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Pahlavi Texts, Part I (SBE05), E.W. West, tr. [1880], at


0. On the formation of the luminaries.

1. Aûharmazd produced illumination between the sky and the earth, the constellation stars and those also not of the constellations 3, then the moon, and afterwards the sun, as I shall relate.

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2. First he produced, the celestial sphere, and the constellation stars are assigned to it by him; especially these twelve whose names are Varak (the Lamb), Tôrâ (the Bull), Dô-patkar (the Two-figures or Gemini), Kalakang (the Crab), Sêr (the Lion), Khûsak (Virgo), Tarâzûk (the Balance), Gazdûm (the Scorpion), Nîmâsp (the Centaur or Sagittarius), Vahîk 1 (Capricornus), Dûl (the Waterpot), and Mâhîk (the Fish); 3. which, from their original creation, were divided into the twenty-eight subdivisions of the astronomers 2, of which the names are Padêvar, Pêsh-Parvîz, Parviz, Paha, Avêsar, Besn, Rakhvad, Taraha, Avra, Nahn, Miyân, Avdem, Mâshâha, Spûr, Husru, Srob, Nur, Gêl, Garafsa, Varant, Gau, Goî, Muru, Bunda, Kahtsar, Vaht, Miyân, Kaht 3. 4. And all his original creations,

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residing in the world, are committed to them 1; so that when the destroyer arrives they overcome the adversary and their own persecution, and the creatures are saved from those adversities.

5. As a specimen of a warlike army, which is destined for battle, they have ordained every single constellation of those 6480 thousand small stars as assistance; and among those constellations four chieftains, appointed on the four sides, are leaders. 6. On the recommendation of those chieftains the many unnumbered stars are specially assigned to the various quarters and various places, as the united strength and appointed power of those constellations. 7. As it is said that Tîstar is the chieftain of the east, Satavês the chieftain of the west, Vanand the chieftain of the south, and Haptôk-rîng the chieftain of the north 2. 8. The great one which they

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call a Gâh (period of the day), which they say is the great one of the middle of the sky, till just before the destroyer came was the midday (or south) one of the five, that is, the Rapîtvîn 1.

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9. Aûharmazd performed the spiritual Yazisn ceremony with the archangels (ameshêspendân) in the Rapîtvîn Gâh, and in the Yazisn he supplied every means necessary for overcoming the adversary 1. 10. He deliberated with the consciousness (bôd) and guardian spirits (fravâhar) of men 2, and the omniscient wisdom, brought forward among men, spoke thus: 'Which seems to you the more advantageous, when 3 I shall present you to the world? that you shall contend in a bodily form with the fiend (drûg), and the fiend shall perish, and in the end I shall have you prepared again perfect and immortal, and in the end give you back to the world, and you will be wholly immortal, undecaying, and undisturbed; or that it be always necessary to provide you protection from the destroyer?'

11. Thereupon, the guardian spirits of men became of the same opinion with the omniscient wisdom about going to the world, on account of the evil that comes upon them, in the world, from the fiend (drûg) Aharman, and their becoming, at last, again unpersecuted by the adversary, perfect, and immortal, in the future existence, for ever and everlasting.


10:3 The word akhtar is the usual term in Pahlavi for a constellation of the zodiac; but the term apâkhtar, 'away from the akhtar,' means not only 'the north,' or away from the zodiac, but also 'a, p. 11 planet,' which is in the zodiac, but apart from the constellations. The meaning of akhtar, most suitable to the context here, appears to be the general term 'constellation.'

11:1 Written Nahâzîk here, both in K20 and M6, which may be compared with Pers. nahâz, 'the leading goat of a flock;' but the usual word for 'Capricornus' is Vahîk, as in Chap. V, 6. None of the other names of the signs of the zodiac are written here in Pâzand, but it may be noted that if the ah in Vahîk were written in Pâzand (that is, in Avesta characters), the word would become the same as Nahâzîk in Pahlavi.

11:2 Literally, 'fragments of the calculators,' khurdak-i hâmârikân. These subdivisions are the spaces traversed daily by the moon among the stars, generally called 'lunar mansions.'

11:3 All these names are written in Pâzand, which accounts for their eccentric orthography, in which both K20 and M6 agree very closely. The subdivision Parviz is evidently the Pers. parvên, which includes the Pleiades, and corresponds therefore to the Sanskrit Nakshatra Krittikâ. This correspondence leads to the identification of the first subdivision, Padêvar, with the Nakshatra Asvinî. The Pâzand names are so corrupt that no reliance can be placed upon them, and the first step towards recovering the true p. 12 Pahlavi names would be to transliterate the Pâzand back into Pahlavi characters. The ninth subdivision is mentioned in Chap. VII, 1 by the name Avrak.

12:1 That is, to the zodiacal constellations, which are supposed to have special charge of the welfare of creation.

12:2 Of these four constellations or stars, which are said to act as leaders, there is no doubt that Haptôk-rîng, the chieftain of the north, is Ursa Major; and it is usually considered that Tîstar, the chieftain of the east, is Sirius; but the other two chieftains are not so well identified, and there may be some doubt as to the proper stations of the eastern and western chieftains. It is evident, however, that the most westerly stars, visible at any one time of the year, are those which set in the dusk of the evening; and east of these, all the stars are visible during the night as far as those which rise at daybreak, which are the most easterly stars visible at that time of the year. Tîstar or Sirius can, therefore, be considered the chieftain of the eastern stars only when it rises before daybreak, which it does at the latter end of summer; and Haptôk-rîng or Ursa Major is due north at midnight (on the meridian below the pole) at about the same time of the year. These stars, therefore, p. 13 fulfil the conditions necessary for being chieftains of the east and north at the end of summer, and we must look for stars capable of being chieftains of the south and west at the same season. Now, when Ursa Major is near the meridian below the pole, Fomalhaut is the most conspicuous star near the meridian in the far south, and is probably to be identified with Vanand the chieftain of the south. And when Sirius rises some time before daybreak, Antares (in Scorpio) sets some time after dusk in the evening, and may well be identified with Satavês the chieftain of the west assuming that there has been a precession of the equinoxes equivalent to two hours of time, since the idea of these chieftains (which may perhaps be traced to Avesta times) was first formed, it may be calculated that the time of year when these leading stars then best fulfilled that idea was about a month before the autumnal equinox, when Ursa Major would be due north three-quarters of an hour after midnight, and Fomalhaut due south three-quarters of an hour before midnight, Sirius would rise three hours before the sun, and Antares would set three hours after the sun. In the Avesta these leading stars are named Tistrya, Satavaêsa, Vanant, and Haptôi-ringa (see Tîstar Yt. 0, 8, 9, 12, 32, &c., Rashnu Yt. 26-28, Sîrôz. 13).

13:1 This translation, though very nearly literal, must be accepted with caution. If the word mas be not a name it can hardly mean anything but 'great;' and that it refers to a constellation appears from Chap. V, 1. The word khômsâk is an irregular form of the Huz. khômsyâ, 'five,' and may refer either too the five chieftains (including 'the great one') or to the five Gâhs or periods of the day, of which Rapîtvîn is the midday one (see Chap. XXV, 9). The object of the text seems to be to connect the Rapîtvîn Gâh with some great mid-sky and midday constellation or star, possibly Regulus, which, about B. C. 960, must have been more in the daylight than any other important star during the seven months of summer, the only time that the Rapîtvîn Gâh can be celebrated (see Chap. XXV, 7-14). Justi has, 'They call that the great one of the place, which is great in the middle of the sky; they say that before the enemy came it was always midday, that is, Rapîtvîn.' p. 14 Windischmann has nearly the same, as both follow the Pâzand MSS. in reading hômîsak (as a variant of hamîsak), 'always,' instead of khômsâk.

14:1 Or 'adversity.'

14:2 These were among the fravashis already created (see Chap. I, 8).

14:3 Reading amat, 'when,' instead of mûn, 'which' (see note to Chap. I, 7).

Next: Chapter III