Tag Archives: Avestan Literature

The Zoroastrian Law to Expel the Demons

The text Wīdēwdād – “Law Serving to Keep the Demons Away” – is one of the longest and most important sources for the study of the Zoroastrianism of the ancient Iranian and the Middle Iranian periods. The ancient Iranian text, written in Avestan, was in the Sassanid era (3rd-7th centuries) translated into Middle Persian (Pahlavi) and provided with glosses and extensive commentaries. The Pahlavi version, called zand, is of particular interest for two reasons: firstly, it is the oldest Middle Persian translation of an Avestan text, and thus of major importance for the linguistic reconstruction of Middle Persian; secondly, the annotations approach complex theological, ritual, and legal questions that examine numerous insufficiently studied areas of the Sassanid society. Despite its outstanding importance, this primary source has, due to the high degree of difficulty of the subject matter, until recently attracted hardly any attention.
Miguel Ángel Andrés-Toledo’s book, based upon a careful collation of all 44 still existing manuscripts, is the first critical edition of the Avestan and the Pahlavi text of the Wīdēwdād.
For more details see the table of the contents of this volume.
Author:
Miguel Ángel Andrés-Toledo is an scholar of Ancient and Middle Iranian Lingustics as well as Zoroastrianism. He is currently a research fellow of the Department of Classical Philology and Indo-European Studies at the University of Salamanca.

Iranian Linguistic Studies in memoriam Xavier Tremblay

Acta Iranica 57Pirart, Eric (ed.). 2016. Études de linguistique iranienne: in memoriam Xavier Tremblay. (Acta Iranica 57). Leuven: Peeters.
The 57th volume of the Acta Iranica is dedicated to the memory of late Xavier Tremblay (* 26. 6. 1971, Lille—15. 11. 2011), in order to celebrate his contribution to Iranian and Indo-European Studies. Even unfinished, the work of Xavier Tremblay plays a fundamental role to our understanding of the origins of the Zoroastrian liturgy.
Table of Contents (PDF):
  • Philippe Swennen: “Xavier Tremblay et la liturgie longue proto indo-iranienne. Présentation
  • Alberto Cantera: On Avestan text criticism (2): the accusative singular of the ū̆- and ṷa- stems in the long liturgy
  • Juan Jose Ferrer Losilla: “Preconsonantal nasals in the Avestan alphabet”
  • Jost Gippert: “Albano-Jranica II: Avestan +āfše”
  • Jean Kellens: “Deux apologues sur le feu rituel
  • Jaime Martinez-Porro: “The orthography of the Avestan diphthongs aē and aō in the munuscripts of the long liturgy”
  • Antonio Panaino: “The World’s Conflagration and the Manichaean “Great Fire” of 1468 years”
  • Éric Pirart: Les cvi de l’Avesta”
  • Nicholas Sims-Wiliams: “Bactria—Balkh: variations on a place-name”

Repetitions or Omissions? Different Versions of Widēwdād 22

Ferrer-Losilla, Juanjo. 2015. Repetitions or omissions? Different versions of Widēwdād 22. Studia Iranica 44 (2).  207–225.

The present paper analyses two versions that appear in the 22nd chapter of an intercalated text of the Zoroastrian Long Liturgy, the Widēwdād: a longer version in the Iranian manuscripts and a shorter in the Indian ones. It is shown that we stand before two different real versions in the ritual praxis of this ceremony, though it is difficult to evaluate the date in which each version appeared or whether one version could arise from the other after the beginning of the written transmission. Other passages of the Widēwdād containing similar problems are analysed in a brief appendix.

Avestica

Humbach, Helmut & Klaus Faiss. 2016. Avestica. (Münchener Studien Zur Sprachwissenschaft. Beiheft NF 25). Dettelbach: Verlag J.H. Röll.

This volume presents a collection of academic papers (mostly have been presented in the context of academic conferences) on different aspects of the Avestan and Zoroastrian studies, based on a very detailed philological and linguistic examination of various texts and concepts and  in all its phonological, morphological, syntactical, semantic, and etymological aspects.

 Table of Contents
  • Preface 7
  • Publications Helmut Humbach
  • Herz – Feuer – Seele. Bekehrung im vorgeschichtlichen Iran
  • The Avestan world with particular reference to the Mihr Yašt (Yt. 10,14-15)
  • The first chapter of the Avestan Vidēvdād
  • ‘Wind’ an Old Iranian Deity
  • Haoma Dūraoša and Grass in Zarathushtra’s Gāthās
  • Zarathushtra, Gāthic Poetry, and the Two Spirits

Penitential Sections of the Xorde Avesta

Buyaner, David. 2016. Penitential sections of the Xorde Avesta (patits). Critical edition with commentary and glossary (Iranica 22). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

The Zand ī Xorde Awestā, the Pahlavi version of the compilation of Avestan liturgical texts with the traditional name “Small Avesta” (Xorde Awestā), is one of the main monuments of the corpus of Pahlavi translations and commentaries (called zand) of Avestan original texts. Since the Xorde Awestā and its Pahlavi version consist of a variety of heterogeneous texts which belong to different strata of Zoroastrian literature, they are not only sources of utmost importance for Avestan and Pahlavi philology, but also for the history of Zoroastrianism, and, especially in its penitential sections, for the reconstruction of Zoroastrian law. The recitals of repentance called Padēd ī pašēmānīh (“Penitentiary prayer for repentance”, in two versions) and Xwad padēd (“Penitentiary prayer for oneself”), which are the main focus of this project, are of great interest for the reconstruction of Zoroastrian jurisprudence, since they contain the most extensive enumeration of sins and offences, using the specific terminology of religious and criminal law. The semantic and etymological analysis of legal vocabulary is one of the most urgent desiderata of Iranian Studies. Two other significant problems in this context concern the date of the composition of the Xorde Awestā and the underlying principle of its compilation. An exact analysis of those sections of the Zand ī Xorde Awestā without a prototype in the Avestan original, such as the Padēd texts, which are also known in their Pāzand version (i.e. in Middle Persian written in the Avestan script), would shed light on the question as to why these compositions were included in a zand compilation and the problem of the origins of this unique source.

For more information see the Table of Content of this volume.

Table of Content:

Continue reading Penitential Sections of the Xorde Avesta

Ardwahišt Yašt

Yast_3_KönigKönig, Götz. 2016. Yašt 3. Der avestische Text und seine mittel- und neupersische Übersetzungen. Einleitung, Text, Kommentar. (Estudios Iranios Y Turanios. Supplementa 1). Girona: Sociedad de estudios iranios y turanios (SEIT).
The third Yašt (“hymn”) in the collection of the 21 (22) YAv Yašts is dedicated to (the deity, prayer and the divine correspondence of the fire) Aša Vahišta “Best Order”. The text formulates an (eschatologically significant) ritual context and a magical (= medical) charm. Due to the ritual and medical importance of Yt 3, various translations into Middle and New Persian can be found. They provide insights into the interpretation of the text by the later Zoroastrians.
Ardwahišt Yašt is the third in the series of Avestan hymns addressed to individual divinities. It is devoted to one of the greatest of the Zoroastrian Aməša Spəntas, Aša Vahišta. The Ardwahišt Yašt is itself accordingly recited in rituals to cure the sick.

See the table of contents here.


 Götz König is a scholar of Zoroastrianism and a philologist working on ancient and Middle Iranian languages. He is currently a deputy professor at the Institute of Iranian Studies, Free University of Berlin, Germany. He has made important contributions to the study of Old, Middle and New Iranian Zoroastrian literature. His two monographs, “Die Erzählung von Tahmuras und Gamšid” (Wiesbaden 2008) and “Geschlechtsmoral und Gleichgeschlechtlichkeit im Zoroastrismus” (Wiesbaden 2010), have to be highlighted. They convey an impression of his refined philological technique which is at the service of a history of Iranian culture.

The vision of Ahura Mazdā’s poet

Image © Euromazdean Traditional Reader

Panaino, Antonio. 2015. The vision of Ahura Mazdā’s poet. Notes on Y. 31,5. In M.C. Pelevin (ed.), «НА ПАСТБИЩЕ МЫСЛИ БЛАГОЙ» Сборник статей к юбилею И. М. Стеблин-Каменского [Collection of articles for the anniversary of Steblin-Kamensky], 47–62. St. Petersburg: Контраст.

Y.31,5 is a very intriguing O.Av. stanza, which presents some interesting problems centered on the pivotal role of ərəšiš “seer, inspired poet”, corresponding to Ved. r̥ṣi-, whose insight should be connected not only with the Manah who was Vohu, but also with the inner manah- of Ahura Mazdā himself by means of a word-game played around the stem manah- evoked in its compositional form (mə̄ṇ°). The “better” (vahiiō) rule assigned by the Gods to the poet and priest (Zoroaster) opens his eyes offering the Av. ərəši– a new power of discrimination and comprehension of the world (probably both in the ritual dimension and in reality) so that he might actually impress in his own mind what does not exist and what is really existent. In this respect the text by means of the direct opposition between two subjunctives (yā nōit̰ vā aŋhat̰ aŋhaitī vā) of the root ah (very interestingly, one with a secondary ending, the latter with a primary one), shows how the idea of “existence” and “inexistence” — in this very case deeper than that of “being” or not “being” — was fittingly formulated already in the earliest Mazdean framework.
Antonio Panaino is professor of ancient Iranian philology and hitory of religion at the University of Bologna.

Studies on the Pre-Islamic Iranian World

Krasnowolska, Anna & Renata Rusek-Kowalska (eds.). 2015. Studies on the Iranian World I. Before Islam. Krakow: Jagiellonian University Press.
This volume is the proceedings of the Seventh Conference of Iranian Studies of the Societas Iranologica Europaea (ECIS7), organized by Societas Iranologica Europaea (SIE), which took place in Cracow, September 7-10, 2011. The first of the two volumes of the ECIS7 proceedings is dedicated to the pre-Islamic Iranian studies.
Table of Contents
Linguistics:
  • Maria Carmela Benvenuto, Flavia Pompeo: “The Old Persian Genetive. A Study of a Syncretic Case
  • Saloumeh Gholami: “Nominal Compound Strategies in Middle Iranian Languages”
  • Paolo Ognibene: “Alan Place-names in Western Europe”
  • Christiane Reck: “Work in Progress: The Catalogue of the Buddhist Sogdian Fragments of the Berlin Turgan Collection”
  • Arash Zeini: “Preliminary Remarks on Middle Persian <nc> in the Pahlavi Documents”
Literature:
  • Elham Afzalian: “Autoritäten im Mādayānī Hazār Dādestān”
  • Iris Colditz: “Two Snake-Brothers on their Way — Mani’s Scripture as a Source of Manichaean Central Asian Parabels?”
  • Seyyedeh Fatemeh Musavi: “Fictional Structure of the Middle Persian Ayādgār ī Zarērān
Religion:
  • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: “Aspects of Hymnology in Manichaean Community in Turfan”
  • Raffaella Frascarelli: “Arǝdvī Sūrā Anāhitā: Considerations on the Greek ἀρχἡ”
  • Judith Josephson: “Ohrmazd’s Plan for Creation according to Book Three of the Denkard”
  • Götz König: “The Pahlavi Translation of Yašt 3″
  • Kianosh Rezania: “On the Old Iranian Social Space and its Relation to the Time Ordering System”
History:
Archaeology:
  • Alireza Askari Chaversi: “In Search of the Elusive Town of Persepolis”
  • Jukian Bogdani, Luca Colliva, Sven Stefano Tilia: “The Citadel of Erbil. The Italian Archaeological and Topographic Activities”
  • Carlo G. Cereti, Gianfilippo Terribili, Alessandro Tilia: “Pāikūlī in its Geographical Context”
  • Niccolò Manassero: “New Sealings from Old Nisa”
  • Vito Messina, Jafar Mehr Kian: “The Hong-e Azhdar Parthian Rock Relief Reconsidered”
 About the Editors:

Anna Krasnowolska is a professor at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Jagiellonian University.

Renata Rusek-Kowalska is an assistant professor at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Jagiellonian University.

Vandidād-e Jahānbaxši

ms. 4161
Fol. 2r, Vidēvdād manuscript ms. 4161 (Vandidad-e Jahānbaxši), Tehran University © Avestan Digital Archive

Cantera, A., & Mazdapour, K. (Eds). (2015). The Liturgical Widēwdād manuscript ms. 4161 (Vandidad-e Jahānbaxši). Salamanca; Tehran: Sociedad de Estudios Iranios y Turanios.

The ms. 4161 belonged to the Jahānbaxši family and was purchased by the Avestan Digital Archive in 2012. Since then it is hosted in the Central Library of the Tehran University as a long-term loan. It contains the longest version of the Yasna ceremony, which consists of the Yasna with the Wisperad and Widēwdād intercalations together with instructions in Middle Persian for the right performance of the ritual. An exclusive feature of this manuscript is that it includes on the margin and written by a second hand the description of the contents of the Widēwdād that appear in the eighth book of the Dēnkard.
We have chosen this manuscript for the first volume of the series because of its importance for the Avestan textual criticism. Most of the known Avestan manuscripts produced in Iran were written by members of the learned family of Marzbān Frēdōn or were copied from manuscripts produced within this family. Ms. 4161 does not belong to this group, although it was written only some years after the oldest preserved manuscripts of the Marzbān family. It is closer to a very famous manuscript hosted in the Cama Oriental Institute, the ms. 4020 (Mf2), and other manuscripts discovered recently. But, whereas Mf2 is an Indian copy of an Iranian original sent to India, ms. 4161 is the only manuscript of this group that was still produced in Iran and is therefore not affected by the influence of the Indian environment.
The book contains one English preface written in English by Katayoun Mazdapour and two introductions: one in Persian, by Katayoun Mazdāpour and one in English by Alberto Cantera. In these introductions, it is dealt with different aspects of the history of the manuscript and its position among other Avestan manuscripts of the same class. The main section of the book is the high-quality colour facsimile of the 268 folios of the manuscript with indexing in the margins.

Ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian Astral Mythology, Astronomy and Astrology

Panaino, Antonio. 2014. Sidera Viva. Studi Iranici di Storia della Mitologia Astrale, dell’Astronomia e dell’Astrologia Antica. (Ed.) Andrea Gariboldi, Paolo Ognibene & Velizar Sadovski. . 2 vols. Milano: Mimesis.
This comprehensive two-volume set is a collection of the wide range of articles and short writings written by Antonio Panaino during last decades. The articles are already appeared in academic journals and collected volumes, often not easily accessible to a wider audience. These studies are all dedicated to the different areas of research developed by the author, in particular on the history of ancient Iranian as well as Zoroastrian astral mythology, astronomy and astrology, from the earliest period of Indo-Iranian and Iranian history through the late antiquity up to the High Middle Ages as well as early Islamic era.
About the Author:
Antonio Panaino is professor of ancient Iranian philology and hitory of religion at the University of Bologna.