Universiteit Leiden

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Kiyan Foroutan

PhD Candidate

K. Foroutan
+31 71 527 2727

PhD research

The Zoroastrian Family in Premodern India and Iran± Identity Maintenance in Minority Settings

Supervisor: Prof. dr. Albert de Jong

This project wants to understand how Zoroastrianism survived after the demise of Sasanian Empire. Unlike earlier scholarly works, which have extensively focused on the roles played by priests and their interpretations of the religion, this project locates the survival of Zoroastrianism in the Zoroastrian family and aims to give a new analysis of the relationship between families and Zoroastrian priests. It studies how Zoroastrians in Iran and India reshaped their religion in the light of their newly acquired minority status under Islam. Sources for this subject are abundant. From the 15 thto the 18 thcentury, these two communities maintained a series of correspondences on many religious subjects. These texts, known as the Persian Rivāyats, have almost never been studied for the understanding of the period which they actually reflect, since most historians work on earlier periods of Zoroastrian history. Because of the importance of the religious-familial affairs for a minority religion, family life is omnipresent in these texts, and the relevant passages from them will be analyzed under three different thematic headings: 1) the family as the chief discursive unit in these texts (the definition and its internal-external interactions); 2) family rituals; 3) family laws. The analysis is supported by a careful rethinking of the very specific theoretical challenges that minority religions in the Middle East offer to the student of religion. Therefore, this case study also tends to propose some implications to the ways of continuation, transmission and transformation of identity among minority religions in the Islamic Middle East and India.


  • “References to Zoroastrian Beliefs and Principles or an Image of Achaemenid Court in Nehemiah 2:1–10?,” (2015), In Political Memory in and after the Persian Empire, Edited by Jason M. Silverman and C.Waerzeggers, Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. pp. 403-417.
  • Co-written with Hossein Badamchi, “the Authenticity of the Aramaic Decrees issued by the Achaemenid Kings in the Book of Ezra” In Pejuhesh Nameh Anjoman-e Iraniye Tarikh ( Journal of Cultural History Studies), (In press). 

PhD Candidate

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • LUCSoR
  • No relevant ancillary activities
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