A to Z: Jahi

Published April 11, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

This is another one, I have to admit, where it was the character design that cemented my choice.  Looking at the real story behind this one leaves me all the more intrigued, though…

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

It’s hard to know quite what order to present my thoughts, but I guess I’ll follow structure and start out by giving you the game material.  So, that’s the portrait of Jahi in the recent games she’s appeared in (and, according to the wiki, that’s what her original character design was back on the SNES as a boss in Shin Megami Tensei if…)  The only compendium entry I have for her is this one, which according to my file came from both Devil Survivor Overclocked and Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker:

A female demon of Zoroastrian lore, said to be Ahriman’s lover.  Just as her name means “ill-natured woman,” she is an ill-natured creature.  She was also called Jeh in Medieval Persia.

Curiously, the wiki claims that her compendium entry in Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker was the same as the one they provide from Devil Summoner:  Soul Hackers, only adding in a typo:

An evil witch of Zoroastrian lore, said to be Angra Mainyu’s mistress. She is the cause of menstruation in all women, and she is the ruler of courtesans across the world. Skilled at the seductive arts, she leads humans astray, and the cold, derisive aspect of women is the fault of Jahi.

I’m not sure why my notes and the wiki disagree on her compendium entry from the same game.  (It does mention her being a DLC demon, so maybe they patched the game to give it the less incendiary text at some point between when they copied the text and when I played the game?)

Regardless of the disagreement in the notes, you can see above how her character design has her covered in, well, not so much breasts, per se, as nipples.  But the suggestion of a multitude of breasts is there, and that (especially combined with the moon on her head) naturally made me think of this statue:

The Lady of Ephesus, AKA Artemis of Ephesus. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Now, despite decades (no, centuries!) of speculation to the contrary, we now know that all those egg-shaped sacks on her chest are not supposed to be breasts…but it’s hard to look at them and not at least think of them as breasts for a moment or two.

Were they trying to evoke the Ephesian Artemis with Jahi’s character design?

Short of asking the designer, I don’t think that’s a question with an answer, but…on looking at the wiki, I found a couple of other Jahi designs I’ve known for longer, but hadn’t equated with the one above:


*snarl of frustrated rage*

Did you know you can’t put two images on the same line if they have captions?  Who the bloody hell thought that was a good idea!?

Uh, anyhow, those two are from Persona and Persona 2 Innocent Sin.  (Persona 2 Eternal Punishment‘s version of Jahi looks the same as Innocent Sin‘s, except with a modified palette.)  Again, a moon theme.

The curious part about that is that there’s no moon theme to the original Jahi.

As the game text is right in saying that she’s a Zoroastrian demoness, essentially the personification (demonification?) of lust.  As to her relationship with Ahriman/Angra Mainyu (same entity, but Ahriman is a later name for him), what I can find is as follows.  As I attempted to relate two years ago, in some versions, Ahriman and Ahura Mazda were twins, and as Ahriman was forcibly being born first, their parent Zurvan Akarana prophesied that the first born would be more powerful at first, only to eventually be destroyed by the second born.  (The very first evil twin?)  Of course, as a religion that’s been around since the Late Bronze Age (at least, the last scholarship I saw on the subject guesstimated that Zoroaster lived in the terminal Late Bronze Age), the belief obviously has been through a lot of changes over the millennia, so take everything I’m saying here with a grain of “only one version of many.”

So, getting back to the story, you’ve got these two opposites sitting there in the nothingness, knowing that a fatal battle is in their future.  Of course, neither wants to lose (Ahriman more so than Ahura Mazda), and they both take some precautions to that effect.  Ahriman creates legions of demons to aid him; Ahura Mazda creates fire, and in so doing creates life.

One of the demons Ahriman creates is Jahi, and like his other demons, she’s impatient for the battle to start, because she believes Ahriman will win.  Eventually, she’s able to seduce him into agreeing to starting the fight.  He’s said to kiss her, and it’s described as an act of defilement, leading to the assumption that “kiss” is here just a euphemism for getting it on.  That assumption seems justified(?) by the fact that the “kiss” causes Jahi to start menstruating.  In another text, Jahi is given the task of defiling all (human) women, and the proof that she’s done so is menstruation.

Obviously, there’s much that’s misogynistic here — menstruation as being somehow unclean, especially — but what’s striking to me is the backwards nature of it.  Sex starts menstruation instead of preventing it?  I don’t know anything about early Medieval Persian marriage traditions, but unless girls got married before their first menstruation, that belief could have led to all sorts of horrible accusations of sexual misconduct against completely innocent girls.  Hopefully it didn’t, and/or it was only for the demoness that sex started menstruation, and everyone knew that it didn’t work that way with humans.

More to the point I made at the beginning of the post, though, learning the real story just leaves all the more questions:  why is Jahi continually being presented as having an association with the moon?  I’m not finding any hint of that association in the original belief.  Not unless Ahriman is associated with the moon and Wikipedia just happened not to mention that in any of the associated pages.  (I do know that Ahura Mazda is associated with the sun, due to accounts of the Persians as sun-worshipers.  Said accounts going all the way back to Herodotus, if I remember correctly.  So his opposite number being associated with the moon would make a certain amount of sense…)

Now, technically, one could say that the association with menstruation is automatically an association with the moon, given that it’s a monthly cycle, and the month used to be based on the cycles of the moon.  But somehow that feels like a tenuous connection to me.

I guess the real question is, were the game developers able to discover something about Jahi that I wasn’t, or is there some Japan-only text (not excluding works of fiction that borrowed Zoroastrian names) that made the association for them?

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