KARTĪR (Kartēr, Kerdēr, Kerdīr, Kirdēr, Kirdīr), a prominent Zoroastrian priest  in the second half of the 3rd century CE. This entry is divided into the following sections:

i. Introduction. 

ii. The name and titles. 

iii. Kartīr’s inscriptions. 

iv. Kartīr and the Mazdayasnian tradition. 

v. Kartīr and other Iranian religions. 

vi. The inscriptions and their decipherment.  



i. Introduction

Kartīr is known from his inscriptions in Fārs at Naqš-e Rajab (KNRb), to the left of the investiture relief of Ardašīr (r. 224-239/40); Naqš-e Rostam (KNRm), to the right of Šāpūr I’s (r. 239/40?-272?) triumphal relief, behind the horse; Sar-e Mašhad (KSM), near the ancient Achaemenid road from Susa to Persepolis and west of the village of Jerra (lat 29°16′53″ N, long 51°51′22″ E), above a relief thematically connected with the inscription; and below the Middle Persian version of Šāpūr I’s trilingual (Middle Persian, Parthian, Greek; ŠKZ) inscription on the Kaʿba-ye Zardošt (KKZ), the tower facing the rock reliefs at Naqš-e Rostam. KNRm and the mostly identical KSM contain KKZ, which does not contain the vision narrative (see below), while KNRb is a summary of the principal ideas in the longer inscriptions. 

Kartīr is also mentioned in ŠKZ and Narseh I’s (r. 293-302) inscription at Paikuli (NPi; between Qasr-e Šīrīn and Soleymānīya, Iraq), as well as in Middle Persian, Parthian, and Coptic Manichean texts. He is mentioned nowhere else, although Richard N. Frye (1971, p. 218) suggested his name may be preserved in Ṭabarī as Qāher, the mowbedān mowbed of Ardašīr I (ed. de Goeje, I/II, p. 816: <fʾhr, qʾhr, hʾhr>). That this Kartīr was the same person as the Manichean Kardel was first suggested by Hans Jakob Polotsky (1934, p. 45, n. b), while Ernst Herzfeld identified him with Tansar, the legendary high priest of Ardašīr I (see below).

Kartīr is depicted in several reliefs, including most of those of Warahrān II (r. 276-93; see bahrām ii), always in right profile, with a tall round hat (his kōlāf) with a shears-like insignium, a necklace with large pearls, and the hand raised with a finger pointing in reverence (Hinz, 1969, pp. 189-228; Gignoux, 1991, pp. 19-23; see also Weber, 2009, pp. 597-627, 2010; Gyselen, 2005 [pub. 2009]). He is beardless and may have been a eunuch (Hinz, 1969, p. 228; Lerner and Skjærvø, 2006; Skjærvø, 2007; see also eunuchs ii. THE SASANIAN PERIOD; sasanian rock reliefs, online).

Kartīr’s inscriptions are the earliest indigenous written testimonies to the basic tenets of Mazdayasnianism (Zoroastrianism) since the Achaemenid inscriptions and antedate the written Pahlavi literature by some six hundred years (and the earliest manuscripts by some 1,000 years). They are therefore of the utmost importance for studying the Mazdayasnian tradition under the early Sasanians. Focus is on ethics (good or bad behavior), which, as in other major religions, is encouraged with reference to what awaits the soul after death: rewards for the good, punishment for the wicked.

Because of their size and varied language, Kartīr’s inscriptions are also the most important documents for the knowledge of the early Middle Persian writing system, grammar, and vocabulary, matched only by Narseh’s inscription at Paikuli (ed. Humbach and Skjærvø) and the later Pahlavi Psalter (ed. Andreas and Barr, 1933; translated from Syriac). 

Basic literature includes the introductions and commentaries to the complete editions in MacKenzie, 1989, and Gignoux, 1991, as well as Gignoux, 1989. See also Gignoux’s brief survey in Camb. Hist. Iran III(2), 1983, pp. 1209-12. On the language, see, in particular, Skjærvø, 1983a, 1989, and 1997b. Here, the inscriptions (except KNRb) are cited according to the paragraph divisions in MacKenzie, 1989. Regnal years are cited after Wiesehöfer, 1996, p. 316.  

Dating of the inscriptions. Philippe Gignoux was the first to discuss the relative dates of the inscriptions. In his edition of KSM (1968, pp. 410-11), he suggested that KSM, since it contained the other three, would have been the first to be engraved, either at the behest of Kartīr himself or his followers, in a place devoid of royal inscriptions. Because of the important contents of the inscription and its difficult access, his successors had parts of it engraved elsewhere as well. He refined these suggestions in his edition of KNRm, after Hinz’s study of the reliefs in which Kartīr appears (1969). Here, Gignoux still thought KSM had been engraved while Kartīr was still alive and that KNRm, being an unskilled reproduction of the text, was the last. He concluded that KKZ, KNRb, and KNRm had been engraved in 293, but, presumably, before the accession of Narseh, who “was not  particularly friendly with Kartīr” (1972a, p. 179). In his study of the textual variants, however, he shortened this chronology, proposing that KSM had been engraved toward the end of the reign of Warahrān II, about 290, but tentatively retained 293 as terminus post [ante?] quem (1973, pp. 213-15). See also his summary in Camb. Hist. Iran III(2), 1983, p. 1211.

Vladimir G. Lukonin, who also discussed the dates of the reliefs and inscriptions, mainly on the basis of the portraits, thought the portrait at Sar-e Mašhad was the oldest and dated KSM between 276 and 283 and KNRm and KNRb to after 283 (1979, pp. 19-21; cf. pp. 107-9). 

David Neil MacKenzie (1989, pp. 71-72) criticized these chronologies and proposed that KNRb, being “the shortest” and not being added to a royal inscription or relief (like KKZ and KNRm), might be the first [KNRb was added to the left of Ardašīr’s investiture relief, however]. KNRm would postdate KKZ, judging by the higher number of radpassāgs (see below); the addition of the list of provinces, which was not in KKZ, presumably because it could be read in ŠKZ just above it; and the addition of Ardašīr in the first sentence. KSM might be the last, notably because of the omission of the reference to the <bwny BYTA> (see below on “problem words”), which, if referring to the Ka‘ba-ye Zardošt, would be inappropriate in that location.

Gignoux in turn critiqued MacKenzie’s chronology, mainly retaining his own (1991, pp. 23-27).

Whether the texts of the inscriptions existed only as inscriptions, we cannot tell, but it is not impossible that they were circulated in other forms, as well. Note especially the statement in the Manichean Homilies that the Magians wrote “petitions” (hn.biblidion) about Mani (ed. Polotsky, 1934, p. 81 n. 19). 


ii. The Name and Titles


The name. Kartīr’s name is spelled variously in the inscriptions: Middle Persian <kltyl, kltyly, krtyr, kltyr>, Parthian <krtyr>, Greek KARTEIR, and Coptic Kardel (with dissimilation of the two r’s; Sundermann, 1981, p. 71, tentatively read <qyr(d)[y](l)> in a Manichean text [see below], but the point over the final <‑r> is unmistakable, is in the exact same position as that of the first <‑r‑>, is the same size and in the same position as one in the next line, and is incompatible with the top of an <l>). Manichean Middle Persian has <kyrdyr>; Parthian <kyrdyr, qyrdyr>; Parthian phonetically in Sogdian script <kyyrʾδyyr>. 

The various spellings—Greek and Coptic <-ar->, Greek <-ir->, inscriptions <‑r‑>, Manichean <‑yr‑>—point to a protoform with “vocalic r” (*kṛt-), and the name may therefore be transcribed with kerd- (or kird). Walter B. Henning transcribed it as Kerdēr (1942), but the final syllable probably has long -īr, spelled -eir in the Greek (cf. ŠKZ Greek 40, 56 ARTAXEIR for *Artaxšīr, 62 PHREIKOU for *Frīk for *Friyak[?], but 63 ZIK for *Ziyak?), while long -ē- is spelled with eta (e.g., PĒRŌZ).

The discrepancy between the Manichean form and the Greek and Coptic forms suggests that Kartīr may have affected an archaic form of his own name, which no longer corresponded to the pronunciation of the name at the time. 

Other persons with the same name include Kirdīr (son of) Ardawān (ŠKZ, Greek KIRDEIR IRDOUAN), who is also mentioned in a Manichean text as Kerdīr ī Ardawānān, an intimate friend of the king (Warahrān I/II; Henning, 1942, p. 952, assumed this was the same as the Magus, but soon realized his error). According to André Maricq, an unpublished coin in the Calcutta museum has the inscription <kltylyy> (1958, p. 300, n. 1; repr., 1965, p. 42, n. 1). 

The name is also found in northeastern Iran: Sogdian <krtʾyr> (Humbach, 1980, pp. 205, 209 no. 23, 218 no. 93; Sims-Williams, 1992, p. 53); and kirdira in Bactrian and in Brāhmī script (Humbach, 1980; von Hinüber, 1986, p. 147; see below). 

It is also found in compounds: Kerdīr-šābuhr on a seal formerly in the Grand-ducal Cabinet in Florence (Mordtmann, 1864, p. 37, no. 114, pl. I), later in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Sprengling, 1953b, pp. 189-90; Menasce, 1956-57, p. 6, n. 1; Maricq, 1958, p. 300, n. 1; repr. ,1965, p. 42, n. 1; Gignoux, 1986, p. 106); and Kerdīr-Gušnasp (Gignoux, ibid.). Bactrian has Kirdiro-ouarauran for *Kirdīr-warahrān (Sims-Williams, 2005, p. 337, cited by Grenet, 2002, p. 16, n.), and in Brāhmī script we have, from the Shatial Bridge, Śrī-kirdira-piroysasya (ys = z) for *Kerdīr-pērōz.

Meaning of kartīr/kerdīr. The name has been variously interpreted. Edward Thomas interpreted what he read as <kytroum> in KNRb 27 [for <krtyr ZY>, but elsewhere <krtyr>, 1868a, p. 272] as “crown,” comparing Hebrew <ktr>), which was accepted by Edward W. West (1870, p. 383; 1881, p. 31; Grundriss II, p. 77). Martin Haug cited this meaning and comparison and added Greek kidaris “crown,” but thought that the word referred to the “chaplet,” that is, the diadem, that Ohrmazd holds out to the kings in the investiture reliefs (1870, pp. 65-66). Theodore Nöldeke, however, in the preface to Andreas and Stolze (1882), tentatively suggested it might mean “friend” or protector.” With the discoveries of ŠKZ and KKZ, when it became clear that the word was a proper name, the older interpretations were discarded (Sprengling, 1953a, p. 38). 

Justi (Namenbuch, 1985, p. 158a) had already rendered the word as wirksame Kraft besitzend “having active strength” in the name Kerdīr-šābuhr (cf. Pērōz-šābuhr). As an adjective, the word is found in Manichean Parthian (M3), where it was first thought to mean “quiver” (Salemann, 1908, p. 90, but he misread it as <qdyr>; cf. Pahl. <kntyl>) or “steed” (Andreas apud Henning, 1942, p. 951, n. 5; see also Henning, 1954, p. 53 with n. 3). Henning (1937, p. 84) translated it as “powerful,” equating it with the proper name in the inscriptions, and proposed the etymology *kṛtibara-, which he did not explain. Henning also noticed the word in a hymn (M64v3) where Mani (Jesus?) is addressed as wahīgār wxad  kerdīr, and (like Justi) suggested it meant “efficacious, energetic” (1942, p. 952, n. 5; cf. 1937, p. 84), though his translation as “powerful” is also suggested by M4590r5 (Parthian), where the Living Spirit is addressed as kāw wahīgār nēw zōrmand “beneficent, brave, powerful giant” (Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst, oral communication). 

Note also that Kerdīr-Gušnasp is named after the Gušnasp fire, which is associated with the warriors (e.g., Dēnkard 6.293, ed. Shaked, 1979, pp. 112-13; see ĀDUR GUŠNASP) and called pērōzgar “victorious” (e.g., Selections of Zādspram 3.24, ed. Tafazzoli and Gignoux, 1993, pp. 44-45). 

More recently, various interpretations of the name have been suggested. Walter Hinz proposed a derivation from *kṛti-bara (like Henning, see above), interpreting it as “bearer of the shears,” based on the shears that are Kartīr’s insignium as it appears on his hat in the rock reliefs, and suggested that it symbolized Kartīr’s function as passing down decisions (Entscheidungsbefugnisse; 1969, p. 191b). This was criticized by Wilhelm Eilers (1974; see also 1976 on the motif of the shears), who, while maintaining the etymon *kṛti-bara, suggested the first part was Avestan *kərəti- “praise, fame” (we would expect *karəti- corresponding to Old Indic *kīrti-), which would mean approximately “famous” (1974, p. 81). If the name does contain “shears,” it could, conceivably, be a reference to Kartīr’s being a eunuch (epithets referring to bodily defects not being rare; cf. Antigonos Monophtalmos, Antigonus the One-Eyed, and the shears could have been a badge of honor). We know eunuchs held high positions (two are listed in ŠKZ §50), even as priests (see Lerner and Skjærvø, 2006, and Skjærvø, 2007), and Kartīr may have substituted the epithet for his real name. 

If, however, Maricq (1958, p. 300, n. 1; repr., 1965, p. 42, n. 1) was correct that the name appears on an “Achaemenid cylinder” in Aramaic script as <krty(?)r>, this etymology is hardly tenable, and a derivative in -īra- or similar may be considered (cf. Huyse, 1999, II, p. 173, who suggests the name might contain Av. īra-, “offensive might” according to Bartholomae, Air. Wb., col. 372, but the word is more likely to refer to rows of something, e.g., a “palisade”).

See further Chaumont, 1960, pp. 366-67; MacKenzie, 1989, p. 61; and Huyse, 1999, II, pp. 172-74.

Kartīr’s titles. Kartīr appears for the first time in ŠKZ §49 (probably composed between 260 and 262; see the discussion in Huyse, 1999, I, pp. 10-14), where he is the only religious official to be listed among the dignitaries under Šāpūr. After Šāpūr, he was promoted twice, as described in his inscriptions, where he lists his titles as inscribed on official documents under four kings (see Henning, 1954, pp. 40-42; MacKenzie, 1989, p. 62), both in the description of his career in the first part of the longer inscriptions and in the summary at the end of the inscriptions (§38), including KNRb:

§4: Under Šāpūr (r. 239/40?-72?): Kartīr ī ēhrbed (Middle Persian 34 <ʾyhrpt>, Parthian 28 <ʾhrpty>, Greek 66 MAGOU; summary: Kartīr ī mowbed ud ēhrbed);

§6: under Ohrmazd I (r. 272?-73): Kartīr ī Ohrmazd mowbed Ohrmazd bay pad nām “Kartīr the mowbed of Ohrmazd, after the name of Ohrmazd the god”; 

§8: under Warahrān I (r. 273-76): Kartīr ī Ohrmazd mowbed

§10: under Warahrān II (r. 276-93): Kartīr ī bōxt-ruwān-Warahrān ī Ohrmazd mowbed (see below on “problem words”).

At the end of his career, Kartīr is listed in the Paikuli inscription (293) as Kartīr Ohrmazd maγ[bed] (Parthian line 14 <mgw[pt]>, ed. Humbach and Skjærvø, 1983, pt. 3.1, pp. 41-43); cf. the Manichean Parthian form <qyrd[y]r mgbyd> (M6031 I Bi 5: Henning, 1942, pp. 948-49; Sundermann, 1981, p. 71). On the background politics of the period from Warahrān II to Narseh, see Ursula Weber, 2009, 2010. 

The title Ohrmazd mowbed is known also in Pahlavi; in Dēnkard 4.22 (ed. Dresden, p. [322]; ed. Madan, p. 413) we are told that it was applied to persons who had been revealed to have the ability to see in(to) the other world (mēnōy-wēnišnīh; Zaehner, 1955, p. 8; Gignoux, 1968, p. 413, n. 19).


iii. Kartīr’s Inscriptions

Kartīr’s career and promotions. The longer inscriptions are divided into four sections: §§1-13: description of Kartīr’s career under the four kings, ending with the summary of his titles; §§14-24: continuing the account of his achievements under Warahrān II, reflections on his life achievements as an introduction to the account of the heavenly journey; §§25-34: the vision narrative (only KNRm, KSM); and §§35-38: results of the heavenly journey and conclusion.

§§1-2: In KKZ, Kartir begins his account by stating his fidelity to Šāpūr, whose inscription was above his own and to which the opening statement presumably referred: “And I Kerdīr was of good service and of good will (huparistā ud hukāmag) to the gods and Šāpūr, King of Kings.” This answers the conclusion of ŠKZ §51 (Middle Persian) “in order that whoever rules after Us may be of even better service and of better will (huparistātar ud hukāmagtar) toward the gods, so that the gods may be helpers unto him as well, as they were to Us!” (the Parthian and Greek have shorter versions). In KNRm and KSM, it is impossible to be sure whether the statement began with “and,” but here Ardašīr is added before Šāpūr. Whether this was a fact or a pretense he was certain would pass unnoticed and not be doubted at the time the inscriptions were incised cannot be verified (see MacKenzie, 1989, pp. 71-72; it is also possible that Ardašīr was in the original version, but was removed in KKZ). He then elaborates on how he performed his duties and how he was rewarded by the kings.

§§2-4: Šāpūr I bestowed upon Kartīr, while still only ēhrbed, various high clerical honors, making him pad mowestān kāmgār ud pādixšā, that is, gave him the highest authority to act according to will in the priestly community (see MacKenzie, 1989, pp. 61-62, for a discussion of the term mowestān). He also assigned a “basic resource” to him to be his (bun xānag <bwny BYTA>; see BUN-XĀNAG; MacKenzie, 1989, p. 63; and below). Kartīr would perform the various rituals (kerdagān) for the gods, founding Warahrān fires and caring for the priests; sealing charters (pādixšahr) for fires and Magi (see Henning, 1954, pp. 40-41); and making priests “happy and prosperous” (urwāhm ud padēx). All of this would bring “profit” (sūd) to Ohrmazd and the other gods, while Ahrimen and the “demons” (dēws; see DAĒVA), were harmed and *diminished (*mahīgār, Manichean Parthian mehgār, damage to fraγāw ud wxāštag “treasure and property” [Sundermann, 1981, 4a.2, p. 59]).

§§5-8: Ohrmazd I gave him even more authority, as well as the insignia of high rank: the hat and the belt (kōlāf ud kamar), thus raising his position and *honor (gāh ud padixšar; cf. Manichean Middle Persian M8251 I r8 pad padixšar dār-, describing one’s attitude to kings and rulers, ed. Andreas and Henning, 1933, p. 309 [18]; for gāh ud padixšar in the Paikuli inscription, see Humbach and Skjærvø, 1983, pt. 3.2, p. 51). The hat is prominently displayed in the reliefs, while we rarely, if ever, see his belt, so perhaps kamar here refers to his necklace, which is very prominently displayed (note Ayādgār ī Zarērān §75, where Zarēr is struck from the back through the heart above the kustī and below the kamar-band; and the contest of the goat and the date tree §34, where the goat says they make kamars from it inset with pearls; Pahlavi Texts, pp. 10, 111). Hinz speculated that the belt had a “long, straight sword attached to it” (1971, p. 487).

§§7-8: Warahrān I (r. 273-76) also held him in prominence/excellence and honor (pad aγrāyīh ud padixšar dār-) and authority.

§§9-10: Warahrān II (r. 276-93), his current benefactor, is described in greater detail as “truthful, generous, friendly, beneficent, and well-doing” (rād ud rāst ud mihrābān ud hugar ud kirbakkar; compare the later titles on Pērōz’s seal ring: farrox ud xwābar ud kirbakkar “fortunate, munificent, and beneficent”; Skjærvø, 2003a, p. 283), and it was for the love of Ohrmazd and the gods, as well as his own soul, that the king raised Kartīr’s position to that of a Grandee (wazurg) and increased his authority still further. Now he became “state-wide” (hāmšahr) mowbed and judge (dādwar), as well as master of custom (ēwēnbed) at the fires Anāhīd-Ardaxšahr and Anāhīd the Lady at Staxr (Eṣṭaḵr) (see Chaumont, 1958; 1959, p.  176; 1960, p. 371). The similarity with Ṭabarī’s report that Ardašīr’s grandfather Sāsān was a priest at the fire temple of Anāhīd at Eṣṭaḵr was noted by Wikander (1946, pp. 52, 67). Mary Boyce speculated that the Anāhīd fire survived to her days in Šarīfābād (Zoroastrians, 1979, pp. 163-64). See also, for instance, Widengren, 1965, pp. 261-62, 274-75; Boyce, ibid., pp. 114-16; Stausberg, 2002, p. 256. 

§§11-12: At this time, the rituals for the gods were increased, and great “satisfaction” (šnūdīh) came to the good creations—the gods, water, fire, and kine (gōspand), while Ahrimen and the demons received “blows” (snah/sneh). They were “opposed, hated” (bištīh), so that “(false) beliefs” (kēš) in them were no longer adhered to in the land. They were also “made untruthful/untrustworthy” (awābar akirīy; meaning doubted by MacKenzie, 1989, p. 64, but wrongly, in view of the importance of the Pahlavi derivative wābarīgān). On this terminology, see also below.

Non-Mazdayasnians were “struck down” (zad) in the land, including Jews, Shamans (Buddhists), Bramans (Hindus), Christians, Nāṣrā (Nazarenes or Nazoreans), Makdags (baptists? Bailey, 1980), and Zandīgs (Manicheans). Idols (uzdēs) were destroyed; the “dens” (gilist) of the demons were obliterated and turned into thrones (gāh) and seats for the gods. On earlier attempts to identify these religions, see, for instance, Widengren (1965, p. 277): Nāṣrā = “Nazoreans” = Mandeans [also Back, 1978, p. 234], Makdags = Muktik = Jains? [also Back, 1978, p. 231]; Gignoux (1972b, p. 29): Nāṣrā = Nazarenes, p. 28 <mktky> = “?”  (see also Back, 1978, p. 509, n. 264; Sundermann, 1987, p. 56, n. 109 = 2001, p. [372]). On the historical background, see Wiesehöfer, 1996, pp. 211-16; Weber, 2009, pp. 592-97. On the implications of the statement, see below.

§13: In conclusion, Kartīr repeats his latest new title, having, presumably, shown that, by appointing him to these positions, Warahrān had permitted him to perform all these pious actions that would, indeed, guarantee his soul passage across the bridge and on to paradise. See also Boyce, Zoroastrians, 1979, pp. 109-11.

§§14-15: In the second section of the longer inscriptions, Kartīr muses on his earlier achievements and how he, ever since the beginning (az ahī ōr-rōn), toiled and suffered (ranj ud āwām dīd) for the sake of the gods, the kings, and his own soul and promoted the priests throughout the imperial territories, both in the lands inhabited by the Ēr (Iranians), from Mesopotamia to Peshawar and Makrān, and in the lands inhabited by the non-Ēr, from Mesopotamia via Armenia to western Anatolia (on the list, see Gignoux, 1971; Kettenhofen, 1995, esp. pp. 19-25). Whether he actually traveled east and north we do not know, but he tells us that he participated actively on Šāpūr’s western campaign, where the enemy was struck down (zad) and captured (wardag kerd) and the land burned and devastated (ādur-sōxt ud awērān, an expression also in ŠKZ §§10, 23 Middle Persian ādur-sōxt awērān, ed. Huyse, 1999, I, pp. 63-64). 

§16: Kartīr, meanwhile, ordered by the king, took care of the existing priests and fires, protecting them from harm, and sent home those that had been taken captive (whether mistakenly by the king’s troops or by the enemy as hostages is not said). He held good priests in the land in high honor, but reprimanded (nixrust) the non-conformists (ahlomōγ and gumarzāg mard; see below) in the Magian community who did not abide by the Mazdayasnian tradition (dēn) and thus “improved” them. It is not clear whether this last sentence continues the preceding or turns to what he did at home. See also Chaumont, 1973, on the “Mazdean propaganda” of Kartīr, and Wikander, 1946, on the fire priest in Anatolia and Iran, where he refers to Kartīr throughout. 

§17: Among the good deeds he performed at home were, on the one hand, founding fires and establishing xwēdōdah marriages  (see MARRIAGE iii. NEXT-OF-KIN MARRIAGE) and, on the other hand, turning unbelievers into believers (āstawān) or making those who held the “(false) beliefs” (kēš) in demons give them up and embrace that of the gods (in Avestan terms, becoming ahura-t̰kaēša, which the Pahlavi interprets as “following the law [dādestān] of Ohrmazd”). 

§18: Finally, Kartīr details the number of yasnas he celebrated. The ceremony itself is referred to as rad-passāg, the fitting together of the ratus (see below); the celebrating of the ceremony is referred to as dēn ōšmurd “enumerating the dēn,” which perfectly describes what happens in the yasna (see also MacKenzie, 1970, p. 264 with n. 2 = 1999, I, p. [MF 75]). In KKZ, the total given for the yasnas celebrated at each of the six seasonal gāhs (see FESTIVALS i) is 1,133 = 6,798 per year. The rationale for the number 1,133 has not yet been discovered. It is not a multiple of 33, which is said in the Yasna to be the number of ratus “surrounding the hāuuani (ceremony),” but it could contain numerological speculations (see MacKenzie, 1989, p. 71 with n. 50).

§19: This part of the inscriptions comes to a close with the standard formula that, if he were to write down everything he had done, it would be too much.



The purpose of the heavenly journey. The account of the journey up to paradise follows the pattern of the (much later) Ardā Wirāz-nāmag. Both are undertaken to regain confidence in the correctness of the traditional ritual practices in a time of doubt. According to the account of Wirāz, for 300 years after Zarathustra received the dēn, people had no doubt, but after the devastation caused by Alexander, whom the Foul Spirit had sent for this purpose, people came to harbor doubt, and rivals to the Mazdayasnian tradition began to proliferate. This lasted until Ādurbād, son of Mahrspand (see ĀDURBĀD Ī MAHRSPANDĀN), underwent the ordeal to prove the truth of this tradition. Some time after this, doubt again arose, and it was decided to send someone into the other world to verify whether the ritual gifts went to the gods or the demons and whether they helped the souls at all (Ardā Wirāz-nāmag 1.15, ed. Gignoux, pp. 38-39, 148; cf. Brunner, 1974, p. 99). Wirāz was given wine and hemp (mang) and went to sleep, and his soul went to the Činwad bridge and returned after seven days, after which Wirāz dictated the story of his journey to a scribe.

Kartīr’s similar experience is summarized in the inscription at Naqš-e Rajab, where he explains how he implored the gods for a sign (nišān, also “proof”) to make him confident (wistāx) that paradise and hell exist and are the final abodes of the good and the bad, respectively.  Moreover, the inscription was written in order that those who read it would likewise be more confident that the current practices were correct, but also for fame and prosperity to come to their bodies and “righteousness” (ardāyīh) to their souls in this world (astwand, lit. “with bones”), as happened to Kartīr. 

The resemblance of Kartīr’s vision narrative to several Avestan and Pahlavi texts was noticed early on. In Skjærvø (1983, before he began focusing on the oral tradition) he attempted to determine which was closest to it. Exact parallels are not necessarily to be found, however, as all these narratives rest on the oral tradition, which is, by definition, fluid in form. The reference could, for instance, also be to some exegesis of the Gāθās (which are called nasks in the Manichean texts, Sundermann, 1997, pp. 113-14). 

Preparations for the journey. In the introduction to the vision narrative, Kartīr stresses the need for greater confidence, but he also adduces his long service to the gods as a reason why they should show him what happens to the souls after death and thus confirm the correctness of what was known from the part of the tradition (nask) dealing with this. In particular, he mentions the encounter with the dēn in the form of a female, who appears like the one going to paradise or the one being led to hell according to whether it was good or bad in life (§22). In this way, in the event that he turned out to be bad (indicated by the appearance of his dēn), he would “seize and hold on to” the belief (kēš) in the gods (§24). This promise is stated in an ēwēn mahr which he performed (kerd) at the [time/court?] of Šāpūr (see below). Whether we are dealing with a drug-induced trance, as in the narrative of Ardā Wirāz, cannot be determined from the extant text (see also Gignoux, 1991, pp. 76-77). 

Participants and events in the account of the journey. §24: The journey itself starts in medias res, with an utterance by someone (the *rehīg <lysyk>, plur.) seen in (andar) the ēwēn mahr (§25). Agreement about the identity of the <lysyk>, the narrators (plural), has not yet been achieved (see below). They have also been seated (nišāst hēnd) in (during?) the ēwēn mahr, and their job is to report what they see (cf. §29). Only once do they actively take part in the story, when they are afraid to cross the bridge. The characters they see and the connected events are the following. 

§25: A prince (šahriyār) the color of dawn (spēdagān; cf. Pers. sepīde dam “first appearance of dawn”) appears mounted on a superb (aγrāy) horse and holding a banner (note that aγrāy here is from *argāwant- “precious, valuable,” rather than *agriya- “of first quality,” Avestan aγriia-).

A person of the same form as Kartīr appears (on hangerb, see Skjærvø, 1995a, p. 275b with n. 32; on the [dis]similarities with Mani’s double, see ibid., p. 276). A ham-rahīg <hmlhyky> “car-mate”(?) stands behind(?) Kartīr’s likeness. 

§26: Then a superb woman coming from the east (xwarāsān) on a very luminous road (rāh, abēr rōšn) appears (see Skjærvø, 1995a, p. 275, n. 33; cf. Yasna 44.3: “the road [aduuan, Pahl. rāh] of the sun and the stars”; cf. the commentary on Pahlavi Yasna 43.3 “the road of the Profit-maker [sūdōmand, the saošiiaṇt]” in Dēnkard 9.36.2 as “(about) the road being luminous and going on high” [rōšn-rāhīh ud bālist-wāzišnīh], ed. Dresden, p. [656]); they meet and greet one another (bowing and clasping hands) and then walk back the way she came, she in front, he behind. 

§27: A prince the color of dawn with a pair of scales (tarāzūg) before him, on which he is weighing, appears, whom they pass.

§28-30: A prince the color of dawn appears, more superb than the ones they saw at first, holding a *čayēn/čiyēn (see below) in his hand that then appears like a bottomless well (čāh) full of evil animals (xrafstar), over which a piece of wood (dār) lies like a bridge; the bridge now becomes greater in width than in length. Note that dār can also be “razor blade,” which is how the bridge is characterized in some versions of this narrative (Skjærvø, 1983b, pp. 299-301), but miniatures in the Ardā Wirāz-nāmag show a long tree trunk spanning the gulf to hell (see also Duchesne-Guillemin, 1962, p. 333). The *rehīgs are dismayed at the sight of hell, but are told not to worry and just keep reporting (§29). Similarly, Wirāz is distressed and frightened at the sight of hell and begs his divine guides not to take him there, but they reassure him (53.4, ed. Gignoux, pp. 98-99, 190-91).

§31: As the woman and Kartīr’s likeness prepare to cross the bridge, a prince the color of dawn, more superb than the ones they saw at first, appears from the other side and crosses the bridge. The prince takes the hand of Kartīr’s likeness and leads him across, walking in front, the woman behind, bringing up the rear.

§§32-33: They keep walking upward to a palace or vaulted porch (āywan; cf. Skjærvø, 1995a, p. 280; Grenet, 2002, p. 24), before which golden thrones (gāh; tables/couches?) stand with festive meals (bazm; to feed the lucky travelers?). Note the use of bazm būd “was at table” in the Manichean text M3 (see below). I think it is unnecessary to try to see a homonym of this bazm in the inscription (see discussion in MacKenzie, 1989, p. 68; Shaked, 1994, p. 134; Grenet, 2002, p. 20). 

§33: They then keep going up to the heights (ō bālān ul rawēnd). The woman leads Kartīr’s likeness on and up past two(?) more palaces, this time preceding him (pad nox). On the possible mention of a ladder (sard) here, see Skjærvø, 1983b, p. 302 (also 1995a, p. 279).

§§33-34: There is a final mention of the woman, and someone (Kartīr’s likeness?) sits down in “the window (rōzan) of Warahrān” (see below), while someone brings(?) Kartīr’s likeness bread, meat, and wine. These probably correspond to the ritual offerings in the sacrifice for the souls, as described in Šāpūr’s inscription: daily, “one lamb [ag-brīd “once shorn”], one and a half modios [grīw] of bread, four pās of wine” (MacKenzie, 1989, pp. 69-70; see also Skjærvø, 1995a, p. 280a; Panaino, 2005 [2009], esp. p. 114). 

A last prince keeps pointing and smiling at Kartīr’s likeness, who bows to him in reverence (namāz). 




The prince mounted on a horse and holding a banner (drafš) was identified by Kellens (1973, p. 136, 1975, pp. 458-62) as Kartīr’s fravashi (see FRAVAŠI), which was contested by Gignoux (1991, p. 75). If Kartīr’s likeness is his ruwān “soul,” however, given its close relationship with the fravashi and the “soul,” it is not impossible that it is the fravashi who receives her ruwān at the entrance into the other world. It does not have to be Kartīr’s fravashi, however; in the account of Wirāz, among those standing by the bridge (Ardā Wirāz-nāmag 5.3, ed. Gignoux, 1984, pp. 50-51, 158) is the “Fravashi of the Righteous” (frawahr ī ahlawān), which is a deity in its own right, the Ardā Fraward, to whom the 19th day of the month is devoted (note the adjacent days: Mihr, Srōš, Rašn, Frawardīn, Warahrān). Another possibility is Warahrān, who, in the Bundahišn (26.59 [54], ed. Pākzād, 2005, p. 302), is called the one who carries the banner (drafš-dār) of the gods for their victory. 

The second prince with the scales can be identified with certainty as Rašn. He is pictured with the balance on a Central Asian ossuary (Grenet, 2002, fig. 1 facing p. 24). 

The *čayan/*čayēn (or similar; see below), which the third prince holds in the hand, may be the “ladle” held in the left hand of the (divine) person confronting the naked soul on an ossuary from Central Asia (see below), whom Grenet identifies as Wahman. The ladle for placing firewood on the fire, however, is the tool of the ātrauuaxš priest (see ĀTRƎVAXŠ), and it is conceivable that this function is here assigned to Ādur, the Fire itself. In the story of Wirāz, (5.3) his soul is met by Srōš and Ādur-yazd, who take his hands and lead him to the Činwad bridge (see ČINWAD PUHL). 

The fourth prince, who crosses the bridge to take them safely across, may, again, be Warahrān, who, together with Mihr-yazd, the good Wāy, Aštād-yazd, and others stands at the bridge in the account of Wirāz, or, alternatively, Rašn, Aštād, and Zāmyād. The latter are collaborators of Amurdād, who keep the count (āmārēnd) of the good and bad (thoughts, etc.) of the souls during the period of the Assault according to the Bundahišn (3.22 [19], ed. Pākzād, 2005, p. 51), while, in Bundahišn 26.120-24 (ed. Pākzād, 2005, pp. 314-15), it is Rašn who counts, while Aštād and Zamyād bring the souls to the scales. In Bundahišn 30.23 (ed. Pākzād, 2005, p. 349), it is the Farnbay Fire, the victorious one (pērōzgar, the standard translation of Av. vərəθraγna), who strikes darkness and leads the righteous across the bridge. Thus, it is quite likely that Warahrān the king represents a divine Warahrān, and so there is perfect agreement between the narrative and the relief (see below). Grenet, on the other hand, suggests that this is Srōš psychopomp (2002, p. 24). 

The subsequent princes may be the rulers of the three levels preceding paradise: the star, moon, and sun levels (the levels of good thoughts, words, and deeds). The deity of the star level is Anāhīd according to Pahlavi Yasna 65.1; the rulers of the moon and sun levels may be the Moon and Sun themselves, but these are mere speculations. In the account of Wirāz (chap. 9, ed. Gignoux, pp. 56-57, 162), the three levels are populated by souls who were good to a certain degree and who shone like the stars, moon, and sun, respectively; on the sun level (of good deeds), the souls were sitting on thrones and spreads made of gold (gāh ud wistarg ī zarrēn-kerd).

The last prince could be Ohrmazd himself, who is the last deity Wirāz encounters. Another possibility is Wahman, who, in the Avesta (Videvdad 19.31, Aogəmadaēca 12), rises from his golden throne and greats the souls as they arrive (thus Grenet, 2002, p. 24); cf. his function as the handēmāngar “introducer,” who brings the souls into Ohrmazd’s presence (Bundahišn 26.12-14, ed. Pākzād, 2005, p. 295). 

In the relief at Sar-e Mašhad, we see Warahrān II (recognizable by his winged crown) in the process of killing a lion (seen both attacking and dead, Trümpelmann, 1975, p. 11; see also Tanabe, 1990, where various interpretations of the relief are cited) and, behind him, Kartīr (recognizable by his shears), then the queen, and a fourth person (much damaged), who could be the crown prince (see Gyselen, 2005 [2009], on the representations of the crown prince, Warahrān III). 

The first to propose a connection between the relief and inscription at Sar-e Mašhad was Peter Calmeyer (Calmeyer and Gaube, 1985). This interpretation was tentatively followed by Prods Oktor Skjærvø (1983b, pp. 286, 302, followed by James Russell, 1990, p. 187), but was later contested, among others, by Gignoux (1991, pp. 78-80, with references, 1996, and 2001, pp. 85-86; followed by Grenet, 2002, p. 24, n. 28), mainly on the grounds of the uniqueness (the inscription itself is also “unique,” of course) of such an illustration in Sasanian art and on the fact that the characters in the relief are Warahrān II and his queen. This argument was countered by Skjærvø (1993, cols. 697-98) in a review of Gignoux, 1991, where he pointed out that the designer of the relief may well have chosen the royal family as models for the otherworldly characters portrayed in the inscription and the common motif of the hunt to illustrate the battle with the wild animals guarding the bridge. If the relief is not thematically related to the inscription, but simply another hunting scene, it is not obvious what the roles of the queen and the chief mowbed, Kartīr, would be, their inclusion being also unique. It also does not explain why Kartīr is portrayed between the king and the queen, differently from the other reliefs of Warahrān II. Finally, why is the queen’s hand not raised, but clutched by the king, aparently to protect her and Kartīr (see Weber, 2009, pp. 601-5)? Note also that the Sasanian kings are commonly depicted on horse in hunting scenes on bowls (see Harper, 1978, nos. 3-4, 6-7, 12, 17), while hunting youths on foot are seen on vases (ibid., nos. 13, 22). 



§1: The arameogram <HWYTN> was correctly determined by West as spelling a past form of “to be” (1881, p. 33, see below), but the only such forms known at the time were those formed from būd “was,” spelled <YHWWN>. Sprengling reached the same conclusion (see below), and was followed by Chaumont, although they pointed out that <HWYTNn> in the first sentence of KKZ = KSM = KNRm with the phonetic complement <-n> in the common use as 1st singular subjunctive “I shall be” made little sense. Differently, MacKenzie (1966, p. 156 = 1999, I, p. [MC 32]) proposed the meaning “to *reckon, consider,” connecting <HWYTN> with the arameogram <MHWHY>, which corresponds to Parthian <HWDO-> and must mean “inform” and perhaps spell nimāy- nimūd “show” (pp. 156-57). Later, MacKenzie proposed that <HWYTN> spelled ist- (a short form of ēst-) and that <HWYTNn> *istān meant “I shall (continue to) be.” Finally, after the discovery of the inscription of Abnūn, which proved that the 1st singular imperfect ending was -(ē)n, Skjærvø (1997b) showed that <HWYTNn/t> most probably spelled the imperfect of the copula, Manichean anān “I was, have been,” and anād “was.”

§3: On “bun xānag” <bwny BYTA>, see most recently Huyse, 1998, pp. 110-16, who supports the interpretation as “(personal) estate,” referring to the fires and rites just mentioned, and cites the Bactrian term bono kadgo, which Nicholas Sims-Williams translated as “estate.” In discussions, the syntax of the clause tends to be ignored, however: -t bun xānag ēn ēw bawēd, if bun and xānag are separate words, is most easily parsed as “let this house/capital be your beginning!” or we are dealing with a compound (which is not obvious), as “let this be your beginning house/capital!” (We have no independent evidence that <BYTA> at this time spells xānag; if the shorter form xān is considered, we should also note bun-xān “source” [of rivers]. It is also possible the bun baw- is short for later ō bun baw- “to accrue to” [of sins], “be in one’s possession.”)

§10: The honorary title bestowed upon Kartīr by Warahrān II has been variously interpreted. The earlier view was “he who saved Warahrān’s soul” (West, see below; Frye, 1956, p. 326; Chaumont, 1960, pp. 357, 376 n. 59; Widengren, 1965, p. 274: “der Seelenerlöser des Bahrām”; Hinz, 1970, p. 261: “der Seelenretter Bahrāms”). See also Gignoux’s comments (1968, p. 413 n. 25, and 1972a, p. 187, n. 1, where he characterizes this interpretation as “outrée” and a “bizarrerie” noticed by everybody). West had also already implied that bōxt-ruwān might be a variant of the common anōšag-ruwān said of the dead (unbeknownst to Brunner, 1974, p. 98 with n. 5: “of the blessed Wahrām,” and Grenet, 1990, who also proposed “mowbed of ... Wahrām and Ohrmazd,” referring to the kings, with impossible syntactic analysis, p. 91; see Skjærvø, 1993, col. 695; also Back, 1978, p. 509 n. 263). In view of the relief at Sar-e Mašhad, however, where the prince in the shape of Warahrān II is protecting his queen and Kartīr’s doppelgänger against the lions assaulting them at the bridge, as well as the statement at the end of the heavenly journey that he (?) sat down in the “(celestial) window of Warahrān,” the interpretation as “whose soul was saved by Warahrān” seems more likely (Skjærvø, 1993, cols. 695-96, 1997a, p. 316; Huyse, 1998, pp. 116-18). It is also possible, of course, that the title was (deliberately?) ambiguous and referred both to Warahrān’s function in the vision narrative and the relief and to Kartīr’s efforts on behalf of the king.

§§17-18: rad-passāg, the “fitting in of the ratus, arrangement of the ratus” corresponds perfectly to the Avestan terms (Yasna 1) niuuaēδaiiemi haṇkāraiiemi “I introduce, I fit together” (or similar). This reference is therefore probably directly to the special performances of the yasna at the six Gāhānbārs. MacKenzie (1970, p. 266 = 1999, I, p. [MF 59]} proposed the meaning “arrangement of the rad,” as referring to “the ceremonies appropriate to any appointed time for worship.” Avestan ratu does not have the meaning “appointed time,” however; whatever the precise meaning is, it refers to the ratus (approx. “ritual models”) of the components of the new world that are regenerated by the sacrifice and enumerated using a variety of verbs in the first chapters of the Yasna

§§24-25: ēwēn mahr: In this much-discussed expression, the words probably have their usual meanings: ēwēn “custom, customary practice,” as well as “customary” (in ēwēn gyāg “customary place”), and mahr (Avestan mąθra, Pahlavized as mānsr), a divinely inspired utterance. The “customary mahr” may refer to the stated promise, which is a “truth declaration”—if this is true, then you must do—and the whole phrase may refer to the ritual during which the statement was uttered (see the various proposals in MacKenzie, 1989, pp. 67-68; Gignoux, 1968, p. 416, n. 54, 1991, p. 95, n. 214; Shaked, 1994, pp. 132-33; Huyse, 1998, pp. 118-19; Grenet, 2002, pp. 13-19). 

§25 etc.: <lysyk> is most easily interpreted as the equivalent of Pahlavi rahīg, a page, if derived from the word for chariot. We are never told exactly how the progress through the other world—where the distances may have been thought to be great—is achieved (the verbs used are generic “come” and “go”) whether on foot or otherwise, but it would not be impossible that they traveled in chariots and that their “pages” would be their charioteers. Pahlavi *rehīg, if “charioteer” (from *raθiyaka, cf. Avestan raiθīm, probably from *raiθī “charioteer”) could conceivably have been spelled <lysyk> *rehīg (cf. <msy> “greater” spelling meh and <pwhly> and <pwlsy> spelling puhl “bridge”).

§25: An alternative spelling of this word (with <-h-> instead of <-s->) can then be seen in the ham-rahīg <hmlhyky> “car-mate” who stands behind(?) Kartīr’s likeness on the chariot. In the resulting scenario, Kartīr’s likeness and his car-mate would occupy one chariot and the *rehīgs another. The chariots would have been discarded at the bridge, when they apparently walk across on foot. MacKenzie’s derivation of the word from *raēθya-ka- and the meaning “going to die, mortal” (1989, p. 68) are both problematic (all attested forms of the verb have -i-, not -aē-; “gerundives” in -ya- from intransitive verbs are uncommon [or not found?]; there is no *raēθa- death from which *raēθya-  “mortal” could be derived). Non liquet. See also Grenet, 2002, pp. 14-18.

§§28-29: The <cydyn(y)> held by the third prince, as suggested by Skjærvø (1983b, pp. 297-98), could be an instrument small enough to be held in the hand, which then, like the bridge, changed size—a miniature well or a bucket. It now seems likely that it is the ladle used for adding firewood to the fire (cf. the OInd. cayana action of “piling up” and the agni-cayana ritual for piling up the fire altar). That the ladle plays a role in the funerary rites is clear from its depiction on the ossuaries from Central Asia (Grenet, 1996, p. 385 figs. 13-14). The word would belong with čīdan, pres. čīn-, whose technical meaning is “build, assemble” a fire, e.g., Šāyest nē šāyest 7.9 kē ātaš-ēw ōzanēd ā-š 10 ātaš bē čīnišn “if someone kills a fire he has to assemble ten (new) fires” (ed. Tavadia, 1930, p. 102) and Manichean Middle Persian M95 V 1a an hēm ādur ī čīd Zardrušt “I am the fire that Zarathustra assembled” (ed. Andreas and Henning, 1933, p. 28 [319]). The <cydyny> would be the derived noun and perhaps spell *čayan, with -ay- spelled <-yd-> as in wayūdag <wydwtky> “bridal chamber” in the Pahlavi Psalter (Psalm 132 can.; ed. Andreas and Barr, 1933, p. 112 [cf. p. 127a]; cf. Pahl. wayūg, Pers. bayu “bride”; there seem to be no other examples of words in ayan or ayēn in unabiguous script), although the spelling would seem to indicate *čayēn (with unusual suffix).  Note also the alternate names of the Činwad bridge as *čīn-widarg and *čīn-war (-wār) puhl, which could also, conceivably, be read as *čayēn- (etc.), “passage of the *čayēn.” 

Grenet (2002, pp. 21-23) has a different interpretation of the word; but his contention that “in the hand” would require a preposition as in Pahlavi pad dast is probably not true. Still in Persian there are expressions such as piyāla dast “cup in hand,” qalam-dast “pen-in-hand, scribe, a clerk,” which reflect earlier usage. 

§29: <ʾylndy> qualifying the *čayēn was tentatively identified with Avestan ərəgaṇt “terrible” (applied to hell) by Skjærvø (1983, pp. 284, 297-98). MacKenzie read <ʾ(w)lndly> and emended to  *ōrōndar “more in this direction” (cf. Šāpūr at Ḥājjīābād <ʾwlndly>, Gignoux, 1972b, p. 18 “(plus) là-bas”), but this should be read as ōr-andar “on this side” (cf. Manichean Middle Persian bēd-andar “outside,” nīy-andar “inside,” Pahlavi <nywndl>, etc.). The reading <ʾylndy> appears to be correct, however, as there is no trace of <-l->, which has a characteristic form, and the rock is damaged in this area. The spelling would be the same as in Pahlavi <ʾylnd>, used to render ərəγaṇt, and Pahlavi argand would therefore be no problem, contrary to Grenet (2002, p. 22), who proposed *ēr-and “underneath,” an unlikely formation. (It could be a scribal error, however—cf. <ptrky> for <ptyrky> in §22, KSM l. 29—and be for ēr-andar, like the other adverbs in –andar.) 

§33: bālān “heights” (probably not *bālān “vestibule,” MacKenzie, 1989, p. 69), is a term closely related to the uppermost reaches (usually superlative bālist). In the account of Wirāz, the third step takes him to the sun level, also called “the light which is the highest of heights” (rōšnīh ī bālistān bālist), the oldest attestation of which is in the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti: Yasna 36.6 imå raocå barəzištəm barəzimanąm “these lights [i.e., the fire], the highest of heights [i.e., where the sun is],” rendered and glossed in Pahlavi as ēn ruwān ō ān ī rōšnīh ī BĀLIST az ān ī pad čašm paydāg BĀLĒNĀND “‘they shall heighten [bāl-ēn-] this’ soul to the ‘highest light’ among those that can be seen with the eye” (Skjærvø, forthcoming). 

§33: rōzan: MacKenzie tentatively rendered rōzan as “radiance” (followed by Gignoux, 1991, p. 98, and Grenet, 2002, pp. 12-13: “lumière”), but the word usually means “window” and is specifically used in astrological context of the “windows” in the sky through which the sun comes in and goes out, accompanied by the moon, the stars, and the planets, which are tied to the sun and follow its course (Bundahišn 5B.3, ed. Pākzād, 2005, pp. 81-82; see ALBORZ). It could therefore be the particular “window” through which the star Warahrān appears. Note also that, according to the Bundahišn (28.4, ed. Pākzād, 2005, p. 330), Garōdman has two windows to permit its residents to hear the sound of the musicians outside, which delights and pleases the soul, a description that agrees perfectly with what we see on a Central Asian ossuary (Grenet, 1996, p. 385, figs. 13-14).


iv. Kartīr and the Mazdayasnian Tradition

Numerous literary formulas common to the Achaemenid and Sasanian inscriptions have been noted and described (see Gignoux, 1979, pp. 45-46; Skjærvø, 1985; Huyse, 1990 [1992]), but it has not yet been stressed sufficiently that Kartīr’s account of his actions is in complete accord with the Mazdayasnian tradition (dēn mazdēsn) as known from both the earlier Achaemenid inscriptions and the later Pahlavi literature. Thus, Kartīr’s inscriptions are the earliest post-Achaemenid evidence we have for this great oral tradition, which contained the current understanding of the Gaθās (see GATHAS) and the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti and their exegesis (the zand). 

The Mazdayasnian cardinal virtues of behavior are all expressed in the inscriptions (in greater detail in KKZ, KNRm, and KSM, and succinctly in KNRb) according to the Mazdayasnian tradition, and all of Kartīr’s activities serve to exemplify these virtues. Thus, the main purpose of the inscriptions was to convince those in doubt and those who were not concerned about the other world (§37 pad parrōn tis nē-parmān [or nē-framān “disobedient”?], KSM l. 55, KNRb ll. 16-17) of the correctness of the tradition, especially that paradise and hell exist and that the righteous (ahlaw) go to paradise (wahišt) and the wicked (druwand) to hell (dōšox; see also Boyce, Zoroastrians, 1979, pp. 114-16). Following are some of the most important correspondences.

§2: The phrase Kartīr uses about the honors Šāpūr bestowed upon him for him to have authority over the rites and dealing with them according to his wish (kāmgar ud pādixšā) reflects the one applied to Ahura Mazdā in Yasna 8.5, in which the purpose of the yasna sacrifice is stated and the Pahlavi rendering of which is pad kāmag (Av. vasas-ca) tō Ohrmazd pad nēkīh pādaxšāyīh bē kun (Av. xšaēša) “rule, you, O Ohrmazd, according to your wish with goodness!” 

The sūd “benefit, profit” that came to Ohrmazd and the other gods and “harm, damage” (mihīgār, mihgār) to Ahrimen and the demons have a parallel in Yasna 34.3-4, where the sacrificer promises the generous (hudåŋhō, Pahl. hu-dānāg “knowledgeable”) Ahura Mazdā and his companions “life-giving strength” (sauuah, Pahl. sūd), while the adversary’s sins may be revealed.  The exegesis understands this as “he who does everything from which there will be benefit for the gods (ī yazdān aziš sūd), glossed as “complete knowledge (dānāgīh).”

§3: A parallel with the Achaemenid inscriptions is seen in Kartīr’s statement that he was commanded by Šāpūr to do what he knew would be best “for the gods and the king” (yazdān ud amāh), and, obeying this command, he did it with the support of the gods and the king (pad pušt ī yazdān ud šāhān šāh). This expresses the close relationship between god and king also seen in the Achaemenid inscriptions (DPd §2 vašnā auramazdāhā manacā dārayavahauš xšāyaθiyahạyā “by the greatness of Ahuramazdā and me, King Darius”; on this relationship between god and king, see Skjærvø, 2005, pp. 57-59).

§9: Kartīr presents himself as “generous and straight/truthful” (rād ud rāst) and as having lived in “truthfulness” (rāstīh), and it was for his gratitude/service (spās) toward the gods and the kings that he was promoted. In KNRb 11, he also promises to become even more so if the gods grant him his wish, and, in KNRb 14-15, he exhorts those who come after him to be likewise (Gignoux, 1991, pp. 35-38). According to the Mēnōy xrad (chap. 2, ed. Anklesaria, 1913, p. 35), for instance, the three greatest good deeds (kerbag) are generosity, truthfulness, and gratitude (toward the gods; spāsdārīh), and, according to the Dēnkard (5.9.15, ed. Amouzgar and Tafazzoli, 2000, pp. 44-45), these are the specific means of salvation and the foundation of righteousness (ahlāyīh). See also, for instance, Dēnkard 6.23, where rāstīh and rādīh are defined (ed. Shaked, 1979, p. 11). According to the Bariš nask (Dēnkard 8.9.1, ed. Dresden, pp. [MR 68-69]; tr. West, 1892, pp. 20-21), this nask was about how the two kinds of wisdom (inborn and acquired) of those with great virtues (was-hunar) are put to powerful use to govern (zōr-rāyēnišnīh) generosity and truthfulness. 

§11: The statement that great satisfaction (šnūdīh) came to the gods, water, fire, and beasts (gōspand; three of the seven first creations, Bundahišn 1A.4-5, ed. Pākzād, 2005, pp. 26-27), but “blows” (snah/sneh) and “damage, antagonism” (bištīh) to Ahrimen and the dēws has various counterparts: bištīh and šnūdīh are common especially in the yašts as t̰bišta “offended” (or similar) and xšnuta “satisfied” (or similar) and their opposites. When a god is antagonized and not satisfied, his wrath will be aroused (e.g., Yašt 10.109), but when satisfied and unantagonized, he will favor his worshipper. The terms are linked in Dēnkard 8.7.12, where it is said that during the ten frawardīgān days, the gods receive greater satisfaction (šnāyišn) from the rituals, but “offense” (bištīh) from lack of rituals performed for them by humans (ed. Dresden, p. [MR 65]; tr. West, 1892, pp. 17-18). On the other hand, Kartīr’s version represents the inverse of Jeh’s (the Whore) threat that she would “damage” (bēšam) all of Ohrmazd’s creations. A closer counterpart is found in the “Advice of the dastwars to the wehdēns,” where it is said that by killing xrafstars (cf. Kartīr §28) and caring for the fire, Ahrimen is harmed (bēšīd bawēd; Pahlavi Texts, pp. 125-26 §29). 

The “blows” (snah/sneh) that came upon Ahrimen and the demons probably also have a Gathic origin. The word snaiθiš “blow” is found once in the Gāθās (Yasna 31.18), where the poet chastizes those who listen to the (demonic) utterances (mąθras and sāsnās) of the wicked drəguuaṇt “the one possessed by the Lie” and asks the gods to “teach them (a lesson) (sāz-) with a blow.” According to the Pahlavi exegesis, these particular wicked ones are the ahlomōγs (see below, §16). In the Gathic context, the wicked one may well be the Evil One, as mąθras and sāsnās are uttered by both deities and humans. 

The statement that idols (uzdēs) were destroyed (gugānīh from Old Persian vi-kan-) and the “dens” (gilist) of the demons destroyed and scattered (wišōbīh) and turned into thrones and seats for the gods corresponds to Darius’ statement that he did as was his wish with the Elamites who followed the Evil one (<a-r-i-k->, probably to be read as ahrīka from Ahra Manyu) and did not worship Ahura Mazdā like the king (DB §73 = lines 5.14-18) and to that of Xerxes that he destroyed (viyakanam) the places of worship of the daivas and instead worshipped Ahura Mazdā (XPh §5 = lines 35-41; cf. Huyse, 1990, p. 180). Note also that, typically, wišōb- is applied in the Pahlavi texts to the destruction wrought by non-Mazdayasnians, among them ahlomōγs (Dēnkard 7.7.4, ed. Molé, 1967, pp. 70-71), in particular to the evils that will befall Iran in the last millennia before fraškerd (see FRAŠŌ.KƎRƎTI). 

§14: Kartīr tells us that he toiled and suffered (ranj ud āwām dīd) for the sake of the gods, the kings, and his own soul, thus following the advice we see in the Mēnōy xrad (0.23, ed. Anklesaria, 1913, p. 4) that “everybody should toil for the sake of his soul” (ruwān rāy ranǰ abar barišn).

§16: The actions against ahlomōγs (see AHLOMŌG), loosely: “heretics,” who were chastized (nixrust) and improved (weh kard) by Kartīr (§16) goes back to the Avesta, where the aṣ̌əmaoγas are listed among other numerous evil-doers (Yasna 9.18, etc.); the word is explained variously in the zand, e.g., in Yasna 9.31, as someone who does not support aṣ̌a (q.v.), who destroys the existence (ahu), who is mindful (mąz-dā-) of this (Mazdayasnian, Zarathustrian) daēnā in speech only, but does not follow up with deeds, and, in the Dēnkard (6.159), as someone who considers great good deeds petty and petty ones great (ed. Shaked, pp. 64-65; see also the definition in Dēnkard 6C.83d, ed. Shaked, pp. 174-75). In the Pahlavi translation, ahu is, as usual, interpretated as hērbed ud dastwar, that is, in the Sasanian period, the ahlomōγ was specifically said to target the priests for destruction. The original meaning of aṣ̌əmaoγa as “someone who obfuscates/obscures aṣ̌a” (Skjærvø, 2003b, pp. 401-3) is probably referred to in Yasna 32.13, where the poet complains about someone “who keeps them from the sight of aṣ̌a,” which in the later tradition is, probably correctly, said to refer to the ahlomōγ. Note that there is no strong reason to think the verb nixrust means “tormented, tortured,” as sometimes assumed; in Manichean texts, its objects are demons and devils, but nowhere is the particular punishment described.

The gumarzāg (Brunner, 1974, p. 108 [cf. AHLOMŌG]: “fornicator”; Gignoux, 1968, p. 397: “destroyers”; MacKenzie, 1989, p. 59: “destructive men”) would seem to refer to those who perform marzišn “intercourse” the wrong way (gu-); cf. Pahlavi abārōn-marzīh “improper intercourse,” a comprehensive category in the Pahlavi texts (it is said to be the specialty of the demon Waran in Bundahišn 27.30, ed. Pākzād, 2005, p. 323); daštān-marzīh ud abārīg abārōn-marzīh “having intercourse with a menstruating woman and the other kinds of improper intercourse” (Dēnkard 5.9.11, ed. Amouzgar and Tafazzoli, 2000, pp. 44-45); dēwēzagīh ud ahlaw-γnīh ahlomōγīh kūn-marz ǰādūgīh “sacrificing to the dēws, killing the righteous, ‘heresy’, anal intercourse, sorcery” (Dēnkard 5.9.9, ibid., pp. 42-43); and, in the account of Wirāz (88.4-5), abārōn-marzišnīh refers to adultery on part of the wife (ed. Gignoux, pp. 128-29, 209). No doubt, it could also refer to homosexual behavior (see HOMOSEXUALITY i. IN ZOROASTRIANISM). 

§17: The support of xwēdōdah corresponds to the later emphasis on this form of marriage as one of the best or the best deed a Mazdayasnian can perform.

The expression u-m was dēn ōšmurd “and I enumerated much dēn, I recalled many traditions” corresponds to the advice ascribed to Wazurgmihr (§§73-74): “Which action is the best? — Enumerating the dēn (dēn-ōšmārišnīh)” (Pahlavi Texts, p. 92; see also Vevaina, 2010).

§21: Kartīr states that his reason for requesting a sign from the gods was so that he and those who read his inscriptions would be more confident about the ritual practices. This is paralleled in other Pahlavi texts (e.g., the introduction to the account of Wirāz; see above), but it is also in the exegesis of Yasna 34.6 and, possibly, in Yasna 34.6 itself. Here we read, “For if you (all) are truly in that way ... then give that as a sign (daxštəm) ... so that I shall come back (aiienī paitī) more confident (uruuāidiiå), praising and sacrificing to you all!” (in the Pahlavi exegesis the purpose of the “mark, sign” [daxšag] is explained as “so that I may be more free from doubt” and uruuāidiiå is explained [pseudo-etymologically] as “in order to make it truthful/trustworthy” (pad wābarīgān-dahišnīh; cf. §11 awābar akirīy “was made untruthful/untrustworthy”).

§§31-33: An interesting parallel between an episode in the vision narrative and the account of Wirāz on the one hand and the Zarathustra legend on the other hand is the insistance on the positions of the characters as they cross the bridge and afterward, one walking in front (pēš, pēšīy, pad nox), the other behind (pas, pasīy), which comes just after the *rehīgs are dismayed at the sight of hell (§29). Similarly, when Wirāz is frightened at the sight of hell, Sroš and Ādur-yazd accompany him, Srōš going in front and Ādur-yazd behind (az pēš/pas, 53.4, ed. Gignoux, pp. 98-99, 190-91). This is also part of the account of how Wahman came to take Zarathustra to the meeting with Ohrmazd (Dēnkard 7.3.51-62, ed. Molé, 1967, pp. 38-41). The event begins when Zarathustra sees a man (Wahman) come walking “from the ‘noon-time’ [= southern] direction” (az rabihwagtar nēmag; cf. Kartīr’s az xwarāsān rōn “from the ‘sunrise’ [= eastern] direction”). At the end of their conversation, they leave together, “Wahman and Zarathustra, in front and behind (respectively)” (Wahman Zarduxšt pēš pas). The detail would therefore seem to be a standard part of heavenly journey narratives.

The same narrative contains an exegesis of the Gathic strophes in which Zarathustra is questioned (by Vohu Manah?) about his identity and allegiance (Yasna 43.7-8, see Skjærvø, 2003c, pp. 176-77; Dēnkard 7.3.55, see Molé, 1967, p. 177). Wahman asks Zarathustra who he is, for what he toils (ranj-), toward what he strives (tuxš-), and toward what he directs his wish (kāmag). Zarathustra answers him that the answer to all three is “righteousness” (ahlāyīh, rendering Av. aṣ̌a). The Pahlavi translation of Yasna 43.8 has other details: Zarathustra answers that he is a “manifest harmer” (bēš-), glossed as “I harm the bad ones in a manifest way” and that he “wreaks revenge” on the Foul Spirit. Other parts of the strophe are interpreted in the zand as Zarathustra saying that he will bring the rightous one to kingship and that the Final Body will occur. 

It is obvious that Kartīr’s narrative is closely patterned on this kind of exegesis, and, from these two examples from Dēnkard 7, we also see that Kartīr probably viewed himself as a “follower of Zarathustra” (zaraθuštri) “a Zarathustra,” following the example of his predecessors who composed the Young Avesta. In Yasna 12, the frauuarānē, the priest states explicitly that he follows Zarathustra (zaraθuštri), discards the daēuuas, and follows the guidance (t̰kaēša) of Ahura Mazdā (cf. kēš ī yazdān), etc., as does Kartīr. He may even have regarded himself as “a(nother) Zarathustra,” as does the priest in Yasna 8.7, where he explicitly presents himself as (another) Zarathustra, who helps the daēnā of Ahura Mazdā and Zarathustra (!) along with his thought, speech, and action, as does Kartīr.

Thus, Kartīr was in complete concordance with the Mazdayasnian (Zoroastrian) tradition; there is nothing or hardly anything in the inscriptions that does not have a counterpart either in the Achaemenid inscriptions or in the Pahlavi literature (or both). There is therefore no basis in the inscriptions for assuming that Kartīr initiated a reform or reintroduced orthodoxy, as sometimes suggested (Zaehner, 1955, p. 38: first victory of Mazdean orthodoxy, Klíma, 1962, p. 386: renewal and revival; Chaumont, 1960, p. 359: “doctrinary intransigence,” purification and “Zoroastrianization” of the worship of Anāhīd; Lukonin, 1969, p. 91: establishment of a state religion and effects on internal state politics; etc.).



v. Kartīr and Other Iranian Religions



Kartīr’s name first came up in the Manichean Coptic book of Homilies published by Hans Jakob Polotsky (1934). Here, in the account of Mani’s last journey, we are told that, when the Magi learned that Mani had come to Bēlabād, they were angry and accused him before Kardel, who told his superiors, who told the king, who convicted him (p. 45). He was then brought before the king, who berated him for not having obeyed some orders he had given him three years earlier (p. 46) and went on to interrogate him regarding his teachings (cf. Sundermann, 1981, text 4a.15, p. 72 with n. 1, where the king refers to a nask, perhaps paralleling the nomos the king mentions in the Homilies, p. 46). This may be the same meeting as the one described in one of the first Iranian Manichean texts to be published, M3, in which Kartīr is not mentioned, although his namesake Kerdīr Ardawān is (Müller, 1904, pp. 80-82; Henning, 1942, pp. 949-53; see also above). Mani’s defense in the Homilies is remarkable, as he points out how Šāpūr and Ohrmazd were his patrons (p. 48; cf. Kephalaia, ed. Polotsky et al., 1940, pp. 15-16; Sundermann, 1981, texts 11.2, 22.3 pp. 107, 129), paralleling, to some extent, Kartīr’s career. Unconvinced, the king ordered him to be imprisoned and chained on hands, feet, and neck (compare the description of how Zarathustra was imprisoned and bound with thirty-one chains at the command of Wištāsp as described in the Pahlavi Rivāyat 47.6, ed. Williams, 1990, I, p. 169, II, p. 77). Kartīr is also mentioned in a Parthian text, where he is depicted as plotting (handēš) against Mani (M6031 I Bi 11, ed. Henning, 1942, p. 948; see also Widengren in Camb. Hist. Iran III(2), 1983, p. 971). The event is also recounted by Ya‘qūbī, where the mowbeḏ, whose name is not mentioned, suggests that he and Mani undergo an ordeal by having molten lead poured on their bellies (maʿida) to prove who is right. Mani declines the offer and is taken prisoner and dies overnight (ed. Najaf, 1964, I, p. 140; cf. Hutter, 1988, p. 54). 

Because of Kartīr’s involvement in the execution of Mani, it has also been suggested that his inscriptions specifically targeted Mani’s teachings. The first to do so was Robert C. Zaehner, who cited the passage from KNRb in which he insists that paradise and hell exist and will be the rewards of the good and the wicked, respectively (Gignoux, 1991, pp. 35-38). Zaehner suggested that “these truths needed emphasizing because they were questioned” and explained the need by the conflict between Zurvanism and Mazdaism (1955, p. 23; see also Chaumont’s criticism, above, and Skjærvø, 1997a, p. 315). 

Vladimir Lukonin (1969) devoted a chapter (4) to Kartīr and Mani and the establishment of a state/official religion, and Walter Hinz (1971) presented a continuous reconstructed history from the time of Mani’s appearance at the court of Šāpūr until he was executed by Warahrān I in the last months of his reign, including Kartir’s emotions and thoughts. Here he characterized Kartīr as a “missionary” (p. 495) and assumed that his activities on behalf of the religion were promted by Mani and the spread of Manicheism, calling their struggle “a struggle between two prophets” (p. 499). There is no evidence, however, that Kartīr, differently from Mani, regarded himself as a prophet, in the sense of someone bringing a new message from god. Kartīr’s aim was to strengthen the existing Mazdayasnian tradition. 

James Russell (1987; 1990), elaborating on the shamanistic model for the vision narrative, emphasized that Manicheism was important to the Mazdayasnian restoration because it was considered as a Zoroastrian heresy and priestly opposition to it “might provoke unexpected speculation and re-examination of Zoroastrian doctrine”; he also suggested that it was Kartīr’s part in the Mani debacle that earned him his promotion under Warahrān I (1987, p. 187). See also, for instance, Widengren, 1965, pp. 278; Stausberg, 2002, pp. 220-26 (“the early Sasanians between Mani and Kerdīr”). 

The fundamental differences between Mazdayasnianism and Manicheism are found in the basic tenets of the two systems, in their cosmogonies, anthropogonies, and eschatologies, as presented in Iranian terminology. In Manicheism the earth and mankind are created by the powers of evil, but in Mazdayasnianism by Ohrmazd himself. In Manicheism the “mixture” refers to the descent of primeval “soul” (or “light soul”), part of or, even, identical with the King of Paradise (Zurwān), into the world of evil when Ohrmazd, First Man, is overcome in the first battle against the powers of evil. In Mazdaism, the “mixture” refers to the insertion of evil into Ohrmazd’s good creation. In Manicheism, mankind is Evil’s ultimate creation, fashioned in order to fragment the “soul” captive in matter and make its deliverance ever more difficult (see ĀSRĒŠTĀR, for which we should probably read āsarēštār; see Skjærvø, 1997b, p. 165, n. 10). In Mazdaism, Ohrmazd’s creation of man provides an army for the battle against evil in the “mixture,” and the generations of mankind link the creation and frašgerd (see MARRIAGE iii. NEXT-OF-KIN MARRIAGE). In Manicheism, the body and its accompanying mental faculties (mēnōgīh) are made of evil matter, but both will be destroyed together with all matter in the final conflagration. In Mazdaism, both soul (ruwān) and body are Ohrmazd’s creations. In Manicheism, the aim of the creation is to deliver the primeval “soul” and, after the final battle is won, return it to its origin. In Mazdaism, the soul travels into the beyond, is judged for its good and evil thoughts, words, and deeds, and will go to heaven and hell, accordingly; in the end, however, the bodies will be resurrected and live forever in the renewed world devoid of evil. 

These are the notions repeatedly stressed by Kartīr. A person is potentially good, and if he or she behaves according to the Mazdayasnian tradition, the body will reap the benefits while alive and the soul both in this life and after death. This is quite different from the Manichean conception of soul and body, with the transcendental “soul” imprisoned in the corpse-body and the material soul being composed of the basest elements of man. 

On the Mazdayasnian soul in the body, Kartīr’s “soul that has bones” (astwand ruwān), see also Kellens, 1995, p. 31; Gignoux, 1979, pp. 54-65, and 2001, passim.




Today, the hypothesis of the identity of Tōsar (Tansar) and Kartīr, as well as the historicity of Tōsar, has largely been abandoned, but it played a certain role in the 1940s-50s, when it was thought that the clerical power under Ardašīr was Tōsar, but Kartīr from Ohrmazd I and onward (see Duchesne-Guillemin, 1962, pp. 278-79). Jean de Menasce emphasized that Kartīr’s activities presupposed an orthodoxy that was not his own and must therefore have been the work of his predecessor, namely Tōsar, who had codified the Avesta (Menasce, 1958, pp. 57-58; see also Duchesne-Guillemin, 1962, p. 279). Boyce also adhered to this scenario and called Kartīr “the second great prelate,” the first being Tōsar (Zoroastrians, 1979, p. 109).

The reason for the silence of the Pahlavi texts and the Muslim historians over Kartīr (on Ṭabarī’s Qāher, mowbedān mowbed of Ardašīr I, see above), while Tōsar/Tansar and Ādurbād son of Mahrspand remained the great beacons of early Sasanian Zoroastrianism, was a topic of speculation in the early days of decipherment of the inscriptions. Jean de Menasce (1958, p. 59) considered the possibility that, when the inscriptions were covered by sand or became too unclear to be read, Kartīr simply faded from memory, perhaps helped by the antipathy toward him felt by Narseh, the first usurper of the Sasanian dynasty [“a mean spirit” according to Henning (1952, p. 517)]; then by Ādurbād (3rd century); and, finally, by Mihr-Narseh, minister (bozorg-framadār) of Yazdegerd I, Bahrām Gōr (q.v.), and Yazdegerd II (first half of the 5th century); thus, Persian “historiography” may have completely censored him out. See also HISTORIOGRAPHY ii. PRE-ISLAMIC PERIOD.

The image of an apparently tolerant Šāpūr I is often cited by scholars in various contexts, and, sometimes, the inscriptions of Kartīr are taken as proof of a return to orthodoxy after a period of liberalism under Šāpūr, but there is no firm evidence for this. On this basis, an image of Kartīr’s life and activites that has become steadily more detailed is often cited in modern Iranistic and non-Iranistic literature. For instance, David A. Scott goes along with the notion that Kartīr introduced an orthodoxy “based ... on an outright suppression of other religions, rather than on their integration in a new (Manichean) synthesis across religious and cultural frontiers” (1989, p. 457), concepts completely foreign to Zoroastrianism, according to which salvation can only be obtained by being a Mazdayasnian and Zoroastrian and following the Mazdayasnian tradition as transmitted by their priests. 

Kartīr’s statement about his treatment of other religions has also spawned comments, notably, in Jewish scholarship on the third century. Jacob Neusner presented Šāpūr as having “encouraged Mani to expound a syncretistic doctrine capable of bringing together” the other religions “under one cult” and Kartir as having “remained submissive to the tolerant policy of the great emperor,” but, after his death, as using his power to reverse Šāpūr’s tolerant policy (1999, II, p. 17; III, p. 8 [1966, 1968]). Neusner also interpreted the execution of Mani as a “judicial murder” arranged by Kartīr and his fellow Magi (III, p. 17). Moshe Beer, in his study of three edicts against the Jews from the third century (1982, pp. 27-29), concluded that the edicts were earlier than Kartīr, during whose days the persecutions of Jews “reached its peak,” and whose “fanatical religious activities ... according to his own testimony,” involved very harsh persecution of the Jews, “intended to dissolve the unique qualities of the Babylonian and the Jew, along with other non-Mazdean religions,” which was not “the intention of the decrees.” Richard Kalmin (2006), although also calling Kartīr “a fanatical Zoroastrian priest” (p. 122), doubts the suggestion that Kartīr refers to the destruction of synagogues (pp. 127-28) and points out that several of the actions taken by Magi against Jews were not necessarily indicative of persecution, but rather exemplify how the Magi maintained their religious law also in the Jewish community (removal of lamps, p. 130; decrees about meat, bathhouses, and interment of the dead, pp. 132-38).

Whether Kartīr’s statement that he “struck down” (zad) other religions suffices to talk about a terror regime and religious obscurantism (Russ. mrakobesiya; Lukonin, 1969, p. 99) or to conclude that Kartīr was the “most redoubtable enemy of religious minorities” in the history of the Sasanians (Widengren, 1961, p. 131), or that they spelled “considerable trouble” for the Jews and the other denominations, although the Talmudic literature shows no trace of it (Neusner, 1999, III, pp. 17, 22), can be discussed. The verb zad is a traditional, epic term for eliminating evil and does not necessarily refer to killing (which is ōzad). According to the Dēnkard  (6B.14.30), for instance, “striking the enemies of men and (other) sinners/criminals is ‘goodness’” (ed. Shaked, pp. 138-39). The context is also reminiscent of the Manichean description of the “battle” between the Manichean missionaries and the local faiths, in which Addā is said to have “subdued and enchained (srāxšēnīd ud andraxt) the local beliefs (kēš),” with verbs also used about subduing demons (ed. Andreas and Henning, 1933, p. 11 [302]). From this point of view, Kartīr’s “striking down” could (whether probably or not) refer to no more than the results of disputes with other faiths. Such disputes are amply attested in the Pahlavi texts, for instance, in Dēnkard books 4, 5, 8.

According to Hinz (p. 493), it was also Kartīr who may have caused Narseh to be passed over in the succession after the death of Warahrān I (276), as Warahrān II was ideal for his plans. All the Sasanian kings except Warahrān II were “lukewarm Zoroastrians,” so that, although Kartīr [like Zarathustra himself] “abhorred animal sacrifice” (as proved by his statement regarding Water, fire, and animals, p. 494 [§11]; similarly Maricq, 1958, p. 318, n. 2 = 1965, p. 60, n. 2), he had not been able to prevent Šāpūr from performing them. 

Others have speculated that he may have been demoted by Narseh, who apparently reversed some of his policies, especially persecution of minority religions and, in addition, regarded Warahrān III and Kartīr as “usurpers” (i.e., who prevented him from succeeding his older brother; e.g., Lukonin, 1969, p. 121; cf. Duchesne-Guillemin in Camb. Hist. Iran III(2), 1983, p. 885). 

Lukonin, who asserted that Tōsar was a “mythical religious leader” invented by the Sasanian priests (1967, p. 180; cf. 1969, p. 100), also stated that it was Kartīr and Wahunām who transferred the kingship to Warahrān III (1969, p. 117), for which there is no evidence (on Wahunām, the usurper, and Narseh’s acceptance of the throne, see Humbach and Skjærvø, III.2, 1983, pp. 12-13). Widengren even suggested a “purge” (author’s quotation marks) after the succession of Narseh, who “hated” the Warahrāns (1961, p. 131). Frye (1971, pp. 217-18), however, pointed out that, in the Paikuli inscription, Kartīr appears among the supporters of Narseh rather than as his enemy. Rather, he suggested, it was because Kartīr did nothing as high priest worth remembering that he was forgotten. 

In both Iranist and non-Iranist literature, there has been a tendency to elaboration and hyperbole. Several scholars have taken a strict and critical view of Kartīr from their modern, and so irrelevant, vantage point. Zaehner referred to Kartīr as a “religious zealot of quite uncommon ardour” (1955, p. 24) and to “the process of intolerance initiated and zestfully developed by Kartīr” (p. 39). More recently, we find him referred to as “a ruthless fanatic, Kartīr, [who] promoted the xenophobic state cult” (Russell, 1990, p. 180) and “fanatical” (Folz, 2010, p. 206). On the other hand, we find him described as spiritual man yearning for a religious truth that ought to be revealed to all (Hinz, 1971, p. 492). Among non-Iranists, Neusner speaks of “the [Sasanian] government’s enthusiasm for Kartir’s program” (1999, p. 22; deduced) and states that “Kartir says the Jews were much disturbed” (1999, p. 23; not in the inscription); and so on (see also above). 

Among some groups of modern Zoroastrians, the notion has developed that, since Zarathustra in the Gāθās did not teach otherworldly heaven and hell, these ideas were introduced much later, “by Arda Viraz and the Sassanian pontiff, Kirdir, driven by hallucinatory visions” (abstract of presentation by Farrokh Vajifdar at the conference on the Gāθās under the auspices of the Society of Scholars of Zoroastrianism in Chicago November 2008, cited in Hamazor, 2009, no. 1, p. 6). Similarly, some argue that persecution of other religions and intolerance has always been foreign to Zoroastrianism, and Kartīr can therefore not have been a “real” Zoroastrian. 

Judged on his own terms, however, Kartīr was simply doing what the Mazdayasnian tradition told him to do. The truth he sought was that of the genuine tradition transmitted by his predecessors (the Mazdayasnian dēn), which was based on the belief in the two worlds of men and gods/demons, the existence of good and evil from the beginning, and that the good Mazdayasnian’s duty was to participate in the battle against evil until it was overcome in the end. There is thus every reason to view him as “orthodox,” against Boyce, who maintains there is nothing in the inscriptions “to prove his orthodoxy” (1957, p. 306; review article of Zaehner, 1955). 

It should be noted that the inscriptions and the Manichean texts are our only sources for Kartīr’s career. Reconstructing his life in greater detail is risky, as shown by Herzfeld’s construct (1935, pp. 100-103; see also Sprengling, 1940, pp. 200-201). 



The notion that the early Sasanian rulers were “Zurvanites” was developed by Henrik S. Nyberg (1920-30s) and Arthur Christensen (1944, p. 150) and elaborated on by Zaehner (1955; see above, who has Kartīr as Mazdean) and Mary Boyce (who has him as Zurvanite; Zoroastrians, 1979, pp. 112-13, 118-23). There is no evidence in the inscriptions, however, for these suggestions, either that Kartīr himself was Zurvanite (e.g., Boyce, see above, followed by William W. Malandra in ZOROASTRIANISM i. HISTORICAL REVIEW) or that the early Sasanian kings were (cf. Skjærvø, 1995a, pp. 270-72). See also the survey of opinions in Duchesne-Guillemin, 1962, pp. 302-7. 

Manfred Hutter developed these ideas further, claiming that it was the conflict between the current Zurvanism and flourishing Manicheism, both of which “always favoured universalism,” aggravated by Kartīr’s rise to power, that caused Mani’s death and was “put aside to establish Zoroastrianism as a nationalistic religion in Iran” (1993, p. 2; cf. p. 12; cf. 1992, p. 165). He regarded Šāpūr’s Zurvanism as an established fact (referring to Boyce) and argued that Mani “never would have” called his highest god Zurwān if he had not known Zurvanism (1993, p. 10). He concluded that the early kings each had a “court theologian” [author’s quotation marks]: Ardašīr had Tansar, Šāpūr had Mani, and Ohrmazd and the Warahrāns had Kartīr (ibid., p. 11). Note that the Manichean Parthian use of Srōšahrāw, that is, Sraoša, as the name of the highest god proves nothing about the hierarchy of the Parthian pantheon or Parthian beliefs.

The assumption that Zurwān did not play an important part in Mazdayasnianism and that, when he appears to do so, we are dealing with Zurvanism, is obviously just an assumption. Zurvanism as a heresy or branch of early Zoroastrianism with its own doctrines (thus, e.g., Boyce, Zoroastrians, 1979, p. 113) is, in fact, a Western construct justified only by the classifications of Iranian religions in the works of Muslim historians of religions. See also Shaked, 1991, pp. 17-22; Skjærvø, 1995a, pp. 267-74, 281-82; Boyce, 1996 (review article of Shaked, 1991; p. 15: “Zurvanism ... arose without known begetter; p. 16: “when Zurvanism was first promulgated”).


The shamanistic aspects of the vision narrative were, apparently, first mentioned by Grigorii M. Bongard-Levin and Ėdvin A. Grantovskiĭ (1974), and were repeatedly discussed by Gignoux (1979; 1981, p. 258: journey into the beyond by a living person; 2001, chap. 4) and by James Russell (1990, p. 180: “ecstatic practice generally termed shamanistic in the study of religions”; see also above on Kartīr and Mani). See also SHAMANISM.


vi. The Inscriptions and Their Decipherment

Several early travelers to Iran had reported on the inscriptions at Naqš-e Rostam, and, by the end of the seventeenth century, attempts to decipher the Middle Persian and Parthian inscriptions had begun (see the survey in Drouin, 1898). In November 1667, Samuel Flower, agent of the East India Company in Persia and merchant of Aleppo, made drawings of several reliefs and “characters” (= scripts) from Persepolis and Naqš-e Rostam, including the investiture reliefs of Ardašīr I and Šāpūr I (see ARDAŠĪR I iiSASANIAN ROCK RELIEFS). After his death, his drawings and notes were forwarded to the Royal Society and published (1693, typeset) and provided the basis for Thomas Hyde’s attempts at decipherment.  

It was only with the exact copies of the Achaemenid and Sasanian inscriptions from Persepolis and Naqš-e Rostam made by the Danish scholar and explorer Carsten Niebuhr (1733-1815), who  traveled to Iran in a Danish expedition in 1761-67, that progress could be made (see DENMARK i; EPIGRAPHY i). His drawings, published in 1778 in the reports on the expeditions, included the upper left part of KNRm lines 1-18, 30-34 (1778, Table XXXIV). 

In the early 19th century, William Ouseley, who was in Iran in 1810-15, published drawings of parts of KNRm (1821, pp. 237-38 and pls. XLII, LV; also Naqš-e Rajab, pl. XLVIII), as did Eugène Flandin et Pascal Coste (q.v.), who traveled in Iran in 1840-41 (vol. IV, 1851, pls. 181-181bis-ter); and Robert Ker Porter (1777-1842), who traveled in the Middle East in 1818-20 (1821, pl. 21 a few lines). A copy of most of the legible parts of this inscription was made by Niels L. Westergaard, who was in Iran in 1841-44 (see below). 

In 1868, Edward Thomas (1813-86), a civil serviceman in Bengal, provided transliterations and transcriptions into Arabic script of KNRb (1968a, pp. 274-77) and the beginning of KNRm (pp. 306-9), in which numerous words were correctly transcribed (and understood when identical with Persian or recognizable from Hebrew and Arabic), but without commentary (he translated and commented in detail on Šāpūr’s inscription at Ḥājjīābād, pp. 314-39). 

In 1881, Westergaard’s copy of KNRm was published by Edward W. West together with a translation and a commentary on the contents and the language, among them the following (pp. 33-34): the final <y> in many Iranian words corresponds to some extent to the final <-w> in Pahlavi, but has no grammatical function, either syntactic or morphological (unnoticed by Huyse, 2003); the bare verbal arameograms may be for both the preterite and the past participle (cf. Skjærvø, 1989, pp. 340-47); the suffixes <d> and <t> may be used to indicate 3rd plural and 3rd singular, but are perhaps also used “indifferently” (ibid., pp. 346-47); the “semitic verbs” provide corrections to the traditional pronunciation of arameograms and Iranian words and also confirm the correctness of the ending <TN> in verbal arameograms used in Pahlavi manuscripts written in Persia (n. 35; cf. Herzfeld, 1924, p. 55). West also correctly recognized the meaning of the arameogram <HWYTN> as the past tense of “to be, exist” (cf. Herzfeld, 1924, p. 184; Sprengling, 1941, pp. 172-74, 1953a, p. 54: “to have been”). Finally, West read correctly bōxt-ruwān-warahrān and was the first to translate it as “Warahrān with the saved soul” and interpret it as “the deceased” Warahrān (p. 32a with n. 32). His contribution was thus not quite without interest in the history of the philological and linguistic decipherment as suggested by Gignoux (1972a, pp. 177-78). West translated kartīr as “crown” (first on p. 31; see below). He also noted that the inscription apparently describes the succession of the first six Sasanian kings, including (erroneously) Warahrān III and perhaps Narseh (p. 32b).

Theodor Nöldeke contributed important observations in his description of KNRb in Andreas and Stolze, 1882, II, p. [8] (unnumbered). He was able to read and understand the passage about heaven and hell and recognized numerous ideas known from the later priestly literature of the Parsis, such as the Mēnōy xrad, citing rād ud rāstbrav und gerade” (good and straight), bōxt-ruwān “with pure soul,” wistāxtar “more credible,” and astwand tan/ruwān “lasting body/soul.” He thought <krtyr, kltyr, krtyl> meant “friend” or “protector” and gave a translation of the list of titles.

In 1924, Ernst Herzfeld’s Paikuli appeared, which included texts and translations of all the known inscriptions with glossary and greatly advanced the study of epigraphic Middle Persian and Parthian. In the glossary under <krtyr> (pp. 208-9), he cited the word also from KNRb and KNRm (line 8), but thought “KRTYR İ Ohormizde” was “an honorary title or name, like bag-šápuhr,” etc. He doubted Thomas and West’s interpretation of the word as “crown,” leaning toward Nöldeke’s tentative suggestion. In his archeological history of Iran (1935, pp. 100-2), Herzfeld included a brief section on Kartīr, whom he identified with the Kartīr of the Paikuli inscription, and also claimed he discovered KSM “[t]en years ago,” that is some time around 1925. At about that time he must have made his handcopy of KSM, of which he sent a copy to Henrik S. Nyberg, who cited it in an article from 1929 (p. 249, n. 1). Herzfeld compared the title kardarigan, title of a general mentioned by Theophylact (1.9.6: “Parthian title [axíōma]”) and suspected the person bearing this title might be none other than the famous Tansar (see EBN ESFANDĪĀR; EBN AL-MOQAFFAʿ). He cited the passage about the persecution of foreign religions and correctly established the purpose of the inscriptions. Finally, he was the first to publish the KSM relief (1941, pl. CXXIII), identifying the figures as the king protecting the queen and the crown prince behind the queen, as well as the grand vizier [Kartīr] behind the queen (p. 325). 

In 1936, the Chicago Oriental Institute excavated the Ka‘ba-ye Zardošt at Naqš-e Rostam (on theories about its function, see KA‘BA-YE ZARDOŠT; add to the bibliography Gignoux, 1991, pp. 22-23 n. 33; Potts, 2007; Haerinck and Overlaet, 2008), uncovering the trilingual inscription of Šāpūr I in Middle Persian, Parthian, and Greek, as well as KKZ, all of which were published by Martin Sprengling (1877-1959) in several articles during World War II and in one volume in 1953. Sprengling’s philological work greatly improved the understanding of the inscription, although there was much he still did not understand, and there were some felicities, such as his original reading of (l. 9) <ʾwbʾply ʾkylydy> as <ʾwg- (or ʾwbʾ)pl=rš(?)ʾkyl=rydy> (1940, p. 221), corrected to <ʾwʾg pl=ryk ʾkyl=ryd-y> and rendered as “the voice of the witch/the voice-witch was undone” (1941, p. 174; the correct reading of awābar was found by Geo Widengren, 1965, p. 277, n. 13: “unglaubwürdig”; see also Hinz, 1970, pp. 263-64).

Richard N. Frye, who visited Sar-e Mašhad in 1948, published a description of the inscription, followed by several articles (1949a-b; 1956, pp. 325-27; 1957, pp. 703-5, on KSM, citing corrections to his readings in 1956 by de Menasce). Later he also published an edition of KNRb (1965).

Crucial contributions to the elucidation of the language of the inscriptions were then made by Walter B. Henning, including his discovery of several forms of the imperfect passive (1958, pp. 67-72 orthography, pp. 100-4: the imperfect [article submitted in 1956]).

Henning also had latex impressions made of all of Kartīr’s inscriptions; these were photographed and published in the Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum (CII III/II, 1955: KSM; 1957: KNRm; 1963: KNRm (end), KNRb, KKZ), after which complete or partial editions began appearing. 

On the basis of the available editions, Jean de Menasce presented the first study of “external politics of Iranian Mazdaism... in outer Iran,” where the magi were losing touch with the center and being influenced by Hellenism and Christianity (1956-57, p. 4). Among other things, he suggested that Kartīr’s insistence on xwēdōdah served the double purpose of being according to the religious tradition and of racial segregation (pp. 6-7).  He also commented on the list of lands and provinces. 

The first new edition of KKZ was provided by Marie-Louise Chaumont (1960, before the publication of the new photos in the CII), who had already discussed in some detail Kartīr’s connection with the temple to Anāhīd at Staḵr (1958). Chaumont retained the meaning of “be” for <HWYTN>; like Sprengling (1940, p. 222) she analyzed the imperfect passive forms in īh (abzāyīh, gugānīh, wišōbīh) at face value as nouns with gapped copula and thought the imperfect passive <ʾkylydy> *a-kirīy (*agirīy) “was made” contained the privative prefix a- and meant “was undone, was annihilated” (her article must have gone to press before the appearance of Henning, 1958); she recognized that mowmard <mgwGRA> and mowūn <mgwny> were part of the same paradigm, but not the rationale for their distribution [different case and number, Skjærvø, 1983a, p. 153]; she established the implications of Kartīr’s various titles; defined kēš in its negative sense, not as an actual cult, but as foreign and other doctrines, among them those enumerated by Kartīr; correctly understood <glsty> as “grist, Pahl. gristak” [rather gilist, gilistag] as being from Avestan gərəδa “den”; understood correctly the passage on the seasonal sacrifices and recognized the term rad-passāg in Dēnkard 3.259 (ed. Madan, p. 275; ed. Dresden, p. [209]; tr. de Menasce [Boyce], p. 262; see MacKenzie, 1970, pp. 264-65). She speculated that Kartīr included statues of Anāhitā among the uzdēs “idols” that he destroyed and replaced them with Warahrān fires, and her analysis of *a-kirīy as “was annihilated” led her to conjectures about the cult of Iranian deities in non-Iran, whose cult had deteriorated to the point that Kartīr deemed them worthy of removal (p. 359). She asserted that the xwēdōdah marriage, having become outdated and discredited under the Parthians, regained its status under the Sasanians, as indicated by the royal xwēdōdahs listed in ŠKZ (pp. 363-64). The expression pad xwēš xānag “at my own expense” remained misunderstood, and Chaumont speculated on the identity of Kartīr’s “house” (bun xānag), i.e., temple (pp. 364-65). Finally, she speculated about the eschatological implications of astwand ruwān “the soul ‘with bones’” (see above). In the appendix, she discussed in some detail the various titles and, in the additional note, critiqued Zaehner’s (see above) Zurvanite speculations (pp. 371-72; see also p. 374, n. 7 on Zaehner’s suggestion that Warahrān III was the king who bestowed the title of bōxt-ruwān-warahrān on Kartīr). She analyzed in detail the list of lands and provinces, discussing, among other things, the identity of the Ālānān dar “the gates of the Alans” (1960, pp. 361-62; also 1973, pp. 687-89), to which Ernest Honigmann and André Maricq had already contributed (1953, pp. 88-90). An updated version of her translation was included in Gagé, 1964, chapter on the restoration of the Mazdean religion as seen in Kartīr’s inscription (pp. 317-280).

KSM was edited by Philippe Gignoux (1968), who recognized that the narrator of the vision account spoke in the first person (KSM 34, p. 401: <HZYTNm> “I see”), but he thought it was Kartīr himself who spoke, recounting his “revelation” (p. 407; the verb is actually in the 1st plural, see Skjærvø, 1983b, pp. 280, 293-94). He also recognized the encounter with the dēn and the episode at the Činwad bridge (but thought it was the dēn who passed the bridge and returned across it, p. 409), as well as the scales and the description of Hell. The notes contained numerous important observations. 

Vladimir Lukonin gave a Russian translation with notes on KNRm+KSM without the vision narrative in 1969 (pp. 86-89), and Walter Hinz published a re-edition (transcription and translation) of KKZ in 1970, primarily targeting historians and archeologists (p. 262), with a short, but useful, commentary. 

The final report of the excavations of The Oriental Institute published in 1970 contained excellent photos of all the inscriptions at Naqš-e Rostam and Naqš-e Rajab and, in particular, facilitated study of KNRm, of which two new editions soon appeared: one by Christopher J. Brunner (1974) and one by Gignoux (1972a; Brunner’s article was evidently submitted before the appearance of that of Gignoux), who also produced a glossary of all the known Middle Persian and Parthian inscriptions (1972b). Gignoux’s new edition contained numerous corrections to the text of the large inscription, and he cited Hinz to the effect that <PWN NPŠE BYTA> meant, basically, “with his own money” (p. 193, n. 2; cf. Hinz, 1970, p. 262). The article also contains a first synoptic version of the introduction to the vision narrative. Subsequently, he studied the textual variants among the inscriptions (1973), concluding, among other things, that NKRm was repeatedly abbreviated with respect to KSM. This was criticized by Pierre Lecoq (1972), who, in a brief note, stressed the high likelihood that KNRm and KSM contained the same text in view of a number of identical passages, and proposed a number of new readings. 

Gignoux dedicated several articles to the vision narrative (1974, where he commented that the inscriptions were written to establish the superiority and correctness of the teachings of the Mazdayasnian religion and its practices, p. 65; 1979, 1984), and in 1981 provided a complete, restored text and translation. He published a German version of this translation in 1984. See also the bibliographies in Gignoux, 1991. A few felicitous readings complicated the understanding of the contents, e.g., <dlp[> as darb[ed] “court master” (for draf[š] “banner”), <syptkʾl> (which, following Back [1978, p. 515, n. 309], he thought might be the artisan responsible for the golden thrones, 1981, p. 255, n. 51: “orfèvre”) for <syptkʾn> (error for <spytkʾn> spēdagān “radiant” as dawn)”; <ršzky> “cruel” (1968, pp. 402-3) and <ʾpyrwš(n)yk> “lightless” (1981, pp. 256-57) for <wšyky> wišēg “distressed” (thus Nyberg, 1974, pp. 215-16), čandēd “trembles” for xandēd “smiles,” as well as the indefinite article <1> (not recognized in either KNRm or KSM until Skjærvø, 1983b), which he read as <n> (the two signs are similar in KSM but quite distinct). Note that one of the problems with reading KSM is the drawn out and skewed form of the letters, which change their appearance, sometimes deceptively.

Jean Kellens studied various details of the vision narrative in 1975 (the fravashi, the dēn, the greetings, the thrones, the feasts, the scales, the pit), and Michael Back republished all of Kartīr’s inscriptions in 1978 in synoptic versions with a commented glossary and commentaries in the notes.

The narrative of the heavenly journey was re-examined by Skjærvø and appeared in 1985 (Skjærvø, 1983b); here the relative placement of the fragments of KNRm and KSM was precisely determined, and it was proved that the two versions were basically identical; the structure of the narrative was analyzed; and numerous new interpretations of individual words and grammar were proposed (including the indefinite article <1> in both KNRm and KSM, p. 280). Several grammatical studies by Skjærvø further clarified many details in the interpretation, notably on the two-case system (1983), the use of verbs and verbal arameograms (1986, 1989), the imperfect (1992, 1997b, elaborating on Henning, 1958, see above), and the value of the arameogram <HWYTN> as imperfect of the copula (an-ā-; 1991). 

A survey of the state of scholarship was published by Gignoux in 1989.

The results obtained over the preceding century by numerous scholars formed the basis of David Neil MacKenzie’s re-edition of KSM and KNRm in 1989 and Philippe Gignoux’s edition of all four in 1991, both with exhaustive introductions and commentaries (see also Skjærvø, 1993). Shaul Shaked contributed several discussions relevant to Kartīr’s inscriptions (1994): a discussion of the Zurvanite question (chap. 1; see above), on vision narratives, and notes on terminology (pp. 132-34).

The latest contribution to the decipherment of the vision narrative is by Frantz Grenet (2002). 




Friedrich Carl Andreas, ed. Walter Bruno Henning, Mitteliranische Manichaica aus Chinesisch-Turkistan II, SPAW, 1933, 7, pp. 292-363.

Friedrich Carl Andreas and Kaj Barr, “Bruchstücke einer Pehlevi-Übersetzung der Psalmen,” SPAW, 1933, pp. 91-152.

Friedrich Carl Andreas and Franz Stolze, Persepolis: die achämenidischen und sasanidischen Denkmäler und Inschriften von Persepolis, Istakhr, Pasargadae, Shahpur, zum ersten Male photographisch aufgenommen von F. Stolze: im Anschlusse an die epigraphisch-archaeologische Expedition in Persien von F. C. Andreas, 2 vols. Berlin, 1882.

Ardā Wirāz-nāmag, ed. and tr. by Philippe Gignoux as Le livre d’Ardā Virāz, Paris, 1984. 

Michael Back, Die sassanidischen Staatsinschriften. Studien zur Orthographie und Phonologie des Mittelpersischen der Inschriften zusammen mit einem etymologischen Index des mittelpersischen Wortgutes und einem Textcorpus der behandelten Inschriften, Acta Iranica 18, Tehran and Leiden, 1978 (review MacKenzie, 1982).

Harold W. Bailey, “Iranian mktk-, Armenian mkrtem,” REA, N.S. 14, 1980, pp. 7-10.

Moshe Beer, “Three Edicts against the Jews of Babylonia in the Third Century C.E,” in Shaul Shaked, ed., Irano-Judaica. Studies Relating to Jewish Contacts with Persian Culture Throughout the Ages, Jerusalem, 1982, pp. 25-37 (in Hebrew, translated for the present author by Yaakov Elman).

Grigoriĭ M. Bongard-Levin and Ėdvin A. Grantovskiĭ, Ot Skifii do Indii. Zagadki istorii drev. ariev (From Scythia to India. Mysteries of the history of the ancient Aryans), Moscow, 1974.

Mary Boyce, “Some Reflections on Zurvanism,” BSOAS 19, 1975, pp. 304-16.

Idem, Zoroastrians. Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, London and Boston, 1979.

Idem, “On the Orthodoxy of Sasanian Zoroastrianism,” BSOAS 59, 1996, pp. 11-28.

Christopher J. Brunner, “The Middle Persian Inscription of the Priest Kirdēr at Naqš-i Rustam,” in Dickran K. Kouymjian, ed., Near Eastern Numismatics, Iconography, Epigraphy, and History. Studies in Honor of George C. Miles, Beirut, 1974, pp. 97-113.

Marie Louise Chaumont, “Le culte d'Anāhitā a [sic] Staxr et les premiers Sassanides,” Revue de l'histoire des religions 153, 1958, pp. 154-75.

Idem, “Pāpak, roi de Staxr, et sa cour,” JA, 1959, pp. 175-91.

Idem, “L’inscription de Kartīr à la ‘Kaʿbah de Zoroastre’ (texte, traduction, commentaire),” Journal asiatique, 1960, pp. 339-80.

Idem, “Conquêtes sassanides et propagande mazdéenne,” Historia 22, 1973, pp. 664-710.

Arthur Christensen, L’Iran sous les Sassanides, 2nd ed., Copenhagen, 1944.

Dēnkard, ms. B [and its copy MR] ed. Mark J. Dresden as Dēnkart. A Pahlavi Text: Facsimile Edition of the Manuscript B of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, Bombay, 1966, Wiesbaden; book 3, tr., Jean de Menasce as Le troisième livre du Denkart, Paris, 1973; bk. 5, ed. and tr. Jaleh Amouzgar and Ahmad Tafazzoli as Le cinquième livre du Dēnkard. Transcription, traduction et commentaire, Studia Iranica. Cahier 23, Paris, 2000; bk. 7, ed. and tr. Marijan Molé as La légende de Zoroastre selon les textes pehlevis, Travaux de l’Institut d’études iraniennes de l’Université de Paris 3, Paris, 1967; book 8, tr. Edward W. West, in Pahlavi Texts 4, Sacred Books of the East 37, 1892, pp. 1-171 (somewhat out of date).

Edmond Drouin, “Histoire de l’épigraphie sassanide,” Le Muséon 17, 1898, pp. 5-14.

Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, La religion de l’Iran ancien, Paris, 1962.

Wilhelm Eilers, “Die Schere des Kartīr,” Baghdader Mitteilungen 7, 1974, pp. 71-83.

Idem, “Nochmals zur Schere des Kartīr,” AMI 9, 1976, pp. 175-78.

Eugène Flandin et Pascal Coste, Voyage en Perse de MM. Eugène Flandin, peintre, et Pascal Coste, architecte, attachés à l’ambassade de France en Perse pendant les années 1840 et 1841 entrepris par ordre de M. le ministre des affaires étrangères d’après les instructions dressées par l’institut ... sous la direction d’une commission composée de MM. Burnouf, Lebas et Leclère membres de l’Institut. Perse ancienne, 1 vol. text, 4 vols. plates, Paris, [1843-54].

Samuel Flower, “ A Letter from Mr. F. A. Esq. R. S. S. to the Publisher, with a Paper of Mr. S. Flowers containing the Exact Draughts of several unknown Characters, taken from the Ruines at Persepolis” and “An Exact Draught or Copy of the several Characters engraven in Marble at the Mountains of Nocturestand and Chahelminar in Persia, as they were taken in November 1667,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 17, no. 201, 1693, pp. 773-67.

Richard Folz, “Buddhism in the Iranian World,” World of Islam 100, 2010, pp. 204-14. 

Richard N. Frye, “Report on a Trip to Iran in the Summer of 1948,” Oriens 2, 1949a, pp. 204-15.

Idem, “The Middle Persian Inscription at Sar Mashhad,” The Harvard Theological Review 42, 1949b, pp. 69-70.

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(Prods Oktor Skjærvø)

Originally Published: December 15, 2011

Last Updated: April 24, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XV, Fasc. 6, pp. 608-628

Cite this entry:

Prods Oktor Skjærvø, “KARTIR,” Encyclopædia Iranica, XV/6, pp. 608-628, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/kartir (accessed on 30 December 2012).