DASTGERD (< *dasta-kṛta “made by hand, handiwork”), a term originally designating a royal or seigneurial estate. It is doubtful that it was used in the Achaemenid period, as it is attested only once, in the restored form [dasta]kṛtam (cf. DSe, ll. 42-43; Kent, Old Persian, p. 142). It is widely attested in Middle Iranian inscriptions (ŠKZ Mid.Pers. l. 30, Parth. ll. 16-17, 25, 19-30; NPi Mid.Pers. l. 4, Parth. l. 3, a passage too full of lacunae to permit interpretation of the term; Humbach and Skjærvø, III/1, p. 30, III/2, pp. 31-32) and in Book Pahlavi (cf. Kār-nāmag 5.13, ed. Antia, p. 35: was deh ud dastgird ābādānīh kard). It was also borrowed in other languages of the Sasanian period (e.g., Arm. dastakert, Garsoïan, p. 520; Syr. dstgrd (?), Payne Smith, col. 930, and dsqrtʾ; Bedjan, p. 439).

Although the etymology seems clear and was well understood by the translator of the Pahlavi psalter (cf. Psalm 134:15, where Syr. ʿbd ʾydʾ “the work of the hands” was rendered dstklty; Gignoux, 1969, pp. 241-42 and n. 22), the word has been translated in various ways. It is clear from inscriptions, notably that from Maqṣūdābād in Fārs (de Menasce, p. 424), in which the domain is clearly distinguished from the village, that in the later Sasanian period the word no longer necessarily referred to a “royal” domain, as it had in ŠKZ. The same change is attested in Armenian sources, where the term could refer to the holding of a naxarar (a military officer; Garsoïan, p. 520), and from the late Pahlavi sources, where it might simply designate a piece of land (Macuch, p. 243). Such a domain, royal or not, must have included a residence, various other buildings, canals, and the like (Pigulevskaja, pp. 150-53).

The term was also applied to individuals, in phrases like “dastgerd of the king” or “of the gods” in ŠKZ (cf. “of God” in Armenian Christian sources; Maricq, repr., p. 56; Perikhanian, p. 460). The rendering ktisma in the Greek version of ŠKZ is evidence that the term is correctly translated as “possession” or “creation, creature.” It also became a proper noun and was used both as an honorific and as a toponym. An example of the former is dastgerd-Šābuhr, referring to Dēnag, queen of Mesene (ŠKZ Mid. Pers., l. 30), erroneously associated by W. B. Henning (p. 355) with Hamazasp, king of Georgia, whose name follows hers in the list of dignitaries. As a toponym it was associated by Arabic authors with Daskara or Daskarat al-Malek, a palace or fortified castle surrounded by walls on the road from Ctesiphon to Hamadān, built before the time of Ḵosrow II (590-628 C.E.) and destroyed by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius in 628 (Duri, p. 168; cf. Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 454-55; Pigulevskaja, pp. 151-52). In a Syriac source of the 5th century a village called Dastgard is mentioned (Bedjan, p. 439), and, according to the acts of the Nestorian councils of 420 and 424, a place called Daskarta in Malka was subject to the catholicos (Pigulevskaja, p. 152). A number of places in Iraq also bore this name (Duri).



M. Back, Die sassanidischen Staatsinschriften, Tehran and Liège, 1978.

P. Bedjan, Histoire de Mar-Jabalaha, de trois autres patri-arches, d’un prêtre et de deux laïques, nestoriens, Paris, 1895.

A. A. Duri, “Daskara,” in EI2 II, pp. 165-66.

N. G. Garsoïan, The Epic Histories (Buzandaran Patmutʿiwnkʿ), Cambridge, Mass., 1989.

B. Geiger, “Mittelpersische Wörter und Sachen,” WZKM 42, 1935, pp. 114-28.

P. Gignoux, “L’auteur de la version pehlevie du Psautier serait-il nestorien?” in Mémorial Mgr. Gabriel Khouri-Sarkis, 1898-1968, Louvain, 1969, pp. 233-44.

Idem, Glossaire des inscriptions pehlevies et parthes, London, 1972.

W. B. Henning, “A Sassanian Silver Bowl from Georgia,” BSOAS 24, 1961, pp. 353-56.

Hübschmann, Armenische Grammatik, p. 135.

H. Humbach and P. O. Skjærvø, The Sasanian Inscription of Paikuli, 3 pts., Wiesbaden, 1983.

M. Macuch, Das sasanidische Rechtsbuch “Mātakdān i hazār dātistān” II, Wiesbaden, 1981.

A. Maricq, “Res Gestae Divi Saporis,” Syria 35, 1958, pp. 295-360; repr. in Classica et Orientalia, Paris, 1965, pp. 37-101.

J. de Menasce, “Inscriptions pehlevies en écriture cursive,” JA, 1956, pp. 423-31.

R. Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syriacus . . ., 2 vols., Oxford, 1879.

A. Perikhanian, Sasanidskiĭ sudebnik (The Sasanian law code), Yerevan, 1973.

N. Pigulevskaja, Les villes de l’état iranien aux époques parthe et sassanide, Paris and the Hague, 1963.

(Philippe Gignoux)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 18, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 1, pp. 105-106