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Abstract

The role of charms in Iranian belief narratives remains largely unexplored. Hereby, I attempt a preliminary survey. First, I examine the text of the Iranian national epic, the Shahname of Ferdowsi (X–XI century A.D.), in which the word afsun denotes charm or magic spell. In contemporary folktale texts (I mainly rely on the voluminous Dictionary of Iranian Folktales), an Arabic loan-word verd (which also means a kind of prayer) is used to mean a charm which facilitates supernatural results such as shape-shifting, transformation or miraculous healing. Ritual prayer (namaz) and supplication (do’a) also function as charms in folk narratives. I also give a brief overview of the Iranian folklore scholarship.

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