KĒD, Pahlavi and Bactrian word with meanings ranging from “soothsayer” to “priest,” probably derived from OIran. *kaita-, Avestan kaēta-. The usage of the term kēd in the Pahlavi texts, where it may be interpreted as “soothsayer, clairvoyant,” is described under KAĒTA. In the spelling “kēdo,” with silent final -o, the word also occurs in a Bactrian text which probably dates from 700 C.E. (Doc. T, Sims-Williams, 2001, pp. 98-105). This document is a deed of gift whereby a Turkish queen, as a reward for the miraculous healing of her infant son, donates a piece of land and a slave-girl to the god Kamird (literally “the head, the chief”) and to a man who is named as Kamird-far (“glory of Kamird”) and described as a kēd. It may be deduced that the kēd is a priest or adept of the god Kamird. As noted by N. Sims-Williams (1997, p. 19), the Bactrian word, or a cognate form, is almost certainly the source of Chinese jiduo (Mathews, nos. 456 + 6416), Early Middle Chinese kɛjʰ-ta (Pulleyblank, pp. 142, 85), which was recorded by the 7th-century Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang as a local term as a term for the devotees of Žūn, the god of Zābulistān. (See Pelliot, pp. 430-31, who first recognized jiduo as a transcription of a foreign word, and Bussagli, p. 89, n. 1, who first made known Paolo Daffinà’s suggested comparison of this term with Pahlavi kēd.) The jiduo are described as having magical therapeutic powers (Daffinà, p. 281), which accords well with the role of the kēd Kamird-far in the Bactrian document.



M. Bussagli, “Cusanica et Serica,” Rivista degli Studi Orientali 37, 1962, pp. 79-103.

P. Daffinà, “Gli eretici chi-to et la divinità di Zābul,” Rivista degli Studi Orientali 37, 1962, pp. 279-81.

R. H. Mathews, Chinese-English Dictionary, revised American edition, Cambridge, Mass., 1943.

P. Pelliot, “Trois termes des Mémoires de Hiuan-tsang,” Études d’orientalisme publiées par le Musée Guimet à la mémoire de Raymonde Linossier II, Paris, 1932, pp. 423-31.

E. G. Pulleyblank, Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese, and Early Mandarin, Vancouver, 1991.

N. Sims-Williams, New Light on Ancient Afghanistan, London, 1997.

Idem, Bactrian Documents from Northern Afghanistan I: Legal and Economic Documents, Oxford, 2000 [2001].


Originally Published: May 31, 2013

Last Updated: September 6, 2011

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Vol. XVI, Fasc. 2, p. 223