Re-envisioning the Concept of Gods and Goddesses
in Iranian Culture
Verethragna- Straight and Victory
(37”x37”) Collage on board
Verethragna is known as the Persian/Iranian God of victory.
He personifies the aggressive triumph that early Iranians desired in the context of war and battles.
In material culture, Verethragna appears in ten various forms such as
wind,camel, bull, boar, ram, white horse, stallion, predatory bird, a15-year-old robust youth and a warrior holding a golden sword.
The swiftness and strength of this deity were largely popular through his images as a boar and bird.
Relative to his origin in the Persian texts, Verethragna is depicted as “the mighty warrior”and the “dragon killer”.
Ahura Mazda- Divinity and Wisdom
36 1/2x 36 1/2” Collage on board
As Iran shifted its religious orientation to Zoroastrianism, especially in its
dualist “version” of monotheism, it also focused on the persona of one deity named
Ahura Mazda, who is considered as the source of ultimate knowledge, wisdom, goodness, happiness,
who is perfect, the god of order, the supreme being,
the god of absolutes, the god of truth, the source of light, the ultimate god,
omniscient, omnipotent, eternal being, creator of all humans, animals, sun, sky,
earth, plants, water, fire, light and the cosmos.
Zoroaster begins to see God as genderless and abstract in nature,
Ahura Mazda like many other gods in
Persian culture shares many of the same non-gender- neutral characteristics.
Amesha Spentas- Multiple Virtuas
(72”x 24” ) Collage on board
The concept of Amesha Spenta is derived from the early roots of Zoroastrianism.
These multiple virtuas known as the highest spirits or immortal sages
that align with Ahura Mazda’s goal to defeat the evil. The consists of Khshathra
vairya, Asha vahishta, Haurvatat, Ameretat, Armaiti, Vohu Manah and Sraosa.
They are known as the pure Zarathustra or priests in the proto-Zoroastrian religion in Iran.
In texts and hymns, these “holy spirits” appear as the most important traits of Ahura Mazda.
Eventually, latter Iranian cultures personified the to represent them as deities.
Appearing as deities, these spirits, usually represented as “angels,” are
symbolic of virtue, truth, possession, good idea, wisdom/humility, maturity, and longevity or health.
Anahita- The Ideal of Fertility and Bounty
(48"x 37”) Collage on board
Anahita is the goddess of all the waters and the source of the cosmic ocean.
She drives a chariot pulled by four horses: wind, rain, cloud and sleet.
Anahita is regarded as the source of life, purifying the seed of all males and the
wombs of all females, and cleansing the milk in the breasts of all mothers.
Because of her connection with life, warriors in battle prayed to her for survival and victory.
In a vivid description,
Anahita is compared to a fair maid with a strong body, tall, pure and nobly born of a glorious race, wearing:
a mantle fully embroidered with gold, golden earrings and necklace; ever
holding the baresma (barsom — bundle of consecrated twigs).
Mitra- Honesty , Justice and Friendship
(22"x 37”) Collage on board
Mitra is well-represented in Iran’s religious, material, and visual culture.
Mitra has been known as the daughter of the goddess Anahita.
In terms of universal representation or symbolism, Mitra is known as the Sun Goddess.
As the Goddess of the sun, she represents friendship, pacts, honesty, and contracts.
Like Anahita, she also maintainsthe so-called cosmic order, this time, through the light.
Prior to the introduction of Zoroastrianism in Iran, Mitra was a major goddess.
With cultural shifts toward Zoroastrianism, her status diminished to a yazata. Meanwhile, in discussing
Mitra’s position as a deity in the Iranian culture,
one should also take into account that Mitra is genderless or neutral,
which means that this deity may represent both female and male.