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The Sacred Aryan Forest in the Avestan and Pahlavi Texts

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

This article is dedicated to the interpretation of the Avestan razura- "forest, grove", its Middle Persian derivation razūr, and the related place-name, the so called "White Forest" (Avestan Spaēitita razura-, and Middle Persian Arus-razūr and Spēd-razūr). The author investigates all passages in the Avestan and Middle Iranian texts, where the lexeme is found. The Avestan razura- is attested predominantly in the Young Avestan texts (Aban Yasht, Den Yasht, Zamyad Yasht) and in Videvdat, while as a component of the place-name it may be found in Ram Yasht. In most cases, it is mentioned in connection with war campaigns and important battles of the ancient Iranians with their enemies. More detailed accounts on "White Forest" have been preserved in the Middle Persian sources, such as Ayādgār ī Zarērān (the Pahlavi text of Parthian origin), Bundahishn, and in the apocalyptic writing Zand ī Vohuman Yasn. The battle of king Vishtasp with the Khyons is held near this "White Forest", Arusrazūr, which is also mentioned in Zand ī Vohuman Yasn as Spēd-razūr. Evidently, this place had a great importance for the ancient Iranians; Ilya Gershevitch called it, following Ram Yasht, "the Pan-Iranian forest"; for Mary Boyce it was "the forest of All-Aryans".

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg


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