An image of the Star Wars character Yoda that mysteriously appeared alongside a Saudi Arabian schoolchildren’s textbook photograph of the future King Faisal has been unceremoniously removed.
The original picture was taken in 1945, but the Star Wars update was added more recently.
Saudi Education Minister Ahmed al-Eissa has apologised for the mistake on Twitter, arguing that its appearance in high school social studies textbooks was an ‘unintended mistake’.
He said his ministry has begun printing a corrected copy of the textbook while at the same time was withdrawing the incorrect material.
The image of Yoda was recently superimposed next to a 1945 photo of Faisal, from when he signed the UN Charter in San Francisco while serving as his country’s foreign minister
‘[We have] formed a legal committee to determine the source of the error and to take the proper measures,’ the minister said.
Exactly how the picture ended up in the textbooks is shrouded in mystery.
All that is clear is that the image was created by Saudi artist Abdullah al-Shehri, as part of a montage in homage to King Faisal and Yoda.
Al-Shehri, 26, is known by the nickname Shaweesh, and makes no secret of his enjoyment creating images in which icons of popular culture are juxtaposed alongside momentous historical events.
The artist said that he holds both King Faisal and Yoda in equally high esteem – but he has absolutely no idea how it ended up where it did and that he definitely did not mean to cause offence to the royal family.
The setting of the picture is the signing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in 1945.
In it King Faisal can be seen solemnly signing the paperwork – with Yoda looking on approvingly.
‘All the pictures [I created] were very sad, you know, refugees and war,’ he told The New York Times.
But things changed when he found a photo of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat – who was assassinated in 1981 – meeting Mickey Mouse during a trip to Disneyland shortly before he was murdered.
Yoda – who lived for 800 years – is revered by Star Wars fans for almost single-handedly training Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker
In the course of his 800-year life Yoda served as the Grand Master of the Jedi Order and as a high ranking general
‘This is what the archive needs,’ he recalled thinking at the time. ‘Something fun, something that makes it less depressing.’
He later came across a black and white photo of King Faisal, who was foreign minister at the time, at the signing ceremony and thought it could be enlivened by the appearance of Yoda.
The Jedi master like the king was renowned for his intelligence, he said, and was popular among Saudis. And he had the additional benefit of being the same colour as the Saudi flag.
‘He was wise and was always strong in his speeches,’ al-Shehri said of the king. ‘So I found that Yoda was the closest character to the king. And also Yoda and his light saber – it’s all green.’