Origin and meaning of Persian Xuršēd

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Dhira Simha

Senior Member
UK
Russian
In various sources I came across translations of Pesian xuršēd as 'radiant sun', in others as 'shining sun' and in Roman Jakobson ("Marginalia to Vasmer's Russian Etymological Dictionary (Р-Я)", International Journal of Slavic Linguistics and Phonetics 1/2 (1959), pp. 266-278.) as ‘the worshipped radiant sun’. As I understand, the new-Persian xuršēd is actually a fusion of Avestan hvarə хšаētəm where the first part is the h-variant of Skr. svar 'the sun, sunshine, light, lustre' and the second bit is comparable to the Present Act. Part. of Skr. kṣi 'to burn; to singe': kṣāyat 'burning'. If this is so, my question is where does the meaning 'shining/radiant' come from and also why is it also translated as ‘the worshipped radiant sun’?
 
  • fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Persian xwaršēδ continues Avestan huuarə-xšaēta- which is a merger of the two elements of the (unattested) noun-adjective phrase (nom./acc. neuter) huuarə xšaētəm. Av. huuar- (Gathic also xvan-) “sun” is a neuter heteroclite, cognate with Skt. svar-, Goth. sunna, Eng. sun etc.

    The best explanation for xšaēta- is given by Gershevitch, Avestan hymn to Mithra, p. 331: It is a t-expansion of the very common root *xšay- “be powerful, rule”; huuar- xšaēta- is thus originally “the mighty sun”, but the constant juxtaposition with huuar- caused xšaēta- to be reinterpreted as “bright, brilliant”, and used as the epithet of (for example) raočah- “light”. It survives in Iron æхсид, Digoron æхсед “evening glow, morning glow”.
     

    aruniyan

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Persian xwaršēδ continues Avestan huuarə-xšaēta- which is a merger of the two elements of the (unattested) noun-adjective phrase (nom./acc. neuter) huuarə xšaētəm. Av. huuar- (Gathic also xvan-) “sun” is a neuter heteroclite, cognate with Skt. svar-, Goth. sunna, Eng. sun etc.

    The best explanation for xšaēta- is given by Gershevitch, Avestan hymn to Mithra, p. 331: It is a t-expansion of the very common root *xšay- “be powerful, rule”; huuar- xšaēta- is thus originally “the mighty sun”, but the constant juxtaposition with huuar- caused xšaēta- to be reinterpreted as “bright, brilliant”, and used as the epithet of (for example) raočah- “light”. It survives in Iron æхсид, Digoron æхсед “evening glow, morning glow”.
    huuarə-xšaēta

    I read somewhere, xšaēta would seem to refer to the color of the sun (golden or reddish).

    As in Tamil its செஞ்ஞாயிறு Sen-Gyaairu(attractive/red Sun).
     
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    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    It is a t-expansion of the very common root *xšay- “be powerful, rule”; huuar- xšaēta- is thus originally “the mighty sun”, but the constant juxtaposition with huuar- caused xšaēta- to be reinterpreted as “bright, brilliant”, and used as the epithet of (for example) raočah- “light”. It survives in Iron æхсид, Digoron æхсед “evening glow, morning glow”.
    Sorry, still pondering on your reply. You had the root *xšay- “be powerful, rule” with an asterisk as if it were a reconstructed root. Have you done it deliberately? There is a root xša- "to rule" in Jackson. I suppose you meant it. Generally, the reasoning "but the constant juxtaposition with huuar- caused xšaēta- to be reinterpreted as “bright, brilliant”" seems rather unconvincing to me. The whole etymology of xwaršēδ, based on the"(unattested) noun-adjective phrase (nom./acc. neuter) huuarə xšaētəm" with the added confusion between "mighty" and "shining", appears rather shaky. I am not arguing with you, just reflecting. I would like to read it in Gershevitch if you give me the full ref. The exact meaning of xwaršēδ and its etymology is important for the paper I am working on. Thank you!
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    In New Persian xwaršēδ (modern Western Persian xoršid), xwar (xor), and šēδ (šid) all mean simply “sun”, though the last two really occur only in old poetry.

    I put the asterisk before xšay- only because it is proto-Iranian. But since this root actually occurs in Avestan the asterisk is superfluous.

    The reference is to I. Gershevitch, The Avestan hymn to Mithra, Cambridge University Press, 1959. You should be able to find it in university libraries.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    In New Persian xwaršēδ (modern Western Persian xoršid), xwar (xor), and šēδ (šid) all mean simply “sun”, though the last two really occur only in old poetry. /QUOTE]

    Thank you! I have found the book at British Library. The last question: xwaršēδ/ xoršid is also said to mean a sort of a sun-god. This seems strange. Did such a deity exist in the time modern Persian was spoken? Does xwaršēδ/ xoršid have any religious connotation at all? Would it be correct to translate it as ‘the worshipped radiant sun’ as Jakobson had it?
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    In Muslim Persian xwaršēδ has no specifically religious meaning. It just means “sun”. In Zoroastrianism, the sun, moon and a few other astral phenomena are thought of as divine beings. Xwar is a fairly minor deity, and one of the 30 days of the ritual month is dedicated to him. There is also a non-Zoroastrian (Mithraic?), or marginal Zoroastrian, tradition of identifying the god Miθra (Mihr) with the sun, and for this reason in New Persian the sun is also called mihr, though in this meaning it is much less frequent that xwaršēδ. Gershevitch discusses all this at some length.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    Thank you! I do touch the mihr cult in my paper. The connection between xwaršēδ and mihr is mentioned in Boyce, M.
    Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, London: Routledge, 1979 , p.181.

    After recitation of the Khorshed-Mihr Niyayesh, whereby the sun and Mihr were called upon as witnesses....
    I look forward to reading Gershevitch. Thank you for your useful information.
     
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    Phosphorus

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    The best explanation for xšaēta- is given by Gershevitch, Avestan hymn to Mithra, p. 331: It is a t-expansion of the very common root *xšay- “be powerful, rule”; huuar- xšaēta- is thus originally “the mighty sun”, but the constant juxtaposition with huuar- caused xšaēta- to be reinterpreted as “bright, brilliant”, and used as the epithet of (for example) raočah- “light”. It survives in Iron æхсид, Digoron æхсед “evening glow, morning glow”.
    I speculate that modern Persian "-shid" may originally be associated with "light" rather than "mighty", because in Central and Southern Kurdish "x/hwer, besides being used on its own, is frequently accompanied by "-taw" (< "tapa-"): "x/hweretaw" (also Hewramani "weretaw"). It is comparable with Per. "mahtaab" or Central Iranian and Semnani "maafto(w)" ~ "moon; moonlight". By the way Ossetic "axse/id" and Kurdish "she" both in senses related to "light" may weaken a connection with a "xshay-*" in sense of "rule" (but perhaps not with a supposed "xshay-*" in sense of "glowing" or the like).

    I am not that much introduced with the Avestan grammar and syntax at all but I feel like the "mighty sun" would, based on Gershevitch, give "xshaeta huuar-*" or something in Avesta; while I have the feeling that "huuara xshaet-" might better be interpreted as "xshaet of sun" rather than the "xshaet sun".
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    I speculate that modern Persian "-shid" may originally be associated with "light" rather than "mighty", because in Central and Southern Kurdish "x/hwer, besides being used on its own, is frequently accompanied by "-taw" (< "tapa-"): "x/hweretaw" (also Hewramani "weretaw"). It is comparable with Per. "mahtaab" or Central Iranian and Semnani "maafto(w)" ~ "moon; moonlight". By the way Ossetic "axse/id" and Kurdish "she" both in senses related to "light" may weaken a connection with a "xshay-*" in sense of "rule" (but perhaps not with a supposed "xshay-*" in sense of "glowing" or the like).
    There is no doubt that *xšayta- does mean “bright, brilliant, shining” across a broad spectrum of Iranian languages. The problem is how to link this with other Iranian and Indo-European cognates. The explanation which I quoted links it ultimately with *xša(y)- , which we find (for example) in Old Persian xšāyaϑiya- > MP./NP. šāh. But this is perhaps not the only possible explanation.


    I am not that much introduced with the Avestan grammar and syntax at all but I feel like the "mighty sun" would, based on Gershevitch, give "xshaeta huuar-*" or something in Avesta; while I have the feeling that "huuara xshaet-" might better be interpreted as "xshaet of sun" rather than the "xshaet sun".
    In Avestan the meaning is not determined by the word order, but by the case endings. Avestan xšaēta- is in any event an adjective, not a noun.
     

    Phosphorus

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    Thanks for your clarification professor. So there remain no room for speculating any connection between "-taw" and "-shid", since the later is an adjective.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    Sorry to bother you again, Avestan is not my strength. Would you agree with this statement: "Prejs derived Xors from the new-Persian hor/hur ‘sun’ and he took the final -s in Xors not as a part of the root but as a morphological (masc. sing. Nom.) ending. Linguistically, this was not correct because nouns are not declined in New Persian and even in Old Persian and Avestan nouns in r were s-less so the Nom. and Acc. sing. form of hvar- ‘sun’ would be hvarǝ."
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    It is a Russian deity from Vladimir's pantheon.

    While you are there, perhaps you would also comment on this as well:

    "Xuršēd is believed to be a contraction of the unattested (!) Avestan hvarə хšаētəm allegedly meaning ‘the mighty sun’ (Gershevitch, 1959, 331). The fact that this phrase is unattested and also bearing in mind that xšayta- means ‘bright, brilliant, shining’ in many Iranian languages, Xuršēd may also be interpreted simply as ‘bright sun’. Therefore, Jakobson's ‘the worshipped radiant sun’ should be taken with caution."
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    OK, interesting. You are right to say that huuar- is neuter in Avestan and cannot take –s/-h/–š in the nominative. But I suppose it could have been personified, and transferred to the masculine gender, in which case the nominative could well have been *Xwarš. But perhaps you have a better explanation for the Russian form.
     
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    mataripis

    Senior Member
    In various sources I came across translations of Pesian xuršēd as 'radiant sun', in others as 'shining sun' and in Roman Jakobson ("Marginalia to Vasmer's Russian Etymological Dictionary (Р-Я)", International Journal of Slavic Linguistics and Phonetics 1/2 (1959), pp. 266-278.) as ‘the worshipped radiant sun’. As I understand, the new-Persian xuršēd is actually a fusion of Avestan hvarə хšаētəm where the first part is the h-variant of Skr. svar 'the sun, sunshine, light, lustre' and the second bit is comparable to the Present Act. Part. of Skr. kṣi 'to burn; to singe': kṣāyat 'burning'. If this is so, my question is where does the meaning 'shining/radiant' come from and also why is it also translated as ‘the worshipped radiant sun’?
    Is is possible that the word "radiant" can be "golden" or shining? I don't know how " Xursed" is read or pronounced but it is almost "Xrisos" of Ellinika! Xrisos i think is gold or golden .
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    I have been considering χρυσός. It is very relevant to the work I am doing, however, it is not related to xuršēd. Both the initial x and the medial s/š are of a totally different origin.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Thank you! It is a good point but has *Xwarš ever been attested?
    Not as far as I know. But it would be the expected form, assuming the mentioned shift in gender.

    Greek χρυσός has no connection with Persian xwaršēδ. It is generally agreed that the Greek word (already in Mycenaean as ku-ru-so) was borrowed from a Semitic form cognate to Hebrew ḥārūṣ, Akkadian ḫurāṣu etc.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Just a side note. Some Punjabi people of the older generation pronounce this word as "xurshaid" and not "xurshed". I believe this is also the case amongst some Urdu speakers.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    Thank you for your note. This made me dig up in my archive and re-read carefully the passage relating to Xors (God) in Preijs (Прейс, П. Донесение П. Прейса г. министру народного просвещения из Праги от 26 декабря 1840 года. Журнал Министерства народного просвещения, 1841, 29, Отд. IV, 32-52). I have to admit that I was mistaken. Preijs did write "new-Persian hor/hur ‘sun’" but he rejected it as a direct source of Russian Xors precisely because "the people which passed this word on to Russians should have pronounced in the end the sound -s or similar". I have to revise my text.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    Sorry, you use the spelling huuar while in many other sources it is hvar. Is there a difference? Will it be a mistake if I continue using hvar ?
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Don't worry about it too much. hvar is the old (Bartholomae) transliteration, huuar is the new (Hoffmann) transliteration. The Avestan character is actually u+u (quite literally : double u), so the new system has its logic.
     
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