Encyclopaedia Iranica Online

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“Memorial of Jāmāsp,” a short but important Zoroastrian work in Middle Persian, also known as the Jāmāspī and Jāmāsp-nāma.

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Volume III, Fascicle 2, pp. 126-127

AYĀDGĀR Ī JĀMĀSPĪG “Memorial of Jāmāsp,” a short but important Zoroastrian work in Middle Persian, also known as the Jāmāspī and Jāmāsp-nāma. Fragments from a damaged manuscript survive in Pahlavi script, but the complete text exists only in Pāzand (i.e., Middle Persian written in Avestan script), with many inaccuracies. There is also a later Pārsī version (i.e. a transcription in Arabic script), with Persian and Gujarati paraphrases. The Pahlavi fragments were published by E. W. West in Avesta, Pahlavi and Ancient Persian Studies in Honour of … P. B. Sanjana I, Strasbourg and Leipzig, 1904, pp. 97-116; and the various versions by J. J. Modi, Jāmāspī, Pahlavi, Pazend and Persian Texts with … English and Gujarati Translation, Bombay, 1903. G. Messina, in Libro apocalittico persiano Ayātkār i Žāmāspīk, Rome, 1939, published the Pāzand together with a complete Pahlavi text (of which the missing sections were reconstructed from the Pāzand and Pārsī versions), together with translation and notes. (See the review by A. Pagliaro, RSO, 1922, pp. 147-54.)

The work is cast in the form of question and answer between Wištāsp (Zoroaster’s princely patron) and Jāmāsp (the prophet’s kinsman through his marriage to Hvōvī). The latter figures in Zoroastrian tradition as the greatest of seers, divinely endued with all knowledge. A description of what his superhuman wisdom can reveal (Ayādgār ī Jāmāspīg 1.10-13) has a parallel in Ayādgār ī Zarērān, pars. 35-38. The Ayādgār ī Jāmāspīg, written in simple, direct style, may have been intended as a compendium of essential doctrine, together with basic myth, legend, history, and some miscellaneous matter, for the enlightenment of the laity, and it has been deservedly popular. As is usual with Pahlavi texts, its sources are diverse. A brief account of creation and of duality (chaps. 2-3, cf. the Bundahišn) derives ultimately from lost Avestan works. Here (chap. 3.6-7) there occurs a striking theological statement, that Ohrmazd’s creation of the six Amašaspands was like lamps being lit one from another, none being diminished thereby. A standard list (as found in the Bundahišn and Ferdowsī’s Šāh-nāma) is given of the ancient rulers of Iran, from Gayōmard to Wištāsp himself (chap. 4); and there is another of the kings who are to follow him (chap. 15). In chap. 15.5-6 it is said that after Alexander rule will pass to the “renowned Parthians” (husraw Partawān), under whom Iran will prosper again. This is at odds with the usual late Sasanian propaganda about the evils of Arsacid rule, and suggests a Parthian transmission of some of the material. This possibility is strengthened by the fact that Jāmāsp is given throughout the Parthian title of bidaxš, which still in early Sasanian times meant the highest in the land after the king, but then lost this significance (see O. Szemerényi, in Acta Iranica 5, 1975, pp. 360-66, 375, 391). Other matter is clearly of Persian origin, notably the Sasanian king-list down to Yazdegerd III (chap. 15.7-27). During remarks about Arabs, Chinese, etc., there are interesting implications that there were Zoroastrians among the Hindus (chap. 8.4, 5) and Turks (chap. 12.9).

Chapter 16, which is preserved in Pahlavi, consists of prophecy about the end of Zoroaster’s millennium, with the coming of Pišyōtan and Ušēdar (see APOCALYPTIC: ZOROASTRIAN). As in the Zand ī Wahman Yašt (see BAHMAN YAŠT), there is perhaps a blending of old prophecies, made after Alexander’s conquest, with later ones foretelling the downfall of Arab, Turk, and “Roman;” but there are details, some puzzling, which are peculiar to Ayādgār ī Jāmāspīg. The chapter was edited by H. W. Bailey, “To the Zamasp-Namak I, II,” BSOS 6, 1930-32, pp. 55-85, 581-600, with addenda, pp. 822-24, 948 (reprinted without the addenda in H. W. Bailey, Opera Minora. Articles on Iranian Studies, ed. M. Nawabi, I, Shiraz, 1981, pp. 22-55, 57-76). In an important study (“Une apocalypse pehlevie: Le Žāmāsp-Nāmak,” RHR 106, 1932, pp. 337-80) E. Benveniste established that this chapter is in verse, and linked it with other apocalyptic texts, Iranian and non-Iranian. Chapter 17, surviving only in Pāzand, is of the same character, and also contains some unique materials. In it Jāmāsp foretells events of the millennia of Ušēdar and Ušēdarmāh, and those of the last days.


See also J. C. Tavadia, Die mittelpersische Sprache und Literatur der Zarathustrier, Leipzig, 1956, pp. 124-26.

B. Utas, “On the Composition of the Ayyātkār ī Zarērān,” in Acta Iranica 5, 1975, pp. 409-11.

J. P. de Menasce, “Zoroastrian Pahlavi Writings,” Camb. Hist. Iran II/2, pp. 1194-95.

Cite this page
Mary Boyce, “AYĀDGĀR Ī JĀMĀSPĪG”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 19 August 2022 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_6134>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 19871215

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