Top 10 MYTHICAL CREATURES From PERSIAN MYTHOLOGY
Ancient Persia is a land shrouded in mystery and mythology, filled with fantastical tales of grotesque giants, sly fiends and ruthless beasts that many believed once roamed the land of modern-day Iran. We’re digging deep into texts of Persian mythology to catalog the top ten creatures from Persian mythology, monsters that can be so truly terrifying that you’ll be glad that they don’t actually exist.
This legendary bird of prey is said to spend most of its life soaring high above land, only coming to rest on the mythological Mount Qaf. It is also said to be big and powerful enough to carry away animals as big as elephants. In reality, however, the creature that the Roc is believed to be based on is around two times as large as the common bald eagle, which isn’t quite as impressive. Our mythological feathered friend is as famous in Persian literature as it is in Arabic fairy tales and western accounts of natural history. The famous Venetian traveler Marco Polo even spoke of seeing Rocs over Madagascar and off the East coast of Africa.
In a classic tale of good and evil, early Persian literature describes Peris as benevolent creatures, constantly at battle with evil Divs. The fairy-like winged creatures were captured by these despicable Divs and trapped in iron cages at the tops of trees. However, some literature portrays the Peris as being far less angelic. These winged creatures were blamed for natural disasters and events such as comets and crop failures and were forbidden from entering heaven because of this. According to some sources, these suspect spirits were made to do penance to be allowed entry to paradise.
There are various representations of this horrifying creature, but in Persian literature, the Al is a bony old woman with sagging breasts, a clay nose, and a red face. Known as the demon of childbirth, she is said to harm or kill unborn babies and their mothers. An Al carries a basket with her, seeking out those “with child” to remove the unborn child’s liver or lung. It’s a brutal end to an otherwise joyous scenario, so if you’re ‘with child’, beware any old hags knocking at your door.
The Persian language uses the word Karkadann for both unicorn and rhinoceros, so there is some confusion as to how this mythical creature should be illustrated. Either way, this horned beast uses its sword-like horn to impale enemies and is seen as a ruthless predator. But, like all of us, the Karkadann has its own weaknesses - namely, the ringdove bird. Legend has it that the ringdove perches on the Karkadann’s tusk and charms it by singing a song. This song relaxes the Karkadann, making it docile and harmless.
This evil, horned demon started out as the chief general to the fairy king, Malek Khazen. He possessed both magical and physical powers and, upon the king’s death, overthrew the rightful heir by turning him to stone. His mother was a witch and had cast a spell to ensure that he could only be slain by a sword named Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar. Fulad-zereh, which can be translated to ‘possessing steel armour,’ had a penchant for beautiful women and roamed the land capturing ladies that took his fancy. Perhaps he should’ve been less distracted by the fairer sex, though, as both Fulad-zereh and his mother were eventually killed and burned by the heroic Amīr Arsalān.
In Persian literature, this mythical creature is depicted as a huge snake or lizard with wings, capable of living in the air, in the sea, and on land. The Azhdaha has a terrifying appearance, with lots of jagged teeth and giant eyes that look like tanks of blood. It’s as big as a mountain and has powerful horns the size of trees. Eating the heart of an Azhdaha is said to bring bravery and courage, but unfortunately, this monster can’t be hurt by water, fire, or any weapon, so how you’re going to obtain that heart is anyone’s guess.
There are various portrayals of this mythical animal, but it’s commonly described as a gigantic bird with the head of a dog and the claws of a lion. Said to have lived long enough to see the world’s destruction three times, the Simurgh is incredibly wise, having accumulated a wealth of knowledge from every age. Today, this mythical creature can be found on the Crystal Simorgh, which is the highest accolade awarded at Fajr International Film Festival.
Roughly translated to "man-eater", this crafty creature is said to have the body of a lion with the head of a human, and its three rows of sharp teeth and venomous barbed tail make this monster a fearsome one. Hiding its lion-like body, the Manticore uses its human head to lure its prey and, once a victim gets close, they are never seen again.
This terrifying beast resembles a giant ox, has skin made of polished brass and a mane made of flames. Created by a meticulous god of the forge, the Hadhayosh is said to have the ability to grant eternal life, the divine right to rule, and the full attention of the gods. This creature is slightly more talented than the modern day ox and has four legendary weapons in its arsenal, including a powerful charge, horns that are able to injure the toughest of foe, the ability to generate enough heat for a victim to be burned to ash in just one touch, and a unique stench that weaker adversaries find impossible to stomach.
Many tales describe the Huma as a phoenix-like bird, a self-consuming avian that sets itself ablaze and rises from the ashes every few hundred years. According to the Sufi fables, the Huma spends its entire life in flight, flying so high that it’s impossible to spot with the naked eye. For those that brought their binoculars, though, Persians believed a glimpse of this compassionate creature granted a lifetime of joy and happiness; but, if a person was to kill the Huma, they would die in forty days. Today, the Huma can famously be seen in the IranAir logo, which is thought by some to be one of the best in the aviation industry.