FRĀXKARD (Mid. Pers.of Av. Vourukaša with wide extending inlets, also called Warkaš in Mid. Pers.), name of the cosmic ocean in Iranian mythology. According to a myth preserved in the Pahlavi books, at the beginning of the creation the rain god Tištriia/Tištar made the clouds rain all over the earth. Then the spirit of Wind (Mēnōg ī wād) swept the scattered water and pushed it towards the end of the earth, from which Frāxkard was formed (Bundahišn [TD2] 62-63; Zādspram 3.12). It is said to be situated in the southern skirts of Harburz/Allborz (q.v.), occupying one third of the earth. One portion of Frāxkard stretches out round Xwanirah, the central clime (q.v., Zādspram 3.35). The mythical river Aroduuī Sūrā Anāhitā, probably representing older *Harahuditī (Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, p. 136), pours into this sea (Yt. 5.4). Frāxkard is said to consist of a thousand lakes (war) called “the springs of Ardīwsūr” or “the sources of the lake,” each being 1800 farsangs large (Bundahišn 81-82; Zādspram 3.12, 19; Dādestān ī dēnīg 92, nos. 2-3, tr. West, SBE 18, p. 262; Pahlavi Rivāyat, ed. Dhalhar, chap. 46.10, p. 130). From Frāxkard two great rivers named Arang and Wehrōd (qq.v.) flow out and after going round the world and being purified join back to the sea (Bundahišn 64.15-65.6). There is neither tide nor ebb nor movement in it (Bundahišn 113.9). Frāxkard is the principal reservoir of rain (Vd. 21.4; Dēnkard, ed. Madan, 108.5 ff.). When its waters go up to the lofty Hugar/Hukairiia, the peak of Harā (Allborz), there they become purified. One portion pours back to Frāxkard and another reaches the whole world by moisture and sprinkling (Bundahišn 191.9-11; Dādestān ī dēnīg 92.5, tr. West, SBE 18, p. 262i; cf. Pahlavi Rivayat, ed. Dhalbar, chap. 46.12, p. 130; Mēnōg ī xrad, ed. Anklesaria, chap. 43.12-15, tr. Tafażżolī, p. 62). In the center of Frāxkard there stands the mountain Us.həndauua (Pahlavi Usindām) and around its summit gather the vapors which as rain-clouds are distributed over the earth (Yt. 8.32-33; Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, p. 136). According to one tradition, the waters that flow from Hugar to Frāxkard, first fall on this mountain (Bundahišn 77.11-13; 82.5-12; Dādestān ī dēnīg 92.5, tr. West, SBE 18, p. 262).

The White Hōm (q.v.) named also the Gākaran tree grew in the deepest part of Frāxkard (Mēnōg ī xrad, ed. Anklesaria, chap. 61.28, tr. pp. 81, 143; Bundahišn 149.10). A fabulous fish (two according to Bundahišn) called Kar (Av. Kara, Yt. 14.29) lives there whose task is to repel the frog created by Ahriman to destroy the White Hōm (Bundahišn 149.13-150.4; Mēnōg ī xrad, ed. Anklesaria, chap. 62.3, tr. p. 81, 143). Another mythical tree called “the tree of many seeds” (was-tōhmag), “opposed to harm” (ǰud-bēš), is said to have grown in Frāxkard (Bundahišn 67.10-12, 150.15-160.3; Yt. 12.17; Vd. 5.19). Besides, a fabulous animal called “the three footed ass” (xar ī se pāy) stands in the middle of Frāxkard (Yt. 42.4; Bundahišn 151.8 ff; Mēnōg ī xrad, ed. Anklesaria, 62.26, tr., pp. 81, 141). The ocean is protected by the fravašīs (q.v.; Yt. 13.59).

Frāxkard is the scene of some mythological events. The battle of Tištriia/Tištar, the rain god, and Apaoša/Apōš, the demon of drought, took place in it (Yt. 8.20-29; Bundahišn 63). It was the refuge place of xwarrah (Av. xᵛarnah) “glory” when it fled from Yama/Jamšēd and Fraŋrasiian/Afrāsīāb (q.v.) struggled to obtain it, but in vain (Yt. 19.56-58; Yt. 5.42; Dēnkard, ed. Madan, 613.2 ff). In another occasion when it fled from Kayūs/Kāvūs, it took refuge into this ocean (Dēnkard 815-16). Kərəsāspa/Garšāsp overcame Gandarw (Av. Gandarəβa) at its coast, and Vandarəmainiš, brother of Arǰāspa offered sacrifice to Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā (qq.v.) at this ocean in order to be victorious over Vištāspa/Goštāsp (Yt. 5.116-117). Frāxkard may have been identified in certain historical periods with the Caspian Sea or the Black Sea, although no certainty exists in this matter (Boyce, Zoroastrianism, I, p. 143).



Zādspram, Wīzīdagīha ī Zādspram, ed., and tr. with commentary, Ph. Gignoux and A. Tafazzoli (Tafażżolī) as Anthologie de Zādspram, Paris, 1993.

Mēnōg ī xrad, tr. A. Tafażżoli as Tarǰama-ye Mīnū-ye ḵerad, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1985.

(Ahmad Tafazzoli)

Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: January 31, 2012

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