DERAFˆ-E KAÚVÈAÚN, the legendary royal standard of the Sasanian kings.

In the ˆa@h-na@ma (ed. Khaleghi-Motlagh, pp. 66-70, vv. 184 ff.) it is recorded that, when the blacksmith Ka@va revolted against the tyrant Z˜aháháa@k, he draped his leather apron from a wooden spear as a standard. As a result of the revolt, the throne passed to a prince of the ancient royal house, Fere@du@n, who adorned the apron with gold and brocade, gems, and tassels of red, yellow (or blue), and violet and called it derafæ-e ka@v^a@n, "the standard of the kay(s)" (i.e., ka@v^s "kings") or "of Ka@va." Each succeeding king added jewels until even at night it shone like the sun. In early Islamic sources this story was elaborated in various ways. According to the 10th-century historians T®abar^ (I, pp. 2174–75) and Mas¿u@d^ (Moru@j, ed. Pellat, III, p. 51), the banner was made of panther skin and was 8 x 12 cubits, about 5 x 7.5 m; K¨úa@razm^ cited sources to the effect that it was of bear or lion skin (p. 115; cf. Maqdes^, Bad÷ III, p. 142: goat or lion skin). In the 14th century Ebn K¨aldu@n (q.v.; III, pp. 168-69) reported that it "had a magic square of a hundred fields woven into it in gold," reflecting the belief that an army carrying a banner with such a square would never be defeated in war. It was also sometimes called the "standard of Jamæe@d," the "standard of Fere@du@n" (ˆa@h-na@ma, Moscow, I, p. 202 v. 1007; VI, p. 113 v.704), and the "royal standard" (derafæ-e kay^; ˆa@h-na@ma, ed. Khaleghi, I, p. 147 v. 939; cf. T¨a¿a@leb^, GÚorar, pp. 38-30).

According to the ˆa@h-na@ma, when the army was mustered five mowbeds (priests) would bring the standard forth from its storehouse, and it would be carried with the king or army commander on campaign; it was often mentioned with the adjectives "auspicious" or "blessed" (homa@yu@n, kòojasta; I, p. 118 v. 656; V, p. 102 v. 294). In battle the standard served as a rallying point for the troops (ˆa@h-na@ma, ed. Moscow, III, p. 42 v. 621; cf. III, p. 173 v. 2654; IV, pp. 97-98 vv. 1384 ff. and 1389, 140 v. 386, 147 vv. 498 ff.; V, pp. 207 v. 2094, 331 v. 1615, 398 v. 2758; VI, p. 100 vv. 517 ff.; T®abar^, I, p. 609; cf. Procopius, Persian Wars 1.15).

There is no direct mention of the Derafæ-e Ka@v^a@n in the Avesta or in Achaemenid or Parthian sources, but several scholars have argued that it is depicted in a damaged portion of the Alexander mosaic from Pompeii, the subject of which is the victory of Alexander the Great over Darius III (qq.v.) at the battle of Issus (Levy, pp. 439-40; Grundriss II, pp. 486-87; Justi, Namenbuch, p. 160; Sarre, p. 348; Mann, pp. 3 ff.). Xenophon (Anabasis 1.10.12) mentioned, however, that the standard of the Achaemenid king was a golden eagle on a shield carried on a spear. Arthur Christensen (pp. 19-20; idem, Iran Sass., p. 502–04) accepted the Derafæ-e Ka@v^a@n as the royal standard of the Sasanians and argued that the myth of Ka@va had its genesis in the Sasanian period, reflecting the fame of the house of Ka@re@n, which traced its lineage to Qa@re@n, son of Ka@va. Stig Wikander (1942, pp. 170, 203; idem, 1946, pp. 97 ff.) agreed but argued that the standard was adopted not by the Kavis of the Gathas but by the eight Kavis of the Yaæts, the mairyo@ (Mid.Ir. me@rag, Ved. marya). He argued further that Derafæ-e Ka@v^a@n became the national banner of Iran in the Parthian period.

In the battle of Qa@des^ya (ca. 16/637), in which the invading Arabs defeated the Sasanian army, the standard fell into the hands of Z˜era@r b. K¨atÂtÂa@b. He received 30,000 dinars for it, though its real value was said to be 1.2 or even 2 million dinars (T®abar^, I, p. 2337; Ebn al-At¯^r, II, p. 482). After the jewels were removed the caliph ¿Omar is said to have burned the Ka@v^a@n standard (Bal¿am^, ed. Baha@r, p. 148).

Bibliography: (For cited works not found in this bibliography and abbreviations found here, see "Short References.") A. Christensen, Smeden Ka@väh og det gamle persiske rigsbanner, Det Kgl. Danske Videnskabernes Selskab, Historisk-filologiske Meddelelser 2/7, Copenhagen, 1919. Ebn Kòaldu@n, al-Moqaddema, tr. F. Rosenthal as The Muqaddimah, 3 vols, Princeton, N.J., 1967. Ebn Meskawayh, Taja@reb, facs. ed., ed. L. Caetani, I, London, 1909, p. 13; ed. A. Ema@^, I, Tehran, 1366 ˆ./1987, p. 8. Ebn Rosta, p. 196. J. K¨a@le@q^-Motála@q (Dj. Khaleghi-Motlagh), "Taqaddos-e par±am," Èra@n-æena@s^ 4, 1371 ˆ./1992, pp. 700-02. K¨úa@razm^, Mafa@t^há al-¿olu@m, ed. G. van Vloten, Leiden, 1895. Lazard, Premiers poeàtes II, p. 154 v. 110. M. A. Levy, "Beiträge zur aramäischen Münzkunde Erans und zur Kunde der älteren Pehlevi-Schrift," ZDMG 21, 1867, pp. 421-65. O. Mann, "Ka@va wa Derafæ-e Ka@v^a@n^," Ka@va 1/1 (Berlin), 1334/1916; repr., Tehran, 1356 ˆ./1977. Mas'u@d^, Moru@j, ed. Pellat, III, p. 63. Idem, Tanb^h, pp. 85-88. D¨. S®afa@, "Derafæ-e Ka@v^a@n," Sa@l-na@ma-ye keævar-e Èra@n II, Tehran, 1326 ˆ./1947, pp. 18-22. R. ˆahmarda@n, "Derafæ-e ka@v^a@n^," Barras^ha@-ye ta@r^kò^ 10/1, 1354 ˆ./1975, pp. 253-72. F. Sarre, "Die altorientalischen Feldzeichen," Klio 3, 1903, pp. 333-71. Tarjama-ye Tafs^r-e T®abar^, 2nd ed., ed. H®. Ya@g@ma@÷^, V. Tehran 1353 ˆ./1974, pp. 1154 ff. S. Wikander Vayu I, Lund, 1942. Idem, Der arische Männerbund, Lund, 1946.