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Shahnama manuscript depicting Kiumars. Kiumars instructs his officers to combat the Ahriman

Gayō Marətan, in later Zoroastrian texts Gayōmard or Gayōmart, is the Avestan name of the mythological first Man. The name in Middle Persian is Kayōmart, Modern Persian Keyumars کیومرث. In Ferdowsi's Shahnameh he appears as the first shāh of the world. He is also called the پيشداد, thus the first man who practiced justice, the lawgiver.

The Avestan name translates to "mortal life", from gaya "life" and marətan "mortal" (or "human"; cf. Persian mard مرد "man"). The name literally means "The mortal alive being". Keyumars is also a popular first name in contemporary Iran.

In Zoroastrian literature

According to the Zoroastrian creation myth, Gayōmart was the first human being or according to Avesta, he was the first person to worship Ahura Mazda and thus all the Aryan people came from him. In the eighth book of Denkard, a reference is made to the Chethrdāt-nask which was one of the 21 Nasks of the Avesta. Apparently this part of avesta dealt with how the world and mankind were created, including the creation of Gayōmart. References are also made to the Varshtmānsar-nask which also included information about Gayōmart which Ahura Mazda had given to Zoroaster: "For 30 centuries I kept the world from corruption and decay, when the 30th century came to an end the Dīvs assaulted Gayōmart ... But I finally repelled them and plunged them into the darkness ...". A concise story of Gayōmart according to pahlavi texts is given by Zabihollah Safa which follows:

"Gayōmart Gar-shāh (King of the Mountains) was the first human Uhrmazd created. Before Gayōmart came, in the fifth 'Gāh' (Ahura Mazda created the world in six Gāhs) Gavevagdāt was created from mud in Erān-vēdj(which was the middle of the earth) on the right side of the river 'Veh-Dāit' ... In the sixth 'Gāh' Gayōmart was created from mud ... on the left side of 'Veh-Dāit', to help Uhrmazd and he was created as a 15 year old boy. They lived for 3000 years in peace and they did not pray, did not eat and did not talk but Gayōmart was thinking about this. At the end of the 3000 period, which Ahriman was stunned and could not do anything Jēh yelled which woke him up ... upon this, Ahriman and his minions the Dīvs fought with the light and in the first day of the spring (1st of Farvardin, the Iranian new year) leaped onto the earth as a dragon. He started to create death, illness, lust, thirst, hunger among the life forms and spread evil beings in the world (The 'Kyrm', which includes reptiles, insects and rodents) ... In the catastrophe Gavevagdāt died ( This is also the symbol of the last year giving way to the new year, as depicted in Persepolis reliefs). And Ahriman left 'Astovidat'(A Dīv) to gaurd Gayōmart, but could not kill him because his fate had not yet come ... From that time he lived for 30 years and upon death fell on his left side and his semen fell to the ground which was fertilized by the sun ... and after 40 years there grew mashya and Mashyana as two rhubarbs ..." [1]

In Avesta Gayōmart is named as the pure, and righteous.

In the Shāhnāma

Firdausī's great epic poem, the Shāhnāma, begins with the story of Keyumars. He was the first king to arise among humans, who at that time lived in mountain caves and wore the skins of leopards. God (Ahura Mazda) granted him the supernatural radiance called farr (Avestan xvarənah), reserved to kings. His son was Siyāmak (سیامک) was beloved of all except the devil Ahriman, who raised an army under the command of his own demonic son. When the angel Sorush (Avestan Sraoša) warned Keyumars, Siyāmak led an army of his own. Siyāmak accepted a challenge to single combat and died at the hands of the demon.

Keyumars mourned for a year, and then Sorush advised him to fight Ahriman once more. Siyāmak's son Hushang was grown by this time and led the army that defeated Ahriman's son, who was bound and beheaded. Keyumars died after a thirty-year reign, leaving his throne to Hushang.

Preceded by
Legendary Kings of the Shāhnāmeh
Succeeded by



  1. Hamase-sarâ’i dar Iran, Tehran 1945 (2000)

Sources and references

  • Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Dick Davis trans. (2006), Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings ISBN 0-670-03485-1, modern English translation (abridged), current standard
  • Warner, Arthur and Edmond Warner, (translators) The Shahnama of Firdausi, 9 vols. (London: Keegan Paul, 1905-1925) (complete English verse translation)
  • Shirzad Aghaee, Nam-e kasan va ja'i-ha dar Shahnama-ye Ferdousi (Personalities and Places in the Shahnama of Ferdousi, Nyköping, Sweden, 1993. (ISBN 91-630-1959-0)
  • Jalal Khāleghi Motlagh, Editor, The Shahnameh, to be published in 8 volumes (ca. 500 pages each), consisting of six volumes of text and two volumes of explanatory notes. See: Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University.