The Ethics and Practice of Persianate Perfection

edited by Lloyd Ridgeon

Format: Royal Hardback
Published: September 2018
Pages: 395
ISBN: 9781909942158

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‘In these 14 essays, the editor and contributors have provided a definitive framework for the understanding of a complex phenomenon which has so far proved difficult to grasp. In a masterfully controlled investigation with a rich palette of insight into the socio-religious structure of Iran and its neighbours, this study, which ranges  from the early middle ages till the present  day, tackles the spiritual and ideological sources of javanmardi, its background and the manifold shifts which it underwent in the perception of individuals and communities.’

— Professor Paul Luft, Honorary Fellow, Institute of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, Durham University

‘Lloyd Ridgeon’s edited volume on the notion of javanmard (al-fatā in Arabic), with its balanced discussion of the nuances and meanings of the concept through different periods and spaces in Iran, Medieval Anatolia, and even modern Turkey,  is poised to become one of the most important studies of the subject. The book combines various methodological approaches, resulting in a combination of discipline-based and interdisciplinary chapters; one of its greatest achievements is to guide the reader on a journey through the intellectual history of ethics and the practice of perfection.’

— Dr Denis Hermann, Director of IFRI (Institut Français de Recherche en Iran)

“Il faut saluer cet ouvrage truffé d’informations et espérer qu’il convaincra les lecteurs non orientalistes de la centralité d’un concept hélas méconnu.”

— Bulletin Critique des Annales Islamologiques

Javanmardi is one of those Persian terms that is heard frequently in discussions associated with Persian identity, and yet its precise meaning is so difficult to comprehend. A number of equivalents have been offered, including chivalry and manliness, and while these terms are not incorrect, javanmardi transcends them. The concept encompasses character traits of generosity, selflessness, hospitality, bravery, courage, honesty, truthfulness and justice, and yet there are occasions when the exact opposite of these is required for one to be a javanmard. The essays in this volume represent the sheer range, influence and importance
that the concept has had in creating Persianate identities since the medieval era and across a vast geographical domain.

Lloyd Ridgeon is a Reader in Islamic Studies and Head of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow. His latest monograph is Jawanmardi: A Sufi Code of Honour (2011).


Table of Contents:

Lloyd Ridgeon – Introduction: The Felon, the Faithful and the Fighter: The Protean Face of the Chivalric Man (Javanmard) in the Medieval Persianate and Modern Iranian Worlds

Raya Y. Shani – La Fata illa ʿAli wa la Sayf illa Dhu’l-Faqar: Epigraphic Ceramic Platters from Medieval Nishapur Documenting Esteem for ʿAli ebn Abi Taleb as the Ideal Fata

Rıza Yıldırım – From Naserian Courtly-Fotovvat to Akhi-Fotovvat: Transformation of the Fotovvat Doctrine and Communality in Late Medieval Anatolia

Maxime Durocher – Akhi lodge, Akhi architecture or Akhi patronage? Architecture of Fotovvat-Based Associations in Medieval Anatolia

Sibel Kocaer – The Notion of Erenler in the Divan-ı Şeyh Mehmed Çelebi (Hızırname)

Ines Aščerić-Todd – Fotovvat in Bosnia

Rachel Goshgarian – Late Medieval Armenian Texts on Fotovvat: Translations in Context

Jeanine Elif Dağyeli – Adab in the Workshop: Concepts of Fotovvat, Proper Conduct and Moral Economy in Central Asian Craftsmanship

Philippe Rochard and Denis Jallat – Zurkhaneh, Sufism, Fotovvat/Javanmardi and Modernity: Considerations about Historical Interpretations of a Traditional Athletic Institution

Olmo Gölz – Representation of the Hero Tayyeb Hajj Rezaʾi: Sociological Reflections on Javanmardi

Babak Rahimi – Digital Javanmardi: Chivalric Ethics and Imagined Iran on the Internet

Nacim Pak-Shiraz – Constructing Masculinities through the Javanmards in Pre-Revolutionary Iranian Cinema

Farshad Zahedi – Masculinity Crisis and the Javanmard Icon in Iranian Cinema

Christine Allison and Estelle Amy de la Bretèque –  Princes, Thieves and Death: The Making of Heroes amongst the Yezidis of Armenia

David Barchard – A Tale of Two Concepts: Civanmertlik and Fütüvvet in Modern Turkey


“Il faut saluer cet ouvrage truffé d’informations et espérer qu’il convaincra les lecteurs non orientalistes de la centralité d’un concept hélas méconnu.” – Bulletin critique des Annales islamologiques

This book was featured by the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) Engaging Books Series.

Additional information


History, Religion & Philosophy


Edited by Lloyd Ridgeon