Ahura Mazda

Ahura Mazda December 15, 2015
The bowl depicts the victory of the Zoroastrian Emperor Darius (550-486 BCE), with Ahura Mazda appearing as a presence near and above the emperor. The bowl was made in Burma around 1875-1900 and is now at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (accession no. 2009.25).
The bowl depicts the victory of the Zoroastrian Emperor Darius (550-486 BCE), with Ahura Mazda appearing as a presence near and above the emperor. The bowl was made in Burma around 1875-1900 and is now at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (accession no. 2009.25).

The supreme deity of the Zoroastrian faith, known as Ahura Mazda, is represented on this ceremonial bowl as a winged disk, at upper right in the photo. The bowl depicts the victory of the Zoroastrian Emperor Darius (550-486 BCE), with Ahura Mazda appearing as a presence near and above the emperor. The bowl was made in Burma in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and is now at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (accession no. 2009.25).

Zoroastrianism is the oldest extant monotheistic religion. According to the Pluralism Project: “The one supreme and infinite God — Ahura Mazda — cannot be fully understood by humanity, [but] six attributes of Ahura Mazda were revealed to Zarathushtra. Known as the Amesha Spentas, they include Vohu Mana, the Good Mind; Asha, the divine law of righteousness, justice, and truth; Kshathra, the majesty and power of good dominion; Armaity, Ahura Mazda’s love and benevolent devotion; Haurvatat, well-being and perfection; and Ameratat, immortality. Humans must strive, both through reason and action, to emulate these attributes of God to live a good life.”

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  • Is Zoroastrianism really “monotheistic?” Or is it the first major religion with a Supreme Being? I ask because I think the Amesha Spentas once were Deities too, but I might have read a minority opinion there. They evolved into something resembling archangels. Ahriman, the precursor of the Christian devil, was also considered a Deity – just not a good one, I believe. The clues are tantalizingly few, thanks to the ravages of time and Alexander.

    Then there is the Devi Bhagwad Puran which suggests that a supreme force called Adi-Para-Shakti created Bramha, Vishnu and Shiva to aid her in her work. APS would also be considered a supreme being, and would be earlier than Zoroastrianism.

    Amazing that a Persian emperor would appear on a Burmese bowl though. I didn’t know that Zoroastrianism had any influence in SE Asia. Fascinating subject! Thanbks for posting it.