The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
By: Abolala Soudavar
trying to explain the relevancy of the ubiquitous Sāsānian “ke čihr
az yazadān” idiom in Iranian kingship theories, and to refute the
claim of divine status for Sāsānian kings, I had previously relied on
the “common” knowledge that in Middle Persian, čihr had two
sets of meanings (1- face and appearance, 2 - seed and origin), and the
choice of the second set for čihr, over the first, was dictated by
Greek translations. While my suggestion there—that the legend rather
implied that the king’s radiance
(in power and glory) reflected those of the gods—has already raised many
eyebrows, further research on the etymology of the word čihr and
the evolution of its meaning over time, now prompts me to espouse an even
more radical position, and to question the very validity of this second
set of meaning, not only in Middle Persian, but also in Avestic, Old
Persian and New Persian. It is most unfortunate that in all of these, in
addition to the wellfounded meaning of “appearance/brilliance,” other
meanings such as seed, origin, and nature, have been gradually adopted
with rather dire consequences for our comprehension of historical
documents—textual as well as visual.
be sure, the task of refuting the validity of these additional meanings is
not an easy one, since a number of unfortunate circumstances:
all contributed to the acceptability of meanings beyond those derived from
the Proto-Indo-European root cit (to appear/ to shine), which
constitutes the basis for a primary set of meanings for čiθra and
And, the mere number of—mostly independent—support cases for a second
set of meanings, seems to vouch against any effort to negate it. Yet, the
ultimate arbiter for the acceptance of any meaning should be its
contextual relevancy. If in every encountered situation one can prove that
the second set leads to a non-sense, or provides a weaker meaning than
that provided by the first set, said set looses its relevancy and should
be discarded. And that is what we shall try to achieve in this study.
may be surprised to see an almost total absence of philological
considerations in my approach.
It is however hoped that the contextual argument, complemented by parallel
historical considerations, will bring to light such a coherent use of the
word čehr and its antecedents that it will ultimately overshadow
all other concerns. Moreover, it is hoped that my conclusions about the
similarity in the Sasanians’ and Achaemenids’ formulation of kingly
power—that will emerge at the end of this study— will further justify
my efforts for unifying the disparate meanings of this family of words.
belief in a single set of meaning for NP čehr and its antecedents
was fostered by the fact that nowadays, čehr only evokes one set
of meanings. Indeed, every single example cited for čehr in the
comprehensive Dehxodā dictionary, pertains to the first set, and
projects a meaning of appearance and radiance, for instance:
all the citations squeezed into the two and half pages of small script of
that dictionary, none convey a meaning of seed or origin. At the very end
of the relevant entry however, we find a reference to a meaning of
“nature” proposed by the Borhān-e Qāte` (the problem of which
I shall address further below),
and a meaning of “seed” and “origin” adopted by Pourdavoud in his
Avestan endeavors. Neither of the two assertions rests on an example, nor
on a citation.
They simply repeat oft quoted meanings for earlier stages in the evolution
of čehr, namely, the Middle Persian čihr and the Avestan čiθra.
obvious question then is: if čihr and čiθra, each in
their own context, really conveyed a meaning of seed or origin, how can it
be that there is no trace of it in Persian literature? For after all, the
use of the “ke čihr az yazadān” legend was not confined to
rural inscriptions alone, but prominently figured on coins of
mass-circulation, and the Avesta was not only an omnipresent
feature of Iranian culture in the pre-Islamic period, but remained as one
of its points of reference for centuries after the Arab conquest. If a
meaning of seed/origin did really exist in the Avestan context or for the
legends on coins of mass-circulation, surely some trace of it was to be
found in Persian literature. Its very absence today, invites closer
scrutiny for earlier periods.
can never claim to have addressed every possible situation, but the
examples below cover most, if not all, variations in meaning of the Middle
passage of the Dēnkard is most interesting for the purpose of this
study, since it provides a definition of the word čihr, and an
insight into its function as a source of energy. I shall rely on the
latest edition of this passage by Taffazoli and Amouzegar, which provides
an excellent transcription of its text but needs rectification in regards
to its translation:
ud tan-iz ud griw wirāyišn pad ān čihr ī nē rōz rōz abāg paristārih
ōwōn wardišnig būd sazāgihā bē brēh ī wehīh ud xwarrah ī xwēškārih
ud hu-xradih ī sūdōmand ud dānišn ī frārōn ud xwāstag ī wēš
frayādišnig ud abārīg-iz nēkih ī pahlom mehmānīh pad yazdānparistagān”
(24.29) il est convenable de s’adapter, corps et âme, à la nature qui,
elle, ne change pas tellement chaque jour selon le service (qu’on lui
demande) ; mais le destin de la bonté, la gloire – à savoir la
fonction – la bonne sagesse profitable, la bonne connaissance, les biens
qui sont très secourable et d’autres excellentes qualités résident
ainsi davantage chez les adorateurs des dieux. »
above translation has been rendered meaningless, by the adoption of
“nature” for the meaning of čihr, which in turn, has caused
the wrong translation of the word rōz, as “day” rather than
Furthermore, in order to squeeze some meaning out of this double-error,
the translators saw in the two successive “rōz”s, an
indication of a continuous and recurring phenomenon (something akin to
“day by day”).
It is obvious however, that the “ezāfeh” ī after čīhr cannot
stick to the negative article nē alone, but relates to a nē-rōz
combination that acts as a qualifying adjective for čīhr.
considering the original meaning of čihr as appearance/radiance,
it immediately follows that čihr ī nē-rōz refers to a radiance
that has lost its luminosity, and that the second rōz sits at the
beginning of a new sentence which explains how to restore that lost
luminosity. Such an interpretation is fully supported by what follows in
that section: the lost rōz can be restored by the sparkle (brāh/brēh)
of goodness, and the aura (“xwarrah”)
that is associated with a number of qualities that God-worshippers should
Moreover, the above passage comes in response to one of the challenging questions that the Christian Bōxt-Mārē puts before Ādur-Farrobay in the Dēnkard:
Question: “And why is it that in the body and soul of God-worshippers, the sparkle, and aura, and wisdom, and learning, and richness, and other kinds of goodness are not more manifest than among the demonworshippers?”
By structuring the question in this order, its author recognizes “sparkle” and “aura” as the two most important qualities that the soul and body of a believer should have. It is therefore quite natural that in response, Ādur-Farrobay would address the case of those who have lost their radiance, and would propose a remedy for it. The answer should therefore read:
Answer: And [in the matter of] the body and soul adorned with a radiance that has lost its luminosity, [said] luminosity can be suitably restored by the sparkle [generated by] goodness, the aura [generated by] being dutiful [in religious tasks], and the beneficial good wisdom, and the straightforward learning, and the desire (xwāstag) to help more others (wēš frayādišnig), and other excellent blessings that are best suited to reside with God-worshippers.
though the text of the Dēnkard was written in the 9th century, its
spirit is rooted in the Avesta; particularly in the Farvardin Yašt
where Ahura-Mazdā repeatedly attributes his creative powers to the
“rayi and glory (xvarnah)” of the fravašis of
the Righteous people (ašāvans).
Most scholars consider the word rayi therein as a derivative of the
root raē- (wealth), and in order to fit it into that context,
translate it as “brightness/splendor,” presumably equating wealth with
glittering jewelry. Malandra however, translates it as “insight” and
considers it to be derived from a homonym, rāy-
the one that has given us NP rāy.
The latter is often described by adjectives such as bright or obscure, and
even likened to bright stars such as Jupiter at night.
Such descriptions rest on the ancient belief that vision was made possible
by the inner light of the eye. To this day, a loss of vision is equated
with a loss of “light,” and the eye is qualified as kam-su (low-light)
and a dear one is called nur-e čašm (the light of my eye). A more
appropriate meaning for rayi would therefore be “point of
view,” or more simply “viewing capacity.”
Malandra interpretation, not only leads us to a better justification for
recognizing rayi as radiance and light, but functionally, brings it
into harmony with the xvarnah that is coupled with it. Indeed, an
important characteristic of the xvarnah is its variability: it can
be strong, weak or non-existent.
Unlike the wealth-related raē-combination that must necessarily be
translated by a word that defines a continuously exalted—therefore
non-variable—state, the “radiance” translation for rayi gives it the
same variable characteristic as xvarnah. If “brightness” or
“splendor” can also be used for its translation, it’s only because
the strength of the rayi that Ahura-Mazdā relies upon for creation
(or other feats) is due, in the Farvardin Yašt, to its emanation
from the ašavans. Without such an association, the rayi may
not necessarily be bright.
In either case, whether derived from raē- or a homonym, rayi seems to be light in substance, and together with the xvarnah, which is often projected in a radiating form, becomes a source of energy that the fravašis of the Righteous people carried and that Ahura-Mazdā could exploit. Similarly, the čihr that Ādur-Farrobay saw as a necessary attribute of God-worshippers (i.e., righteous people), must be considered as a radiance that acted as a source of power and energy.
Since one’s appearance is very much tied to one’s nature, it is not surprising that dictionaries such as the Borhān-e Qāte`, translate čehr as nature. But the following example from the previously mentioned edition of the Dēnkard, clearly shows that even when “nature” provides an adequate translation, “apparent nature” better describes that situation:
ud čim ī ān yōjdahgarīh nē zan bē mard kardan ēk wēš amāwandīh
ī nar ī ahlaw ud wēš-samīhā sijdīh ī dēwān aziš ud nārīgān
ōy-iz petyārag ī sarādag ō čīhr
abyoxt ēstēd narrīh-iz ī awēšān drūzān rāy az mādagān kam tarsēd
ud pad-iz abārīg kār ī nē ōwōn mādagig mard az zan weh šāyēd
une des raisons pour laquelle la purification n’est pas exécutée par
une femme, mais par un homme, c’est qu’un homme juste possède plus de
force (qu’une femme) et que les démons le fuient avec plus de peur. Cet
antagoniste de l’espèce des femmes s’est attaché lui aussi à leur
nature. Et parce que ces druzs sont mâles, ils ont peu peur des femmes ;
et même dans d’autres affaires qui ne sont pas aussi essentielles (que
celle-ci), les hommes sont plus aptes (à le faire) que les femmes …»
From the first sentence of the above passage, it is clear that the purifier’s job is not to get entangled with demons, nor to physically fight them, but to function as a scare-crow, and make them run away at sight. And since demons are male creatures and know that they are stronger than women, should a woman stand as a purifier, her inherent weakness will be divulged by her appearance (i.e. pronounced breasts, hairless face, etc…), and thus, the demons will not be scared away. The underlined sentence is therefore better translated as:
any antagonistic posture of women is undermined by their [physical]
heading from the Middle Persian text Dādestān ī Dēnīg, which
ī ēd pursīdārān: az stāyišnīg nērōg ī čihr ud zōr ī gōhr ud
daxšag ī xrad ud nišān ī hunar …”
has recently been translated as:
those of Good Religion, who are asking these things about the praiseworthy
strength of nature, and the power of nature, and the signs of wisdom and
proof of ability …”
By translating čihr as “nature,” we face a redundancy in title that even 19th century Qājār literary figures, who so cherished repetition, would have avoided. The title obviously enumerates varied questions that people had, and therefore, since nērōg and zōr are equivalent and both mean strength and power, čihr must represent something other than gōhr (NP gohar, Ar. jowhar, meaning “substance/nature”). This deduction is further strengthened by a passage that enumerates the faculties that the Creator endows man with, among which we have čihr ī xwad bizešk translated as “self-healing nature”:
For when the most beneficent and perfect Creator achieved the creation of
the Lord in the wholly wonderful way, with the attack of the Evil Spirit,
(he changed) the static existence into a dynamic spiritual +world. As a
conspicuous example, (he changed) the invisible (and) unmingled spirit
into a visible one. He placed the growing spirit of the +soul
as a virtuous lord in the body so that it may move in the material world.
He announced and adorned the +animating life and the preserving frawahr,
and +acquisitive memory and the protective intelligence, and the
discerning wisdom, and the +self-healing nature [čihr ī xwad bizešk],
(and) the organizing power, (he announced and adorned) the eye to see the
ear to hear, the nose to smell, the mouth to recognize flavors, the body
to +feel a +touch, the +heart to think the tongue to speak, the hand to
practice, the foot to walk. These (faculties) which cause the improvement
of the soul and +increase of the flow of the blood (?), these which are
elated to the body…”
for the supposed “self-healing nature” description, every other
enumerated faculty in this passage is describing a certain aspect of
man’s nature. It does seem odd therefore, to have the nature of man
qualified—as a whole—within a list enumerating only particular aspects
of it. Moreover, if the nature of man was really self-healing, Ahriman and
the Druj (the Lie) could never harm it. For, whatever went wrong, man’s
nature had the capacity to rectify it. The “xwad bizešk” faculty,
rather than “self-healing,” should be understood as one that acts as a
man’s own doctor (bizešk), i.e., one that could see and
understand man’s own illnesses but, like any other physician, was not
necessarily able to cure them. Since čihr essentially sheds light
on one’s problem, it is better described as a source of light rather
any event, by alluding to the power (nērog) of čihr, the
initial title provides a further justification for my conclusion in
section 3.1: that čihr was a source of power, similar to the xvarnah.
Manichaean text, Šāpuragān, brings out yet another meaning of čihr:
It states that in the final phase of the world and on the Day of
Judgment, the Great Fire ascends to the heavens in the čihr of
Ohrmazd-bagh (the Primordial Man).
This of course provides the closest meaning to NP čehr, and is
synonymous with NP čehreh, i.e., visage and appearance.
already mentioned, I had concluded in a previous study that, in respect to
Sāsānian stone-reliefs, the “ke čihr az yazadān” idiom
indicated that gods and kings were meant to reflect each other in
appearance and Glory. Consequently, I was able to describe the stone-reliefs of
Barm-e Delak, Tāq-e Bostān and Naqš-e Rostam, as a
coherent expression of kingly power sanctioned by deities such as Ahura-Mazdā, Anāhitā, Apām-Napāt and Miθra.
the very fact that the intriguing composition of these stone-eliefs could
not be otherwise explained, gives credence to my interpretation of said
idiom. Unless a more plausible explanation is presented—and there are
none to my knowledge that, for instance, can adequately explain that: if
the male figures of the Investiture of Narseh at Naqš-e Rostam
(fig. 1) are non-deities, then why is it that they so accurately reflect
the king, especially in the parallelism of their limbs, rippled trousers,
and multitude of flying ribbon, rather than depicting a subordinate in a
position of respect? And who is the boy?—the čihr of this Sāsānian
idiom should be understood as referring to a similarity in appearance and
major support for čihr’s second set of meanings has always been
the contemporary translations, particularly the one carved next to the
investiture scene of Šāpur I at Naqš-e Rajab, which qualifies the king
and his father to belong to “the family (γενουσ) of gods”
and suggests a meaning of “seed/origin” for čihr.
had previously raised two major objections for this interpretation:
did not always adhere to the principle of strict equivalence,
and in the Greco-Roman context, in which, even the lover-boy of Hadrian
(r. 117-38) was deified, it made sense for a translator to elevate the
rank of the Iranian king to that of the Romans. This purpose was
facilitated by the use of the epithet baγ for Sāsānian kings in
regal inscriptions. In Achaemenid times, the word baγa unequivocally
meant god, but followed the path of degeneracy to become later on an
honorific epithet. The question then is: what did it mean in Sāsānian
the Sāsānian era is included in a time-bracket for which one can
demonstrate that baγ was used as a regal title at both ends. On
the late end, we have the passage of baγ into Turkic languages as bنg/beyg,
a title with no divine or religious connotations.
appears in the Orkhon inscriptions of the 8th century, we are at least
assured that by the end of the Sāsānian era, its antecedent baγ, had
gained full temporal status.
the early end, we have the coinage of Ardašir I’s brother and
predecessor, Šāpur, with his effigy on the obverse and his father on the
reverse, with the following legends respectively: bgy šhpwry MLK’,
BRH bgy p’pky MLK’ (baγ Šāpur Šāh, son of baγ Pāpak
Šāh) (fig. 2). According to Tabari, when Pāpak killed the local ruler
of Estaxr, he requested from the Parthian Ardavān IV (r. 216-224), the
crown of Estaxr for his son Šāpur. When Ardavān refused, Pāpak
proceeded without permission and placed Šāpur on the throne of Estaxr.
Clearly, even after defying the authority of their Parthian overlord, Pāpak
and his son were in no position to claim divine status. Deities simply do
not ask permission.
like the English word “lord” and the French “seigneur,” by Sāsānian
times, baγ had acquired a temporal meaning. As a regal epithet, it
meant “lord, majesty” with no divine connotations whatsoever.
In Iranian literature, no king ever claimed divine power, except Jamšid.
And when the latter did that, he immediately lost his kingship!
But to further complicate the issue, instead of the normal Pahlavi
spelling, occasionally, baγ was written as an ideogram (“ALHA”).
For a Syriac translator dealing with a Semitic language (as opposed to
Greek), this spelling naturally evoked “god,” and suggested divine
claim. It was thus used—in a negative way—by the author of an account
on Christian martyrdom under Šāpur II, who clearly had an ideological
incentive to deride the Sāsānian king, and accuse him of blasphemy.
sum, the translation argument is not as solid as it seems.
possible precedents may reinforce the interpretation of our Sāsānian
idiom as an indicator of god-sanctioned authority for the king (rather
than divine origin). The first is the inscription on coins from Persis
under the generic formula: [king’s name] prtrk' zy 'lhy' ([king’s
name] prataraka of gods), that is datable to the beginning of the
Prataraka has hitherto not been defined in the Iranian context, but
“in the official Aramaic documents it seems to mean something like
prefect, superintendent or foreman.”
Thus, following the departure of the Seleucids, the kings of Persis
(present day Fārs and home of the later Sāsānians) altered the divine
connotations of the Greek regal slogans by introducing a word that should
probably be translated here as “deputy.” The king of Persis is then
characterized as “deputy of god on earth,” similar to the Islamic
formula: zill-ollāh (shadow of god on earth), and very much in
line with the ancient notion of a king reflecting the gods’ power and
A second possibility is offered by a passage in the Tir Yašt in which the star Tištrya is said to have received his čiθra from Apām-Napāt. Structurally, it provides a close parallel to the Sāsānian idiom, for here again one entity derives its čiθra/čihr from another. Since we shall argue in the following section that čiθra can only mean “brilliance” in this passage, we can conclude here that čihr—as a progeny of čiθra —was used to indicate reflective radiance, and that such a concept was ingrained in ancient Iranian cosmogony, and that the radiance of čihr was indeed a source of power and energy from which kings and rulers derived their authority (or more precisely, through which they projected authority).
summary look at the Avesta had suggested to me that the translation
of čiθra as “seed” in many passages didn’t seem right.
Fortunately, Jean Kellens not only confirmed this suspicion, but also
expressed his belief that in the whole of the Avesta, čiθra only
meant “appearance” or “brilliance,” and that gao-čiθra,
as a description of the moon, should simply be understood as the same term
would be in New Persian: i.e., that “it appears as a bull.”
latter remark ties well with my own conclusion that the bull of the
Achaemenid lion-bull icon (fig. 3), stood for the moon, in an emblem that
represented day-night perpetuity as well as the xvarnah bestowed by
the lords of the day and the night, i.e., the ahuras Miθra and Apām-Napāt. This conclusion is now further strengthened by the
recent publication of a seal from Sardis which depicts the lion and bull
engaging battle, with a sun and a moon carved above them (fig. 4).
point of view obviously offers a much simpler explanation than the
conventional—but incongruent—conception that the “moon carries the
seed of the bull;”
a conception that is mostly based on the Bundahišn imagery. In the
Bundahišn however, the seed/semen of the bull is taken to the moon
for purification only. There is absolutely no indication that the semen
remained there. To the contrary, the purification was immediately followed
by the creation of species, explained in the following terms: “first a
pair of bovines—a cow and a bull—then, from every other specie, a pair
on earth, in Erānvēj.”
sequence leaves no room for the semen to reside on the moon. Moreover,
according to Biruni, the sixteenth of the month of Dey was celebrated by
Iranians as the day that young Fereydun rode a bull, and on that night,
each year the image of a bull appears in the sky with golden horns and
silver hoofs, which pulls the cart of the moon. For the same night, Biruni
also reports another popular belief according to which a bull appears in
the sky and augurs a year of abundance or drought, according to
number of sounds it utters.
Thus the idea of a bull appearing in the sky, and associated with the
moon, was rather widespread. In what follows, I shall test Kellens’
theory for the instances in which the second set of meaning has enticed
many other scholars to adopt it.
description as afš-čiθra (Yt 8:4), is generally translated as
“containing the seed of water,”
presumably on the account of its similarity with gao-čiθra, and
the fact that Tištrya is somehow involved in the movement of water on
earth. His involvement though, is not for bringing water to earth but to
make the water of lake Vouru.kaša surge and flow (Yt 8:8, 30). In none of
his avatars is he said to carry water to earth, nor make use of his
presumed seeds of water. His source of water is lake Vouru.kaša and
therefore on earth.
importantly, in the Yašts, afš-čiθra is not an exclusive
quality of Tištrya but seems to apply to all stars (Yt 12:39); and in the
Vendidad, in an invocation addressed to the “afš-čiθra” stars,
they are requested to shed light on earth (21.13). It makes a lot more
sense to request bright stars to produce light, than stars which
“contain the seeds of water” or “are of watery nature.”
The context favors a meaning of brilliance, i.e., one of the two original
meanings of čiθra. Stars are therefore characterized with an afš
brilliance quality. The question then is: what does exactly afš mean
in this combination?
a derivative of ap (water). It has also provided the NP verb afšāndan
(to spray), which is primarily used for water, perfume and other
liquids, and by extension for granules such as gold.
We may thus surmise that afš implied water in a raindrop form. Afš-čiθra
would then mean “glittery as raindrops,” a very appropriate term
for stars which often scintillate in the sky.
Yt 8:4, Tištrya is described as opulent, glorious, afš-čiθra (glittery),
and with a series of other qualities followed by the sentences:
hača berezāt haosravanghem apām nafəδrat hača čiθrəm”
translates the above as:
exalted one from whom (comes) renown—from Apām-Napāt (comes
translation seems confusing and ill-defined. However, with two corrections
we may obtain a more intelligible result. The first is to acknowledge that
Apām-Napāt’s name should have been repeated at the end of the stanza
but is not, because of the traditional Avestic pattern of repetition
avoidance. He was thus the source of both renown and čiθra for Tištrya
(the star Sirius).
The second is to translate čiθra as brilliance, because the main
qualities of that star are all of luminous nature (Yt 8:2: white,
shining, seen afar, … piercing from afar with its shining undefiled
rays), and befit Sirius, the brightest star in the sky at nighttime. As
the Lord of the night and seas, Apām-Napāt was the appropriate ahurā
to have bestowed Tištrya with the qualities that so distinguished him
at nighttime. To talk about lineage here is to confuse the Iranian
pantheon with the Greek one, where deities were actively procreating.
the Ābān Yašt, Anāhitā approaches a certain boatman, in disguise:
“64. Arədvi Sūrā Anāhitā lowed
up to (him) in the form of a beautiful, very strong maiden, well built,
high girdled, erect, noble in respect to (her) illustrious lineage, in
shoes worn to the ankle with bright golden laces.”
pass as a maiden, all that mattered was her look. It did not matter
whether the jewelry that she wore was inherited or recently acquired,
whether she was an aristocrat or a nouveau-riche. Lineage is not
necessarily an apparent trait. Along with the rest of the description, “raēvat.čiθrəm
has been translated by the underlined sentence above) should describe what
was visible at first sight. Since the first word is generally
understood as “wealthy” and the last means “noble,” a more
appropriate translation would be: “with the rich look of the nobles,”
i.e., she appeared nobly splendid. One again, the primary meaning of čiθra
better fits the context.
his translation of Yt 19:12, Malandra has opted to translate čiθra as
…The Lie shall retreat to wherever it was whence it came in order to
destroy the righteous man, him and (his) family and his being.”
the case of the Sāsānian idiom though, we saw that despite a Greek
translation as “family,” only “seed” or “origin” were adopted
to define čihr. Malandra’s choice here is, in fact, symptomatic
of the difficulties caused by the introduction of the second set of
meaning in general. He had to extrapolate it one step further, into
“family,” in order to get a somehow more meaningful sentence. The
shorter extrapolation, i.e., “lineage,” would have resulted in a
non-sense, because the rest of the family would have still been alive and
able to continue the lineage.
righteousness is not hereditary. The progenies of an ašāvan do
not become automatically ašāvans, and the Lie certainly nurtured
hopes of converting every newborn to his cause. Therefore, he had no
incentive to destroy potential recruits for his own army.
the passage in fact recounts is that the Lie had come to destroy the
righteous man, the ašāvan, and that destruction is explained as
one involving both his čiθra and his being. The concept that I
alluded to in 3.1 is relevant here, for we saw that even when the ašāvan
was dead, his “lights” (i.e., his rayi and glory) remained,
and acted as a source of energy for Ahura-Mazdā, and that the čiθra of
the righteous man was very much the same. His annihilation therefore,
involved not only the destruction of his “being” but also of his čiθra,
i.e., his radiance.
the same token, we can assume that for the term aša-čiθra, a
translation such as “of just appearance” or “he who radiates
justice” is more appropriate than the incongruous description:
the seed or principle of Aša.”
there is a further consideration for the choice involving the two
meanings. A religious text, like a political slogan, seeks maximum effect
through relevancy and actuality. “Seed” implies a future potential;
radiance and appearance evoke immediacy. The latter is therefore more
relevant, more dramatic, and therefore more potent.
Yt 13.87, čiθra again has been understood as seed:
worship the Frawaši of righteous Gaya Maretan, who first listened to the
thoughts and teachings of Ahura Mazdā, from whom (Mazdā) fashioned forth
families of the Aryan people, the seed of Aryan peoples.”
are two inherent problems to this interpretation. If Ahura-Mazdā
fashioned the “seed” of the Aryan people, he obviously fashioned that
nation as a whole in that seed, including Aryan families. “Family”
adds no precision to the information conveyed by “seed.” Moreover, if
“seed” was the correct translation, logically, the order of the two
entities should have been reversed: seed obviously must come before any
again we are in the presence of the same concept as the one discussed in
the previous section: similar to the čiθra of the ašavans,
there was a light or radiance attributed to the Aryans that provided
victory and success to its members. My analysis further below of a similar
concept, enunciated in similar terms, in royal Achaemenid inscriptions
shall provide added support for my suggestion here.
A new trend
his recent analysis of Y 32 and its relevance to the Daēvas and their
followers, Antonio Panaino clearly senses that the traditional translation
of čiθra as “seed” is inadequate and opts instead for
“manifestation” to define the čiθra of Bad Thought.
Nevertheless, he pays a lip-service to the traditional interpretation by
including “seed” in a parenthesis and presenting it as another
It is perhaps time to follow the lead of Kellens and abandon “seed”
and “origin” all together.
Old Persian counterpart is čiça. It appears in royal Achaemenid
inscriptions in two capacities: as qualifier of the word “Aryan,” and
as part of a name (e.g., Čiçāntaxma). In both capacities, it has been
translated as origin and lineage. Having argued that in Avestic, Middle
Persian and New Persian, the čiθra-family of words did not evoke
lineage, it would seem rather odd to have the contrary in Old Persian.
three Achaemenid inscriptions, čiça appears within sentences that
define the king’s affiliations. Darius (r. 521-485BC) declares to be:
Vištāspahyā puça, Haxāmanišiya, (2) Pārsa, Pārsahyā puça, (3)
Ariya, Ariya čiça i.e.,
(1) son of Vištāspa, an Achaemenid, (2) Pārsa, son of Pārsa, (3)
Aryan, and with Aryan čiça; as for Xerxes (r. 485-465BC), he
declares to be the son of Darius and then repeats 1, 2 and 3 verbatim.
Although all three inscriptions are trilingual, the corresponding
Babylonian versions of 1, 2 and 3 are missing, and the Elamite versions
read as the OP versions. We are therefore left to rely solely on context for
deciphering the meaning of čiça.
three-partite inscriptions were meant to define the king’s affiliations
from the smallest relevant social entity to the largest. The second
clauses of parts 2 and 3 obviously don’t define new groupings, but
provide additional information for their first clause. There is a tangible
difference between the groups defined in 1 and 2: the name of the latter
group is repeated while the name of the first group is not. One pertains
to an inheritable trait, and the other to a transient state. If Darius’s
father is an Achaemenid, so is he. That is why Xerxes who qualifies his
own father as Achaemenid, does not repeat it for himself, nor does Darius
repeat it for himself in his own inscription.
Therefore, if Pārsa is repeated for father and son, it must indicate a
non-permanent and a nonhereditary state.
analogy with 15th century Turkaman practices is quite revealing. Uzun
Hasan (r. 1453-78), the Aq-qoyunlu ruler of western Iran, took pride in
being a member of the Bāyandor clan, named after his ancestor, Bāyandor
Khān. Like the “Achaemenid” affiliation, Bāyandor clanship was a
permanent trait and thus hereditary. The Aq-qoyunlu affiliation however,
was not. It indicated membership in a confederacy that could change in
time. A Turkaman could join the Aq-qoyunlus, or the rival Qara-qoyunlu
confederacy, and move in and out. A Turkaman could settle near Mosul and
become a Mosul-lu, or settle near Šām (Damascus) and become a Šām-lu.
By the same token, we may surmise that Pārsā represented a confederacy,
or a location-related affiliation similar to say Mosul-lu, or a mixture of
both. Whatever it was, it did not represent a permanent characteristic.
relevant to our study however, is the Turkaman affiliation, which was
permanent. Once a Turkaman, always a Turkaman, and for generations to
come. The term defined a nation in the ethnic sense of it. Similarly, the
term “Aryan” defined a nation, i.e., an ethnic characteristic that
embraced one generation after another. We thus see that the classical
translation of the third part of the above-mentioned inscriptions has an
inherent problem: its second clause is redundant and adds nothing to the
meaning of the first clause (“Aryan”) that it didn’t already have.
To be an Aryan meant to be of Aryan lineage, and to be a Turkaman meant to
be of Turkaman stock. To repeat it in a royal lapidary inscription would
have looked ridiculous to any member of those congregations.
better alternative to “lineage” is once again the primary meaning of čiθra,
i.e., brilliance; a brilliance that could loose its luminosity and become nē-rōz
as in 3.1, or be all powerful. Within a cosmogony in which power was
derived from light, the legitimacy of Darius necessitated for him to
possess the strongest light among the Aryans. As I shall argue here
bellow, by claiming to have the Aryan čiça, Darius was in fact
claiming to possess the Aryan xvarnah.
Tribal good fortune
key to the understanding of the Achaemenid concept of dynastic legitimacy
is to acknowledge that similar to the Aq-qoyunlus, their mode of thinking
was still very much rooted in a tribal framework. After all, the
Aq-qoyunlu nomad-to-emperor timeframe was not much different than the
the nomadic tribes of the central Asian steppes, divine interventions
notwithstanding, the most potent force to project authority was a good
fortune tied to a group or class of people (as opposed to that of a
leader). Thus, in a stately edict of Uzun-Hasan, which—despite the
renowned religious orthodoxy of the Aq-qoyunlu regime—combines Islamic
concepts with tribal ones, we can see that in addition to the powers of
God, the “Good Fortune of the Bāyandor Clan (dowlat-ol-Bāyandoriyyeh)”
Il-Xān Ġāzān (r. 1295-1304), on the other hand, relied on a group
larger than a clan, and would begin his edicts with the invocatio:
“by the might of God and the auspiciousness of the Mohammedan nation (mellat-e
It is however, in a Uyġur edict of the Il-Xān Abu-Sa`id (r. 1317-1335)
that we can see this tribal concept given full reign. After invoking the
power of the Mongol sky-god Tengri, the edict invokes the power of: “the
nation of the Apostle Mohammad (Muqamad baiγambar-un omat-dur).”
Less hampered by Islamic orthodoxy in a Uyġur context, Abu-Sa`id
transformed what was known as the ommat-e mosalmān (the Moslem
community) into a clan/tribe grouping led by a successful leader, the
apostle Mohammad. In all three examples we see reliance on a group-related
auspicious power, next to godsanctioned authority.
the Avesta refers to the Aryan xvarnah, it is undeniable that the
Iranians who also came from the central Asian steppes, believed in a
group-related auspiciousness similar to the Mongols and the Turkamans. The
question then is: was this ever reflected in Iranian kingly ideology or
iconography? The answer is yes, at the very least in Sāsānian times.
The dastār as symbol of the Aryan xvarnah
my previous study, I had argued that the omnipresent flying ribbons of the
Sāsānian regal paraphernalia was a symbol of xvarnah (MP xarrah,
NP farr), and was probably named dastār to emphasize its
function as conveyor of victory (dast).
Two additional arguments, unknown to me then, may reinforce those
depicting the Parthians as Ahrimanic,
Ardašir had to change the main symbol of their sovereignty, namely the
Greek-type diadem called dēdēm (NP dayhim), which was tied
to the head.
Thus, the cord-like dēdēm was replaced by the thicker and more
amplified dastār, and was interpreted as a symbol of xarrah.
But besides changes in dimensions, the dastār had one additional
feature (mostly after Šāpur I, r. 241-272): rather than having hanging
tails, it was depicted almost horizontally and with ripples, in order to
produce a windblown effect. The latter characteristic identified the dastār
as the symbol of not any xvarnah, but of the Aryan xvarnah.
Indeed, the stanzas Yt 18:2-5 depict the Aryan xvarnah as a most
powerful force that “vanquishes the non-Aryan nations” and is
accompanied by “the Strong Wind made by Mazdā” as well as the
“glorious star Tištrya.” It is followed by Yt 18:7 where all three
are praised together:
to the bright and glorious star Tištrya. Hail to the Strong Wind, made by
Mazdā! Hail to the Glory of the Aryas!”
victories of Šāpur I over the Romans seem to have caused the addition of
the windblown effect onto the dastār, in order to emphasize the
vanquishing of a “non-Aryan nation.”
can then surmise that the star which appears on late Sāsānian coinage is
Tištrya who is auspicious on two accounts. Firstly, as seen above, it is
a companion of the Aryan xvarnah and its presence therefore vouches
for the presence of the latter as well. Secondly, when paired with the
moon (as in fig. 6), the two represent the brightest celestial bodies of
nighttime. In a cosmogony where light is a primordial source of power, the
king had to benefit from both daytime and nighttime radiance. On coins,
the dotted rings represented solar radiance,
and the star and crescent symbolized the Tištrya-Moon radiance.
Aryan xvarnah or Aryan čiça?
far we have established that: central Asian
nomads who founded new empires clung to a concept of clan or tribal
auspiciousness, that Iranians were no exception since they believed in the
Aryan xvarnah, and that the Sāsānians invoked it in their regal
iconography. Logic dictates that the Persian Achaemenids who were closer
to their nomadic past than the Sāsānians should have done it as well.
Since we saw that čiça meant brilliance, and we know that the
primary symbolism of xvarnah is solar radiance, we can surmise that
“Aryan čiça” was very much equivalent to “Aryan xvarnah,”
and was used in the same capacity.
question then is: why didn’t Darius use the more familiar term of the
Avesta which was certainly known to him, one way or another? We must first
observe that in the Avestan context, there are two parallel sources of
energy, the rayi and xvarnah. Even though derived from a
tribal concept of good fortune, the xvarnah acquired a solar
symbolism through punning and phonetic similarity with xvar (sun).
The rayi on the other hand, was light in essence and manifested
itself through a brilliance that was referred to as čiθra. Since
they both acted as sources of energy and could be symbolized by light,
they had the potential to become interchangeable.
I have previously argued, while Achaemenid imagery was replete with xvarnah
symbolism, the royal inscriptions systematically avoided mentioning
Indeed, since the xvarnah had Miθraic connotations, it clashed
with the image of an all powerful Ahura-Mazdā that Darius wished to
On the other hand, Cyrus II (r. 550- 530BC) and Cambyses’ (r. 530-521BC)
victories over the non-Aryan nations had certainly given them an aura of
glory, namely the Aryan xvarnah, which Darius needed to reclaim for
himself if he were to be accepted as their legitimate successor. By
promoting čiça in lieu of xvarnah, Darius was wrapping a
popular ideology with a shining new garb that perhaps, aspired to be more
universal than a strictly Aryan concept.
the religious context, as Elfenbein has noted, xvarnah “resurfaced
with a vengeance” (in the Younger Avesta). Same is true for royal iconography. In kingly
phraseology however, the example of the Sāsānians show that the
Achaemenid precedence of using čiça instead of xvarnah became
standard practice, and lead to the incorporation of the word čihr instead
of xarrah in regal slogans.
the rebels that Darius mentions to have vanquished in his Bisotun
inscriptions, is one Čiçāntaxma, whose name has been translated:
“brave by descent” or “of brave lineage.”
I am not sure if this translation has any parallels in the Persian
context. The usual structure to convey lineage is through a “son of”
or “born of” qualification; and if lineage had to be conveyed beyond
father and son relationship, the clan name would be mentioned.
taxma of this name is akin to the first part of Rostam’s
nickname, tahm-tan (strongbody). Čiçāntaxma seems to be better
translated as one who “radiates strength,” or is “of strong
a major tenet of my arguments is that Iranian kingly ideology never
allowed for a king
to claim divine powers, a counterexample in this respect would make a
serious dent in my overall thesis. If recent readings of the legends on
the coins of Burān, daughter of Xosrow II, are to be trusted then such a
counter-example exists. The fact though is that the readings are incorrect
and they do not provide a valid counter-example.
Past interpretations of the legends
problematic legend occurs on the reverse of the coin of Burān (fig. 7);
its reading has been the subject of many controversies all summarized by
T. Daryaee in a recent article to which he added his own interpretation:
Kuntz and Warden: …GDH new bwlt’l (“Good bearer of
R. Gِbl: gyh’n MN GDH new klt’l (“she who makes the
earth strong with her (royal) splendor”)
V. Curtis and H.M. Malek: Gyh’nt GDH new bwlt’l (“your
world (is the) bringer of brave glory”)
M.I. Mochiri: bwl’n tlwyn ZY yzd’n twhmk W gwhrt’l («
Bōrān victorieuse, de race divine et resplendissante »)
T. Daryaee: bwl’n ZY yzd’n twhm wyn’lt’l (“Bōrān,
restorer of the race of Gods”)
(a), (b), (c) and (e) the left-side reads as bwl’n TLYN (Burān,
two), i.e., it reiterates the name of the queen already struck on the
obverse, plus the regnal year “two.” In terms of approach, the main
difference between them is that (a), (b), and (c) consider the righthand
side inscription as separate from the opposite side, while (d) and (e)
consider the two sections as part of a continuous legend; Daryaee however,
sets aside the number two and includes the other half of the left-side,
that which contains the name of “Burān.”
diversity in reading clearly points out to the difficulty in deciphering
unfamiliar legends written in the usually corrupted Pahlavi script of
coins. The acceptance of any reading must therefore rest on external
factors; and since the yazdān toxmag (from the seeds of gods) part
of (d) and (e) concurs with the Greek translation of the “ke čihr az
yazadān” idiom of earlier Sāsānian coinage, these two readings
have gained favor. At the same time, they provide added comfort to those
who fervently believe in the validity of the Greek translations.
assumption of the continuity of the two texts, adopted by (d) and (e)
however, is contrary to standard epigraphic rules that if separated
sections are part of the same legend, there should be some indication to
that effect: e.g., they are written in a circular form (as in the coinage
of Asdashir), or if a motif must intrude into the legend, the two sections
on each side should butt against that motif. Most importantly, there must
be some uniformity in style and character. Here, one can readily see that
the characters of the left inscription are larger than those from the
right, and there is no indication to suggest connectivity. We therefore
have two separate legends. It means that the one on the right cannot start
with the “ezafé” ZY (=i), and whatever the starting
letter is, it must be incorporated into the next word. There is simply no yazdān
in the legend.
this point I can rest my case since Burān’s coin no more constitutes a
valid counterexample. If one deconstructs a previously accepted
interpretation however, one has the duty to offer a more plausible one in
the reverse of the coin is where the information about regnal year and
mint was struck (usually on opposite sides of the same circle). It was
such an important tradition, that no new designer dared to completely
abandon it, especially in uncertain times. Therefore, if the word TLYN=2
appears on one side, the mint name must somehow be incorporated on the
opposite side of the standing figure. Trying to conform to this tradition,
and also include additional slogans in order to enhance the legitimacy of
a ruler whose reign was not unanimously accepted,
the designer devised a new layout: he divided the reverse of the coin into
four quadrants created by an imaginary cross (fig. 7).
four-partite division is suggested by the fact that the horizontal axis
goes through on the one hand, right between the two words bwl’n and
TALYN in quadrants 1 and 2, and on the other, because the size of
the letters changes from quadrant 3 to 4 (those in 4 are slightly larger
than those in 3).
there is a quasi unanimous agreement on the reading of quadrants 1 and 2,
I shall concentrate on 3 and 4 alone. The following possibilities are
addition, there is a distinct possibility that our clever designer
intended to get a doublemeaning from the same inscription. Puns and
wordplays were very much a trade-tool of the scribes and functionaries who
designed official inscriptions. The number “two” which is stated after
Burān’s name on the left-side may be in fact an indicator that the rest
of the legend is doubly layered.
already mentioned, the mint name was traditionally placed opposite the
regal year. In the instant case therefore, it should be in the fourth
quadrant. In addition, there is a curious gap between the second and third
letter from the end, which needs to be justified.
the very least, the above discussion shows that many of the accepted
interpretations for the use of čiθra and its progenies need to be
revised. But if one can find comfort in the present analysis, and accept
only one set of meanings for this series of words, a more interesting
conclusion would be its relevance to a pervasive light symbolism that
continuously shaped Iranian religious and political ideology.
their radiance, various sources of power and energy were often invoked by
mortals as well as deities. The xvarnah for instance, had a pivotal
role in the concept of kingly authority. It was an individual—as well as
a tribal—source of power that acquired a solar symbolism, partially
through wordplay. Otherwise, it mainly manifested itself through rams,
etc… Another source of energy, the rayi, was only light in
essence and manifested itself through its luminosity and brilliance, its čiθra.
The former had its roots in the primitive tribal beliefs of the central
Asian steppes, the latter may have been conceived as part of a new
parallel utilization of the two concepts probably caused each to adopt the
attributes of the other. The most important factor in the rapprochement
between the two concepts however, is Darius’ decision to claim the Aryan
xvarnah that his predecessors had acquired through their conquests
of non-Aryan nations, while minimizing its connection to the deities that
they had venerated. The supremacy of Ahura-Mazdā for Darius, entailed
tailoring old concepts in a new garb. The brilliance of čiça thus
came to supplant the glory of xvarnah in the Achaemenid royal
inscriptions. Centuries later, religious orthodoxy may have pushed the
Sasanians to do as the Achaemenids once did: they used čihr in
their inscriptions, but used the symbols of xarrah in their
Soudavar – Houston, TX
a result of earlier studies in kingship theory, I have
been—unwittingly— pushed into a restricted domain, reserved to the
practitioners of the high-art of philology. For lack of knowledge in
this domain, I had to solicit the help of many scholars who, despite
their many engagements, patiently replied my numerous e-mails, phone
calls, and letters. In particular, I am indebted to Touraj Daryaee,
Jean Kellens, Pierre Lecoq, Malek-Iraj Mochiri, Shaul Shaked, Chlodwig
Werba, and Nicholas Sims-Williams, who gave me relevant information
and useful advice. Most importantly, I am forever indebted to Xavier
Tremblay who provided me—in writing—a long dissertation on the
Avestan and Old Persian use of čiθra and čiça and
pointed out the pitfalls of past approaches. It goes without saying
that errors in judgment, and weaknesses in arguments, are all mine and
cannot be imputed to the aforementioned scholars who accepted to help
me but did not necessarily agree with my point of view.
2003, pp. 41-48.
proposes an etymology based on *kei (to go, to move forward)
leading to *ki-trَ-m; BAILEY
p. 102. Bartholomae simply admits the existence of the two
aforementioned sets of meaning; Bailey proposes an etymology based on *kei
(to go, to move forward) leading to *ki-trَ-m; BAILEY
p. 102. Bartholomae simply admits the existence of the two
aforementioned sets of meaning;
1961, pp. 586-57. Pisani proposes a combination či-tra similar
to Sanscrit ku-tra (who
you?) that would define lineage; PISANI 1933, p. 86.
1988, pp. 395b-396a; WERBA 1997, p. 184.
the constructed etymologies by Bailey and others are all tentative and
inconclusive (because none has
see note 2 supra), they can only gain acceptance if they can yield a
meaning in context. Since I
find any, I do not see the necessity in discussing non-justifiable
is adopted in FARAVASHI 1381, p. 120; and MACKENZIE 1971, p.
I had previously argued in the case of the NP ruz-afzun combination,
the primary meaning of ruz in
is “light and luminosity”; see SOUDAVAR 2003, pp. 16-19.
new version of text is clearly more meaningful than the one edited by
Pešotan Dastur Behramjee
in 1900, and in which, the two successive “rōz”s are
similarly understood as “day by day”; see
the xvarnah’s solar symbols, see for instance SOUDAVAR 2003,
pp. 7-9, 16-19, 37-40.
pp. 76-77; www.avesta.org/denkard/dk5s.html (30.32).
1983, pp. 105-17.
1983, p. 103; as signaled to me by Xavier Tremblay,
Malandra’s interpretation seems to
been based on arguments previously developed by LENTZ 1962, p. 134,
and GROPP 1968, p. 38.
rāy is described to be derived from MP rāy/rāδ; NYBERG
1974, p. 164; FARAVASHI 1381, p. 473.
philological difficulties, one suspects that this radiance (rāδ)
may be an offspring of the same
root that provided “ray” and “radiance” in English.
2003, p. 14.
for instance SOUDAVAR 2003, pp. 146, 149, and 153.
1362, II:674. One should note that since the Borhān has also
given us hundreds of spurious
known as the Dasātiris, its reliability is not beyond doubt.
Ī DENĪG 1998, p. 30.
Ī DENĪG 1998,
p. 40; also SOUDAVAR 2003, pp. 44-45.
2003, pp. 49-72.
for instance, MACKENZIE 1981, p. 17.
1994, p. 81; and SOUDAVAR 2003, pp. 42-45, where a letter of Arsaces
(originally in Armenian) is also mentioned in favor of the reflective
for instance, LECOQ 1995, pp. 183-86, SIMS-WILLIAMS 2001, p. 62.
suggests that Šāpur was crowned in lieu of his father; TABARI 1375,
uses the translation “divine” for baγ (ALRAM 1999, p. 67),
supposedly on a hint by Skjaervo, even though the latter translates it
as “Lord” elsewhere; see, for instance, SKJAERVO 1985, p. 594. In
a recent publication, Skjaervo is again ambivalent about baγ: he
translates it as “the divine” on coins, but at the same time,
points out that in the Paikuli inscriptions it appeared as “Your
Majesty”; SKJAERVO 2002, p. 49. One should also note that in the Bondaheš,
it is said that after the Arab invasions, and after the raids of the
Turkic tribes, a certain Kay-Bahrām who was “from the lineage of
the baγs,” came to save Erānšahr. The “baγs”
in there obviously refer to the Sāsānians; DĀDAGI 1369, p.
account appears in certain versions of the Šāhnāmeh; see
FERDOWSI 1988, I:45, note 9.
“ALHA” in ŠKZ see, for instance, SKJAERVO 1985, p. 594; for same
in the inscriptions of Šāpur
see FUKAI et al., 1984, appendix I.
sentence “men zar`a d-alāhē” (from the seed of gods),
which is said to describe Shāpur II in that
has been taken at face value by Sundermann, and accepted as proof of a
claim of divinity;
1988, pp. 338-40 (I am indebted to N. Sims-Williams for sending me a
copy of this
1985, pp. 300-302, 317. One should note that since 'lhy' appears
here at the end of the
it cannot be considered as a royal epithet similar to the one
mentioned in the previous section, and
meant “god” in this context.
communication by Shaul Shaked.
2001, pp. 61-62.
conversation. Kellens’ view on gao-čiθra is also expressed
in KELLENS 1996, p. 86.
2003, pp. 114-18.
4523 of the Istanbul Archeological Museum (DUSINBERRE 2002, p. 278).
Yt 7:0-7, for instance in Avesta, I:325-27.
1369, p. 98.
1377, p. 346.
for instance, MALANDRA 1983, p. 143.
Malandra uses both expressions to explain afš-čiθra;
MALANDRA 1983, pp. 141 and 143.
Yt 12:30-31, in addition to the moon that is qualified as gao-čiθra
and Tištriya as afš-čiθra, other stars
qualified as zemas-čiθra (earth-čiθra) and urvanō-čiθra
(plant-čiθra). The non-applicability of seed to the
former two, eliminates a major argument for translating the latter two
as “seed.” Describing a star to be “of earthly
appearance/radiance” is certainly a valid characterization, and to
describe a star (or a constellation of stars) as a plant is no more
far fetched than to believe the moon appears as a bull. In either
case, it is certainly less incongruent than the “contains the seed
1983, p. 143.
second correction is independent from the first one.
though Kellens muses that “Ahura-Mazdā ne se débrouille pas mal
sexuellement” (Kellens, “Le pantheon,” 81), and quotes Y47.2 and
3, in which Ahura-Mazdā is addressed as “father” of Aša and
one cannot take the “father” therein at face value, for it is used
in the sense of “creator,” as one would say in English, so and so
is the “father” of an invention. In Yt 17:16, Aši is said to have
Ahura-Mazdā as father, Spenta Ārmaiti as mother, and the Mazdean
Religion as her sister (!).
1983, p. 125; Chlodwig Werba translates it as “(her) lineage (being)
1983, p. 114.
am indebted to Xavier Tremblay to have pointed out this analogy to me.
2001, p. 102.
DSe, XPh in SHARP 1971, pp. 82, 90, 116 and 130; LECOQ 1997, pp. 219,
and confirmed by Ch. Werba (personal communication).
in A2Hc, Artaxerxes II (r. 404-358BC) gives his lineage as son of
Darius II, son of Artaxerxes
son of Xerxes, son of Darius, son of Vištaspa, and only qualifies the
latter as “Achaemenid”; LECOQ 1997, p. 270.
pre-dynastic coins of the Sāsānians (such as the coin in fig. 2)
which bear the name and effigy of Šāpur and Pāpak, according to a
“baγa X son of baγa Y” formula, may be in fact a reflection of
of Pārsa” concept of the Achaemenid inscriptions.
information on the Aq-qoyunlus, see WOODS 1999.
Lecoq who relies on a clan-tribe-people classification (LECOQ 1997, p.
170), I believe that in lieu of “tribe,” “confederacy” may
better explain the situation at hand.
fit in a 2-3 century timeframe.
(forthcoming); WOODS 1999, pp. 104, 259.
SOUDAVAR (forthcoming) in which the readings of Pelliot and Cleaves
have been rectified;
1953, pp. 27-33; PELLIOT 1936, pp. 37-44.
1962, I:243. The corrupted text in Mas`udi reads: ةدﺎﻌﺳ
in GARDIZI 1989, p. 98.
evident from the preceding note, both xarrah and xorram were
tentative reconstructions. The writing of ġorm and xorram are
very similar in Persian: ّﺮﺧ
The latter should generally be written with a tašdid sign on
the “r”, but does not seem to have been in the manuscripts.
2003, pp. 20, 22.
2003, pp. 20-22.
2003, p. 33.
BOYCE 1954 (p. 102) where it is repeatedly mentioned that the Parthian
diadem (dēdēm) is tied to the head (I am indebted to Judith
Josephson for this reference).
had previously argued that a star/sunburst without a circle around it,
represented a star and not the sun, and in combination with the moon,
it was referred to as axtar-mah (star-moon); SOUDAVAR
2003, 61-62. The combination first appears on the reverse of
the coins of Kavad I who lost his throne once and regained it with the
help of Hephtalites.
2001, p. 492; SOUDAVAR 2003, p. 123. Even though it has been recently
suggested that xvarnah comes from Scythian farnah-,
corresponding to Sanskrit parṇa (feather) (See PARPOLA 2002,
pp. 309-10, quoting Lubotsky), the wordplay between xvarnah and
xvar that Elfenbein has suggested remains valid, despite the
fact that he believes xvarnah to derive from a Indo-European
root *(s)p(h)el-. For further ties between feathers and xvarnah
symbolism, see SOUDAVAR 2003, pp. 19-26. The latter connection, in
combination with the notion of a tribal “good fortune,” certainly
vouches for a tribal origin of the xvarnah.
2003, pp. 104-106. I had also given the example of the Saljuqs
whose written legends differed from the iconography of their coinage,
but had unfortunately cited a wrong reference in print. Footnote 259
therein must be corrected to: BULLIET 1074, p. 295.
such as OP ciça-farnah (Gr.Tissaphernes: with radiant glory)
may have facilitated the switch from xvarnah to čiça.
2001, p. 492.
1997, p. 292.
1999, pp. 77-81.
for instance, scornfully remarks in his Al-axbār -ot-tawāl, that
Iranians had no man left to rule (quoted in MALĀYERI 1379, I:298).
some dictionaries, this word is spelled as waxšendag, but
since it derives from the verb waxšitan (whšytn’),
spelling seems to be justified as well.
1377, p. 165.
note 70 supra.
though Byzantine chronicles do not acknowledge that Maryam, the mother
of Burān, was a daughter of the emperor Maurice (GARSOدAN
1985, p. 579), what matters here is that the official Iranian version
recognized her as such; BIRUNI 1377, p, 165; EBN-E BALXI 1968, pp. 25,
1370, p. 2268.
BALXI 1968, p. 25. One senses that the choice of words in Persian
texts is not fortuitous but was
related to legends that had circulated for instance on coins, and was
preserved in historical
and even folkloric tails.
1971, pl. 14, nos. 220, 221.
am grateful to T. Daryaee, to have pointed out this to me, as well as
a related reference in KLIMA
SOUDAVAR 2003, pp. 19-26; and note 80 supra. See SOUDAVAR 2003, pp.
19-26; and note 80 supra.
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