DUGDŌW, the name of Zoroaster’s mother, which appears in several different spellings in the Pahlavi texts, mostly more or less corrupted from an original attempt at representing the Avestan form. The Dēnkard has consistently the best spelling, dwktʾwbˈ, to be pronounced Dugdōw or Duγdōw. In different manuscripts of selections from Zādspram (5.1) it appears corrupted to dwktkˈ (possibly for *dwktwk) and dwtkwb (probably from *dwktwb). In the manuscripts of the Greater Bundahišn it is always written dwγtʾby (TD1 203.10-11; TD2 236.10-11; DH 107.1), which appears transliterated into Pāzand letters as duγdā in the Indian version (ms. K20, fol. 128v, l. 14). Lastly, in Šāyest nē šāyest there occur (10.4) dwkdʾwˈ and the variants dwktkʾwˈ and dwtkʾw (12.11) for earlier *dwktʾw. The Avestan form is preserved only in a single fragment (FrD 4), corrupted in both manuscripts. It can, however, be reliably reconstructed as Duγdōwā-, interpreted as “with milked cows.” Whether as cause or effect, this name presumably refers to the tradition, preserved in its fullest form in the Dēnkard (VII, chap. 2), according to which some virgin heifers belonging to Dugdōw’s husband, Pōrušasp, began to give milk (awēšān gāwān 2 azādagān pēm be mad), in which the vegetable essence (gōhr) of Zoroaster was mixed. Pōrušasp instructed his wife to milk those heifers. He had already acquired, through divine intervention, some haoma twigs containing the frawahr, the guardian spirit, of Zoroaster. When this haoma was pressed and the juice mixed with the milk both parents drank of it, thus imbibing both the frawahr and the gōhr of the future prophet. As Dugdōw had carried the xwarrah of Zoroaster within her since her birth, causing her to radiate light about her, the three elements, xwarrah, frawahr, and tan-gōhr “physical essence” were united in the embryo of Zoroaster.


Bibliography: (For cited works not found in this bibliography and for abbreviations found here, see “Short References.”)

Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, pp. 277 ff. Iranisches Personennamenbuch I/1, Vienna, 1977, pp. 36-37.

R. Zwanziger, “Zum Namen der Mutter Zarathustras,” Anz. der phil.-hist. Klasse der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 114, 1977, pp. 251 ff. (with complete text references).

(D. N. MacKenzie)

Originally Published: December 15, 1996

Last Updated: December 2, 2011

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Vol. VII, Fasc. 6, p. 585