The Arzhang

The Arzhang or Ardahang, also known as the “Manichaean Picture Book” (sometimes referred to as “Mani’s Picture”), is a collection of artwork which depicts the various tenets of Manichaeism, adapted for various cultures. It is believed to have been lost centuries ago.

It has always been a Manichaean tradition to produce pictorial works for the purpose of teaching. In ancient times, as the books were passed on to missionaries in other lands, they were adapted for the needs of the local culture.

According to Dr. Zsuzsanna Gulácsi with the Northern Arizona University, the “paintings were created first in mid-third century Mesopotamia with direct involvement from Mani… and were later preserved by being copied and adapted to a wide variety of artistic and cultural norms, as the religion spread across the Asian continent.”