Div-e Sepid

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Div-e Sepid, the white demon, is slain by Rostam. 16th-century Persian book illustration.

In the Persian epic of Shahnameh Div-e Sepid, or Div-e Sefid (Persian: دیو سپید‎ or دیو سفید, lit. White Demon), is the chieftain of the Divs (demons) of Mazandaran. He is a huge being. He possesses great physical strength and is skilled in sorcery and necromancy. He destroys the army of Kay Kavus by conjuring a dark storm of hail, boulders, and tree trunks using his magical skills. He then captures Kay Kavus, his commanders, and paladins; blinds them, and imprisons them in a dungeon. The greatest Persian mythical hero Rostam undertakes his "Seven Labors" to free his sovereign. At the end, Rostam slays Div-e Sefid and uses his heart and blood to cure the blindness of the king and the captured Persian heroes. Rostam also takes the Div's head as a helmet and is often pictured wearing it.[1]

"White Devil" alternative views[edit]

It is written in the Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society that the struggle between Rostam and the white demon represents a struggle between Persians and invaders from the north, from the Caspian provinces.[2]

The Div Sefid is believed by Joseph J. Reed to have been a northern prince.[3] Warner believes that he is a personification of the Mazandaranians, who by their climate are an unhealthy pale color.[4] Some scholars hold the opinion that these divs of Mazandaran are merely wild people of the forest.[5] Others are of the opinion that they are a group of enemy kings of ancient Mazandaran (which might have been different from its modern location) and Tabaristan.[6] Alexander Krappe theorized that Ahriman himself was believed to have white skin.[7] P. Molesworth Sykes believes that the name "White Div" represents a white nation.[8]

According to one source Zal spoke of the horrid race of white-skinned people.[9] This however contradicts with the fact that Zal was an albino himself [10]


  1. ^ Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis (1993). Persian Myths. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-71158-1.
  2. ^ Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society By Royal Central Asian Society
  3. ^ P. 23 Outlines of universal history: in three parts; with a copious index to each part, showing the correct mode of pronouncing every name mentioned ... by Joseph J Reed
  4. ^ P. 507 Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Part 16 By James Hastings
  5. ^ The Wild Rue: A Study of Muhammadan Magic and Folklore in Iran By Bess Allen Donaldson
  6. ^ P. 120 World Of Myths By Felipe Fernández-Armesto
  7. ^ Alexander H. Krappe 'Albinos and Albinism in Iranian Tradition' Folklore Vol. 55, No.4 (December, 1944) pp.170-4
  8. ^ P. 137 A History of Persia By Percy Molesworth Sykes
  9. ^ P. 121 Myths of the Hero: With 105 Illustrations by Norma Lorre Goodrich
  10. ^ Encyclopædia Iranica, "Zal", E. Yarshater

External links[edit]