KHANLARI, ZAHRA (Zahrā Ḵānlari, b. Tehran 1291 Š./1913; d. Tehran, 1369 Š./1990), author, translator, literary scholar, university professor (Figure 1).

Zahra Khanlari (née Zahrā Kiā) was born in the Sanglaj neighborhood of Tehran. Her ancestors were from Nur, Māzandarān (T. Khanlari, p. 148). Her mother was ʿEṣmat-al- Ḥājia Borujerdi (Figure 2), and her father, Mirzā Hādi Nuri (Figure 3), son of Shaikh Fażl-Allāh Nuri, the prominent jurist, was a delegate to the first parliament and an outspoken opponent of the Constitutional Revolution; he was executed in 1909 by the constitutionalist forces (Abrahimian, p. 100; Anṣāri, p. 147). Graduating from Nāmus Primary School in 1924, she continued her education at Dār-al-Moʿalemāt-e Markazi (see EDUCATION xviii. Teachers’ Training Schools).

In 1935 she entered the Dāneš-sarā-ye ʿĀli to study Persian literature, and in 1939 she was among the first women in Iran to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree (Figure 4). She entered Tehran University’s doctoral program in Persian literature in 1941, graduating in 1943. Her adviser was Moḥammad Taqi Bahār. Her dissertation “Sabk-e adabi-e tavāriḵ tā qarn-e nohom-e hejri” (Afšār, p. 660), was approved with special mention. She married Parviz Natel Khanlari in 1941 (Figure 5, Figure 6) and had two children: a daughter Tarāneh (b. 1946), and a son, Ārmān (1951-1959), whom they lost to leukemia when he was eight years old (Rastegār-e Fasāʾi, pp. 39-41).

Following an almost two-year-long collaboration with the Pasteur Institute as a librarian, Zahra Khanlari began in 1939 teaching in Parvin High School and then in Dāneš-sarā-ye Moqadamāti-e Doḵtarān). She was also involved with the Women’s Party of Iran (Ḥezb-e zanān-e Iran), founded in 1942 by Ṣafiya Firuz with Fāṭema Sayyāḥ, and served as the secretary to the party’s board of directors. The goal of the party, which was transformed in 1946 into the Iranian Women’s Council (Šowrā-ye zanān-e Irān; Paidar, pp. 126-27), was to promote women’s education, social status, and awareness.

In 1946 she was appointed the principal of Nurbaḵš High School, renamed later to Reżā Shah Kabir. She joined the faculty of the University of Tehran in 1957 as an associate professor, teaching the history of Persian language. To study and promote uniformity in textbooks, Khanlari and a group of scholars visited major schools and publishing houses in France and Britain. Back home in 1963, she joined Sāzmān-e Ketābhā-ye Darsi (see EDUCATION xvi. SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS), an independent entity affiliated to the Ministry of Culture, and had an instrumental role in the standardization of school textbooks throughout the 1960s.

Zahra Khanlari contributed to the Šāhkārhā-ye adabiyāt-e fārsi, a series of selected sections of the classics of Persian texts, with annotations and glossaries, which were published by Tehran University’s Bureau of Publication and Cultural Affairs, included Dāstānhā-ye del-angiz-e adabiyāt-e Fārsi (Tehran, 1942), which won the UNESCO award in Iran and was translated to several languages including Arabic, Chinese, and Urdu. Afsāna-ye Simorḡ (The legend of Simorq, Tehran, 1959) of this collection, illustrated by Nur-al-Din Zarrin Kelk, was awarded by the Council of Children’s Book as the best book of the year (Figure 7).

Zahra Khanlari’ s frequent contributions to Soḵan, a monthly journal of literature and culture founded by Parviz Khanlari in 1942, continued during its entire production run. She contributed approximately 40 articles to Soḵan’s 26 volumes, including short stories, translated poems and short stories, and articles on Western literature.

Retired from the University of Tehran in 1965, she continued writing and translating until her very last days. Zahra Khanlari’s Farhang-e adabiyāt-e jahān, was posthumously published in 1999. Her four completed works (Jang-e Rostam bā Aškbus; Esfandiyār o jang-e u bā Rostam; Maziār; and Garšāsp-e pahlavān), which were supposed to be published in the series of Šāhkārhā-ye adabiyāt-e fārsi, have not yet seen the light of the day.


Publications of Zahra Khanlari.


Parvin o Parviz (Parvin and Parviz), Tehran, 1931.

Žāla yā rahbar-e dušizegān (Zhaleh or the leader of the girls), Tehran, n.d.


Ranjhā-ye javāni-e Werther (Sorrows of Young Werther by André Maurois), Tehran, 1943.

Šabhā-ye sefid (White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky), Tehran, 1945.

Aqā-ye Raʾis jomhur (The President by Miguel Ángel Asturias, 1943), Tehran, 1969.

Donyā-ye ḵiyāl (Fantasy World by André Maurois), Tehran, 1970.

Torotumbo (Torotumbo by Miguel Ángel Asturias), Tehran, 1972.

Pāp-e sabz (The Green Pope by Miguel Ángel Asturias), Tehran, 1981.

Ḵāna o jahān (The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore), Tehran, 1988.

Taʿṭilāt-e āḵar-e hafta dar Guatemala (Weekend in Guatemala by Miguel Ángel Asturias), Tehran, 1986.

Literary studies:

Dātānhā-ye del-angiz-e adabiyāt-e fārsi, in Šāhkārhā-ye adabiyāt-e fārsi, Tehran, 1953.

Farhang-e adabiyāt-e farsi, Tehran, 1942.

Ḥasanak-e vazir, in Šāhkārhā-ye adabiyāt-e fārsi, Tehran, 1961 (Figure 8).

Nemuna-ye ḡazal-e Farsi, in Šāhkārhā-ye adabiyāt-e fārsi, Tehran, 1964 (Figure 9).

Bargozida-ye Qābus-nāma, in Šāhkārhā-ye adabiyāt-e fārsi, Tehran, 1966.

Afsāna-ye Simorq in Šāhkārhā-ye adabiyāt-e fārsi, Tehran, 1969.

Farhang-e adabiyāt-e jahān, Tehran, 1999.


Ervand Abrahimian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, Princeton, 1982.

Mehdi Anṣāri, Shaikh Fażl-Allāh Nuri va Mašruṭiat, Tehran, 1999.

Iraj Afšār, “Yādi az Zahrā Ḵānlari (Kiā),” Āyanda, 16/2, Āḏar-Esfand 1369 Š./ December 1980-March 1981, pp. 660-61.

Tarāneh Ḵānlari, “Mādaram Doktor Zahrā Kiā (Ḵānlari),” Boḵārā, 24, Mordād-Šahrivar 1392 Š./August-September 2013.

Mohammad Ali Homayun Katouzian, The Persians: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Iran, New Haven and London, 2009; Persian tr. Ḥosayn Šahidi, as Irāniān: dowra-ye bāstān tā dowra-ye modern, Tehran, 2012.

Manṣur Rastegār-e Fasāʾi, “Hamsraš: Doktor Zahrā Kiā,” in idem, Parviz Nātel Ḵānlari, Tehran, 2009.

(Zahra Khanloo)

Cite this article:

Zahra Khanloo, “KHANLARI, ZAHRA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at (accessed on 20 April 2016).