King Jamsheed by Mihr ‘Ali, Persia, Qajar, dated 1218 AH/1803 AD, oil on canvas
Go out into the world and find your kingdom, own your land, know your people, claim your space, invent new wine, give only love, prosper with the three tenets of King Jamsheed's faith: good thoughts, good words and good deeds and follow me on Instagram.
King Jamsheed ascends aboard his fabulous flying throne. By Hamid Rahmanian 2013
Shahnameh, the Book of Kings, tells of a great king called Jamshid, son of Tahmouras and fourth King of the World. He was a charismatic ruler for seven hundred years, loved by all, but lost his divine powers through arrogance and vanity.
The epic tells of a utopia where everyone was possessed of a divine talent: Priest, warrior, farmer or artisan. Each had equal value in the land. Like this, King Jamsheed built his mighty empire over hundreds of years. Sickness vanished, longevity increased, his kingdom flourished and his people co-existed peacefully. He showed humans how to build houses of brick and navigate the oceans in great ships, the art of medicine and the discoveries of perfume and jewels, the invention of wine.
In Iranian poetry, King Jamsheed’s mythical chalice, the Jām-e Jam, makes frequent appearances. Poets Hafez, Movlana, Rumi and Sa'adi all adored this idea of a magical seven-ringed cup, which was filled with the elixir of immortality and allowed King Jamsheed to observe the universe. His capital was erroneously believed to be at the site of the ruins of Persepolis, which for centuries was called Takht-i Jamshēd (Throne of Jamshid).
The name Jamsheed comes from the original Zoroastrian scriptures, the Avesta. It’s constructed of two parts: Jam and Shid (pronounced sheed in English). Jam means equal or twin and Sheed means sun, the central element of the Zoroastrian faith. So etymologically, Jamsheed is Sun's Twin.
Ahura Mazda (that’s the big cheese) asks Jamsheed to receive his law and bring it to the earth. He refuses and so Ahura Mazda charges him with a different mission: to rule over and nourish the earth and to see that living things prosper, which is kind of the same thing, but he’s also given a pure gold ring with a seal and a dagger inlaid with gold (they loved a bit of bling) and sent on his way to rule over the earth. Then he invented wine. Sort of. It goes like this:
The king banished one of his naughty harem from his kingdom. She became sad and tried to take her own life by drinking a jar from the cellar marked poison which contained gone-off grapes, kept in case they needed to poison a dull dinner guest or such. Of course, the fermentation caused by the breakdown of the grapes by yeast had created some lovely alcohol. After drinking the so-called poison the drunk girl’s spirits were lifted and she took her discovery to the King who became so enamoured with this new discovery that he not only accepted the girl back into his harem but also decreed that all grapes grown in his kingdom would be devoted to wine-making. Hooray!
There is archaeological evidence that wine was extensively traded by the early Persian kings from Shiraz, the nearest city to Persepolis, but this contradicts the current knowledge that Persepolis was actually the capital of the Achaemenid kings (not Jamsheed) and was destroyed by Alexander the Great.
Anyway, according to the epic, Jamsheed ruled well for three hundred years but his pride grew with his power and he forgot that all the blessings of his reign were due to Ahura Mazda. He boasted that all the good things his people enjoyed came from him alone and demanded to be treated like a god.
His behaviour got worse and the people began to rebel. And then along came Zahhak, King of Arabia. He was welcomed by the people who, despite hundreds of years of prosperity, were now angry with their foolish king. Finally, King Jamsheed was captured and brutally killed by Zahhak and the reign of seven hundreds years of civilisation, prosperity and utopian happiness descended into a dark age.
There is a huge amount of legend and history to enjoy around King Jamsheed and the Shahnameh. But these are the tales that inspire my music and my artistic identity. I was lucky enough to be born into this history from a Parsi family, much like Freddie Mercury (my dad went to school with him in fact) but even without a personal connection there is a wealth of rich, wild texts and glorious art to discover.