Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Iranian Horses

Horse (Equus Caballus)
Asb (in farsi)

This article on Iranian Horses Is from Iranzoo and breeds of livestock.

Horses In Pre-Islamic Persia

In Iran, skeletal remains of a native breed of small size, have been discovered in prehistoric sites: in a cave at Behistun (Bisotun), 48 km east of Kermanshah and in Tamtama, a mountainous area west of lake Urmia, in Tel-i Iblis, south-central Iran, and in Godin Tepe, central Zagros. This breed has tentatively been cosidered as the origin of the "Caspian miniature horse" now occasionally found in Mazandaran.

In Iran, we have late second-millennium archeological evidence from "Marlik" (objects made of horse teeth) and early first-millennium skeletal remains from "Gian", "Tepe Sialk", "Coga Zanbil", and "Susa". It is from this period that large quantities of "Lurisatn Bronzes" have been discovered, and among them are many harness bits and bridle pieces as well as items for decorating horses heads and chests, of the types which are depicted on Assyrian palace reliefs.

Bronze and iron harness and bridle pieces have been discovered at Median sites, also Assyrian annals record and reliefs depict campaigns in Media and Median tribute consisting primarily of horses. Especially praised were the horses of "Nishaya" > Nesa, south of Hamadan. Median levels at Nusheh-Jan near Hamadan have produced remains of horses of varied sizes, from miniature horses that stood 1.05-1.10m to horses standing over 1.50m at the witheres and variation from light to heavy types.

Horses in Persian Literature

From the dawn of history the Iranians have celebrated the horse in their art and in their literature. The importance of horses in the life of the Iranians assured them of a special place in Persian literature. Numerous poets have left poems in praise of or, occasionally ridicule of horses, sometimes with interesting observation about good and bad points in a horse. Iranian traditions abound with stories of famous horses and their significant roles in heroic and historical events: Rakhsh (the famous horse of the Hero Rostam), Shabrang (the horse of Siavosh), the stallion of Dariush, "Pasacas" so untamable a horse that only Cyrus the Younger could bring him under the saddle, "Shabdiz' the horse of Khosrow II Parviz (the king loved the courser so deeply that he had vowed to deprive of life whoever brought him the news of its death and so when it died, no one dared to reveal it to the king, and Barbad, the chief musician and minstrel, devised a trick and averted the king's wrath).

Some Persian sources such as "Ghabus-nameh" and "Nouruz-Nameh" have special chapters on horses, their colors and breeds.

Horses were also offered to gods, and the Aban Yasht celebrates many Iranian kings and heroes who sacrificed one hundred horses, one thousand oxen, and ten thousand sheep to "Anahita" asking her for special boons. An Avestan passage records that an excellent horse was worth eight pregnant cows. The qualities of a good horse were: swiftness, fleetness, endurance, and sharp eyesight. Of colors, white was the most praised, then came dun, redbrown, dark brown, and black. Strict rules were prescribed by the Avesta concerning the breeding, grooming, training, and feeding of horses and guardin them from diseases and harm.

Tazi (Persian-Arab)(Asil) Horse

It is said that origin of Arab horse is Persia. In Iran we call this breed az Asil, Tazi or Arab Horse. As we said before in the page of Tazi dogs, the word Tazi in farsi has 2 different means: (Arab and Galloping), and it's sure that what we mean about these 2 animals is a dog or a horse that gallops. But in the world and specialy in Western countries people call this breed az Arab Horse.

This Horse Arab is known as the most beautiful and famous horse in the world which in actually it is the father of all oriental or hot- blooded horses. Asil Horse divides to some strains that the most important of them are: Kehilan, Hamdani, Saglavi, Obyan, and Hadban.

It comes in various colors Like: Bay, grey and white. Primary Uses of Asil Horses are: Cross-breeding and Riding. The center of Iranian Arabs in Iran, is Kerman, Khouzestan and some Tribes in southwest of this country.

Caspian Horse

Caspian Horse, a riding pony from Iran. The history of the breed goes back to 3000 B.C. when it was domesticated by the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia. It was thought to have become extinct in the 10th century, but was discovered in the Alborz mountains and on the shore of the Caspian Sea in 1965. It is extremely small but very horse like. Caspian's resemble Arabian horses and may be a very old version of the original strain of oriental horse.

Turkaman Horse

Akhal-Teke Horse, a rare riding horse from Turkmenistan (evolved by the Teke and turkman tribes in oases, of Southern Turkmenia and also Turkman-sahra ), east of the Caspian Sea and north of Iran. This breed is one of the oldest horse breeds, almost for 3000 years. Although the Akhal-Teke and related types of horse have provided a base for the horse breeds of Asia and Europe, this breed is all that remains of the original fountainhead of horse breeds. An ideal horse for the desert, it is also known for its phenomenal powers of endurance. The breed became a modern legend in 1935 when several Turkamans completed an 84 day, 4128 km trip from Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan, to Moscow, Russia. This incredible journey, which included 966 km of desert with minimal rations of feed and water, has never been equaled.

The Akhal-Teke stands about 157.5 cm high at the withers (the high part of the back, located between the shoulder blades). Its long, narrow, tube like body has the fine, strong build typical of desert horses. The legs and back are long, and the withers are high. The long, slender neck is carried unusually high, joining the body at a 45 degree angle&emdash;a distinguishing characteristic of this breed. Large eyes and wide nostrils give the fine boned face a bold expression. Large ears are set wide apart

It has a distinctive metallic, golden sheen overlaying a fine haired coat that can be colored dun (yellowish or bluish), bay (reddish), gray, or black. Its mane and tail are silky but sparse. It is ridden, raced, and used for show jumping, dressage (guiding a horse through a series of complex maneuvers with slight movements of the hands, legs, and weight of the rider), and competitive long-distance riding.

Turkaman breed has 3 many strains: Akhal-Teke: it is a pure turkman horse. Yamout: shorter and stronger. Chenaran: it is a hybrid of a Turkman and an Arab .

Dareshouri (Shirazi) Horse

It is a resistant horse and in some extent similar to Arabs and Kurds. This breed is usually kept in center of Iran (Fars).

Baluchi Horse

The Baluchi horse is found in parts of Baluchistan and Sind Provinces and districts of Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh and Multan in Punjab Province. The color varies from bay, chestnut or gray. They are used for pleasure riding, tent pegging and for pulling 'tongas'. They are medium sized with a fine head, long neck, pointed ear tips touching each other, and the legs are fine and strong. In Pakistan, most of the horses are light in build and larger than ponies. Reminiscent of the Kathiawari of India, the Baluchi has very turned-in ears. Reports have stated that the Baluchi horse is related to the West African Barb through horses of Mali known as Beledougou, or Banamba.

Kurdish Horse

It is another small horse breed of Iran (with a high about 150 cm or lower). A strong and resistant horse ideal for mountainous roads. This horse is an ancient breed with a long history in Iran. There is three strains of this breed: Jaff, Afshari and Sanjabi.

The Jaf colors are mosetly: Bay, brown, chestnut, grey and it's Primary Uses if for Saddle

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The location of the Carvings is called Naghsh-e Rostam. Rostam is the name of Persian Legend. The Carving of "Horse, King and God" is tied in this location with the "Ancient Myth of Rostam". Here I explore this coincidence. --Siamak D. Ahi


.... A Place Called "Naghsh-e Rostam"

Naghsh-e Rostam means the Image of Rostam. Rostam himself is being considered the most popular legend in Iranian culture. Some believe that The great work of Ferdowsi, the Shahnameh (book of kings) made Rostam eternal.

The oldest drawing of Naghsh-e Rostam from 19th century by European traveller.

Rostam plays a central role in Iranian or Persian Identity.
Whether the name "Naghsh-e Rostam" comes from this mythical figure described in "Shah-nameh", or existed independent from "Shah-nameh" has not been a subject of research. Ferdowsi himself lived about 1500 years after the the first carvings of Nagheh-e Rostam

Rostam and Shahr-e Soukhteh (Burnt City)
Rostam myth must be older than Ferdowsi and Sasanid or Achaemenid time. Rostam’s root in Zabol can refer to a more ancient civilization. Particularly in the last 20 years the finding in Shahr-e Sookhteh easily proves the existence of a well developed civilization near Zabol.

Shahr-e Soukhteh, is called the ancient regional capital for a millennium.
It is located in Sistan Baluchestan province , 55 kms to the south of Zabol. Shahr-e Soukhteh was the capital of the region for more than 1000 years (3200-2100 BC).

If Rostam Myth is not older than this civilization, then we can assume its created in during this cvilization and is at least 5000 years old. Some 2500 years older than Sasanid and Achaemenid.

This fact alone is enough to believe that the name of this place and these rocks, "Naghsh-e Rostam" could be "Older" than the Empires like Achaemenid and Sasanid...!



Use of Rostam as Name

Rotam is used as a name for men in Iran, Afghanistan and many middle eastern and central asian countries

Rostam is used in many combinations like: Rostam-ali , Rostam-nezhad , Rostam-zadeh , Rostam-shah , Rostam-pour..

It is still easy to find a village called "Rostam-abad". In a search for Rostam, I came up with a list and links to places like: Takht-e Rostam, Rostam-kalateh,
Bakhsh-e Rostam, Rostam-kala, Khoresh-Rostam and so on.

Rostam, also referred to commanders in North Iranian Languages. (kaveh Farokh, Sassanian Elite Cavalry, AD 224-642 AD


List of places like castle or village and tribe with the name Rostam:

Rostam-abad in Kerman, Zarand, in Tehran
Takht-e Rostam in Shahriar, in Varamin
Rostam-kalateh, in Gorgan
Bakhsh-e Rostam in Char-Mahal va Bakhtiari
Rostam-kala Gilan
Khoresh-Rostam, Ardebil
Rostam; one Tireh in Mamasani Iel (tribe) in Fars
Rostam-abad Varamin
Rostam-khani Village, Lorestan lorestan_ozae_tabiee.htm
Rostam-akhori (Asb-akhori)
Ghal’e Rostam
Poshtkooh--e Rostam 34367 Mamasani, dehestan

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Caspian Horse

Rediscovery of the Caspian Horse

Louise Firouz, the American who rediscovered them, wrote in 1968:

"We are still searching for them: diminutive .... Arab looking creatures with big bold eyes, prominent jaws and high-set tails which so distinguish their larger cousins. It has been a losing battle as the already pitifully small numbers are further decimated each year by famine, disease and lack of care, until now we must accept the sad fact that the survivors must number no more than 30."

Mrs. Firouz was writing of her concern that an ancient, pure breed of horse, the forerunner of most hot bloods, until then thought to be extinct, was in fact, on the very brink of extinction. Through neglect, ignorance, and the vicissitudes of the 13 centuries returned to the wild, this ancient breed's honored place in history had been almost irretrievably lost. Only at the last minute and by pure chance, were the existence, beauty, and rarity of this regal horse rediscovered.

In 1957, Louise Laylin, an American born Cornell graduate, married fellow student Narcy Firouz, an aristocrat linked to the former Shah of Iran. She returned with him to his native country of Iran. Subsequently, she and her husband established the Norouzabad Equestrian Center for children of families living in the country's capital of Tehran.

One of the difficulties she faced, that of providing appropriate mounts for some of the smaller riders, proved a catalyst for her pursuit of what were rumored to be very small horses in the remote villages above the Caspian Sea. Because hot-blooded stallions were the only mounts available for Tehran's young riders, Mrs. Firouz wanted to provide smaller, more even-tempered equines. Her work would soon result in the rediscovery and preservation of an ancient breed, that she dubbed The Caspian Horse

1965 Expedition

In 1965, with a small expedition of female companions, Louise discovered small horses in the mountainous regions south of the Caspian Sea, centered near the town of Amol. At first glance, they appeared somewhat rough from lack of nourishment, and were covered with ticks and parasites. However, upon closer inspection, these horses showed distinctive characteristics similar to the Arabian horse such as large protruding eyes, a prominent jaw, large nostrils, a dished head and a high set tail. This first trip rescued 3 horses, which were dubbed Caspians, for the vicinity in which they were found. The former owners of these often misused and over-worked horses had no idea of the breed's near extinction.

Between July 1965 and August 1968, Mrs. Firouz conducted a careful survey to determine the approximate number and range of the surviving Caspian horses. On the basis of this survey, it was estimated that there were approximately 50 small horses with definite Caspian characteristics along the entire southern coast of the Caspian Sea. The major concentration of these horses (approximately 30) occupied a 2,000 square mile triangle between Amol, Babol and Kiakola in the Elburz Mountains. The remaining 20 horses were so scattered it was impossible for the survey to consider them as completely pure.

Of the horses found, 7 mares, and 6 stallions were purchased to form the foundation stock for a breeding center established by Mrs. Firouz in Norouzabad, Iran. As a purely private venture, this first breeding center was financially difficult to maintain.

In 1970, the Royal Horse Society (RHS) was formed under the patronage of the Crown Prince, HIH Prince Reza Pahlavi. The primary aim of the RHS was to preserve and improve Iran's native breeds. The RHS purchased the foundation Caspians, by then numbering 23, but allowed them to be maintained in Norouzabad until 1974, at which time the RHS took over complete management of the herd.

Surviing War and Revolution

Due to the pressing military situation caused by the Iran-Iraq War, and her interest in keeping the breed alive, between 1971 and 1976, Mrs. Firouz exported 9 stallions and 17 mares representing 19 different Caspian bloodlines from Iran to Europe. These 26 horses constitute the European Foundation Herd. This wise decision ensured the survival of the Caspian horse outside of Iran.

With Iran's many recent political upheavals, the overthrow of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution, bombing during the protracted Iran-Iraq War and the ever-present threat of famine, together with the Caspian's close association with royalty, the Caspian's survival there remains precarious.

Louise Firouz' discovery was ever in the balance between political honoraria as a national treasure, and the threat of political seizure as wartime food. After Mrs. Firouz' breeding successes in the 1960's and early '70's, the Iran-Iraq War placed a heavy burden on her endeavors.

The Royal Horse Society of Iran completely took over the Norouzbad herd in 1974. A second private herd was started in 1975, consisting of 20 mares and 3 stallions from feral stock found along the Caspian coast. The breeding center was established by Mrs. Firouz; this time, in northeastern Iran at Gara Tepe Sheikh.

In 1977, this second private breeding center was ordered to close its doors as the RHS declared a ban on all Caspian exports. The RHS collected all Caspians remaining in Iran to breed selectively in a "national stud" to conform to a specific standard of the breed. Forced by the government to surrender all but one Caspian horse, Mrs. Firouz' founding stock was effectively wiped out. Due to the complex political climate, most of the RHS horses were lost, primarily through auction sales of the nationalized horses to Turkoman and Kazakh tribes who used the purchases as pack animals and for meat!

After the war was over, Mrs. Firouz once again completely redeveloped a third breeding center to save the Caspian from extinction in Iran. The 1992 International Caspian Stud Book listed 38 registered Iranian Caspians. Mrs. Firouz obtained most of these horses through either expeditions to the Caspian seacoast to capture more feral horses; purchases from Revolutionary Guards repatriating stolen or seized horses after the Iran-Iraq War, or through breeding.

Undaunted, by political pressure, Mrs. Firouz was able to ship 3 stallions and 4 mares to Europe via the Azeri-American war zone where bandits attacked and robbed the convoy, on across Russia to Belarus, and then to the United Kingdom. These horses which left Iran in July of 1993, reached the United Kingdom in February of 1994. This shipment will sustain and enhance the gene pool and healthy breeding of the Caspian horse established in Europe and the United States.

By 1992, there were still only 112 breeding mares and 30 stallions in Europe. Fortunately, according to the studies completed by Dr. Gus Cothran, the measure of genetic variation among the world-wide Caspian horse population was near the average for U.S. domestic breeds.

Mr. Firouz passed away in May 1994. Due to estate settlement, and the financial losses Mrs. Firouz incurred in the shipment of the last 7 Caspians out of Iran into England she was unable to continue her breeding program in Iran. The remainder of Mrs. Firouz’s Caspian horses were sold to the Ministry of Jehad. The fate of the Caspian remaining in Iran was once again in jeopardy.

More recently, in 1999, aided by the visits into Iran and support of concerned individuals from Canada and the United States, Louise Firouz, at the age of 65, has started yet another Caspian breeding program on her remote farm at Gara Tepe Sheikh on the Turkoman Steppes next to the Turkmenistan border. During these recent treks in the spring of 1999, two foundation Caspian stallions and eight Caspian foundation mares were gathered to once again be rescued by Mrs. Firouz’ nurturing care.

Courageously overlooking her past, seemingly overwhelming losses, she is experiencing the renewed joy of watching the newborn Caspian foals thrive under her ever watchful eye.