BAHRĀM B. MARDĀNŠĀH, a Zoroastrian priest (mōbed) of the town of Šāpūr in Fārs, mentioned in several Arabic and Persian sources as a translator of the Xwadāy-nāmag from Pahlavi into Arabic (Ḥamza, pp. 9, 23-24; Bīrūnī, Āṯāral-bāqīa, p. 99; Fehrest, p. 245; “Moqaddama-ye qadīm-e Šāh-nāma,” in M. Qazvīnī, Bīst maqāla II, Tehran, 1332 Š./1953, pp. 55, 60; Baḷʿamī, Tārīḵ, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1353 Š./1974, p. 126; Mojmal, pp. 2, 21, 39, 58, 65, 83, 84).
Ḥamza gives the title of Bahrām’s translation as Ketāb taʾrīḵ molūk Banī Sāsān (History of the Sasanian kings). He states (p. 24) that Bahrām referred in it to the existence of numerous Šāh-nāma manuscripts and great differences between them, and consulted more than twenty manuscripts for his own translation. To judge from the quotations given by Ḥamza, Bīrūnī, and the compiler of the Mojmal, Bahrām’s translation differed greatly from Ebn al-Moqaffaʿ’s lost Arabic version and from Ferdowsī’s Šāh-nāma. For example, in Bahrām’s book, Gayōmarṯ was the first man, not the first king. This suggests that Bahrām’s translation was based on the texts of the Xwadāy-nāmag, which, in some passages, closely followed the Avesta and must therefore have been compiled by Zoroastrian priests rather than court historians. The supposition is consistent with the report that Bahrām was himself a mōbed.
Given in the text. On the Xwadāy-nāmag see also M. Boyce, “Middle Persian Literature,” pp. 57-59.
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: August 24, 2011
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Vol. III, Fasc. 5, p. 523