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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Rajah of Sari
notorious jewel thief, fake Hindu rajah
The so-called "Rajah of Sari" is a minor character who appeared only on three pages of Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #17.
The Rajah of Sari was a notorious jewel thief who masqueraded as the mysterious and superstitious "Rajah of Sari." (A "rajah" is a Hindu prince.) The "Rajah" wore a veil over the lower half of his face and never let any body take a photograph of him. He claimed that he did this for religious reasons (referred to as "superstitious" reasons by Lois Lane and Perry White), that he believed if anybody photographed him his soul would be trapped.
In actuality, as Lois Lane discovered, the so-called "Rajah" was really a notorious jewel thief and was simply trying to escape detection, using his veil and religious "superstitions" as a smokescreen to prevent people from getting a good look at him or photographing him.
Lois Lane used a clever ruse (a far-fetched ruse, by contemporary standards, but typical of plots in comics of the time) in order to photograph the Rajah without his mask. When she surreptitiously photographed the man, she was unaware that he was really a jewel thief. She thought her beliefs were genuine, and she told Perry White (with whom she was auditioning for a job at The Daily Planet) not to publish the photo, lest the Rajah think he's doomed.k
It is interesting that Lois Lane was willing to violate the Rajah's wishes and get a photo of him to prove to Perry White that she could do so, as part of a bid to get a job, yet she had sufficient respect for the Rajah's religious beliefs to tell Perry not to publish the photo. Of course, the "Rajah" had said that the mere act of being photographed was what would trap his soul, so one could argue that Lois Lane had already shown insensitivity by violating this man's privacy and beliefs. Lois Lane was, in this story, neither completely sensitive nor completely insensitive to this man's "religious beliefs."
Of course, the Rajah's claims about his religious beliefs turned out to be a sham. When Perry White saw the photo he recognized the man as a notorious jewel thief. The jewel thief was almost certainly not a real "rajah", i.e., Hindu prince, or prince of India. Were there still "real" rajahs at the time this story was published?
The man may have actually had a Hindu religious background. His real name is never given. The pictures showing his un-masked face appear to be pictures of a Caucasian man, but they could also be inaccurately or indifferently colored pictures of a native of India. One might ask how a non-Indian person could successfully pull off such a public use, and why a non-Indian or non-Hindu would choose to disguise himself as a Rajah, rather than come up with a plan utilizing a false identity based on a culture he had more familiarity with. Regardless of his actual religious background, the "Rajah" is best classified as a pseudo-Hindu. He was certainly not sincere in the religious beliefs he publicly professed, and he was probably not a Hindu at all.
From: "How Lois Lane Got Her Job", originally presented in Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #42 (May 1960), pages 4-6; written by Otto Binder, art by Kurt Schaffenberger, inked by John Forte; reprinted in Superman: The Daily Planet (DC Comics: New York, 2006), pages 46-48:
Webpage created 2 April 2006. Last modified 18 April 2006.
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