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xvardag-mrinh

calculation of Asterisms (lunar mansions)

The groups of stars in the moons observed path in the heaven were
known to the Perso-Aryans1; they are called in Prsg xvardag. We
know four lists of the lunar mansions in Prsg, Sogdian, Xvrazmian,
and Persian.
Prsg
The Bundahin 25-26 gives the names of the asterisms in a Pzand
transcription: k-n hambaxinh ped vst-u-haft xvardag-mrinh
k-n nm n ast the same (ecliptic) is divided into twenty-seven2
asterisms (lunar mansions) whose names are these: The
manuscripts do not agree with each other for some names; moreover,
the Pzand names are so corrupt that no reliance can be placed upon
them, and the first step towards recovering the true Pahlavi names
would be to transliterate the Pzand back into Pahlavi characters.3
However, the names of some lunar mansions are given in Hmdibrh
(Pahlavi characters) in the Bundahin and the third book of the
Dnkird, ch. 419.
Sogdian
Brn gives the list of Sogdian lunar mansions in Arabic script.4 A
Sogdian manuscript from Turfan, contains the same list in Sogdian
script (M 549); however, the text is damaged and only a few words are
legible. The number of the xvardag is taken as 28 by both texts (ii
qmbyy xxx ptmyrtyy ). However, Brns list begins with prwy
corresponding to the first nakatra in the Vedic list, i.e. Kttik, while
the other list begins with by corresponding to the nakatra Avin.5
Xvrazmian

. The Avesta book on astronomy was called Naxtar starry night. This book
was lost after the onslaught of Alexander.
2
. According to the short Bundahin the number of the asterisms is 28; however
it mentions 27 names.
3
. E.W. West, Pahlavi Texts, I (SBE, v, 1880), 11.
4
." " 11 :11 .
5
. W.B. Henning, An Astronomical Chapter of the Bundahishn , JRAS, 1942,
243.

As to the lunar mansions with the Xvrazmians Brn says that:


They were in the habit of using the mansions of the moon and
deriving from them the rules. The names of the mansions in their
language they have preserved, but (now) those who made use of them,
who knew how to observe them and how to draw conclusions from
them, have died out. Their using the lunar mansions is clearly proved
by the fact that in the Xvrazmian dialect an astronomer is called
xrwynyk, i.e. looking to the lunar mansions, for x(y)r6 means a
mansion of the moon. They used to distribute these stations over the
twelve signs of the Zodiac, for which they also had special names in
their language.7 In a Sogdian manuscript from Mt. Mug (Freman,
1938) we find a list of lunar mansions, called nrn mk stars of the
moon; this list is identical with the Xvrazmian list given by Brn.8
Persian
A Prs fragment gives a list of the xvardag in Persian, in a corrupt
state.9 In the beginning it is said that :

The 28 constellations which are called xvardag (in) Astronomy, are


the creatures of Ahura Mazd, and there is (nothing) of Ara Mainyu
in them. The figures of these 28 constellations are like angels; they are
luminous, and have control over the whole world of life.
Then it gives the names of the lunar mansions in both versions,
Pzand (Bd.) and Persian, and their Arabic equivalents.
In the following we try to give the transcription of the Prsg names
of the xvardag.
1 Paz. padvar10/

(Bd),

(Dk).11

. xyr (xr, xyr) comes from xvar(a)- and means sun. Brn possibly speaks
of nxr < *anxara- star, fixed star (cf. Sogd. nr/ nxr; nxr-wzn/ xrwzn zodiac)
7
. The Chronology of Ancient Nations, E. Sachau, London, 1879, 226. (
11-11 :11)
8
. A.A. , ,
, , 1962, 46-60. See also Henning, op.cit., 242.
9
. R.VIII.1.B, folio 370 (Library of the Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai). I have
published it in 1995:
There is also another Persian list in the restn Cahrcaman.
10
padevar DH, K20, padaevar R, padaivr M67.
R

The first xvardag may be read /pedispar/ or /perispar/ (it may be


derived from paiti-spara- counter-shield). It corresponds to Skt.
Avayujau (or, Avin).12
The 27th xvardag in Brns list is
, corresponding to Arab.
The corresponding Xvarazmian name is rywnd /rvand/ (Sogd.
.
M 549 rywndyy /rvand/ is 26th in Brns list,
th

. Skt. Revat is

th

26 in the Vedic list, and 27 in another list which starts with Avin.)
(Bd).13

2 Paz. pparvz/

The second xvardag is called Pparvz or Pparvn, that is, the


asterism that precedes Parvz Pleiades.14 It corresponds to Skt.
Apabhara (or, Bhara).
The 28th xvardag in Brns list is 15 , corresponding to Arab.
. The corresponding Xvrazmian name of the asterism is
3 Paz. parvz/

(Bd).16

The third xvardag is called Parvz or Parvn17; it can be identified


with Av. paoryain pl. f. Pleiades (Pat Prne id.). It
corresponds to Skt. kttik.
The 1st xvardag in Sogdiano-Xvarazmian, according to Brns list,

is
, corresponding to Arab. .
4 Paz. pah18
The fourth xvardag is called
/pah/ or pahak (Av. pasu-,
19
pasuka- small cattle). It corresponds to Skt. Rohi red cow,
cow.

12

. This double pronunciation is not rare in Prsg, for example pedimr/


perimr reckoning.
13
R
14
. According to Behramgore T. Anklesaria the Upa-paoir of the Titar Yat 12
seems to correspond to the Pparvz of the Bundahin. Asterisms in Iranian
Literature, The K.R. Cama Memorial Volume, Bombay, 1900, 220. See also
Henning, op. cit., 247. But Av. upa is rendered by Pers. (ped) abar. Pers. pparvn could render Av. *paurva.paoiryain-.
15
. Sogd. pr(w) after. However, there is another prw that means before (Av.
Paurva-, OPers. paruva-), cf. prwcyk former.
R
18

. paha K20 ; pah R.


R

19

. It seems to be a corrupt form of


Anklesaria, 221. See also Brn:

, or

following after.

The second xvardag in Sogdiano-Xvarazmian, according to Brns


list, is
(prprw), corresponding to Arab. . In the Sogdian
manuscript from Mt. Mug the name of this asterism is written prprwk
(pr-prw/ pr-prwk following upon the Pleiades).
5 Paz. azesar (DH)/ avesar (K20)20
The fifth xvardag is called Abesar crown, or less likely Azsar
goats head21. It corresponds to Skt. Mgaira antelopes head.
The third xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is 22
(Sogd. mrz
workman), corresponding to Xvar.
6 Paz. ban/ bn,

, and Arab. .

(Bd)23

The sixth xvardag is called Ban.24 The corresponding Sanskrit


asterism is called rdr (rdra- adj. wet, moist).
The fourth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
(Sogd. mrz
workman), corresponding to Xvar.
7 Paz. raxva / raja (DH),
The form

, and Arab. .

(Dk)25

may be read Rsan (Av. urvsn- name of a plant).

If the Pazand form Raxva be right, it may refer to the river Haraxvait.
[lyt'], possibly a mere

However, the original form could be


26

transcription of Av. riti- gift. The corresponding Sanskrit asterism


is called Punarvasu (punar-vasu- adj. restoring goods).
The fifth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
, corresponding to
Xvar.

, and Arab. .

8 Paz. taraha/ tarha (TD1),

(Bd)27
R

21

. I read azsar, taking it to mean the rams head ; cf.

with the Skt.

(=
:). Anklesaria, 221-222
R
Mobad Manekji Rustamji Unwala has in his possession an old MS. Persian
Dictionary named , written in 764 A.Y.; it contains the Persian
names of the asterisms rarely to be met with elsewhere. Most of the names seem to
be corrupt scriptions of the Pahlavi asterisms. The sixth asterism is there named ,
auspicious. Anklesaria, 222
24 1
. ban height ; stature ; top (Av. barnu-) ; 2ban idol; 3ban/ bu mane.
25
R
.
26
. M. Boyce read it Raht.
27
R
.

The eighth xvardag is called Triag. The corresponding Sanskrit


asterism is Tiya or Puya. Note that Vedic tiya- comes from *titri
a- (Av. titrya-).
The sixth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
Xvar. 28

, corresponding to

, and Arab. .
(Bd)29

9 Paz. azara/ avara (DH),

The ninth xvardag is called Abarag above; north. The


corresponding Sanskrit asterism is re/ le.
The seventh xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
,
corresponding to Xvar. 30

Sogd.-Xvar. xmry/
, and Arab. .

xmly may come from ham-sri to put together(Av. hm.sri), and


then is cognate with the Sanskrit word.
10 Paz. nahn31
The tenth xvardag is called Naxv/ Nox top, beginning. The
corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Magh.
The eighth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is ( Skt. magh),
corresponding to Xvar.

, and Arab. .

11 Paz. man/ min (K20)32


The eleventh xvardag is called Meyn middle, center. The
corresponding Sanskrit asterism is (Prva-)Phalgun.
The ninth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is , corresponding to
Xvar.

(m in the Sogdian manuscript from Mt. Mug), and Arab.

12 Paz. avdm33
The twelfth xvardag is called Abdum last; end. The corresponding
Sanskrit asterism is (Uttara-)Phalgun.
The tenth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
, corresponding to
Xvar.

, and Arab. .

13 Paz. mha/ maha (K20)34


28

. jyry is the name of the 13th day of the month in Brns list. The same day is
called tyry in the document from Tok-kala.
29
R
.
30

.
R
R

.
.

31
32
33

The thirteenth xvardag is called May/ Mahrb (from Av. *mayavohu- good man). The corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Hasta.
The eleventh xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is 35
,
, and Arab. .

corresponding to Xvar.
14 Paz. spur, 36

(Dk)37

The fourteenth xvardag is called Spurr complete, entire (from *usprna-), or Spul (Av. sprzan- spleen). The corresponding
Sanskrit asterism is Citr.
The twelfth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is 38 , corresponding
(wprn in the Sogdian manuscript from Mt. Mug),

to Xvar.
and Arab. .

15 Paz. husru39
The fifteenth xvardag is called Husrav (Av. hu-sravah- adj.
famous). The corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Svti.
The thirteenth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is ,
corresponding to Xvar.

(strwk or trwk in the Sogdian

manuscript from Mt. Mug), and Arab. .


16 Paz. sri/ srb (K20)40
The sixteenth xvardag is called Sr/ Sry (Av. sr-, srv- horn;
claw. In Avesta there is a fixed star called hapta.sr). The
corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Vikh.
The fourteenth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
,
corresponding to Xvar.

41
, and Arab. .

17 Paz. nur/ nor (DH)42


The seventeenth xvardag is called Var (Av. varah- breast,
chest)43. The corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Anurdh.

34

35
36

-spw- (cf.

/harvisp/).
R

37
38

R
R

R
43

. Cf. Arab. ) (

39

40

42

The fifteenth xvardag in Brns list is


Xvar.

, corresponding to

, and Arab. .

18 Paz. glw44
The eighteenth xvardag is called Dil (Av. zrd- heart). The
corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Jyeh.
The sixteenth Sogd.-Xvar. asterism in Brns list is
,
corresponding to Arab. .45
19 Paz. grafa46
The nineteenth xvardag is called Draf(ag) (Av. drafa- drop,
droplet; banner). The corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Mla/
Victau.
The seventeenth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
(mn-sdwys: sdwys < Av. Satavasa), corresponding to Xvar.
(rnt in the Sogdian manuscript from Mt. Mug), and Arab. 47 .
20 Paz. varat48
The twentieth xvardag is called Vanand49 (Av. vanat-). Notice
that the 20th Sogdian xvardag in Brns list is calld Vanand. The
corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Ah/ Prvh.
The eighteenth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
,
, and Arab. .

corresponding to Xvar.
21 Paz. g,

(Dk)50

The twenty-first xvardag is called Gv (Av. gao-/ gu- cow, ox).


The corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Ah/ Uttarh.
The nineteenth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is 51
,
corresponding to Xvar. 52

, and Arab. .

22 Paz. g/ go (K20)53
R

44
45

46
47
48

R
49

. Vanand is written by

in the Bundahin 504.


R

50

51

53

The twenty-second xvardag is called Jg (Av. yaoa- bond; yoke).


The corresponding Sanskrit asterism is Abhijit.
The twentieth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
,
corresponding to Xvar.

, and Arab. .

23 Paz. muri/ muru (K20)54


The twenty-third xvardag is called Murv (Av. mra- bird). The
corresponding Sanskrit asterism is ravaa.
The twenty-first xvardag in Brns Sogd-Xvar. list is ,
corresponding to Arab. .
24 Paz. bunza/ bunda (TD1, K20)55
The twenty-fourth xvardag is called Banz(ag)/ Bang (banz/ bang
henbane, hemp56). The corresponding Sanskrit asterism is ravih/
Dhanih.
The twenty-second xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
,
corresponding to Xvar.

(stmy in the Sogdian manuscript from

Mt. Mug)57, and Arab. .


25 Paz. kahtsar58
The twenty-fifth xvardag is called Kahtsar the head of Kaht (Pers.
/kaht, kt/ kahas channel, sewer). The corresponding Sanskrit
asterism is atabhiaj/ atatrak.
The twenty-third xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is 59
v

corresponding to X ar.

(stmy in the Sogdian manuscript from

Mt. Mug), and Arab. .


26 Paz. kahtmyn/ vaht.miyn (K20)60
The twenty-sixth xvardag is called Kahtmeyn the middle of
Kaht. The corresponding Sanskrit asterism is (Prva-)Prohapad/
(Prva-)Bhadrapad.

R
R
56
. Cf. Bd 43 mang baz k ast banz xvned.
57
. Cf. Skt. atabhiaj.
R

54

55

58

59

60

The twenty-fourth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is


549: [frwx]p), corresponding to Xvar.

(M

(rwt in the

Sogdian manuscript from Mt. Mug), and Arab. .


27 Paz. kaht61
The twenty-seventh xvardag is called Kaht. The corresponding
Sanskrit asterism is (Uttara-)Prohapad/ (Uttara-)Bhadrapad.
The twenty-fifth xvardag in Brns Sogdian list is
(M 549:
prw frwxp), corresponding to Xvar.

(prwrwt in the Sogdian

manuscript from Mt. Mug), and Arab. .


The Bundahin and the Dnkird give some information about the
X ardag :
v

Bd 30 az avn axtarn tzravindar hend: titar ud ban ud


triag ud abarag ud pedispar ud pparvz.
Among the fixed stars the following move quicker (than others):
Titar, Ban, Triag, Abarag, Pedispar, and Pparvz.

Bd 72 cn gbed k: axtarn bcihrag ud zamgcihrag ud


urvarcihrag hend. avn bcihragn titar ud triag ud abarag ud
pedispar ud pparvz ud a strag k parvz xvnend, avn
bsardagn. hn zamgcihr haftring ud mx meyn asmn,
avn zamgsardagn. hn urvarcihrag abrg jud az avn.
As it says: Fixed stars are af.cira (containing the seed of
water/ rain), zmas.cira (containing the seed of earth),
urvar.cira (containing the seed of plant). The afcira stars are:
Titar, Triag, Abarag, Pedispar, Pparvz, and the six stars that are
called Parvz. The zmas.cira stars are: Haftring, and the Peg in the
Centre of the Sky. The other (stars) are urvar.cira.
Dk iii, 419 M403sl zaman-vihzagg az sln vas ham-baved, z
abargr az rz abg hangmn sl cahr handxtag. sl hangm
bun vahr, hn ka xvard fradum xvardag varrag ast perispar
rased, u- se mh hn ka xvard ped varrag gv dopehikar axtar-z
raved xv. M404u- didgar hmin hn ka xvard fradum xvardag
karzang axtar rased ast rd, u- se mh hn ka xvard ped karzang
ud agr ud hag axtar yed <xv>. sidgar pdz hn ka xvard
fradum xvardag tarzg <axtar> ast spurr rased, u- se mh hn
ka xvard ped tarzg ud gazdum ud nmasp axtar raved xv. ud
cahrum abdum zimestn hn ka xvard fradum xvardag vahg

61

gv xvnend rased, u- se mh hn ka ped vahg ud dol ud mhg


axtar raved xv.
The year with moving hours, which are produced from several
years, has its superior power in this that the days are fixed with the
four seasons of the year. The origin of the seasons of the year is
spring, when the sun reaches the first asterism of (the constellation of)
Aries, that is Persipar; and three months belong to it, when the sun
goes through the constellations of Aries, Taurus, and Gemini. The
second (season) is summer, when the sun reaches the first asterism of
the constellation of Cancer, that is Rd; and three months belong to it,
when the sun goes through the constellations of Cancer, Leo, and
Virgo. The third (season) is autumn, when the sun reaches the first
asterism of (the constellation of) Libra, that is Spurr; and three months
belong to it, when the sun goes through the constellations of Libra,
Scorpio, and Sagittarius. The fourth and last (season) is winter, when
the sun reaches the first asterism of Capricornus, which is called Gv;
and three seasons belong to it, when the sun goes through the
constellations of Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces.
As we see, the above system of the stellar xvardag consists of
twenty-seven equal parts, each xvardag has 13 20' of space, and when
the sun, the moon, or a planet is between 0 and 13 20' in longitude,
it is said to be in the first xvardag Pedispar, and so on.
Longitudes of the ending-points of the Xvardag
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19

Pedispar
P-Parvz
Parvz
Pah(ak)
Abesar
Ban
Rd
Triag
Abarag
Naxv
Meyn
Abdum
May
Spurr
Husrav
Sry
Var
Dil
Draf(ag)

13
26
40
53
66
80
93
106
120
133
146
160
173
186
200
213
226
240
253

20'
40'
0
20'
40'
0
20'
40'
0
20'
40'
0
20'
40'
0
20'
40'
0
20'

20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27

Vanand
Gv
Jg
Murv
Banz(ag)
Kahtsar
Kahtmeyn
Kaht

266
280
293
306
320
333
346
360

40'
0
20'
40'
0
20'
40'
0

This list of twenty seven xvardag, begins with the vernal equinox,
and the four cardinal points of it are Pedispar, Rd, Spurr, and Gv,
representing the beginnings of the four seasons. Notice that the
asterism Gv (cow) coincides with the month Mira in the ancient
Persian calendar, which is in the beginning of the winter.

Raham Asha