World of Darkness (Mandaeism)


In Mandaeism, the World of Darkness (Classical Mandaic: ࡀࡋࡌࡀ ࡖࡄࡔࡅࡊࡀ, romanized: alma ḏ-hšuka) is the underworld located below Tibil (Earth). It is ruled by its king Ur (Leviathan) and its queen Ruha, mother of the seven planets and twelve constellations. The great dark Ocean of Sup (or Suf) lies in the World of Darkness.[1] The great dividing river of Hitpun, analogous to the river Styx in Greek mythology, separates the World of Darkness from the World of Light.[2] Siniawis is one of the regions of the World of Darkness.[3]

The World of Darkness is sometimes referred to as Sheol in the Ginza Rabba and other Mandaean scriptures.


Various beings inhabit the World of Darkness.

Other than Ruha and Ur, some infernal beings mentioned in the Ginza Rabba are:[2][4]

  • Anathan (Anatan) – husband of Qin; described as a "warrior" and "war-like" in Book 5, Chapter 1 of the Right Ginza
  • Gaf and Gafan (Gap and Gapan)
  • Giu (Giuo)
  • Hag and Mag (Hagh and Magh) – a male and female pair of demons, respectively
  • Krun (Karun)
  • Qin – queen of darkness, mother of Ruha, grandmother of Ur; one of her epithets is Sumqaq
  • Shdum (Ashdum) – a ruler of the underworld
  • Zahreil (Zahrʿil) – daughter of Qin and wife of Hibil Ziwa
  • Zartai-Zartanai

Other demons mentioned in the Ginza Rabba are:[4]

  • Aṭirpan (Aṭarpan), literally "foliage," mentioned with Lupan in Book 3 of the Right Ginza
  • Lupan, mentioned with Aṭirpan in Book 3 of the Right Ginza
  • Himun, described as a "man" in Book 5, Chapter 2 and Book 6 of the Right Ginza
  • Karipiun (Karafiun), described as a "devourer" in Book 5, Chapter 3 of the Right Ginza
  • Karkum, described as a son of Ur in Book 4 of the Right Ginza
  • Shiqlun, mentioned in Book 15, Chapter 6 of the Right Ginza
  • Zamur, described as an "evil spirit" in Book 8 of the Right Ginza

In Book 5, Chapter 1 of the Right Ginza (also known as the "Book of the Underworld"), Hibil Ziwa descends the worlds of the "kings" and "giants of darkness" in the following order:[4]

Mandaeans also consider the "five lords of the World of Darkness" to be Zartai-Zartanai, Hag and Mag, Gap and Gapan, Šdum, and Krun. The paired demons are considered to rule together as single lords, since Mag and Gapan are female consorts who are always with their male consorts Hag and Gap, respectively.[5]

According to the Right Ginza, the World of Darkness consists of many demons, dewis, and (evil) spirits, including:[1]

  • hmurtha "amulet-spirit"
  • lilith
  • ʿkuri "temple-spirit"
  • priki "shrine-spirit"
  • patikri "idol-demon"
  • arkoni "archon"
  • malaki "angel"
  • nalai "vampire"
  • niuli "hobgoblin"
  • piga "misadventure demon"
  • pilgi "mutant demon"
  • latabi "devil"
  • lihani "net-spirit"
  • gadulta "ghost"
  • saṭani "Satan"

The Right Ginza describes them as:

  • haškia "gloomy"
  • ʿkumia "black"
  • ṭupšania "filthy"
  • mriddia "rebellious"
  • rgizia "furious"
  • zidania "wrathful"
  • zihirania "venomous"
  • saklia "foolish"
  • ndidia "repulsive"
  • ṣahnia "stinking"
  • zapuria "putrid"
  • harašia "mute"
  • ṭriṣia "deaf"
  • ṭmimia "insensible"
  • tahmia "dull"
  • algia "stuttering"
  • dugia "unhearing"
  • gugia "babbling"
  • pigia "idiots"
  • šgišia "frightful"
  • laiadita "ignorant"
  • haṣipia "arrogant"
  • hamimia "hot-headed"
  • taqipia "powerful"
  • haripia "harsh"
  • rugzania "ill-tempered"
  • raktania "lustful"
  • bnia zma "children of blood"

See also


  1. ^ a b Aldihisi, Sabah (2008). The story of creation in the Mandaean holy book in the Ginza Rba (PhD). University College London.
  2. ^ a b "Glossary". Ginza Rabba: The Great Treasure. An equivalent translation of the Mandaean Holy Book. Translated by Al-Saadi, Qais Mughashghash; Al-Saadi, Hamed Mughashghash (2 ed.). Drabsha. 2019.
  3. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515385-5. OCLC 65198443.
  4. ^ a b c Ginza Rba. Translated by Gelbert, Carlos. Sydney: Living Water Books. 2011. ISBN 9780958034630.
  5. ^ Drower, Ethel Stefana (1937). The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. Oxford At The Clarendon Press.