The Golden House of Samarkand

Posted on May 2nd, 2006 by piling

In “The Golden House of Samarkand” Corto Maltese goes through Anatolia in 1920s, during the War of Independance between Kurdish-Turkish-Russian-Armenians troops. Like in “Ethiopiques” and “Scorpions of desert”, Hugo Pratt enjoyed to describe the collapses of an empire, and these big messes where different nations and heterodox cults made alliances or fought each others, with the cupidity of treasures hunters, patriotic and idealistic butchers deceived by History, secret political or mystic brotherhoods, dreams, trances and passages in the “Barzakh”…

In Van, we find tasty sketches of Kurds. At first, there are muslims battalions, of Kurds and Turks then, wuich are allied a priori, but against who ? For what ? As said Corto, while French army is ready to withdraw from Cilicia (and let in dire straits Armenians on the battlefield) :

-Look ! Soldiers from the Turkish-Kurdish regiment ! Dangerous guy. We never could guess for which side they fight !

And in fact, in the truck going to Van, Corto learnt from these Kurds that their “friendly” feelings for Turks are very ambiguous. It is just that facing Mustafa Kemal, some Kurds chosed Enver Pasha’s option, for very interested reasons :

We are not very friends with Turks and with Bahiar.

– But you obey to them ?

– Because Bahiar belongs to a political group which promised autonomy to Kurds. The panturanian group of Enver Bey.

– And now we have to destroy the last Armenian resistance.

So, facing this Turkish-Kurdish Alliance, the ennemy is obvious : Russians and especially Armenians.

Armenians are christians and they have always fought us.

– It is not a reason to massacre them.

– And what they have done when they engaged in Russian army in 1915 ?

– They haven’t had the choice after 1909…. and after the way they were massacred in 1986, and 1894…
When Corto arrive in Van, we have beautiful passage with Yezidis. Pratt was very fond of mysterious religions, and of dervishes, shaykhs, pîrs.

Immediatley, Yezidis are shown like persecuted people, devil worshippers, and hated by our good sunnis…

Remember that the “Armenian” genocide was for all Christians (Assyrians too) and non-muslims in general, then Yezidis, as explained this man :

Do you know these devil worshippers ?

– I was one of them. But… some things happened, and I changed my mind.

In the world of Hugo Pratt, all dreams and wizards of the world are related each others. Thus, the fallen angel of Ethiopiques, Shamaël, reappears in the extasis body Yezidi sheikh, to enlight the road of Maltese, as he had done in the desert with Cush the Bedouin :

We could be surprised that the shaykh invokes the name of Sheitan, the greatest taboo for yezidis. In the story it is told that the priest has the right to pronounce it once per year. Fortunatley it is the exact time when Corto visited him. Kismet, isn’t it ?

In Samarkand, we met Enver Pasha the Butcher of Armenians, the idealist of Turan, who facing his defeat against Mustafa Kemal and Russians, decides to die with drawn sword, running toward Armenian-Russian battalions : Kismet !

– Where is he going ?
– To meet his own remorses, perhaps.
You, guys from the Armenian regiment, Revolution makes us a wondergul gift !
And adding with these “Kurdish episodes”, which showing a fine and clever painting of the Independance War in Anatolia, betwenn the Treaty of Sèvres and the Treaty of Lausanne, the album is very beautiful, and funny, with the best bad guy in the world : Rasputin aka Caid Raspa…

Posted in Culture, History, North Kurdistan | Leave a comment

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