This narrative comes in many variations


rug17b 1.jpg

Graham Gower sends us a contemporary interpretation of this scene, referring to a work from his collection.

rug17 1.jpg

His informant is an Afghan who runs a local shop dealing in rugs and items from Asia, who tells us that the writing shown on the attached image translates generally as “A dead man. This Afghan soldier killed a boy called Yoseph aged 9 years old about 15 years ago.”

We now know (thanks to correspondence from Vugar Dadashov) that the origin of this scene is a passage from the Shahnameh (the Book of Kings), where Rostam defeats the evil White Div. A Google search finds us the attached image of a miniature painted in the 16th century, depicting the same scene.


We have discussed another contemporary translation of this imagery, again updated to become a “war rug”, and related to the invasion and subsequent defeat of the Soviets. It’s an interesting trail, which in my interpretation is revealing how ancient allegories are being translated into the present circumstances, which is in itself an insight into how the many “war rug” variations to tradition may be revealed to carry locally specific meanings.

Additional precedents sent to us by Vugar are in the pipeline…

Updated to add: other posts relevant to this discussion can be found in the search results for “Rostam” and in the Modern Narratives category; click on the post titles to open the images.

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