Faravahar is one of the best-known symbols of
Zoroastrianism, the state religion of ancient
Iran. This religious-cultural symbol was adapted by the
Pahlavi dynasty to represent the
The etymology of Faravahar is the Middle
Persian root. The winged disc has a long history in the art and culture of the ancient Near and
Middle East. Historically, the symbol is influenced by the "winged sun" hieroglyph appearing on Bronze Age royal seals.
In present-day Zoroastrianism, the Faravahar is said to be a reminder of one's purpose in life, which is to live in such a way that the soul progresses towards frasho-kereti, or union with
Ahouramazda, the supreme divinity in Zoroastrianism. Although there are a number of interpretations of the individual elements of the symbol, none of them are older than the 20th century.
Even after the
Islamic conquest of
Persia Zoroastrianism continued to be part of Iranian culture in which throughout the year festivities are celebrated such as the Persian New Year or
Charshanbeh Souri which are remnants of Zoroastrian traditions as
Iranian Festivities. From the start of the 20th century the
Farvahar icon found itself in public places and became a known icon amongst all Iranians. The
Ferdowsi is Iran's national epic and contains stories (partly historical and partly mythical) from pre-Islamic Zoroastrian times. The tomb of Ferdowsi which is visited by numerous Iranians every year contains the Farvahar icon as well.
Islamic Revolution of 1979 the Lion and Sun which was part of Iran's original national flag had been banned by the government from public places in order to prevent people from being reminded of life prior to the revolution, nevertheless Farvahar icons were not removed. As a result, the Farvahar icon became a national symbol amongst the people which became somewhat tolerated by the government compared to the Lion and Sun. The Farvahar is the most worn pendant amongst Iranians and has become a national symbol rather than a religious icon, although its Zoroastrian roots are certainly not ignored.