Persian beliefs and customs

Human Relations Area FilesNew Haven [Conn.] • Published In 1954 • Pages: 527

By: Massé, Henri, Messner, Charles A..

This is a study of Persian beliefs and customs from the beginning of Iranian history up to the 1930s. Most of the data presented here are derived from earlier published materials, from the authors own observations, and from information given him by informants in Iran in the 1920s and 1930s. This work is almost entirely descriptive; the author rarely analyses or interprets the data he has collected. Topics covered include beliefs and practices related to marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, death, ceremonial, animals, plants, meteorology, astrology, divination, magic, supernatural beings, constructions, monuments and religious edifices. Abstracts of particular legends, folk tales and poetry are provided and childrens games are also described. The author has attempted to select his source materials from a representative sample of earlier works, especially those by reliable travelers, and there are many references to beliefs and practices indigenous to particular regions and tribal groups in Iran. On the whole, however, the data apply predominantly to the Iranians of the larger cities and surrounding rural areas, although Masse is frequently careless about specifying the area, date of observation, or prevalency of particular beliefs and practices. Also confusing is the authors intermittent replacing of Roman with Islamic dates; occasionally both are indicated (as 1323-1905 for example). The authors transliteration of Persia and Arabic words has been followed in this translation, while place names have been changed, wherever possible, to conform with those listed in Websters Geographical Dictionary (1949 ed.). At the time of publication of this study, Massé was Professor at the National School of Oriental Languages in France.
Culture summary
HRAF PubDate
Middle East
Sub Region
Middle East
Document Type
Social Scientist-5
Mary L. Bartlett
Coverage Date
Coverage Place
Henri Massé
Full references for abbreviated bibliographical listings which appear throughout the text may be found in Information sources in other works (113), pp. 517-527. Skoggard, 2005)
Translation of: [Croyances et Coutumes Persanes]
The original French text is included
Includes bibliographical references (p. 517-526)
Translated from the French for the Human Relations Area Files by Charles A. Messner in 1954
Omitted from Files: Various pages of non-textual material; indices; errata. [The corrections listed on the errata sheet have been incorporated in this translation.]
The sources for much of this material comes from the writings of European scholars, explorers and diplomats, including among the earliest the Spanish explorer Garciá de Silva Y Figueroa (1617-1619), Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1631-1633, 1651-55, 1657-62, 1664-68), the German scholar Adam Olearius (1635-1637), French-British explorer Sir John Chardin (1673-1677), James Justinian Morier (1809), Charles Texier (1834), Layard (1840-1841), etc. Massé also draws from the Persian wirters and poets, such as Firdousi (935-1020), who wrote the epic 'Book of Kings.' (I.