The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
By: Professor Fereydun Joneydi
Persian Sea was mentioned under different names, such as "Va'ooru-Kash",
"Farākh-o Kart" and "Puyitic" Sea, in the Avestā
and in old Pahlavi texts. The oldest record in the world that made reference or
alluded to the Persian Sea dates back to earlier Iranian manuscripts. The
Persian Sea was said to have extended to the Naareh Island in the Indian Ocean,
the old Persian name of which was ôšata-Vaesaö.
The word "daryā" (sea)
appears in the Avesta as "zarayangeh" and it refers to a body of water
that is called in the Avesta as "Va'ooru-kash". This word consists of
two parts: the first part is "va'ooru", meaning "full and
many", while the last part is "kash", meaning "border and
shore". Thus, the word in full means "many-shored".
In Pahlavi literature, this word is
transformed into "Faraakh-o kart". The first segment, "faraakh",
is the same as in Persian, meaning "vast". The ending is ôkart"
or "kash" or "kasheh". This combination also means
"many-shored" and "vast-bordered" and in Persian, it has
changed into "Farākh-kard"!
The other form of "kash" in
the Avesta is "karsh", which constitutes the first part of "karsh-vareh",
equal to the Persian word "keshvar" (country), and altogether, "keshvar"
is a place that has been marked by a "kasheh" ("khat" or
"khad" in Persian, meaning "line"), which is the line made
by on the ground with the use of a plough. Our ancestors separated their land
from their neighbours by ploughing the border or making demarcation lines that
appeared as if they were ploughed.
But the Avestan "zarayangeh"
has been changed to "zereh" in Pahlavi, and in Persian, the 'z' has
changed into 'd' making it "daryā", in the same way that the Old
Persian word "dran-yah" is equivalent to the Avestan word "zran-yah"
and the Sanskrit "hran-yah", from which two words in Persian have been
derived: ôdinaar" from "dran-yah" (meaning "money" or
"gold", and "zar" from "zran-yah" (meaning
"gold"), with both evidently meaning the same thing!
From the Pahlavi form of this word, the
author knows of two names surviving in today's Iran: "Gudeh-zereh" in
Sistan and the "Zeryvaar" Lake in Marivaan of Oraaman in Kurdistan. In
other localities, the word "darya" has been substituted for "zereh"!
KART ZEREH" or "VAÆOORU-KASH"
In the remaining "nask"s
(books) of the Avesta, the "Faraakh Kart" sea is mentioned twenty
seven times. Every allusion to it is accompanied by an expression of awe,
such as the following:
"When they are thrown like comets in between the sky and the
earth, they will arrive at the beautiful, powerful and deep Faraakh Kart Sea,
whose waters cover a vast expanse."
Verse 8 from Tir-Yasht's Kardeh (Chapter) 5, Volume 1, page
"All the shores of the Faraakh Kart Sea shall boil and its
waters shall rise ... it has a thousand lakes and a thousand rivers. Each of
these lakes and every one of these rivers is as long as the 40-day travel of a
fast rider." From Verse 4 of Abān-Yasht, Volume 1, page 235.
"From these waters of mine one river flows to all seven
countries of the world (the known countries of the world at that time, one of
which was Iran). These waters of mine flow the same in summer and in winter
Verse 5, Abān-Yasht.
These grand references indicate an
impressive sea, and thus, in Bon Dahishn , in the chapter on the seas, the
Faraakh Kart Sea is mentioned as follows:
"It covers one third of the Earth;
it is called Farākh Kart because it is as large as a thousand seas." Bon
Dahishn, translated by Mehrdād Bahār, page 73.
According to this evidence, the
Va'ooru-Kash or Farākh-Kart Sea is the same sea called "Bahr-e Mohit"
(the surrounding sea) mentioned in texts written after the coming of Islam. But
as we shall see, part of the "Bahr-e Mohit" belonged to Iran and was
called by another name and some other adjoining seas have also been mentioned in
THE SEA OF CHINA
By the hundredth year, upon the Sea of
From the Shahnameh
THE INDIAN SEA
" ... again it arises from the Farākh Kart Sea, the
powerful and magnificent 'Satvis' also arises from Farākh Kart and after
that, from beyond India, all of it arises from a mountain in the middle of the
From this passage, it is evident that
part of the Farākh-kart Sea that was called the Indian Sea, is on the other
side of India, between India and China, known today as the Gulf of Bengal.
THE MOKRAAN SEA
It was a sea beside today's Korea. In
the Shahnameh, the following verses are written about the expedition of Kavoos
to Asia and towards the Pacific Ocean:
"From Iran he went to Mokraan and China,
From this text, it appears that Mokraan
was a land between China and "Ab-e Zereh" or the Faraakh Kart Zereh,
through which one reached the Faraakh Kart Sea. There is another part of the
Shahnameh on Key-Khosrow's expedition to Turan and who, following his victory,
intended to go back to Iran by sea. From this passage, it can be deduced that in
order to reach Mokraan from Central Asia, one had to pass through China and
Mokraan was the first land over which the Sun shone! Thus, quite accurately, one
can surmise that the land of Mokraan, or Korea in those days, was a more
expansive country than the present-day Korean peninsula, as today, one only
needs to pass through upper China to reach the sea. But in those days, this
could not be done without passing through Mokraan! According to the Shahnameh,
the Iranian army traveled through China in peace and then had to fight the army
of Mokraan. They conquered Mokraan, after which they traveled towards the
Mokraan Sea where the Sun rose.
THE RED SEA
This was the sea through which the
Iranians made their first long-range voyage. Centuries before, when the claim to
the throne was raised in Egypt and Palestine and they liberated themselves from
Kavoos (the Kassians = the Caspians), the Iranians were afraid to lose their
army if they made the long crossing through the Syrian desert. They found it
easier to sail across the seas and go from Ab Zereh to the sea between Arabia
and Africa, so as to reach Egypt, Palestine and Haamavaraan (the land of the
THE PUYITIC SEA
In the eighth chapter of Bon Dahishn
(the seas), the seas on the border of Iran are mentioned as follows:
"There are three saline seas, one Puyitic, one Kamrood and
one Siah Bon! Of these, the Puyitic is the largest... it has ebbs and tides
EBBS AND TIDES
Most fascinating in the above text is
the evidence that ancient Iranians knew about ebbs and tides, using this
information to sail across the seas during the tides to transport their goods to
villages situated far from the seas. The ships were loaded when the waters
ebbed. Then, they would sail with the tides through the risen waters of the
river, to the Zereh (or Puyitic) Sea. The Iranians cherished and worshiped this
More interesting is the fact that they
were aware this phenomenon depended on the Moon.
"It says about the ebbs and the tides that before the Moon,
two winds blow whose abodes are in the Satvis Sea. One is called 'Forood
Ahang'(heading downward). When 'Bar Ahang'(heading upward) blows there will be
tide, and when 'Forood-Ahang' blows there will be ebb.
In other seas over which the Moon does
not travel, there are no ebbs and tides; among them is the Kamrōd Sea, which
passes near Tabaristān."
This also shows that Iranians observed
that tides only appear in open seas and not in small lakes nor in the Kamrood
Sea, also called Hirkan, Mazandaran, Khezerre and Guilan (the Caspian Sea). They
also knew that this phenomenon depended on the Moon (and the Sun), as Sohrevardi
who had access to Pahlavi and Avestan texts wrote thousands of years later:
"Among the effects of both bright objects - the great King,
the Sun, and its vizier, the Moon - are, the ripening and coloration of fruits,
as well as the ebbs and tides of the waters at the increase and decrease of the
THE SATVIS SEA
In the Avesta, this sea is recorded as
the "Sata-Vaesa", a word that means ôhaving one hundred quarters or
one hundred abodesö. It is the name of a star in the "nimroozan"
(noon) sky that today is called the "Soheil-e Yamani" (the Canopus).
This Arabic name has been given because from Iran, the star is seen over the
Yemenite sky. In ancient Iran, the sea south of Iran, which today is called the
Indian Ocean, was called the Sata-Vaesa Sea after the Sata-Vaesa Star. In
Pahlavi, this name was changed to Satvis.
In Islamic culture, the reddening of the
apple is attributed to the Canopus. In pre-Islamic tradition, the rain and the
irrigation of all lands on the face of the Earth, as well as the cleansing of
water of dirt and filth, was one of the functions of the Satvis Sea:
"We worship Satvis, the tool the God has created to cleanse
the water". From Little Siroozeh (Thirty Days), Verse 13 .
In the Great 'Siroozeh', there is a
"Satvis, the cleanser of the waters, the tool of
Hormozd-daad; it cleanses the waters, as every water that flows into the land of
the Seven Territories, arrives in Satvis and Satvis cleanses it, the pure water
flows into Faraakh Kart Zereh."
This is another instance of the
knowledge of ancient Iranians who thousands of years ago already knew that the
impure waters of the Earth flow into the seas where salt and other compounds in
the seawater cleanse them. Another point to note is that Iranians knew the
Satvis was connected to the Faraakh Kart Sea.
Another passage from the Bon Dahishn
shows that the Satvis was located between the Puyitic Sea and the Faraakh Kart
"... the neighbor of the Faraakh Kart Sea is connected to
it; between Faraakh-Kart and next to it the Puyitic, is a sea called Satvis. Any
impurity from the Puyitic is cleansed by Satvis before it enters the Faraakh
Kart, and everything that is pure and bright enters Faraakh Kart and the 'Ardavisoor'
springs. This sea is connected to the Moon and its winds; it rises and falls as
the Moon glows and fades."
THE LOCATION OF THE PUYITIC SEA
As the Puyitic Sea is by the border of
Iran and is described as being larger than the 'Tabaristan' and the 'Siah Bon'
seas, has ebbs and tides, as well as the fact that it is connected to the Satvis
Sea and through it to the Farākh Kart Sea, it must refer to the Persian Sea,
named after the Persians since the Achaemenids. However, all Pahlavi literature
and religious and cultural writings seen to date has dubbed this sea the Puyitic
THE STRAIGHT LINE
During the reign of the Caspians (Kāvoos
in the Shāhnameh), Iranians came to know of the Earth's 'straight line', known
today as the equator , and built an observatory there :
"He built an abode on the straight line,
From the Shāhnameh.
THE NAAREH ISLAND
This was the place chosen along the
"straight line" to build the observatory. It was located on the Satvis
Sea on a line that divided the day into two equal parts in the then known world
(from east of Japan to Iceland). This line, which was first called 'nimrooz'
(noon), was later called 'nesf al-nahar' (half of the day). Europeans, after
becoming familiar with Islamic culture, translated it into their own language
(the meridian). Amazingly, Europeans assumed there is a meridian everywhere and
took the reference meridian to Greenwich located at the edge of the day and the
beginning of the night!
To find the location of that observatory
in the middle of the Satvis Sea, we must look at a verse from the Mehr-Yasht
where the borders of the ancient Aryan lands are mentioned:
"... the one whose long arms (Mehr)
captures the unfaithful, whether they are east of India or west of 'Nighaneh' or
at the mouth of the river 'Arang' or in the center of the Earth." Mehr Yasht, Kardeh 27, Verse 104.
This verse sets out the geography of
ancient pre-Achaemenid Iran before our eyes. The mouth of the river Arang (Syr
Darya = Golzaryon = Arang = Seyhoon), which flowed into the Khwarazm Sea (the
Aral Sea) had shifted since ancient times, as in that time Amu Darya (Djeyhoon,
Vahrood) flowed towards the Mazandaran Sea (the Caspian Sea) from somewhere
around Chaarjoo. Moreover, the Khwarazm Sea was not as expansive as it is today.
A line drawn from the mouth of Arang would pass by Zābul and if we take this
line as our zero degree line, considering that Japan lies 90 geographical
degrees to the east and Iceland lies 90 degrees to the west, it becomes clear
that the extension of this line towards the Satvis Sea takes us to the middle of
the Earth and the lowest border of ancient Iran at its intersection with the
'straight line' (the equator).
This location, so far as the author has
researched, is not mentioned in any of the extant literature, except for the
important book "Hoodood al-Ālam" (The Borders of the World), which in
the chapter on the islands of the world remarks:
"The eleventh island is Nāreh (or Faareh) on the equator in
the middle of the civilized world. Its distance from the east and the west is 90
degrees and astronomical tables, as well as all observations and all locations
of the planets and the stars have been measured relative to this island. In old
astronomical tables, this island was called 'the equator at day and
The equator at day and night, or the
equality of day and night, is the same thing we previously mentioned from the Shāhnāmeh,
and this island in the Satvis Sea, belonged to the Iranians. That sea also had
an Iranian name and Iranian literature are the most ancient written evidence for
the oldest name of the Persian Sea.
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