A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, October 11, 2013

An Old Picture for Friday, but Nothing Nostalgic About It

I'm still working on the third part of my 1973 Golan post, but it's coming. Meanwhile, I usually leave you with a "Friday nostalgia picture." Nothing nostalgic about this one: this poor fellow is strapped to the barrel of a cannon and is about to be executed. It's said to be in Shiraz, Iran, sometime in the 19th century.

Actually, this is an old and well-attested means of execution; it even has its own Wikipedia article, and for those thinking "how barbarous these foreigners are," may I remind you that in the wake of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the British, who had followed a pre-existing Mughal practice of using it as a punishment for desertion or mutiny, executed quite a few people this way, as this 19th-century painting depicts:

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