A Uthra or Utra refers to an entity that acts as a divine messenger of the light. This definition is notably availed in the understanding of Mandaeism. Theologians and Scholars James F. McGrath and Charles G. Häberl have translated Uthra as ‘excellency.’ Additionally, in other understandings of the word, Jorunn J. Buckley, an American religious studies scholar, and historian, had defined them as Light world beings called ‘utras,’ which means ‘angel’ or ‘guardian.’
According to Aldihisi (2008), a Uthra or Utra can be compared to the Yazata of Zoroastrianism. Ethel S. Drower stipulates that “an ‘Uthra is an ethereal being, a spirit of light and life.”
Uthras are creatures that reside in škinas, also known as the World of Light (alma ḏ-nhūra). These benevolent creatures communicate with each other through a telepathic medium. The majority of Uthras have been known to serve as guardians (naṭra). For instance, Shilmai and Nidbai are referred to as the guardians of Piriawis (the Great Jordan or the yardna of life). Uthras are occasionally mentioned as the creatures in the anana (‘clouds’; as cited in Right Ginza Book 17, Chapter 1). They are also interpreted as female consorts by various sources.
‘Uthra’ is derived from the Proto-Semitic triconsonantal root word, which means ‘to exceed.’ It is typically considered to be related to Aramaic ʿuṯrā’ riches'. E. S. Drower, a British cultural anthropologist, suggested that according to this etymology, a parallel can be derived between Uthra and the South Arabian storm god Athtar. God Athtar was known to provide irrigation for the peopl
Uthras are often related to the meaning of the Ziwa / Ziua, which translates to ‘Radiance.’ This relation can be traced back to its origins in the World of Light. In the understanding of Manichaeism, the Syriac term Ziwa is also associated with Jesus as Ishoʻ Ziwā. Jesus as Ishoʻ Ziwā was sent to wake Adam and Eve to the source of the spiritual light. This spiritual light was said to be trapped within their physical bodies.
Pairs of Uthras are commonly known to have rhymic names. Some examples of these names have been known to be alliterative (e.g., Adathan and Yadathan), or they might even have an infixed consonant or syllable (e.g., Kapan and Kanpan). Other than Uthras, some pairs of celestial beings can also have rhyming names in Manichaeism. Some examples of these names are Xroshtag and Padvaxtag. In Mandaeism, a uthra or utra is a “divine messenger of light.” It is translated as “excellence” by Charles G. Häberl and James F. McGrath. According to Jorunn J. Buckley, they are “Lightworld entities called ‘utras (sing.: ‘utra ‘wealth,’ but meaning ‘angel’ or ‘guardian').” Aldihisi (2008) links them to Zoroastrian yazata. Uthras are benign entities who reside in kinas (celestial houses) in the World of Light (alma d-nhra) and converse with one another through telepathy.