Farvahar is one of the best-known symbols of Zoroastrianism, the state religion of ancient Iran. This religious-cultural symbol was adapted by the Pahlavi dynasty to represent the Iranian nation. The symbol is currently thought to represent a Fravashi (guardian angel). Because the symbol first appears on royal inscriptions, it is also thought to represent the ‘Divine Royal Glory’ or the Fravashi of the King. The winged disc with a man's upper body that is commonly used as a symbol of the Zoroastrian faith has a long and splendid history in the art and culture of the Middle East. Its symbolism and philosophical meaning is an ancient heritage that extends through three millennia to modern times. In ancient Iranian culture, the concept of Farvahar was considered as the invaluable component of human existence because it is an attribute of Ahura Mazda’s infinite entity. It is incorporated in human at birth to guide and lead toward perfection, and after death it unites with its origin or Ahura Mazda as pure and perfect as it was.
It is made up of the following six parts:
1. Head - The figure inside is that of an old man representing wisdom of old age that reminds us the Farvahar of the elderly can be a better guide, and that we should consult experienced and wise people.
2. Hands – The right hand points upwards, telling us that we should always be in only one direction (of Ahura Mazda). The other hand holds a small ring, the ring of promise, which shows respect for promise. In today’s world, we see it in the form of wedding rings signifying the promise between two humans.
3. Wings - The wings are spread apart signifying the ascent of the soul or upward progress of human. Each wing contains three major segments, representing Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. This suggests progress through the triple principle.
4. Central circle - A circle is a line that has no beginning and no end. The central circle in the Farvahar symbolizes the cycle of life and the eternity of the universe and indicates that our spirit is immortal, having neither a beginning nor an end. It tells us that the results of man’s actions return to him in this world, and in the other world the soul of the righteous one will enjoy the reward. On the other hand, the soul of the wicked one will face punishment.
5. Feathered tail - The feathered tail below is also in three parts. It represents the opposite of the wings namely, Bad Thoughts, Bad Words, and Bad Deeds. It indicates the fact that we should always drop bad choices down and avoid them.
6. Two lower loops - These two loops signify the Good Mind and the Evil and Angry Mind. These may occur in human minds at any time and everyone is responsible for embracing the Good Mind and discarding the Evil Mind.
In present-day Zoroastrianism, the Farvahar is said to be a reminder of one's purpose in life, which is to live in such a way that the soul progresses towards union with Ahura Mazda, the supreme divinity in Zoroastrianism. Although there are a number of interpretations of the individual elements of the symbol, none of them are older than the 20th century.
Many of ancient Iranian standing sites such as Persepolis, the Yazd Atashkadeh, the Tomb of Ferdowsi, and some older bank and school buildings contain the Farvahar icon.