Hitler and Mussolini in the Shahnameh?
I couldnt believe my eyes when I saw Ahriman (as Goebbels) with serpents with the 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.
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!
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!