FRAMADĀR (FRAMĀTĀR), a Sasanian administrative title. In Old Persian the substantive framātar appears in royal titles and is always accompanied by the word paru- meaning “numerous, many”; it is generally translated as “master, lord [of many]” (Kent, Old Persian, p. 198). The title was used in set formulae by Achaemenid rulers (Kent, Old Persian, pp. 142, 147, 148, 150). Framātar is constructed from fra + stem = farman/framan “order” + agent suffix tar “who maintains.” The Achaemenids thus describe themselves as “givers of commands to many” (cf. Latin multipotens). The term was passed into Parthian in the form of prmtr in order todesignate an office, probably that of the director of public supplies (e.g. wine, barley, etc.). The title is found on one of the ostraca from Qosha-Tepe dating from the first half of the first century C. E. (cf. Livshits, 1977, p. 179; Idem, 1980, no. 4, p. 237 and fig. 2).

The earliest evidence of this title under the Sasanians, dated in the year three of Šāpūr I, is a short inscription on a side of an altar at Barm-e Delak (q.v.) near Shiraz. It mentions two dignitaries, the second of whom is the framadār Wahnām (whn’m ZY prmtr; Gignoux, 1991, p. 11; Skjærvø, p. 159). Furthermore, in the trilingual inscription at the Kaʿba-ye Zardōšt at Naqš-e Rostam, carved after Šāpūr I’s victory over the emperor Valerian (280 C.E.), two framadārs are mentioned in the list of the dignitaries: (1) Wahunām (Mid. Pers. 1. 32, Parth. 1. 26, Gk. 1. 62; Maricq, p. 327) and (2) Šāhpūhr (Mid. Pers. 1.34, Parth. 1. 28, Greek 1.66; Maricq, p. 331).The Wahunām of ŠKZis definitely identical to the Wahnām of the Abnūn inscription, as pointed out by Philippe Gignoux (loc. cit). On the other hand, the existence of two holders of the same office on ŠKZ indicates the existence of two framadārs (if not more) at the same period.

This title is also found on an undated Sasanian seal (Gignoux, 1978, p. 15) which mentions a wāspuhragān framadār. The Pahlavi term wāspuhragān was used specifically to denote “high nobility,” i.e., the seven great families of the Sasanian Empire. This accords with Heinrich Hübschmann (Armenische Grammatik p. 80 and particularly idem, 1904, pp. 262-63), which makes use of the title wāspuhrakānhamanakar, a title cited by the Armenian historian Sebeos (chap. 6, tr., pp. 31-32) = Mid. Pers. wāspuhragān āmārgar “tax-collector of the high nobility.” At the center of the same seal one can read sphʾn, i.e., Isfahan. Thus the framadār had his seat at Isfahan, where he was a “giver of orders” (framadār) with a “collector of taxes” (āmārgar) as assistant.

According to certain Pahlavi texts (West, pp. 152 and 276; cf. H. Hübschmann, Armenische Grammatik, p. 183), the framadār held an important position within the Zoroastrian clergy. Thus there is the issue of the “director (framadār) of the community of priests in Fārs” (West, p. 152). It seems to apply to a high-ranking functionary within the Zoroastrian clergy and probably applied to certain civil functionaries as well as a certain category of Mazdean priests who administered the benefices.

Wuzurg framadār (the grand framadār). The wuzurg framadār appears to have been for a long time the highest ranking official of the Sasanian state, whose position was not unlike that later held by the grand vizier in the Islamic period. The following holders of the office are known to us:

1. Abarsām. According to Ṭabarī (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 9), Ardašīr I created this high position for a certain Abarsām, who was granted enormous power.

2. Ḵosrow Yazdegerd, whose title has come down to us in a Syriac transcription as harmadārā rabbā (Chabot, text, p. 21, tr. p. 260 and n. 2), was sent by Yazdegerd I along with the argabad Mehr-Šāpūr (cf. Labourt, p. 97; Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 271) as high ranking officials to represent him at a council of bishops which had been convened on Yazdegerd’s initiative in Seleucia in 410.

3. Mehr-Narseh, a scion of the Esfandīārs, one of the seven great families, was a wuzurg framadār under Yazdegerd I and Bahrām V (cf. Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 277 sq.) and was noted for his hostility against the Christians. He appears with this title on an inscription, made at his own behest at Fīrūzābād (q.v.), commemorating the building of a bridge (cf. W. Henning, pp. 98-102; text of the inscription, p. 101 with pl.). He is designated as hazarapet by Armenian historians, a transcription from Pahlavi hazarapat, i.e. a chiliarch (for further references see Łazar Pʿarpecʿi, 1891, pp. 73, 120, 134, 208, 262, 330 = Langlois, Historiens, II, pp. 278, 292, 293, 307, 313, 318; and Ełišē, 1950, pp. 53, 198, 253, 265 = Langlois, Historiens, II, pp. 192, 225, 278, 292).

4. Suren Pahlav. This person, a member of one of the seven great families, was given the title hazārapet in Łazar Pʿarpecʿi (1891, p. 73 = Langlois, Historiens, II, p. 270). He could thus have been a wuzurg framadār and may have been Mehr-Nasreh’s immediate successor in this position under Bahrām V.

5. According to Sebeos (chap. 28, tr. pp. 89-90), one Ḵosrow-Ormezd, a hramantar, proposed marriage to the queen Bohr (Bōrān, q.v.; r. 630-31 C. E.) and was accepted. He was, however, killed by the guards while entering the palace at night. The circumstances suggest, therefore, that he may have been a wuzurg framadār, rather than an ordinary framadār. If so, he would have been the last to hold this title under the Sasanians. The anecdote is transferred to a different reign in Ṭabarī (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 394).



J. B. Chabot, ed. and tr., Synodicon Orientale ou Recueil de synodes nestoriens, Paris, 1902.

Ełišē Vardapet, Vasn Vardanay ew hayocʿ paterazmin (On Vardan and the Armenian War), Venice, 1950; tr. in Langlois, Historiens II. P. Gignoux, Catalogue des sceaux, camées et bulles sassanides de la Bibliothèque nationale et du Musée du Louvre II. Les sceaux et bulles inscrits, Paris, 1978.

Idem, “D’Abnūn à Māhān: Étude de deux inscriptions Sassanides,” Stud. Ir. 20, 1991, pp. 9-22.

W. B. Henning, “The Inscription of Firuzabad,” Asia Major 4, 1954, pp. 92-102.

H. Hübschmann, Die altarmenischen Ortsnamen, Strasbourg, 1904, repr. Amsterdam, 1969.

J. Labourt, Le Christianisme dans l’Empire Perse, Paris, 1904.

Łazar Pʿarpecʿi, Patmutʿiwn hayocʿ (History of Armenia), Venice, 1891, tr. in Langlois, Historiens II. V. A. Livshits, “New Parthian Documents from South Turkmenistan,” AAASH 25, 1977 [1980], pp. 157-85.

Idem, “Ostraca parthe de Qosha-Tepe,” Sovietsk. Arkheol. Literat. 4, 1980, pp. 237-38, 243.

A. Maricq, “Res gestae divi Saporis,” Syria 35, fasc. 3-4, 1958, rev. and corrected in Classica et Orientalia, Paris, 1965, pp. 37-75.

Sebeos, Patmutʿiwn Sebeosi (Sebeos’ History), ed. and tr. F. Macler as Histoire d’Héraclius par l’évêque Sebèos, Paris, 1904.

P. O. Skjærvø, “L’Inscription d’Abnūn et l’imparfait en moyen-perse,” Stud .Ir. 21, 1992, pp. 153-60.

E. W. West, tr., Pahlavi Texts II, SBE 18, Oxford, 1882, repr., Dehli, 1965.

(Marie-Louise Chaumont)

Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: April 17, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 2, pp. 125-126