European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies

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What does this ancient symbol mean ? 


1. The Faravahar’s face resembles the face of human being and therefore, indicates its connection to mankind.

2. There are two wings in two sides of the picture, which have three main feathers. These main feathers indicate three symbols of good reflection, good words, and good deed, which are at the same time the motive of flight and advancement.

3. The lower part of the Faravahar consists of three parts, representing bad reflection, bad words, and bad deed which causes misery and misfortune for human beings.

4. There are two loops at the two sides of the Faravahar, which represent Sepanta Minu, and Ankareh Minu. The former is directed toward the face and the latter is located at the back. This also indicates that we have to proceed toward the good and turn away from bad.

5. There is a circle in the middle of the Faravahar’s trunk. This symbol indicates that our spirit is immortal, having neither a beginning, nor an end.

6. One hand of the Faravahar, points upwards, showing that we have to struggle to thrive.

7. The other hand holds a ring. Some interpreters consider that as the ring of covenant, representing loyalty and faithfulness which is the basis of Zarathustra’s philosophy.

In zoroastrianism, the Faravahar or human spirit, embodies two opposing indicators of good and bad. This will clearly show the Zarathustra’s philosophy that everybody should try to promote his/her Sepanta Minu (positive force) and suppress his/her Ankareh Minu (negative force). As a result of such a spiritual struggle toward goodness and avoiding evil, everybody will be able to thrive in all the walks of his/her life. Since, the ring of covenant which located in the center of the Faravahar’s trunk is the symbol of the immortality of the spirit, it can be inferred that more human beings try to promote their own Faravahar, more their spirit will be elevated in the other world after they pass away. For that reason, ancient Iranians would never mourn at the death of their beloved ones, because they would believe that their spirit will be elevated to a higher level in the other world. Naturally, when we believe that at the time of death, the spirit of the dead bodies would be elevated to a higher level, we have to joy at their departure to another world, rather than being heartbroken, though their loss may be intolerable for us. In this way, in zoroastrianism, on the basis of one’s Faravahar, everybody is responsible for his/her own deed.

For this reason, Cyrus the Great and most of the other Iranian ancient kings, according to historical documents, not only never forced anybody to be converted into zoroastrianism, they even respected the belief system of others. In this regard, the Human right’s Charter of Cyrus the Great at the conquest of Babel reads:

" I ordered that no one is permitted to abuse anybody or to damage the cities. I ordered that no house should be damaged and no one’s property should be violated and ransacked. I ordered that everybody should keep to his/her belief system and be free to worship his/her own God. I ordered that all the people should be free in their thoughts, choosing the place of their residence and no one should violate the rights of others."

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