A Sassanian woman playing the harp

The Golden Age of Sassanian Music: Exploring the Flourishing Musical Heritage of Ancient Iran




    There was a golden age when an empire ruled Persia/Iran from the year 224 to the year 651. This empire ruled Persia and had the golden age of music in the country’s history before Islam.


That empire was the Sassanian Dynasty, where Sassanian music flourished under this empire. This type of music had cultural significance in the Sassanian days and even is valued today. The Sasanid Dynasty was the last Empire in Persia to exist before the rise of Islam.


Origins of Sasanian music:



          The origins of this genre of music came from the beginning of the Sasanian Dynasty. Religion was important to the people living in the country. The religion of the Sassanian regime was Zoroastrianism which got brought back after the Hellenic Parthian rule of Persia.

     Zoroastrianism became the state religion of the Sassanian Dynasty, which brought more citizens to the Avesta (the religious text of Zoroastrianism) and the Gathas (which are multiple Avestan hymns).

     There was a rumor that these hymns were sung in the dynasty, although there was no concrete evidence to support the said rumor.

     Herodotus, a Greek historian, also claimed that people chanted these Gathas during religious sacrifices. The Zoroastrianism religion influenced Sassanian music because the system, culture, and religion were interlinked.

     Some state leaders have also been fascinated with music and have taken action to integrate music into popular culture, religion, and more parts of society.

     Ardasir I (the first king of the Sasanian Dynasty who reigned 224-241) created an upper class called the Parthian Gosan. This class was a class of talented artists and musicians. This new class gave even higher value to music and art in the society of the Sassanians.

     Another king, Bahram V Gor (who reigned from 420-438), increased the power of the class and hired another 12,000 singers from India.

     Another Sassanian king, Kosrow II (who reigned 590-628 was also a king who appreciated the power of art in his nation.

     He ruled during the peak golden age of Sasanian music in Persia. In a boat with a group of harpist bands, Kosrow II is holding a bow with arrows. Another harpist band is on a second boat as multiple musicians play on the shore at Taq-e Bostan in Persia.


Instruments used for Sassanian Music:


  1. Chang: A type of harp, similar to the modern-day harp but with a smaller size and fewer strings.

  2. Daf: A type of frame drum, usually made of wood and animal skin.

  3. Ney: A type of flute, made of reed or bamboo.

  4. Karna: A type of horn, made of brass or bronze, often used for military or ceremonial purposes.

  5. Barbat: A type of lute, similar to the modern-day oud, with a long neck and pear-shaped body.

  6. Santur: A type of hammered dulcimer, with a trapezoidal soundboard and many strings.

  7. Kamancheh: A type of bowed string instrument, similar to the modern-day violin or cello, with a small, round body and a long, thin neck.

Daf (Instrument)

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