Pahlavi Epistolary Formulae

Abstract


The paper focuses on the Pahlavi text dealing with the correct way to write letters published in: JAMASP-ASANA (ed.) 1913, 132-140. The text contains a series of formulae to be used in letters to various persons. The reading and interpretation of the formulae were translated differently by previous scholars. The key to the understanding of these formulae is the opposition of two terms-xwadāy and bandag-meaning the addressee and the sender of a letter. The constructions with an attribute compound and its synonym, and a determinative compound and its synonym following these two terms refer to the addressee and the sender respectively.


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Olga Chunakova Pahlavi Epistolary Formulae Abstract: The paper focuses on the Pahlavi text dealing with the correct way to write letters published in: JAMASP-ASANA (ed.) 1913, 132-140. The text contains a series of formulae to be used in letters to various persons. The reading and interpretation of the formulae were translated differently by previous scholars. The key to the understanding of these formulae is the opposition of two terms-xwadāy and bandag-meaning the addressee and the sender of a letter. The constructions with an attribute compound and its synonym, and a determinative compound and its synonym following these two terms refer to the addressee and the sender respectively. Key words: Pahlavi, Pahlavi literature, Pahlavi manual of writing letters The short treatise Abar nāmag-nibÔsišnīh (“On Letter-writing”)1 is one of the most interesting texts written in Pahlavi; it contains standardized formulae of greeting, good wishes, and condolences. The very first sentences show how a person should be addressed:2 nøn nibÔsīhÔd pad sazÔd-nibištan (ī) nāmag <ī> ō kas kas xwadāyīgān ō +pādixšāyān ud mÔhān ud abarmānīgān hamÔ-pÔrōzgar ō kardārān hamÔ-farroxtar ō awÔšān kÔ pad har āfrīn ārzānīg hÔnd yazdān-pānag ud +yazd3-ayār ō az-iš-kÔhān anōš ayād ayād4 1000 anōš ō +bandagān ud az-iš-kÔhān 1000 anōš ayād az anōš5 ayād ’nyk frāz dāšt ÔstÔd āzarmīgtom grāmīgtom ō pidar ayāb brādarān ayāb frazandān ayāb ō awÔšān kÔ hāwand ī pid ud brād ud frazand hÔnd.-“Here (‘presently’) it is written how various xwadāyīgān should write letters. Rulers, nobility, and the well-born are to be addressed as ‘omnivictorious’, officials as © Olga Mikhailovna Chunakova, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences 1 JAMASP-ASANA 1913, 132-140. 2 The suggested transcription is based on Manichaean texts, with round brackets denoting suggested inserts, and the angular ones, the words resulting from the scribe’s mistakes. The crosses indicate the cases when specific forms have been reconstructed. 3 Sic!-cf. DP and Ta (see JAMASP-ASANA 1913, 132, note 9); other manuscripts suggest šahr-ayār. For the ways to read it, cf. the epithet yazdān-ayār in “The Admonition of the wise Ošnār”. MS MK, p. 146v, line 13. 4 The noun was repeated in MSS MK and JJ (JAMASP-ASANA 1913, 132, note 10). 5 MS Ta reads anōš; other manuscripts, anōšag (JAMASP-ASANA 1913, 132, note 11). ‘omniglorious’, those deserving every praise as ‘protected by gods’ and ‘supported by (lit. "a friend of") a god’, ō az-iš-kÔhān anōš ayād ayād 1000 anōš ō bandagān ud az-iš-kÔhān 1000 anōš ayād az anōš ayād ’nyk is suggested (while writing). ‘The most respectable’ and ‘the dearest’ for father, or brothers, or sons, or else those who are like a father, a brother, or a son”. Earlier researchers rendered the passage quoted in more than one way. The initial publisher of this text, Jamshed Tarapore,[12] suggested the following translation: “Now it is written for fitting letter writing to different chieftains; <…>; to those lesser ones blessed memory and 1000 blessings; to servants and underlings, 1000 blessed memories which immortal memory several (with ’nyk read as andak.-O. Ch.) possess.” R. Zaehner suggested his own version:[13] “Now I shall treat of the correct way to write letters to divers persons in high estate, <…>, to such subordinates as have alert and unforgetting minds, to servants whose faithful labours (with ’nyk read as *anÔk.-O. Ch.) cannot be forgotten, and are therefore considered honourable and dear”. In this, Robert Zaehner read the ideogram LK (1000) repeated in the phrase twice as raγ, “fast”, and believed that the words ud az-iš-kÔhān 1000 anōš ayād following the noun bandagān were actually a mistake made by the scribe. Here is the translation by Sh. Shaked:[14][15] “Now a letter is written in the 9 9 correct manner to each one (of the following: to) lords; <…> to (one’s) servants and subordinates, whose character is of sweet memory, of whose 9 sweetly-remembered [character] a little (with ’nyk read as andak.-O. Ch.) is retained which is most honoured and which is dearest”. Shaked believed that the words ō az-iš-kÔhān anōš ayād 1000 anōš were actually a repetition, followed by ō bandagān ud azeš-kÔhān [ī-š] rag (for the ideogram LK.- O. Ch.) anōš ayyād, [kÔ] az anōšag ayyād [rag?] andak (for ’nyk.-O. Ch.) frāz dāšt ÔstÔd, connecting them with [ī] āzarmīg-tom ud grāmīg-tom. Readings of this passage that involve major corrections and translations that assume special deference towards servants can never be considered satisfactory. In order to understand it, we must pay attention to the epistolary formulae to be found in other Iranian sources, as they were all derived from the standards used in Aramaic chancellery. For instance, Sogdian letters obviously distinguish between the nouns βaγ-βantak[16] which correspond to the Pahlavi opposition xwadāy-bandag in our passage. These two nouns indicate the relationship between the addressee and sender, as the former was addressed in Pahlavi as xwadāy (“My Lord”), while the latter was referred to as bandag (“servant”-cf. today’s “your humble servant”). This sentence of the reference book used the word xwadāyīgān, the plural of a substantivized adjective for a special sort of addressee, rulers, the nobility, the well-born, officials, i.e., “those deserving every praise”, as well as addressees “of lower standing” (Pahlavi az-iš-kÔhān); all these homogeneous objects imply the presence of the preposition ō. The words following the noun “lower standing” should contain the formula used in regard to this specific sort of addressees, in just the same way as appropriate formulae follow other titles and ranks. The noun bandagān denoted the senders, and the “lowers” (az-iš-kÔhān) following it indicated that those senders were below the addressees in social standing. In that case, the words 1000 anōš ayād az anōš ayād ’nyk must have meant the “lower-status” sender, as, according to the suggested model, these were to be the words concluding a letter. Now let us return to the first formula, the words to be used when addressing persons (xwadāyīgān) whose standing is lower (az-iš-kÔhān) than that of the sender: anōš ayād ayād 1000 anōš. This formula contains the adjective anōš (“nice”, “happy”, lit. “immortal”) and the noun ayād (“memory”, “reminiscence”) plus the same construction preceded by the numeral 1000. Together, they form two attributive composites following a model well known in Iranian languages: adjective + noun and noun + adjective, cf. Modern Persian tangdil vs. diltang, both having the same meaning, “saddened” (lit. “one whose heart is burdened”). These both Pahlavi composites (anōš ayād and ayād anōš) can be translated as “pleasantly remembered”, i.e., someone who is associated with pleasant memories. The second composite emphasized by the numeral could well mean “pleasantly remembered 1000 times (ayād 1000 anōš)”,[17] but, as it was addressed to someone of lower standing, one could assume that the numeral was inserted later with the second construction specifying and emphasizing the first one: someone of lower standing (should be addressed as) anōš ayād “pleasantly remembered”, (i.e.,) ayād anōš “remembered pleasantly”. Once the Pahlavi sentence is understood in this way, it becomes logical and devoid of repetitions. In following, we turn to the formula to be used by senders of lower standing in respect of themselves, bandagān +ī[18] az-iš-kÔhān. That expression, 1000 anōš ayād az anōš ayād ’nyk with its two nouns preceded by the numeral 1000 formed yet another composite, but, as it was actually the sender’s signature, the composite could not avoid denoting the subject. In Iranian languages, the agent was (and still is) denoted with a determinative composite, its first part being an adjective, the second the verbal stem of the present tense, cf. Modern Persian xušnavis “a calligrapher” (lit. “well writing”). In that case, the composite might well mean “remembering with pleasure” and, with the preceding numeral, “remembering with pleasure a thousand times”. The question, however, is whether ayād could be viewed as the present-tense stem of the verb “to remember”, as Pahlavi dictionaries suggest the infinitive ayāsīdan has the present-tense stem ayās-.[19] However, a verb ayādistan derived from the noun (cf. kāmistan “to desire” vs. kām “wish”) can be found in MS PB containing the text of “Judgements of the Spirit of Wisdom” used by Dastur Peshotan Sanjana,[20] and its existence is further proved by the causative ayādÔnīdan,[21] as well as by its derivates, anayādīh “forgetfulness”,[22] ayādÔnišn “the process of remembering”,[23] and ayādgār “memoir”.[24] The words following the phrase “recalling with pleasure 1000 times”, az anōš ayād ’nyk, should, as in the previous case, specify the expression: “(that is) (as it should be written.-O. Ch.) about someone remembering with pleasure”, which means that no graphical or grammatical objections emerge to reading Pahlavi az anōš ayādānīg (cf. the adjectivized participle arzānīg, which is similar in structure). The expression 1000 anōš ayād can be found in several papyri; in five fragments it is preceded by the preposition pad; in other cases, the pad (PWN) seems to be preceded by a L (“lamed”) which could be a consonant, a part of the ideogram ‘L denoting the preposition of direction ō, but that reading should be considered merely as an assumption.19 According to D. Weber, the expression 1000 anōš ayād introduced by the preposition pad should be associated with the addressee,[25] but that Pahlavi preposition could also precede the logical subject of an action,[26] which makes it possible to understand this formula, when used in the present fragments, as a term used in regard to the sender, someone whose social standing is lower than that of the addressee. Thus this Pahlavi manual starts in the following way: “Here (‘now’), it is explained how various addressees should be written to. Rulers, nobility, and well-born are ‘omnivictorious’, officials, ‘all-glorious’, those deserving every praise ‘protected by gods’ and ‘supported by God’, those of lower standing, ‘remembered with pleasure’, (i.e.,) pleasantly remembered.[27] Senders having a lower social standing should (write) ‘remembering with pleasure 1000 times’ about the one who is remembering with pleasure. ‘Most respected’ and ‘dearest’ refer to a father, or brothers, or sons, or those who are like a father, a brother, or a son”. Abbreviations DP: MS from D.P. Sanjana’s collection. JJ: MS from Jamshid Jamasp’s collection. K 20: MS from the Royal Library in Copenhagen. MK: MS by Mihraban Kayhosrau (A.D. 1322) PB: MS from D.P. Sanjana’s collection. Ta: MS from Tahmuras Anklesaria’s collection (A.D. 1887). References BOYCE, Mary 1977: “A Word-List of Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian”. Acta Iranica Encyclopédie permanente des études iraniennes 9a. Troisième Série. Textes et Mémoires Vol. II - Supplement. Téhéran-Liège: Bibliothèque Pahlavi. CHUNAKOVA O.M. (ed.) 1987: Kniga deianii Ardashira syna Papaka [The book of the deeds of Ardashir, son of Papak]. (Pam’iatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka. LXXVIII). Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Nauka. Glavnaia redaktsiia vostochnoi literatury. JAMASP-ASANA Dastur Jamaspji Minocheherji (ed.) 1913: The Pahlavi Texts. P. II. Bombay: Fort Printing Press. LIVSHITS V.A. (ed.) 1962: Sogdiiskiie dokumenty s gory Mug. II. Iuridicheskiie dokumenty i pis’ma. [Sogdian documents from the Mug mountain. II. Legal documents and letters]. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo vostochnoi literatury. MACKENZIE, David Neil 1971: A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. London: Oxford University Press. NYBERG, Henrik Samuel 1974: A Manual of Pahlavi. P. II. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. SANJANA Darab Dastur Peshotan 1895: The Dīnā ī Maīnё ī Khrat, or The Religious Decisions of the Spirit of Wisdom. Bombay: Printed at the Duftur Ashkara and the Education Society’s Steam Press. SHAKED, Shaul 1979: Wisdom of the Sasanian Sages. (DÔnkard VI), Columbia University. (Persian Heritage Series, No. 34). Boulder:Westview Press. TARAPORE Jamshed C. 1932: Vijārishn-ī Chatrang, Aininak Nāmak-Yaktībёnishnīh, and Him va Kherat ī Farkhō Gabrā or the Explanation of Chatrang and other Texts. Bombay: Trustees of the Parsee Punchayet Funds and Properties 2. WEBER, DIETER 1984: “Pahlavi Papyri und Ostraca (Stand der Forschung)”. Middle Iranian Studies. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, vol. 16. Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters, 25-43. ZAEHNER, Robert Charles 1937-1939: “Nāmak-nipÔsišnīh”. Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, vol. IX. London: Published by the School of Oriental Studies, 93-109.

About the authors

Olga Chunakova

Institute of Oriental Manuscripts RAS

Author for correspondence.
Email: ochunakova@inbox.ru
SPIN-code: 5146-7100

Russian Federation

References

  1. BOYCE, Mary 1977: “A Word-List of Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian”. Acta Iranica Encyclopédie permanente des études iraniennes 9a. Troisième Série. Textes et Mémoires Vol. II - Supplement. Téhéran-Liège: Bibliothèque Pahlavi
  2. CHUNAKOVA O.M. (ed.) 1987: Kniga deianii Ardashira syna Papaka [The book of the deeds of Ardashir, son of Papak]. (Pam’iatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka. LXXVIII). Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Nauka. Glavnaia redaktsiia vostochnoi literatury
  3. JAMASP-ASANA Dastur Jamaspji Minocheherji (ed.) 1913: The Pahlavi Texts. P. II. Bombay: Fort Printing Press
  4. LIVSHITS V.A. (ed.) 1962: Sogdiiskiie dokumenty s gory Mug. II. Iuridicheskiie dokumenty i pis’ma. [Sogdian documents from the Mug mountain. II. Legal documents and letters]. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo vostochnoi literatury
  5. MACKENZIE, David Neil 1971: A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. London: Oxford University Press
  6. NYBERG, Henrik Samuel 1974: A Manual of Pahlavi. P. II. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz
  7. SANJANA Darab Dastur Peshotan 1895: The Dīnā ī Maīnё ī Khrat, or The Religious Decisions of the Spirit of Wisdom. Bombay: Printed at the Duftur Ashkara and the Education Society’s Steam Press
  8. SHAKED, Shaul 1979: Wisdom of the Sasanian Sages. (DÔnkard VI), Columbia University. (Persian Heritage Series, No. 34). Boulder:Westview Press
  9. TARAPORE Jamshed C. 1932: Vijārishn-ī Chatrang, Aininak Nāmak-Yaktībёnishnīh, and Him va Kherat ī Farkhō Gabrā or the Explanation of Chatrang and other Texts. Bombay: Trustees of the Parsee Punchayet Funds and Properties 2
  10. WEBER, DIETER 1984: “Pahlavi Papyri und Ostraca (Stand der Forschung)”. Middle Iranian Studies. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, vol. 16. Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters, 25-43
  11. ZAEHNER, Robert Charles 1937-1939: “Nāmak-nipÔsišnīh”. Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, vol. IX. London: Published by the School of Oriental Studies, 93-109

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