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MANDALAY


possesses unlimited authority over the clergy. A supreme priestly rank, that of Rīshammā, or “head of the people,” is recognized, but only in theory; since the time of Pharaoh this sovereign pontificate has only once been filled. Women are admitted to priestly offices as well as men. The priestly dress, which is all white, consists of drawers, an upper garment, and a girdle with the so-called tāgā (“crown”); in all ceremonies the celebrants must be barefoot. By far the most frequent and important of the religious ceremonies is that of baptism (maṣbūthā), which is called for in a great variety of cases, not only for children but for adults, where consecration or purification is required, as for example on all Sundays and feast days, after contact with a dead body, after return from abroad, after neglect of any formality on the part of a priest in the discharge of his functions. In all these cases baptism is performed by total immersion in running water, but during the five days’ baptismal festival the rite is observed wholesale by mere sprinkling of large masses of the faithful at once. The Mandaeans observe also with the elements of bread (pehtā) and wine (mambūhā, lit. “fountain”) a sort of eucharist, which has a special sanctifying efficacy, and is usually dispensed at festivals, but only to baptized persons of good repute who have never willingly denied the Mandaean faith. In receiving it the communicant must not touch the host with his finger; otherwise it loses its virtue. The hosts are made by the priests from unleavened fine flour. The Mandaean places of worship, being designed only for the priests and their assistants (the worshippers remaining in the forecourt), are excessively small, and very simply furnished; two windows, a door that opens towards the south so that those who enter have their faces turned towards the pole star, a few boards in the corner, and a gabled roof complete the whole structure; there is neither altar nor decoration of any kind. The neighbourhood of running water (for baptisms) is essential. At the consecration of a church the sacrifice of a dove (the bird of Ishtar) has place among the ceremonies. Besides Sundays there are six great feasts: (1) that of the New Year (Naurūz rabbā), on the first day of the first month of winter; (2) Dehwā h’ nīnā, the anniversary of the happy return of Hibil Zīvā from the kingdom of darkness into that of light, lasting five days, beginning with the 18th of the first month of spring; (3) the Marwānā, in commemoration of the drowned Egyptians, on the first day of the second month of spring; (4) the great five days’ baptismal festival (pantshā), the chief feast, kept on the five intercalary days at the end of the second month of summer—during its continuance every Mandaean, male and female, must dress in white and bathe thrice daily; (5) Dehwā d’daimānā, in honour of one of the three hundred and sixty ‘Uthras, on the first day of the second month of autumn; (6) Kanshe Zahlā, the preparation feast, held on the last day of the year. There are also fast days called m’battal (Arab.), on which it is forbidden to kill any living thing or eat flesh. These, however, are really “rest-days,” as fasting is forbidden in Mandaeism. The year is solar, and has twelve months of thirty days each, with five intercalary days between the eighth and the ninth month. Of the seven days of the week, next to Sunday (habshaba) Thursday has a special sacredness as the day of Hibil Zīvā. As regards secular occupation, the present Mandaeans are goldsmiths, ironworkers, and house and ship carpenters. The Sidrā Rabbā lays great stress upon the duty of procreation, and marriage is a duty. In the 17th century, according to the old travellers, they numbered about 20,000 families, but at the present day they hardly number more than 1200 souls. In external appearance the Mandaean is distinguished from the Moslem only by a brown coat and a parti-coloured headcloth with a cord twisted round it. They have some peculiar deathbed rites: a deacon with some attendants waits upon the dying, and as death approaches administers a bath first of warm and afterwards of cold water; a holy dress, consisting of seven pieces (rastā), is then put on; the feet are directed towards the north and the head turned to the south, so that the body faces the pole star. After the burial a funeral feast is held in the house of mourning.

The Mandaeans are strictly reticent about their theological dogmas in the presence of strangers; and the knowledge they actually possess of these is extremely small. The foundation of the system is obviously to be sought in Gnosticism, and more particularly in the older type of that doctrine (known from the serpent symbol as Ophite or Naassene) which obtained in Mesopotamia and Further Asia generally. But it is equally plain that the Ophite nucleus has from time to time received very numerous and often curiously perverted accretions from Babylonian Judaism, Oriental Christianity and Parsism, exhibiting a striking example of religious syncretism. In the Gnostic basis itself it is not difficult to recognize the general features of the religion of ancient Babylonia, and thus we are brought nearer a solution of the problem as to the origin of Gnosticism in general. It is certain that Babylonia, the seat of the present Mandaeans, must be regarded also as the cradle in which their system was reared; it is impossible to think of them as coming from Palestine, or to attribute to their doctrines a Jewish or Christian origin. They do not spring historically from the disciples of John the Baptist (Acts xviii. 25; xix. 3 seq.; Recog. Clem. i. 54); the tradition in which he and the Jordan figure so largely is not original, and is therefore worthless; at the same time it is true that their baptismal praxis and its interpretation place them in the same religious group with the Hemerobaptists of Eusebius (H. E. iv. 22) and Epiphanius (Haer., xvii.), or with the sect of disciples of John who remained apart from Christianity. Their reverence for John is of a piece with their whole syncretizing attitude towards the New Testament. Indeed, as has been seen, they appropriate the entire personale of the Bible from Adam, Seth, Abel, Enos and Pharaoh to Jesus and John, a phenomenon which bears witness to the close relations of the Mandaean doctrine both with Judaism and Christianity—not the less close because they were relations of hostility. The history of religion presents other examples of the degradation of holy to demonic figures on occasion of religious schism. The use of the word “Jordan,” even in the plural, for “sacred water,” is precisely similar to that by the Naassenes described in the Philosophumena (v. 7); there ὁ μέγας Ἰορδάνης denotes the spiritualizing sanctifying fluid which pervades the world of light. The notions of the Egyptians and the Red Sea, according to the same work (v. 16), are used by the Peratae much as by the Mandaeans. And the position assigned by the Sethians (Σηθιανοί) to Seth is precisely similar to that given by the Mandaeans to Abel. Both alike are merely old Babylonian divinities in a new Biblical garb. The genesis of Mandaeism and the older gnosis from the old and elaborate Babylonio-Chaldaean religion is clearly seen also in the fact that the names of the old pantheon (as for example those of the planetary divinities) are retained, but their holders degraded to the position of demons—a conclusion confirmed by the fact that the Mandaeans, like the allied Ophites, Peratae and Manichaeans, certainly have their original seat in Mesopotamia and Babylonia. It seems clear that the trinity of Anu, Bel, and Ea in the old Babylonian religion has its counterpart in the Mandaean Pīrā, Ayar, and Mānā rabbā. The D’mūthā of Mānā is the Damkina, the wife of Ea, mentioned by Damascius as Δαύκη, wife of Ἀός. Mandā d’hayyē and his image Hibil Zīvā with his incarnations clearly correspond to the old Babylonian Marduk, Merodach, the “first-born” son of Ea, with his incarnations, the chief divinity of the city of Babylon, the mediator and redeemer in the old religion. Hibil’s contest with darkness has its prototype in Marduk’s battle with chaos, the dragon Tiamat, which (another striking parallel) partially swallows Marduk, just as is related of Hibil and the Manichaean primal man. Other features are borrowed by the Mandaean mythology under this head from the well-known epos of Istar’s descensus ad inferos. The sanctity with which water is invested by the Mandaeans is to be explained by the fact that Ea has his seat “in the depths of the world sea.”

Cf. K. Kessler’s article, “Mandäer,” in Herzog-Hauck’s Realencyklopädie, and the same author’s paper, “Ueber Gnosis u. altbabylonische Religion,” in the Abhandh. d. fünften internationalen Orientalisten-congresses zu Berlin (Berlin, 1882); also W. Brandt’s Mandäische Religion (Leipzig, 1889), and M. N. Siouffi’s Études sur la religion des Soubbas (Paris, 1880). (K. K.; G. W. T.) 


MANDALAY, formerly the capital of independent Burma, now the headquarters of the Mandalay division and district, as well as the chief town in Upper Burma, stands on the left bank of the Irrawaddy, in 21° 59′ N. and 96° 8′ E. Its height above mean sea-level is 315 ft. Mandalay was built in 1856–1857 by King Mindōn. It is now divided into the municipal area and the cantonment. The town covers an area of 6 m. from north to south and 3 from east to west, and has well-metalled roads lined with avenues of trees and regularly lighted and watered. The cantonment consists of the area inside the old city walls, and is now called Fort Dufferin. In the centre stands the palace, a group of wooden buildings, many of them highly carved and gilt, resting on a brick platform 900 ft. by 500 ft., and 6 ft. high. The greater part of it is now utilized for military and other offices. The garrison consists of a brigade belonging to the Burma command of the Indian army. There are many fine pagodas and monastic buildings in the town. The population in 1901 was 183,816, showing a decrease of 3% in the decade. The population is very mixed. Besides Burmese there are Zerbadis (the offspring of a Mahommedan with a Burman wife), Mahommedans, Hindus, Jews, Chinese, Shans and Manipuris (called Kathe), Kachins and Palaungs. Trains run from Mandalay to Rangoon, Myit-kyina, and up the Mandalay-Kunlong railway. The steamers of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company also ply in all directions. There are twenty bazaars, the chief of which, the Zegyo, was burnt in 1897, and again in 1906, but rebuilt.

The Mandalay District has an area of 2117 sq. m. and a population (1901) of 366,507, giving a density of 177 inhabitants to the square mile. About 600 sq. m. along the Irrawaddy river are flat land, nearly all cultivated. In the north and east there are some 1500 sq. m. of high hills and table-lands, forming geographically a portion of the Shan table-land. Here the fall to the plains averages 3000 to 4000 ft. in a distance of 10 m. This part of the district is well wooded and watered. The Maymyo