Treasures in the Royal Library

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Artāk Virāz-nāmak. 1330.
Department of Oriental and Judaica Collections, Cod. Iran. 20

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Text in Pahlavī

Artāk Virāz-nāmak (or Ardā Virāf-nāmeh) is a Zoroastrian parallel to Dante’s Divina Commedia, and it describes how the pious Artāk Virāz after taking a drug began his journey through Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. As in Dante’s Divina Commedia the description of Hell is the most elaborate and perhaps also the most interesting part of the text. In contrast to Dante who journeys, so to speak, from below and up, Artāk Virāz goes the opposite way starting from Heaven.
The Pahlavī (Middle Persian) manuscript is dated “the year 700 after Yazdgird”. The Zoroastrian date corresponds to the year 1330 in our calendar. This makes the manuscript the oldest one known to contain this text.
The Danish linguist Rasmus Rask (1787-1832) made a long journey in 1816-1822 reaching as far as to India. He collected Avestan and Pahlavī manuscripts, which today form the nucleus of the Royal Library’s unique collection of Zoroastrian manuscripts.

25.4 x 17 cm.

An English translation of the entire text can be read on the website of Avesta -- Zoroastrian Archives The Book of Arda Viraf.

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