The Impact of Iranian Culture and Language in Poland
By : Nassrollah Bayat
Name-e-farsi, Monthly Magazine, Vol. 1,
(Translated from Persian)
No. 2, Dec. 1996, Page 115-120
Abstract: Some chronologists believe Iranians to be the ancestors of the Polish nation of today. Serious diplomatic ties between Iran and Poland started in the eighteenth century and several large institutions for Oriental studies are active in that country. The following report makes a cursory examination of the effect of Iranian culture and language in Poland.
A long time ago this country was called the Republic of People of Poland. Its name in the native dialect was Poloni or Poleska. According to mythological narrations a tribe was living in present Poland about a thousand years ago called Lah (1). During the domination of eastern Europe by the Ottoman empire the Turks, imitating their eastern neighbor, called that country Poland but the native tribesmen continued to call themselves Polona or Polni.
According to historiographers not long time ago different tribes and ethnic groups immigrated from Asia and settled in Poland among which the most important tribe was the Qarayeem tribe. With a one thousand and two hundred years of history, these were one of the branches of Jewish sect who followed the Talmud branch of the Torah as their religions commandment. Earlier Qarayeems were living within the Iranian and Byzantine territories and during the course of history they gradually immigrated to Crimean and Balkan Peninsula, Poland Lithuania (2).
Due to its suitable climate the Qarayeems became residents of European lands and compared with their Asian kinds they were better advanced in civilization and culture. Several historiographers such as Herodotus, believe that Qarayeems, who were in fact the ancestors of the Polish nation, were Iranians by origin. This Greek chronograph maintained that Sarmats (3) were also a branch of Qarayeems. According to the Polish researches and sociologist scientists, at the end of the sixteenth century the costume of the Polish people resembled the costumes of the old tribesmen in Asia and for a long time the dress of their elite and royal dignitaries resembled that of Safavid and Ottoman royal personalities.
Undoubtedly, the Iranians possessed a very rich culture and art from ancient times and this great wealth was gradually transferred to eastern and western nations and tribes. The Polish language, a branch of the Slav dialect, is of Indo-Iranian origin. The Poles have 28 letters in their language but with very difficult combinations. The language of that people is a mixture of Russian and German. German has gradually influenced the Russian origin and a lot of Poles can converse in both languages nowadays.
>From the point of view of religious beliefs 95 percent of people in Poland are Catholics, and the remaining five percent are Protestants, Muslims, Jews, etc. During the eighteen century the Catholic clergy started to propagate this faith in Poland and they dispatched a group of Karemili and Jesuit missionaries to Iran. The most important missionary sent from Poland was Tadeusz Juda Krusinski (4) whose sojourn in Isfahan coincided with the last days of declining Sultan Hussein of the Safavid Dynasty. He expired in the year 1756 in a town called Nietak at the age of 81 (5).
The Polish priest has left behind several books of which the most important is his treatise on the last revolution in Iran.
The Polish Muslims are descended from Tartars and are of the Hanafi sect. They have built several mosques in Poland of which the Gdansk Mosque is the most celebrated. Muslim clerics are teaching religious subjects and Shari'ah in these mosques and spiritual religion and beliefs have very much impact on the art and culture of Poland.
The impact of the opinion of this nation is evident in their buildings and structures and the architectural styles and patterns adopted during their different historical dynasties. From the point of view of images and paintings and different statues, their churches carry different plaster works, columns, column heads and ornaments and valuable articles as decoration which are considered by themselves as rich museums and are very attractive. There are many temples in Poland which are rich with ornamental objects and enchanting images displaying a world of beauty and even the pictures exhibit much magnificence and glory on the columns and head columns of their edifices.
The combination of the stones (the images and paintings of facing stone and inside adornments) are a mixture of strength and delicacy. In temples special copper boxes have survived which have been fabricated by special tenderness and artistry that proves stone and metal prevailed in the Polish history to symbolize the power of their commanders and chieftains during their domination of the eastern European nations.
Iranology in Poland
In Poland large and magnificent institutions for Oriental studies with long and brilliant records of such ventures are stationed in Warsaw and Krakow, and these institutions have long since been active in research works.
In a university of Oriental studies called Jagloonia in Krakow, housed in a giant building, professors are instructing different Asiatic language specially the Persian language. In these classes a remarkable number of students are studying the Persian language and at times they are debating, studying and researching various etymologies and linguistics and are comparing Western and Eastern languages.
Interpress Agency in Poland published several pamphlets in 1966 in this connection. These articles, gathered in a collection, were published in the Persian language and they deal with the cultural relations between Iran and Poland particularly with regard to Iranology in Poland. In one of these epistles we note the following:
"From the fifteen century until eighteen century, Poland was active in dispatching different religious, commercial and diplomatic delegations to Iran. More than 504 years has passed since Poland and Iran first established diplomatic ties with one another and the first delegation which traveled to the court of Poland was sent by the government of Iran during the reign of Oozoon Hassan Aq-Qoyunlu in the year 1474.
"The historical records of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Warsaw shows that Jaglooni, the Polish king, who was contemporary with the strong Safavid monarch Shah Abbas the First, established the Jaglooni University in Poland and from the start the university was called after that king's name. From the date of its establishment, the works of renowned Iranian scholars particularly that of Abu Sina were taught in the university. As a result of this valuable undertaking by King Jaglooni, from the beginning of the operation of Jaglooni University, the Iranian science, art and culture was widely welcomed by the students and scholars in Poland.
"In 1606 Samuel Atojenuvski, the translator of the Polish royal court, was the first scholar that translated Saadi's Golestan into Polish language. Since then the sweet Persian language and literature was widely spread in Poland and the divans of Hafiz, Ferdowsi's Shahnameh and the outstanding works of Iranian scientists, philosophers, scholars and poets were translated and published into Polish language (6). Since 1820 the department for instruction and promotion of the Persian language and literature was inaugurated and since its inception this cultural and scientific organization has taught the Persian language and literature and European researchers have become familiarized with Ferdowsi's Shahnameh and the poetry of Mowlana Jalaluddin Molavi Balkhi, the mystic and divine lyrics of Hafiz and many other Iranian poets, orators and scholars (7).
"During the period between the two world wars in Europe, the Jaglooni Cultural Institute gained more strength and as a result of such invigoration, a series of cultural, literary and artistic exhibitions were held and outstanding Polish linguists and Iranologist researchers such as Gavronski, Lanjlibiki and Kovalksi were instrumental in the propagation of Iranian civilization and culture and they have rendered outstanding services towards that end. It was due to the efforts of these outstanding Iranologist scholars that the Krakow and Warsaw universities opened a Persian literature and language branch and a number of young linguists started to teach Persian in that branch. Pursuant to that effort, the rich Iranian culture, art and literature served as an inspiration fountain for the Polish cultural and artistic pioneers." (8) Adam Miskovich (9), the able and talented Polish poet who was completely familiar with the Persian language and literature and was speaking fluent Farsi, was personally teaching the Persian language and literature to the Polish students. With such engagements, Miskovich wanted to plunge into the unbounded ocean of ancient Persian culture and literature and to drink deeply from that wholesome fountain. Eventually and inspired by this divine fountain of art, Miskovich created a living and eternal literary work called "The Satan and the Ahuramazda" which is considered a very famous book on religious topics among the major poets of Europe (10).
After the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Socialist Republic of Poland was one of the first nations that recognized the provisional government of the Islamic Revolution and established friendly ties with the Islamic Republic. Since then the senior officials of Poland have repeatedly praised the anti-imperialistic stances of the IRI and this has further ameliorated relations between Tehran and Warsaw (11).
The majority of Polish researchers, scholars and students have studied or made scientific, artistic and literary research in scientific and research centers in Iranian academies and some have closely witnessed the chronology of the Revolution (12). A number of Polish researchers such as Eskelavatek have examined the political, social and ancient historical subjects of the Iranian history individually and in a scattered manner. Eskelavatek was a researcher from Warsaw University who studied the political, religions and economic history of Iran after the Islamic Republic (13).
Hanozinski is one of the historiographers and scientists of Pozhnan University who has made extensive studies on the history of the different Islamic sects. Kaposinski, another outstanding Polish scholar, has written a very interesting and valuable book in 1982 about the Islamic Revolution where he studies and elaborates the Revolution and its roots. In that book the Polish scholar is examining, discussing and sagaciously analyzing and portraying the glorious features of the Islamic Revolution from the various perspectives for the information of the Europeans. Besides, this book supplies useful and comprehensive information about Iran's history and its relation with Poland from the oldest time until the contemporary periods (14).
1. The Russians, particularly those who dwelt in Ukraine and White Russia, used to call the Polish natives Lahs.
2. Nassrollah Bayat, Poland, Tehran, Foreign Ministry's Printing and Publishing Institute.
3. Sarmats are a branch of Qarayeems who spread many of their fanatical ethnic traditions and customs among other Polish tribes and even among the Slaves dwelling outside Poland and the Poles used even to copy their costume.
4. Tadeusz Juda Krusinski, was a Pole by birth. He was born in the year 1675 and after learning eastern languages he joined the Jesuit missionaries in that country. In 1720 Krusinski was appointed by Bartabas Fedli, the archbishop in Isfahan, to negotiate with Shah Sultan Hussein about certain (Muslim) clerics who had hurt and persecuted the Armenians in Tblisi and Ganja, and he performed his duties in an excellent manner. Krusinski was present in Isfahan when the town was besieged by the invading Afghans and after the fall of Isfahan he welcomed the invading Mahmud, the Afghan. Several weeks after Mahmud's death, the Polish priest along with Abdolaziz Qaterchi fled to the Ottoman embassy and in 1726 he managed to reach Skutari, Istanbul. There Krusinski wrote down his memoirs in Latin language. In 1733 Krusinski published Dori Efendi's book in Latin language which described the former's mission in Iran (Abdolhossein Navayie, Iran and Jahan Tehran, Nashr-e Homa, 1991, vol. 1 , p. 454).
5. Lockhart, The Fall of Safavid Dynasty, translated by Esmaeel Dolatshahi, P. 606 to 616.
6. Poland, P. 52.
8. Anna Krasnovolska, translated by Hussein Masoomi Hamadani, Nashr-e Danesh, 9th year, No. 3.
9. Adam Miskovich (1978 - 1855), a famous Polish poet, writer, dramatist and politician was born in Navagrad. In childhood and still young, his native Poland was not independent. After graduating from the Vilta University in 1989, he jointed anti-government revolutionary organizations but was detained, jailed and exiled.
>From 1824 to 1829 he remained an exile outside Poland and during that period he became acquainted with Pushkin, the celebrated Russian poet. In 1830 Miskovich returned to Poland and in 1839 he was lecturing in Lausanne University on Latin literature. In 1848 he formed the Miskovich legion in Italy and another legion in Istanbul. He died in Istanbul in the year 1855 (Poland P. 53 and 54).
10. Poland, P. 52.