Tag Archives: Turan

Kangdez, an Iranian Myth

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A research by Dhani Irwanto, 19 April 2016

Kangdez refers to a mythical, paradise-like fortress in Iranian folklore, means “Fortress of Kang”. In Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, Kangdez becomes Gangdez.

The Middle Persian Pahlavi texts mention Kangdez as being founded by Siyavakhsh (Siavosh in the Shahnameh). In the Bundahishn and Dadestan i-Denig, Kangdez was conquered by Kay Khosrow. In Pahlavi Zoroastrian eschatological works, Kangdez is the abode of Peshotan, son of King Vishtasp, and Khwarsheed-chihr  son of Zarathushtra, who will gather their righteous army there before the final battle against Ahriman and his creatures. In Dinkard the previous information is ascribed to the lost Sudgar Nask of the Sassanid Avesta.

In the Shahnameh, Siavosh, having fled from Kay Kavus to Turan, is granted by Turan’s King Afrasiab a pleasant piece of land, where Siavosh erects the castle Kangdez by miraculous power. In other Persian texts, the construction of Kangdez is attributed to Kay Kavus, Kay Khosrow and even Legendary King Jamshid. The region around the castle Kangdez is described as being rich in water and game, and knowing neither the frost of winter nor the heat of summer. It is thirty farsakh square in size (1 farsakh is about 6.2 kilometers). The walled city of Kangdez is also called Kang-e Siavosh, Kang-e Siyavakhsh, Siavoshgerd and Siyavakhshgerd, in different texts. The combination of urban structures and gardens within the city walls, the absence of heat and frost, as well as several (usually seven) walls or buildings made of different materials is a characteristic description of towns in Iranian lore.

According to the Bundahisn, the Kangdez was originally supported on the heads of dews (also in Pahlavi), but was placed on the ground by Kay Khosrow. It had seven ring walls made of gold, silver, steel, brass, iron, crystal, and lapis lazuli (Bundahisn); or stone, steel, crystal, silver, gold, chalcedony and ruby (Pahlavi). It also had hands and feet, and there was eternal spring. Its dimensions were so enormous that it took a man with horse and chariot fifteen days to drive from one of its fifteen gates to the next (Bundahisn), set 700 parasangs (about 3900 kilometers) apart (Pahlavi). Each gate was the height of fifteen men, and the castle itself was so tall that the arrow of the best archers might not reach the top (Pahlavi).

According to the Pahlavi, the Kangdez was, apparently, at first in the other world, but was invited down to the earth by Kay Khosrow, who addressed it as his sister, since it had been made by his father (Siavosh). It came down in eastern Turan, in the area of Siavosh-kerd, and Kay Khosrow settled “the Iranians” in it, who would not leave it until the coming of Pisyotan (Wistasp’s eschatological son) at the end of time. It had a silver tower with golden crenellations, accommodating fourteen mountains and seven rivers in spate. After the end of the Kayanids, Pisyotan will be king and priest in the Kang until the final battles, which he goes out to fight, but then returns and stays until the Renovation.

Siavosh lived in Kangdez until he was cunningly killed by Afrasiab. When he learnt of his father’s murder, Siavosh’s son, Kay Khosrow, pledged vengance. When Kay Khosrow ascended the throne of Iranshahr, he launched a series of expeditions against Turan and Afrasiab, who he eventually defeated. Afrasiab fled to China and from there sails to Kangdez. Kay Khosrow pursues Afrasiab, puts together a naval force, and sets sail for Kangdez which he reaches after a six-month-long voyage, but Afrasiab has already secretly escaped. Kay Khosrow resides in Kangdez for one year and then sails back to Iran through Turanian territory.

Kangdez (2)

In the Sassanid Avesta, the Vourukasha Sea lies in the extreme East from which all waters come with the wind and clouds. It is described as the “deep sea of salt waters”. Reference is made to tides, of the “waters rising up and going down” and of a southern sea into which the Vourukasha empties and from which it refills causing the tidal ebb and flow. In the Vourukasha Sea is Eranvej, where the peak Hukairya is located. On Hukairya is the world spring and world river known as Aredvi Sura Anahita, the source of water for all the “world’s rivers”. Also on this peak grows the sacred “white haoma”.

In latter literature, Siavosh is said to have built Kangdez on the “frontier” of Eranvej. In the Vourukasha Sea is also mentioned the giant ox from whose back was taken the three sacred fires.

In the Dadestan i-Menog i-Khrad, the location of Kangdez is described as “entrusted with the eastern quarter, near to Satavayes on the frontier of Airan-vego”. Satavayes is a star or constellation. According to late Zoroastrian texts, Kangdez was located beyond Khotan (Hotan now) and China, a year’s voyage (six months for Kay Khosrow) to the East by sea from the Baluchi port of Makran. Arab geographer, al-Biruni, identifies Kangdez with another land of Yamakoti, the legendary easternmost town of the Indian oecumene.

The geographers who used Kangdez as the prime meridian belonged to what is known as the al-Balkhi school, after Abu Mashar al-Balkhi, known in the West as Albumasar. During the Middle Ages, Albumasar was the most renowned of Muslim astronomer/astrologers in Europe. His theories of historical cycles linked with the planets influenced many European astrologers including Nostradamus whose key work Revolutions was based on such concepts. Abu Mashar al-Balkhi placed the meridian in the far East, based his geographical canon on Kangdez as 0 degrees longitude. The reference to 0 longitude alludes to the concept that Kangdez is considered the centre of the earth. Al-Kashi in the 15th century places Kangdez at the extreme East or 180 degrees East longitude, and at the equator (0 degrees latitude).

Descriptions of Kangdez mentioned above, including its location at the extreme far east, in a sea (ocean) which could be reached from Iran by sea (a year or six-month’s voyage), situated around the equator, there was no snow, there were two seasons , outside of China, east of India (according to al-Biruni), many rivers, water and mountains, and there was a row of volcanoes ( “giant ox” where from whose back was taken the three sacred fires) indicate that Kangdez is most likely located in Sundaland. The descriptions of the fortress town of Kangdez, among others, consists of rings of walls coated with precious metals and stones, plenty of water and games, there were eternal springs, there was a tower of silver and gold, built by leaders who glorified (Siavosh or Kay Khosrow) with miraculous power, there were rivers and mountains, consists of plains influenced by sea tides, rivers were fed from the mountains and flow towards the south, and was in the marine environment, show that Kangdez approximately has characteristics similar to Atlantis.

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Copyright  © 2015-2016, Dhani Irwanto

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