As a Peace Corps volunteer destined for Azerbaijan, I will use this blog to record my journeys. A sailor of the world, bound for all ports.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Azerbaijan Religious History Lesson

For those who don't know, the countries in Central Asia and the Middle East that are known as the "stans" are so called because stan means "the land of". So, Afghanastan is the Land of Afghans. Azerbaijan obviously does not fit this mold, and is literally translated as "The Fire Land".

The naming is interesting because it is based on an ancient religion called Zoroastrian, founded by Zarathustra. The Greeks estimated that Zarathrusta lived 3,000 years before Plato. His religious philosophy is believed to be the basis for most modern monotheistic religions. Fire is the symbol of the religion, hence "The Land of Fire". On the Persian New Year the villagers build giant bon fires and jump over them seven times.

It is interesting that these traditions have survived both Russian rule and Islam. On grave stones that are centuries old the fire symbol can be found next to Christian, Islam and Jewish symbols.


  • At 11:10 AM, Blogger Carl Brandvold said…

    HEY I AM FIRST TO LEAVE A COMMENT!!! Anyhoo I look forward to hearing about all your crazy antics! :)


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