Working Papers

King Huviška, Yima and the Bird: Observations on a Paradisiacal State

Author:
Touraj Daryaee, University of California, Irvine

In 1984 Robert Göbl published a unique gold coin of king Huviška in his study of the coinage of the Kushan Empire. In the same year, Frantz Grenet published an major article laying out the importance of this coinage for king Huviška’s religious ideology. The coin shows a man standing with a tiara with ribbon, with a sword, holding a spear in his left hand, and with a bird sitting on his outstretched right hand. The legend on the coin is equally important. Although the legend is clear, its meaning is not unanimously accepted. The Bactrian legend behind the standing figure reads Iamšao, which Grenet believes to be an abbreviated spelling for *Iamo šao “King Yama,” similar to the Kafirian form for Yama, given as Imrā < *Yama rājā.  Helmut Humbach disagrees with Grenet’s hypothesis, and suggests that Iamšo is a short form (Kurzname) of *Iamšēdo (Old Persian *yama xšaita, i.e, Jamšīd), harkening back to Avestan Yima Xšaēta (Yima the Brilliant/Majestic).  For our discussion either interpretation is acceptable, as its consequence will be the same for this essay.