Lexicon of Arms and Armor from Iran: A Study of Symbols and Terminology

awesome book, December 9, 2010

This review is from: Lexicon of Arms and Armor from Iran: A Study of Symbols and Terminology (Hardcover)

The lexicon is a wonderful book ! I can instantly see how this would be very valuable to people with an interest in arms and armor. The translations, miniatures, in depth explanations make this an awesome book. If the lexicon wasn't enough, there is a catalog at the end with some great pieces of arm and armor.

easily a 5 star book

thank you

By H. Shafeian

This review is from: Lexicon of Arms and Armor from Iran: A Study of Symbols and Terminology (Hardcover)

Dr. Moshtagh Khorasani the world's top expert in Iranian Arms and Armor managed to write another masterpiece. As stressed by him, the military related lexicon was for a long time a forgotten field of research. Each word is written in Parsi, English and Parsi transliteration and if it's a middle Persian world, the middle Persian form of that word is also presented, in some cases photographs are included from manuscripts or Zurkhaneh and Muesums to help reader to better understand the meaning . By the help of this dictionary-like book, one can easily read Epic books such as Shahnameh as most guide on Shahnameh are written by experts on literature not knowing much about weapons and martial arts. In addition to that, Dr. Khorasani had a good taste to provide a short catalog of Iranian Arms and Armour at the end of this precious book. For those how became interested in Iranian weapons I strongly recommend his earlier award-winner masterpiece:
Arms and Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age to the End of the Qajar Period
I wish there were researchers like Dr. Khorasani. I look forward to read his next books. Easily five stars!

An indispensable reference for anyone interested in Iranian arms and culture,
December 19, 2010
This review is from: Lexicon of Arms and Armor from Iran: A Study of Symbols
and Terminology (Hardcover)

This book is in effect a comprehensive encyclopedia on the subject of Iranian arms and armour. This fascinating subject matter is one that's inextricably intertwined with Persian culture and history, and one that often takes centre-stage in the famous Iranian epics, where, often, a weapon whether it be a sword, a dagger, a bow, an arrow, is described as having some kind of special quality that sets it apart from the realm of the ordinary. To the delight of the reader, those famous ancient weapons with their special attributes are properly described and clearly explained in this book, along with references as to where they appear in the epics or period manuscripts. Everything in this book is highly systematised and ordered, making it possible to easily cross-reference thousands of terms relating to everything across the length and breadth of the Iranian premodern arsenal, including things like smelting techniques and iron extraction, secret forging techniques, famous swordsmiths, legendary heroes, sword-testing techniques and so much more.. The book offers a really fascinating insight into the almost alchemical approaches of the traditional armourer-craftsmen, whose extraordinary skills and highly unusual methods are remarkable for their inherently Persian flavour.

The period manuscripts referred to in this book also help us to form a clear understanding of the historical development of Persian arms, and the trade routes and influence of other factors cultural, religious and economic that had a bearing on the production of arms in the premodern period. Absolutely everything relating to Iranian arms and armour seems to be accounted for in here, even an entry relating to the type of dagger used by the Persian Abu Lolo to assassinate the Caliph 'Umar!

In short, this book is, like a shamshir made by the great swordsmith Asadollah, a product of extraordinary diligence and care, and does great credit to the author while at the same time doing justice to the premodern culture of Iran. Owning a copy of this book, as I do, it becomes inconceivable that one could ever do without it. If you are interested in Iranian arms and armour or are a collector, it's a must-have. If you are simply interested in the culture, history, epics and narrative of Iran, again, it's a must-have. Iron tells it's own story and herein is the story of iron (and bronze). I am extremely pleased with this book and recommend it most highly.

stars A Complete Resource, January 9, 2011
 Bede Dwyer
This review is from: Lexicon of Arms and Armor from Iran: A Study of Symbols
and Terminology (Hardcover)

Lexicon of Arms and Armor from Iran: A Study of Symbols and Terminology

This book provides the most complete list of terms for arms and armour produced so
far in English for several of the Persian languages spoken in Iran over the past three millennia. The structure of the lexicon is organised by alphabetical system based on transliteration into Latin letters. The words in their original scripts follow. The discussion of each entry usually contains a word for word translation with an description of the grammatical structure of the phrase if the entry is more than one word. There are citations of its use in literature for which a bibliography is supplied at the end of the book. Then there is a translation of the term into normal English. With a structure like this, it is possible for a researcher to compare unknown phrases to known examples and see whether they conform to a normal syntax. The casual reader can gain an insight on how words and phrases are constructed. This can give an insight into earlier translations of terms that have acquired a life of their own in English.
For the collector and museum curator, this book is a mine of valuable information. With its detailed discussions of the formulae used in inscriptions, it provides a valuable guide to someone trying to decipher partially obscured words or ones where the script is so poorly carved that the meaning might otherwise have to be guessed at by the investigator.

This book is illustrated with clear photographs in colour and black and white. The clarity of the printing is a great bonus. To those of us who have been disappointed in the past with recycled images, sometimes out of focus, this book is a great improvement. In that way it resembles its sister publication, Arms and Armor from Iran The Bronze Age to the End of the Qajar Period. More importantly, the pictures are relevant to the text. Close ups of inscriptions and details of engraving alternate with sometimes previously unpublished miniatures from collections in Iran. In a way, this book is close to a visual dictionary. The value of this property extends to people who are looking for design ideas. The many pattern books of Iranian and Islamic art are useful, but seeing clear photographs of the actual engravings in the context of the object they were displayed on gives the visual artist more inspiration than isolated drawings of motifs.

The fonts used for the various scripts represented in the lexicon section of the book are admirably precise and readable. Achaemenid cuneiform, Avestan and Farsi in Arabic letters are quite readable and they are well presented here. The surprise is the readability of the Middle Persian script, which is notoriously difficult to all but experts. Having entries in the rarer scripts may help specialists cross reference words and the ideas behind them. The accessibility of the entries makes this much easier than searching through several different dictionaries. However, the need to put all these different languages in one list of words has meant that there are some issues with
transliteration since each speciality has its own system. Within each language, the system is consistent and overall there has been an attempt to make use of similar looking letters for similar sounds, but the strong scholarly traditions in each discipline have very particular and sometimes historic reasons for their use of letters. An expert in one language might find the transliteration to be not perfect for the area that person studies, but the variation from the standard would be very small and easily accommodated. So far, I have concentrated on the way the book is presented and not what the content is like. This is where the book is so valuable in my mind. The explanations of terms are so useful that it is hard to believe this book was not written a hundred years ago. Books and articles about Persian weapons have been produced for centuries, but without a resource like this to make it possible to see where names of
objects originate. At the end of reading only a few entries, the reader will get an insight into how words are put together to express ideas. The objects and processes discussed will broaden the reader's knowledge of both the thing itself and the context in which it was used and discussed. This might be absorbed by osmosis rather than being a conscious factor in reading the book, but it is possible because of the detail present. To those people who are wont to page through a dictionary or an encyclopaedia for no particular goal other than finding a new word or concept, this book is full of surprises. The combination of descriptions with pictures means that, proceeding through a series of linked entries, the reader can keep a visual anchor in their mind to build a context from what they are reading.

Who would want to read this book? Obviously the first choice might be people studying either arms and armour in general or one of the particular areas of this subject covered in the lexicon. Another group would be scholars studying another aspect of Iranian culture who may come across these terms in the course of their work. General readers who have come across subjects to do with Iranian weapons would find this book a source of specific information. It sometimes seems to me that general readers are not
catered to enough or only served up simple explanations. This book can correct that problem for its subject. As I mentioned above, collectors, dealers and curators can benefit from a concise book which centralises the information they need on a subject that has relevance to collections in most countries. Persian weapons have been collected in the East and west for centuries. People who are studying books in Ottoman Turkish will also find this book useful because many technical terms passed almost unaltered from Persian to Turkish. Modern Turkish no longer has these words and it is an advantage to find them altogether.

The book is laid out with a table of contents, acknowledgements and tables of dynasties at the beginning. Several essays follow by distinguished authors on arms and armour, language, martial arts and then comes the bulk of the lexicon itself. This is followed by a catalogue of arms and armour illustrated in colour. The initial essays give a background on arms and armour in Iran and the cultural context they were used in. There is also a valuable essay on lexicology itself by the author in which he lays out the principles guiding the layout of the book. it also deals with the different stages of the languages spoken in Iran. Right at the end is the section called "References" which is effectively a very useful bibliography. Every author and source mentioned in the text of the lexicon is noted here allowing the scholar to go back to the sources.

On a personal note, I saw parts of this book in production, but I was surprised at the extent of the work when I finally received a copy. Seeing a small part of the whole did not prepare me for the breadth of vision presented in the completed book. Dr Khorasani consults numerous people when researching his books in a manner similar to scientific peer review. This means that the finished work is the result of many discussions and much thought. In a subject as little covered as this one, there may be areas that will be re-examined when new manuscripts or archaeological finds come to
light so this is not just a resource but a starting point for new research and discovery.

Bedeutsame Arbeit, December 10, 2010

This review is from: Lexicon of Arms and Armor from Iran: A Study of Symbols and Terminology (Hardcover)


Die Lexikologie über Waffen aus Hochkulturen wie das Persische Reich ist ein vernachlässigtes Forschungsobjekt. Auf diesem Gebiet hat Manouchehr Mosthagh Khorassani mit großer Ausdauer und Mühe sein Werk "Lexicon of Arms and Armor
from Iran - A Study of Symbols and Terminology" herausgebracht und schließt damit eine wesentliche Lücke. In einer gründlichen Analyse untersucht und beschreibt er alle Symbole und legt eine eindrucksvolle Terminologie persischer Waffen vor.

Das Lexikon ist ausgefeilt und allumfassend, Khorassani arbeitete mit vier verschiedenen persischen Sprachen und fügte diese alternierend in die englischen Texte ein. Alles ableitend von zum Teil uralten Manuskripten. Hervorzuheben ist ein beigefügter Katalog mit Farbbildern typischer Waffen aus allen Epochen. Dieses Lexikon wird unentbehrlich für wissenschaftlice Sammlungen und Museen sein, aber auch der ernsthafte Sammler wird davon profitieren. Zusammengefasst kann dies als eine Arbeit bezeichnet werden, in dem jahrelanges Forschen einen absoluten Höhepunkt erreicht hat.

Dr.Alexander von Hoffmeister