Persian Proverb – “The king and his kingdom”


“The King and his kingdom”


MB is 19 years old from Southern California. She is currently studying at the University of California, Berkley. Both her parents were born in Iran and immigrated to the United States as children. This proverb was often used by her mother to describe her father, usually in a joking manner. She informed me that her mother used this proverb to poke fun at her father when he was being strict towards her and her brother. This is the English translation of a Persian proverb.


This proverb traditionally means that a king’s kingdom is where his power lays. It refers to the idea “a king is only as powerful as his kingdom.” It is interesting that my informant’s mother used this to joke about my informant’s father. It has a general implication of a male centric power structure. It uses the phrase king and relates his power to the control of his kingdom.  In reference to her family, it was used to poke fun at this male centric dynamic. The way this proverb was used in my informant’s family shows how specific communities within a culture can use or interpret common cultural, in this case proverbs, in their own way. Even within one culture, there will be a lot of variation in the use of specific proverbs, or even the meaning of those proverbs.