from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term Aryan ( Sanskrit आर्य Arya , Avestan airiia , Old Persian Arya , New Persian آریائی āryā'ī , from an Indo-European root * ar- with an uncertain meaning) is a self-designation used by speakers of Indo-Iranian languages. European loan forms of the word have been used in comparative linguistics since the 19th century and transferred from there to other areas. Above all, it was adapted in the race ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries to denote members of certain groups of people who were defined according to their belonging to a "race" or " master race" .


As an old self-designation, the expression, which goes back to an Indo-Iranian form * arya- , is only documented in Persia and India ( Rigveda ).

The use of the Iranian or ancient Indian forms of the word in the Avesta and the Vedas suggests the existence of a Central Asian people with this self-designation. Linguists assume that there were ethnic groups dominating Indo-Iranian languages during the later Copper Age to the Early Bronze Age . The "Aryans" expanded in several bursts both south and west over a period of several centuries. The details of the migrations, especially their sequence, are controversial, even the existence of immigration is sometimes disputed, not only by Indian nationalists.

Around 2000 to 1500 BC The Indian branch (Indo-Aryans) of the "Aryans" ( आर्य ), whose language was Vedic , is said to have immigrated to north-west India. The Iranian "Aryans", who became the ancestors of today's Iranian peoples , migrated in the 11th to 10th centuries BC. A.

Inscription Darius I.

Darius I , King of Persia (521 to 486 BC) proclaimed in an inscription in Naqsh-e Rostam , near today's Iranian Shiraz :

"I am Darius, the great king [...], a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan who has Aryan descent."

The Persian cuneiform , the development of which he is said to have initiated for the Behistun inscription , he called the "Aryan script".

Word usage

Uses by speakers of Indo-Iranian languages

The term is used in the Avesta as an ethnic name of the Iranians. In Buddhism , Hinduism and Jainism , it denotes a noble spirit. The neo-Persian nameایران Īrān ( Middle Persian Ērān as short form of ērān-šahr ) means 'land of the Aryans' and is derived from the old Iranian genitive form * aryānam 'the Aryans' , as a short form of * aryānam xšaθra 'land of the Aryans' . Theword that has only recently been usedin Pashtun (since 1943)آريانا Āryānā goes back to the news of ancient Greek and Latin authors, according to which Ariana was the name of the eastern provinces of the Achaemenid Empire , corresponding to today's Afghanistan and parts of Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Mohammad Reza , the Shah of Persia from the ruling family since the 1920s Pahlavi , settled in 1967 by the Iranian Parliament the names of kings, Light of the Aryans' ( Arya-more /آريا مهر) in the sense of modern Iranian nationalism, which has been promoted since his father Reza Shah Pahlavi came to power , using the expression āryā / re-imported from Frenchآريا which never existed in Persian in this form.

Uses in Europe

Anquetil-Duperron introduced the term in his translation of the Zend-Avesta into French in 1771 ( ariens ), from there it was adopted into German in the 1770s ( Arier , JG Rhode).

Christian Lassen has used the term "Aryans" since 1847 to denote the (hypothetical) speakers of ancient Indian, and later Indo-Europeanists also used the expression with a restriction to the speakers of Indo-Iranian or Iranian languages. Since Adolphe Pictet proved Celtic to be an Indo-European language , a much broader evidence of the expression has been assumed ( Éire 'Ireland' should have the same root), so that the expression seemed to be used for all speakers of Indo-European languages. Due to Friedrich Max Müller's great influence, this method of use was common for a long time, especially in England, but has never really caught on. As early as the discovery of the Palatal Law (1877), the generalizing use was no longer sensible, since it has since been certain that the Indo-Iranian languages ​​are not as close to the source language as was previously believed.

More recently, the term has only been used in comparative linguistics as a word component of the language designation " Indo-Aryan " for the family of ancient Indian and its daughter languages . The Indo-Iranian languages form the parent branch of the family tree ; “Indo-Iranian” is synonymous with the older linguistic meaning of “Aryan”. In linguistic usage outside of comparative linguistics, the term has primarily been used as a generalized ethnic designation since the 19th century, often with a strong emphasis on the “racial” aspect. The word has been part of the racist vocabulary since 1945 at the latest, as soon as it is used in a way that goes beyond the narrowest scope.

"Arierum" as an ideology

Theses about the original home

In the discussion about the “ original home ” since the middle of the 19th century, nationalistic reasons have often played an important role. The assumption of an origin from the West Asian steppes was rejected by the archaeologist Gustaf Kossinna (1902) and the Indo-Europeanist Hermann Hirt (1905) in favor of an origin from the geographical area of northern Germany or Scandinavia . Together with the additional assumption that people of “ Nordic ” appearance are the purest expression of the ethnic “Aryan”, this view, which is mainly represented in German and English-speaking countries, opened comparative linguistics to the increased penetration of ethnic-racist theories, which deal with one scientific legitimacy.

Indo-European languages , especially in the southeastern direction the Indo-Aryan languages in their distribution in Eurasia in the 6th century BC. Chr.

More recently, nationalistically motivated localizations of the “original homeland” have been sought by Hindu nationalist groups, according to the Indigenous Aryan Theory in the context of the Bharatiya Janata Party , which regards the “Aryans” as an autochthonous population of the Indian subcontinent. From there the Aryans migrated to Europe. The Bronze Age Indus culture is not based on Dravidian roots, but is of Vedic origin.

Racial theories

Breed presentations in the 19th century

In the 19th century, initially linguistically motivated views were increasingly reinterpreted in an ethnic and racial sense or transferred into imagined genealogies . The relationship between the Indo-European languages, which was revealed through linguistics, was understood in terms of an ethnic genealogy. The view spread that the fair-skinned Europeans descended from the "Aryans" who, as warrior nobility, subjugated native peoples on their migrations and acted as "culture bringer". Friedrich Max Müller represented this theory particularly effectively in his popularizing writings in English.

Arthur de Gobineau followed Friedrich Schlegel's interpretation that Aryans mean 'the honorable' ( les hommes honorables ). In his experiment on the inequality of human races, he establishes an etymological connection between “Aryans” and the German word “honor”. Gobineau knew three races: white, yellow, and black. In the first place was the white race and within this again the "Aryans". Almost all non-European cultures, this is the core thesis, are said to have been founded by Aryan conquerors.

Gobineau took up German Indo-European studies and postulated that the Aryan or Nordic race was superior to all other races and represented in its purest form by the French nobility. With this he connected the negative assessment of the "mixing" of races. Linguistics did not accept this theory, but Gobineau's theses were accepted in the German-speaking area , especially among Richard Wagner's followers in Bayreuth , especially Karl Ludwig Schemann and Houston Stewart Chamberlain . In The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899) Chamberlain tied in essential points with Gobineau and Friedrich Max Müller. However, he regarded the German people as the purest expression of the Aryan race and associated it with pronounced anti-Semitism , without, however, calling for the extermination of the Jews.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky , the founder of an esoteric theosophy , used the term "Aryan" in her doctrine of root races. As root races ( English root races ) she considered epochs of the development of mankind, with the Aryan root race being the current epoch.

National Socialism

French caricature: "The Aryan type: blond like Hitler , slim like Göring , tall like Goebbels "

Along with the racist ideas of the 19th century, Adolf Hitler and National Socialism also took up the ideas associated with the expression “Aryans” and radicalized them. In National Socialist parlance, the word was the antonym of "Jude". Since 1935, however, "Aryan" was no longer used as an official legal term. The expression “Aryans” used in the law to restore the professional civil service was replaced by the phrase “Person of German or related blood” used in the Nuremberg Laws (September 1935), which according to a circular of November 26, 1935 was replaced by the expression “ German-blooded “Was replaced.

Outside of legal language, however, the expression and its derivatives continued to be used. The Nazi regime expropriated Jews in particular under the term " Aryanization ".

The term “Aryans” is used by white racists to denote the “white race”, for example by the Aryan Nations in the USA or by neo-Nazis in German-speaking countries.

See also


Source research

  • Jahanshah Derakhshani: The Aryans in the Middle Eastern sources of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC BC Basic features of the prehistory and early history of Iran. 2nd revised edition with addendum. International Publications of Iranian Studies, Tehran 1998, ISBN 964-90368-6-5 .

Conceptual and scientific history

  • Konrad Koerner: Observations on the sources, transmission, and meaning of 'Indo-European' and related terms in the development of linguistics. In: Indogermanische Forschungen 86 (1981), pp. 1–29.
  • Manfred Mayrhofer : Etymological dictionary of the Old Indo-Aryan (= Indo-European library. Series 2: Dictionaries. Volumes 1–3). 3 volumes. Winter, Heidelberg 1990-2001, ISBN 3-533-03826-2 (set).
  • Rüdiger Schmitt : Aryans. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. Volume 2, Fasc. 7, pp. 684-687.
  • Josef Wiesehöfer : On the history of the terms "Aryans" and "Aryan" in German linguistics and ancient history of the 19th and first half of the 20th century. In: Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg, Jan Willem Drijvers: The Roots of European Tradition (= Achaemenid History. Volume 5). Proceedings of the 1987 Groningen Achaemenid History Workshop. Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, Leiden 1990, ISBN 90-6258-405-5 , pp. 149-167.

Impact history

  • Michael Bergunder, Peter Rahul Das (eds.): "Arier" and "Draviden". Constructions of the past as a basis for self-perception and perception of others in South Asia (= New Hallesche reports. Volume 2). Francke Foundations, Halle 2002, ISBN 3-931479-34-X . doi: 10.11588 / xabooks.379.539 .
  • Edward Bryant: The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture. The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press, Oxford et al. 2001, ISBN 0-19-513777-9 .
  • Gérard Fussman, Jean Kellens, Henri-Paul Francfort, Xavier Tremblay: Āryas, Aryens et Iraniens en Asie Centrale (= Publications de l'Institut de Civilization Indiane. Volume 72). Boccard, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-86803-072-6 .
  • Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke : Hitler's Priestess. Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism. New York University Press, New York et al. 1998, ISBN 0-8147-3110-4 .
  • Maurice Olender: The languages ​​of paradise. Religion, Philology and Racial Theory in the 19th Century . Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt et al. 1995, ISBN 3-593-35191-9 .
  • Léon Poliakov : The Aryan Myth. On the sources of racism and nationalism. From the French. Junius, Hamburg 1993, ISBN 3-88506-220-8 (original title: Le mythe aryen , 1972).
  • Cornelia Schmitz-Berning: Vocabulary of National Socialism . 2., through u. edit Edition. de Gruyter, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-019549-1 , pp. 54-63.
  • Klaus von See : The Aryan Myth. In: Nikolaus Buschmann, Dieter Langewiesche (Ed.): The war in the founding myths of European nations and the USA. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2003, ISBN 3-593-37368-8 , pp. 56-84.
  • Bernard Sergent : Les Indo-Européens. Histoire, langues, mythes. Nouvelle édition revue et augmentée. Payot & Rivages, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-228-88956-3 .

Web links

Commons : Aryans  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Aryans  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

References and comments

  1. Monier Monier-Williams: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary etymologically and philologically arranged with special reference to cognate Indo-European languages , Clarendon Press, Oxford 1898, p. 152, sv अर्य [1] ; Otto Böhtlingk : Sanskrit dictionary in a shorter version , St. Petersburg 1879–1889, Volume 3, pp. 1115–1 / 2, sv अर्य [2] .
  2. ^ Rüdiger Schmitt: Aryans. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. Volume 2, 1987, p. 684.
  3. The term aryā existed in Persian until the end of the Achaemenid period; then he went on to use the Middle Persian term ērānī , which then became neupers. īrānī led. Only in the 20th century, the term was from the French in the corresponding phonetic transcription as āryā'ī reimported into modern Persian.
  4. ^ HW Bailey: Arya. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. Volume 2, 1987, pp. 681 f. Attempts at derivation can be found in Paul Thieme : The stranger in Ṛgveda . A study of the meaning of the words ari , arya , aryaman and arya . Leipzig 1938 (= treatises for the customer of the Orient. Volume 23.2); Oswald Szemerényi : Studies in the Kinship Terminology of the Indo-European Languages. Brill, Leiden 1977 (= Acta Iranica. Volume III / 16), pp. 103-147.
  5. Michael Witzel : Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts. In: Electronic Journal of Vedic Sudies. Volume 7, No. 3, 2001, ISSN  1084-7561 , pp. 1–115, (online, (PDF; 572 kB)).
  6. ^ Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermund: History of India. From the Indus culture to today. Beck, Munich 2006, p. 44.
  7. ^ Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermund: History of India. From the Indus culture to today. Beck, Munich 2006, p. 44.
  8. ^ Rüdiger Schmitt: Aryans. In: Ehsan Yarshater (Ed.): Encyclopaedia Iranica. Volume 2: Anāmaka - Āṯār al-wozarāʹ. Routledge & Paul, London et al. 1987, p. 685b; critical of an immigration to Iran: Jahanshah Derakhshani: Basic features of the prehistory and early history of Iran. History and Culture of Ancient East Iran. Volume 1, Issue 1: The Times of Zarathustra. Reconstruction of the old Iranian chronology. International Publications of Iranian Studies, Tehran 1995.
  9. DNa § 2; see. Rüdiger Schmitt: The Old Persian Inscriptions of Naqsh-i Rustam and Persepolis . School of Oriental and African Studies, London 2000 (= Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum. Part I: Inscriptions of Ancient Iran. Vol. I: The Old Persian Inscriptions; Texts 2).
  10. DBi § 70; see. Rüdiger Schmitt: The Bisitun Inscriptions of Darius the Great . Old Persian text. School of Oriental and African Studies, London 1991 (= Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum, Part I: Inscriptions of Ancient Iran. Vol. I: The Old Persian Inscriptions; Texts 1.)
  11. Art. Iran. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. Volume 13, 2004, p. 204.
  12. ʿAbd-al-Hayy Ḥabībī: Āryāna . In: Encyclopaedia Iranica , Volume 2, 1987, p. 683; Rüdiger Schmitt: Aria . In: Encyclopaedia Iranica , Volume 2, 1986, p. 404 f.
  13. cf. altpers. aryā , not āryā ! In the Shāhnāme of Firdausi (around 1000 AD), the authoritative early neo-Persian epic , this term no longer appears, instead only īrān and īrān-zamīn as the designation of the country (to distinguish it from tūrān , i.e. Central Asia) and īrānīyān for its residents.
  14. ^ Zend-Avesta, ouvrage de Zoroastre , Paris 1771.
  15. Tuska Benes: In Babel's Shadow. Language, Philology, and the Nation in Nineteenth-century Germany . Wayne State Univ. Press, Detroit, Me. 2008, p. 203.
  16. Benes, p. 208.
  17. Benes, p. 209.
  18. ^ Manfred Mayrhofer: Sanskrit and the languages ​​of old Europe. Two centuries of contradiction between discovery and error . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1983 (= news of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class; born 1983, No. 5).
  19. Benes, p. 286.
  20. 3rd book, 1st chapter.
  21. Benes, pp. 204-211.
  22. Eduard Gugenberger, Roman Schweidlenka: Mother Earth, Magic and Politics. Between fascism and new society. Publishing house for social criticism, Vienna 1987, p. 139.
  23. Cornelia Schmitz-Berning: Vocabulary of National Socialism . 2., through u. revised Edition. de Gruyter, Berlin 2007, p. 54.
  24. Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, Section 3 Paragraph 1
  25. Reich Citizenship Law § 2, Paragraph 1 , Blood Protection Law §§ 1 ff.
  26. Cornelia Schmitz-Berning: Vocabulary of National Socialism . 2., through u. edit Edition. de Gruyter, Berlin 2007, p. 57.