Notes on heavenly princely titles: “Ame-no” and others

It is proposed that the Japanese title “Ame-” or “Ame-no-…” commonly found as pre-fixes to names of deities in the Kojiki or Nihon shoki, may in fact once-upon-a-time have been derived from the Central Asian or West Asian sources, including pre-Islamic Iranian and Arab titles for kings, rulers, princes and admirals, known all over Eurasia as:

  • Amir (in northern Israel) may be related to the Hebrew word hem 
  • Əmir (Azerbaijan)
  • The Arabic-Persian amīr, meaning “chieftain” or “commander”, is derived from the Arabic root ‘-m-r, “command” or possibly derived from the Syriac Mar or Mora, a title of respect, literally meaning ‘my lord’.
  • AmirAmeer  meaning”commander”, “general”, or “prince”; also transliterated as Amir, Amir or Ameer) is a title of high office, and a title of rulers or military leaders in many Muslim countries. It is also alternatively written as (Emir pronounced [eˈmiːr], Arabic: أمير‎ )ʾ
  • Emir, the title of rulers or military leaders in many Muslim countries. Emirs are usually considered high-ranking Sheikhs, but in monarchic states, the term is also used for Princes, with “Emirate” being analogous to a sovereign principality.
  • Amir (Iran) –  Amir Arsalan-e Namdar (Persian: امیرارسلان نامدار‎) is a popular Persian legend which was narrated to Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, the Qajar Shah of Persiain the 19th century, (though the legend itself is much older) by a storyteller named Mohammad Ali Naqib al-Mamalek (Persian).

(FeminineEmira, أميرة ʾAmīrah;While Emir is a common transliteration in English and other languages, the form Amir is found for numerous compounds (e.g., admiral) and names. Transliteration differs depending on the sources consulted.)

With Chinese influence of the concept of addressing the emperor, “Tian” Heavenly … this title “Ame” began to be overlaid with the new meaning of Heavenly or Celestial, so that over time the original meaning of Amir became forgotten.

…..

Beg is a Turkish title meaning “lord” or “chief,” later “prince,” equivalent to the Arabic-Persian amīr

While amir = title of a military commander, governor or prince; sometimes appearing as emir; Beg is a Turkish title meaning “lord” or “chief,” later “prince,” equivalent to the Arabic-Persian amīr; Amir al-Mu’minin, is commander of the faithful, a title often used for the Caliph, bey = or beg, is the Turkish title for army officer, official or ruler of small principality.

The word ‘be’ emerged in protohistoric Japan, is an imported loanword that has a meaning associated with an organizational chief of some kind of occupational guild. On the appearance of the Be in Japan, see Gina L. Barnes, “The Role of the Be in the Formation of the Yamato State,” In Elizabeth M. Brumfiel and Timothy K. Earle, eds.

Bey (originally Beg; Arabic: بك‎ / Bek; Ottoman and Persian: بگ‎ / Beg or Beyg) is a Turkish title for chieftain, traditionally applied to the leaders of small tribal groups. The regions or provinces where “beys” ruled or which they administered were called beylik, roughly meaning “emirate” or “principality” in the first case, “province” or “governorate” in the second (the equivalent of duchy in Europe). Today, the word is still used informally as a social title for men (somewhat like the English word “mister”). Unlike “mister” however, it follows the name and is used generally with first names and not with last names.

These principle etymologies have been proposed by scholars:

The word entered English from Turkish bey, itself derived from Old Turkic beg, which – in the form bäg – has been mentioned as early as in the Orkhon inscriptions and is usually translated as “tribal leader”. The dialect variations bäk, bek, bey, biy, bi, and pig all derive from the Old Turkic form. The actual origin of the word is still disputed, though it is mostly agreed that it was a loan-word in Old Turkic.

The Old Turkic nobility expression bay (“rich person, noble”) as an alternative usage of the Old Turkic title bey.  English scholar Harold Bailey considers bay (in the sense of “possessions”) as a borrowing from Iranian, whereas Russian linguist Sergei Starostin assumes a derivation from Proto-Turkic *bāj (“rich, noble; many, numerous”), itself ultimately from a potential Proto-Altaic root *bēǯu (“numerous, great”, cf. Old Japanese p(j)iida-/pui-).

The alternative view is that bey or bay is a  borrowing from an Iranian language — the Middle Persian title bag (also baγ/beγ, Old Iranian baga; cf. Sanskrit भगवत् / bhagvan) meaning lord and master. It was one of the royal titles of the Sassanian kings.

However, German Turkologist Gerhard Doerfer assessed the derivation from Iranian as superficially attractive but quite uncertain, and pointed out the possibility that the word may be genuinely Turkic.

Peter Golden derives the word via Sogdian bġy from the same Iranian root. Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bhag- (“to spare, divide; to endow, give”).

The Chinese title pö (the older form being pök or pak; according to Edwin Pulleyblank perjk), meaning older brother and feudal lord, often lower members of the aristocracy.

The usage of the word is however, perhaps most enduring in the Turkic tradition. Within Turkic *bāj (“rich”) in turn is probably hard to distinguish from *baj (~ -ń) (“holy; god; true, reliable, honest”)
What is certain is that the word has no connections to Turkish berk, “strong” (Mongolian berke), or Turkish bögü, “shaman” (Mong.böge).
The first three rulers of the Ottoman realm were titled Bey. The chief sovereign of the Ottoman Empire only came to be called sultanstarting in 1383 when Murad I was granted this title by the shadow caliph in Cairo.
The Ottoman state had started out as one of a dozen Turkish Ghazi Beyliks, roughly comparable to western European duchies, into which Anatolia (i.e., Asian Turkey, or Asia Minor) had been divided after the break-up of the Seljuk Sultanate of Ikonion (Konya) and the military demise of the Byzantine Empire. Its capital was Bursa. By 1336 it had annexed only the Beylik of Karasy, its western neighbour on the coast of the Sea of Marmara, but it began to expand quite rapidly thereafter.
As the Ottoman realm grew from a Beylik into an imperial sultanate, the title “Bey” came to be applied to subordinate military and administrative officers, such as a district administrator and lower-level minor military governors. The latter were usually titledsanjakbey (after the term “Sanjak”, denoting a military horsetail banner). Beys were lower in rank than pashas and provincial governors (wālis, usually holding the title of pasha), who governed most of the Ottoman vilayets (provinces), but higher than effendis.
Eventually the chiefs of the former Ottoman capitals Bursa and Edirne (formerly the Byzantine Adrianople) in Turkish Thrace both were designated “Bey.”

The feminine form of beg isbegom (in Mughal India begam) from Turkish begim “lady, princess.”

BEG (Pers. also beyg) a Turkish title meaning “lord” or “chief,” later “prince,” equivalent to the Arabic-Persian amīr, fem. BEGOM. BEGOM.

The origin of beg is still disputed, though it is mostly agreed that it is a loan-word. Two principal etymologies have been proposed: 1. from a Middle-Iranian form of OIr. baga; though the meaning would fit since the Middle Persian forms of the word often mean “lord,” used of the king or others, the main objection to this derivation is a phonological one: in Middle Iranian the word was baγ or βaγ, which one would expect to be borrowed as baγ/beγ (Doerfer, pp. 403-04); 2. from Chinese po “eldest (brother), (feudal) lord” (no. 4977 in Mathews’ dictionary), the earlier form of which had a final k (Karlgren pak, Pulleyblank p e rjk). See Doerfer, pp. 402-06 for a critical review of the evidence; Doerfer himself seriously considers the possibility that the word is genuinely Turkish. Whatever the truth may be, there is no connection with Turkish berk, Mongolian berke “strong” or Turkish bögü, Mongolian böge “wizard, shaman.”

(atabeg = Turkish, the tutor of a Seljuq prince, his principal military adviser; later, independent governors.)

More historical background on the probable Turkish origin of the word ‘Beg’:

This title is first encountered in the Orkhon inscriptions of the 7th-century Turkish empire and in Chinese transcription in texts relating to the same period. Attempts have been made to assign to the begs a particular rank, between the higher nobility and the common people, but it is unlikely that any such rank existed prior to the Safavid period. In the earlier period the word acquired a specific connotation only when employed in compound, as in atabeg “father-beg,” hence “guardian,” oryüzbegī “commander of a hundred.” From the 5th/11th century onwards it ap­pears frequently as part of a proper name, used by rulers of the Saljuq dynasty (Ṭoḡrel Beg, Čaḡrī Beg) and of minor dynasties like the shahs of Armenia (Begtemür) and the Turkman states of the Qara Qoyunlū and the Āq Qoyunlū which arose on the ruins of the Il-khanid empire in western Iran and eastern Anatolia (Qara Yoluq ʿOṯmān Beg, ʿAlī Beg); it also occurs in the names of rulers of the Golden Horde (Janibeg, Berdibeg). In early Safavid Iran, the title continued to be appended to the names of leaders, such as the various Qezelbāš chiefs. Subsequently it seems to have acquired a more specific meaning, since the 11th/17th-century dictionary Borhān-e qāṭeʿ (ed. Moʿīn, I, p. 339) defines beg as “an amir of a small tribe,” in contrast with a ḵāqān or ḵān (khan), who headed a larger one. Certainly by this stage the beg occupied a place in a genuine hierarchy, above āqā, a simple noble, and belowsolṭān and khan.

There existed also variant forms: bi, which was common among the Kirghiz and among the Uzbeks of Ḵīva and Transoxiana, and bey, employed in the Ottoman dominions.

The monarchs of Goguryeo adopted the title of “Taewang“, the literal translation of the title is the Great king. The equivalent would be Dawang in Chinese and O-sama in Japanese.

The early monarchs of  Silla have used the title of “Isageum”, which recalls Iza-nami and Iza-nagi the Japanese cognate titles would translate into Princely /Ruler of the Waves and Serpent respectively) and finally “Maripgan” until 503. This follows from an earlier tradition when Korean kings were styled either Han or Kan, which are cognates of the Turkic khanMarip originally meant the highest, and gan meant rulers. (Baekje used the title of “Eoraha”, “Ha” meaning “rulers” and “Eora” meaning “the largest”).

Gun (군; 君) is translated as “prince”. Japan, adopted the kan’i bone rank system as used in Silla, a Korean kingdom. Gun (군; 君) is translated as “prince”. The Royal Prince born of the Principal Royal consort (Queen) was designated Daegun, translated as the Grand Prince of the Blood. The princes born of concubine was given the title gun (often distinguished as wangja-gun), translated as the Prince of the Blood. The father of the king who himself has never reigned was given the special title ofDaewongun (The Grand Prince of the Blood in the Court).
Those who has distinguished himself in the service of the court were also given the princely title as well. Buwongun (The Grand Prince of the Court), were the title of the father of the Queen, or those who have reached the rank of the Chief State Councellor. Gunwas the title of the meritorious subjects who reached the rank of the State Councellor. These princes created for service had a prefix attached to the princely title, a town that a subject is affiliated to. Though designed as a titular appointment as a Lord of the area, the title was purely honorific, the first rank level was that of Gun – prince.
In Korea, the Royal Prince born of the Principal Royal consort (Queen) was designated Daegun, translated as the Grand Prince of the Blood. The prince born of concubine was given the title gun (often distinguished as wangja-gun), translated as the Prince of the Blood. The father of the king who himself has never reigned was given the special title of Daewongun (The Grand Prince of the Blood in the Court).
Those who distinguished themselves the service of the court were also given the princely title as well. Buwongun (The Grand Prince of the Court), were the title of the father of the Queen, or those who have reached the rank of the Chief State Councellor. Gun was the title of the meritorious subjects who reached the rank of the State Councellor. These princes created for service had a prefix attached to the princely title, a town that a subject is affiliated to. Though designed as a titular appointment as a Lord of the area, the title was purely honorific.

Relic cognate in Japanese nomenclature connected to historical relations with Korea include: ~ kun (~君)which is used to address men who are younger or the same age as the speaker. A male might address female inferiors by “~ kun,” usually in schools or companies. It can be attached to both surnames and given names. It is less polite than “~ san.” It isn’t used between women or when addressing one’s superiors (source: http://japanese.about.com/library/blqow38.htm)

Other nomenclature appearing in mythologies of East Asia:

baba = Turkish, for father, old man, Sufi leader.

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