Precious Metals in the Worldview System of Ancient Iranian-Speaking Peoples on the Texts of Avesta

Keywords: Avesta, Yasna, Yashts, Videvdat, Aogəmadaēca, lexica, gold, silver

Abstract

An overview and contextual-semantic analysis of the cases of usage the lexeme ‘gold’ (zaraniia-) and ‘silver’ (ərəzata-) in corpus of Avestan sources (Yasna, Yashts, Videvdat, Aogəmadaēca, etc.) are provided in the article. ‘Gold’ is used in the Avesta 101 times. ‘Silver’ — only 12 uses, while this metal is always contextually linked with gold. Silver has a semantic connection with the aquatic sphere. Gold is the material from which, according to the texts, the garments of several deities are made (Vayu, Aredvi Sura (partially)). Gold attributes or decorated with this metal tools have a number of gods and heroes (Yima, Mithra, Verethragna, Tishtria, Sraosha) are made completely or partially from it. In the myth of Yima, the divine instruments, the golden suβ and gilded aštrā, are endowed with reproductive features and help to create the first kingdom (Videvdat 2.6—38). This ideal mythical world turns into the Afterworld. A set of semantic attributes show that gold is directly related to the Otherworld, where the souls of the righteous deceased receive gold places, golden or silver clothes (Videvdat 19.31—32; Aog. 12, 17). The fact that silver and other «colors» are added to gold may indicate the expansion of the spectrum of precious metals and their penetration into the sphere of funeral beliefs. In the treatise of Aogəmadaēca (84), silver-gold (a metaphor of wealth), along with cattle, horses and bravery, is included in the system of concepts related to the Thanatological worldview of the pre-Zoroastrian representations of ancient Iranian tribes.

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2021-03-23
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