Zahhāk or Zohhāk (in Persian: ضحاک) is a figure of Persian mythology, evident in ancient Iranian folklore as Aži Dahāka, the name by which he also appears in the texts of the Avesta. By Persian Mythology is meant the myths and sacred narratives of the culturally and linguistically related group of ancient peoples who inhabited the Iranian Plateau History The concept of folklore developed as part of the 19th century ideology of Romantic nationalism, leading to the reshaping of oral traditions to serve modern ideological The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language. In Middle Persian he is called Dahāg or Bēvar-Asp, the latter meaning "[he who has] 10,000 horses". Middle Persian is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times (224-654 CE became a Prestige dialect
Aži (nominative ažiš) is the Iranian Avestan word for "serpent" or "dragon". The Iranian languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family and its subfamily Indo-Iranian. Avestan is an Eastern Old Iranian language that was used to compose the sacred hymns and canon of the Zoroastrian Avesta. It is cognate to the Vedic Sanskrit word ahi, "snake", and without a sinister implication. Cognates in Linguistics are words that have a common origin They may occur within a language such as shirt and skirt as two English words descended from Vedic Sanskrit is an ancient Indian language, the language of the Vedas, the oldest Shruti texts of Hinduism. Azi and Ahi are distantly related to Greek ophis, Latin anguis, both meaning "snake". Greek (el ελληνική γλώσσα or simply el ελληνικά — "Hellenic" is an Indo-European language, spoken today by 15-22 million people mainly Latin ( lingua Latīna, laˈtiːna is an Italic language, historically spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome.
The meaning of dahāka is uncertain. Among the meanings suggested are "stinging" (source uncertain), "burning" (cf. Sanskrit dahana), "man" or "manlike" (cf. Sanskrit (sa संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, for short sa संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam) is a historical Khotanese daha), "huge" (cf. Pashto lōy) or "foreign" (cf. Pashto ( Naskh: پښتو pəʂ'to also rendered as Pakhto, Pushto, Pukhto, Pashtu, Pushtu, also known as the Scythian Dahae and the Vedic dasas). The Daheans or Dahaeans (Dahae Δάοι Daoi, or Δάαι Daai) were a confederacy of three tribes who lived in the region to the immediate east of the Dasa ( IAST dāsa) is a Sanskrit term Under the primary meaning 'enemy' sometimes relates to tribes identified as the enemies of the Aryan In Persian mythology, Dahāka is treated as a proper name, and is the source of the Ḍaḥḥāk (Zahhāk) of the (cf. Shāhnāme). Shāhnāmé, or Shāhnāma ((alternative spellings are Shahnama Shahnameh Shahname Shah-Nama, etc
Aži Dahāka is the source of the modern Persian word azhdahā or ezhdehā اژدها (Middle Persian azdahāg) meaning "dragon", often used of a dragon depicted upon a banner of war.
The Azhdarchid group of pterosaurs are named from an Uzbek word for "dragon" that ultimately comes from Aži Dahāka. Azhdarchidae (from Ajdarxo, the name of a dragon in Uzbek mythology is a family of Pterosaurs known primarily from the late Cretaceous For other meanings see Pterodactyl (disambiguation. Pterosaurs (ˈtɛrəsɔr from the Greek πτερόσαυρος pterosauros Uzbek ( O‘zbek tili or O'zbekcha in Latin script, Ўзбек тили in Cyrillic script; أۇزبېك ﺗﻴﻠی in Arabic
Stories of monstrous serpents who are killed or imprisoned by heroes or divine beings may date back to prehistory, and are found in the myths of many Indo-European peoples, including those of the Indo-Iranians, that is, the common ancestors of both the Iranians and Vedic Indians. The word mythology (from the Greek grc μυθολογία mythología, meaning "a story-telling a legendary lore" The Vedic Period (or Vedic Age) is the period in the History of India during which the Vedas, the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism, were being
The most obvious point of comparison is that in Vedic Sanskrit ahi is a cognate of Avestan aži. Vedic Sanskrit is an ancient Indian language, the language of the Vedas, the oldest Shruti texts of Hinduism. Avestan is an Eastern Old Iranian language that was used to compose the sacred hymns and canon of the Zoroastrian Avesta. However, In Vedic tradition, the only dragon of importance is Vrtra, but "there is no Iranian tradition of a dragon such as Indian Vrtra, who guards the cosmic waters and is defeated by the gods themselves. In the early Vedic religion, Vritra ( Sanskrit: वृत्र ( Devanāgarī) or Vṛtra ( IAST) "the enveloper" was an Asura " (Boyce, 1975:91-92) Moreover, while Iranian tradition has numerous dragons, all of which are malevolent, Vedic tradition has only one other dragon besides Vṛtra - ahi budhnya, the benevolent 'dragon of the deep'. In the Vedas, gods battle dragons, but in Iranian tradition, this is a function of mortal heroes.
Thus, although it seems clear that dragon-slaying heroes (and gods in the case of the Vedas) "were a part of Indo-Iranian tradition and folklore, it is also apparent that India and Iran developed distinct myths early. " (Skjaervø, 1989:192)
Besides Aži Dahāka, several other dragons and dragon-like creatures are mentioned in Zoroastrian scripture:
Aži Dahāka is the most significant and long-lasting of the ažis of the Avesta, the earliest religious texts of Zoroastrianism. The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language. Zoroastrianism (ˌzɔroʊˈæstriəˌnɪzəm is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings He is described as a monster with three mouths, six eyes, and three heads (presumably meaning three heads with one mouth and two eyes each), cunning, strong and demonic. But in other respects Aži Dahāka has human qualities, and is never a mere animal.
Aži Dahāka appears in several of the Avestan myths and is mentioned parenthetically in many more places in Zoroastrian literature.
In a post-Avestan Zoroastrian text, the Dēnkard, Aži Dahāka is identified as an Arab, as the source of the writings of Judaism (in this context identified as a religion opposed to Zoroastrianism), and possessed of all possible sins and evil counsels, the opposite of the good king Jam. The araB gene Promoter is a bacterial promoter activated by e L-arabinose binding Judaism (from the Greek Ioudaïsmos, derived from the Hebrew יהודה Yehudah, " Judah " in Hebrew יַהֲדוּת Yahedut Jamshēd, Jamshīd ( or Jam ( in Middle- and New Persian, or Yima in Avestan is a mythological figure of Greater The name Dahāg (Dahāka) is punningly interpreted as meaning "having ten (dah) sins". His mother is Wadag (or Ōdag), herself described as a great sinner, who committed incest with her son.
In the Avesta, Aži Dahāka is said to have lived in the inaccessible fortress of Kuuirinta in the land of Baβri, where he worshipped the yazatas Arədvī Sūrā (Anāhitā), divinity of the rivers, and Vayu, divinity of the storm-wind. ae Aredvi Sura Anahita ( ae Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā) is the Avestan language name of an Indo-Iranian Cosmological figure venerated as the divinity Based on the similarity between Baβri and Old Persian Bābiru (Babylon), later Zoroastrians localized Aži Dahāka in Mesopotamia, though the identification is open to doubt. The Old Persian language is one of the two attested Old Iranian languages (besides Avestan) Babylon was a City-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which can be found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq Aži Dahāka asked these two yazatas for power to depopulate the world. Being representatives of the Good, they of course refused.
In one Avestan text, Aži Dahāka has a brother named Spitiyura. Together they attack the hero Yima (Jamshid) and cut him in half with a saw, but are then beaten back by the yazata Ātar, the divine spirit of Fire. Jamshēd, Jamshīd ( or Jam ( in Middle- and New Persian, or Yima in Avestan is a mythological figure of Greater Yazata is the Avestan language word for a Zoroastrian concept Atar ( ātar, Avestan) is the Zoroastrian concept for "burning and unburning fire" and "visible and invisible fire" (Mirza 1987389
According to the post-Avestan texts, following the death of Jam ī Xšēd (Jamshid), Dahāg gained kingly rule. Jamshēd, Jamshīd ( or Jam ( in Middle- and New Persian, or Yima in Avestan is a mythological figure of Greater Another late Zoroastrian text, the Mēnog ī xrad, says that this was ultimately good, because if Dahāg had not become king, the rule would have been taken by the immortal demon Xešm (Aēšma), and so evil would have ruled upon earth until the end of the world. Aeshma ( Aēšma) is the Younger Avestan name of Zoroastrianism's demon of "wrath
Dahāg is said to have ruled for a thousand years, starting from 100 years after Jam lost his xvarənah, his royal glory (see Jamshid). ae Khvarenah or ae khwarenah ( ae xvarənah) is an Avestan language word for a Zoroastrian concept literally denoting Jamshēd, Jamshīd ( or Jam ( in Middle- and New Persian, or Yima in Avestan is a mythological figure of Greater He is described as a sorcerer who ruled with the aid of demons, the daevas (divs). Daeva ( daēuua, daāua, daēva) is the Avestan language term for a particular sort of supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics
The Avesta identifies the person who finally disposed of Aži Dahāka as Θraētaona son of Aθβiya, in Middle Persian called Frēdōn. Fereydūn (فریدون also pronounced Farīdūn, in medieval Persian Firēdūn, Middle Persian Frēdōn, and Avestan Θraētaona The Avesta has little to say about the nature of Θraētaona's defeat of Aži Dahāka, other than that it enabled him to liberate Arənavāci and Savaŋhavāci, the two most beautiful women in the world. Later sources, especially the Dēnkard, provide more detail. The Dēnkard or Dēnkart ( Middle Persian: "Acts of Religion" is a 10th century compendium of the Mazdaen Zoroastrian beliefs and customs Frēdōn is said to have been endowed with the divine radiance of kings (xvarənah, New Persian farr) from birth, and was able to defeat Dahāg at the age of nine, striking him on shoulder, heart and skull with a mace and giving him three wounds with a sword. ae Khvarenah or ae khwarenah ( ae xvarənah) is an Avestan language word for a Zoroastrian concept literally denoting However, when he did so, vermin (snakes, insects and the like) emerged from the wounds, and the god Ormazd told him not to kill Dahāg, lest the world become infested with these creatures. Ahura Mazda ( ae Ahura Mazdā) is the Avestan language name for a divinity exalted by Zoroaster as the one uncreated Creator Instead, Frēdōn chained Dahāg up and imprisoned him on the mythical Mt. Damāvand (later identified with Damāvand, one of the high mountains of the Alborz chain). Mount Damāvand ( also known as Donbavand, is a Dormant volcano and the highest peak in Iran with a special place in the Persian mythology For the Iranian Frigate Alborz see Iranian frigate Alborz. For Alborz High School (in Persianدبیرستان البرز see Alborz High
The Middle Persian sources also prophesy that at the end of the world, Dahāg will at last burst his bonds and ravage the world, consuming one in three humans and livestock. Kirsāsp, the ancient hero who had killed the Az ī Srūwar, returns to life to kill Dahāg. Garshāsp (گرشاسپ is the name of a monster-slaying hero in Persian mythology.
In Ferdowsi's epic poem, the Shāhnāma, written c. Hakīm Abū l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī ( more commonly transliterated as Ferdowsi, (935&ndash1020 was a highly revered Persian Poet. Shāhnāmé, or Shāhnāma ((alternative spellings are Shahnama Shahnameh Shahname Shah-Nama, etc 1000 AD, the legend of Dahāg is retold with the main character given the name of Zahhāk or Zohhāk. The name is written with the Arabic characters ض and ح, which rarely appear in Persian words of non-Arabic origin, and may have been chosen to emphasize the allegedly Arabic ethnicity of the character.
According to Ferdowsi, Zahhāk (Arabic transliteration: Ḍaḥḥāk or Ḍuḥḥāk) was born as the son of an Arab ruler named Merdās. Arabic (ar الْعَرَبيّة (informally ar عَرَبيْ) in terms of the number of speakers is the largest living member of the Semitic language Because of his Arab origins, he is sometimes called Zahhāk-e Tāzi, "the Arabian Zahhāk". He was handsome and clever, but had no stability of character and was easily influenced by evil counsellors. Ahriman therefore chose him as the tool for his plans for world domination. "Ahriman" redirects here For other uses see Ahriman (disambiguation.
When Zahhāk was a young man, Ahriman first appeared to him as a glib, flattering companion, and by degrees convinced him that he ought to kill his own father and take over his territories. He taught him to dig a deep pit covered over with leaves in a place where Merdās was accustomed to walk; Merdās fell in and was killed. Zahhāk thus became both patricide and king at the same time. Patricide is (i the act of killing one's father or (ii a person who kills his or her father
Ahriman now took another guise, and presented himself to Zahhāk as a marvellous cook. After he had presented Zahhāk with many days of sumptuous feasts, Zahhāk was willing to give Ahriman whatever he wanted. Ahriman merely asked to kiss Zahhāk on his two shoulders. Zahhāk permitted this; but when Ahriman had touched his lips to Zahhāk's shoulders, he immediately vanished. At once, two black snakes grew out of Zahhāk's shoulders. They could not be surgically removed, for as soon as one snake-head had been cut off, another took its place.
Ahriman now appeared to Zahhāk in the form of a skilled physician. He counselled Zahhāk that the only remedy was to let the snakes remain on his shoulders, and sate their hunger by supplying them with human brains for food every day otherwise the snakes will feed on his own.
From a psychological point of view the snakes on Zahhak's shoulders could represent his lust for killing or a form of sadism which if left unsatisfied torment Zahhak. Also when Zahhak is defeated by Fereydun, he can not think of a better fitting punishment than to simply bound him in cave where the snakes (not being fed) will eat Zahhak's own brain symbolizing his inner agony and unsatisfied homicidal lust.
This story is Ferdowsi's way of reconciling the descriptions of Dahāg as a three-headed dragon monster and those stories which treat him as a human king. According to Ferdowsi, Zahhāk is originally human, but through the magic of Ahriman he becomes a monster; he does, in fact, have three heads, the two snake heads and one human head; and the snakes remind us of his original character as a dragon.
The characterization of Zahhāk as an Arab in part reflects the earlier association of Dahāg with the Semitic peoples of Iraq, but probably also reflects the continued resentment of many Iranians at the 7th century Arab conquest of Persia. The 7th century is the period from 601 to 700 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian / Common Era. The Islamic conquest of Persia (633–656 led to the end of the Sassanid Empire and the eventual extirpation of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia
About this time, Jamshid, who was then the ruler of the world, through his arrogance lost his divine right to rule. Jamshēd, Jamshīd ( or Jam ( in Middle- and New Persian, or Yima in Avestan is a mythological figure of Greater Zahhāk presented himself as a savior to those discontented Iranians who wanted a new ruler (reflecting the embracing of the Arab religion and culture by Persians after the Arab conquest of Persia and the subsequent oppression Persians faced). Collecting a great army, he marched against Jamshid, who fled when he saw that he could not resist Zahhāk. Zahhāk hunted Jamshid for many years, and at last caught him and subjected him to a miserable death -- he had Jamshid sawn in half. Zahhāk now became the ruler of the entire world. Among his slaves were two of Jamshid's daughters, Arnavāz and Shahrnavāz (the Avestan Arənavāci and Savaŋhavāci).
Zahhāk's two snake heads still craved human brains for food, so every day Zahhāk's spies would seize two men, and execute them so their brains could feed the snakes. Two men, called Armayel and Garmayel, wanted to find a way to rescue people from being killed for the snakes. So they learned cookery and after mastering how to cook great meals, they went to Zahhāk's palace and managed to become the chefs of the palace. Everyday they saved one of the two men and put the brain of a sheep instead of his into the food, but they could not save the lives of both men.
Zahhāk's tyranny over the world lasted for centuries. But one day Zahhāk had a terrible dream – he thought that three warriors were attacking him, and that the youngest knocked him down with his mace, tied him up, and dragged him off toward a tall mountain. When Zahhāk woke he was in a panic. Following the counsel of Arnavāz, he summoned wise men and dream-readers to explain his dream. They were reluctant to say anything, but one finally said that it was a vision of the end of Zahhāk's reign, that rebels would arise and dispossess Zahhāk of his throne. He even named the man who would take Zahhāk's place: Fereydun. Fereydūn (فریدون also pronounced Farīdūn, in medieval Persian Firēdūn, Middle Persian Frēdōn, and Avestan Θraētaona
Zahhāk now became obsessed with finding this "Fereydun" and destroying him, though he did not know where he lived or who his family was. His spies went everywhere looking for Fereydun, and finally heard that he was but a boy, being nourished on the milk of the marvelous cow Barmāyeh. The spies traced Barmāyeh to the highland meadows where it grazed, but Fereydun had already fled before them. They killed the cow, but had to return to Zahhāk with their mission unfulfilled.
Zahhāk now tried to consolidate his rule by coercing an assembly of the leading men of the kingdom into signing a document testifying to Zahhāk's righteousness, so that no one could have any excuse for rebellion. One man spoke out against this charade, a blacksmith named Kāva (Kaveh). Kāveh the Blacksmith, ( Persian: کاوه آهنگر (Kaveh Ahangar is a mythical figure in Iranian mythology who leads a popular uprising against a ruthless Before the whole assembly, Kāva told how Zahhāk's minions had murdered seventeen of his eighteen sons so that Zahhāk might feed his snakes' lust for human brains – the last son had been imprisoned, but still lived.
In front of the assembly Zahhāk had to pretend to be merciful, and so released Kāva's son. But when he tried to get Kāva to sign the document attesting to Zahhāk's justice, Kāva tore up the document, left the court, and raised his blacksmith's apron as a standard of rebellion – the Kāviyāni Banner, derafsh-e Kāviyānī (درفش کاویانی). The Derafsh-e Kavian ( Derafš-e Kāvīān, Middle Persian) was the legendary royal standard of the Sassanid kings He proclaimed himself in support of Fereydun as ruler.
Soon many people followed Kāva to the Alborz mountains, where Fereydun was now living. He was now a young man and agreed to lead the people against Zahhāk. He had a mace made for him with a head like that of an ox, and with his brothers and followers, went forth to fight against Zahhāk. Zahhāk had already left his capital, and it fell to Fereydun with small resistance. Fereydun freed all of Zahhāk's prisoners, including Arnavāz and Shahrnavāz.
Kondrow, Zahhāk's treasurer, pretended to submit to Fereydun, but when he had a chance he escaped to Zahhāk and told him what had happened. Zahhāk at first dismissed the matter, but when he heard that Fereydun had seated Jamshid's daughters on thrones beside him like his queens, he was incensed and immediately hastened back to his city to attack Fereydun.
When he got there, Zahhāk found his capital held strongly against him, and his army was in peril from the defense of the city. Seeing that he could not reduce the city, he sneaked into his own palace as a spy, and attempted to assassinate Arnavāz and Shahrnavāz. Fereydun struck Zahhāk down with his ox-headed mace, but did not kill him; on the advice of an angel, he bound Zahhāk and imprisoned him in a cave underneath Mount Damāvand, binding him with a lion's pelt tied to great nails fixed into the walls of the cavern, where he will remain until the end of the world. Mount Damāvand ( also known as Donbavand, is a Dormant volcano and the highest peak in Iran with a special place in the Persian mythology Thus, after a thousand years' tyranny, ended the reign of Zahhāk.
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Shahnameh of Ferdowsi
|Characters:||Abteen | Arash | Afrāsiāb | Akvan-e Div | Bahman | Bizhan | Div-e Sepid | Esfandiār | Fereydun |Garshasp | Goodarz | Gordāfarid | Haoma | Homa | Hushang | Īraj | Jamasp | Jamshid | Kāveh | Kai Kavoos | Kai Khosrow | Kei Qobád |Kiumars | Luarsab | Manuchehr | Manizheh | Mehrab Kaboli | Nowzar |Pashang | Rakhsh | Rohām | Rostam | Rostam Farrokhzad | Rudābeh | Salm | Sām | Shaghād | Siāmak | Siāvash | Simurgh | Sohrāb |Sudabeh | Tahmineh | Tahmuras |Tur | Zāl | Zahhāk|
|Places:||Alborz (Hara_Berezaiti) | Irān | Māzandarān | Samangān | Turān | Zābolestān | Kābul | Birjand | Ark of Bukhara|
|See also:||Asadi Tusi | Derafsh Kaviani | Shahnameh | Bijan and Manijeh | Daqiqi | Sadeh | Kayanian | Jaam-e Jam|
|Legendary Kings of the Shāhnāma|
800-1800 (after Keyumars)
"Zahak Citadel" is the name of an ancient ruin in East Azarbaijan, Iran which according to various experts, was inhabited from the second millennia BC until the Timurid era. This article is about the Iranian province for similar uses see Azerbaijan (disambiguation. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Iran topics. First excavated in the 1800s by British archeologists, Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization has been studying the structure in 6 phases. Iran Cultural Heritage Handcrafts and Tourism Organization ( is an educational and research institution overseeing numerous associated museum complexes throughout Iran.