Tag Archives: Avestan Literature

Sūtkar-Nask and Varštmānsar-Nask from Dēnkard 9

Tafażżolī, Aḥmad. 1398 š [2019]. Taṣḥīḥ-o tarǧome-ye Sutgar nask va Varšt-mānsar nask az Dēnkard-e 9 va sanǧeš-e in do nask bā matnhā-ye avestāʾi [An Edition and Translation of Sūtkar-Nask and Varštmānsar-Nask from Dēnkard 9 in comparison with the Avestan texts]. (Ed.) Žāle Āmuzgār. Tehran: Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia.

The Middle Persian Dēnkard “Acts of the religion” is a summary of 10th-century Zoroastrian knowledge of religion, considered as the “Mazdean encyclopedia”. It is divided into nine books of which, the first two and the beginning of the third are lost. The Book IX of Dēnkard consists commentaries on the three great Mazdean prayers: Ahunwar, Ašem vohū, and Yeŋ́hē hātąm from the gathic nasks of Sūtkar, Varštmānsar, and Bagnasks. Tafażżolī’s edition comprises the first two nasks, which are of mythical and historical contents.

Aḥmad Tafażżolī (1316 š/1937-1375 š/1997) was a prominent scholar and philologist in the field of Middle Iranian studies. His works deal with lexicography and the edition of Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts and Iranian mythology, most of which, regretfully now lost. This volume is his for the first time postmortemously published doctoral thesis in ancient Iranian languages, defended on 1965 under the direction of Ṣādeq Kiā at the Tehran University. Furthermore he left nearly a dozen books, more than a hundred articles, and many book reviews, which those in Persian are also recently publihsed in The Collected Writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli.



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.

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.