Tishtrya

Tishtrya

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Tishtrya is the Avestan language
Avestan language
Avestan is an East Iranian language known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta, from which it derives its name...

 name of an Zoroastrian
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 benevolent divinity associated with life-bringing rainfall and fertility. Tishtrya is Tir in Middle- and Modern Persian. As has been judged from the archaic context in which Tishtrya appears in the texts of the Avesta, the divinity/concept is almost certainly of Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranian peoples are a linguistic group consisting of the Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Dardic and Nuristani peoples; that is, speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family....

 origin.

In a hymn of the Avesta
Avesta
The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language.-Early transmission:The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas,...

 (incorporated by Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

, with due acknowledgement, in the Shahnameh
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

), Tishtrya is involved in a cosmic struggle against the drought-bringing demon Apaosha
Apaosha
Apaosha is the Avestan language name of Zoroastrianism's demon of drought. He is the epitomized antithesis of Tishtrya, divinity of the star Sirius and guardian of rainfall...

. According to the myth, in the form of a pure white horse
White horse (mythology)
White horses have a special significance in the mythologies of cultures around the world. They are often associated with the sun chariot, with warrior-heroes, with fertility , or with an end-of-time saviour, but other interpretations exist as well...

 the god did battle with the demon who, in contrast, had assumed the form of a terrifying black horse. Apaosa soon gained the upper hand over Tishtrya, who was weakened from the lack of sufficient prayers and sacrifices from humankind. The yazata
Yazata
Yazata is the Avestan language word for a Zoroastrian concept. The word has a wide range of meanings but generally signifies a divinity...

 proceeded to call upon the Creator Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazdā is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism...

, who himself then intervened by offering a sacrifice to the overwhelmed god. Infused with the power brought by this sacrifice, Tishtrya was able to overcome Apaosa, and his rains were able to flow to the parched fields and pastures unabated by drought. This story serves to underscore the importance of votive offerings and sacrifice in religious tradition.

In the Zoroastrian religious calendar
Zoroastrian calendar
This article treats of the reckoning of days, months and years in the calendar used by adherents of the Zoroastrian faith. Zoroastrian religious festivals are discussed elsewhere, but have a fixed relationship to Nawruz, the New Year festival, whose timing is discussed below...

, the 13th day of the month and the 4th month of the year are dedicated to Tishtrya/Tir, and hence named after the entity. In the Iranian civil calendar
Iranian calendar
The Iranian calendars or sometimes called Persian calendars are a succession of calendars invented or used for over two millennia in Greater Iran...

, which inherits its month names from the Zoroastrian calendar, the 4th month is likewise named Tir.

During the Achaemenid
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 period, Tishtrya was conflated with Semitic Nabu-*Tiri, and thus came to be associated with the Dog Star, Sirius
Sirius
Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. With a visual apparent magnitude of −1.46, it is almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star. The name "Sirius" is derived from the Ancient Greek: Seirios . The star has the Bayer designation Alpha Canis Majoris...

. The Tiregan
Tiregan
Tiregân also known as Jashn-e Tiregân is an ancient Iranian festival coinciding with the mid summer festivals. -Overview:...

 festival, previously associated with *Tiri (a reconstructed name), was likewise transferred to Tishtrya. During the Hellenic period, Tishtrya came to be associated with Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

n Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, patron of Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

, and thus a divinity of oracles.