DRVĀSPĀ (or Drwāspā, Druuāspā, lit., “with solid horses”), Avestan goddess. Her name suggests that she must have been a divinity responsible for the health of horses. From the time of James Darmesteter (q.v.), it has been customary to compare her to the Celtic Epona (Avesta, tr. Darmesteter, II, pp. 431-40). Nevertheless, despite the clarity of her name and the anchoring of her function in Indo-European tradition, she remains enigmatic, for she is a strangely discreet goddess. Although in Avestan Mazdaism the Druuāsp Yašt (Yt. 9), consisting of thirty-three sentences in seven karde, was dedicated to her, the formulary material contains no original elements. Rather, the text reproduces, with the necessary substitution of the proper name, sentences 27-52 of Yašt 17, dedicated to Aṧi, in which the notable votaries who had officiated for the goddess in the past are enumerated. Only in the first two sentences are specific epithets connected to Druuāspā, as the object of yazamaide “we sacrifice.”
Otherwise the goddess is mentioned only in the Sīrōza (1.14), in which gōš, the fourteenth day of the month, is said to be under the patronage of three divinities responsible for protecting the animal world, Gə̄uš Tašan, Gə̄uš Uruuan, and Druuāspā; this association is confirmed by the fact that the Pahlavi title of Yašt 9 was Gōš Yašt, which led Darmesteter to claim that Druuāspā “is Gə̄uš guarding the horse.” On the other hand, Mary Boyce thinks that the word druuāspa- could originally have been an epithet for Āṧi, from which it eventually developed into the name of an independent divinity (Zoroastrianism I, p. 82).
Outside the Avestan tradition the name appears in the masculine form DROOASPO beneath the image of a male god on the reverse of a Kushan coin. This form is to be identified with the Middle Persian name Lwhlʾsp/Lohrāsp of the father of Vīštāspa, though the identification is somewhat problematic as, in the Avestan tradition, the latter is called Auruuaṱ.aspa- “of the rapid horses” (Davary, p. 220).
(For cited works not found in this bibliography, see “Short References.”) A. Christensen, Études sur le zoroastrisme de la Perse antique, Copenhagen, 1928, pp. 36-41.
G. D. Davary, Baktrisch, Heidelberg, 1982.
H. Lommel, Die Yäšt’s des Awesta, Göttingen and Leipzig, 1927.
Originally Published: December 15, 1996
Last Updated: December 1, 2011
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