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By: Gherardo Gnoli



In the literature and mythology of ancient Persia Lake Hâmun occupied, along with the Helmand/Hirmand River, a position of particular importance (Bartholomae, p. 9), especially in Zoroastrian eschatology (Nyberg, pp. 304-5). The Hâmun is mentioned frequently in the Avesta, where it appears with the name Ka . . . saoya-. In Yašt 19 (66-69) the xvarənah- of the Kavis is mentioned in connection with the "Helmandic" Ka . . . saoya (Ka . . . saêm haêtumatəm), where nine rivers flow together, and with the mountain Ušî.’am (cf. Uši.dam and Uši.darəna in Yašt 1.28, 19.2; cf. Yasna 1.14, 2.14, 22.26), probably to be identified with Kuh-e K¨úâja, the mountain that rises about 150 m above the Hâmun basin. In Yašt 19.92 and in Vidêvdâd 19.5 there are references to the birth of the saošyant- astvat.ərəta from its waters, where, according to tradition, the seed of Zoroaster was preserved in order to impregnate the three virgins mentioned in Yašt 13.142, mothers of the three saošyants (Yašt 13.62, 13.28; Dênkard 7.8.1 ff.; cf. Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, p. 285).


In the Pahlavi texts the Hâmûn is called Kayânsîh (Bundahišn 13.16), reflecting the name of the Kayanid dynasty. These texts preserve echoes of the Avestan traditions about the Hâmûn, both in regard to the connection with the birth of the Saošyant (Pahlavi Sôšyans) from the seed of Zoroaster and to the nine rivers that empty into it (Bundahišn [TD2], pp. 220, ll. 6-15, 89, ll. 6-11); they also provide the additional detail that the convergence of the waters at that point was the work of Frâsiyâv (Av. Fraŋrasyan, New Pers. Afrâsiâb, q.v.), a theme that has been studied thoroughly by Josef Markwart (pp. 11 ff.). It should be noted in this connection that the free-flowing waters of Sistân were considered among the beneficial deeds of Manûšchihr (Dâdistân î Mênôg î xrad 27.41-44) and one of the signs of the restoration (cf. appendix to Ayâdgâr î âmâspîg, in Messina, pp. 80, 123).


In the Pahlavi treatise Abdîh ud sahîgîh î Sagestân (2) the Kayânsîh is mentioned as one of the wonders of Sistân. The sacred character of the Hâmun is certainly extremely ancient (Christensen, p. 5) and continued to survive after the advent of Islam.





Christian Bartholomae, Zarathuštras Leben und Lehre, Heidelberg, 1924. 

Arthur Christensen, Les Kayanides, Copenhagen, 1931. 

Wilhelm Geiger, Ostiranische Kultur im Altertum, 2 vols., Erlangen, 1882; 

repr. Aalen, 1972; tr. Darab Dastur Peshotan Sanjana, Civilization of the Eastern Iranians in Ancient Times I: Ethnography and Social Life, London, 1885; II: The Old Iranian Polity and the Age of Avesta, London, 1887. 

Gherardo Gnoli, Ricerche storiche sul Sîstân antico, Rome, 1967. 

Idem, Zoroaster's Time and Homeland: A Study on the Origins of Mazdeism and Related Problems, Istituto Universitario Orientale, Naples, 1980. 

Idem, The Idea of Iran, Rome, 1989. 

Ernst Herzfeld, "Zarathustra Teil V: Awestische Topographie," AMI 2, 1930, pp. 49-98. 

Idem, "Sakastan: Geschichtliche Untersuchungen zu den Ausgrabungen am Kûh î Khwâdja" AMI 4, 1932, pp. 1-116. 

Idem, Iran in the Ancient East: Archaeological Studies Presented in the Lowell Lectures at Boston, London and New York, 1941; repr. Tehran, 1976. 

Josef Markwart, Wehrot und Arang, ed. Hans Heirich Schaeder, Leiden, 1938. Giuseppe Messina, Libro apocalitticao persiano Ayâtkâr i Ž âmâspîk, Rome, 1939. 

Henrik Samuel Nyberg, Die Religionen des alten Iran, tr. Hans Heinrich Schaeder, Leipzig, 1938.






Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica


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