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A Sassanian Iconography of the Dēn


By: Gherardo Gnoli



When Professor Bivar published his excellent catalogue of the Sassanian stamp seals in the British Museum[1] in 1969, the important study carried out by Ph. Gignoux and R. Gyselen on the collection of Dr. Malek Iradj Moshiri[2] was not yet available. Professor Bivar thus lacked sufficient grounds to warrant departure from the traditional interpretation of an iconographical motif found both on a number of seals in the British Museum and on other Sassanian seals: a standing female figure, sometimes framed by an arch, facing right in profile, with one hand stretching out to the right and holding a flower (figs. 1, 2).[3]


Professor Bivar notes:

Of the many representations occurring of a standing female figure, it is scarcely to be doubted that the majority, if not indeed all, represent the goddess Anahita, the Iranian equivalent of Venus. This is especially evident in the case of one example (CB 1/120216), upon which this figure is depicted standing under a cupola similar to that of a fire-temple. In this instance, as in others, she holds in her hand a lily, evidently the specific attribute of this goddess. It is significant that on at least two seals with this subject (that quoted above, and CC 1/119358), the accompanying names show that the owners were women. It is natural that the goddess should have been a popular patroness for the female sex. At the same time, examples accompanied by the names of men are by no means uncommon.[4]


Den1.gif (369817 bytes)

Fig. 1 (click to Enlarge)

Now, in my view the importance of the Moshiri Collection lies in the fact that a phrase probably offering the key to the interpretation of this female image is inscribed on one of its seals (fig. 3) bearing the said motif, as I pointed in a review of the volume Pad nām ī Yazdān,[5] edited by Ph. Gignoux together with other French colleagues. Since Professor Gignoux has not himself taken up the suggestion-though describing it as not implausible[6] - I think it appropriate to return to the subject in this brief note intended as homage to an acute and prolific interpreter of Sassanian and other iconographical motifs.


Bearing in mind that the motif in questionwith or without the framing arch-is found on various seals of the Sassanian era belonging to both men and women, let us consider the inscription: kwnšn ZY pr'clwny ŠPYL, kunišn ī frāzrōn weh. Gignoux translates this as "L'action progressive est bonne," having good reason to regard it as somehow connected with handarz literature.[7] As he remarks:


Cette formule est particulièrement intéressante, parce qu'elle nous livre un mot inconnu jusqu'ici en pehlevi, a ma connaissance: pl'clwny, qui ne peut évidemment s'expliquer comme une graphie défective pour *pl'Iwny. Le mot est clair dans sa composition: frāz + rōn, "direction en avant," et s'apparente aux autres mots de la même famille, abārōn, bērōn, andarōn, frārōn, ōrōn (voir là-dessus mon art. dans StIr. 1 [1972], pp. 15-23). Cet adjectif a peut-être un sens dans un contexte moral comme ici, mais j'ai préfère le rendre par "progressif," au sens de "en progrès, qui avance," d'après son étymologie.[8]


On the basis of the known equivalence of kunišn and dēn in Pahlavi texts,[9] my review put forward a different interpretation, pointing out that frāzrōn could in fact be interpreted literally rather than as frārōn-"righteous, honest"[10] and could thus refer to the den (= kunišn) coming to meet the soul of the deceased. As mentioned above, Gignoux noted this suggestion but reiterated his own version: "L'action de progrès est bonne."[11]


While not disputing that reference to handarz literature may be correct in a number of cases, including the present instance, I suggest that my own interpretation is borne out by a whole series of considerations and elements, which I shall now present in full.


The fact that the names of the owners of these seals are both male and female-as Bivar notes-detracts from the strength of the argument that the image depicts a popular patroness of the female sex. Names such as Arminduxt,[12] Hērbed-duxt,[13] and Pērōz-duxt[14] are in fact accompanied by others like Buxt-Šābuhr,[15] Wahrām-Šābuhr,[16] and Wārag.[17] In these cases, therefore, the female image must have a value very different from that, for example, of the female busts appearing together with female names on seals owned by women.[18]


At the same time, it is well known that the iconography of Anāhīd is one of the great unsolved problems in the study of Sassanian figurative art, despite the numerous and praiseworthy endeavours of various scholars in the study of rock reliefs, coins, silverware and seals. In general, I think it must be acknowledged that the charges levelled against a number of identifications are anything but unfounded. A timely contribution in this connection is provided by the highly problematic approach taken to the issue in a recent article in the Encyclopaedia Iranica.[19] An overly marked preference may in fact be noted in the study of Sassanian iconography for interpretations designed to explain everything-or practically everything-in terms of the canons of the Zoroastrian religious tradition. I regard this as an exaggerated and restrictive tendency which forces the varied and heterogeneous expressions of Sassanian figurative art into a rigid pattern, making it possible to grasp neither the richness of the different strands, nor the simultaneous presence of elements both sacred and profane, allegorical or merely ornamental. Lost too is the difference in approach distinguishing official art[20] (e.g., in scenes depicting the investiture of sovereigns) from the art reflecting individual tastes and aspirations (e.g., in sphragistics). In any case, it is certain that divine images in the strict sense are rare, to say the least, on Sassanian seals.


Den2.gif (426657 bytes)

Fig. 2 (click to Enlarge)

In any case, if there was one religious motif that lent itself to figurative representation, this was certainly the den, practically by definition.


The concept of the den is in fact intimately bound up with vision of the soul; also by virtue of its etymology,[21] i.e., the soul or its image is itself the object of vision.[22] Vision of the soul (ruwān) is a theme of augural formulas-of more than solely eschatological value-that accord well with handarz literature. It is found in the Čīdag handarz ī pōryōtkēšān, in a passage misinterpreted by R. C. Zaehner,[23] ruwān wēn "looks at the soul," and on Sassanian seals, as noted by Ph. Gignoux: lwb'n HZYTN'n "puisse voir l’âme (ou mon âme)!" lwb'n HZYTN "regarde l’âme! "[24] These formulas are probably explicable in terms of the virtual interchangeability of concepts such as ruwān and dēn and are connected with the idea of the good or beautiful soul, huruwān (cf. Av. huruniia- "See lenseligkeit," Pahl. huruwānīh[25] and also huruwānīg,[26] which term was used in Manichaeism to designate the auditores (niyōšagān).[27] On the basis of this idea, I. Gershevitch[28] has put forward a number of important observations on the Anima Viva as "Beauty" (Man. Mid. Pers. xwšn; Man. Bactr. waß, cf. Av. vafuš and Ved. vapus) and "Light" (light being regarded in the Zoroastrian tradition as the most beautiful of creatures) and on the institution of alms-giving by Auditors to Electi, referred to in Iranian Manichaeism as ruwānegān "that which has reference to the soul."[29] In such a context of visions, images and light, it is thus more than reasonable that the den should be figuratively represented as a fifteen-year-old maiden of awesome beauty.[30]


The inscription on the seal from the Moshiri Collection, kunišn i frāzrōn weh, may thus be translated as follows: "The action that advances [is] good," i.e., "The den that comes forward is good." The reference to the meeting of the subject (the owner of the seal) with his or her own daenā provides the inspiration for the formula. As a good omen, this meeting is represented as a joyous event, since the subject is naturally a hu-dēn (Av. huž-daēnā-) and not a duĵ dēn (Av. duž-daēnā-). The formula on our seal probably refers to the well-known passage in the Hādōxt Nask describing the meeting of the soul of the ašauuan- with its daēnā.[31] Borne on a fragrant breeze, the latter appears as a beautiful, splendid, noble, fifteen-year-old maiden, ēdōn nēk čiyōn dāmān dōšagtar nigerišn abāyišnīg tar, "as beautiful as the most lovable of creatures, the most desirable to behold.”[32] While the description of the meeting with the daēnā is also found in other Pahlavi passages in more or less similar terms,[33] I regard the most pertinent comparison for the formula in question as that provided by the Hādōxt Nask.


Den3.gif (378938 bytes)

Fig. 3 (click to Enlarge)

The passage in question is aŋhå dim vdtaiiå frəranta[34] saδaiieiti yā hauua daānā kainīnō kəhrpa. This is translated into Pahlavi as andar ān wād ōy ā-š franāft sahēd ān ī xwēš dēn, kunišn ī xwēš, pad kanīg kirb and was translated by Chr. Bartholomae as follows: "indem sie (die Seele) dieser Wind anweht, wird das eigene Ich sichtbar in Gestalt eines Madchens. "[35] Readers will note the gloss kunišn ī xwēš inserted into the Pahlavi version after ān ī xwēš dēn. kunišn may be used in place of dēn, as in Dādestān ī Mēnōg ī Xrad  II.125, and in Great Bundahišn XXX.21, as well, perhaps, as on another seal from the Moshiri Collection studied by Ph. Gignoux in the same context of seals with formulas deriving from handarz literature.[36] Readers will also note that the advance of the daēnā-or the approach or blowing of the wind[37] is expressed by means of Av. frərənta, corresponding to Pahl. franāft. Now, in the parallel Middle Persian passages we have padīrag āmadan or padīrag rasidan or padīrag būdan,[38] expressions to which our frāzrōn corresponds well at the conceptual level.


The inscription would thus explain the iconographic motif borne by the seal: the dēn is coming (or will come) in the form of a beautiful young woman to meet the soul of whoever possesses the seal. She holds a flower, which recalls the fragrant breeze surrounding her both in the Hādoxt Nask and in the Dādestān ī Mēnōg ī Xrad, as well as in the Ardā Wīrāz Nāmag. The latter states that, on the third dawn after decease, the soul moves among delicately scented flowers (urwar i boy i xwag)[39] and can then behold the luminous and blessed higher existence of the righteous (pahlom axwān ī ahlawān) and many finely scented flowers (was sprahm ī hubōy), blossoming (škoftag), splendid (bāmīg) and full of xwarrah.[40] For that matter, Zoroastrian ritual also assigns flowers a position of particular importance, which becomes crucial in the liturgy for the souls of the deceased. As J. J. Modi wrote with regard to holidays in commemoration of the blessed souls:


". . . the decoration of flowers etc. at the place of the Muktad and the remembrance of the Fravashis of the dear departed ones in connection with the fragrant flowers reminds the survivors of the past righteous deeds of some of their forefathers, deeds which have spread moral and spiritual perfume as strong or rather stronger than that of the flowers here."[41]


The interpretation now given of the iconographic motif and formula borne by our seal accords well with the inscription found on seal CC 5 119369 of the British Museum, which presents a similar image, albeit with slight variations: lwšn pndy yzd 'ndyš't.[42] Bivar gives the translation put forward by W. B. Henning: "May he think of God's path of the light." "God's path of light" is certainly the one shown by the den to the soul required to undertake its celestial journey. This idea was very common in Zoroastrianism-suffice it to recall the l'sy ZY Iwšny of Kerder's vision[43] -and so deeply rooted in Iranian religious feeling[44] as to be transmitted also in contexts other than those of the orthodox Mazdayasnian church, such as Manichaeism.[45] In 1945, W. B. Henning published a Sogdian fragment, in cursive Sogdian script, which better "than any Manichaean text so far known (. . .) shows that the Manichaeans shared the Zoroastrian idea of the 'religion' (daend) of a man meeting him after death in the shape of a virgin."[46] In this fragment, the man's "action" (rtšy xw xypδ 'krtyh)[47] is personified by a wondrous divine virgin who approaches him, bedecked in flowers, to show him the path leading to paradise.


It is interesting to note that Bivar gives an alternative interpretation for CC 5 119369 (according to which lwšn and pndy are to be regarded as two elements of the proper name "Roshan-pand")[48] and aptly points out that "pious formulae with word-play on the name of the owner were no doubt popular in Sassanian seal inscriptions, as later in Islamic times." This is important for the interpretation of another seal published by R. Ghirshman,[49] which bears the same iconographic motif together with an inscription that Ph. Gignouxs[50] reads as follows: mtr bwcyn y dyndwhty, "Mihr Bōzēn son of Dēn-duxt." If we bear in mind a further point made by Bivar, i.e., that there at times exists a "relationship between a theophoric owner's name and an accompanying type which represents or symbolizes the corresponding deity,”[51] it will be noted that the name Dēn-duxt lends itself most aptly to word-play on a seal depicting the den.[52]


In the foregoing, I have chosen to confine my observations to the seals presenting basically the same iconography, albeit with slight variations such as that of the arch framing the female figure, which has little significance in our context).[53] If the arguments put forward in these pages prove convincing, the present research should clearly be extended to other similar iconographic motifs characteristic of Sassanian art.





[1] A. D. H. Bivar, Catalogue of the Western Asiatic Seals in the British Museum. Stamp Seals, pt. 2, The Sassanian Dynasty /London 1969) (hereafter abbreviated to: Bivar, Catalogue).

[2] Ph. Gignoux and R. Gyselen, "Sceaux sasanides de la collection M. I. Mochiri," in Pad nām ī Yazdān: Etudes d'épigraphie, de numismatique et d'histoire de l'Iran ancien, Travaux de 1'Institut d'Etudes Iraniennes 9 (Paris, 1979/, pp. 1011 (hereafter abbreviated to Gignoux and Gyselen, "Collection Mochiri"/. The two authors have since continued their study of this collection: Ph. Gignoux and R. Gyselen, "Nouveaux sceaux de la collection M. I. Mochiri," Stlr 10 (1981 /, pp. 199-211.

[3] Bivar, Catalogue, pp. 25, 61ff.; pl. 7 Cf. R. N. Frye, Sasanian Seals in the Collection of Mohsen Foroughi, CIIR, pt. 3, vol. 6, portfolio 2 (London, 1971 /, pl. XXXIX-74; Ph. Gignoux, Catalogue des sceaux, camees et bulles sasanides de la Bibliothèque Nationale et du Musee du Louvre, vol. 2, Les sceaux et bulles inscrits (Paris, 1978/, p. 36 (4.30/, pl. X; Ph. Gignoux and R. Gyselen, "Nouveaux cachets sasanides de la collection Pirouzan," Stlr 7 (1978) (pp. 23-48/, p. 28 (10.01 /, pl. I; Gignoux and Gyselen, "Collection Mochiri," p. 111 (10.1 and 10.2), pl. I; Ph. Gignoux and R. Gyselen, Sceaux sasanides de diverses collections privees (Leuven, 1982), pp. 36f. (l0.lff/, pl. III; idem, Bulles et sceaux sasanides de diverses collections, Stlr, cahier 4 (Paris, 1987/, pp. 159ff. (AMO l0.lff./, pl. IV; p. 222 /IBT 10.1 and 10.2/, pl. XIV; p.243 (MCB 10.2?/, pl. XVII; R. Ghirshman, Iran: Parthes et Sassanides (Paris, 1962/, p. 241, fig. 294-D; K. Erdmann, Die Kunst bans zur Zeit der Sasaniden (Mainz, 1969/, fig. 93 and p. 119. See also P. Ackerman, "Sāsānian Seals," in SPA, vol. 1 (pp. 784-815/, pp. 794f.

[4] Bivar, Catalogue, p. 25.

[5] Cf. n. 2 and my review in Annali dell'Istituto Universitario Orientate di Napoli 41 / 1988/ (pp. 69097/, pp. 695f.

[6] Ph. Gignoux and L. Kalus, "Les formules des sceaux sasanides et islamiques: Continuite ou mutation?" Stlr 11 (1982) (pp. 123-53/, p. 130, n. 14.

[7] Gignoux had already tackled the question of the influence of handarz literature on the formulas of essentially moral and religious content found on Sassanian seals in his paper "Les formules des sceaux sasanides et la signification de rdst et rdstih," in Miscellanea in honorem 1. Purdavud, Farhang-a Iran Zamin 21 (Tehran, 1976/, pp. 41-56. For handarz literature in pre-Islamic Iran, see the excellent overview of S. Shaked, "Andarz, i," in Elr, vol. 2.1 / 1985/, pp. 11-1 G.

[8] Gignoux and Gyselen, "Collection Mochiri," p. 111.

[9] See below.

[10] D. N. MacKenzie, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary (Oxford, 1971; repr., with corrections, 1986/, p. 32; cf. H. S. Nyberg, A Manual of Pahlavi, pt. 2, Glossary (Wiesbaden, 1974/, p. 76.

[11] Gignoux and Kalus, "Les formules des sceaux sasanides et islamiques," p. 130.

[12] Ph. Gignoux, Noms propres sasanides en moyen-perse épigraphique, Iranisches Personennamenbuch, vol. 2.2 (Vienna, 1986) no. 138, p. 48.

[13] Gignoux, .Moms propres, no. 436, p. 96.

[14] Gignoux, Noms propres, no. 761, p. 147.

[15] Gignoux, Noms propres, no. 263, p. 67. The figure is very probably female but see Bivar, Catalogue, p. 61 /119610: pl. 7, CA 1/.

[16] Gignoux, Noms propres, no. 929, p. 172.

[17] Gignoux, Noms propres, no. 938, p. 173. See also the seal published by R. Ghirshman; see n. 3 above and below.

[18] Ph. Gignoux and R. Gyselen, "Sceaux de femmes a 1'epoque sassanide," Archaeologia Iranica et Orientalis: Miscellanea in honorem Louis Vanden Berghe, ed. L. De Meyer and E. Haerink (Ghent, 1989/, pp. 877-9G. Cf. A. D. H. Bivar, "Glyptica Iranica," BA14 (1990) (in honor of R. N. Frye: Aspects of Iranian Culture, ed. C. A. Bromberg et al.) (pp. 191-99/, p. 196.

[19] C. Bier, "Anahita in the Arts," in EIr, vol. 1.9 (1985/, pp. 1008-11. This well-balanced article also provides the essential bibliographical references to the work and observations of L. I. Ringbom, R. Gobl, O. Grabar, C. Trever, R. Ettinghausen, V. G. Lukonin, A. A. Sarfaraz, J. Duchesne-Guillemin, L. Vanden Berghe, D. Shepherd, P. O. Harper, etc. To these should be added a second article by J. DuchesneGuillemin, "Art and Religion under the Sassanians," in Memorial lean de Menasce, ed. Ph. Gignoux and A. Tafazzoli (Louvain, 1974/, pp. 147-54.

[20] For this definition, see in particular V. G. Lukonin, "Monnaie d'Ardachir I et fart ofhciel sasanide," I4 8 (1968 /, pp. 1OG-17.

[21] For the present situation in studies on Av. daend- and its etymology, cf. F.-Th. Lankarany, Daend im Avesta: Eine semantische Untersuchung, Studien zur Indologie and Iranistik, monograph 10 (Reinbek, 1985/, pp. 1-28. See my review of this book in EW (1985), pp. 294-96.

[22] Cf. G. Gnoli, "Questioni sull'interpretazione della dottrina gathica," Annali dell'Istituto Universitario Orientals di Napoli 31 (1971 / (pp. 341-70), pp. 361-65.

[23] Cidag handarz i poryotkesdn, 55 (M. F. Kanga, Citak Handarz i Poryotkesdn: A Pahlavi Text (Bombay, 1960/, pp. 11, 18, 29/, for which cf. R. C. Zaehner, The Teachings of the Magi: A Compendium of Zoroastrian Beliefs (London, 1956/, p. 28; Ph. Gignoux, "'Corps osseux et ame osseuse': Essai Sur le chamanisme dans 1'Iran ancien," JA 267 /1979) (pp. 41-79/, pp. 73f.; M. Shaki, "Cidag andarz i poryotkesan," Elr, vol. 5 (1991), pp. 559-60. A different interpretation of this passage is given by D. N. MacKenzie, Indogermanische Forschungen 87 (1982) (pp. 280-97: review of M. Back, Die sassanidischen Staatsinschriften/, p. 285, who adopts the reading ruwan astwan(d) rather than ruwdn wen (astwand: "miswritten HZYTWN /wen/"/.

[24] Loc. tit. in the previous note; cf. also W. B. Henning apud Bivar, Catalogue, p. 61. See also: Gignoux, "Les formules des sceaux sasanides," p. 50; idem, "Religion de 1'Iran ancien," Annuaire de 1'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes 86 (1977-1978/ (pp. 195205/, pp. 203f.; Gignoux and Kalus, "Les formules des sceaux sasanides et islamiques," pp. 130-32.

[25] See for example Denkard 111.212 (J. de Menasce, Le troisieme livre du Denkart [Paris, 1973], p. 224/.

[26] Aogamadaecd 81b (K. M. JamaspAsa, Aogamadaecd: A Zoroastrian Liturgy [Vienna, 1982], pp. 45, 78/.

[27] Cf. W. B. Henning, Ein manichdisches Bet- and Beichtbuch, APAW 1936, n. 10, pp. 18, 27.

[28] "Beauty as the Living Soul in Iranian Manicheism," AAnASH 28 /1983/, pp. 281-88.

[29] Ibid., p. 284.

[30] In this connection, attention should be drawn to G. Azarpay's study of a Sassanian boat-shaped silver bowl from the collection of M. Foroughi, exhibited at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art in 19651971, and her identification of four female figures dancing with musical instruments as images of the den: G. Azarpay, "The Allegory of Den in Persian Art," ArtAs 38 /1976), pp. 37-48, pls. I and II. Her interpretation is not, however, wholly convincing. The hypothesis cannot be ruled out that the four nude female figures are in fact devoid of any real religious significance.

[31] Hadoxt Nask IL8ff.; cf. Wistasp Yast 56ff. Cf. G. Widengren, "La rencontre avec la daend, qui represents les actions de fhomme," Orientalia Romana 5, Iranian Studies (Rome, 1983) (pp. 41-79/, pp. 41ff.; Lankarany, Daend im Avesta pp. 165ff., etc.

[32] Cf. Widengren, "La rencontre avec la daend," pp. 44ff.

[33] Ardd Wiraz Ndmag IV.9; Dddestdn i Menog i Xrad II. 123-30; Dddestdn i denig XXIV.S; Bundahisn XXX.S-6 (ed. Anklesaria, pp. 201, 11. 1-14). Quotations from these passages are found in Widengren, "La rencontre avec la daend"; P. O. Skjxrve, "Kirdir's Vision: Translation and Analysis," AMI 16 (1983) (pp. 269-306), pp. 299f. (Great Bundahisn XXX/; M. Mole, "Daena, le pont Cinvat et (initiation dans le Mazdeisme," Revue de 1'Histoire des Religions 157 (1960/, pp. 155-85.

[34] Bartholomae interprets fraranta as a locative singular (Altiranisches Worterbuch [Strassburg, 1904], col. 1023) with temporal value (cf. H. Reichelt, Awestisches Elementarbuch [Heidelberg, 1909], §514/. J. Kellens has given two partially different interpretations of the passage: "Dans le snuffle de ce vent, sa propre conscience religieuse lui apparait sous la forms dune jeune fills" ("Mythes et conceptions avestiques sous les Sassanides," Monumentum H. S. Nyberg, ActIr 4 [Tehran, 1975, pp. 457-70, p. 464]); "il lui semble que dans ce vent s'avance sa propre conscience religieuse" [etc.) (Le verbs avestique [Wiesbaden, 1984], p. 338/. The latter interpretation is followed by Lankarany, Daena im Avesta, p. 165, n. 3, who gives the following translation: "Es scheint ihm, daf3 sick in diesem Wind seine eigene daend nahert in der Gestalt . . . " It should be noted that the parallel passage of Wistdsp Yast 56 has fraranti. For other studies on the Hddoxt Nask, see C. Colpe, Die religionsgeschichtliche Schule (Gottingen, 1961/, pp. 117-39 (with a reference to our passage on p. 130/, on which, cf. G. Widengren, "Die religionsgeschichtliche Schule and der iranische Erlosungsglaube," Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 63.11/12 (1963/, pp. 533-48, and, again by Colpe, "Daena, Lichtjungfrau, Zweite Gestalt," in Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions Presented to G. Quispel, ed. R. Van den Broek and M. J. Vermaseren (Leiden, 1981 /, pp. 58-77. For a restoration of the text of the Hddoxt Nask cf. L. H. Gray, "A Suggested Restoration of the Haboxt Nask," JAOS 67 (1947/, pp. 14-23.

[35] Bartholomae, Altiranisches Worterbuch, toll. 439, 1023; cf. also F. Wolff, Avesta, die heiligen Biicher der Parsen /Leipzig, 1910), p. 174 (for the passage of Yast 5.64, where the adjectives used for the daend are attributed to Anahita/.

[36] Gignoux and Gyselen, "Collection Mochiri," pp. 102, 110 (00.5/, pl. I; Gignoux and Kalus, "Les formules des sceaux sasanides et islamiques," p. 130. The seal /MOT 6.1 / bears the phrase KR' MND'M L' Ft QDM kwnsn, "Que rien ne snit au-dessus de faction!" If kunisn were to be interpreted as den, the phrase would become more comprehensible as a concept already well documented, e.g., in Denkard VL74, jig-iz az den sudomandtar nest, which S. Shaked (The Wisdom of the Sassanian Sages [Boulder, Col. 1979], p. 27), translates as "There is nothing more beneficial than religion."

[37] See above, n. 34.

[38] See also the inscriptions of Kerder at Naqs-e Rostam and at Sar Mashad (§22); D. N. MacKenzie, "Kerdir's Inscription," in G. Herrmann, D. N. MacKenzie and R. H. Caldecott, The Sasanian Rock Beliefs at Naqsh-i Rustam, Iranische Denkmaler, Reihe II (Berlin, 1989) (pp. 35-72), pp. 46, 55, 59 (padirag dyed); cf. also Skjxrvo, "Kirdir's Vision," p. 276, and Ph. Gignoux, Les quatre inscriptions du mage Kirdir, Stlr, cahier 9 (Paris, 1991), p. 94 and n. 212.

[39] Arda Wirāz Nāmag IV.7 (Ph. Gignoux, Le livred'Ardd Viraz [Paris, 1984], pp. 48, 49, 156; F. Vahman, Arda Wirāz Nāmag: The Iranian "Divina Commeddia" [London, 1986], pp. 90, 9.1, 194, 243f.).

[40] Arda Wirāz Nāmag XV.10 (Gignoux, Le livre d'Arda Virdz, pp. 66, 67, 169; Vahman, Arda Wirdz Ndmag, pp. 112f., 113f., 200).

[41] The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees (Bombay, 1922), p. 478.

[42] Bivar, Catalogue, p. 63.

[43] MacKenzie, "Kerdir's Inscription, pp. 48, 56, 60; Gignoux, Les quatre inscriptions du mage Kirdir, pp. 83f., 96 (§26). See also Kellens, "Mythes et conceptions avestiques sous les Sassanides," pp. 462ff.; Skjxrve, "Kirdir's Vision," p. 281.

[44] In the Avesta, for example, mention is not made solely of "the path created by Zrvan" pa0qm zruuo.ddtanpm (Widewdad 19.29), appropriately pointed out by Kellens ("Mythes et conceptions avestiques sous les Sassanides," p. 462)-but also of the var]hau,s padabis manarlho (Yasna 51.16), of the agaongm pa0a (Yast 4.4), and of the raoxsndrjho patano or "luminous paths" of the Amaga Spanta (Yast 13.84), etc. In our context, it is interesting to note that in the Den Yast, Cista, the double of Daena (daenayd mdzdaiiasnois upamana- in Yast 10.126: cf. 1. Gershevitch, The Avestan Hymn to Mithra (Cambridge, 1959), p. 167), is described as hupa0mainiia- or "possessing good paths." Like Cista, Daena is said to take care of ways in Yast 10.68: yerjhe daena mazdaiiasnig xvite patio rd8aiti, "the Mazdayasnian religion paves its paths for good travel" (Gershevitch, The Avestan Hymn to Mithra, pp. 104, 105; cf. Kellens, Le verbe avestique, pp. 116, 344f. ). On Daend and Cista see also Lankarany, Daend im Avesta, pp. 146f.

[45] Cf. Widengren, "La rencontre avec la daena," p. 69.

[46] "Sogdian Tales," BSOAS 11 (1945), (pp. 46587), p. 476.

[47] Cf. Pahl. do i xweg den (Dadestdn i Menog i Xrad II.125). 'kty ; "action" or "deed" (from krti- +-d), probably refers to kunisn also in another Manichaean Sogdian fragment in Manichaean script (M 6132 = Tii D 167 iii: M. Boyce, A Catalogue of the Iranian Manuscripts in Manichean Script in the German Turfan Collection [Berlin, 1960], p. 120). I am most grateful to I. Gershevitch for having drawn my attention to this fragment and to this significant correspondence between the 'krtyh of T ii Toyuq and the `kty' of T ii D 167 iii, which he has used in his Grammar of Manichean Sogdian (Oxford, 1961), pp. xiv, 210 no. 1434, etc. I am also indebted to him for the information that this contains a precise reference to the soul's meeting with 8ynyfrn and with three mr8'spnd bringing him a dress, a necklace, a diadem and a crown. For these symbols cf. V. Arnold-Doben, Die Bildersprache des Manichdismus (Koln, 1978), pp. 149ff., and, for the Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadim, in Colpe, Die religionsgeschichtliche Schule, pp. 100ff.

[48] Bivar, Catalogue, pp. 63f.

[49] Iran: Parthes et Sassanides (Paris, 1962), p. 241, fig. 294-D.

[50] Whom I thank for kindly furnishing me with this information. R. Ghirshman attributed this seal to the lady "Hadgar dukht."

[51] Bivar, Catalogue, p. 17.

[52] The fact that the name inspiring the word-play belongs in this case to the father of the owner rather than the owner himself is evidently irrelevant.

[53] For female figures depicted under arches, cf. C. Trever, "Apropos des temples de la deesse Anahita en Iran sassanide," IA 7 (1967), pp. 121-32, following in the path of I. A. Orbeli, and the criticism made by J. Duchesne-Guillemin, "Art et religion sous les Sassanides," in La Persia a il mondo greco-romano, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome, 1971) (pp. 37788), p. 379. Trever herself acknowledged in "A propos des temples de la deesse Anahita," p. 132) that "Il faut pourtant reconnaitre que les arcades avec les personages ne sont pas une particularite uniquement des temples d'Anahita. Cette formule decorative etait tres largement repandue dans la sculpture au cours de la premiere moitie du premier millenaire de notre ere dans Part de la Rome imperiale, dans Part paleochretien et copte et dans celui de FInde (Gandhara et autres) et de 1'Asie Centrale (les ossuaires de Biya Naiman) et d'autres." In connection with this motif in Sogdian art (Bija Najman and Miankal'), see the just observations of F. Grenet, "L'art zoroastrien en Sogdiane," Mesopotamia 21 (1986) (pp. 97-131), p. 129. For biographic references on the study of this motif, see above (n. 19) and M.-L. Chaumont, "Anahid: The Cult and Its Diffusion," in Elr, vol. 1.9 (pp. 1006-9), p. 1008.




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