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A bactrian god

  • Nicholas Sims-Williams (a1)

The Kushan god μοζδοοανο is attested on a group of rare coins of Kanishka I, where he is depicted as a bearded male bearing a trident in his right hand and riding a two-headed horse. It has been universally assumed that the name μοζδοοανο is connected in some way with that of Ahura Mazda, the supreme deity of the Zoroastrian religion, the second element of the Bactrian form being generally interpreted as an epithet meaning ‘victorious’.

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1 Rosenfield, J. M., The dynastic arts of the Kushans (Berkeley, 1967), 8283;Göbi, R., System und Chronologie der Münzprägung des Kušānreiches (Wien, 1984), 42 and pl. 167.

2 So far as I know, this etymology was first proposed by Duchesne-Guillemin, J., Paideuma, VII, 1960, 213214.

3 Humbach, H., Mithraic Studies, I, (ed.) Hinnells, J. R. (Manchester, 1975), 139, followed by Davary, G. Dj., Baktrisch: ein Wörterbuch auf Grund der Inschriften, Handschriften, Münzen und Siegelsteine (Heidelberg, 1982), 234.

4 Sims-Williams, N. and Cribb, J.A new Bactrian inscription of Kanishka the Great’, Silk Road Art and Archaeology, IV, [1995–]1996, 75142.

5 The name of Ahura Mazda appears here in a more archaic spelling than the ωορομοζδο attested a generation later on a coin of Huvishka (the authenticity of which is doubtful according to Humbach, art. cit., 139–40). Forms such as ωυρομοζδο, ωορμοζδο ωορμοζδο, attested in the Kushano-Sasanian period (as a personal rather than a divine name) probably represent MP ō(h)rmuzd. In my edition of the text I contemplated an alternative reading αθρο μοζδο, which could be understood as ‘Fire (son) of Mazda’, cf. Av. ātarš ahurahe mazdā ‘Fire (son) of Ahura Mazda’, but it is highly doubtful whether this pregnant use of the genitive would have survived into Bactrian.

6 Gershevitch, I., TPS, 1969, 174, and apud Hallock, R. T., Persepolis fortification tablets (Chicago, 1969), 732.

7 Rather than from *mazišakī- as previously proposed (Sims-Williams, N.Proceedings of the first European Conference of Iranian Studies, 1, (ed.) Gnoli, Gh. and Panaino, A. (Rome, 1990 [1991]), 292294).I have discussed the phonological details of the new etymology in a contribution to Emmerick, R. E., Studies in the vocabulary of Khotanese, III, Vienna, 123124 (forthcoming).

8 Kuiper, F. B. J., Acta Orientalia, XII, 1934, 234;Wackernagel, J. and Debrunner, A., Altindische Grammatik, II/2 (Göttingen, 1954), 910.

9 Leumann, E., Zur nordarischen Sprache und Literatur (Strassburg, 1912), 72.

10 Emmerick, R. E., Saka grammatical studies (London, 1968), 338, referring to Hoffmann, K., ‘Ein grundsprachliches Possessivsuffix’, MSS, VI, 1955, 3540.

11 For the simplification of the cluster *ḍv in mäḍe < *mä (ṣ)ḍve cf. naḍe < *nṛtāwāh, nom. sg. of nadaun- < *nrtāwan- ‘man’.

12 cf. Emmerick, op. cit., 337. The secondary addition of *-h to the nom. sg. m. is also found in Khot. -r-stems, e.g. päte ‘father’ < *pitā-h. Its function was perhaps to characterize these forms more clearly as masculines.

13 See further Wackernagel-Debrunner, , op. cit., 894, 903905;Schindler, J., Investigationes philologicae et comparativae: Gedenkschrift für Heinz Kronasser, (ed.) Neu, E. (Wiesbaden, 1982), 200201.

14 Emmerick, op. cit., 347–8.

15 cf. the OP gen. sg. Auramazdāha, as explained by Kuiper, F. B. J., On Zarathustra's language (Mededelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Afd. Letterkunde, N. R., XLI/4), (Amsterdam, 1978), 7: gen. ending *-ah secondarily added to disambiguate the nom./gen. in *-ah.

16 Conversely, the GAv. nom. sg. may be due to influence of . See Bartholomae, C., Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, 1, (ed.) Geiger, W. and Kuhn, E. (Strassburg, 1895), 118.

17 See Humbach, H., onumentum H. S. Nyberg, I (Acta Iranica, IV), Tehran-Liège, 1975, 402408. As Frantz Grenet has pointed out to me, one of the problems to be confronted is the fact that both οηϸο and μοζδοοανο are depicted on coins belonging to the same (third) emission of Kanishka.

18 This last point too I owe to Frantz Grenet. Humbach, art. cit., 405, suggests that the third face of wyšprkr may correspond to a third ‘neutral’ aspect of the god.

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