Skip to main content Accesibility Help

Mani's Šābuhragān

  • D. N. MacKenzie

It is remarkable that, of the many more or less fragmentary Manichaean writings in Iranian languages discovered in Central Asia at the beginning of this century,1 one of the few texts directly attributable to Mani himself has still, three-quarters of a century after its first partial publication, not appeared in a full and satisfactory edition, with translation. ‘Mani;apos;s Šābuhragān, in which he summarized his teachings in Persian for the enlightenment of Sabuhr I,;apos; is known from nine more or less fully preserved sheets (i.e. of at least two pages each) of one MS. and some eight or nine smaller pieces. The larger fragments were first published in transcription in 1904, in F. W. K. Müller's pioneering ‘Handschriften-Reste in Estrangelo-Schrift aus Turfan, Chinesisch-Turkistan’, II, with an incomplete interlinear translation and partly out of order. The text alone was then republished in transliteration (in Hebrew letters) in C. Salemann's ‘Manichaeische Studien’, I. There the matter largely rested until 1930, when A. V. W. Jackson used the text extensively in his article ‘A sketch of the Manichaean doctrine concerning the future life’. In an article published posthumously in 1946, A. Ghilain established, without seeing either photographs or the originals, that the two fragments of M 473 glassed together as a and b, and published by Müller as they so appeared, are to be fitted together in the reverse order, the lower piece b above the upper a. Most recently Mary Boyce has included the text of the fragments M 473, 475, 477, 482, 472 and 470, so ordered correctly but with the omission of a number of incomplete passages, as text z in her Reader in Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian.

Hide All

1 See Boyce, Mary, A catalogue of the Iranian manuscripts in Manichean script in the German Turfan Collection, Berlin, 1960; also ‘The Manichaean literature in Middle Iranian’, Handbuch der Orientalistik, i, 4, Iranistik, 2, Literatur, Lfg. 1, Leiden, 1968.

2 Boyce, , ‘Man. lit.’, 70.

3 Detailed description of all treatment to that date sub M 470 et seq., Boyce, , Catalogue, 31.

4 Anhang zu den Abhandlungen der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften vom Jahre 1904, II, Berlin, 1904, 1117.

5 Mémoires de l'Académic Impériale des Sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, VIII e serie, VIII, 10, 1908.

6 JAOS, 50, 3, 1930, 177–98. He states (p. 183) that ‘although I have made a complete translation of the six Apocalyptic Fragments, with critical notes and explanations, for publication later, I can here give only a rendering of the first, and then an outline of the contents of the other five Fragments, with short renderings incidentally inserted’.

7 ‘Un feuillet manicheen reconstitué’, Le Muséon, LIX, 535–45, with reference to a partial translation by F. C. Andreas.

8 Acta Iranica, 9, Troisième série, II, Teheran and Liège, 1975.

9 Henning, W. B. had essayed a reconstruction of 11. 59 inA farewell to the Khagan of the Aq-Aqatäran’, BSOAS, XIV, 3, 1952, 516.

10 Boyce, V., Catalogue, p. XXIV.

11 Boyce, V., Reader, 76: ‘The ms. from which the fragments come is of very soft paper, and the surface is in many places rubbed, with the loss of letters or words’. In this connexion it must be said that Sundermann's use of round brackets for ‘doubtful’ letters is far more cautious than mine. I insert them only when there is real doubt as to the reading of a letter, whereas he appears to use them for letters to any extent, however little, incomplete.

12 From / in my above-mentioned first provisional transliteration.

13 Middle Persian prš(y)g/k/qyrd, ‘die Emeuerung des ursprünglichen Zustandes der Welt durch Auflösung des aus den Himmeln und Brden bestehenden Kosmos’ (Henning, W. B., Mitteliranische Manichaica aus Chinesisch-Turkestan, I, Berlin, 1932, 222), is a term taken directly from Zoroastrianism, Pahlavi plškrt', Avestan frašō.kәrәti, literally ‘making excellent’; see Brandenstein, W. and Mayrhofer, M., Handbuch des Altpersischen, Wiesbaden, 1964, 119, fraš- ‘hervorragend’, etc', and Molé, M., Culte, mythe, et cosmologie dans l'Iran ancien, Paris, 1963, 34f. (on fraša-) and passim (fraškart ‘Rénovation’). That ‘in the Manichaean interpretation [frašegird] means that everything becomes “healthy, integrum” (= fraša-) in that the world perishes totally, and not as in Zoroastrianism where the world will only be renewed’ (as Asmussen, J. P. will have it, ‘Manichaeism’, 605, in Historia religionum, Handbook for the history of religions, I, ed. Bleeker, C. J. and Widengren, G., Leiden, 1969) seems to be in conformity with S. Insler's recent reinterpretation of G. Avestan fәraša- lt;*frarta-, √ar, ‘healed, repaired’ (The Gāthās of Zarathustra (Acta Iranica, 8.), Teheran and Liège, 1975, 172). But there is no record of such a meaning in Zoroastrian tradition, where the only Pahlavi ‘translations’ of fraša-, besides the transcription in plškrt, are Vd. 1, 20 pwrsšnyk (as if from √fras!) and other-wise pl'c, and NP farāx: that Mani could have reinterpreted frašegird etymologically is, of course, quite impossible.

14 Boyce, Mary, A word-list of Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian (with a reverse index by Ronald Zwanziger), Ada Iranica, 9a, Teheran and Liège, 1977.

15 Sundermann, W., Mittelpersische und parthische kosmogonische und Parabeltexte der Manichāer, Berlin, 1973, 129 (where ‘Präs.3.Sg.’ is an error for ‘Pt.’, i.e. participle), and text line 1719.

16 Its only occurrence is in the Kārnāmag (ed. Antia, 12). Nyberg's interpretation of this astrological passage, pieced together, is ‘faute de mieux’ (Manual, II, 158, s.v. *pat-kust): *dō-āpdān ōpast u stārak Ohurmazd apāc (ō) bālist āmat api-š hac Vahrām u Anāhit *pat-kust. Haflōiring u Šagr axtar marzihēnd u ō Ohurmazd hayyārēh dahēnd’ *The constellation Aquarius has set and the planet Jupiter returned to (its) culmination point, and it has joined side by side with Mara and Venus. The constellations Ursa Major and Leo are in conjunction and give assistance to Jupiter’. Ignoring the extravagant coinings *dō-apdān (‘Aquarius’ is well attested as dōl) and *pat-kust, it need only be observed that constellations, fixed stars, cannot conceivably ‘be in conjunction’ to show the impossibility of this reading. Henning amended boldly and necessarily to make passable ‘popular astrological’ sense of the passage, thus: gw[h]ḛyhr 'w pst[k] W st'lk <Y> 'whrmẕḏ L'WHL <'L> b'lst Y'TWNt ['Pš MN] w'hl'm W 'n'hyt PWN host <Y> hptwlng <ḆYN> šgl 'htl mlc yhynd W 'L'whrmẕd hḏyḇb'lyh YHBWNd, i.e. Gōzihr ō past ud stārag ī Ohrmazd abāz <ō> bālist āmad. Wahrām ud Anāhīd, pad kust <ī> Haftōring, <andar> Šagr axtar marz jahēnd ud ō Ohrmazd ayārīh dahēnd. ‘The Dragon has come into (its) dejection and the planet Jupiter back to (its) exaltation [in Cancer]. Mars and Venus, in the direction of the Great Bear [i.e. in the northern hemisphere], are (jahēnd) within the term (marz) of the sign Leo and give support to Jupiter [in neighbouring Cancer]. ‘For andar jastan, jah- as an astrological term, see my Zoroastrian astrology in the Bundahišn, BSOAS, XXVII, 3, 1964, 514–15, with n. 22.

17 Gershevitch, V., Grammar of Manichean Sogdian, §§ 170 and 148 (where wrongly ‘from pṛt- “to condemn”’; read ‘pṛt- <√par “to condemn”’.

18 My ‘Vocabulary of the Lahore Tafsīr’, Iran and Islam, a volume in memory of Vladimir Minorsky, Edinburgh, 1971, 416, where ‘guilty’ suits all contexts better than ‘accused’.

19 Boyce mentions that Benveniste's dismissal (BSOAS, XXX, 3, 1967, 510) of a second Parthian 'bnft /aβnaft/ ‘draw near, approach’ cannot be maintained in view of the unpublished text M 44 V 10 pd š'dyft nzd 'w pylg 'bnft ‘approached the altar in happiness’. The same meaning suits M 18 R 12 (= Reader, bw 2).

20 Besides the passages he citea, the word appears in Pahl. Vend. V, 4 (VIII, 34) in a gloss of Avestan xraodaṯ.urwan-: xrōhišn-dād-ō-ruwān, kū-šān ruwān az garōdmān xrōstag xwēstag būd hē ‘that their souls would have been pursued (driven) with hue and cry from paradise’.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
  • ISSN: 0041-977X
  • EISSN: 1474-0699
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-the-school-of-oriental-and-african-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed