Founder of Islam. He was forty years old when he received revelations about the new religion. By the time he died, he had conquered the whole of Arabia under the banner of Islam

Pusht-e Kuhi: The name is applied to a region and also Luri/Kurdish tribes inhabiting the area. The name means ‘behind the mountain’.

Qajars: Turkmen group from Oghuz ancestry. They ruled Iran from 1796 to 1925.

Qanun: The newspaper published in early 1890 by Malkum Khan in London. Qanun means ‘law’. The paper became widely popular and discussed major issues with respect to reform in Iran and the merits of having a constitution.

Qarakhanids: Turkish tribes from Central Asia. They belonged to the Qarluq tribal confederation and became prominent during the 9th in Transoxiana.

Qara Quyunlu: The name means, tribes with black sheep, a major confederation of Turkmen with many sub-tribes, expanding into Asia Minor and into Iran. They were closely related to their rival, Aq Quyunlu tribes, and entered the area around the same time, in 11th century.

Qavam al-Molk Shirazi: Qavam family of Shiraz has been amongst the most prominent families in Fars and Iran. They served many kings over the centuries and at times, some were persecuted. In the early twentieth century Qavam, al-Molk united many groups including the Khamseh and improved the security of the area. He is not related to Ahmad Qavam Saltaneh.

Qavam al-Saltaneh, Ahmad (1882-1955): He was one of the most significant and influential political figures of the twentieth century Iran. Born in Azerbaijan, he served as prime minister five times. Originally a supporter of Reza Khan, he was pushed aside by the powerful new Shah Reza Pahlavi. He came back as prime minister after Reza Shah’s departure in 1941.

Quran: Muslims’ holy book, it is written in Arabic, and Muslim’s believe that its contents were revealed directly to Prophet Muhammad.

Quratt al-ain: The legendary Babi leader who was murdered during the Babi persecution in the early 1850s. She belonged to a prominent family of clergyman and was married to one. She became a Babi leader and left her husband and family behind to fight for the Babi cause. Also known as Tahireh (pure) she removed her veil in a meeting of Babi leaders and caused a split in the sect.

Quti: From Zagros origin, they occupied eastern Mesopotamia, southwest Iran inhabiting what is now the Zagros Mountains. They appeared around 2200 BC, and are sometimes referred to as Guti, Gu-ti-um. They belonged to the same linguistic and racial group as Kassites and Lullubi.

Ramadan (Ramazan):  The Muslim month of fasting. All healthy adult Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset during the month and refrain from sexual activity while fasting. 

Resurgence (Rastakhiz) Party: In 1975, the Shah replaced the two legitimate state run political parties with one called, Rastakhiz. When criticized by the foreign journalists for being a totalitarian, he commented that those who do not agree with the system should leave the country.  

Reza Khan (1878-1944): He was born in Mazandaran Iran. He ended the Qajar dynasty and in a relatively short period of time restored security and stability to Iran. His attempts to modernize the country were welcomed by many Iranians and opposed by some. He is regarded as the founder of Modern Iran.

Sadeh Festival (Jashn i Sadeh): Sadeh means 100, and is a mid-winter feast marking the 100 days before No Ruz. It had lost its significance, and then renewed by Zoroastrians in the 20th century and has become popular amongst many Iranians. 

Saka: A Scythian group invading Iran from around 8th century BC and gradually settled down in Iran. They gave their name to the town of Sakiz to the south of Lake Urmia.

Salour (Salur): A major Sunni Turkmen group in Iran. From the 8th until the 11th centuries along with the other Oghuz Turks, they inhabited the area between the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea in central Asia. Their woven products and rugs are well known.

Sanjabi: a Kurdish tribe and a dialect from South Kurmanji origin. Most live in Iran.

Sarmatians: Coalition of Iranian nomadic tribes who lived on the plains between the Black and Caspian Seas. They had a hierarchical society with slaves and their women had better status compared to other societies.

Scythians: War like Indo-Iranian nomadic tribes, they occupied an area extending from European Russia to northern China.

Seezdeh Beh Dar (Getting rid of the omen of the 13th day): This festival happens on the 13th day of the first Iranian month and ends the No Ruz celebrations. All Iranians will spend the day in nature. Originally it has been a celebration of ancient deities, protectors of rains and waters.

Shafi’i School:  One of the four orthodox schools of law in Sunni Islam. Along with Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali, the four provide different readings or interpretations of legal matters related to Quran or Hadith literature.

Shahilu: The most prominent family amongst the Qashqa‘i belonging to the Amaleh group. The chief of the Qashqa‘i confederation is usually chosen from amongst the Shahilu family.

Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asad Abadi (al-Afghani, 1839-1897): He was born in Iran from a Turkish speaking Shiite family in Hamadan. He studied theology in Iraq and came under the influence of the Shaykhy school of Shi‘ism. He traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, India, and Europe. He opposed European domination and propagated nationalism. He promoted Pan Islamism, as a way to fight European dominance. 

Shahnameh: The book of the kings, Shahnameh is an icon by itself, and is a translation of pre-Islamic stories, myths, and contains the legendary histories of Iranians before Islam. Written in New Persian in 10th century, its writer Firdusi, declared, that by writing Shahnameh he saved the Persian language. It indeed became the standard in Persian language, and greatly influenced later writers and poets.

Shakak:  A Kurdish tribe in Iran, Iraq and turkey. Their dialect is of Kurmanji origin.

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