AYŌKĒN, a Middle Persian legal term denoting the category of persons to whom descends the obligation of stūrīh (marriage by proxy or substitution; q.v.). The term is from the beginning words of the Avestan technical phrase yō hē pasčaēta “he to whom afterwards” (i.e., after the passing of a man without male issue). The entire Avestan phrase is found transcribed in the Pahlavi alphabet in the Mādayān ī hazār dādestān (pt. 1, p. 22.8), but more commonly the formula was reduced to the two words yō hē, transcribed as ayōk-hē and then corrupted to ayōkēn in the Riwāyat ī Ēmēdī Ašawahištān (chap. 4). Other spellings found in the Mādayān are yōk hē and ayōk-kēn; the Pahlavi model marriage contract (Paymān ī zanīh, in Pahlavi Texts, p. 141-43) has ayōkānīh; in the Persian Rivayats (ed. M. R. Unvala, Dârâb Hormazyâr’s Rivâyat, Bombay, 1922, I, pp. 180f.) it is written ayūk, ayūkan, and ayūkī.

The persons referred to as ayōkēn are one’s own (pādixšāyīhā) “virile” (zahāg) son, who is an immediate and direct progeny and successor, and then in the order of priority a pādixšāyīhā widow whose ayōkēn stūrīh for her deceased issueless husband is also called čakarīh; an adopted son (pus ī padīriftag); a designate stūr (stūr ī kardag) who is instituted by the deceased in his lifetime to undertake his successorship; and an associate brother (brād ī hambāy). In default of these, the obligation of stūrīh descends to the eldest pādixšāyīhā daughter, or to the one who has not yet married, and finally to a sister.

An obligated successor (ayōkēn) assuming an ayōkēn stūrīh enjoys special proprietary rights. That is the reason why ayōkēnīh is referred to as a special form of marriage in the Pahlavi marriage contract (Pahlavi Texts, p. 141) and why the Mādayān ī hazār dādestān has devoted a separate chapter to it: Dar ī ayōkēn yō hē pasčaēta (pt. 1, p. 21.4-5).

The case of an only pādixšāyīhā daughter, succeeding to her father’s obligated successorship, is erroneously given by the Riwāyat ī Ēmēd ī Ašawahištān (chap. 44) as the only case of ayōkēnīh (ed. B. T. Anklesaria, Rivâyat-î Hêmît-î Asavahistân, Bombay, 1962). This idea was repeated by the Persian Rivayats (I, pp. 180f.) and provided the basis for the various faulty readings and interpretations of the term as yūkān “the only child” (West, in SBE 18, p. 185 n. 3); aêvakkîn “marriage in condition of the only child” (Bulsara, The Laws of the Ancient Persians, p. 153); ēvakēn “le mariage de la fille unique” (J. de Menasce, Feux et fondations pieuses dans le droit sassanide, Paris, 1964, pp. 35-57); ēwgānīh “submission” (see D. N. MacKenzie, “The Model Marriage Contract in Pahlavi,” in K. R. Cama Oriental Institute Golden Jubilee Volume, Bombay, 1969, pp. 103-09, and with A. G. Perikhanian, ibid., p. 110); as derived from Av. *aēnō.kaēna “expiator,” interpreted as epíklēros “(the only) heiress” (Perikhanian, in W. B. Henning Memorial Volume, ed. M. Boyce and I. Gershevitch, London, 1970, p. 352, and with MacKenzie, in K. R. Cama Oriental Institute Golden Jubilee Volume, pp. 110-12); and ēnōkēn “under the obligation to continue her father’s line” (D. N. MacKenzie, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary, London, 1971, p. 30).



Editions of the Mādayān ī hazār dādestān: J. J. Modi, facs. ed. of the first part (fols. 1-55), Bombay, 1901.

S. J. Bulsara, tr., The Laws of the Ancient Persians as Found in the "Mâtikân ê hazâr Dâtastân" or the Digest of a Thousand Points of Law, 2 vols., Bombay, 1937.

Further references in M. Boyce, “Middle Persian Literature,” in Handbuch der Orientalistik I, IV, 2, 1, Leiden and Cologne, 1968, pp. 61f.

See also M. Shaki, “The Sasanian Matrimonial Relations,” Archiv Orientální 39, 1971, pp. 332-33.

Idem, “The Concept of Obligated Successorship in the Mādiyān ī Hazār Dādistān,” in Monumentum H. S. Nyberg II, Acta Iranica 5, Tehran and Liège, 1975, pp. 227-42.

Search terms:

 ایوکین ayoken  ayokin


(M. Shaki)

Originally Published: December 15, 1987

Last Updated: August 18, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 2, p. 149