Sunday, May 23, 2010

Meaning of the suffix -va, -van, -vant, -vand, -mand

The richness of the Avestan languages and the subsequent richness of modern Persian is often manifested in the range of meanings a word can convey. Indeed, some words denote concepts rather than a single meaning. The phenomenon is also true of suffixes such as words ending in -va, -van(em), -vant(em), -vand, -mand. The suffix not only imparts a meaning to the attached root word, it imparts a quality or value as well.

While -van attached to asha can be said to make ashavan denote someone who abides by, follows, serves, works for, or possesses the ethical and moral principles of asha, it also denotes the quality of membership in a group that is highly regarded in the Zoroastrian community.

Mountains Names with the Suffix -vand
When -vand is added to the name of mountains, they give that mountain a special significance and place in Zoroastrian-Iranian folklore. Examples include Damavand in the Elborz (Alborz) mountains that run through Mazandaran province, and Darvand in Elam province close to the Iraqi border.

Mount Damavand is the mountain to which the hero legendary saviour of the Iranian nation Feridoon bound the evil Zahak. Dam means steam and Damavand could possibly mean possessor of steam.

Mount Darvand in south of Shahrazor near the Iraq-Iran border. Shahrazor, in turn, is where the blacksmith Kaveh first overthrew Zahak. The name of Darvand mountain to thought to have been derived from the Avestan dregvant, the antithesis of ashavan - the follower and possessor of evil. Dar also means door.

According to the poet Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, Kay Khosrow, the legendary Kayanian king, built the first of the three great fire altars, Azarfarnbag on Mount Asnavand. A later Kayanian king, Vishtasp, built the temple Azarburzinmehr at Revand / Navand. Some locate Mt. Navand in the northwest of present-day Sabzevar in Khorasan.

In modern Persian -mand attached to kar (meaning work) makes karmand mean employee, a word that connotes a different status than kargar meaning worker.

The suffix -vand is added to Khoda meaning Lord, to become Khodavand (خداوند), one of the hundred-and-0ne names of God in the Avesta. Interestingly, the word Khoda by itself is not noted as one of the names of God, though the list is titled Sad-o-yak Nam-e Khoda, the hundred-and-one names of Khoda (God), implying perhaps that Khoda is an abbreviation of Khodavand.

In addition, Khodavandgar (خداوندگار) is also a word for God and another form of Lord.

Examples of Gathic Words with the Suffix - va, -van(em), -vant(em)
aojonghvantem [Y. 34.4a] mighty,
ashava [31.17a, 44.12b, 46.5c.6d(2x).14a, 48.2c, 53.9] (asha-),
ashavanem [31.10b.20a, 46.9c, 51.9c] (asha-),
astavantem [31.11b] having physical, material, bodily (astavant),
asivan [51.5c]
dregvantem [32.5c.14b, 46.5c, 48.2c, 51.0c] (dregvant),
emavantem [34.4b, 43.10e] possessing power, powerful.

Possible Meanings for the Suffix -va, -van, -vant, -vand, -mand
It is suggested the root meaning of vant or vand is vessel. Vand also translates to 'citizen' in modern Persian. Some possible meanings for the suffix -va, -van, -vant, -vand, -mand are:
  • possessing
  • having
  • endowed with
  • full of
  • in accordance with
  • with
  • belonging to
  • carries (i.e. farahmand would mean 'one who carries glory' and varjovand would mean 'one who carries dignity')
  • the suffix -ful
  • the suffix -ship (i.e. khodavand = lordship).

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