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By: Prof. Mary Boyce



In the sense of place, the word derives from Indo-Iranian gâ-, IE. gwâ- (go; Air Wb., col. 517; Mayrhofer, Wörterbuch I, p. 432). The attested Old Iranian forms are Av. gâtu, θu- (on the irregular correspondence of t and θ see Bartholomae, pp. 7-8; Mayrhofer, p. 162; de Blois, p. 61). OAv. gâtu- (Yasna 28.5) and the cognate Vedic gâtu- have been translated as "going, motion; way" (Niesser, pp. 90-91; de Blois, p. 61 and n. 7); but in Younger Avesta the word's common meaning is "place," sometimes particularized as "proper/appointed place," or "place for sitting or lying, couch" (Air Wb., cols. 517-19). In Yašt 17.9 the couches are "with gold-clamped feet" (zaraniiapaxšta.pâ’δåηh), and probably at that period the gâtu- "made of gold" (zaraniiô.kərəta-) assigned to the gods (Vd. 19.31, 32) were likewise thought of as couches. "Place" is also the common meaning of OP θu-, with the specific sense attested of "place for standing, platform," and with that of "throne" indicated by the Babylonian and possibly Elamite translations (de Blois, pp. 61-62, 63-64). The Achaemenid sculptures show that by this an elevated seat was meant.


Gâh in Middle Persian and Parthian, and occurring frequently as a loan-word in Armenian (Hübschmann, Armenische Grammatik, p. 125), has all these meanings and also that of "rank," plainly from one's place in an assembly. The Manichean Middle Persian and Parthian gâh is used to render Greek bêma in the sense of "platform" (de Blois, p. 62); the Zoroastrians used an extended form, gâhug (<*gâθuka-), for "couch of the dead, bier" (cf. their standard usage, attested only in Islamic times, of gâ¦hân, <*gâh-âhan, "iron couch, bier"; EIr. VI, p. 283). In New Persian gâh has the sense of "place" only as the final element in compounds. As an independent word it usually means "seat, couch, throne," while Arabicized jâh has the sense of "rank, office, dignity."




C. Bartholomae, "Vorgeschichte der iranischen Sprachen" in Grundriss, pp. 1-151. 

F. de Blois, "'Place' and 'Throne' in Persian," Iran 33, 1995, pp. 61-65. 

Kent, Old Persian, p. 183. 

M. Mayrhofer, "Medismen in der 1967 gefundenen Xerxes-Inschrift?," Linguistica 13, 1973, pp. 97-101 (= 

Idem, Ausgewählte kleine Schriften, Wiesbaden, 1979, pp. 159-62). 

W. Neisser, Zum Wörterbuch des Rgveda II, Abh. für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 18.3, Leipzig, 1930. 

A. Tafazzoli, "The King's Seat in the Fire-temple" in W. Sundermann and F. Vahman, eds., A Green Leaf. Papers in Honour of J. P. Asmussen, Acta Iranica 28, 1988, pp. 101-6.




Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica


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