Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Kushan King Huvishka (140–180 AD): Ardoxsho & Iranian Deities


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Kushan, Huviska, Gold Dinar, 7.92g, 21 mm, Ardoxsho (Lakshmi)

The Iranian entities depicted on coinage include:
Αρδοχþο (ardoxsho, Ashi Vanghuhi)....."Ashi Vanghuhi or 'the good Ashi1' is a feminine impersonation of piety, and she is, at the same time, the source of all the good and riches that are connected with piety. She is described, therefore, as a goddess of Fortune and Wealth.....In the younger Avesta, Ashi is unambiguous a divinity, particularly so in the hymn (Yasht 17) dedicated to her. This hymn also contains older material, and many of the verses of Yasht 17 are also found in Yasht 5, the hymn nominally invoking "the Waters" (Aban), but actually addressed to Aredvi Sura Anahita.....
Aþαειχþo (ashaeixsho, Asha Vahishta).....In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), "Best Truth". The Middle Persian descendant is Ashawahist or Ardwahisht; New Persian Ardibehesht or Ordibehesht. In the Gathas, the oldest texts of Zoroastrianism and thought to have been composed by the prophet himself, it is seldom possible to distinguish between moral principle and the divinity."

"The Kushan religious pantheon is extremely varied, as revealed by their coins that were made in gold, silver, and copper. These coins contained more than thirty different gods, belonging mainly to their own Iranian, Greek, and Indian worlds as well. Kushan coins had images of Kushan Kings, Buddha, and figures from the Indian and Iranian pantheons.... Greek deities, with Greek names are represented on early coins. During Kanishka's reign, the language of the coinage changes to Bactrian (though it remained in Greek script for all kings). After Huvishka, only two divinities appear on the coins: Ardoxsho and Oesho."...

"....the northern regions of the Kushan empire, around Kapisa, Balkh, and beyond....with the collapse of the Sasanian empire after the Muslim conquest, once again Iranian craftsmen together with others from the Near East moved to the relative safety of the mountains of Kashmir (Goetz, 1952, p. 81). ....Kashmir was never conquered by a Muslim army, but Islam was introduced to the region by one Šāh Mirzā or Šāh Mir, a Muslim adventurer who entered the court of the local raja in 1315 AD.....Sasanian Empire (224–651 a.d.)...Arab forces, united under Islam, defeated the Sasanian armies in 642. The last Sasanian ruler, Yazdegerd III, died in 651.."......

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"Huvishka (Kushan: Οοηϸκι, "Ooishki") was the emperor of the Kushan Empire from the death of Kanishka (assumed on the best evidence available to be in 140 AD) until the succession of Vasudeva I about forty years later. His rule was a period of retrenchment and consolidation for the Empire. In particular he devoted time and effort early in his reign to the exertion of greater control over the city of Mathura. Mathura represented the southernmost extent of the Empire and, like much of the Indian Subcontinent, had been ruled via a series of subordinate rulers. These rulers, the ksatraps, maintained a certain amount of autonomy up under Kanishka, but they vanish from records in Huvishka's reign, while Huvishka patronised both Buddhist and Brahmin institutions in the town.".....

"Huvishka was the son of Kanishka. His reign is also known as the golden age of Kushan rule. The reign of Huvishka corresponds to the first known epigraphic evidence of the Buddha Amitabha, on the bottom part of a 2nd-century statue which has been found in Govindo-Nagar, and now at the Mathura Museum. The statue is dated to "the 28th year of the reign of Huvishka", and dedicated to "Amitabha Buddha" by a family of merchants. There is also some evidence that Huvishka himself was a follower of Mahāyāna Buddhism. A Sanskrit manuscript fragment in the Schøyen Collection describes Huvishka as one who has "set forth in the Mahāyāna.".....Compared to his predecessor Kanishka, Huvishka seems to rely less on Iranian deities (which are much less numerous in his coinage), and more on India ones, such as war divinities of Shivaism."......

"Ashi (aši) is the Avestan language word for the Zoroastrian concept of "that which is attained." As the hypostasis of "reward," "recompense," or "capricious luck," Ashi is also a divinity in the Zoroastrian hierarchy of yazatas......In the younger Avesta, Ashi is unambiguous a divinity, particularly so in the hymn (Yasht 17) dedicated to her. This hymn also contains older material, and many of the verses of Yasht 17 are also found in Yasht 5, the hymn nominally invoking "the Waters" (Aban), but actually addressed to Aredvi Sura Anahita. Both Aredvi Sura and Ashi are divinities of fertility, but other verses that have martial characteristics (see below) appear out of place in a hymn to "the Waters".....As the divinity of fortune, Ashi is characterized as one who confers victory in time of battle (Yasht 17.12-13). She is also closely connected to Mithra, whom she serves as charioteer (Yasht 10.68). In the hymn to Sraosha, the divinity of obedience receives ashiio (of uncertain meaning) as a stock epithet."....

"Robert Göbl ( 1919 - 1997) has postulated a division of the Kushan empire after Vasudeva into a “Shivaite” northern part and an “Ardoxshian” southern part (according to his outdated chronology as late as in the 4th century AD). This idea has been further emulated by Martha Cartha but now in context with the Sassanian conquest of the northern part at c. 230 AD.".........

.... Loeschner, Kanishka in Context with the Historical Buddha and Kushan Chronology....published in “Glory of the Kushans –Recent Discoveries and Interpretations”, pp. 137-194 edited by Professor Vidula Jayasval, Banaras Hindu Universiy (Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2012

"Robert Göbl’s interest in ancient oriental numismatics extended beyond the geographical limits of the Sasanian state. Prompted by Franz Altheim, he published in 1957 an article about Kushano-Sasanian coinage that eventually became the groundwork for his Dokumente zur Geschichte der iranischen Hunnen in Baktrien und Indien (4 vols, Wiesbaden, 1967), a major contribution that revived a fascinating chapter in Asian history and that will undoubtedly remain as one of the milestones in the study of Oriental numismatics. Roman Ghirshman (q.v.) arranged for Göbl’s participation at the second Kanishka conference, which was held in London in 1960. This conference induced Göbl to make the coinage of the Kushans the central part of all his future research. In 1984, he published his monograph on the system and chronology of Kushan coinage, in which he gave an in-depth commentary on its controversial chronology. He published another study of the subject, DONUM BURNS: Die Kušānmünzen im Münzkabinett Bern und die Chronologie (Vienna, 1993), which he considered his “Kushan testament.” At the request of the present writer, however, he made further studies of the chronology problem following the publication of the Rabatak inscription in 1996.".....

"Huviška reigned for at least 33 years and perhaps longer, no improbable figure for a dynasty of notably long-lived rulers.......Although he is not mentioned in the inscriptions there, it appears that the temple of Surkh Kotal was restored in his time; and, among the sculptures found, a headless figure wearing a cloak with fur-lined reverses (Schlumberger, Pl. VI, facing p. 442) seems identical with the rendering on one of the coin portraits, and so identifiable as Huviška. Apart from the passing references in the Kashmir history Rājataraṅgiṇī, the numismatic and epigraphic evidence is the only source for Huviška, and nothing is known of the political history of his time. However, the sumptuous gold coinage indicates a period of spectacular prosperity, based no doubt on trade of the Silk Route, which could have continued until the outbreak of the smallpox epidemic that spread to the Roman empire with the “plague of Marcus Aurelius” in 166 C.E.".....

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May 2015

John Hopkins....Northern New Mexico



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