KAYĀNSĪH, Pahlavi form of the name of a mythical sea, Av. Kąsaoiia-. The Avestan word  (adj., neuter with zraiiah- “lake, sea” [Yt. 19.66; Witzel, 1984, p. 263, n. 83], feminine with āp- “water” [Vd. 19.5; Yt. 19.92]) could be a derivative stem from an unattested proper name Kąsu- (Bartholomae, 1904, p. 471; Boyce, 1975, p. 274, n. 96; cf. Mayrhofer, 1979, I/59) or simply a vṛddhi-formation from Av. kasu- “little” (*kāsau̯-i̯a- “which has to do with something small, relative to what is little” or “belonging to the ‘Little one’”; cf. Ved. kaśú- as proper name; Mayrhofer, 1989, p. 330). The latter etymology is supported by the geographical realia (see below), while the stem-formation corresponds to that of Later Ved. vaiṣṇavya-, derived from viṣṇu- (like vaiṣṇavá- “zu Viṣṇu in Beziehung stehend”; [Wackernagel –] Debrunner, 1954, p. 818, § 656b). Contrariwise, E. Pirart (1992, pp. 88, 117-18) has rejected the existence of the stem kąsaoiia- and, on the base of the attested manuscript tradition, suggested a new entry: kąsaiia-. Another derivative, from *kąsauua- (< kasu-), is probably attested in the NPers. river name (in Ferdowsi: Wolff, 1935, p. 657) Kašaf-rōd (Monchi-Zadeh, 1975, p. 160, n. 35; cf. Markwart, 1938, pp. 5-6).

The name Kąsaoiia designates a mythical sea connected with the Hāmun lake (Stein, 1886, pp. 21-23; Gnoli, 2003) in Sīstān (pad sagestān [M51]/sīstān [the rest of the mss] in Ir.Bd. 10.16 and Ind.Bd. 13.16), where no daēvic animals, in particular snakes and frogs, lived; the same Pahlavi passage includes the Kayānsīh among the “little lakes” (zrēhān ī kēh; Pakzad, 2005, p. 144). This is a fitting description, because such a lake is an endorheic basin, whose dimensions change continuously according to the quantity of water coming from the Helmand river. The same location is confirmed by the little Pahlavi treatise Abdīh ud sahīgīh ī Sīstān “Wonders and Magnificence of Sīstān,”  par. 2 (JamaspAsana, 1897, p. 25; Utas, 1983; Cereti, 2000, p. 173; see ABDĪH UD SAHĪGĪH Ī SAGASTĀN), where a lake of that name is listed among the natural masterpieces of the Sīstān area (Gnoli, 1967, p. 17). Its waters stem from the Haētumaṇt or Helmand (Yt. 19.66: zraiiō ya kąsaēm haētumatəm; Pirart, 1992, p. 87; Hintze, 1994, pp. 307-9; Humbach and Ichaporia, 1998, pp. 49, 141; Gnoli, 2004). W. Geiger (1892, I, pp. 106-8) considered possible its identification with the Ābistāde (see ĀB-E ĪSTĀDA) river.

We cannot exclude the possibility that the name kąsaoiia- was (mis)understood by a popular etymology and connected with the stem kauui- “Kavi” (Boyce, 1975, p. 274); its Pahlavi adaptation, Kayānsīh, was actually formed with the plural word kayān, “the Kavis” or “the Kayanids” (Gnoli, 2004); and the Kavi dynasty is closely linked with this lake already in Yt. 19.65-72, in the framework of Zoroastrian eschatology (Gnoli, 1989a, pp. 58-61; 1989b; 1999; Christensen, 1932, pp. 22-23).

According to Later Av. sources it is from the Kąsaoiia that the Saošiiaṇt Astuuat̰.ərəta- (see ASTVA.ƎRƎTA) will rise (Yt. 19.89-92; cf. Yt. 19.66; Vd. 19.5) and where he will receive the Kavyan xvarənah- (see FARR[AH]). In particular, the Saošiiaṇt will be born in the eastern side of the Kąsaoiia (Vd. 19.5), a tradition which is probably connected with the image of the rising Dawn (Ušah). The three Sōšyans are connected with this place again in the Abdīh ud sahīgīh ī Sīstān 3 (Gnoli, 1967, p. 25). It is clear from a number of Avestan and Pahlavi passages that the Kąsaoiia was, at some time, associated with the Vourukaṣ̌a Sea (Gnoli, 1967, pp. 17-20; on the Vourukaṣ̌a Sea, see ĀB i). Both have a mountain in their centers: Uši.δam/Uši.darəna (= Kuh-e Ḵᵛāja) in the Kąsaoiia, Us.həṇdauua in the middle of the Vouru.kaṣ̌a; furthermore, 99,999 frauuaṣ̌is (see FRAVAŠI) are present in both places, but it is in the Kąsaoiia that they protect the seed of Zaraθuštra (Yt. 19.92; Ind.Bd. 21.7; Ir.Bd. 33.43-45; Pakzad, 2005, pp. 372-73; Anklesaria, 1956, pp. 282-83), from which the Saošiiaṇts will be born. Both are connected with the xvarənah (see the discussion offered by Gnoli, 1967, pp. 18-25). Three lamps (sē̆ čiraγ), corresponding to the seed of the three Sōšyans, glow at night at the bottom of the Kayānsīh (Ir.Bd. 33, 44).

According to the Ir.Bd. 11A, 32, Frāsyāb diverted into the Kayānsīh one thousand springs and a number of rivers, which perhaps correspond to those mentioned in Yt. 19.67. They are the Hēdōmand rōd, the Wātaēnī rōd, and  six (or seven, according to Gnoli, 1967, p. 17, and Markwart, 1938, pp. 12, 175) rivers (Pakzad, 2005, pp. 156-57; Anklesaria, 1956, pp. 110-11).  See also the list of rivers in the Tāriḵ-e Sistān (ed. Bahār, 1935, pp. 15 f.; Gold, 1976, p. 12).

Although there are different opinions about the homeland of Zoroastrianism, the Sīstān region and the Hāmun-e Helmand area assumed central importance in the Later Avestan period (Nyberg, 1938: pp. 304 ff.; Boyce, 1975, pp. 274, 293; Hintze, 1994, p. 21, n. 39), if not already earlier, because they are part of the wide horizon of  the airyā̊ daŋ́hāuuō, the “Aryan lands,” where we find also the Airiiana Vaēǰah (Markwart, 1938, pp. 122, n. 3; 158-59; Gnoli, 1967, pp. 13-14, 38; 1980, pp. 131-36; 2003; 2004; see ĒRĀN-WĒZ).



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(A. Panaino)

Originally Published: May 31, 2013

Last Updated: January 23, 2013

This article is available in print.
Vol. XVI, Fasc. 2, pp. 174-176