Are there angels in Zoroastrianism


Representation of a winged female deity; the relief called "Queen of Night" could represent Ishtar, Ereschgikal, Lillith or an underworld goddess / Babylonian clay tablet / 1750 BC BC / British Museum



A Lamassu from Khorsabad, the city that the Assyrian King Sargon II founded in the 8th century. v. Built / creature with bull's body, wings and human head / reminds of the vision of Isaiah / Musee du Louvre




(From left to right) Unknown god of the hunt, Ishtar with wings, Shamash (sun) sinks below the horizon, Ea and the double-faced Usimu / cylinder seal from Adda / 2300-2200 BC. BC / British Museum




Winged genius in blessing gesture with cones / relief from the palace of Sargon II / 716 - 713 BC Chr. / Musee du Louvre




Anahita, Persian goddess of water and the world river / a Yazata in Zoroastrianism / bronze and gold / 436 - 358 BC BC / British Museum




The Faravahar, a bird man with a sun wheel, symbol of Zoroastrianism / relief on a wall of stairs in the stairway to the Xerxes Palace / Persepolis




Pazuzu, a demon of the south-east storm wind and disease bringer / Assyrian bronze / 10th - 6th century. v. Chr. / Musee du Louvre



Mesopotamian and Persian cultures


The old days

In the Mesopotamian region, deities and people with wings were depicted early on. For example, the Sumerian primeval goddess Ereschkigal, Isthar, the Avestian goddess of the primeval water Anahita, an ambiguous figure on the cylinder seal of the scribe Adda, the hero Gilgamesh, the Babylonian god Marduk or the Assyrian demon and demon Pazuzu
There are "angels" in the royal palaces of the Assyrians in Nineveh, Nimrud or Dur Sharrukin (today's Khrosabad), some with double wings above and below, as so-called genii, carved from huge stone slabs. (They are also similar to the appearances in the calling vision of the prophet Isaiah.)


Persian empires

The Persian Empires took over the cultural heritage of Mesopotamia and built a bridge between Eastern and Western cultures. Within their changing borders (largest expansion around 500 BC from Egypt and Macedonia to Bactria and Gandhara) and due to their religion-tolerant attitude, the most diverse ideas met - and thus different experiences with winged beings.

Marduk argues with Tiamat / Assyrian relief / 9th century v. BC / Palace of Assurbanipal



The teaching of Zoroaster

At some point in the midst of this lively exchange and this cultural diversity, the teachings of Zoroaster, whose symbol is still the Faravahar, a winged being, finally developed. The symbol Faravahar does not represent a deity, but the human soul as it was before birth and as it will be after death. In this respect the Faravahar is reminiscent of the Egyptian mate. Fara means "to fly" or "the one who flies" and vahar means "the choice of the good" or "the choice of the good spirit". Faravahar would then mean, for example, "the flyer chosen by the good spirit".

The origin and time of origin of Zarathustra's teaching are uncertain. It spread in the Middle East and developed into an influential religion within the changing borders of the religion-tolerant Persian Empire. In the second Persian Empire under the rule of the Sassanids, Zoroastrianism almost acquired the character of a state religion.

The most reliable source for our knowledge of the teachings of Zarathustra is the collection of the Gathas or songs contained in the Avesta, the religious book of the Zoroastrians, which are either written by Zarathustra himself or by his disciples.
According to this, is God, who created and sustains the world, which is the beginning and the end, Ahura Mazd? (the wise Lord). Six good spirits (archangels) emanate from him, the so-called Yazatas and later Amshaspands (Amesha Spentas - "Immortal Saints"), who embody the qualities of Ahura Mazda: virtue, truthfulness, good disposition, humility or piety, welfare, health and longevity or immortality and factually the blessing spirit. They face the seven Daevas, the evil demons, and their master Angra Manju (Ahriman) ..
Yazatas are beings who proceed from God and stand by his side, be it in the older, more clearly dualistic form of Zoroastrianism or in the later monothesic form, after the god of time and space Zurvan added to the Zoroastrian religion at the time of the Sassanids has been.


Impact history

From 500 BC BC Judah was a province of the then world empire of the Persians. At that time, the Jewish faith came into contact with ideas and experiences from various religions - not least with depictions of winged beings and servants of the good. However, it should not be prematurely concluded that the angels of the Old Testament copy Assyrian models. The idea of ​​heavenly beings occurs in the most varied of cultures and epochs - and sometimes without any role models.
Later, the Roman Empire again provided the opportunity for a lively exchange of religious ideas and experiences, again for the same reasons as the Persian empires made this exchange possible long before it: fundamental religious tolerance and expansion. In this way, Persian ideas and cultural contents came into circulation again at a later time.

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