ࡋࡉࡔࡀࡍࡀ ࡖ ࡌࡀࡍࡃࡀࡉࡉࡀ
Lishāna’d Mandāyì
Native toIraq and Iran
RegionIraq – Baghdad, Basra Iran – Khuzistan
Native speakers
5,500 (2001–2006)[1]
Early forms
Mandaic alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
mid – Mandaic
myz – Classical Mandaic
mid Neo-Mandaic
 myz Classical Mandaic
Mandaic is classified as Critically Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2010)[2]
Incantation bowl from Mesopotamia dated between the 5th and the 8th century, inscribed in Mandaic, in the collection of the Jewish Museum of Switzerland.

Mandaic, or more specifically Classical Mandaic, is the liturgical language of Mandaeism and a South Eastern Aramaic variety in use by the Mandaean community, traditionally based in southern parts of Iraq and southwest Iran, for their religious books. Mandaic, or Classical Mandaic is still used by Mandaean priests in liturgical rites.[3] The modern descendant of Mandaic or Classical Mandaic, known as Neo-Mandaic or Modern Mandaic, is spoken by a small group of Mandaeans around Ahvaz[4]: XXXVI–XXXVIII, 1–101  and Khorramshahr[5] in the southern Iranian Khuzestan province.

Liturgical use of Mandaic or Classical Mandaic is found in Iran (particularly the southern portions of the country), in Baghdad, Iraq and in the diaspora (particularly in the United States, Sweden, Australia and Germany). It is an Eastern Aramaic language notable for its abundant use of vowel letters (mater lectionis with aleph, he only in final position, ‘ayin, waw, yud) in writing, so-called plene spelling (Mandaic alphabet)[6] and the amount of Iranian[7] and Akkadian[8] language influence on its lexicon, especially in the area of religious and mystical terminology. Mandaic is influenced by Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, Samaritan Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin,[9][10] in addition to Akkadian[8] and Parthian.[11]


Classical Mandaic belongs to the Southeastern group of Aramaic and is closely related to the Jewish Babylonian Aramaic dialect in the major portions of the Babylonian Talmud,[12][13] but less to the various dialects of Aramaic appearing in the incantation texts on unglazed ceramic bowls (incantation bowls)[14] found mostly in central and south Iraq as well as the Khuzestan province of Iran.[15] It is considered a sister language to the northeastern Aramaic dialect of Suret.


This southeastern Aramaic dialect is transmitted through religious, liturgical, and esoteric texts,[16][17] most of them stored today in the Drower Collection, Bodleian Library (Oxford),[18] and in the Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), the British Library (London) and in the households of various Mandaeans as religious texts. More specific written objects and of linguistic importance on account of their early transmission (5th – 7th centuries CE) are the earthenware incantation bowls and Mandaic lead rolls (amulets) (3rd–7th centuries CE),[19]: 4  including silver and gold specimens[20] that were often unearthed in archaeological excavations in the regions of their historical living sites between Wasiṭ and Baṣra,[21][22] and frequently in central Iraq, for example (Bismaya,[23] Kish,[24] Khouabir,[25] Kutha,[26] Uruk,[27] Nippur[28]), north and south of the confluences of the Euphrates and Tigris (Abu Shudhr,[29] al-Qurnah[30]), and the adjacent province of Khuzistan (Hamadan).[31][32]



Labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic
Nasal m n
voiceless p t (t͡ʃ) k q (ʔ)
voiced b d () (d͡ʒ) g
Fricative voiceless f θ s ʃ x (ħ) h
voiced v ð z () (ʒ) ɣ (ʕ)
Approximant w l j
Trill r


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə (o)
Open æ a ɑː


Main article: Mandaic alphabet

Mandaic is written in the Mandaic alphabet. It consists of 23 graphemes, with the last being a ligature.[35] Its origin and development is still under debate.[36] Graphemes appearing on incantation bowls and metal amulet rolls differ slightly from the late manuscript signs.[37]


Lexicographers of the Mandaic language include Theodor Nöldeke,[38] Mark Lidzbarski,[39] Ethel S. Drower, Rudolf Macúch,[40] and Matthew Morgenstern.


Main article: Neo-Mandaic

Neo-Mandaic represents the latest stage of the phonological and morphological development of Mandaic, a Northwest Semitic language of the Eastern Aramaic sub-family. Having developed in isolation from one another, most Neo-Aramaic dialects are mutually unintelligible and should therefore be considered separate languages. Determining the relationship between Neo-Aramaic dialects is difficult because of poor knowledge of the dialects themselves and their history.[5]

Although no direct descendants of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic survive today, most of the Neo-Aramaic dialects spoken today belong to the Eastern sub-family of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic and Mandaic, among them Neo-Mandaic that can be described with any certainty as the direct descendant of one of the Aramaic dialects attested in Late Antiquity, probably Mandaic. Neo-Mandaic preserves a Semitic "suffix" conjugation (or perfect) that is lost in other dialects. The phonology of Neo-Mandaic is divergent from other Eastern Neo-Aramaic dialects.[41]

Three dialects of Neo-Mandaic were native to Shushtar, Shah Vali, and Dezful in northern Khuzestan Province, Iran before the 1880s. During that time, Mandeans moved to Ahvaz and Khorramshahr to escape persecution. Khorramshahr had the most Neo-Mandaic speakers until the Iran–Iraq War caused many people to leave Iran.[5] Ahvaz is the only community with a sizeable portion of Neo-Mandaic speakers in Iran as of 1993.[4]

The following table compares a few words in Old Mandaic with three Neo-Mandaic dialects. The Iraq dialect, documented by E. S. Drower, is now extinct.[42]

Meaning Script Old Mandaic Iraq dialect Ahvaz dialect Khorramshahr dialect
house ࡁࡀࡉࡕࡀ baita bejθæ b(ij)eθa/ɔ bieθɔ
in, ins b- gaw; b- gu gɔw
work ࡏࡅࡁࡀࡃࡀ ebada wad wɔd əwɔdɔ
planet ࡔࡉࡁࡉࡀࡄࡀ šibiaha ʃewjæ ʃewjɔha ʃewjɔhɔ
come! ( ࡀࡕࡅࡍ atun doθi d(ij)ɵθi doθi

Sample Text

The following is a sample text in Mandaic of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[43]

Mandaic: ".ࡊࡅࡋ ࡀࡍࡀࡔࡀ ࡌࡀࡅࡃࡀࡋࡇ ࡀࡎࡐࡀࡎࡉࡅࡕࡀ ࡅࡁࡊࡅࡔࡈࡂࡉࡀࡕࡀ ࡊࡅࡉ ࡄࡃࡀࡃࡉࡀ. ࡄࡀࡁ ࡌࡅࡄࡀ ࡅࡕࡉࡓࡀࡕࡀ ࡏࡃࡋࡀ ࡏࡉࡕ ࡓࡄࡅࡌ ࡅࡆࡁࡓ ࡁࡄࡃࡀࡃࡉࡀ‎"

Transliteration: "kul ānāʃā māudālẖ āspāsiutā ubkuʃᵵgiātā kui hdādiā. hāb muhā utirātā ʿdlā ʿit rhum uzbr bhdādiā."

English original: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

See also


  1. ^ Mandaic at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Classical Mandaic at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Atlas of the world's languages in danger". p. 42. Retrieved 2023-03-02.
  3. ^ Ethel Stefana Drower, The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran (Leiden: Brill, 1937; reprint 1962); Kurt Rudolph, Die Mandäer II. Der Kult (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht; Göttingen, 1961; Kurt Rudolph, Mandaeans (Leiden: Brill, 1967); Christa Müller-Kessler, Sacred Meals and Rituals of the Mandaeans”, in David Hellholm, Dieter Sänger (eds.), Sacred Meal, Communal Meal, Table Fellowship, and the Eucharist: Late Antiquity, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity, Vol. 3 (Tübingen: Mohr, 2017), pp. 1715–1726, pls.
  4. ^ a b Rudolf Macuch, Neumandäische Texte im Dialekt von Ahwaz (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz, 1993).
  5. ^ a b c Charles Häberl, The Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Khorramshahr, (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2009).
  6. ^ Theodor Nöldeke, Mandäische Grammatik (Halle: Waisenhaus, 1875), pp. 3–8.
  7. ^ No comprehensive and individual study exists yet except for some word discussions in Geo Widengren, Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung in parthischer Zeit (Köln: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1960) and the etymological sections in Ethel Stefana Drower and Rudolf Macuch, A Mandaic Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963).
  8. ^ a b Stephen A. Kaufman, The Akkadian Influences on Aramaic (Assyriological Studies 19; Chicago: The University of Chicago: 1974).
  9. ^ Häberl, Charles (3 March 2021), "Hebraisms in Mandaic", YouTube, retrieved 25 April 2022
  10. ^ Häberl, Charles (2021). "Mandaic and the Palestinian Question". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 141 (1): 171–184. doi:10.7817/jameroriesoci.141.1.0171. ISSN 0003-0279. S2CID 234204741.
  11. ^ Häberl, Charles G. (February 2006). "Iranian Scripts for Aramaic Languages: The Origin of the Mandaic Script". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (341): 53–62. doi:10.7282/T37D2SGZ.
  12. ^ Theodor Nöldeke, Mandäische Grammatik (Halle: Waisenhaus, 1875), pp. XXVI–XXVII
  13. ^ Franz Rosenthal, Das Mandäische, in Die aramaistische Forschung seit Th. Nöldeke’s Veröffentlichungen (Leiden: Brill 1939), pp. 228–229.
  14. ^ Tapani Harvaianen, An Aramaic Incantation Bowl from Borsippa. Another Specimen of Eastern Aramaic “Koiné”, Studia Orientalia 53.14, 1981, pp. 3–25.
  15. ^ Christa Müller-Kessler, "Zauberschalen und ihre Umwelt. Ein Überblick über das Schreibmedium Zauberschale," in Jens Kamran, Rolf Schäfer, Markus Witte (eds.), Zauber und Magie im antiken Palästina und in seiner Umwelt (Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 46; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2017), pp. 59–94, figs. 1–2, 5, pls. 2, 4, 7–8, map.
  16. ^ Ethel Stefana Drower, The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran (Leiden: Brill, 1937; reprint 1962).
  17. ^ Ethel Stefana Drower, The Book of the Zodiac (sfar Malwašia) D.C. 31 (Oriental Translation Fund XXXVI; London: The Royal Asiatic Society, 1949).
  18. ^ Ethel Stefana Drower, "A Mandaean Bibliography", in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1953, pp. 34–39.
  19. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002), The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people (PDF), Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195153859
  20. ^ Christa Müller-Kessler, "A Mandaic Gold Amulet in the British Museum," in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 311, 1998, pp. 83–88.
  21. ^ M. Thevenot, Relations de divers voyages curieux, première partie (Paris, 1663–1672), map with Mandaean villages.
  22. ^ J. Heinrich Petermann, Reisen im Orient, Vol. II (Leipzig: Veit, 1861), pp. 66, 83–123, 447–465.
  23. ^ Henri Pognon, "Une incantation contre les génies malfaisantes, en Mandaite," in Mémoires de la Soceté de Linguitiques de Paris 8, 1892, p. 193
  24. ^ Peter R. S. Moorey, Kish Excavation 1923 – 1933 (Oxford: Oxford Press, 1978), pp. 123–124.
  25. ^ Henri Pognon, Inscriptions mandaïtes des coupes de Khouabir (Paris: H. Wetter, 1898; reprint Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1979), pp. 1–5.
  26. ^ Christopher Walker apud Jehudah B. Segal, Catalogue of the Aramaic and Mandaic Incantation Bowls in the British Museum (London: British Museum Press, 2000), pp. 35–39.
  27. ^ Rudolf Macuch, "Gefäßinschriften," in Eva Strommenger (ed.), Gefässe aus Uruk von der Neubabylonischen Zeit bis zu den Sasaniden (Ausgrabungen der deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft in Uruk-Warka 7; Berlin 1967), pp. 55–57, pl. 57.1–3.
  28. ^ J. P. Peters, Nippur or Explorations and Adventures on the Euphrates, Vol. II (New York, 1897); Hermann V. Hilprecht, Explorations in Bible Lands During the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia: A. J. Molman and Company, 1903), p. 326; James A. Montgomery, Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur (Publications of the Babylonian Section 3; Philadelphia, 1913), pp. 37–39, 242–257; Christa Müller-Kessler (ed.), Die Zauberschalentexte der Hilprecht-Sammlung, Jena und weitere Nippur-Texte anderer Sammlungen (Texte und Materialen der Frau Professor Hilprecht-Collection 7; Wiesbaden 2005), pp. 110–135, 143–147.
  29. ^ François Lenormant, Essai sur la propagation de l’alphabet phénicien dans l’ancien monde, vol. II (Paris, 1872), pp. 76–82, pls. X–XI; Edmund Sollberger, "Mr. Taylor in Chaldaea," in Anatolian Studies 22, 1972, pp. 130–133.
  30. ^ Christa Müller-Kessler, "Interrelations between Mandaic Lead Rolls and Incantation Bowls," in Tzvi Abusch, Karel van der Toorn (eds.), Mesopotamian Magic. Textual, Historical, and Interpretative Perspectives (Ancient Magic and Divination 1; Groningen: STYX, 1999), pp. 197–198, pl. 209.
  31. ^ Cyrus H. Gordon, "Two Magic Bowls in Teheran," in Orientalia 20, 1951, pp. 306–311.
  32. ^ Christa Müller-Kessler, "Zauberschalen und ihre Umwelt. Ein Überblick über das Schreibmedium Zauberschale," n Jens Kamran, Rolf Schäfer, Markus Witte (eds.), Zauber und Magie im antiken Palästina und in seiner Umwelt (Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 46; Wiesbaden, 2017), pp. 59–94, pls. 1–8, map, ISBN 978-3-447-10781-5.
  33. ^ a b Macuch, Rudolf (1965). Handbook of Classical and Modern Mandaic. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  34. ^ Malone, Joseph (1967). A Morphologic Grammar of the Classical Mandaic Verb. University of California at Berkeley.
  35. ^ Rudolf Macuch, Handbook of Classical and Modern Mandaic (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1965), p. 9.
  36. ^ Peter W. Coxon, “Script Analysis and Mandaean Origins,” in Journal of Semitic Studies 15, 1970, pp. 16–30; Alexander C. Klugkist, “The Origin of the Mandaic Script,” in Han L. J. Vanstiphout et al. (eds.), Scripta Signa Vocis. Studies about scripts, scriptures, scribes and languages in the Near East presented to J. H. Hospers (Groningen: E. Forsten, 1986), pp. 111–120; Charles G. Häberl, “Iranian Scripts for Aramaic Languages: The Origin of the Mandaic Script,” in Bulletin for the Schools of American Oriental Research 341, 2006, pp. 53–62.
  37. ^ Tables and script samples in Christa Müller-Kessler, “Mandäisch: Eine Zauberschale,” in Hans Ulrich Steymans, Thomas Staubli (eds.), Von den Schriften zur (Heiligen) Schrift (Freiburg, CH: Bibel+Orient Museum, Stuttgart Katholisches Bibelwerk e.V., 2012), pp. 132–135, ISBN 978-3-940743-76-3.
  38. ^ Theodor Nöldeke. 1964. Mandäische Grammatik, Halle: Waisenhaus; reprint Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft with Appendix of annotated handnotes from the hand edition of Theodor Nöldeke by Anton Schall.
  39. ^ In his masterful translations of several Mandaic Classical works: 1915. Das Johannesbuch. Giessen: Töpelmann; 1920. Mandäische Liturgien (Abhandlungen der königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Phil.-hist. Kl. NF XVII,1) Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung; 1925: Ginza: Der Schatz oder das grosse Buch der Mandäer. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
  40. ^ Ethel S. Drower and Rudolf Macuch. 1963. A Mandaic Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press. This work is based on Lidzbarski’s lexicrographical files, today in the University of Halle an der Saale, and Drower’s lexical collection.
  41. ^ Rudolf Macuch, Neumandäische Chrestomathie (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz, 1989).
  42. ^ Häberl, Charles G. (2019). "Mandaic". In Huehnergard, John (ed.). The Semitic languages. Abingdon, Oxfordshire; New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 679–710. doi:10.4324/9780429025563-26. ISBN 978-0-367-73156-4. OCLC 1060182406. S2CID 241640755.
  43. ^ "OHCHR | Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Mandaic". OHCHR. Retrieved 2023-01-31.