ĀBĀNDOḴT, character in the prose romance Dārābnāma of Abū Ṭāher Moḥammad b. Ḥasan b. ʿAlī b. Mūsā al-Ṭarsūsī (q.v.), a storyteller of the Ghaznavid period. A lengthy tale, which includes a version of the Iranian Alexander romance, the Dārābnāma probably took its present written form in the 6th/12th century. It purports to recount the adventures of Dārāb and his son, likewise named Dārāb, the latter representing Darius III. Ābāndoḵt is the wife of the younger Dārāb and the mother of Būrāndoḵt.
Although Ābāndoḵt’s role in this romance is small, she is one of three related female characters who together suggest a memory or survival of an Anāhitā cult. The first is Nāhīd (OIr. Anāhitā), daughter of Philip of Macedon, wife of Dārāb the elder, and mother of Alexander. The second is Ābāndoḵt herself, whose name means “Daughter of the Waters;” and the third is her daughter, Būrāndoḵt. Throughout the romance Būrāndoḵt is associated with water and shows a number of iconographic characteristics of the ancient Iranian goddess Anāhitā.
Ṭarsūsī introduces Ābāndoḵt into the story awkwardly by merely mentioning her name but not identifying her (I, p.493). Earlier Dārāb had captured Alexander and imprisoned him at Eṣṭaḵr. At that time Ābāndoḵt fell in love with Alexander and helped him to escape, thus setting in motion the series of events that led to her husband’s death. As Dārāb, murdered by his own solders, lies dying in the presence of Alexander, he asks Alexander to marry his daughter Būrāndoḵt. After Dārāb’s death, Būrāndoḵt refuses to marry Alexander and takes up the sword against him. She also swears vengeance on her mother, Ābāndoḵt, because of her traitorous relationship with Alexander (I, p. 521). After a battle with Alexander at Aleppo, Būrāndoḵt flees to Eṣṭaḵr, where she deposes Ābāndoḵt and takes the throne herself (I, p. 527). When Alexander arrives in pursuit, Būrāndoḵt mutilates Ābāndoḵt, displays her to her paramour (I, p. 529), and later kills her (I, p. 530). There is no further mention of Ābāndoḵt in the Dārābnāma, and she appears in no other version of the Iranian Alexander romance.
Abū Ṭāher Moḥammad Ṭarsūsī, Dārābnāma, ed. Ẕ. Ṣafā, 2 vols., Tehran, 1344-46 Š./1965-68.
(W. L. Hanaway, Jr.)
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 13, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 1, p. 61