Animal Portrayals in Mythology: Eating Animals and Moral Decay – Iblis and Zahhak in the Shahnameh

Animal Portrayals in Mythology: Eating Animals and Moral Decay – Iblis and Zahhak in the Shahnameh.

This also is an interesting case of an ‘absent referent’, who yet is (one could maybe say:) “an absent ethical factor’.

An interpretation by Farangis of ‘Zahhak and Iblis’:

The epic Shahnameh tells us about people’s behavior in a language full of images. The people and the kings decide for themselves and for others. There are the loved and the unloved rulers, everywhere we come across the intelligent, the stupid, the prudent, the weak, the strong, the active and the apathetic.

One tale of the Shahnameh epic seemed of special interest to Farangis, a story which tells about the human behavior in relation to diet or eating habits, in which a normally neglected aspect is being described of how someone experiences a change in character because of their eating habit.

Today we learn a lot about the impact of our eating habits on our physical health. In this story about Zahhak the attention is directed towards the damaging impact a diet can have on the mental condition or on the soul. The story tells how eating killed animals has changed the character of people. Shouldn’t we consider this story as relevant for our current society?

Read the story here:, or in an alternative version here: The Warner and Warner translation excerpt can be read here: (It must be noted that the original Persian version is completely not alike the Warner translation.)

* the passage in the story mainly referred to, is the section “How Iblis turned Cook”.

We’ve long been featuring this story on this blog in our links section (see below). During the time of our blogging on here we have collected so far a few items on Animal Mythology and on the issue of Animal Portrayals. Please see these sections: (some entries may overlap) this is in German )

Finally: Two protagonists in the Shahnameh eventually find out that the only existing cure to “the malady” is a complete removal of a violence-based “nutrition”; all blood and everything that’s been gained through violence has to be removed from one’s body.

Thoughts on an October day – 29 / 10 / 2011

Two comments of the non-ill-thinker

ill and vegan, it’s just ok
A: As a vegan you ought not to fall ill, because if you do, somebody might blame it on your diet.
B: Really?

money makes the values that represent the values of the human system in a “tangible” or “measurable” way
A: I think the monetary system feeds itself also from the demand / consumption pattern, the willingness of people to buy too much. The crux is, without buying power there won’t be any jobs. So either we buy and have jobs, or … what???
B: Something else is the crux, namely that the entire human system bases or an exploitative enmity towards the rest of nature.

fantasy / perspectives

reality / mutual concern

“What do you have to say anyway?” – This

these famed masters of art, does their art have to impress me, because their art is praised, priced and preserved by their protegees and the ever so hungry arts-craving-audience?

Since art is separated from any “initialness” in a person, and since the person is in that way only desired as some occurring individual in the vast, unlimited audience, art can just stuff the heads, just like any undesirable human process can.

Every artifact can stuff my head. Can the idiot give (think something) in return? (My picture is painted in black and white. Black is the “I” and white that which stays white or turns gray.)

A Fragment A.

An acrylic painting by Farangis Yegane … if you click on the image you get (via a new tab) to her pages about “vessels as a metaphor”:


Stuff that matters when you just witnessed something like Rumi described … a thought I had …

A life that moves from this to yonder world.

No one else can enter your trail.
Maybe that’s why you are wishing … bad.

You go your very own trail, which you come up with yourself, inwardly.
The Sun and Moon shed their light and shadow on every trail.

But it’s you that goes alone to where you meet your kin-nature.

Impacts one can make through arts

This is a linoleum print by Farangis Yegane:

Links regarding the subject: IMPACTS ONE CAN MAKE THROUGH ARTS,

i.e. isn’t that visual communication!

Holocaust Art Impacts Visitors (article at follow link here

“Certainly, it’s a stretch to point to one single work of art as having changed the world. Nor can one point to any one single event or person as having accomplished that. The root of all change is a (grass-roots) movement: monotheism, democracy, industrialization, environmentalism; the list throughout history is immense. All of these have art as an integral part, directly or not, because art is a part of all human endeavors.” – Susan Lucier

follow this link here for the complete essay

“Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”
“Kunst ist nicht ein Spiegel, den man der Wirklichkeit vorhaelt, sondern ein Hammer, mit dem man sie gestaltet.” – Bertolt Brecht

The Whole Ball of Wax

Can Art Change the World?

A Holistic Theory by Jerry Saltz

“In concert with other things, however, art can change the world incrementally and by osmosis. This is because art is part of a universal force. It has no less purpose or meaning than science, religion, philosophy, politics, or any other discipline, and is as much a form of intelligence or knowing as a first kiss, a last goodbye, or an algebraic equation. Art is an energy source that helps make change possible; it sees things in clusters and constellations rather than rigid systems.”

follow this link for the complete article on the site: here

My two cents are:

If an artist admits that “art can change the world” she is aware of her responsibility. She is okay with being held responsible for the message she puts across.