The three-legged ass is a creature from the Bundahishn. It is standing in the middle of the wide-formed ocean of Vourukasha (Fraxvkard), from which all water takes its origin. It is as big as Mount Alvand, it has three legs, six eyes, nine pairs of testicles, two ears and one horn. Its body is white with an ash-colored head. Its food is spiritual. This creature is holy; it vanquishes evil and purifies water for the use of all creatures of Ohrmazd.

Description Edit

Of the six eyes, two are in their usual position, two are in the top of the head and two are in the hump. With the sharpness of those six eyes, it overcomes disease and pest. Of the nine pairs of testicles (Pahl. gund; the word is traditionally translated as "mouth", but that meaning is suspect[1]), three are on the head, three on the hump and three inside the flanks. Each testicle is the size of a house. Each of the three feet covers as much ground as a thousand sheep when they gather together. Each pastern is so large that a thousand men on horses could pass through it. The horn is golden and hollow and from it grow a thousand branches, some befitting a camel, some befitting a horse, some befitting an ox, some befitting an ass, both great and small. With that horn, it destroys and shatters all corruption.

The animal submerges its head in the sea and by bending its ears, it stirs the waters and sends them into turmoil. When it brays, all the benevolent female creatures of Ohrmazd become pregnant and all the malevolent female creatures of Ahriman miscarry. When it urinates in the sea, all the waters in the world become purified. That is the reason why, when asses see water, they urinate in it. It is said that if the three-legged ass did not purify the waters, they would have perished due to contamination of the Evil Spirit. The ass is the helper of the Persian god Tishtrya, identified with the star Sirius, who receives the agitated water and sends it down to earth as rain.

Ambergris is the dung of the three-legged ass, for even though its food is spiritual, which means it does not need food, the moisture and the nutrition of the water goes to its body through pores and is cast away as urine and dung.

In Babylonian Talmud Edit

Zoroastrian myths were adapted by Rabinic Judaism. Bava Batra mentions a creature called Ridyā, which resembles a heifer (young cow) three years old, standing between the lower and upper depths. It has the voice of a turtle dove and commands water from the upper depth to fall down to earth as rain and water from the lower depth to rise up, thus regulating the water cycle in nature.[2]


The three-legged ass in Persian is "xar ī se pāy". Some modern sources prefer to call it khara (खर), which means "ass" in Sanskrit.

References Edit

  1. Antonio Panaino, "Between Mesopotamia and India: Some Remarks about the Unicorn Cycle in Iran"
  2. Reuven Kiperwasser and Dan D. Y. Shapira. "Irano-Talmudica I: The Three-Legged Ass and Ridyā in B. Ta'anith: Some Observations about Mythic Hydrology in the Babylonian Talmud and in Ancient Iran"

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