Croatians and Cravats are of Iranian Origin
By: M. A. Sepanlu, January 2002
British scholar Noel Malcom in his book "A short history of Bosnia" printed in Britain offers valuable research about the racial relationship between Iranians and some ethnicities of the former Yugoslavia. He writes: "The name Croat, or Hravat in Serbian, is not a Serbian word. It is similar to the Iranian name Choroatos, found on tombstones of Greek dwelling regions of south Russia." He goes on to add that the original form of the word is "Khoravat" as mentioned in Avesta, meaning "friendly".
|Croat volunteer of French Army,
wearing Cravat, 17th century
Historical studies indicate that the Croats started migrating from the Iranian homeland to Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia about 3,000 years ago. However, a much larger migration took place about 1,700 years ago. Probably the reason behind this migration was the suppression of the followers of Manichean faith during the Sassanid era. The said scholar LSO says that the word Serb has also Iranian origin, which can be recognized in the word "Charv" meaning cattle.
According top ancient documents, these two ethnic groups were tribes of Iranian origin that had accepted Slavic subjects among themselves.
Noel Malcom says that new theories confirm historical knowledge. Some Croatian nationalist theoreticians have opted to adopt the theory linking their origins to Iran, thereby preserving their cultural and psychological independence, in order not to merge into the neighboring cultures. Such a theory gained particular popularity during World War II, for Iranians were considered to have a higher ranking compared to the Slava in terms of racial hierarchy. However, in Malcom's words, the plain historical fact is that both the Croats and the Serbs migrated at the same time, and both have some characteristics of Iranian peoples.
One point is clear: the early immigrants called themselves Khoravat or Croat in order to distinguish with other tribes of that region. These Iranian-origin immigrants also did something more to stress the difference: they tied a handkerchief around their necks, something which later gained global popularity under the name of Cravat.
In 1656 CE, Louis XIV formed a regiment of Croat volunteers inside his army. The members of this regiment, in accordance to their ancient tradition, wore a neckerchief of plain of floral silk, its ends dangling from the tie. It could also be used as bandage if the soldier was wounded. After this time the Croatian scarf was accepted in France, above all in court, where military ornaments were much admired. The fashionable expression, ’a la croate’, soon evolved into a new French word, which still exists today: la cravate. Some 170 years later, the necktie became a universal fashion. It would be worthwhile to add that the Croatian national flag is derived from the chessboard, thus some nationalist historians consider Croatians the descendants of Bozorgmehr, the chess master and minister of the Sassanid era.
Talking of the global influence of Persian, it would also be interesting to not that the word Pajamas has Persian origins, meaning "leg ware". My mind drifts back to the Mauritanian desert. In an isolated oasis, an old man opens an ancient book, reading with not so familiar accent, one of the great poems of Sa'adi" "Human beings are organs of one body."
Identity of Croatians in Ancient Iran
|The following books or articles are in PDF format.
The symposium proceedings "Old Iranian Origins of Croats" (65 KB, in English)
Zagreb, 24 June 1998