Frantz Grenet; with Samra Azarnoush, Where are the Sogdian Magi?

Panjikent, Temple II, antecella: lamentation scene with Nana and Demeter.
Panjikent, Temple II, antecella: lamentation scene with Nana and Demeter.



Contrary to the situation in Sasanian Iran, the Zoroastrian Magi of Sogdiana are not very conspicuous in the sources and they are almost not mentioned in accounts of the Arab conquest. Nevertheless, a certain amount of information can be gathered by putting together all the categories of documents. Sogdian texts indicate that two categories of priests coexisted: vaghnpat, master of an image temple, and moghpat, equivalent of Middle Persian mowbed. This duality might have been reflected in the two Panjikent temples: Temple II, assigned to the cult of the originally un-Zoroastrian goddess Nana and presumably held by a vaghnpat, and Temple I, assigned to gods of the Zoroastrian pantheon and at a certain period containing a fire sanctuary more proper for a mowbed. In the funerary art (ossuaries, sarcophagi of Sogdians in China) priests are depicted wearing the canonical costume, while those who can tentatively be identified in monumental painting tend to adopt a fashion more similar to that of their aristocratic patrons. Texts attributable to Sogdian Magi are republished in fresh translations (Appendix 1: account of Zoroaster’s assumption to Heaven; Appendix 2, with Samra Azarnouches: text on the magic of stones and rain-making).



Home Page