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Jottings 7: Two for the iconography of terror

[ by Charles Cameron — taking a break from my pressing writerly duties ]

I wouldn’t have noticed these two offerings quite so clearly if I hadn’t been pointed to each of them in the last couple of days. Both look to be of considerable interest:

Artur Beifuss & Francesco Trivini Bellini, Branding Terror: The Logotypes and Iconography of Insurgent Groups and Terrorist Organizations
Asiem El Difraoui, The Jihad of Images

Hat-tip Nico Prucha at Jihadica, and who or whatever pointed me to HuffPo — idenitfy yourselves and be saluted!


The first image in the HuffPo slideshow for Branding Terror (lower image, below, AQIM) really hit me square between the eyes, because when I was in Mashhad, Iran, in the early seventies, I snarfed up a postcard with a very similar design — Shi’ite rather than Sunni, and not so distinctly violent (upper image):

Some things just don’t seem to change.

4 Responses to “Jottings 7: Two for the iconography of terror”

  1. Carl Says:

    Swords held in heroic fashion in the old days. Kalashnikovs held in heroic fashion in the new days.

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    I think it’s just a banner, not a sword, in the postcard — but I get your point.

  3. Carl Says:

    I was thinking of the real old days, like the Civil War, lots of drawings of officers leading charges with swords held high. Or even newer days. If you have ever watched the TV series Spatacus, the fight scenes aren’t so much fight scenes as they are long sequences of heroic poses with swords. (They yell a lot with wide open mouths too. You would think hand to hand fighting would make them too tired for that.)

  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    Ah, gotcha.
    I think (at least in Japan) the yelling is part of the training

    The kiai or yell as mentioned by Miyamoto Musashi in his book the ‘Five Rings’ are divided into three categories. The ‘sho’ or pre-kiai, the ‘chu’ or during-kiai and the ‘go’ or post-victory-kiai.The ‘sho’ (pre-kiai) is made to encourage us and show our spirit, it is a strong and loud yell used to intimidate the opponent. The ‘chu’ (during-kiai) is made just before a strike is an intimidating, strong and loud yell used to give rhythm and timing to the strike also to surprise and confuse the opponent. The kiai is never made simultaneously with the delivery of a strike. The ‘go’ (post-victory-kiai) is the kiai associated with the zanshin (follow through) portion of the attack, it is the victory kiai or yell. The chu and go kiai are used in ki-ken-tai-icchi (spirit, sword and body as one) it shows the spirit of your strike. All the vocalized kiais are produced from deep within the abdomen and should never be the last of your breath, this is so that you may attack at any instant during or after the kiai concludes.  Indeed when watching closely the videos of Masashiro Miyazaki one of the most famous masters of kendo in recent history we realize how frequently he makes short kiais as if to keep the opponent on edge all of the time never knowing when an attack is coming.

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