A Story from Ancient Persia

Translated by : Shahriar Bourbour

Once upon a time there was a great war between Iran and its northern neighbor Turan*. The Iranians and the Turanians could not decide where the border between the two countries should be.

After years of useless fighting they finally decided to solve their problem peacefully. The Iranians suggested that Aarash, an Iranian archer from the province of Gilan, shoot an arrow northward from Iran. Wherever the arrow landed, they said, would be the border between Iran and Turan.

The Turanians welcomed the idea. They thought Aarash would not be able to shoot the arrow too far and Turan would gain more land. Both the Iranian and the Turanian kings agreed and Aarash was selected to mark the border with his arrow.

Aarash climbed up a mountain in the Alborz range, took off his clothes, prayed to the great god Ahura Mazda, pulled the arrow with all his strength, and shot. The arrow flew in the air and Iranian and Turanian horseback riders went after it.

The arrow flew for three days and three nights with the riders following it. By early morning of the fourth day the pursuit came to an end. The arrow had landed by an oak tree by the Oxus river.

Iranians and Turanians all cheered. The border problem was solved. The Oxus river was midway between Iran and Turan so both countries would get an equal share of land. The war was over. People began celebrating.

Suddenly, in the middle of the celebration they remembered the person to whom they owed the peace. "Where is Aarash ?" everybody asked.

They all rushed to the Alborz mountains. Up in the mountains they found Aarash's dead body. He had blown his own life into the arrow to make sure it would travel far enough.

Aarash was dead but the peace he brought lasted for years. Some say his spirit still haunts the Alborz mountains and helps lost shepherds find their way.

* Turan is a legendary country.

Copyright 1995 by Shahriar Bourbour
All Rights Reserved

Also look at The Tiragan Festival
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