D. and were in majority when Islam reached this land, came to be called Qebti.” 35
In Samak-e ‘Ayyar’s story, Qebt-e Pari is the queen of the paris, who is inimical to humans, who abducts and enthralls them.
The story of Samak-e ‘Ayyar is said to have originally involved several figures named Yazdanparast, but only two of them come to our attention in the pages that have reached us: the Yazdanparast who helps Samak find the way out of Siamak’s Treasure House through the City of the Eagle, and the Yazdanparast who teaches Samak how to overcome Qebt-e Pari. Samak calls upon the latter and says that other Yazdanparasts have given him keepsakes which he has taken to Khorshid Shah. “‘Alamafrooz spoke about those Yazdanparasts.” 36
In Samak-e ‘Ayyar’s story, Yazdanparasts are three- or four-hundred year-old men who worship in isolation in a secluded monastery. They know the magic properties of plants and feed on unknown nutritious fruit. They know a language and a script which others do not. When necessary, they assist men by showing them how to escape the paris’ spells. In fact, the Yazdanparasts and the paris are opposite poles.
In the Iranians’ collective memory, including that of the author of Samak-e ‘Ayyar, these Yazdanparasts can be recollections of the isolated monks of the early Christian era in Egypt.
The Christian monks’ isolation in Egypt came about “in the wake of the events of 250 A.D. when Paul, an inhabitant of Thebes, facing the danger of being exposed as a Christian, goes to the desert to find shelter and devote himself entirely to God.” 37 The exactions committed later on against the Christians, which began growing in 284 A.D. and lasted until 311 A.D. caused a number of them to seek refuge in the desert, turn to worship and temperance, and willingly live in seclusion.38 When the situation returned to normal, some of them preferred to remain in the wilderness and devote themselves to religious meditation, emulating such models as Khezr Peace Be Upon Him, Elias [PBUH] and the Christ.39 It is perhaps in recollection of this memory that, in the story of Samak-e ‘Ayyar, upon Yazdanparast’s death, faced with Farrokhrooz’s “supplications and lamentations,” God “ordered Khezr [PBUH] and Elias [PBUH] to cross that fence” and release Farrokhrooz and ‘Alamafrooz from Qebt-e Pari’s captivity.40
The Coptic language, as it has been preserved in the liturgy of Christian Egyptians, “is the inheritor of the pharaonic Egyptian language.” 41 “It remains essentially and mostly made up of words and expressions of pharaonic origins, which continue to form the language’s backdrop.” 42 Perhaps this is why Yazdanparast is able to read the tablet showing the way out of the Treasure House. Interestingly, until the time when the story of Samak-e ‘Ayyar is written, that is the sixth or seventh century A.H. the term Coptic referred to the followers of the pharaonic cult rather than to Christian Egyptians. In the Iranians’ collective memory, the conflict between Yazdanparast and the paris is a remnant of the memory of the downfall of the ancient cult and the rise and expansion of the new in the land of the pharaohs.
The beginning of the divs’ and paris’, particularly Qebt-e Pari’s, animosity against Khorshid Shah and his son, Farrokhrooz, falls in the lost pages of Samak-e ‘Ayyar. Yet, here and there, the words exchanged between the story’s protagonists seem to indicate that this enmity is deeply rooted. Apparently, Khorshid Shah, assisted by Samak, had undone ten of the div Esfid’s talismans “and rescued Farrokhrooz along with a few women from captivity on Mount Jahanbin.”43 And Qebt-e Pari reminds Samak that he has imprisoned his relatives, the plebeian div Kusal and his offspring, who have died in captivity, and adds, “What business can men have with paris?”44