DĪNĀVARĪYA (Ar. and Pers.< Mid. Pers. dēnāwar “having religion, pious, upright”), in Manichean usage originally “the elect.” The term was ultimately derived from the Iranian substantive (attested in Mid. Pers. dēnawar, Parth. dēnāβar, and Sogd. δēnāβar and its feminine derivation δynʾβrʾnc, pl. δyʾβrʾšt). Judging from the Arabic form, the early New Persian form was *dēnāvar; the derivation dēnāvarī “follower of the dīnāvarān” is attested in the plural form dēnāvarīān in Gardīzī (ed. Ḥabībī, p. 268). The Arabic word derived from it is mentioned in the section on Mani and his teachings and writings by Ebn al-Nadīm (ed. Flügel, pp. 66-67, 97-98; ed. Tajaddod, pp. 399-400; tr., p. 792) and by Jāḥeẓ (p. 77). In the 7th century the Chinese traveler Hsüan-tsang transcribed the word as ti-na-ba (Chavannes and Pelliot, 1913, p. 150), but in the so-called “Manichean treatise” a later Chinese form, dian-na-wu, is attested (Chavannes and Pelliot, 1911, pp. 554-55). From the form tinaba H. H. Schaeder deduced that dīnāvar was already in use in the 7th century (p. 80 n. 2), but the rendering diannawu contradicts his conclusion, as do the common Arabic parallel forms of the place name Daynavar and Daynovar (on all these forms, cf. Sundermann, 1984, pp. 305-06; idem, 1986, p. 271).

The New Persian form with ā in the second syllable, distinct from the Islamic Persian place name Dīnavar (cf. the Mid. Pers. attributive name dēnawarī but Parth. [?] Dēnāβarān; see Markwart, Provincial Capitals, par. 29), seems to have been the only one to appear in Manichean usage. It did not originally designate a place or a person (Chavannes and Pelliot, 1911, p. 554, n. 1). As a was already attested in Middle Persian, while ā occurred in Parthian and Sogdian, dēnawar must have been the original Persian form; New Persian dīnāvar must thus be explained as a derivation from Parthian or a neologisim. The variants ā/a occur in similar New Persian double forms such as kīnavar/kīnāvar. Wilhelm Eilers correctly emphasized (p. 273) that ā reflects a lengthening that also occurred in forms with -āwand/-awand and -ākar. The suffix can thus be traced back to Old Iranian -bara- “carrying,” rather than to ā-bar- “to bring.” (Already in Avestan bara-, as in the form of -uuara-, had caused lengthening of a preceding a, as in gaošāuuara- “earring.”)

That Mani himself introduced the Middle Persian term dēnawar into the terminology of his church is clear from its frequent appearance in Šābuhragān (MacKenzie, p. 304, where the reading [dy](n)wryhò is possible instead of [dyn](ʾ)wryhò). It was certainly for that reason that the title retained a special status in Manichean tradition, above that of similar and formally related dēndār, lit., “having the religion.” Although dēnāwar predominated in Middle Iranian Manichean texts, in Buddhist texts dēndār was preferred, and, at least in some cases, dēnāwar was used to designate non-Buddhist priests.

The frequent use of the title among the Manicheans also suggests that in their linguistic usage the abstract Parthian dēnāβarīft (cf. Man. Sogd. ms. 18140 II r 6: δy-nʾβry-ʾ “community of the elect”) was also understood as a collective designation for the Manichean church as a whole, including the lay members who were not, strictly speaking, dēnāβarān. This usage is confirmed by the Parthian homily published by W. B. Henning (pp. 30-31), in which catechumens belonging to the [dyn]ʾbryft were admonished to zealous charity toward the elect (ms. M 6020 l. 3).

The self-designation of Manicheans of the Middle East and Central Asia as dēnāβarīft and the like is certainly attested from the period around 630 C.E., when Hsüan-tsang visited Central Asia and reported that the heresy of the tinaba was widespread in the Persian kingdom; Josef Markwart recognized the term tinaba as a rendering of dēnāβar (p. 502; cf. Chavannes and Pelliot, 1913, p. 150). Schaeder connected this report with the name of the Manichean priest Mār Šād Ohrmazd, who died in 600 and was apparently so influential that later the Manicheans took his death year as an epoch of their religious era (pp. 79-80). Schaeder considered that his name was reflected in the term dīnāvarīya, referring to those who had led the Manichean church of Central Asia into schism at the end of the 6th century. This schism is described by Ebn al-Nadīm (ed. Flügel, pp. 66-67, 97-98; ed. Tajaddod, p. 397; tr. pp. 791-93), who locates the schismatics “on the other side of the Balḵ river”; they disputed the supreme authority of the see in Babylon, which clearly suggests that the leader residing in Transoxania (in Samarqand?) was recognized as the highest authority within his own community. The split was healed in the time of the Omayyad Walīd b. ʿAbd-al-Malek (86-96/705-15). Nevertheless, in the Manichean-Sogdian letters cited above, dated to the 9th (?) century, the Central Asian dīnāvarān were still criticizing the religious laxity that had appeared among their western brethren.

Although the schism did become known as that of the dīnāvarīya, it would nevertheless be incorrect to consider the dīnāvarīya as Manichean heretics per se. The designation persisted as a regional name for the Manichean church in Central Asia even after the reconciliation with the mother church in Mesopotamia (as shown, e.g., by the Parthian homily mentioned above), and it is probable a priori that the name had actually been in use before the schism itself had occurred.

Jāḥeẓ distinguished three Manichean communities: the moṣaddeqīya (or moṣaddaqīya?; not to be interpreted as mazdaqīya, pace Klima, p. 358) in the Arabic-speaking lands (and Persia?); the dīnāvarīya of Iranian Central Asia; and the toḡozḡozīya in the Central Asian steppe kingdom of the Uighurs (p. 88). From this evidence it follows that both the Arabic-speaking and the Central Asian Manicheans identified themselves by the names of the elect of their communities. Those of the Uighur kingdom did the same; aside from the improbability that they actually called themselves toḡozḡozīya, it is clear from the Turfan texts that they often called themselves dīnāvarān. For example, in a Sogdian communal letter probably from the Turfan oasis in the 9th century the elect of the original Mesopotamian party of believers (or at least one group of them) known as Mehryānd and Meqlāsīqt were interpreted as designated δenāβarānšt, and the same term applied to the elect of the Central Asian community itself (Sundermann, 1984, pp. 305-09). In the 11th century Gardīzī reported on the worshipful gathering of “three to four hundred” members of the dīnāvar community with their “prefect” (ʿāmel) in the Toḡozḡoz kingdom (ed. Ḥabībī, p. 268; for interpretation of the passage, see Alfaric, p. 87, n. 1).

The period when Central Asian Manicheans were first designated as dēnāwarān is not clear. As already noted, Schaeder connected it with the schism within this community (pp. 78-80), citing as evidence M2, which he considered a document of the schism; this document contains the legend of Mar Ammō, in which the spread of Mani’s message in Central Asia is recounted (Mir. Man., II, pp. 301-06). Actually, however, at least the etiological portion involving the introduction of the title dēnāwar is of a later date. It must have been written at a time when New Persian had already replaced Middle Persian (and Parthian) in Central Asia, which could hardly have taken place before the 8th century and more probably in the 10th century (Sundermann, 1986, pp. 270-73). Furthermore, the purpose of this section was to provide a popular etymology explaining the origin of the name of the dēnāwarān (i.e., dēn-āwar “bringer of religion”), not of the community itself. It is thus clearly impossible to determine precisely when the name dīnāvarīya was first applied to the Central Asian Manichean church, but it is most likely that it had already been introduced in the 3rd century, as claimed in the Ammō legend, and remained in use until Manicheism disappeared in Central Asia (13th century?).

Bibliography: P. Alfaric, Les écritures mani-chéennes, Paris, 1918. E. Chavannes and P. Pelliot, in JA, 10th ser., 18, 1911, pp. 499-617; 11th ser., 1, 1913, pp. 99-394. W. Eilers, “Der Name Demawend,” Archív Orientalní 22, 1954, pp. 267-374. W. B. Henning, “A Grain of Mustard,” AION 50, 1965, pp. 30-31. Jāḥeẓ, Ketāb al-tarbīʿ wa’l-tadwīr, ed. C. Pellat, Damascus, 1955. D. N. MacKenzie, “Mani’s Šābuhragān,”BSOAS 43, 1980, pp. 288-310. J. Markwart, Osteuropäische und ostasiatische Streifzüge, Leipzig, 1903. H. H. Schaeder, “Iranica,” Abhandlungen der Gesel-lschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen 3/10, 1934, pp. 1-88. W. Sundermann, “Probleme der Interpretation manichäisch-soghdischer Briefe,” in J. Harmatta, ed., From Hecataeus to Al-Ḫuwārizmī, Budapest, 1984, pp. 289-316. Idem, “Studien zur kirchengeschichtlichen Literatur der iranischen Manichäer II,” Archiv für Altorientalische Forschungen 13, 1986, pp. 239-317.




(Werner Sundermann)

Originally Published: December 15, 1995

Last Updated: November 28, 2011

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Vol. VII, Fasc. 4, pp. 418-419