BĀNBIŠN, Middle Persian “queen.” The Pahlavi ideogram for bānbišn is MLKTA (see Frahang ī pahlavīk, chap. 12, l. 4, where the variant bʾnbwšn, bānbušn, is listed). In Manichean Middle Persian the word is spelled bʾnbyšn and it was borrowed into Armenian as bambišn (Hübschmann, Armenische Grammatik, pp. 116f.). A substandard form bāmbušt was borrowed into Sogdian (Gershevitch, pars. 1246, 1518) and from there found its way into Uigur and Chinese (Henning, 1940, pp. 17f.). The Old Persian ancestor of bānbišn is not attested but must have been *māna-pašnī, corresponding to Avestan dəmąnō.paθnī “mistress (of the house),” from Old Iranian *dmāna-paθnī (see AirWb., col. 1093; Kent, Old Persian, p. 32; Tedesco, pp. 64-66; Benveniste, 1954, p. 301). The genuine Sogdian form is ’vāmban “lady” (variously spelled, see Gershevitch, pars. 14, 43, 304, 449, 466, cf. also Skjærvø, p. 70 n. 14). The initial b- of bānbišn is likely to be due to analogy with bānūk “lady,” attested from Old Persian times as a loanword in Elamite ba-nu-qa(-na-be) (Hinz, p. 423).

In the Sasanian inscriptions, bānbišn (written MPers. MLKTA, Parth. MLKTE) “queen” matches šāh “king” (MLKA). The title is found in Šāpūr I’s inscription on the Kaʿba-ye Zardošt, dating from 262/3 (Greek basílissa), as the title of a certain Dēnak. Corresponding to šāhān šāh (MPers. MLKAn MLKA, Parth. MLKYN MLKA) we have *bānbišnān bānbišn (MLKTAn MLKTA) as the title of Šāpūr I’s daughter Ādur-Anāhīd and Pāpak’s daughter Dēnak. There are also Xwarranzēm, the šahr bānbišn “queen of the empire” (MPers. l. 25), Šābuhrduxtag, the Sagān bānbišn “queen of Sakas” (l. 25), Stahryād “the queen” (l. 26), and Dēnak, the Mēšān bānbišn “queen of Mesene” (l. 30) (see Henning, 1954, pp. 43f.; Gignoux, Glossaire, pp. 28, 57; on Sthlyʾt see Gignoux, in Iranisches Personennamenbuch, p. 160; differently Lukonin, pp. 16ff.).

The title MLKTAn MLKTA is found on a Sasanian coin, applied to Wahrām II’s spouse (Lukonin, pp. 11, 39, 48), and on a Sasanian seal, where it is again applied to a certain Dēnak (Herzfeld. p. 75).

In Manichean Middle Persian and Parthian texts we find a Sagān bānbišn (MPers., M 3 R 17-18; Henning, 1942, pp. 949, 951 n. 4), a ʾškʾn bʾnbyšn “the Arsacid queen” (MPers., Sundermann, 1973, p. 47, 1. 856), and [šhr]dʾr bʾnbyšn Xwdws “the sovereign’s queen Xudōs” (Parth., Henning, 1943, pp. 73-74). The last occurrence suggests that the Middle Persian form bānbišn was used also in Parthian.

Sogdian pʾmpwšt is found as the title of the queens of Abaršahr (Sogdian, Sundermann, 1981, p. 41, l. 436); in other Sogdian texts the same title symbolizes the virtue of patience: “and a queen from whom crowned sons are born” (ʾty pʾmpwšṯ cknʾc ‘y’ymβrṯ ʾʾjwn ʾʾjyynd, M 133 V II 14-16, and ʾṯy pcmʾk pʾmpwšṯ kyy ‘y’ymβr wyšpšṯ zndy, IB 4981 e 3-4, both texts unpublished).



E. Benveniste, “Ēléments perses en araméen d’Ēgypte,” JA 242, 1954, pp. 297-310.

Idem, Titres et noms propres en Iran ancien, Paris, 1966, pp. 27-34.

I. Gershevitch, A Grammar of Manichean Sogdian, Oxford, 1954.

W. B. Henning, Sogdica, London, 1940. Idem, “Mani’s Last Journey,” BSOAS 10, 1942, pp. 941-53.

Idem, “The Book of the Giants,” BSOAS 11, 1943, pp. 52-74.

Idem, “Notes on the Great Inscription of Šāpūr I,” in Prof. Jackson Memorial Volume, Bombay, 1954, pp. 40-54.

E. Herzfeld, Paikuli I, Berlin, 1924.

W. Hinz, “Die elamischen Buchungstäfelchen der Darius-Zeit,” Orientalia 39, 1970.

H. F. J. Junker, ed., Frahang ī pahlavīk, Heidelberg, 1912.

V. G. Lukonin, Iran v III veke, Moscow, 1979, esp. pp. 9-58.

P. O. Skjærvø, “Khotanese v- < Old Iranian *dw-,” BSOAS 48, 1985, pp. 453-67.

W. Sundermann, Mittelpersische und parthische kosmogonische und Parabeltexte der Manichäer, Berlin, 1973.

Idem, Mitteliranische manichäische Texte kirchengeschichtlichen Inhalts, Berlin, 1981.

P. Tedesco, “Perse bānbišn,” BSL 26, 1925, pp. 64-66.

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(W. Sundermann)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 7, pp. 678-679