Indo-Iranian cognate of fire

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Wolverine9, May 26, 2013.

  1. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Is there an Indo-Iranian cognate of the English fire, Greek πῦρ, Hittite paḫḫur, etc.? If not, is Indo-Iranian the only branch of IE that lacks a cognate?
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    It seems to be absent also in Celtic and Baltic.
  3. mojobadshah Senior Member

    From what I recall there is an Persian word for stove or oven that is equivalent to Eng. fire. Can't remember what it was. I've also heard that there is no Indo-Iranian equivalent for fire, but check that out. Also I can't help but see a resemblance in the word Farr "divine radiance" and Fire.
  4. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Are you thinking of furn? It is Arabic < Greek < Latin.

    NP farr, MP farn = Avestan xvarənah-, which cannot derive from an IE word with p-.
  5. mojobadshah Senior Member

    I think it was more like feyr, but I'm not sure. Dang. I think it was from Farsi-Pahlavi not Dari if I remember correctly.
  6. Treaty Senior Member

    Is it possible that *peuor is not the PIE word for "fire" but a reference to its function as a purifier (*peu-)? Then, in IIr the function was still acknowledged separately while the semantic connection was lost in other IEs and "fire" was used merely as a name?

    Or maybe he is thinking of فر fer (oven) or فور fur (autoclave) which, I assume, came directly from French feu (mixed with fer)and four.
    Last edited: May 27, 2013
  7. mojobadshah Senior Member

    Yes فر fer (oven). That's what I was thinking exactly.
  8. mojobadshah Senior Member

    Have you looked at Sharon Turner's Persian Origin of English Words? I don't know if its sound or not but he lists fyr for "fire" under Persian words.
    Last edited: May 27, 2013
  9. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I have looked at it now. It is from 1827, interesting for the time, but we actually know a lot more about Indo-European languages today.

    In the on-line version of his paper the "Anglo-Saxon" and "Persian" words appear in a single list, without distinguishing the two languages. "fyr" is English, "faroz" the supposed Persian equivalent.
    Last edited: May 27, 2013
  10. mojobadshah Senior Member

    What does faroz mean in English
  11. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    There is no such word.
  12. mojobadshah Senior Member

    Wait fyr is the English and faroz is the Persian. What does fyr mean in English? And faroz isn't made up is it?
  13. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    This is a good point. I too am wondering if fire is connected to purifier.
  14. Triginta Septem Member

    Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
    English - America
    Fyr is Old English for "fire". Faroz means in Persian "kindling". Faroz, though, can't have come from *peuor, so far as I know.. (wouldn't /p/ stay /p/ from PIE to Persian?)
  15. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    There is a p>f transition in some Persian words due to Arabic influence, but I believe faroz/furoz/foruuz is connected to the Avestan root ruć- and isn't related to the word for fire.
  16. Treaty Senior Member

    Wolverine is right. Faroz (= afrouz) is af (or 'p ~ up: a prefix to make transitive verbs) + rouz (or ruć ~[day]light). Together they mean make fire/light.
  17. mojobadshah Senior Member

    What about Pir? I read in a book about Mithraism that the word Pir means both "[Priestly] Elder" as well as "Zoroastrian Firetemple."
  18. Treaty Senior Member

    "pir" = Zoroasterian firetemple? I never heard but sounds interesting.
    However, Mithraism as was documented in Roman scripts, is probably more Roman than is Persian. So, this meaning of "pir" could be derived from nearby Greek.
    The other possibility is that, if we consider it refers to an Iranian name of the building, it may stand for the tradition of naming places and buildings after humans (e.g. daughter, lady, elder, ...).
    Therefore, it is important to ask who has used "pir" as firetemple and when, and in what language.
  19. mojobadshah Senior Member

    The word Pir is Persian not Roman. I'm sure of that. The author was speaking in the context of Iran. From what I know of the Persian language Pir is a Persian word that means "[Priestly] Elder" and from what I know about Zoroastrianism all the Firetemples are called Pir as well as Atash-Gah "Fire Place or Temple." It's also my understanding that Hafiz considered the Pirs the authentic places of worship and Sufi Elders are also known as Pir-e-Moghan "Magian Firepriest."
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  20. Treaty Senior Member

    I just checked all "pir"s in Hafiz's book. All of them are used as "elder"/"guru" or "old": none is used as "temple". Pir-e-Moghan means "The elder of Magi". Moghan is mogh (Magus) + an (pluraliser).

    I found another usage of pir in Zoroasterian texts. It seems not referring to the temple but to holy trees near temples (e.g. Pir Chakchak in Yazd). My first guess is that old trees have souls and can grant prayers in Iranian culture (even believed by some Muslims). However, I need to do more research about it.
  21. mojobadshah Senior Member

    I don't see why the source would have been making up that Hafiz called firetemples Pirs. What book did you look in? It may actually have been Pir meant "elder" and then "temple," but Nabarz, the author of the Mithras book, seems to imply that Pir meant "Firepriest" or "Firetemple"

    See this: <>

    The Zoroastrians venerated trees because they believed they offered immortality. Persians still venerate trees today in the Shab-e-Yalda festival. They use a cyprus tree which is a pine tree. They write their wishes down on cloth and ornament the tree with the cloths. They also place gifts at the bottom of the tree. Martin Luther saw this and introduced the Christmas Tree to the Germans.
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  22. mojobadshah Senior Member

    Here we go: according to the mysteries of Mithras by Payam Nabarz "Pir means 'elder,' and it can also mean 'fire.'" (Nabarz, 100)

  23. Treaty Senior Member

    I search it in where you can search poems online.

    Anyway, based on what I search about individual "Pir"s of Iran, I think they are more shrine-like pilgrimage sites rather than "fire"-temples (three of them are not firetemples at all). They all have stories like "someone disappeared there and a tree or fountain emerged".

    This is a huge claim, especially the part of Luther! I'd never seen or heard about using trees on Yalda day since recently in Persian blogs. It seems another example of the common Iranocentric claims about the world. Of course, as I said, a few Iranians still venerate trees. They put ribbons on the branches as the sign of the prayer.
  24. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    To tie up some loose ends:

    afrōxtan, present stem afrōz, means “ignite, set on fire”. It comes from apa + rawčah-, as has already been stated.

    “Purifier” is an English noun from the verb “purify” < French < Latin purus + facere “to make pure”.

    Pīr means “old man” or “old woman”. The etymology is obscure, but there is certainly no reason to attach it to any word for “fire”.
  25. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    We were wondering if fire and pure were from the same PIE base *peu-, and if fire was the derivative form signifying a purifier.

    Could pīr be connected to pidar "father"?

    EDIT: Upon further reflection, a connection to Skt. purāṇa "ancient, old" appears plausible due to the phonetic and semantic similarity.
    Last edited: May 29, 2013
  26. Treaty Senior Member

    The closest words to "pir" in Persian are prefixes related to "past" like pari, pār, pirār. However, I don't know their roots.
    I always thought that pir is related to either vir (~wise) or pish (~fore).
  27. asanga Member

    pār comes from OP paruviya- Avestan paouruya- "former, preceding, first", but pīr is problematic.

    If PIE *peh₂ur were an agent noun derived from *peu-, shouldn't it be *peu-tōr? Sanskrit does use a couple of words derived from the verbal root "to purify" for "fire", pāvaka and pāvana, but these are secondary derivations that bear little resemblance to *peh₂ur. Sanskrit also has the rare words pāru and peru for fire, but the former derives from "to drink" (PIE *peh₃-), the latter from pṝ "to swell, to blow, to fill" (PIE *pelh₁-).

    Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit don't just lack a shared word for "fire" from PIE *peh₂ur, but their main words for fire, ater- and agni are from 2 different PIE roots (although Sanskrit does have atharvan). Considering the importance of fire to both religions, and how much of their religious vocabulary was shared, I find this very surprising.
  28. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The Avestan word for “fire” is ātar- in the full grade, and various reflexes of *ātṛ- (ātərə-, āϑr-, ātrə-) in the zero grade, in all instances with long ā.

    The prevalent view among Indo-Iranists is that Ved. átharvan- is not related to Ir. *ātar-.
  29. mojobadshah Senior Member

    But what root did pir develop from. If it also means "fire" its the best candidate so far for a Persian word akin to Eng. fire
  30. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    What we are trying to tell you is that it doesn't mean fire. It means "old person".
  31. mojobadshah Senior Member

    But what is its PIE root and why does Nabarz say it means fire too and why is it used for zoroastrian holy sites.

    Could Pir be a Persian rendering of Greek Pyrethrean "Fire Priest" and Pyrethrea "Fire Temple"?
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  32. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The root is not clear, but the meaning is known to all speakers of Persian and can be found in any Persian dictionary. I do not see where Nabarz says this. If he does say it is wrong. His book is in any case not a scholarly study but a compendium of junk from the internet.
  33. mojobadshah Senior Member

    I've read his book and a lot of books about Mithraism. His take on Mithraism is not that much different than more authoritative studies, apart from the fact that he tries to link Mithraism more definitively to Persia and the East. He may not be a philologist, but I don't think we should discount his definition of Pir. He seems to be more informed on the root than the rest of us. But I think that Pir was probably a Persian rendering of Greek word for "Zoroastrian fire priest and temple" pyraitheion. Is there any linguistic evidence to suggest that this was not the case?
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  34. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    It is not helpful to set up a wild theory and ask others to prove that it is not the case. It is for you to adduce just a couple of facts that support your case.
  35. mojobadshah Senior Member

    A question was posed. I'm just trying to be helpful. To the best of my knowledge there is no Iranic equivalent of the Eng. fire. So far only one person has offered any suggestions as to the PIE root of the NPer. Pir, but the question seems to still be open. Historically the term Pir appears to have been used originally by the Zoroastrians in order to designate holy sites or shrines, I imagine where the sacred hearths are venerated. The term Pir probably came into use in later Zoroastrian times e.g. Sassanian. The Sassanians were both Greek and Persian speakers. Ancient Greek authors like strabo referred to the Zoroastrian fire temples as pyraitheion, and if I'm not mistaken the term was also used to designate the Zoroastrian fire priests themselves. I have this notion because I'm pretty sure I read this in a book about Zoroastrianism, but its also logical too that the misnomer in calling the Zoroastrian priests "Firepriests" developed from the Greek notion that they worshipped in pyraitheion. This explains why the term Pir is used for both elder firepriests and holy sites where the sacred pyr "hearth" burns. I don't, however, know enough about Greek > Persian sound changes to show that y > i. Everything after pyr- I imagine just eroded or maybe it was simpler than that. Maybe Pir is merely derived from Greek pyr with y > i. Also I think maybe the fact that there's a shrine called Pir Baba shows that Pir either didn't originally mean elder or the term came to mean something along the lines of "shrine" because if Pir did mean elder originally Pir Baba would translate to "Elder Father" which is redundant. Pir Baba must mean "Shrine of the Father" and therefore Pir must not only mean "Elder."
    Last edited: May 29, 2013
  36. Treaty Senior Member

    I think a problem is the assumption of pir as an original Zoroastrian concept that leads to other assumptions like the connection of pir and fire.

    Zoroastrianism is a new phenomenon in Iranian history of religion. However, association of special natural phenomena with spirits of elders and ancestors (i.e. pir = spiritual guide*) is a common feature in most primitive religions. The spirit-place (genius loci) mediates between the living and God-nature, unlike the direct communication with God-commander in temple. Most pirs (either Zoroastrian or Islamic) are actually related to the spiritual presence of a holy person (usu. descendants of patriarchs) by the belief that the saint passed, disappeared or was buried there.

    Not necessarily. It is common that the person's title becomes the place identifier in this very context of religious sites. The Persian word emāmzādeh (= offspring of Imam) refers also to the place or building where the holy person is buried (or disappeared). Interestingly, many emāmzādehs are followed by the word pir.In a few cases these words are interchangeable.

    * In religious context, pir mainly refers to spiritual guide or leader, not just "elder".
  37. mojobadshah Senior Member

    This is true. It's pretty much why earlier I defined Pir as "[Priestly] Elder." I don't want to kill a dead horse here, but I don't think this question can be settled unless two things are answered. 1.) Pir's PIE root 2.) Greek > Persian vowel shifts. I would assume that during Sassanian Zoroastrian times the sacred pyr or fire was venerated in this so-called spirit-place, and then came to be associated with the so-called spirit guide analogous to how Atar means "fire" and Atravan means "Firepriest." Otherwise I'm all out of ideas. Should I start another post on Greek > Persian sound changes or can we discuss this here?
  38. mojobadshah Senior Member

    So I got in touch with Payam Nabarz. He said he's not a linguist, but he seemed to imply that Pir was derived from Pir-e-Moghan "Master of the Holy Fire." So according to convention Pir would correspond to "master," but why would Moghan correspond to "Holy Fire." The term Moghan is derived from Magu(sh) "Priest of the Maga." On the otherhand is pir corresponds to "Holy Fire" then Pir-e-Moghan could mean "Magus of the Holy Fire" which I think is the same deduction Nabarz was making. So I stand with the simplest answer and that is that Pir developed from Greek pyr and if this is correct its the closet thing to a cognate of the Eng. fire that the Persians have.
    Last edited: May 30, 2013
  39. Treaty Senior Member

    Of course, these two questions are worth answering. However, their connection is another question. For assuming that sacred fire was venerated in those places we need to have at least two types of evidence:

    - these "popular"-based places were officially recognised by strict Sassanid priests
    - a place other than official firetemples or chahārtāghis (allegedly) was associated with fire

    I don't know any evidence. Anyway, then you can go for the next series of debate:

    - why Sassanids used a Greek word for their very own ancient elements? (especially as they rigorously denounced "hellenophile" Parthians).
    - why pir is not fit within the similar naming trend of similar sacred sites within a conceptually similar belief system (I mean emāmzāde and pir itself). This sounds a much stronger hypothesis even if there were evidence for the first two questions.
  40. mojobadshah Senior Member

    Good point. Maybe pir is actually a Parthian word. Firetemples were established in Parthian times. Secondly they were hellenophiles. So they probably adopted Greek pyr for the sacred fires and firepriests.

    As far as naming Muslim sacred sites by originally what was Zoroastrian terminology: Shia Islam is a fusion of Persian tradition and Islam. Nowroze for example is the most venerated day of the year in Persia, and its not a Muslim festival. Its not unlikely that some Muslim holy sites in Iran were supplanted over earlier Zoroastrian holy sites.
    Last edited: May 30, 2013
  41. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    I must have missed this in Turner's dictionary before. There are apparently some Indo-Iranian cognates in the Dardic and Nuristani languages. The references listed in brackets [ ] may be outdated.

    8329 *pūr -- , or *pavara -- ʻ fire ʼ. [Cf. paví -- ʻ fire ʼ, pavana -- 3 n. ʻ potter's kiln ʼ, pāvana -- m. ʻ fire ʼ lex., pāvaká -- (metr. pavāká -- ) ʻ bright ʼ, m. ʻ Agni ʼ RV. -- Gk. pu=r, &c.]
    Wg. puř, purúdotdot;i ʻ embers ʼ NTS xviii 289 with (?); Paš. lauṛ. pūr ʻ big fire, bonfire ʼ, ar. puer, dar. pōr (IIFL iii 3, 146 < *paura -- or *pāvara -- ); Shum. pōr ʻ burning embers ʼ.
  42. mojobadshah Senior Member

    Good work. That's really interesting. The pavi is where the sacred Zoroastrian hearth lies. Wonder if pir is a cognate.
  43. Treaty Senior Member

    Doesn't pavi mean sacred? and pedestal (payeh)?

    Pōr as "burning ember" reminded me of bir with the same meaning in Gilaki. However, bir is clearly a transformation of bōr (= "red"). However, it seems no initial b>p change in these languages.
  44. asanga Member

    pāvi would originally mean "purified" > "sacred". The Turner entries are actually for Sanskrit, not Persian, but they both go back to the same PIE root *peu- "to purify". To a layperson such as myself, a connection between *peu- and *peh₂ur- "fire" also looks plausible, but there must be phonological reasons why the professional consensus doesn't accept it.

    I don't have access to Vol. 3 of Indo-Iranian Frontier Languages (Turner's source for the Dardic & Nuristani words) but "< *paura -- or *pāvara" suggests Morgenstierne linked these words to Sankrit pṝ "to fill, to blow" (Skt. paura = "filler, blower"). Cheung's entry on proto-Ir *parH- compares it to πίμπρημι "to kindle", and Beekes gives PIE prh₁- "to blow, blaze" as etymology for the Greek. Googling doesn't reveal any other reference to such a PIE root, however: Sankrit pṝ is usually identified as a reflex of *pelh₁- "to fill". In any case it seems the Dardic is linked to *pelh₁-/prh₁-, not *peh₂ur-.
  45. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    The reconstructed form *paura or *pāvara seems to only be for Paš. It doesn't explain the other Dardic (Shum.) form nor the Nuristani (Wg.) form.
  46. aruniyan Senior Member

    I think Sanskrit Vaira(enmity/hostility) is the best candidate for Fire, is there any persian equivalent for Vaira?
  47. asanga Member

    Vaira is a taddhita derivative of vira, which is in turn a reflex of PIE *wiHrós "man, warrior".
  48. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Turner no. 8329 does indeed posit a hypothetical “*pūr- , or *pavara- ʻ fire ʼ” to explain the word for “embers” or “bonfire” in some of the Dardic languages, but a cognate of English “fire” and Gk. πῦρ does not, as far as I can see, otherwise occur in any Indo-Aryan or Iranian language, and the Dardic forms can be explained differently, as Asanga has remarked.

    NP pīr “old person” evidently derives from Iranian *para- “before”, but the precise etymology is uncertain. Bartholomae, Indogermanische Forschungen 22, pp. 112 sq. derived pīr from *pṛwya-, which he saw as a compounding variant of *pṝwya-, as in Skt. pūrvyá-. Gershevitch, Mélanges Morgenstierne (1964) pp. 78-88, derived it from *par-ya-, but for this I would expect *pēr, not pīr.
    Last edited: May 31, 2013
  49. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Are you including the Nuristani form with the Dardic ones?
  50. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    There are different views on this matter. I do not have a strong preference one way or the other. But if you like, change it to "Dardic and Nuristani".

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