Women in Shahnameh: An Overview on Mythical, Lyrical and Social Aspects

women in shahnameh

Table of Contents


Shahnameh is the most significant Persian epic masterpiece and it is the world’s lengthiest epic poem written by a single poet.
Shahnameh mainly describes mythical and historical dimensions of the Persian Empire in a series of stories. The manifestation of love in the stories of Shahnameh is a real stimulus to prowess and epic. In this regard, Ferdowsi delicately paid attention to developing women’s characters of Shahnameh. In this article, it is tried to investigate mythical, lyrical, and social aspects of women In different sections of Shahnameh. Mythical aspects of Shahnameh including Zoroastrian beliefs are reviewed.

The lyrical bases including poetry, playing, loving, and marriage are considered in this research. And many women such as Roodabeh, Tahmineh, and Jarireh who contribute to lyrical aspects of Shahnameh are found and their character and other related dimensions are investigated and described. Interestingly it is found that in Shahnameh’s stories, gallantry alone cannot help a hero reach his goals unless love and affection is combined with it. Also, our research shows that some women in Shahnameh express their love consciously over their beloved man. Further, the social roles of women in the romantic stories are categorized in political, martial, and artistic forms and further discussed.


Woman, Lyrical, Shahnameh, Social, Ferdowsi.


The Shahnameh (“Book of Kings”) is a Persian literature masterpiece written by Ferdowsi thousand years ago.
It is believed that Shahnameh is the world’s longest epic poem created by a single poet. This masterpiece has got worldwide attention and many recently have studied these works such as Lewis (2015).

The Shahnameh is the Book of Life, it is about people’s lives who have been alive with all being as if there has been no death at all. Various topics including wisdom, ethics, romance and lyric, pain, counsel, and campaigns are mentioned in Shahnameh. In romance and lyrical subjects, the devotion of love in Shahnameh depends on the general circumstances and characteristics of each time period. Dr. Yusufi (1977) writes about the love
of chivalrous heroes in Shahnameh:

The love stories of Shahnameh are not only redundant but also they are often in the direction and progression of national epics. If Shahnameh was not supposed to talk about women and love, its perfection would be diminished. In his love stories, Ferdowsi combines harmonious words and lyrical images and forms delicate music and sweet tune in his poetry that makes it all wonder.

An important feature of the love story of Shahnameh is the miniature model of the outer and inner Character of their female heroes.

The truth is that epic work is not entirely about warfare and arrogance, rather it is inner features of an epic work making it eternal and permanent. Love and devotion, which are the motif of lyrical literature,
have a vast prolific usage. So far, many have researched the women of Shahnameh and analyzed their personalities. Among these works, The Stories of Women of Shahnameh by Zahra Mohazeb (1995), Women of Shahnameh by Jamal al-Din Haeri (2004), “Woman in Shahnameh” by Dr. Mahdokht Pourkhaleghi (2005), and “Women in the Shahnameh: Exotics and Natives, Rebellious Legends, and Dutiful Histories” by Davis (2007) can be referred.

More recently, Women in the Shahnameh (2012), written by Professor Djalal Khaleghi Motlagh in German in 1971, has been translated from German to English by Neuenschwander and Pirnazarin in 2012.

This book summarizes the stories of the most important women and further studies their positions. Loveimi(2016) also reviewed the role of some important women who change the fate of the heroes in Shahnameh.

This study presents a review of mythical aspects of women in Shahnameh and further, it provides a better understanding of the lyrical and social aspects of women in Shahnameh. In addition, the influence of lyrical aspects on heroes of epic stories is analyzed in the current study.


Shahnameh as the most influential epic works in Persian literature expanded deliberative thoughts, educational and ethical insights together with Persian tradition and Persian school of chivalry. There are many true-hearted and competent women in Shahnameh. However, this enormous book mentioned the name of thirty-two women and also a number of prominent women, without mentioning their name. Women’s dimensions in mythical, lyrical, and social aspects are investigated. The women play substantial roles in Persian myth as Goddess of Persian myths Aredvi Sura Anahita (Anahita).

Further, in the Persian mythology the creator of the universe –Ahura Mazda– has seven female angels who are considered as her daughters.
However, the lyrical dimensions of Shahnameh overshadow all other aspects. Facially, all attractive women have long hair, elegant faces, tall, black eyes, bright faces, and red lips. However, the depiction of women varies according to the nature of the story. For example, Ferdowsi combines women’s descriptions with the elements of war such as bow and lasso influenced by the epic environment. Further, three lovey story categories are found in Shahnameh: heroic love stories, whimsical stories, and love and forget fullness. It is clear that there is a strong link between epic features and love in the Shahnameh.

It is always about the life of a hero and his love adventures like the story of Golnar and BahramGur, Zal and
Roodabeh, and Bijan and Manijeh. In fact, in Shahnameh, love is the true stimulus for bravery, epic, and battle. Hence, apart from the hero who is on the one side of the story, his lover who is actively involved in The story events plays an important role on the other side. The woman’s lyrical character in the epic stories of Shahnameh makes a hero to do incredible things due to the strong love link. As a result, it may appear to readers that heroes are at the center of events, which may not totally be true. In the social aspects, the main qualities of women in Shahnameh are studied. As a result, loyalty and not being able to keep secrets are considered the best and worst qualities of a woman in Shahnameh, respectively.

Further, three different social personality types, i.e. martial, political, and artistic are found in the performed study. Some of these women have role-playing positions in society while they do not overlook about their love and feelings. This demonstrates the position and rank of women and their influence in the society of the time.
It is also worth noting that some women of Shahnameh such as Manije, Tahmina, and Sudabeh are reckless and at the same time consciously express their love toward their favorite men. There are many similarities in their appearance and behavioral attributes, which suggests a social unit in these stories. The social context in which these stories originated is a free, unrestrained, aristocratic community in which women have fairly acceptable freedom. In addition, women in Shahnameh are realistic, and knowing their body and soul’s need,
they strive to reach their demands.

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FULL Paper PDF file:

Women in Shahnameh: An Overview on Mythical, Lyrical and Social Aspects


Women in Shahnameh: An Overview on Mythical, Lyrical and Social Aspects
Elaheh Rahmanian, PhD. Candidate;

Prof. Reza Ashrafzadeh,
Women in Shahnameh: An Overview on Mythical, Lyrical and Social Aspects
Revista Humanidades, vol. 10, núm. 1, 2020
Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica
Disponible en: http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=498060395013
DOI: https://doi.org/10.15517/h.v10i1.39816
Todos los derechos reservados. Universidad de Costa Rica. Esta revista se encuentra licenciada con
Creative Commons. Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 3.0 Costa Rica. Correo electrónico:
[email protected]/ Sitio web: http: //revistas.ucr.ac.cr/index.php/humanidades
Esta obra está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivar 3.0 Internacional

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Professor Siavosh Kaviani was born in 1961 in Tehran. He had a professorship. He holds a Ph.D. in Software Engineering from the QL University of Software Development Methodology and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Chelsea.

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Afsaneh moradii was born in Sanandaj. She holds a Master's degree Law. She Held BS in the literature (Persian language), and Occupation: University professor.
Scientific and research activities:
- The head of the White Justice magazine
- Author of academic sourcebooks:
* The book Rahavard Parsi
* Books on types of writing in public relations, media and ...
* New report book

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