Iransaga Country & History Persian Literature Contact Us Art Arena
Arts & Crafts Site Map Visitor's Book

Persian Myths

"The Creation of the World"



In ancient Persia (Iran), it was believed that the sky was the first part of the world to be created. It was described as a round empty shell made of rock crystal, passing beneath as well as above the earth. Water was created next, followed by the earth. In its original state, the earth was flat, with no valleys or mountains and the sun stood still at the noonday position. Then came plants and animals. Human beings were the sixth creation, and fire probably the seventh and last. Thus the cycle of life started and the sun moved creating night and day and the first Noe-Rooz came to pass.


The Persians believed that the world was divided into seven regions or karshvar (keshvar in modern Persian, which means country). These regions were created when rain first fell upon the earth. Humans inhabited the central region (Khvanirath), which was as large as the other six put together. The Bundahishn 1 describes it as follows:

On the nature of the earth, it says in revelation, that there are thirty and three kinds of land. On the day when Tistar [god of rain] produced the rain, when its seas arose therefrom, the whole place, half taken up by water, was converted into seven portions; this portion, as much as one-half, is the middle and six portions are around; those six portions are together as much as Khvaniras. The name keshvar is also applied to them and they existed side by side .... [XI, 1-6]

It is in Khvaniras (Khvanirath) that the Peak of Hara (Alborz) was believed to have grown from the roots of the Alborz Mountains; Mount Hara or Harburz is described in the Avesta (ancient scriptures of Zoroastrianism 2) [Yasht 19,1] as the first mountain in the world, which took 800 years to grow, its roots reaching deep into the ground and its peak attached to the sky. The stars, the moon and the sun were thought to move around this peak. Alborz is described thus in the Bundahishn:

On the nature of mountains, it says in revelation, that, at first, the mountains have grown forth in eighteen years; and Alborz ever grew till the completion of eight hundred years; two hundred years up to the star station, two hundred years to the moon station, two hundred years to the sun station, and two hundred years to the endless light. The other mountains have grown out of Alborz, in number 2244 .... [XII, I-2]

While Alborz or Mount Hara was the source for both light and water, the Vourukasha Sea is described in the Avesta as the gathering point of water. This important sea occupied 'one third of the earth, to the south, on the skirts of the Harburz' [Vendidad 3 21, 66], and was fed by a huge river, the Harahvaiti. Forming the boundaries of the inhabited world were two great rivers, which flowed out from the sea to the east and the west. The rivers were cleansed as they passed around the earth and, when they returned to the Vourukasha, their clean water was taken back up to the Peak of Hara.

In the middle of the Vourukasha grew the very first tree, the source of all plants, described in the Avesta (Yasht 12, 17) as the Saena Tree, Tree of All Remedies or Tree of All Seeds. This tree held the nest of Saena (Senmurv in Pahlavi, Simurgh in Persian), the legendary bird. Growing nearby was another important plant, the 'mighty Gaokerena', which had healing properties when eaten and gave immortality to the resurrected bodies of the dead.

The first animal in the world was the 'bull'. It was white and as bright as the moon. According to Zoroastrian tradition Angra Mainyu, the Evil Spirit, killed it, and its seed was carried up to the moon. From this seed, once thoroughly purified, came many species of animals. It also sprouted into plants when part of it fell to the ground.

The home of the bull was on the bank of the River Veh Daiti (Veh Rod), which flowed to the east from the Vourukasha Sea. On the opposite bank lived Gayomartan (Gayomard in Pahlavi, Kiyumars in the Shahnameh). In Yasht 13, 87 he is described as the first man, as wide as he was tall and as 'bright as the sun'. Gayomartan was slain by Angra Mainyu, but the sun purified his seed and, after forty years, a rhubarb plant grew from it. This plant slowly became Mashya and Mashyanag, the first mortal man and woman. The Evil Spirit, Angra Mainyu, deceived them and they turned to him as the creator, thus committing the first sin. Their world was now filled with corruption and evil, instead of peace and harmony. It was only after fifty years that they were able to produce offspring. However, the first twins were eaten by their parents. After a long period of childlessness another set of twins was finally born, and from these sprang not only the human race, but also specifically the Iranian peoples.


1) The Bundahishn, which means 'the Creation', is one of the great Pahlavi texts, Zoroastrian sacred literature written in the middle-Persian language. It was probably compiled in the eighth and ninth centuries, though it reflects ancient Zorastrian (and pre-Zorastrian) teachings.

2) Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions. It has a long oral tradition. Its prophet Zarathushtra (known in the West as Zoroaster) lived before the Iranians started to use writing, and for many centuries his followers refused to use this alien art for sacred purposes. That is the reason why there are very few written vestiges of this religion. Finally, during the end of the fifth and beginning of the sixth century CE (Common Era), the Zoroastrian collection of holy texts called the Avesta was set down in a specially invented alphabet. The Avesta was a massive compilation of twenty-one books. Except for the Gathas, seventeen hymns composed by Zoroaster, all parts of it are anonymous, the composite works of generations of priestly poets and scholars. Its language known simply as Avestan, is unrecorded. The very few copies made of the Avesta were destroyed during the many invasions that occured and the surviving Avesta consists of liturgies, hymns and prayers.

3) Vendidad is the only part of the Avesta, that is fully preserved to our time. It is marked by repetitious phrases, formulas, and intricate regulations on purity.


Return to top

Copyright shall at all times remain vested in the Author. No part of the work shall be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the Author's express written consent.

Copyright © 2002 K. Kianush, Art Arena