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Iranian philologist specializing in the field of Middle Persian studies with a focus on social, economic, and ideological issues of the Sasanian period.

SHAKI, MANSOUR (Manṣur Šaki), Iranian philologist (b. Tehran, 21 March 1919; d. Prague. 22 March 2000),specializing in the field of Middle Persian studies with a focus on social, economic, and ideological issues of the Sasanian period.

Mansour’s ancestors hailed from the Shaki tribe living on the Russian side of the Araxes river (q.v.), but his father, Shaikh ʿAli Khan, who was a military man, moved before the October Revolution (1917) to Iran, where his three sons were born. After finishing his high school education in Tehran, Mansour moved to England where he studied mathematics and physics at the University of Birmingham (Répertoires, p. 467). After graduation in 1942, he moved back to Iran, where he worked for a while for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (see ANGLO-PERSIAN OIL COMPANY) in Ābādān (q.v.). Apparently, his anti-British activities led to his dismissal from the company (Ṣādeḡi, p. 2). Later, he began teaching English at a high school in Tehran.

In 1948, Shaki moved to Prague—the same year that the Communist Party took over Czechoslovakia, which may have been simply a coincidence. His earliest non-scientific publications, however, also show his Leftist leanings and often they deal with the Tudeh Party and its presumed goals, as well as exhibiting a didactic approach to the arts which is redolent of Socialist Realism. Additionally, he wrote on Zurvanism (q.v.) and Dahrism (see DAHRĪ), the first “materialist” schools of thought in ancient Iran. More light can be shed on his political activities only after his files in the former Eastern Block become available. 

Ostensibly, Shaki’s move to Prague was due to the prominence of the emerging field of crystallography in Czechoslovakia at the Mathematics-Physics Institute under the direction of Professor Václav Petržílka (1905-76). In 1950, he received his doctorate in natural sciences and soon published the results of his discoveries. He was, however, hospitalized with a pulmonary disease in 1953-54 and after his release, due to health concerns, he had to discontinue his laboratory research (Bečka, p. 85). Not discouraged by this setback, he changed fields and concentrated on Iranian linguistics. He received the degree of CSc. (Ph.D.) in Persian philology in 1961 from the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague (Répertoires, p. 467). 

While in Prague, Shaki had already been introduced to the eminent Iranist Jan Rypka (1886-1968) through their mutual friend Sadeq Hedayat (q.v.; Ṣādeqi, p. 2). Later on, he began to study Middle Persian on his own, and, as is the case in all fields, being an autodidact has its own accompanying pitfalls. Nevertheless, it is in this field that he left his most indelible marks. 

Shaki worked at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague for several years, and in 1966 he gained venia docendi at the Charles University, where he was the professor of Persian. At the same time, he also wrote poetry and continued to paint as well as authoring a number of essays on Persian painting and its evolution, although they often show a dogmatic and “engaged” approach to the topic.

Among Shaki’s most important contributions to Middle Iranian studies, one can mention his works on the medieval encyclopaedia Dēnkard (q.v.), where he was able to offer reliable translations of some of the most convoluted passages devoted to philosophy and ancient sciences. Moreover, through his works on the Sasanian law digest, Mādayān ī Hazār Dādestān (q.v.), he contributed to our knowledge of late antique Iranian legal system. Shaki was a prolific contributor to the Encyclopædia Iranica, with more than twenty entries on various topics (see Bibliography), as well as its consulting editor for the field of Sasanian law and society (1995-2000). 

Shaki, although an ardent nationalist, does not appear to have ever returned to Iran and remained in Prague until his death in 2000.


Works by Shaki (in chronological order):

“Taḥavvolāt-e honar,” Māh-nāma-ye Mardom 5, 1946.

“Andividualism va honar-e māvarā-e jadīd,” Māh-nāma-ye Mardom 10, 1946.

“Zibāʾi-šenāsi va ertebāṭ-e ān bā qavānīn-e aḵlāqi,” Māh-nāma-ye Mardom 4, 1947.

“Vznik, vývoj a cíle íránské strany Túdé” (Origin, development and aims of the Iranian Tudeh Party), Nový Orient 5, 1949/50, pp. 147-48.

“Zpíváme o miru” (We sing of peace), Nový Orient 7, 1952, p. 31.

“Sa’adího Růžová zahrada” (Saʿdi’s Rose Garden), Nový Orient 10, 1955a, p. 9. 

“Můj Írán” (My Iran), Nový život 1955b, pp. 1076-77. 

“An Introduction to the Modern Persian Literature,” in F. Tauer et al., eds., Charisteria Orientalia Praecipue ad Persiam Pertinentia: Ioanni Rypka sacrum, Prague, 1956, pp. 300-15.

“The Problem of the Vowel-Phonemes in the Persian Language,” Archív Orientální 25, 1957, pp. 45-55.

“O literárním a historickém podvrhu” (On a literary and historical plagiarism), Nový Orient 12, 1957, pp. 142-3.  

“A Study in the Persian Bound Phraseology and Idioms,” Archív Orientální 26, 1958, pp. 248-78.

“Sádek Hedájat, Pohádka o živé vode” (Sadeq Hedayat, A fairy tale on the Water of Life), Nový Orient 13, 1958, pp. 76-78, 90-93.

“K překladu Ferdousího Zál a Rúdábe” (Toward the translation of Ferdowsi’s “Zāl and Rudābeh”), Nový Orient 14, 1959, pp. 179-80. 

“Development of Realism in Persian Art,” New Orient 2, 1961, pp. 139-42.

“Vývoj realismu v perském malířství” (Development of realism in Persian painting), Nový Orient 15, 1960, pp. 58-60. 

“Dášákol: Sádek Hedájat,” Czech tr. in cooperation with Jiří Bečka, Nový Orient 161961, pp. 43-46.

“Dar-bāra-ye avvalin makāteb-e māddi dar Irān—Zorvāniān wa Dahriyun,” Donyā, 2nd ser., 3/1, 1962, pp. 57-72.

Moderní perská frazeologie a konverzace / A Modern Persian Phrase-Book, Státni pedagogické nakladatelství, Prague, 1963a.

“Nominal Compounds in Neo-Persian,” Archív Orientální 31, 1963b, pp. 138-40.

“Zurvánité a Dahrité – první materialistické filosofické směry v Íránu” (The Zurvanites and the Dahris – the first materialistic schools of philosophy in Iran), Nový Orient 18, 1963, 117-18.

A Study on Nominal Compounds in Neo-Persian, Rozpravy Ceskoslovenske akademie ved. 74/8, Prague, 1964a.

Křížová cesta Íránu (The Calvary of Iran), published under the pen-name M. R. Šāhīn, Prague, 1964b, p. 164. 

Principles of Persian Bound Phraseology, Dissertationes Orientales 10, Prague, 1967a.

“Modern Persian Poetry,” Yādnāme-ye Jan Rypka, Prague, 1967b, pp. 187-94.

Dārūk ī hónsandīh,” Archív Orientální 36, 1968, pp. 429-31.

“Some Basic Tenets of the Eclectic Metaphysics of the Dēnkart,” Archív Orientální 38, 1970, pp. 277-312 and 512.

 “The Sassanian Matrimonial Relations,” Archív Orientální 39, 1971, pp. 322-45.

“In memoriam Abd’ ol-Hosejn Núšín,” Nový Orient 27, 1972, p. 124.

“A Few Philosophical and Cosmogonical Chapters of the Dēnkart,” Archív Orientální 41, 1973, pp. 133-64.

“Two Middle Persian Legal Terms for Private Property,” in P. Gignoux and A. Tafazzoli, eds., Mémorial Jean de Menasce, Louvain, 1974, pp. 327-36.

“The Concept of Obligated Successorship in the Mādiyān ī Hazār Dādistān,” in Monumentum H.S. Nyberg II, Acta Iranica 5, 1975a, pp. 227-42. 

“Observations on the Draxt ī asūrīg,” Archív Orientální 43, 1975b, pp. 64-75.

“Two Middle Persian Philosophical Terms LYSTK’ and MʾTK’,” in Iran ancienActes du XXIXe Congrès International Des Orientalistes, Paris, 1975c, pp. 52-57.

“An Appraisal of the Glossary of A Manual of Pahlavi,” Archív Orientální 43, 1975d, pp. 256-63.

“Rozvoy íránsko-sovětských ekonomických vztahů” (Progress in Iranian-Soviet economic relations), Nový Orient 31, 1976a, pp. 18-23.

“Nafta: černý poklad Íránu” (Oil: the black treasure of Iran), Nový Orient 31, 1976b, pp. 65-67. 

“The Obstruction of Justice,” Archív Orientální 45, 1977a, pp. 48-53.

“Universal Homage to Cyrus the Great,” Archív Orientální 45, 1977b, pp. 259-63.

“Kāʾānī, Ḥabib Allāh,” EI², IV, 1978a, p. 313.

Khudjandī, Kamāl,” EI², IV, 1978b, p. 516.

“The Social Doctrine of Mazdak in the Light of Middle Persian Evidence,” Archív Orientální 46, 1978c, pp. 289-306.

“The Dēnkart Account of the History of the Zoroastrian Scriptures,” Archív Orientální 49, 1981, pp. 114-25.

“Two Chapters of the Rivāyat ī Ēmēd ī Ašawahištān,” in Oriental Studies (Professor D. Kobidze Memorial Volume), Tbilisi, 1983a, pp. 45-53.

“Revertible and Irrevertible Grants in Sasanian Law,” Studia Iranica 12, 1983b, pp. 183-93.

“A Few Unrecognized Middle-Persian Terms and Phrases,” in Wojciech Skalmowski and Alois Van Tongerloo, eds., Middle Iranian Studies, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 16, Louvain, 1984a, pp. 95-102.

“An Introduction to Modern Persian Literature (1180s-1940s),” in Thomas M. Ricks, ed., Critical Perspectives on Modern Persian Literature, Washington D.C., 1984b, pp. 26-41. 

“The Cosmogonical and Cosmological Teachings of Mazdak,” in Papers in Honour of Professor Mary Boyce, Acta Iranica 24: Hommages et Opera Minora 10, Leiden, 1985, pp. 527-43.

“Observations on the Ayādgār ī Zarērān,” Archív Orientální 54, 1986, pp. 257-71.

“Pahlavica,” in A Green Leaf: Papers in Honour of Professor Jes P. Asmussen, Acta Iranica 28, Leiden, 1988, pp. 93-99.

“The Fillet of Nobility,” Bulletin of the Asia Institute, N.S. 4, 1990a, pp. 277-79.

“Sāsān ke bud?,” Irān-šenāsi 2/1, 1990b, pp. 77-88.

“Dorost-dinān,” Maʿāref 10/1, 1993, pp. 28-53.

Books reviewed by Shaki (in chronological order).

“Vāženāmeh-ye Bondaheš (Glossary of Pahlavi Bondaheš). By Mehrdād Bahār,” Archív Orientalní 38, 1970, pp. 494-95.”

“Farhang-e Pahlavī (Pahlavi-Persian Dictionary). By Dr. Bahhām Faravashī,” Archív Orientální 39, 1971, pp. 222-24. 

“Farhang-e Huzvareshhā-ye Pahlavi (The Huzvaresh Dictionary). By Dr. Mohammad-Javad Mashkour,” Archív Orientální 39, 1971, pp. 496-97.

“A. Bodrogeligeti: The Persian Vocabulary of the Codex Cumanicus,” Nový Orient 28, 1973, pp. 159-60. 

A Grammar of Southern Tati Dialects, by Ehsan Yar-Shater,” Archív Orientální 42, 1974, pp. 80-81.

Geschichte Irans und seiner Nachbarländer von Alexander dem Grossen bis zum Untergang der Arsaciden, von Alfred von Gutschmid,” Archív Orientální 44, 1976, pp. 178-80.

Aufsätze zur persischen Geschichte, by Theodor Nöldeke,” Archív Orientální 44, 1976, p. 280. 

The Codex DHBeing a Facsimile Edition of Bondahesh, Zand-e Vohman Yasht and parts of Denkart.” Archív Orientální 45, 1977, pp. 366-67.

The Bondahesh, Being a Facsimile Edition of the Manuscript TD 1,” Archív Orientální 45, 1977, p. 367.

Die Geschichte der Kinder Israels des Rašīd ad-dīn, Einleitung, Übersetzung, Kommentar und 82 Texttafeln by Karl Jahn,” Archív Orientální 46, 1978, pp. 188-89. 

The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 4, the period from the Arab invasion to the Saljuqs,” edited by R. N. Frye,” Archív Orientální 46, 1978, pp. 286-87.

“L. P. Elwell-Sutton, The Persian Metres,” Archív Orientální 47, 1979, p. 208.

“On ‘Zoroastrians – Their Religious Beliefs and Practices’,” Archív Orientální 50, 1982, pp. 66-68.

“Bo Utas, A Persian Sufi Poem: Vocabulary and Terminology,” Archív Orientální 50, 1982, pp. 85-86.

“The Translation of the Sasanian Law-Book – A Pons Asinorum,” Archív Orientální 55, 1987, pp. 190-93.

A Millennium of Iranian Pre-Islamic History,” Archív Orientální 55, 1987, pp. 287-90.

“Mary Boyce,  A History of Zoroastrianism, Volume Two: Under the Achaemenians,” Archív Orientální 55, 1987, pp. 422-23.

The Encyclopaedia Iranica – A Monumental Research Tool,” Archív Orientální 57, 1989, pp. 69-71.

“A Signal Catalogue of Sasanian Seals and Bullae,” Archív Orientální 57, 1989, pp. 167-69.

The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 2, The Median and the Achaemenian Periods, ed by Ilya Gershevitch,” Archív Orientální 58, 1990, pp. 181-83. 

“Orientalia in Honour of J. Duchesne-Guillemin,” Archív Orientální 58, 1990, pp. 277-80.

“An Appraisal of Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vols II, and III,” Archív Orientalní 59, 1991, pp. 406-9.

“Peter Jackson and Laurence Lockhard, eds., The Cambridge History of Iran, vol 6, The Timurid and Safavid Periods,” Archív Orientální 60, 1992, pp. 320-21. 

“An Appraisal of Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vols IV. and V,” Archív Orientální 62, 1994, pp. 326-28.

Encyclopaedia Iranica entries by Shaki.

“Ayōkēn”; “Azišmānd”; “Būdag”; “Čakar”; “Children iii. Legal rights of children in the Sasanian Period”; “Čidag Andarz ī Pōryōtkēšān”; “Citizenship ii. In the Sasanian Period”; “Class System iii. In the Parthian and Sasanian periods”; “Contracts ii. In the Parthian and Sasanian periods”; “Dād”; “Dādestān”; “Dād Nask”; “Dādestān ī Dēnīg”; “Dādwar, Dādwarīh”; “Dahrī i. In Middle Persian Literature”; “Dām-Pezeškī i. In the pre-Islamic period”; “Darvīš i. In the pre-Islamic period”; “Dastūr”; “Dēn”; “Dež ī Nebešt”; “Divorce ii. In the Parthian and Sasanian periods”; “Documents i. In pre-Islamic periods”; “Dūzaḵ”; “Elements”; “Ēmēd ī Ašawahištān”; “Falsafa”; “Family Law i. In Zoroastrianism”; “Gabr”; “Gayōmart”;  “Greece iv. Greek Influence on Persian Thought”; “Haftānbōxt”; and “Judicial and Legal System ii. Parthian and Sasanian Judicial Systems”.

Works on physics.

“Longitudinal and Flexural Vibrations of Y-Cut Ethylene Diamine Tartrate Crystal Rods,”  Rozpravy II. tridy Ceske akademie 61/7, 1951, pp. 1-19.

“On Some Properties of Ethylene Diamine Tartrate(EDT) Crystal Growth,” Cechoslovakij fiziceskij zurnal 5, 1955, pp. 404-15. 

“Determination of a Few Zero Temperature Coefficient (TC)/Cuts of Y-Cut EDT crystals for Longitudinal Mode of Vibration,” in Cechoslovakij fiziceskij zurnal 6, 1956, pp. 287-91.

Other works cited.

Jiři Bečka, “Mansour Shaki (1919-2000),” Archív Orientální 69, 2001, pp. 85-92.

Répertoires I. Bio-bibliographies de 134 savants, Acta Iranica 20, Leiden, 1979, pp. 467-68. 

ʿAli Ašraf Ṣādeqi, “Doktor Manṣur Šaki,” Nāma-ye Farhangestān 16/4, 2000, pp. 2-5.

Cite this page
Adhami, Siamak, “SHAKI, MANSOUR”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 21 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_366422>
First published online: 2023

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