Jamshēd, Jamshīd (PerB|جمشید) or Jam (PerB|جم) in Middle- and New Persian, or Yima in Avestan is a mythological figure of Greater Iranian culture and tradition.

In tradition and folklore, Jamshid is described as having been the fourth and greatest king of the epigraphically unattested Kayanian dynasty. This role is already alluded to in Zoroastrian scripture (e.g. "Yasht" 19, "Vendidad" 2), where the figure appears as Avestan language Yima(-Kshaeta) "(radiant) Yima," and from which the name 'Jamshid' then derives.

'Jamshid' remains a common Iranian and Zoroastrian male name. Edward FitzGerald transliterated the name as 'Jamshyd'. In the eastern regions of Greater Iran, Central Asia, and by the Zoroastrians of the Indian subcontinent it is rendered as 'Jamshed'.


The name "Jamshid" is originally a compound of two parts, "Jam" and "shid", corresponding to the Avestan names "Yima" and "Xšaēta", derived from the proto-Iranian "*Yamah Xšaitah". "Yamah" and the related Sanskrit "Yama" may be interpreted as "the twin," perhaps reflecting an Indo-Iranian belief in a primordial Yama and Yami pair that is however not attested in an Iranian context. By regular sound changes (y → j, and the loss of the final syllable) Avestan "Yima" became Middle Persian "Jam", which was subsequently continued into New Persian.

There are also a few functional parallels between Avestan Yima and Sanskrit Yama, for instance, "Yima" was the son of "Vivaŋhat", who in turn corresponds to the Vedic "Vivasvat", "he who shines out", a divinity of the Sun. They differ however on several crucial points. For instance, Sanskrit Yama is a primordial man (accompanied by Yami, primordial woman), while in both Zoroastrian scripture and tradition this role is fulfilled by Mashya and Mashyana.

"Xšaitah" meant "bright, shining" or "radiant". By regular sound changes (initial xš → š (sh); ai → ē; t → d between vowels; and dropping of the final syllable) "xšaitah" became Persian "shēd". In the Western Iranian languages such as Fārsī, the vowel /ē/ has changed to /i/. Consequently, "Jamshēd", as it is still pronounced in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, is now pronounced "Jamshid" in Iran. The suffix "-shid" is the same as that found in other names such as "khorshid" ("the Sun" from Avestan "hvarə-xšaēta" "radiant Sun").

The modern Turkish name "Cem" is derived from Persian "Jam".

The "jam" in 'Jamshid' is not etymologically related to the Persian homonym for "pure," which has another root. Persian "jam" is also not the origin of Arabic "ajam".

In scripture

Quotations in the following section are from James Darmesteter's translation [http://www.avesta.org/vendidad/vd2sbe.htm] of the "Vendidad ", as published in the 1898 American edition of Max Müller's "Sacred Books of the East"

In the second chapter of the "Vendidad" of the Avesta, the omniscient Creator Ahura Mazda asks Yima, a good shepherd, to receive his law and bring it to men. However, Yima refuses, and so Ahura Mazda charges him with a different mission: to rule over and nourish the earth, to see that the living things prosper. This Yima accepts, and Ahura Mazda presents him with a golden seal and a dagger inlaid with gold.

Yima rules as king for three hundred years, and soon the earth was full of men, flocks of birds and herds of animals. He deprived the "daevas", who were demonic servants of the evil Ahriman, of wealth, herds and reputation during his reign. Good men, however, lived lives of plenty, and were neither sick nor aged. Father and son walked together, each appearing no older than fifteen. Ahura Mazda visits him once more, warning him of this overpopulation. Yima, shining with light, faced southwards and pressed the golden seal against the earth and boring into it with the poniard, says "O Spenta Armaiti, kindly open asunder and stretch thyself afar, to bear flocks and herds and men."

The earth swells and Yima rules for another six hundred years before the same problem occurred once more. Once again he pressed the seal and dagger to the earth and asked the ground to swell up to bear more men and beasts, and the earth swells again. Nine hundred years later, the earth was full again. The same solution is employed, the earth swelling again.

The next part of the story tells of a meeting of Ahura Mazda and the Yazatas in "Airyanem Vaejah", the first of the "perfect lands". Yima attends with a group of "the best of mortals", where Ahura Mazda warns him of an upcoming catastrophe: "O fair Yima, son of Vivaŋhat! Upon the material world the evil winters are about to fall, that shall bring the fierce, deadly frost; upon the material world the evil winters are about to fall, that shall make snow-flakes fall thick, even an arədvi deep on the highest tops of mountains."

Ahura Mazda advises Yima to construct a "Vara" (Avestan: enclosure) in the form of a multi-level cavern underground, two miles (3 km) long and two miles (3 km) wide. This he is to populate with the fittest of men and women; and with two of every animal, bird and plant; and supply with food and water gathered the previous summer. Yima creates the Vara by crushing the earth with a stamp of his foot, and kneading it into shape as a potter does to clay. He creates streets and buildings, and brings nearly two thousand people to live therein. He creates artificial light, and finally seals the Vara with a golden ring.

In tradition and folklore

Over time, the Avestan hero "Yima Xšaēta" became the world-ruling Shāh "Jamshid" of Persian legend and mythology.

According to the Shāhnāma of the poet Firdausī, Jamshid was the fourth king of the world. He had command over all the angels and demons of the world, and was both king and high priest of Hormozd (middle Persian for Ahura Mazda). He was responsible for a great many inventions that made life more secure for his people: the manufacture of armor and weapons, the weaving and dying of clothes of linen, silk and wool, the building of houses of brick, the mining of jewels and precious metals, the making of perfumes and wine, the navigation of the waters of the world in sailing ships. The "sudreh" and "kushti" of the Zoroastrianism are also attributed to Jamshid. From the skin-clad followers of Keyumars, humanity had risen to a great civilization in Jamshid's time.

Jamshid also divided the people into four groups:
* The priests, who conducted the worship of Hormozd
* The warriors, who protected the people by the might of their arms
* The farmers, who grew the grain that fed the people
* The artisans, who produced goods for the ease and enjoyment of the people

Jamshid had now become the greatest monarch the world had ever known. He was endowed with the royal "farr" (Avestan: "khvarena"), a radiant splendor that burned about him by divine favor. One day he sat upon a jewel-studded throne and the "div"s who served him raised his throne up into the air and he flew through the sky. His subjects, all the peoples of the world, marvelled and praised him. On this day, which was the first of the month of Farvardin, they first celebrated the holiday of "Nawrōz" ("new day"). In the variant of the Zoroastrian calendar followed by the Zoroastrians of India, the first day of the month of Farvardin is still called "Jamshēd-i Nawrōz".

Jamshid was said to have had a magical seven-ringed cup, the "Jām-e Jam" which was filled with the elixir of immortality and allowed him to observe the universe.

Jamshid's capital was erroneously believed to be at the site of the ruins of Persepolis, which for centuries (down to 1620 CE) was called "Takht-i Jamshēd", the "Throne of Jamshid".However, Persepolis was actually the capital of the Achaemenid kings and was destroyed by Alexander. Similarly, the sculptured tombs of the Achaemenids and Sāsānians near Persepolis were believed to be images of the legendary hero Rostam, and so were called "Naqsh-e Rustam".

The city of Jamkaran is named after Jamshid Fact|date=February 2007.

Jamshid ruled well for three hundred years. During this time longevity increased, sicknesses were banished, and peace and prosperity reigned. But Jamshid's pride grew with his power, and he began to forget that all the blessings of his reign were due to God. He boasted to his people that all of the good things they had came from him alone, and demanded that he should be accorded divine honors, as if he were the Creator.

From this time the "farr" departed from Jamshid, and the people began to murmur and rebel against him. Jamshid repented in his heart, but his glory never returned to him. The vassal ruler of Arabia, Zahhāk, under the influence of Ahriman, made war upon Jamshid, and he was welcomed by many of Jamshid's dissatisfied subjects. Jamshid fled from his capital halfway across the world, but he was finally trapped by Zahhāk and brutally murdered. After a reign of seven hundred years, humanity descended from the heights of civilization back into a Dark Age.

Historical Jamshids

The name Jamshid has also been carried in the course of history by several rulers, some more famous than others. More recent historical figures with the name include:
*Sultan Jamshid, fourteenth century ruler of Kashmir. Jamshid succeeded his father Shamsu'd-Din but ruled Kashmir for just fourteen months before falling out with his brother. In an armed confrontation which ensued in the village of Vantipore, Sultan Jamshid suffered a defeat, following which his younger brother Sultan 'Alau'd-Din ascended the throne in A.D. 1347.
*Sultan Jamshid (Sultan "Jamshid Qutb," Shah of Golconda (ruled 1543-50) was a legendary ruler of the Qutb Shahi, a Shia Muslim dynasty in the Deccan. Jamshid Shah's father Sultan Quli Qutb Shah was the first of the dynasty and lived to be over ninety years old. The rumor ran that his son Jamshid became so impatient to become ruler that he had his father stabbed to death while he was at prayer in the mosque. Sultan Jamshid left a handsome domed octagonal tomb for his monument.
*Sultan Sayyid Jamshid bin 'Abdullah, Sultan of Zanzibar, 1963-1964 (born at Zanzibar, September 16, 1929) was overthrown in the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution.

Further reading

* [http://www.avesta.org/vendidad/vd2sbe.htm 2nd "Fargard" of James Darmesteter's translation of the "Vendidad"]
* [http://www.artarena.force9.co.uk/heroic1.htm The Heroic Age of Persia]

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