ČINWAD PUHL (Av. činuuatō pərətu-), traditionally thought to mean “the bridge of the separator” but recently shown to be “the bridge of the accumulator/collector” (Kellens, with references to earlier transla­tions), the name of a bridge that, according to a Mazdayasnian/Zoroastrian eschatological myth, leads from this world to the next and must be crossed by the souls of the departed (Vd. 19.29, 19.30). It is mentioned already in the Gathas (Y. 46.10, 46.11, 51.13). The bridge lies on the peak of the cosmic mountain Harburz (Alborz), called Čagād ī Dāitī, with one end in the south leading up to paradise; the other lies in the north, and below it, beneath the earth, lies hell (Bundahišn, TD2, pp. 77.13-15, 199.10; Dēnkard, ed. Madan, p. 809.2-8, ed. Dresden, p. 60, tr. W. E. West, in Pahlavi Texts IV, SBE 37, p. 210; Ardā Wirāz-nāmag, ed. West and Haug, chap. 53.2-3; Pahlavi Rivayat, chap. 15.3; for Kirder’s inscrip­tion at Naqš-e Rostam, ll. 65-66, at Sar-e Mašhad, ll. 41-­43, see Skjærvø, p. 285).

The bridge has the following epithets in the Avesta: "Mazda-created” (mazda-δāta-, Vd. 19.29,19.36), “well-known from afar” (dūraē.srūta, Wištāsp Yt. 42; cf. Pahl. dūr-nāmīg in Dēnkard, p. 809.9), “strong” (amauuant-, Wištāsp Yt. 42; cf. Pahl. amāwand in Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag 4.7), “well protected” (hu-pāta-, Wištāsp Yt. 42), and “protected by righteousness” (aṧa pāta-, Wištāsp Yt. 42; see Avesta, tr. Darmesteter, II, p. 677). In the Pahlavi literature it is described as “high” (buland: Mēnōg ī xrad, ed. Anklesaria, 2.115), “fearful” (sahmgen, Mēnōg ī xrad, ed. Anklesaria, 2.115; bīmgen, Mēnōg ī xrad, ed. Anklesaria, 41.12), “protector of many”(was pānāg, Ardā Wirāz-nāmag 4.7), “created by Ohrmazd” (Ohrmazd-dād, Ardā Wirāz-nāmag 4.7), and “good” (nēk, Dēnkard, p. 809.10).

Two dogs guard the bridge, according to the Vidēvdād (13.9, 19.30), but only one, according to the Bundahišn (TD2, p. 199.9), a belief also found in Indian literature and therefore presumably of Indo-Iranian date (see Boyce, Stronghold, pp. 145f.).

The bridge is said to be nine lances long and wide, although resembling a sharp sword (Bundahišn, TD2, p. 199.7-8), a razor blade (dār-ēw; Kirdēr’s inscription KNRm 65, KSM 41, see Skjærvø, p. 299 par. 21), or a razor blade “of many sides” (dār-kirb ī was pahlūg: Dādestān ī dēnīg, pt. 1, chap. 21.3, see Pavry, p. 94; Tafazzoli, 1970, pp. 89-91).

The crossing of the soul of the departed takes place three days after death, at the dawn of the fourth day. It proceeds toward the bridge, accompanied by a number of gods, such as Srōš, the good Way, and Wahrām, while it is menaced by various demons (Mēnōg ī xrad 2.115-16). In some texts it is primarily Srōš who has the task of guiding the soul to the bridge (Bundahišn, TD2, p. 169.12-13; Persian Rivayats I, p. 148). At the entrance of the bridge there is a tribunal, over which Mihr presides in the company of Srōš and Rašn (Mēnōg ī xrad 2.118). Ac­cording to another, probably later, tradition, the judges are Rašn, Aštād, and Zamyazd (Bundahišn, TD2, pp. 37.12­-14, 180.6-8; cf. also Dēnkard, ed. Madan, p. 809.9-12, where Aštād and Mihr are mentioned). The god Rašn weighs the good and the evil deeds of the soul with his spiritual balance (Mēnōg ī xrad 2.119-22; Persian Rivayats I, p. 148; cf. KSM and KNRm, Skjærvø, pp. 282, 296-97, pars. 15-17). If the deceased is righteous, his dēn appears to him as a beautiful maiden, who personi­fies his deeds in life and who, together with the other gods, helps him cross the bridge (Vd. 19.30; Mēnōg ī xrad 2.124; Persian Rivayats, p. 148.13ff.; inscription of Kirdēr, Skjærvø, passim). These gods are Srōš and Ādur (Ardā Wirāz-nāmag 5.1-2), or only Srōš (Mēnōg ī xrad, 2.124). Ādur is sometimes identified as Ādurfarnbag (Bundahišn, TD2, p. 169.2-4) or as “the form of fire” (ātaxš-kirb: Zādsprahm 30.52). If the soul is wicked, his dēn appears as an ugly maiden, and the soul fails to cross the bridge and falls into hell. When the righteous soul wishes to cross the bridge, it becomes thirty-seven poles (nāy) wide (Dādestān ī dēnīg, pt. 1, chap. 21.5), equal to nine lances (Dēnkard, p. 809.2-8; Zand ī Xwurdag Abestāg, ed. Dhabhar, pp. 258.22-259.5) or one frasang (Mēnōg ī xrad 2.123). For the wicked it becomes narrow like a razor blade (Dādestān ī dēnīg, pt. 1, chap. 21.5; Dēnkard, p. 809.2-8; Zand ī Xwurdag Abestāg, pp. 258.22-259.5). For the righteous soul the crossing is very pleasant, and he walks across the bridge “well-wishingly and free from sorrow” (appār-čēh) on the precious skin of the stoat (*kākomēn pōst) in the green, beautiful, and very fragrant spring time (Dādestān ī dēnīg, pt. 1, chap. 21.6). When the wicked soul, on the other hand, steps onto the bridge, he falls into hell because of his coarseness (dabrīh; see Tafazoli, 1972, pp. 270-­73) and sharpness. His crossing is very unpleasant, as if walking through a stinking charnel house (murdagestān; Dādestān ī dēnīg, pt. I, chap. 21.8)

The činwad puhl is also called čēh-widarg (Dēnkard, ed. Madan, p. 66.15, ed. Dresden, p. 784.3, ed. Madan, p. 809.9; Zādsprahm 31.3; Vd. 18.6; Bundahišn, TD2, p. 169.13), činwar puhl (probably a dialect form of činwad; Bundahišn, pp. 169.3, 180.6-7; cf. Mēnōg ī xrad 2.115, 41.12, 57.13, where cnywl stands for činwar; for a different view, see Nyberg, Manual II, p. 53, s.v. cand-war), and čīnag puhl (Dēnkard, ed. Madan, p. 809.4).



B. N. Dhabhar, ed., Zand-i Khūrtak Avistāk, Bombay, 1927.

M. Haug and E. W. West, The Book of Arda Viraf, Bombay and London, 1872; repr. Amsterdam, 1971.

J. Kellens, “Yima et la mort,” in Languages and Cultures. Studies in Honor of Edgar C. Polomé, Berlin, 1988, pp. 329-34.

C. Pavry, The Zoroastrian Doctrine of the Future Life, New York, 1926.

P. O. Skjærvø, “"Kirdir’s Vision." Translation and Analysis,” AMI 16, 1983, pp. 269-306.

A. Tafazzoli, “Notes pehlevies (I),” JA, 1970, pp. 87-93.

Idem, “Notes pehlevies (II),” JA, 1972, pp. 267-76.

(Aḥmad Tafażżolī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1991

Last Updated: October 20, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. V, Fasc. 6, pp. 594-595