Mandaean Drabsha, symbol of the Mandaean faith

The drabsha[1][2] (Classical Mandaic: ࡃࡓࡀࡁࡔࡀ, romanized: drabša; Modern Mandaic: drafšā[3]) or darfash (Arabic: درفش) is the symbol of the Mandaean faith. It is typically translated as 'banner'.[4]


The Mandaic term drabša is derived from the Middle Persian word drafš, which means 'banner or standard; a flash of light; sunrise'. In Mandaic, drabša can also mean 'a ray or beam of light'.[5]

Description and symbolism

The drabsha (drabša) is a banner in the shape of a cross made of two branches of olive wood fastened together and half covered with a piece of white cloth traditionally made of pure silk, and seven branches of myrtle. The drabsha white silk banner is not identified with the Christian cross. Instead, the four arms of the drabsha symbolize the four corners of the universe, while the pure silk cloth represents the Light of God (Hayyi Rabbi).[6] The seven branches of myrtle represent the seven days of creation.[7][8] The drabsha is viewed as a symbol of light and the light of the sun, moon and stars is envisaged to shine from it.[9] It may be of pre-Christian origin and used originally to hang a prayer shawl during immersion in the river (masbuta).[9]


In E. S. Drower's version of the Qolasta, prayers 330-347 (corresponding to Part 4 of Mark Lidzbarski's Oxford Collection) are dedicated to the drabsha.[10]


See also


  1. Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515385-5. OCLC 65198443.
  2. Drower, Ethel Stefana (1937). The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. Oxford at the Clarendon Press.
  3. Gelbert, Carlos (2011). Ginza Rba. Sydney: Living Water Books. ISBN 9780958034630.
  4. Van Rompay, Sandi (2010). "The Symbolism of the Drabša in the Mandaean Illustrated Manuscripts: The Drabša of Radiance". ARAM Periodical. 22: 263–310. doi:10.2143/ARAM.22.0.2131041.
  5. Drower, E. S. (2020). The Secret Adam: A Study of Nasoraean Gnosis. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock. ISBN 978-1-5326-9763-0. OCLC 1149751154.
  6. Mite, Valentinas (14 July 2004). "Iraq: Old Sabaean-Mandean Community is Proud of Its Ancient Faith". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  7. Holy Spirit University of Kaslik - USEK (27 November 2017). "Open discussion with the Sabaeans Mandaeans". YouTube. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  8. Sly, Liz (16 November 2008). "'This is one of the world's oldest religions, and it is going to die.'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mandaean Awareness and Guidance Board (28 May 2014). "Mandaean Beliefs & Mandaean Practices". Mandaean Associations Union. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  10. Drower, E. S. (1959). Canonical Prayerbook of the Mandaeans. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

External links

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Drabsha, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (view authors). Wikipedia logo