Posted by: Christian | May 3, 2007

The Five Iconographic Moods of Ahmed Shah Massoud

May 4, 2007.

Whitney Azoy, the anthropologist who wrote Buzkashi: Game and Power in Afghanistan, wrote a fascinating article on Ahmed Shah Massoud, iconography and ethnicity. The article, titled “Masood’s Parade” (PDF), discusses the omnipresent (in Kabul) visual representations of Massoud. Azoy identified five different categories of emotional imagery for Massoud. I’ve done my best to find images that I think match up with Azoy’s descriptions.

#1. “… grinning, easygoing…”
#1

#2. “…calm, almost majestic…”
#2

#3. “…at prayer…reverent and unguarded before God.”
#3

#4. “…beyond normal consciousness, lost in thought, bearing a sorrow too great for other men.”
#4

#5. “…expressionless, disciplined, relaxed, completely in command.”
#5

Unfortunately, Azoy noted that the Rambo-esque Massoud action posters of the 1980s are sadly no longer available. But, inshallah, I will track one down on ebay or in the bazaar.

In a sidebar in his article Azoy disusses iconography and imagery in Islam, which leads to the interesting observation that Osama bin Laden is on posters across the Muslim world while Mullah Omar disdains photography. It seems that the Deobandi-offshoot Talib has out Wahhabi’d the Wahhabi in this regard.

Download “Masood’s Parade” in pdf.

Azoy’s other work:

Azoy, Whitney. 1982. Buzkashi: Game and Power in Afghanistan. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press.


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