AŠKAŠ, an Iranian hero in the reign of Kay Ḵosrow. According to Ferdowsī’s Šāh-nāma (Moscow ed., IV, p. 28, verses 318f., and V, p. 241, verses 108f.), he fought in Kay Ḵosrow’s campaigns to avenge Sīāvoš, conquering Kᵛārazm at the king’s command and forcing Afrāsīāb’s son Šīda to flee to a hiding place in Gorgān (or Ḵallaḵ) (V, p. 357, verses 2065f.). Among other services, he helped in the rescue of Bīžan from the Turanians (V, p. 20, verse 887 and passim).
This man’s name appears as Aškas in Bondārī’s Arabic translation of the Šāh-nāma and in the Moǰmal (p. 91 ), and as Aškan in ʿAbd-al-Qāder al-Baḡdādī’s Gozīda-ye loḡāt-e Šāh-nāma (nos. 73, 107, 633). There are also differences concerning his lineage. In most texts of the Šāh-nāma (including the Moscow ed., IV, p. 28, verse 319 and note 11), he is said to be a descendant of Homāy, but in the Cairo manuscript dated 796/1394 to be a son of Qobāb and in the Moǰmal (loc. cit.) to be a son of Qobāb son of Kāva.
The Šāh-nāma also contains a statement that Aškaš was the commander of the Kūč and Balūč who were armored from head to foot, on whose helmets stood a crest like a cock’s comb (Loḡat-e fors, s.v. ḵūč), and whose banners bore a leopard emblem (IV, p. 28, verses 320-22). He is several times described as sharp-eared and sharp-witted, perhaps because he held appointments such as vanguard commander and rearguard commander with responsibility for intercepting any surprise attacks which the enemy might attempt (V, p. 255, verse 336) or any spies and strangers who might try to slip into the Iranian ranks (V, p. 73, verse 1118).
There may well be a connection between the name Aškaš and the name Ašš or Ass the Hero (al-Jabbār) mentioned as the son of Sīāvoš and the ancestor of the Aškānīān (Arsacids) by Ṭabarī (I, p.710), Masʿūdī (Morūǰ, ed. Pellat, I, p. 276), and Bīrūnī (Āṯār al-bāqīa, p. 114); the question is examined in Justi, Namenbuch, p. 43.
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 16, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 7, pp. 769-770