Hitler and Mussolini in the Shahnameh?

I couldnt believe my eyes when I saw Ahriman (as Goebbels) with serpents with theĀ  faces of Mussolini and Tojo growing out of his shoulders, egged on by Zahhak (as Hitler’s cook).

Then Zahhak-Hitler dreams of the three warriors who will cause his demise (obviously: Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt). It’s all finished off by Kaveh, coming before Zahhak-Hitler with his blacksmith’s apron, as a banner of Iranian rebellion.

The inside of Ferdowsi’s tomb in Tus – a nationalist perspective? Image from deviantart.net

This was all courtesy of the lovely British Library Asia and Africa blog: highlighting how the Shahnameh was used in World War II progaganda postcards – see more in the current BL propaganda exhibition.

Marvel and learn!

Detail of the inside of Ferdowsi tomb. Thankyou, Ajam for explaining why I felt so uncomfortable!

I love the Shahnameh (see previous posts here and here); but let’s not forget that this was definitely not the first or only use of the Shahnameh as propaganda. Shah Esmail I (whose illustrated Shahnameh is more famously named for his son, Tahmasp I, who completed it) has been described as employing the epic “for potent propaganda purposes: as a gesture of Persian patriotism, as a celebration of renewed Persian rule, and as a reassertion of Persian royal authority”.

And the Pahlavi “modernist” enterprise, also put a nationalist spin on the whole thing – interestingly written up by the Ajam Media collective as “erasing the complexity of Iranian cultural and architectural history”. This helps explain my definite feeling of unease in Ferdowsi’s tomb in Tus – thanks Ajam!

2 Responses to “Hitler and Mussolini in the Shahnameh?”

  1. admin Says:

    Sadly, its true.
    I was shocked!
    This week’s posting shares some propaganda postcards starring Hitler and Mussolini in the Shahnameh – and points out that there is a long and ongoing history of the Shahnameh being used for propaganda purposes.

  2. admin Says:

    From Mohammad R:
    Dear Caroline
    You are true Some people may USE Shanameh for anti human aims , like Muslim people use Coran to kill or Church to Use Bable , It is not fault of Shahnameh – and it’s better to think that some religious people think every thing Cruelly , even SHAHNAMEH – I suggest you to read Preface ( first part ) of the Story ” Bijan and Manijeh ” in Shahnameh – You will see FERDOWSI as a democrat LOVER to his DEAR WIFE and his wife so .

    I hope the best for you

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