The Philology of the Persian Term Mahyar


M. Saadat Noury
by M. Saadat Noury

Philology (in Persian: Vajeh Shenaasi) is defined as the study of language from the written texts by which it is known.  Philology, derived from the Greek philologia, entered the English language in the 16th century, from the Middle French philologie, in the sense of love of learning, of literature as well as of argument and reasoning. Philology also considers both form and meaning in linguistic expression, combining linguistics and literary studies. In linguistics, a homonym is a word that sounds the same or is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. The homonym Mahyar is one of the oldest Persian words, which has been appeared in different texts, i.e. History, Geography, Poetry, Literature, etc.  Mahyar is originally composed from two separate words of Mah and Yar. In Persian, Mah (a short form of Maah) and Yar mean Moon and Friend respectively, and Mahyar means a Friend of Moon. Maah in Persian also means Beautiful and Month. So Mahyar may also be interpreted as the Beautiful Friend, Beautiful Lover, and the Friend of Month. In this article the various meanings of Mahyar are explained and studied.

Mahyar has been used in the nomenclature of a number of persons, places, historical figures, professions, etc. Here is a list of the homonyms of Mahyar:
1). Mahyar has been used as the name of one of the notable personalities in the epic book of Shahnameh composed by the famous Iranian poet, Ferdowsi Toosi (935-1020).
2). Mahyar has been referred to the name of one of the Iranian nobles during Sassanid Empire (224-651).
3). Mahyar has been used as the first name of both girls and boys in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, etc.
4). Farrokh Mahyar, a Zoroastrian, was the name of Salman-e Farsi’s father. According to some documents Salman-e Farsi, aka Salman the Persian, was born with the Persian name Rouzbeh in Dasht-e Arjan near the city of Kazeroon in Fars, a southern province in present day Iran. Late Iranian scholar, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, however noted that the birth place of Salman was either the old city of Jay in Isfahan or Raam-Hormoz in Khuzistan. Salman was one of The Prophet Muhammad’s Companions (in Persian: Ham Nesheenaan and in Arabic: Sahabeh).
5). Mahyar-e Daylami was the name of one of the well-known Iranian poets who lived before and after the Islamic conquest of Persian Empire (633–656). Marzooyeh was the name of his father. Mahyar Daylami was a scholar in Persian and Arabic Literature. He also composed many Arabic verses.
6). Mahyar was the name or the title of the Clergy of Persian Mithraism. Mithraists considered the object of their devotion a Persian divinity, i.e. Mithra (in Persian: Mehr or Khorsheed). In studying the ancient religions of the peoples of the Iranian plateau, researchers documented that a powerful sacred group, the Magi (in Persian: Magh-haa), dominated the Median Dynasty or Medes (728-550 BC) and Achaemenid Dynasty or Persian Empire (550-330 BC).  The Magi were responsible for chanting accounts of the origin and descent of the gods and the goddesses in pre-Zoroastrian times. The chief god of the pre-Zoroastrian era was Ahura Mazda, the creator of the universe and the one who maintains the cosmic and social order. Mithra was the second most important deity.
7). Mahyar in the Geography of Iran: Mahyar is the name of small town in Ghaaenaat region in the province of Southern Khorasan. Mahyar is also a small town in Isfahan province, and it is noted for its pottery. The statue of Jim Elgenerz, a Norwegian missionary who traveled to Mahyar in the late 16th century, stands in the center of the town square, and twice annually the locals hurl their rotting vegetables at this statue, for some reasons unknown. Dar Baagh-e Mahyar is the name of a village in Sedeh region in province of Isfahan. Ali Abad-e Mahyar is the name of small village in Shahreza near the city of Isfahan.
8). Mahyar in Persian Poetry is an allusion (in Persian: Kenayeh or Eshaareh) to the Sleepless Lover (in Persian: Aashegh-e Shab Zendeh daar). The ode of Mahyar composed by this author is an example of that allusion. The ode can be viewed online here.


There may be more examples for Mahyar in the culture of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and other Persian (Farsi) speaking parts of the world. Any feedback to enrich our knowledge on the subject of Mahyar is highly appreciated and acknowledged. The abstract of this article in Persian may be viewed online here.

Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2008): Online Note on homonym.
Farsi Net Website (1997): Online Collection of the Persian Names for Boys.
Online Dictionary of Dehkhoda (2008): Loghat-Naameh-ye Dehkhoda, Online Notes on Mahyar, Mahyar-e Dailami, Salman-e Farsi, Mahyar in the Persian Gepgraphy (in Persian).
Razm Ara, H. A. (1951): Farhang-e Joghraphiyai-e Iran, in Persian, ed., Tehran, Iran.
Saadat Noury, M. (2008): Online Poem 59 in the Anthology of Chains.
Saadat Noury, M. (2005): Online Note on the Early Worship in Iran, an Article on the First Iranian Goddess of Productivity and Values.
Saadat Noury, M. (2007): Various Articles on Persian Poetry & the History of Iran.
Smith, S. (2003): Note on Philology, in the New International Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, ed., Trident Press International, USA.
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2008): Online Notes on Philology, Salman the Persian, Mithraism, Mahyar in Isfahan.

Read more about Defining Moments on MISSING MOMENTS 


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To Homan & Yolanda

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Thank you for your comments and feedbacks.



by yolanda on

Thank you for the Linguistics review! It is fun! Now I remember that Philology and Linguistcs are synonyms. Thank you for reviewing homonyms, too! Now I recall one homonyn in English,

trunk has multiple meanings:

1) tree branch

2) shorts for boxers

3) car trunk

4) Elephant's proboscis

5) Human body part between neck and hip, I believe.

Thank you for the educational lesson! It is amazing that you write in such diverse topics: tea, chocolate, Persian proverbs and Persian linguistcs.

Thank you so much!


Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi


by Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi on

Many many thanks for the info.

Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi

Hi Dr Noury

by Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi on

Your article is educational & informative.