Javanmardi is one of those Persian terms that is frequently mentions in discussions of Persian identity, and yet its precise meaning is difficult to comprehend. A number of equivalents have been offered, including chivalry and manliness, and while these terms are not incorrect, javanmardi transcends them. The concept encompasses character traits of generosity, selflessness, hospitality, bravery, courage, honesty, truthfulness and justice--and yet there are occasions when the exact opposite of these is required for one to be a javanmard. At times it would seem that being a javanmard is about knowing and doing the right thing, although this definition, too, falls short of the term's full meaning.
The present collection is the product of a three-year project financed by the British Institute of Persian Studies on the theme of "Javanmardi in the Persianate world." The articles in this volume represent the sheer range, influence, and importance that the concept has had in creating and contributing to Persianate identities over the past one hundred and fifty years. The contributions are intentionally broad in scope. Rather than focus, for example, on medieval Sufi manifestations of javanmardi, both medieval and modern studies were encouraged, as were literary, artistic, archaeological, and sociological studies among others. The opening essays examine the concept’s origin in medieval history and legends throughout a geographical background that spans from modern Iran to Turkey, Armenia, and Bosnia, among both Muslim and Christian communities. Subsequent articles explore modern implications of javanmardi within such contexts as sportsmanship, political heroism, gender fluidity, cinematic representations, and the advent of digitalization.