Where did Mazda get its name from?

text logo of Mazda
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A friend sent me a link to Mazda (the automotive company) website today where it talks about the origin of its name. I thought it is noteworthy to write about and share. I quote the relevant section on its name verbatim:

“The origin and meaning of “Mazda”

The company’s name, “Mazda,” derives from Ahura Mazda, a god of the earliest civilizations in West Asia. We have interpreted Ahura Mazda, the god of wisdom, intelligence and harmony, as the symbol of the origin of both Eastern and Western civilizations, and also as a symbol of automobile culture. It incorporates a desire to achieve world peace and the development of the automobile manufacturing industry. It also derives from the name of our founder, Jujiro Matsuda.”

Ahura Mazda (right, with high crown) invests A...
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Ahura Mazda is the Avestan name of the god of Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Iran which was founded by its prophet, Zoroaster (Zarthusthra in Avestan and Zartosht in Persian). There seems to be disagreement about his time period. Some believe it was 10th or 11th BCE, though others believe that he lived some time between 1750 and 1200 BC. And the Parsi people of India and Pakistan place him at about 6000 BC.

Zoroastrianism is a peaceful religion and is all about doing good (its morality is summed up in the phrase “good thoughts, good words, good deeds”). It was an important religion in the ancient and powerful Iran. It served as the national and state religion for centuries before it was marginalized by Islam following the invasion and conquest of Iran by the Muslim Arabs in 630s. You can read more about the Persian empire here on this site. We still have Zoroastrians though as a very small minority living in Iran (less than 2% of Iran’s population including all other non-Muslim minorities) and abroad. There are also Parsi’s in Pakistan and India who are also Zoroastrians.

Well at least the Japanese picked up on a clue from Zoroastrianism! And it is good that they acknowledge it, but it is too bad that they fail to mention Iran and the Persian empire in the citation. By “the earliest civilizations in West Asia” they of course mean the ancient Iran. Also, a part of the interpretation of the name — Ahura Mazda to “as a symbol of automobile culture” —  sounds superficial and even humorous. Being a car company, they attempt to relate the name to cars, but it doesn’t really make any sense.

They also claim that the name Mazda also derives from their founder’s last name, Matsuda. This to me appears to be an after thought. A friend noted that Mazda sounds Japanese, and I think they picked up on Ahura Mazda partly because of that similarity and sounding Japanese.

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