EdwardDurham, North Carolina, United States
Jan 25, 2008
Sep 18, 2015
My avatar depicts Harun al-Rashid ("the Rightly Guided"), caliph in Baghdad 786-809 CE, in a detail from a painting showing him receiving the embassy of Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor, in 802. At that time, Harun was acknowledged as the most powerful ruler in the world. His vizier, Yahya al-Barmak, established Harun's court as the most glorious in the world. In 805 Harun had Yahya thrown into prison, no doubt for neglecting to introduce chess at court. I imagine Harun, at the time he sat for this painting, was thinking: "I'd rather be playing chess."