The last Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) is the backdrop to Jalaleddin. Here are two so-called “persuasive” maps of the war from the time. Created by Fred W. Rose in 1877, the first one depicts Russia as the “Evil Octopus”:
Created by an unknown cartographer, probably in response to the first map, the second map depicts Russia as the “allegory of Progress”:
I’m not sure what to make of these. They seem more like tools of propaganda than anything else. For example, apparently the octopus map was wildly popular in the U.S. and Western Europe when it was published; so popular, in fact, that a new interpretation of it (re)appeared about 25 years later in Japan (1904):
But despite being obvious propaganda tools, these maps help us understand the world at the time a little better, and they help us understand Jalaleddin a little better: While Raffi spent nights in his smoke-filled study, writing the powerful lines of Jalaleddin in hopes of breathing life into his people, some of whom had just been massacred, humans far away, hardly aware of the realities of the War, were making, consuming and criticizing such maps, many among them apparently cursing that Evil Octopus from a safe distance. Meanwhile, many among the Christian minorities who were getting slaughtered were gazing fast at the Heavens, hoping to see a Tentacle in the sky.