HAFTĀNBŌXT, traditional reading of the name of a legendary warlord in southern Persia, mentioned in the Kār-nāmag ī Ardašīr ī Pābagān (The exploits of Ardašīr son of Pābag) and as Haftvād in the Šāh-nāma. In the Kār-nāmag, in a demoniacal romance derived from national traditions, he is involved in an ancient motive, the combat of a dragon with a national hero, in this case, Ardašīr I, son of Pābag, the founder of the Sasanian dynasty (Christensen, p. 38). The exploits of Ardašīr, a young Persian of noble birth, is recounted after the pattern of such heroic legends as those attributed to Cyrus the Great or Marduk, the Babylonian god who overpowered monsters.

As the name Haftānbōxt is given in our manuscripts variously, it is primarily essential to assess its proper orthography. Joseph Markwart was the first to recognize that the form of the name Haftānbōxt, as it has been handed down in the Kār-nāmag, is erroneous (Markwart, Ērānšahr, p. 44, A1). The traditional reading of the name hptʾnbwḥt = Haftānbōxt is evidently based on an interpretation as “redeemed by the seven (planets),” from haftān, the plural form of haft (seven), and bōxt (redeemed). According to the Šāh-nāma, Haftvād was so called because he had seven sons, and the seven sons of Haftānbōxt are also mentioned in the Kār-nāmag (Haf-tānbōxt haft pus dāšt; Kār-nāmag 6.14). As was recognized by Walter Bruno Henning (p. 140), this implies a reading hptʾwbʾt = Haftōwād, interpreted by folk etymology as haft (seven) and ōwād “generation” (cf. ʾwbʾt, Pahl. Psalter 95.10, translating Syriac dārā “generation”; from OPers. uvādā, according to Shaki, p. 95). This form of the name provides the direct source of Persian haftvād, and may also be supported by the forms attested by Ṭabari (Cairo, p. 819) and Balʿami (p. 817), though both the story and the spelling of the name are confused in these sources. Another folk etymological interpretation is found in a story added to the Kalila wa Demna tradition. This refers to a certain king Hawṭabād (Syr. hwṭbʾd, etc., Schulthess, II, p. 241, n. 628), whose name is evidently understood as “a seventh of the wind,” from haftaw “seventh” (OPers. *haftauva-) and wād “wind” (Henning, p. 145). In fact, the first part of the interpretation is probably etymologically correct, since Henn-ing showed that the name *Haftōwād ultimately de-rives from an Achaemenid title *hafta(x)uwa-pātar “the guardian of the seventh part (of a province),” attested in an Aramaic document from Elephantine as hptḥ.ptʾ (Henning, pp. 143-44). The Aramaic title, though not its relevance to the names Haftānbōxt and Haftvād, was independently identified by Mikhail Bogolyubov. According to Mansour Shaki (p. 96), this title survives in the form of hafwʾd on a seal found near Kerman (Pirniā, III, p. 2629).



Friedrich Carl Andreas and Kaj Bar, “Bruchstück einer Pehlevi-Übersetzung der Psalmen,” SPAW, 95/10, 1933, pp. 91-152.

Mikhail Nikolaevich Bogoliubov, “Titre honorifique d’un chef militaire,” in Commémoration Cyrus . . . à l’occasion du 2500e anniversaire de la fondation de l’Empire perse, Acta Iranica 1, Leiden, 1974, pp. 109-14.

Arthur Christensen, Essai sur la démonologie iranienne, Copenhagen, 1941, p. 158.

Walter B. Henning, “Ein persischer Titel im Altaramäischen,” in Matthew Black and Georg Fohrer, eds., In Memoriam of Paul Kahle, Berlin, 1968, pp. 138-45; repr. in idem, Selected Papers II, Acta Iranica 15, Leiden, 1977, p. 559-66.

Jean Pierre de Menasce, “Zoroastrian Pahlavī Writings,” in Cambr. Hist. Ir. III, p. 1188.

Mojmal,ed. Bahār, p. 60.

Ḥosayn Pirniā, Tārīḵ-e Irān-e bāstān, 3 vols., 3rd ed., Teh-ran, 1341 Š./1962, p. 2679.

Dastoor Peshotan San-jana, ed. and tr., Kār-nāmag ī Ardašīr ī Pābagān as The Kâr-nâmê î Artakhshîr î Pâpakân, Bombay, 1896.

Friedrich Schulthess, ed. and tr., Kalila und Dimna (Syriac), 2 vols., Berlin, 1911.

Mansour Shaki, “Pahlavica,” in Werner Sundermann, Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, and Faridun Vahman, eds., A Green Leaf: Papers in Honour of Professor Jes P. Asmussen, Acta Iranica 28, Leiden, 1988, p. 95.

Šāh-nāma (Moscow) VII, pp. 139-54.

(Mansour Shaki)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: March 1, 2012

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Vol. XI, Fasc. 5, pp. 530-531