By: Marie-Louise Chaumont


FRAMADÂR (FRAMÂTÂR), a Sasanian administrative title. In Aryan (Old-Persian) the substantive framâtar appears in royal titles and is always accompanied by the word paru- meaning "numerous, many"; it is generally translated as "master, lord [of many]" (Kent, Old Persian, p. 198). The title was used in set formulae by Achaemenid rulers (Kent, Old Persian, pp. 142, 147, 148, 150). Framâtar is constructed from fra + stem = farman/framan "order" + agent suffix tar "who maintains." The Achaemenids thus describe themselves as "givers of commands to many" (cf. Latin multipotens). The term was passed into Parthian in the form of prmtr in order to designate an office, probably that of the director of public supplies (e.g. wine, barley, etc.). The title is found on one of the ostraca from Qosha-Tepe dating from the first half of the first century C. E. (cf. Livshits, 1977, p. 179; Idem, 1980, no. 4, p. 237 and fig. 2).

The earliest evidence of this title under the Sasanians, dated in the year three of Šâpûr I, is a short inscription on a side of an altar at Barm-e Delak (q.v.) near Shiraz. It mentions two dignitaries, the second of whom is the framadâr Wahnâm (whn'm ZY prmtr; Gignoux, 1991, p. 11; Skjœrvø, p. 159). Furthermore, in the trilingual inscription at the Ka´ba-ye Zardôšt at Naqš-e Rostam, carved after Šâpûr I's victory over the emperor Valerian (280 C.E.), two framadârs are mentioned in the list of the dignitaries: (1) Wahunâm (Mid. Pers. 1. 32, Parth. 1. 26, Gk. 1. 62; Maricq, p. 327) and (2) Šâhpûhr (Mid. Pers. 1.34, Parth. 1. 28, Greek 1.66; Maricq, p. 331).The Wahunâm of ŠKZ is definitely identical to the Wahnâm of the Abnûn inscription, as pointed out by Philippe Gignoux (loc. cit). On the other hand, the existence of two holders of the same office on ŠKZ indicates the existence of two framadârs (if not more) at the same period.

This title is also found on an undated Sasanian seal (Gignoux, 1978, p. 15) which mentions a wâspuhragân framadâr. The Pahlavi term wâspuhragân was used specifically to denote "high nobility", i.e., the seven great families of the Sasanian Empire. This accords with Heinrich Hübschmann (Armenische Grammatik p. 80 and particularly idem, 1904, pp. 262-63), which makes use of the title wâspuhrakân hamanakar, a title cited by the Armenian historian Sebeos (chap. 6, tr., pp. 31-32) = Mid. Pers. wâspuhragân âmârgar "tax-collector of the high nobility." At the center of the same seal one can read sph÷n, i.e., Isfahan. Thus the framadâr had his seat at Isfahan, where he was a "giver of orders" (framadâr) with a "collector of taxes" (âmârgar) as assistant.

According to certain Pahlavi texts (West, pp. 152 and 276; cf. H. Hübschmann, Armenische Grammatik, p. 183), the framadâr held an important position within the Zoroastrian clergy. Thus there is the issue of the "director (framadâr) of the community of priests in Fârs" (West, p. 152). It seems to apply to a high-ranking functionary within the Zoroastrian clergy and probably applied to certain civil functionaries as well as a certain category of Mazdean priests who administered the benefices.

Wuzurg framadâr (the grand framadâr). The wuzurg framadâr appears to have been for a long time the highest ranking official of the Sasanian state, whose position was not unlike that later held by the grand vizier in the Islamic period. The following holders of the office are known to us:

1. Abarsâm. According to Tabarî (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 9), Ardašîr I created this high position for a certain Abarsâm, who was granted enormous power.

2. Khosrow Yazdegerd, whose title has come down to us in a Syriac transcription as harmadârâ rabbâ (Chabot, text, p. 21, tr. p. 260 and n. 2), was sent by Yazdegerd I along with the argabad Mehr-Šâpûr (cf. Labourt, p. 97; Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 271) as high ranking officials to represent him at a council of bishops which had been convened on Yazdegerd's initiative in Seleucia in 410.

3. Mehr-Narseh, a scion of the Esfandîârs, one of the seven great families, was a wuzurg framadâr under Yazdegerd I and Bahrâm V (cf. Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 277 sq.) and was noted for his hostility against the Christians. He appears with this title on an inscription, made at his own behest at Fîrûzâbâd (q.v.), commemorating the building of a bridge (cf. W. Henning, pp. 98-102; text of the inscription, p. 101 with pl.). He is designated as hazarapet by Armenian historians, a transcription from Pahlavi hazarapat, i.e. a chiliarch (for further references see Hazar P´arpec´i, 1891, pp. 73, 120, 134, 208, 262, 330 = Langlois, Historiens, II, pp. 278, 292, 293, 307, 313, 318; and E¬išê, 1950, pp. 53, 198, 253, 265 = Langlois, Historiens, II, pp. 192, 225, 278, 292).

4. Suren-Pahlav. This person, a member of one of the seven great families, was given the title hazârapet in Hazar P´arpec´i (1891, p. 73 = Langlois, Historiens, II, p. 270). He could thus have been a wuzurg framadâr and may have been Mehr-Nasreh's immediate successor in this position under Bahrâm V.

5. According to Sebeos (chap. 28, tr. pp. 89-90), one Khosrow-Ormezd, a hramantar, proposed marriage to the queen Bohr (Bôrân, q.v.; r. 630-31 C. E.) and was accepted. He was, however, killed by the guards while entering the palace at night. The circumstances suggest, therefore, that he may have been a wuzurg framadâr, rather than an ordinary framadâr. If so, he would have been the last to hold this title under the Sasanians. The anecdote is transferred to a different reign in Tabarî (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 394).