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Story of Phoenix

 Artwork: Yousef H.


  • noun (in classical mythology) a unique bird that periodically burned itself on a funeral pyre and was born again from the ashes.
( From Oxford Online Dictionary)

This Bird,Mentioned in the legends of Ancient Egyptian, Persian, Greek and Arabian culture; symbolize of the immortality.

In Persian it is called Simurg ( Si=30 & Murg(Murgh)= Bird) , that is an ancient persian fairy tale, and we come back to this later.

The bird is called as Anka which means necklace in Arabic, because its neck is covered with white features like a necklace. 

Simurg used in Persian  and Anka used in Arabic are used together in Turkish.  It is also called as "Zümrüdüanka" in the public language.
The ancient Turks usually called it as Togrol or Tuğrul, it was also called as "Devekuşu"  among the common people 
                          Sassanid silver plate of a Simorgh (Sēnmurw), 7-8th c. CE


Artwork: Farangis Yeganeh

The name 'Simorgh' (Persian:
سيمرغ) derives from Middle Persian Pahlavi Senmurv, Sēnmurw (and earlier Sēnmuruγ), also attested in Middle Persian Pāzand as Sīna-Mrū. The Middle Persian term derives in turn from Avestan mərəγō Saēnō "the bird Saēna", originally a raptor, likely an eagle, falcon or sparrowhawk, as can be deduced from the etymologically identical Sanskrit śyena that also appears as a divine figure. Saēna is also found as a personal name which is derived from the bird's name.


  • 1 Mythology
    • 1.1 Form and function
    • 1.2 In the Shahnameh
  • 2 In modern media
  • 3 Bibliography and further reading

[] 1 - Mythology

[] 1.1 Form and function

The simorgh is depicted in Iranian art as a winged creature in the shape of a bird, gigantic enough to carry off an elephant or a whale. It appears as a kind of peacock with the head of a dog and the claws of a lion; sometimes however also with a human face. The simorgh is inherently benevolent and unambiguously female. Being part mammal, she suckles her young. The Simorgh has teeth. It has an enmity towards snakes and its natural habitat is a place with plenty of water. Its feathers are said to be the colour of copper, and though it was originally described as being a Dog-Bird, later it was shown with either the head of a man or a dog."Si-", the first element in the name, has been connected in folk etymology to Modern Persian si "thirty". Although this prefix is not historically related to the origin of the name Simorgh, "thirty" has nonetheless been the basis for legends incorporating that number, for instance, that the Simorgh was as large as thirty birds or had thirty colours (siræng).Iranian legends consider the bird so old that it had seen the destruction of the World three times over. The Simorgh learned so much by living so long that it is thought to possess the knowledge of all the Ages. In one legend, the Simorgh was said to live 1700 years before plunging itself into flames (cf. the phoenix).The Simorgh was considered to purify the land and waters and hence bestow fertility. The creature represented the union between the earth and the sky, serving as mediator and messenger between the two. The Simorgh roosted in Gaokerena, the Hōm (Avestan: Haoma) Tree of Life, which stands in the middle of the world sea Vourukhasa. The plant is potent medicine, is called all-healing, and the seeds of all plants are deposited on it. When the Simorgh took flight, the leaves of the tree of life shook making all the seeds of every plant to fall out. These seeds floated around the world on the winds of Vayu-Vata and the rains of Tishtrya, in cosmology taking root to become every type of plant that ever lived, and curing all the illnesses of mankind.The relationship between the Simorgh and the Hōm is extremely close. Like Simurgh, Hōm is represented as a bird, a messenger, and as the essence of purity that can heal any illness or wound. Hōm - appointed as the first priest - is the essence of divinity, a property that it shares with Simorgh. The Hōm is in addition the vehicle of farr(ah) (MP: khwarrah, Avestan: khvarenah, kavaēm kharēno) "[divine] glory" or "fortune". Farrah in turn represents the divine mandate that was the foundation of a king's authority. It appears as a bird that rests on the head or shoulder of would-be kings and clerics, so indicating Ormuzd's acceptance of that individual as His divine representative on earth. For the commoner Bahram wraps fortune/glory "around the house of the worshipper, for wealth in cattle, like the great bird Saena, and as the watery clouds cover the great mountains" (Yasht 14.41, cf. the rains of Tishtrya above). Like Simorgh, farrah is also associated with the waters of Vourukasha (Yasht 19.51,.56-57).In the 12th century Conference of the Birds, Iranian Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar wrote of a band of pilgrim birds in search of the Simurgh. According to the poet's tale, the Simurgh has thirty holes in her beak and drew the wind through them whenever she was hungry. Animals heard a pretty music and gathered at the peak of a mountain where they were eaten by the Simurgh. Through cultural assimilation the Simurgh was introduced to the Arabic-speaking world, where the concept was conflated with other Arabic mythical birds such as the Ghoghnus and developed as the Rukh (the origin of the English word "Roc").

Artwork: Mehrgan

[]1.2  In the Shahnameh

The Simorgh made its most famous appearance in the Ferdowsi's epic Shahname (Book of Kings), where its involvement with the Prince Zal is described. According to the Shahname, Zal, the son of Saam, was born albino. When Saam saw his albino son, he assumed that the child was the spawn of devils, and abandoned the infant on the mountain Alborz.The child's cries were carried to the ears of the tender-hearted Simorgh, who lived on top this peak, and she retrieved the child and raised him as her own. Zal was taught much wisdom from the loving Simorgh, who has all knowledge, but the time came when he grew into a man and yearned to rejoin the world of men. Though the Simorgh was terribly saddened, she gifted him with a single golden feather which he was to burn if he ever needed her assistance.Upon returning to his kingdom, Zal fell in love and married the beautiful Rudaba. When it came time for their son to be born, the labour was prolonged and terrible; Zal was certain that his wife would die in labour. Rudabah was near death when Zal decided to summon the Simurgh. The Simorgh appeared and instructed him upon how to perform a cesarean section thus saving Rudabah and the child, who became one of the greatest Persian heroes, Rostam.

Artwork: Akhavian
[] 2 - In modern media

Simurgh in Final Fantasy XI

  • Simurgh has appeared in Squaresoft's Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XI computer games as enemy and notorious enemy respectively.
  • Simorgh has also appeared in Piers Anthony's Xanth series, as an immortal and incredibly wise bird.
  • Simurgh is the name of the AMP's Rapid Response ship in the anime Silent Mobius
  • Simorgh was recently made into a card for the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, as "Simorgh- Bird of Divinity" in the Lord of the Storm structure deck.
  • Salman Rushdie based much of his first book "Grimus" on the story of Simurg of which it is an anagram.
  • In The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter, Bastian creates a dragon called Simurgh.
  • Simurgh is a mech that is found in highly popular japanese video game series; Super Robot Wars. There is an upgraded version called Simurgh Splendid. This unit is later renamed Angelg and given a slightly different design.

[] 3- Bibliography and further reading

  • Schmidt, Hanns-Peter. (2003). "Simorgh". Encyclopedia Iranica. Cosa Mesa: Mazda Pub. 
  • Ghahremani, Homa A. (1984). "Simorgh: An Old Persian Fairy Tale". Sunrise magazine (June/July). 
Schmidt, Hanns-Peter. (2003). "Simorgh".


 By: Hanns-Peter SchmidtDecember 2002  Sênmurw (Pahlavi), Sîna-Mrû (Pâzand), a fabulous, mythical bird. The name derives from Avestan mərəγô saênô 'the bird Saêna', originally a raptor, either eagle or falcon, as can be deduced from the etymologically identical Sanskrit s‚yena‚. Saêna is also attested as a personal name which is derived from the bird name.n the Avestan Yasht 14.41 Vərəqragna, the deity of victory, wraps xvarnah, fortune, round the house of the worshipper, for wealth in cattle, like the great bird Saêna, and as the watery clouds cover the great mountains, which means that Saêna will bring rain. In Yasht 12.17 Saêna's tree stands in the middle of the sea Vourukasha, it has good and potent medicine, is called all-healing, and the seeds of all plants are deposited on it. This scanty information is supplemented by the Pahlavi texts. In the Mênôg î Xrad (ed. Anklesaria, 61.37-41) the Sênmurw's nest is on the "tree without evil and of many seeds." When the bird rises, a thousand shoots grow from the tree, and when he (or she) alights, he breaks a thousand shoots and lets the seeds drop from them. The bird Cînâmrôsh (Camrôsh) collects the seeds and disperses them where Tishtar (Sirius) will seize the water with the seeds and rain them down on the earth. While here the bird breaks the branches with his weight, in Bundahishn 16.4 (tr. Anklesaria) he makes the tree wither, which seems to connect him with the scorching sun. An abbreviated form of this description is found in Zâdspram 3.39; a gloss on the Pahlavi translation of Yasht 14.41 confuses the tree of many seeds with the tree of the White Hôm. Two birds are involved in the scattering of the seeds also in the New Persian Rivâyat of Dârâb Hormazyâr (tr. Dhabhar, p. 99), here called Amrôsh and Camrôsh, Amrôsh taking the place of Sênmurw; these names derive from Avestan amru and camru, personal names taken from bird names.The seasonal activity of the Sênmurw in conjunction with Camrôsh and Tishtar can be interpreted consistently in astronomical terms. The identity of Tishtar with Sirius, the brightest star of the constellation Canis Major (the Great Dog), is well established, and it can be assumed that Sênmurw and Camrôsh are stars, too. For Sênmurw the constellation Aquila (Eagle), or its most prominent star, Altair (Ar. al-tÂayr 'the bird'), is the most likely candidate. The heliacal rise of Sirius in July corresponds to the setting of Aquila . Camrôsh may be identified with Cygnus (Swan), which sets some time after Aquila . The influence of Greek astronomy and astrology is well attested in Sasanian Iran , but itself goes back to Babylonian sources, and it is quite possible that the Avestan source was dependent on them (contra Schmidt, p. 10). The assumption that the rise of Tishtar signals the beginning of the rains, as it does in Egypt, and must therefore be a direct borrowing, is not compatible with the climate of most of Iran . The rise of Tishtar will rather signal the beginning of his fight with Apaosha, the demon of drought. In the torrid summer months Tishtar gains in strength, and it is with the defeat of Apaosha that the rains begin in late fall (cf. Forssman, p. 57 n. 9; Panaino, p. 18ff.).In the Pahlavi Rivâyat accompanying the Dâdestân î Dênîg (ed. Dhabhar, 31c8) the Sênmurw makes his/her nest in the forest at the time of the resurrection when the earth becomes flat and the waters stand still. As Williams (II, p. 185) rightly remarks, this means that the Sênmurw will retire from his/her task to distribute the seeds of the plants. In the Ayâdgâr-î Zarêrân (Jamasp-Asa I, 12.3) Zarêr's horse is called sên-i murwag, possibly because of its strength and swiftness.The Sênmurw has an evil counterpart in the bird Kamak, who is one of the monsters killed by Karshâsp (Mênôg-î Xrad 27.50). The Saddar Bundahishn (20.37-43; tr. Dhabhar, p. 518) gives a description of its activities which are the exact opposite of those of the Sênmurw: When Kamak appeared he spread his wings over the whole world, all the rain fell on his wings and back into the sea, drought struck the earth, men died, springs, rivers and wells dried up. Kamak devoured men and animals as a bird pecks grain. Karshâsp showers arrows on him day and night like rain till he succumbs. In killing men Kamak is the opposite of Camrôsh, who pecks up the enemies of Iran like grain (Bundahishn 24.24).In the chapter on the classification of animals of the Bundahishn the three-fingered Sên is called the largest of the birds (13.10), and also the Sênmurw is of the species of birds (13.22); they are obviously identical. The three-fingered Sên was created first among the birds, but is not the chief, a position held by the Karshipt (according to the Indian Bundahishn 24.11 a carg, falcon or hawk), the bird that brought the religion to the enclosure (var) of Jamshêd (cf. Vd. 2.42) (17.11). In 13.34-35 the Sênmurw has come to the sea Frâxkard (Vourukasha) before all the other birds. In Zâdspram 23.2 the Karshipt and the Sênmurw are singled out among the birds to attend the conference with OÚhrmazd on the animals, the creatures protected by Wahman. Bundahishn 13 contains serious contradictions. While in 10 and 22 the Sênmurw is a bird, in 23 it is one of the species of bats: they are of the genera of the dog, the bird, and the muskrat because they fly like a bird, have teeth like a dog and a cave for dwelling like the muskrat. Zâdspram 3.65 does not make the bats a separate genus, but counts them and the Sênmurw among the birds, though they are of a different nature, having teeth and feeding their young with milk from their breasts. Bundahishn 13.23 contradicts not only 10 and 22 but also 15.13, where the Sênmurw is counted among the oviparous birds. From this stare of affairs it can be inferred that there was an older version, in which the Sênmurw was a bird pure and simple as in the Avesta, and a later one, in which she was a bat, and that the compiler of the Bundahishn has confused them. With the change to a bat the Sênmurw changed gender from male to female.An identification of the original Sênmurw with a known bird is difficult. The Sên's being called three-fingered is puzzling, since most birds have four claws. Herzfeld (1930, pp. 142-43) suggested the ostrich, which has only three claws, but this is impossible because the ostrich is an African flightless bird. The epithet may then be based on the observation of the bird when perching on the branch of a tree when only three claws are visible. The Sênmurw in representative art also has only three claws but, contrary to my earlier opinion (Schmidt, p. 59), it is hardly the source of the description. The three-fingered Sên is the largest bird (Bundahishn 13.10) mentioned among the large birds, side by side with the eagle (âluh) and the lammergeier (dâlman); this excludes the falcon, which is much smaller than either of them. In size and habitat the closest possibility would be the black vulture (Aigypius monachus), which nests mostly in trees, but as a scavenger does not hunt live prey. Therefore I would suggest the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), particularly if the identification with the constellation Aquila is correct. That the Simorgh was not known solely as a mythological being, but also as a real bird, can be inferred from the fact that in Judeo-Persian the word translates the Hebrew näshär 'eagle' (cf. Asmussen).In post-Sasanian times the Simorgh occurs in the epic, folktales, and mystical literature. In Ferdowsi's ˆâh-nâma Simorgh is the savior, tutor and guardian of Zâl-e zar. This motif is attested first in Iran for Achaemenes, who was reared by an eagle according to Aelian (De natura animalium XII, 2). Because Zâl was born an albino, his father Sâm considered him to be of demonic origin and exposed him in the Alburz mountains. The female bird Simorgh found the child when she was searching for food for her young. God gave the bird the feeling of love (mehr) for the child. Seeing that the child was crying for milk, she took him to her nest to rear him with her own young, which also showed love for the boy. She chose the most tender meat for him so that he could suck the blood as a substitute for the milk he lacked. When Zâl was grown up, Sâm had a dream that made him repent his sin, and set out in search of his son. He found him with the Simorgh, who returned the young man to his father. Before letting him go, she gave him one of her feathers: by burning it he would be able to call her for help (ˆâh-nâma, ed. Mohl, I, p. 217ff.). The first time she was called for assistance was at the birth of Zâl's son, Rostam. The bird suggested they anaesthetize the mother with wine before opening up her side and also prescribed the herbs for healing the wound; the healing was completed by touching the wound with the bird's feather (I, p. 351ff.). For the second and last time the Simorgh was called when Rostam and his horse Rakòsh were wounded by the arrows of Esfandiâr (q.v.); she extracted the arrows and healed the wounds. Knowing the secrets of fate (râz-e sepehr) she warned that whoever killed Esfandiâr would be damned in this and the next world. Finally, however, she took Rostam in a single night to the tamarisk tree from which the fatal arrow was cut (IV, p. 665ff.). Zâl called the wings of the Simorgh fortune and grace (farr), and she offered him the feather with the words: "be always in the shadow of my fortune and grace (sâya-ye farr-e man)" (I, p. 226 lines 175, 181). Metaphorically this conveys the sense of protection and the granting of boons and powers. It is similar to the wrapping of fortune round the house in Yasht 14.41. When coming down from the mountain, the Simorgh is compared to a cloud, a comparison also implied in the Yasht. She presses Zâl's body against her breast and thereby fills the world with the smell of musk. This may be a reflex of the muskrat nature of the Sênmurw in the Bundahishn. The Simorgh, protector of Zâl and Rostam, has an evil counterpart called by the same name. She lives on a mountain and looks like a mountain or a black cloud; she can carry off crocodiles, panthers and elephants. She has two young ones as big as herself. This Simorgh is one of the adversaries Esfandiâr kills in the course of his seven exploits on the way to the castle of Arjâsp . To overcome the huge monster Esfandiâr constructs a large chariot spiked all over with swords which cut the bird to pieces (IV, p. 509f.). It is not impossible that both birds are originally identical and the Simorgh is ambivalent. Her benevolent behavior towards Zâl was due to God's intervention, and went against her nature as a raptor. In the contemptuous description of Zâl's origin it is said that the Simorgh spared the child because she could not stomach him (IV, p. 612).Trever (pp. 20-21) quotes two Kurdish folktales about a bird called Sîmîr, the Kurdish reflex of Simorgh. In one of them the hero rescues the young of the birds by killing a snake that is crawling up the tree to devour them. As a reward Sîmîr gives him three of her feathers; by burning them he can call her for help. Later he calls her, and she carries him to a distant land. In the other tale she carries the hero out of the netherworld; here she feeds her young with her teats, a trait which agrees with the description of the Sênmurw by Zâdspram. The bird also feeds the hero on the journey while he feeds her with pieces of sheep's fat and water. Similar is an Armenian folktale (Trever, p. 21-22) in which the hero is lost in the netherworld and only the bird Sînam can carry him out. The young of Sînam are regularly eaten by the serpent Vishap. The hero kills the snake and goes to sleep under the tree. The returning bird spreads her wings to shield him from the sun. As reward she takes him to the world of light. He must feed her with sheep's fat and wine. When the fat is eaten up the hero cuts a piece of flesh from his leg and gives it to the bird. She recognizes that it is human flesh and does not swallow it, but restores it to the hero's leg at the end of the journey, a deed consonant with the curative powers of the Simorgh. These versions obviously go back to the common stock of Iranian Simorgh stories (see Marzolph, Types 301, 301E*, 449, 550(8), 707(1)). Similar tales are widely attested in Eurasian folklore (cf. Ruben, pp. 511ff.).In classical and modern Persian literature the Simorgh is frequently mentioned, particularly as a metaphor for God in Sufi mysticism. In this context the bird is probably understood as male. The most famous example is Farid-al-Din Atátáâr's MantÂeq al-táayr 'The parliament of the birds' (cf. Ritter, p. 11ff., Bürgel, pp. 5-6). The Simorgh is the king of the birds; he is close to them, but they are far from him, he lives behind the mountains called Kâf, his dwelling is inaccessible, no tongue can utter his name. Before him hang a hundred thousand veils of light and darkness. "Once, Simorgh unveiled his face like the sun and cast his shadow over the earth...Every garment covering the fields is a shadow of the beautiful Simorgh." Fauth (p. 128) sees in this a memory of the Sênmurw dispersing the seeds. Thirty birds (si morgh) that have survived the hard and perilous quest for their king reach his palace. Coming face to face with the sun of his majesty they realize that they, the thirty birds of the outer world, are one with the Simorgh of the inner world. Finally the birds lose themselves forever in the Simorgh they, the shadows, are lost in him, the sun.The classification of the Sênmurw as a bat belonging to three genera in the Bundahishn has led Camilla Trever to identify a composite animal in Sasanian art as the Sênmurw. This animal has the head of a dog, the wings and—in most examples—the tail of a peacock. It has precursors in Scythian art of a millennium earlier, one example of which shows a striking resemblance to the Sasanian representation (Schmidt, fig. 2); it cannot be established what they were called nor can a historical connection be made, because composite animals of similar type are found in the Near East, Central Asia, and China. Various forerunners have been claimed as a model, such as the lion-griffin of Mesopotamia (Harper, 1961, pp. 95-101) and the Hellenistic hippocampus (Herzfeld, 1920, p. 134), but it is unlikely that one single source can be identified. In Sasanian art the image is clearly attested in the 6th-7th century, the most famous examples being those shown on the garments of King Kòosrow II Parvêz (r. 591-628) on the rock reliefs of Táâq-e Bustân (Schmidt, figs. 4 and 5). The animal is depicted with the head of a snarling dog. The two paws, one raised above the other in a posture of attack, are those of a beast of prey with only three claws. The wing feathers, which rise from a circular base, are curled towards the front. The long, raised, oval-shaped, curved tail is that of a peacock, not showing individual feathers but a highly stylized foliage pattern. The other examples agree to a large extent; many, however, show individual tail feathers. The Sênmurw is attested in reliefs, metalware and textiles (representative examples can be seen in Schmidt, plates VI, VII, X, XI). It spread all over Eurasia with other motifs of Sasanian art and was used for many centuries after the fall of the Persian Empire . In early Islamic art it is found in Iran at Ùâl Tarkòân Ashkhabad (Harper, 1978, p. 118), in Syria at Qasár al-K¨òayr al-GÚarbi (Schlumberger, p. 355), in Jordan at Mshatta (Creswell, 1932, p. 404 with pl. 66), and at K¨òerbat al-Mafjar (Hamilton, figs. 118a, 253). It is also found in a Christian context in Georgia, Armenia and Byzantium (cf., e.g., Grabar pls. XV 2, XX 3, XXII 1, XXIII 3, XXVII 1, XXVIII 2; Trever, fig. 7; Chubinashvili, pls. 23, 26, 27).The canine heads on headdresses of the queen and a prince on coins of Warahrân II (r. 276-293) have been interpreted as Sênmurw, but this is a matter of debate (Schmidt, p. 24ff.). The Sênmurw is very prominent on the coinage of the Hephthalites in the seventh and eighth centuries C.E. It is distinguished from the standard Sasanian form by having rather a cock's than a peacock's tail and also frequently showing reptilian features, which are rare in the Sasanian form. Its head occurs as a crown-emblem in several issues (nos. 208-10, 241-243, 246, 254-255 in Göbl I, cf. the drawings in IV, pls. 6-7); in one issue (no. 259) the whole animal appears on the top of the crown. The head and neck, or the complete animal, are also used as countermarks (KM 102, 106, 107, 101, 106, 107, 101, 105, 3a-d, 11A-K, 1, 10 in Göbl II, 141ff., IV pl. 10). When carrying a pearl necklace in its mouth (Issue 255.1), the Sênmurw is probably the conveyer of the investiture (Göbl, p. 156), whether the necklace can be identified with the xvarnah or not. Göbl also sees a proof for the Sênmurw's association with the xvarnah in the fact that the countermark is in all cases stamped at least approximately on the inscription GDH 'pzwt' "[may] farrah [be] increased" or on the Sênmurw of the coin; this, however, remains doubtful.Nevertheless, the relation of the Sênmurw to the xvarnah is undeniable. It is already present in the Avesta, and it is so in the ˆâh-nâma. The feather is offered to Zâl as a token of the Simorgh's farr: since in Tâq-e Bustân the Sênmurw does not occur in the investiture scene, it was probably not an exclusively royal symbol, but a more general one of good fortune.We do not know how Ferdowsi, Attâr and other Islamic authors visualized the Simorgh. In the much later manuscript illustrations he/she is not a composite animal, but a fantastic bird (cf., e.g., Welch, pp. 125, 127). It is rather obvious that the classification of the Sênmurw as a bat is a rationalization, as Trever (p. 17) has pointed out, and that it derives from the representation in art. Once this image was adopted there arose the desire to find a model for it in nature, and the bat offered itself because of its resemblance to a dog and a bird. However, the images do not show the wings of a bat, but those of a feathered bird, and the peacock-tail does not fit either. We may speculate about the elements of this rationalization as follows.The dispersal of the seeds of plants is characteristic of the fruit-bats (cf. van der Pijl), indigenous to the south of Iran : they carry the fruits some distances from the trees, chew them up and spit out the seeds. They generally live in trees, but one species, Rousettus, dwells in caves like the more common insectivorous bats (Slaughter and Walton, p. 163). Some species of bats have scent glands (Yalden and Morris, p. 200), which may have led to the connection of the Sênmurw with the muskrat. The dog component could be interpreted by the Sênmurw's close relationship to the "Dog star" Sirius, i.e., Tishtar, the brightest star of the constellation Canis Major, assuming that the Latin name was known. In support of this may be quoted the Rivâyat of Hormazyar Framarz (Dhabhar, p. 259) where the dog Zarrînghosh 'Yellow-Ear', who is obviously identical with the dawn-yellow-haired chief of the dog species (Bundahishn XVII 9), chases away demons and is the guardian of the body of Gayômard. He keeps watch near the bridge of Ùinvat that leads to paradise. He who feeds dogs will be protected by Zarrîngôsh from the demons even if he is otherwise fit for hell. The demons will not punish him, out of fear of Haftôrang (q.v.), Ursa Major (the Great Bear), who guards souls fit for hell. Thus the whole scene is projected to the firmament, and Zarrîngôsh will represent Canis Major. The source is late (17th century), but the function of Haftôrang is attested much earlier (Mênôg-î Xrad 48.15), and the whole may well represent an old tradition. On a Sasanian stamp we possibly have Gayômard=Orion with a dog=Canis Major (Brunner apud Noveck, no. 61). When the Simorgh carries her prote‚ge‚ to the netherworld and back, this is related to the well-known function of the dog as psychopompos. The peacock, a bird native to India, not only lends itself to expressing beauty and splendor but is auspicious (Nair, 1977, p. 71) and a harbinger of the rainy season (pp. 13, 26, 40, 77, 91ff., 103), a characteristic it shares with the Sênmurw. In the Indus Civilization the peacock seems to have been a psychopompos (Vats, 1940: I, p. 207f., II, pl. LVII 2). In the Buddhist Mora Jataka a king wants to eat the flesh of the golden peacock because it confers youth and immortality (Nair, pp. 210-11). Peacock and Simorgh have closely related functions in the Târikò-e mojam of Fazµl-Allâh al-Hosayni, a fourteenth-century text that amalgamates the Old Iranian religion and its legends with Islamic Persian mysticism: When King Siyâmak is killed, Tâ'us (the peacock) carries his spirit (ruhá) and Simorgh his soul (ravân) to the height of the eight paradises (Hartman, 168, XXXIX). Dog and peacock have a common connection with the rainy season, a feature which the Sênmurw has had since its earliest attestation in the Avesta. It seems possible that this feature was one of the reasons behind the creation of the composite representation. The composite animals of earlier art will have contributed to the creation of the Sênmurw image. If the above interpretations are correct, the astral connection was the decisive motive. It then follows that the Sasanian Sênmurw was a conscious creation. The identification as a bat in the Bundahishn and in Zâdspram was an afterthought. In Armenia and the Caucasus the Simorgh has a counterpart in Pasku± (and related forms of the name). This same name occurs in Manichaean Middle Persian (Henning, II, p. 274), where the spirit of fever, called Idra, has three forms and wings like a pshqwc and settles in the bones and skull of humans. In the Mênôg-î Xrad (26. 49-50) Sâm Kershâsp is said to have slain the horned serpent and the grey-blue wolf called pashgunè; the wolf may be a winged one. The Armenian paskuc and the Georgian p'asgunèi both translate the Greek gryps 'gryphon, griffin' in the Septuagint (Marr, p. 2083). It is also glossed as 'bone-swallower' (ossifrage, osprey) (Marr, p. 2087 n. 2), but also mentioned as a kind of eagle native to India . In Modern Armenian pasku± is the griffin vulture (Gyps fulvus). In Georgian sources a p'asgunèi is described as having a body like that of a lion, head, beak, wings and feet like those of an eagle, and covered in down; some have four legs, some two; it carries off elephants and injures horses; others are like a very large eagle (Marr, p. 2083). In late mediaeval Georgian translations of the ˆâh-nâma, Georgian p'asgunèi renders the Persian simorgh (Marr, p. 2085f.). In a Georgian parallel to the Armenian and Kurdish tales quoted earlier, the bird there called Sînam and Sîmîr is replaced by p'asgunèi (Levin-Schenkowitz, p. 1ff.). In a Talmudic tale a giant bird pwshqnsá÷ swallows the giant serpent that has swallowed a giant toad and settles on a very strong tree; Daniel Gershenson (personal communication) interprets this as a metaphor for the coming of the rainy season: the frog represents water, the snake drought, and the Pushqansáâ the rainy season. The tale is thus a reworking of the Sênmurw story. Talmudic commentators identify the bird as a gigantic raven. In an illustration in the Gerona manuscript of Beatus's commentary on the Book of Revelation, the picture of the Sênmurw opposite that of an eagle is found with the subscript coreus (read corvus) et aquila in venatione "raven and eagle on the hunt" (Grabar, pl. XXVIII fig. 2). This evidence shows that the Sênmurw took different shapes in different cultures and that the same name was used for real birds and fabulous composites as well as for benevolent and malevolent beasts. The Simorgh's equivalent in Arabic sources is the Anqâ÷. The ambivalent nature of this bird is attested in the Hadith: the bird was created by God with all perfections, but became a plague, and a prophet put an end to the havoc it wrought by exterminating the species (Pellat, p. 509). In the Sumerian Lugalbanda Epic the mythical bird Anzu is a benevolent being. The hero frees the young of the bird, which in return blesses him. In the Sumerian Lugal-e and the Akkadian Anzu Epic the bird represents demonic powers and is vanquished by the god Ninurta. In the Akkadian Etana Epic the hero is carried by the eagle to the heaven of Anu. The correspondence of these motifs with the Simorgh stories in the ˆâhnâma and the Kurdish folktales is obvious, showing that they are of common Near Eastern heritage (Aro, p. 25ff.). In an illustration of a manuscript of the Thousand and One Nights the Simorgh is identified with the monstrous bird Rokò (cf. Casartellli, p. 82f.). The Sênmurw has many traits in common with the Indian Garudáa, the steed of the god Visánáu (cf. Reuben, pp. 489ff., 495, 506f., 510, 515, 517). It is of particular interest that the comparison was made already in Sasanian times. In the first book of the Sanskrit Pañcatantra (the cognate of Kalila and Dimna) is a story of the birds of the shore who complain to their king Garudáa. In Sogdian, synmrgh is used to translate garudáa (see Utz, p. 14); and in the old Syriac translation of the Middle Persian original of Kalila and Dimna, Garudáa is rendered by Simorgh (cf. de Blois). Fauth (p. 125ff.) has argued that all the mythical giant birds—such as Simorgh, Phoenix , Garudáa, the Tibetan Khyunµ, and also the Melek Tâ÷us of the Yezidis—are offshoots of an archaic, primordial bird that created the world. Thus Simorgh as God in Persian mysticism would, curiously, represent a return to the original meaning.  Bibliography: This article is based mainly on the author's "The Sêmurw. Of Birds and Dogs and Bats," Persica 9, 1980, pp. 1-85. An extensive collection of the pertinent literary material from the Avesta to the present is found in Ali Soltâani Gord-Farâmarzi, Simorgh dar qalamraw-i farhang-e Irân, Tehran , 1993.


B. T. Anklesaria, ed. and tr., Zand-AÚkâsîh, Iranian or Greater Bundahishn, Bombay , 1956.

T. D. Anklesaria, Dânâk-u Mainyô-i Khard, Bombay , 1913.

J. Aro, "Anzu and Sîmurgh," in Barry L. Eichler , ed., Kramer Anniversary Volume: Cuneiform studies in honor of Samuel Noah Kramer, Kevelar, 1976, pp. 25-28.

Jes P. Asmussen, "Sîmurgh in Judeo-Persian translations of the Hebrew Bible," Acta Iranica 30, 1990, pp. 1-5. V. F. Büchner, "Sîmurgh," in EI1;

F. C. de Blois, "Sîmurgh," in EI2.

J. C. Bürgel, The Feather of Simurgh, New York , 1988. L. C. Casartelli, "Çyena—Simrgh—Roc," in Congreàs scientifique international des Catholiques, Paris 1891, VI, pp. 79-86.

G. Chubinashvili, Gruzinskaya srednevekovaya khudozhestvennaya rez'ba po derevu, Tbilisi , 1958.

A. C. Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture I, Oxford , 1932.

B. N. Dhabhar, The Persian Rivayats of Hormazyar Framarz, Bombay , 1932.

W. Fauth, "Der persische Simurgµ und der Gabriel-Melek Tâ'ûs der Jeziden," Persica 12, 1987, pp. 123-147.

B. Forssman, "Apaosha, der Gegner des Tishtriia," ZVS 82, 1968, pp. 37-61. Ph. 

Gignoux and A. Tafazzoli, Anthologie de Zâdspram, Paris, 1993.

R. Göbl, Dokumente zur Geschichte der Iranischen Hunnen in Baktrien und Indien I-IV, Wiesbaden, 1967. 

A. Grabar, "Le rayonnement de l'art sassanide dans le monde chre‚tien," in Atti del convegno interzionale sul Tema: La Persia nel Medioevo, Accademia dei Lincei, Rome , 1971, pp. 679-707. 

R. W. Hamilton, Khirbat al Mafjar: An Arabian Mansion in the Jordan Valley, Oxford , 1959. 

P. O. Harper, "The Sênmurw," Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin , Series 2, 20, 1961. Idem, The Royal Hunter. Art of the Sasanian Empire, New York , 1978. 

S. Hartman, Gayomart, Uppsala , 1953. W. B. Henning, Selected Papers II, Acta Iranica 15, Leiden , 1977. 

Ernst Herzfeld, Am Tor von Asien, Berlin, 1920. Idem, "Zarathustra, Teil II: Die Heroogonie," AMI I, Berlin, 1930, pp. 125-68. 

J. M. Jamasp-Asana, The Pahlavi Texts I-II, Bombay , pp. 1897-1913. 

I. Levin and G. Schenkowitz, Märchen aus dem Kaukasus, Düsseldorf, 1978. 

N. Ya. Marr, "Ossetica-Japhetica," in Izvestiya Rossiskoi Akademii Nauk 1918, pp. 2069-2100, 2307-2310. Ulrich Marzolph, Typologie des persischen Volksmärchens, Beirut and Wiesbaden, 1984. 

P. Th. Nair, The Peacock. The National Bird of India, Calcutta , 1977. 

M. Noveck, The Mark of Ancient Man. Ancient Near Eastern Stamp Seals and Cylinder Seals: The Gorelick Collection, New York , 1975. 

A. Panaino, Tishtrya. Part II, The Iranian Myth of the Star Sirius, Rome , 1995. 

Ch. Pellat, "Anqâ÷," EI2. H. Ritter, Das Meer der Seele, Leiden, 1978. 

W. Ruben, "On Garudáa," The Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society 27, 1941, pp. 485-520. 

D. Schlumberger, "Les fouilles de Qasr el-Óeir el-Garbi (1936-38)," Syria 20, 1939, pp. 195-238, 324-373. 

B. H. Slaughter and Dan W. Walton, eds., About Bats. A Chiropteran Biology Symposium, Dallas , 1970. 

C. V. Trever, The Dog-Bird. Senmurw-Paskudj, Leningrad , 1938. 

D. A. Utz, "An Unpublished Sogdiam Version of the Mahâyâna Manâparinirvânáasutra in the German Turfan Collection," Ph.D. diss., Harvard University , 1976. L. van der Pijl, "The Dispersal of Plants by Bats," Acta Botanica Neerlandica 6, 1957 pp. 291-315. 

M. S. Vats, Excavations at Harappa I-II, Delhi , 1940. S. C. Welch, A King's Book of Kings, New York , 1972. 

A. V. Williams, The Pahlavi Rivayat Accompanying the Dâdestân î Dênîg I-II, Copenhagen , 1990. 

D. W. Yalden and P. A. Morris, The Lives of Bats, Newton Abbot, London, and Vancouver, 1975.
Extracted From/Source: Encyclopaedia Iranica

Ghahremani, Homa A. (1984). "Simorgh: An Old Persian Fairy Tale". 



 By Homa A. Ghahremani Abstract: There are several different versions of this tale in Persian and as they have been orally transmitted from one generation to another, the originality of any of them cannot be proven. A few years ago an Iranian writer collected them from people of different provinces in Iran . What follows is a compilation from six versions. "You didn't need faith to fly, you needed to understand flying. This is just
the same. Now try again..." Then one day Jonathan, standing on the shore,
closing his eyes, concentrating, all in a flash knew what Chiang had been
telling him. "Why, thats true! I AM a perfect, unlimited gull!" He felt a
great shock of joy.
-Jonathan Livingstone Seagull

"Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced-even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it."
-Keats  There was being and nonbeing, there was none but God [1][1][1], who had three sons: Prince Jamshid (King of the golden age of Iranian epics), Prince Q-mars, and the youngest, Prince Khorshid (Sun, light, divine wisdom., who was self-born -- an initiate), who had no mother. He was the king's favorite because he was the bravest of all.In the garden of the palace there grew a pomegranate tree [1][1][2] with only three pomegranates; their seeds were fabulous gems that shone like lamps by night. When ripe, the pomegranates would turn into three beautiful girls who were to become the wives of the three princes. Every night, by the king's order, one of his sons guarded the tree lest anyone should steal the pomegranates.One night when Prince Jamshid was guarding the tree he fell asleep and, in the morning, one pomegranate was missing. The next night Prince Q-mars was on guard, but he also fell asleep and the next morning another pomegranate was missing. When it came Prince Khorshid's turn, he cut one of his fingers and rubbed salt on it so the burning would keep him awake. Shortly after midnight a cloud appeared above the tree and a hand, coming out of it, picked the last pomegranate. Prince Khorshid drew his sword and cut off one of the fingers. The hand and the cloud hurriedly disappeared.In the morning when the king saw drops of blood on the ground he ordered his sons to track them, find the thief, and bring back the stolen pomegranates. The three princes followed the blood drops over mountains and deserts until they reached a deep well where the trail ended. Prince Jamshid offered to be lowered down the well with a rope to investigate. Less than halfway down he screamed: "Pull me up, pull me up, I am burning." His brothers pulled him up. Next, Prince Q-mars went down and soon he also cried out that he was burning. When Prince Khorshid decided to go down he told his brothers that no matter how loudly he shouted, they should not pull him up but let the rope down farther; and they were then to wait for him only until dark. If there was no sign of him, they could go home.Prince Khorshid entered the well and, in spite of unbearable heat, went all the way down to the bottom where he found a young girl, beautiful as a full moon. On her lap lay the head of a sleeping deav/div [1][1][3], whose thunderous snores filled the air with heat and smoke. "Prince Khorshid," she whispered, "what are you doing here? If this deav wakes up, he will surely kill you as he has killed many others. Go back while there is still time."Prince Khorshid, who loved her at first glance, refused. He asked her who she was and what she was doing there."My two sisters and I are captives of this deav and his two brothers. My sisters are imprisoned in two separate wells where the deavs have hidden the stolen wealth of almost all the world."Prince Khorshid said: "I am going to kill the deav and free you and your sisters. But I will wake him first; I do not wish to kill him in his sleep." The prince scratched the soles of the deav's feet until he opened his eyes and stood up. Roaring, the deav picked up a millstone and threw it at the prince, who quickly stepped aside, drew his sword, and in the name of God cut the deav in half. Thereafter he went to the other two wells, finished off the deavs and rescued the sisters of his beloved. He also collected the treasure.As it was not yet dark, his brothers were still waiting for him and when he called them they started to pull up the rope. The girl whom Prince Khorshid loved wanted him to go up before her, because she knew that when his brothers saw the jewels they would be jealous and would not pull him up. But the prince insisted she go up first. When she saw that she could not change his mind she said: "If your brothers do not pull you up and leave you here, there are two things you should know: first, there are in this land a golden cock [1][1][4] and a golden lantern [1][1][5] that can lead you to me. The cock is in a chest and when you open it, he will sing for you. And when he sings, all kinds of gems will pour from his beak. The golden lantern is self-illuminated, and it burns forever. The second thing you should know is this: later in the night there will come two oxen that will fight with each other. One is black, [1][1][6] the other white. [1][1][7] If you jump on the white ox it will take you out of the well, but if, by mistake, you jump on the black one, it will take you seven floors farther down."As she had predicted, when the princes Jamshid and Q-mars saw the girls and the boxes of gold and silver, they became jealous of their brother's achievements. Knowing that their father would surely give him the kingdom, they cut the rope and let him fall to the bottom of the well. Then they went home and told their father that they were the ones who had rescued the girls, killed the deavs, and brought all the treasure, and that Prince Khorshid had not come back.Prince Khorshid was heartbroken. He saw two oxen approaching and stood up as they started to fight. In his excitement he jumped on the back of the black ox and dropped with it seven floors down. When he opened his eyes, he found himself in a green pasture with a view of a city in the distance. He started walking toward it when he saw a peasant plowing. Being hungry and thirsty he asked him for bread and water. The man told him to be very careful and not to talk out loud because there were two lions nearby; if they heard him they would come out and eat the oxen. Then he said: "You take over the plowing and I will get you something to eat."Prince Khorshid started to plow, commanding the oxen in a loud voice. Two roaring lions came charging toward him, but the prince captured the lions, turned the oxen loose and hitched the lions to the plow. When the peasant returned, he was very much taken aback. Prince Khorshid said: "Don't be afraid. The lions are harmless now and will not hurt you or your oxen. But if you are not comfortable with them, I will let them go." When he saw that the farmer was still reluctant to approach the lions, he unfastened them and they went back where they had come from.The man had brought food but no water. He explained: "There is no water in the city because a dragon is sleeping in front of the spring. Every Saturday a girl is taken to the spring so that, when the dragon moves to devour her, some water runs through the city's streams and people can collect enough for the following week. This Saturday the king's daughter is to be offered to the dragon."Prince Khorshid had the peasant take him to the king: "What will be my reward if I kill the dragon and save your daughters life?" The king replied: "Whatever you wish within my power."Saturday came and the prince went with the girl to the spring. The moment the dragon moved aside to devour her, Prince Khorshid called the name of God and slew the monster. There was joy and celebration in the city. When Prince Khorshid, asked to name his reward, announced that his one wish was to return to his homeland, the king said: "The only one who could take you up seven floors is Simorgh (In New Persian literature Simorgh and in Pahlavi or Middle-Persian: Sen-Murv), who has many manifestations; besides divine wisdom, it may symbolize the perfected human being. According to some Pahlavi texts, Simorgh is a bird whose abode is in the middle of a sea in a tree which contains all the seeds of the vegetable world. Whenever Simorgh flies up from the tree one thousand branches grow, and whenever she sits on it, one thousand branches break and the seeds fall into the water.In Ferdowsi's Shah Nameh (Book of Kings) -- originally called Khoday Nameh (Book of God) -- Simorghs abode is on top of the mountain Ghaph, by which is meant Alborz mountain.). She lives nearby in a jungle. Every year she lays three eggs and each year her chicks are eaten by a serpent. If you could kill the serpent, she surely would take you home."Prince Khorshid went to the jungle and found the tree in which Simorgh had her nest. While he was watching, he saw a serpent climbing up the tree to eat the frightened chicks. In the name of God he cut the serpent into small pieces and fed some to the hungry chicks who were waiting for their mother to bring them food. He saved the rest for later and went to sleep under the tree. When Simorgh flew over the nest and saw Prince Khorshid, she thought he was the one who each year ate up all her chicks. She was ready to kill him, when her chicks shouted that he was the one who had saved them from the enemy. Realizing that he had killed the serpent, she stretched her wings over Prince Khorshid's head to make shade for him while he slept.When he awoke, the prince told Simorgh his story and asked whether she could help him. Simorgh urged him to go back to the king and ask him for the meat of seven bulls. "Make seven leather bags out of their hides and fill them with water. These will be my provisions for the journey; I need them to be able to take you home. Whenever I say I am hungry you must give me a bag of water, and when I say I am thirsty you must give me the carcass of a bull." On their way up to the ground Prince Khorshid did exactly as Simorgh had instructed him until only one bag of water was left. When, instead of saying she was hungry Simorgh said she was thirsty, Prince Khorshid cut off some flesh from his thigh and put it in Simorgh's beak. Simorgh immediately realized it was human flesh. She held it gently until they reached their destination. As soon as he dismounted, the prince urged Simorgh to fly back at once but, knowing he could not walk without limping, she refused and with her saliva restored the piece of his flesh to his thigh. Having learned how brave and unselfish the prince was, she gave him three of her feathers, saying that if he were ever in need of her he should burn one of them, and she would instantly come to his aid. With that she flew away.Entering the town, Prince Khorshid learned that three royal weddings were about to take place: for Prince Jamshid, and Prince Q-mars, and the third for the Vizier's son, because the youngest son of the king, Prince Khorshid, had never returned. One day some men came to the shop where Prince Khorshid was apprenticed, saying they had been to all the jewelry stores in town but no one would undertake to make what the king had ordered. Prince Khorshid asked them what it was and was told: "The girl who is to marry the Viziers son has put forward one condition to the marriage! She will only marry one who can bring her a golden cock from whose bill gems will pour when it sings; she also wants a golden lantern which is self-illuminated and burns for ever. But so far no jeweler can build such things."Prince Khorshid, recognizing the signs, spoke up: "With my master's permission I can build you a chest with such a golden cock and also the golden lantern by tomorrow. The men gave him the jewels needed to build those items and left. Prince Khorshid gave them all to his master for, he said, he did not need them.That night Prince Khorshid left the town and burned one of the feathers. When Simorgh came, he asked her to bring him what the girl had demanded, and she did so. In the morning, the astounded men took the precious items to the king, who at once summoned the young man to the court and was overjoyed to discover it was none other than his favorite son. Prince Khorshid told his story but he begged the king not to punish his brothers for the wrong they had done him.The whole town celebrated his return and there were three weddings indeed. The king made Prince Khorshid his successor to the throne and all lived happily every after. 

[1][1][1] The duality of light and darkness has always existed in the fundamental belief of Iranians; light representing the essence of life which is consciousness, and darkness representing non life which is form. All Persian fairy tales begin with the sentence "There was being and nonbeing, there was none but God."). In the old, old times there was a king (The guardian of the throne of wisdom[1][1][2] The treasure of secret knowledge[1][1][3] Giant: tyranny of human ignorance and weakness[1][1][4] This represents Saroush (Sarousha in Pahlavi). Sarousha is a godlike bird who is the most powerful of the gods, since he is the manifestation of righteousness, honesty, and striving. He fights the diev of frailty and weakness. In some versions of this story, the golden cock in a chest is a golden nightingale in a golden cage.[1][1][5] The light of wisdom. In some versions, Prince Khorshid must bring back a golden lantern, in others a golden hand-mill which represents the wheel of destiny (or civilization and culture).[1][1][6] Terrestrial life leading to darkness.[1][1][7] Terrestrial life leading to light. 
Extracted From/Source: 
CAISThe Circle
of Ancient Iranian Studies