Bāḡ, the Middle and New Persian word for “garden,” as also the Sogdian βāγ, strictly meant “piece” or “patch of land,” corresponding to the Gathic Avestan neuter noun bāga- “share,” “lot” (Y. 51.1; see Ch. Bartholomae, Altiranisches Wörterbuch, Strasburg, 1904, col. 952) and to the Old Indian masculine noun bhāgá “share,” “possession,” “lot,” which appears in Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra with the similar connotation of a share in landed properties. Comparable semantic development is shown by the Hebrew ḥḗleq “share,” which came to mean “field” (not to be confused with the Akkadian eqlum and Arabic ḥaql “field”) and by the Greek ho klḗros and tò méros. In the Talmud the aramaicized word bāḡā has the meaning “common land” (G. Dalman, Aramäisch-Neuhebräisches Wörterbuch, Frankfurt, 1901, p. 45). On account of the chaotic state of the text at the end of chapter 2 of the Frahang ī pahlavīk, evidence of a Pahlavi ideogram is lacking (W. Eilers, ZDMG 90, 1936, p. 164 n. 3. G. R. Driver, Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century B.C., Oxford, 1954, p. 110).
The diminutive bāġča means “small garden” or “vegetable patch.” In the northwestern dialects of today, as also in earlier periods, bāḡ has had a rival in the New and Middle Persian raz “vineyard.” This word is written with the ideogram karmā in the Frahang ī pahlavīk and also appears in the Awroman and Nisa documents (W. Eilers and M. Mayrhofer, “Kurdisch būz und die indogermanische "Buchen"-Sippe . . .,” Mitteilungen für die Anthropologische Gesellscahaft Wien 92, 1962, p. 92. W. Eilers and U. Schapka, Mitteliranische Mundarten aus der Sammlung W. Eilers I: Die Mundart von Chunsar, Wiesbaden, 1976, p. 379.
The old word for “garden” paridaiza- (Old Persian *paridayda-), literally “walled” (whence pardēz, Greek ho parádeisos “park for animals,” “paradise,” Arabic ferdaws) survives in the New Persian pālīz “vegetable garden,” “melon bed,” though today this most often denotes an unenclosed patch.
Other words for “garden” are the New Persian būstān (from bō’istān, whence the Armenian burastan), literally “place of perfume,” Arabic bostān (plur. basātīn), and golestān “rose garden” or “flower garden.” (On the relationship to the Arabic words, see W. Eilers, Die vergleichend-semasiologische Methode in der Orientalistik, Abh. der Mainzer Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mainz, 1974, pp. 24f.).
In toponymy, bāḡ occurs frequently in either the fore or the rear position, e.g., Bāḡ-e Amīr, Bāḡ-e Now, or Kārīzbāḡ, Nowbāḡ. In Turcophone areas, the same suffixed form is sometimes found, e.g., Qarābāḡ, but less frequently than the compound ending, e.g., Malekbāḡī, Morādbāḡī, which also appears in Kurdish toponyms and tribal names, e.g., Gelbāḡī (explained by folk etymology in the Šaraf-nāma as “come into the garden!”). Derivatives such as bāḡča, bāḡestān, bāḡū(k) also enter into place-names.
The long duration of the rivalry between bāḡ and raz is shown by the use of Dadbaka-bag side by side with Dadbaka-ras as names of cultivable lands in the Greek Awroman documents (q.v.).
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: August 22, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 4, pp. 392-393