Pahlavi Rivayat


This early 16th-century manuscript contains the text commonly referred to as the ‘Pahlavi Rivāyat’, is a Pahlavi (Middle Persian) treatise dealing with the ritual, cosmology, eschatology and epic history of Iran.

What is the manuscript about?

The passage shown here is from the section ‘On the fate of the souls of the wicked and the righteous’. It describes how the soul of a righteous person is met by a beautiful woman, who is an embodiment of the deceased’s life on earth, however when a wicked man dies, his soul, cold and surrounded by an unimaginable stench, is met on the third night by the ugly and filthy representation of his evil past before descending to hell.

A typical Zoroastrian feature of this manuscript is the name of Ahriman – the evil antithesis of the supreme God Ohrmazd (Ahura Mazda) – written upside down as a sign of contempt.

Full title:
The Pahlavi Rivāyat
16th century, Iran
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
RSPA 228

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