A Purging Presence

The Dog in Zoroastrian Tradition

in Anthropology of the Middle East
View More View Less
  • 1 Columbia University mm1754@columbia.edu
Restricted access

Abstract

As in many cultures Zoroastrians consider corpses as foci of pollution. Corpses are unclean and dangerous since they are afflicted by the demon of dead matter. As soon as the dying person loses consciousness, the demon of dead matter arrives from the north in the form of a fly and attacks the body. To counteract her influence, a corpse must be exposed to the gaze of a dog or a bird of prey before it is left exposed outside in the funerary tower. The dog’s presence forms an essential part of several Zoroastrian purification rituals. In this article we shall discuss two of these rituals: the sagdīd and the Baršnūm.

Contributor Notes

Mahnaz Moazami is an Associate Research Scholar at Columbia University in the City of New York. She has written extensively on aspects of Zoroastrian religion and tradition during the Sasanian period and is the author of Wrestling with the Demons of the Pahlavi Widēwdād (Brill, 2014) and the editor of Zoroastrianism: A Collection of Articles from the Encyclopædia Iranica (EIF, 2016). E-mail: mm1754@columbia.edu

  • Amouzgar J. and Tafazzoli, A. (eds) (2000), Le Cinquième Livre du Dēnkard (Paris: Association pour l’avancement des études iraniennes).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Anklesaria B. T. (1969), The Pahlavi Rivāyat of Āturfarnbag and Farnbag-Sroš, 2 vols, ed. P. K. Anklesaria (vol. 1) and M. K. JamaspAsa (vol. 2) (Bombay: M. F. Cama Athornan Institute).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boyce, M. (1977), A Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianis (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

  • Dhabhar, E. B. N. (1912), Nâmakîhâ î Mânûshchîhar: The Epistles of Mânûshchîhar (Bombay: Trustees of the Parsee Panchayat Funds and Properties)

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dhabhar, E. B. N. (1932), The Persian Rivayats of Hormazyar Framarz and Others (Bombay: K.R. Cama Oriental Institute).

  • Gignoux, Ph. (1984), Le Livre d’Ardā Vīrāz, translittération, transcription et traduction du texte pehlevi (Paris: Editions Recherche sur les civilisations).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Iranian Culture Foundation (1970) The Bondahesh Being: A Facsimile Edition of the Manuscript TD1, (Tehran: Iranian Culture Foundation).

  • Jaafari-Dehaghi, M. (1998), Dādestān ī Dēnīg, transcription, translation and commentary (Paris: Association pour l’avancement des études iraniennes).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JamaspAsa, K. M. and Nawabi, M. (eds) (1979), Iranian Bundahišn and Rivāyat-I Ēmēt-I Ašavahištān MS. TD2, Pt. 2, Zand ī Fragard ī Jud-Dēw-Dād, pp. 433673 (Shiraz: Muʾassasah-e Asiyāʾi, Dāneshgāh-e Pahlavi).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lerner, J. (1995), ‘Central Asians in Sixth-century China: A Zoroastrian Funerary Rite’, Iranica Antiqua 30, no. 1: 179188.

  • Lincoln, B. (2007), Religion, Empire, and Torture: The Case of Achaemenian Persia, with a Postscript on Abu Ghraib (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Madan, D. M. (ed.) (1911), The Complete Text of the Pahlavi Dinkard, 2 vols (Bombay: The Society for the Promotion of Researches into the Zoroastrian Religion).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Malandra, W. W. (2005), ‘Zoroastrianism i. Historical Review’, Encyclopædia Iranica, www.iranicaonline.org/articles/zoroastrianism-i-historical-review.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moazami, M. (2014), Wrestling with the Demons of the Pahlavi Widēwdād: Transcription, Translation, and Commentary (Leiden and Boston: Brill).

  • Modi, J. J. (1922), The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees (Bombay: British India Press).

  • Nawabi, M. and Tavusi, M. (eds) (1976), Dādestān ī Dēnīg, Matn-e Pahlavi, 92 pursish-e Mihr-Khorshid ī Āzarmāhān va digarān az Manuchihr Gushanjām (Shiraz: Muʾ assasah-e Asiyā ʾi, Dāneshgāh-e Pahlavi).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Safa-Isfahani, N. (1980), Rivāyat-i Hēmīt-i Ašawahistān. A Study in Zoroastrian Law, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University).

  • Skjærvø, P. O. (2011), The Spirit of Zoroastrianism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).

  • Tavadia, J. C. (1930), Šāyast-nē-šāyast: A Pahlavi Text on Religious Customs (Hamburg: Friederichsen, De Gruyter & Co.).

  • Williams, A. V. (1990), Pahlavi Rivāyat Accompanying the Dādestān ī Dēnīg, 2 Parts, (Copenhagen: Munksgard).

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 55 55 3
Full Text Views 13 13 0
PDF Downloads 7 7 0