- موش و گربه - About Mice and Cat - Von Katzen und Mäusen -
A Political Fable
Ten coloured prints. A political tale by 'Obayd-e Zakani, which since its coming into life has ever inspired artists to illustrate it. Here you can see illustrations made by Farangis.
Other variations of depicting the story by artists' hands. The story has been authored in the end of the 14th century. Many artists have put its content into graphics. Here are two historically precious visual interpretations of Moosh o Gorbeh.
The Story About Mice and Cat - literally the title is Mouse and Cat - has been written around 1370 by the persian writer 'Obayd-e Zakani. The story highlights the moral dilemma of the 'supressed' who faces the problem of his own powerlessness. The mice who fight against the domination of the cats, don't simply fail because of their weakness, smallness or fear, they lose because of the cats' 'superiority' in brutality. For the mice no alternative exists.
So a passage from the story says: « ... a fellow, on his way to the warfront, was wielding his sword clamoring aloud while trembling and ducking his head simultaneously. When he was asked why he was yelling, he quickly responded I want to scare off my enemy. When questioned as to the reason behind his trembling, he said I am quite frightened myself... ' »
The Persian writer Khajeh Nezameddin Obaydullah Qazvini known as Obayd-e Zakani or Obayd-e Zakan, lived in the 14th century. He was born in 1300 in suburban Qazvin, and died either in Isfahan or Baghdad in 1371 AD.
Zakani is most famous for his critical approach, that he put in satirical texts such as 'Moosh-va-Gorbeh' (The Mouse and the Cat), which describes the uphill battle of the weak against the 'strong'.
Tyranny and oppression reigned during Zakani's time. Amid the widespread fraud and corruption that dominated even the intellectual circles of his time, Obayd expressed his frustration with the injustice and discrimination that infested his society.
Zakani was not only a critic though, he was also a renowned literary figure of his time, considered to be most accomplished in literary style. He lived in Shiraz during the reign of Sheikh Abu Ishaq where he was pursuing studies in literature and arts. He later returned to his hometown of Qazvin, where he was appointed as a judge and where he also worked as a teacher.
His works include both poetry and prose. Some of his works include 'Oshaqnameh' (Lovers' Letter), 'Akhlaq al-Ashraf' (Ethics of Aristocrats), 'Dah Fasl' (Ten Chapters), and 'Sad Pand' (One Hundred Advices).
Obayd-e Zakani is today acknowledged to be one of the great writers of the Timurid period.
It's the ancient fight for justice: the fight of the oppressors and the oppressed. In all societies of all civilizations it has been a tradition to depict this struggle in literature and arts. Despite a seeming hopelessness, people are unceasingly sacrificing their own lives and the lives of others.
In the images of the language, big and fat cats are metaphorically described as the oppressors, and the mice are the multitude of a suffering people. Since long times human attributes have been associated with specific animals. Certain animals embody good or bad characters and are epitomes for strengths and weaknesses, pride and humility, compassionateness and cruelness.
We know animal tales or fables especially from the Greek and the Roman antique as moral scripts that sought to foster character development. In a similar way animals often appeared as an embodiment of human attributes in the old Middle Eastern teachings of wisdom and enlightenment. These stories were also used to portrait the political conditions of a people or a state, and helped to politically educate the citizens and individuals ... more on this