ĀXWARR (NPers. ĀḴOR), Middle Persian term meaning “manger” or “stall” and borrowed into Armenian as axoṙ. It is derived from ā-xwarna, a combination of xwar- (drink, eat) with the preverb ā. Since ancient times a Near Eastern manger has normally been a recess hollowed out of a thick mud-brick wall so as to form a trough before which the feeding animal (ass, horse, or camel) stands. The surrounding stable is called ṭawīla or sotūrgāh.

In dialect variants such as owḵor, and also in the Avestan avō.xᵛarəna- (place for watering animals, Bartholomae, AirWb., col. 180), ā is obviously rivaled by āb (water) as the first component. In place-names it is often impossible to distinguish between original āḵᵛar (manger, stall) and another āḵᵛar contracted from āb-ḵᵛar (water-drinking). The latter usually does not refer to a place’s inhabitants but denotes the limited area of its fields and orchards which “drinks,” i.e., is irrigated by, some source such as a spring, qanāt, stream, or river. The New Persian ābḵᵛar (ābḵor) is thus virtually synonymous with the much commoner ābād (Pahl. āpāta), if this means “watered,” (see Eilers, MSS 45, 1985, pp. 23f.) and with čam, (from čamīdan, to drink, sip) which in some districts is quite frequent.

The contraction of ābḵᵛar to āḵor with consequent distortion of the meaning to “manger” probably lies at the root of certain legends about site origins, which in Iran as elsewhere have a charm of their own. In the not infrequent place-name Āḵor-e Rostam, the meaning is clearly “manger” because Rostam’s steed, Raḵš, is said to have been lodged in a cave in the locality (e.g., in a cave near Persepolis). Many other names are problematic; e.g., two places mentioned in medieval sources, Āḵūr in Gorgān and Āḵūrīn between Semnān and Dāmḡān; Āḵūr-sar (Razmārā, Farhang III, p. 6); and the area called Āḵora in the šahrestān of Farīdan in the ostān of Isfahan, with its villages of Āḵora-pāʾīn and Bādajān Āḵora (ibid., x, pp. 4-5, 31).

Interpretation of the following names with āḵor as the second component is particularly difficult: Čeḡāḵor, west of Isfahan (cf. Curzon, Persia II, p. 298; čeḡā means mound or hill), Čīlāḵor and Mīrāḵor (lit. stable master) near Zanjān, the two villages Golāḵor in the šahrestāns of Ahar and Tabrīz, Pīšāḵor near Kadkan in Khorasan (pīš may perhaps here mean dwarf palm), and Sīlāḵor in the šahrestān of Borūjerd (probably seyl-āḵor, flood-irrigated (Razmārā, op. cit., II, pp. 87, 299; IV, p. 452; VI, p. 46; IX, p. 80; Kayhān, Joḡrāfīā II, pp. 443-44). There is no question, however, that the names Ābḵᵛāra (ibid., IV, p. 1) and Ābḵᵛara (ibid., I, p. 1) refer to irrigation.




See also Horn, Etymologie no. 8.

H. Hübschmann, Armen. Etymologie I, p. 93, no. 6.

On āb-ḵᵛar: W. Eilers, Die Sprache 6, 1960, p. 128 n. 94.

Idem, “Kyros,” Beiträge zur Namenforschung 15, 1964, p. 220.

Idem, Semiramis, Vienna, 1971, p. 61 n. 111.

Idem, “Toponymische Übertragung,” Onoma 21, 1977, p. 299.

Idem, Westiranische Mundarten aus der Sammlung Wilhelm Eilers [I]: Die Mundart von Chunsar, Wiesbaden, 1976 (with U. Schapka), pp. 280 n. 45 and 374.

Idem, Geographische Namengebung in und um Iran, Munich, 1982, pp. 26, 41 n. 147.

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(W. Eilers)

Originally Published: December 15, 1987

Last Updated: August 18, 2011

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Vol. III, Fasc. 2, p. 124