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Parthian Literature

During the Parthian period, non-religious myths and legends were transmitted by means of word of mouth through story-tellers and raconteurs. One group of them was known as the “gusān”. The gusāns were minstrels or wandering poets and musicians who had memorized the national legends of Iran and who would especially relate them in poetry form. Some of these stories were later on used in the compilation of the “Khodāynāmeye Pahlavi” and eventually found their way into Ferdowsi’s “Shāhnāmeh”. The story of “Vays va Rāmin” (Vays and Rāmin) is one of the Persian love stories which was in poetry form and was Parthian in origin and which contains interesting information on the lifestyle, customs, and traditions of the Parthians. It is quite likely that some of the stories from the “Shāhnāmeh” like the story of “Bizhan and Manizheh” are also of Parthian origin.

A number of written texts in the Parthian language (the official language of the Parthians) - also written in the Parthian script - have survived on stone, leather, ceramics, metal, coins, seals, etc. Some of the Parthian inscriptions belong to the Sassanian period and a number of them are bilingual and tri-lingual. Similarly, two treatises named the “Derakht-e Āsurig” (The Āsurig Tree) and the “Yādegār-e Zariran” (In Memory of Golden Iran) in the Middle Persian language are available to us today, a study of the language styles and the poetic contexts of which as well as the employment of Parthian words in them clearly reveal that they are tampered versions with originally Parthian roots.

 

* source: Zarshenas , Zohreh " Iran Entry " The Great Islamic Encyclopedia . Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 , pp.559 - 560

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