Archive for January 4th, 2008

838: Babak Khorramdin

Add comment January 4th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 838, Babak Khorramdin was chopped to pieces for his 20-year rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate.

A Zoroastrian son of northwest Iran’s Azerbaijan region, Babak rose to head a movement at once political and religious rooted in cultural preservation against the Arab-dominated caliphate.

Captured at last — he had spurned a guarantee of safety with that timeless insurrectionary sentiment, “Better to live for just a single day as a ruler than to live for forty years as an abject slave” — he had his hands and legs struck off in the presence of the caliph. It is said that Babak washed his face in the blood of these wounds to deprive his royal observer the pleasure of seeing his face fall pallid.

Babak remains an iconic figure in his homeland for his resistance to Arab domination, as evidenced by this Farsi-language vignette …

… and this performance of the Persian Ballet.

But he is not an unproblematic character for contemporary Iran, and not so much because of the anti-Islamic character of his revolt. Babak, whose personal ethnic composition seems to be a bone of historical contention, is also hailed an Azeri nationalist hero vis-a-vis Iran. His fortress is mountainous northern Iran still stands … and has latterly become a meeting-ground for advocates of “greater Azerbaijan” on the occasion of Babak’s birthday in July, much to the displeasure of Iranian authorities.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: Azerbaijan,Caliphate,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Dismembered,Early Middle Ages,Execution,Famous,God,Gruesome Methods,History,Iran,Martyrs,Persia,Power,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Revolutionaries,Summary Executions

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