The So-Called “Fravašis” and the “Heaven and Hell” Paintings, and the Cult of Nana in Panjikent1

Michael Shenkar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article discusses the well-known painting from the outer courtyard of Temple II in Panjikent, which has been unanimously identified as depicting a group of fravašis. It argues that the painting should rather be interpreted as a ritual procession of high-ranking Sogdian women carrying symbols and attributes of Nana, the supreme goddess of Panjikent, who was worshipped in this temple. In addition, it suggests that the two structures from the painting from Area XXV, Room 12 in Panjikent are not a unique depiction of the gates of Heaven and Hell, as they have been interpreted since publication, but are rather a schematic representation of two Sogdian temples, dedicated to Nana and her guardian, Vrēšman.

Original languageAmerican English
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 British Institute of Persian Studies.


  • Central Asia
  • Nana
  • Panjikent
  • Sogdian art
  • fravaši


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