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Middle Persian[edit]


Substantivized Middle Persian oblique plural (-ān suffix) of 𐭠𐭩𐭫(ēr-, Iranian), giving "of the Iranians".[1] Middle Persian adjective ēr- reflects Old Iranian adjective *arya-, as found in Old Persian 𐎠𐎼𐎡𐎹 (ariya-, Iranian) and Avestan 𐬀𐬌𐬭𐬌𐬌𐬀(airya-, airiia-, etc., Iranian).[1] See Proto-Indo-Iranian *áryas for further etymology.

The term is first attested in the early 3rd-century trilingual (Middle Persian, Parthian, Greek) inscriptions of Ardašīr I,[1] founder of the Sassanian dynasty. In those inscriptions, the Parthian equivalent is aryān (ʾryʾn), which is similarly formed from Parthian ary (ʾr(y)) + oblique plural suffix -ān. The Greek version reads arianōn ethnous.

Proper noun[edit]

𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭 (ʾyr ʾn, Ērān)

  1. of, or pertaining to, the Iranian peoples, i.e. the Iranian nation.
    • The following fragment is from the Middle Persian part of the trilingual (Middle Persian, Parthian, Greek) inscription inscription of Ardašīr I, circa. 225 CE, that accompanies Ardašīr's investiture relief at Naqsh-i Rustam:
      𐭯𐭲𐭪𐭫𐭩 𐭦𐭭𐭤 𐭬𐭦𐭣𐭩𐭮𐭭 𐭡𐭢𐭩 𐭠𐭥𐭲𐭧𐭱𐭲𐭥 𐭬𐭫𐭪𐭠𐭭 𐭬𐭫𐭪𐭠
      𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭 𐭬𐭭𐭥 𐭰𐭲𐭥𐭩
      𐭬𐭭 𐭩𐭦𐭲𐭠𐭭 𐭡𐭥𐭤 𐭡𐭢𐭩 𐭯𐭠𐭯𐭪𐭩 𐭬𐭫𐭪𐭠
      pahikar ēn mazdēsn bag Artaxšēr šāhān šāh [ī] ērān kē čihr az yazdān pus bag Pābag šāh
      The image, this, of the Mazda-worshipping, divine Artakhshatr, king of the kings of the Iranians, of divine origin from the yazatas, son of the divine Pābag, the king.
  2. the Sassanian state, i.e. abbreviated form of 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩(ērānšahr, literally kingdom of (i.e. ruled by) Iranians")
Note: the distinction is between nation and state. Initially, ērān signified peoples/culture, i.e. the Iranian nation, and subsequently developed into the name of a political entity.[1] The antonymic 𐭠𐭭𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭(anērān), originally meaning "non-Iranians", underwent a parallel development.


Derived terms[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 MacKenzie, David Niel (1998). "Ērān, Ērānšahr". Encyclopedia Iranica, vol. 8. Costa Mesa: Mazda, p. 534.