BUN-XĀNAG, phrase occurring in the sentence AYK-t bwny BYTA ZNE ʾyw YHWWN (kū-t bun *xānag ēn ēw bawēd). In the inscriptions of Kirdīr at Naqš-e Rostam (KKZ and KNRm), for which W. B. Henning, in the introduction to his edition of inscription KNRm, proposed the translation “this foundation house shall be thine.” He argued that BYTA (the ideogram for xānag) must necessarily refer to the building on the walls of which the inscription KKZ was incised, the Kaʿba of Zardošt, and suggested that it was used as a repository for religious records and charters and even the Avesta. He recalled the fact that Naqš-e Rostam was earlier called kūh-e neβešt “mountain of scriptures” (Ebn Balḵī, pp. 49f.) and that the Pahlavi term diz ī nibišt “fortress of scriptures” may have referred to the Kaʿba. Henning’s reading of the phrase has been questioned, however, and must probably be abandoned.
H. Humbach (1974, pp. 206-08) proposed a comparison with Pahlavi bun-kadag “maison de base,” which he explained as the building that served as the basis for Kirdīr’s ecclesiastical reforms. M. Back (1978, p. 508 n. 257) pointed out that everywhere else in Kirdīr’s inscriptions BYTA means “fortune, estate, possessions” and translated the phrase as “Stiftungsvermögen” (foundation capital). BYTA is used by Kirdīr in the phrase PWN NPŠE BYTA to mean “at (my) own expense” (see Henning, 1939, p. 826 n. 2). Back retained the meaning “foundation” for bwny (commonly “beginning, origin”), but even this may be unnecessary. There is finally no special reason for taking bwny BYTA as a compound rather than as two separate words, in which case the sentence can be translated as “and let this estate/property be your beginning” (i.e., your start-up capital; for a different interpretation, see deû ī nebešt).
M. Back, Die sassanidischen Staatsinschriften, Acta Iranica 18, Tehran and Liège, 1978.
W. B. Henning, “The Great Inscription of Šāpūr I,” BSO(A)S 9, 1939, pp. 823-49.
Idem, The Inscription of Naqš-i Rustam (1-48), Corp. Inscr. Iran., pt. 3, vol. 2, portfolio 2 (pls. xxv-xlviii), London, 1957.
H. Humbach, “Bun-xānag et Kaʿba-ye Zardušt,” in Hommage universel III, Acta Iranica 3, Tehran and Liège, 1974, pp. 203-08.
M. Shaki, “Two Middle Persian Legal Terms for Private Property,” in P. Gignoux and A. Taffazzoli, eds., Mémorial Jean de Menasce, Tehran and Louvain, 1974, pp. 327-36 (p. 335: “bun-xānag . . . may, in all probability, denote "principal (property)" or "capital"”).
(Prods Oktor Skjærvø)
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
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