King Kai Kawus

King Kai Kawus

The ambitious king fastens four young eagles to the corners of his throne, making them fly upward by attaching raw meat to four spears. As he rises through the clouds, the animals on the mountain-top look at him with amazement. The king’s features have been obliterated by some pious Muhammadan who was offended by the transgression of the prohibition against portraying living creatures (cf. Plate XLIV). From a Persian manuscript of the Shahnamab, dated 1587-88 A. D., now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Stuck in western civilization for most of my life, except for a brief three-year tour in Japan as an English teacher, it’s amazing how little one learns about the Far East and even the Middle East, except for whatever damned crappy thing is going on in the news today.

We all know that these places are rife in history, but unless we get it into our head to seek out these morsels, we can go blindly through life unaware of many things. It’s one of those reasons why I put out a blog entitled: Japan—It’s A Wonderful Rife, that when I started it four years ago, it was going to be a vehicle for my comedic views on Japan featuring the some 90+ stories I wrote while I was over there.

Then I started adding my diary to the mix. Then current events. Then sports, culture, religions – pretty much everything I could get my hands on to make the site as diverse as possible… you know… a little something for everyone.

While history remains a love of mine, they are not read as well as the article on women, sex and Godzilla… figures, eh? Anyhow… I almost have 2,000 blog entries there.

Having said all that, I have created this blog to essentially look at aircraft from WWI and earlier… the successes, the failures, the concepts and the myths.

The following story is a myth… in that it never actually occurred.

Now… you should know that this story is briefly mentioned as card #26 in the Wills’ Cigarettes Aviation series… but when the time comes, I will go back into that story then, as I look at the card and reveal more about its history.

Ønce upon a time, in a story written by the Poet Ferdowsi, and placed in the Book of Kings back in 1000AD, there was a foolish man known as Kai Kawus.

Now despite being a king of Persia (in modern times, you know it better as Iran), Kai Kawus ruled the Arabian lands at around 1500BC.

He was supposed to be rich and powerful king, having won many battles and wars and had grown rich from the spoils… so much so that he built a pair of palaces in the Elburz mountains in the northern part of the land.

Knowing that it is good to be king, it was written that the gold and silver contained within the palace chambers shone so brightly as to rival the light of day.

Quite naturally, King Kai Kawus thought of himself as the greatest king in the world…

… which of course made him ripe for a fall.

Because evil spirits will be evil spirits, Iblis sent a demon to the palace where Kai Kawus was then staying. The demon was disguised as a servant of the palace and brought with him a beautiful bouquet of flowers to be given to the king.

Kowtowing before the King, the demon servant kissed the ground and spoke:

“Sire, no king in the world is like unto you. And yet one realm remains for you to conquer, the upper world, the kingdom of the sun, the moon, the planets and the secret corners of the heavens. Follow the birds, O King, and ascend to the sky.”

“But how can I ascend without wings?” asked King Kai Kawus.

“Your wise men will tell you, Sire,” replied the demon servant.

Now, although only a flower bearer, the King obviously felt that there was some truth to the speech, and discussed with his astrologers how it might be possible for him to fly to the upper world.

Now, despite being astrologers and able to discern futures of echoes past, I’m betting the never saw that request coming their way. The astrologers offered what the story merely describes as ordinary ways to achieve the goal, but King Kai Kawus did not believe any to be possible… else someone would have done it already.

No… it had to be wholly original. And, to tell the truth, if one didn’t know better with 2013 sciences, the method of flight would have seemed quite legitimate. 😉

Though no one is quite sure who devised it, we can be sure that King Kai Kawus originally took credit for it.

It involved plucking four eagles from their nest… feeding them… training them… ensuring they were big and strong….

Carpenters were called upon to manufacture a square, wooden frame… and at each corner, a bamboo pole was attached.

And… when it was showtime, a large piece of goats meat was placed atop each pole, with one of the trained eagles attached to a corner of the wooden frame.

Going first class all the way, the king’s throne was attached to the frame and a jar of wine was placed at the side of the throne – in case he got thirsty. We can assume the empty jar would double as a toilet.

At last, the big day arrived, and the king sat down on his mobile throne. When the hoods were lifted from the heads of the eagles, they tried to grab at the meat with their talons, and so flew upwards to get at the meat.

By flying upwards, they contributed to the raising of the frame, which to the surprise of no one, lifted the king upwards.

Up–up—up!!!! the eagles flapped and flapped their wings as they tried in vain to reach the meat… but after a while as the eagles and its crew neared the Moon, the hungry eagles tired fast and stopped beating their wings.

The frame… the throne… the king… the wine jar… all fell with a crash into the wilds of China.

The eagle has landed.

I was waiting all story to use that line!

Anyhow, because everyone loves a happy ending, the king did not die that day… though apparently he lay amongst the wreckage… bruised, hungry and alone… I assume the angry eagles finally got their goat meat and flew away. King Kai Kawus was saved when messengers finally arrived on the scene.

Once home, fed and watered, the king realized just how foolish he had become in his vanity and decreed he would never again attempt to breach the upper worlds. True to his word, he kept his feet on the ground and ruled wisely and just and earned the praise of his people.

Neat huh? Despite King Kai Kawus failed attempt to reach the stars, the story does point out that he did make it from Persia to China.

That’s not half-bad considering he was propelled by two pair of hungry raptors.

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About mreman47

Andrew was born in London, UK, raised in Toronto, Canada, and cavorted in Ohtawara, Japan for three years. He is married, has a son and a cat. He has over 35,000 comic books and a plethora of pioneer aviation-related tobacco and sports cards and likes to build LEGO dioramas. Along with writing for a monthly industrial magazine, he also writes comic books and hates writing in the 3rd person. He also hates having to write this crap that no one will ever read. Along with the daily Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife blog, when he feels the hate, will also write another blog entitled: You Know What I Hate? He also works on his Pioneers Of Aviation - a cool blog on early fliers. He also wants to do more writing - for money, though. Help him out so he can stop talking in the 3rd person.
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