Saturday, April 20, 2013

The 101 Nights

A new discovery in Islamic literature. From Egypt Independent:
“101 Nights” is not simply an abridged version of the well-known “1,001 Nights.” In fact, Ott explains, the collections have only two stories in common — “The Ebony Horse” and “The King’s Son and the Seven Viziers,” popularly known as “The Book of Sinbad.”

What is most exciting about the “101 Nights” is its geographical origin and the fantastic setting of its tales. All seven preserved manuscripts of the collection come from North Africa and Andalusia, and some of the characters point to the history of the Western part of the Muslim world.

In the first tale of the “101 Nights,” we meet a trader from Qayrawan, Tunisia, and Umayyad caliphs are repeatedly referenced throughout the collection. In fact, Caliph Abdel Malik bin Marwan and his three sons enjoy a similar status in the “101 Nights” as that of the Abbasid Caliph Haroun al-Rashid in the “1,001 Nights.”

This, Ott explains, is due to the historical role played by the Umayyads in the history of Andalusia, and the emirate of Cordoba being considered the successor dynasty of the fallen caliphate of the Umayyads in Damascus.

So, even though the “101 Nights” is set in the faraway kingdom of India, the fascinating setting comes off more like a stereotypical backdrop rather than possessing any geographical or historical magnitude, says Ott.
“It is certainly not by chance that this backdrop has something Oriental about it when seen from an Arabic perspective. It is an image of an Orient that is far away, unfamiliar and exotic — for this reason, particularly attractive,” Ott says.

This was the farthest and hence most exotic setting imagined at the time. And part of the popularity of the “101 Nights” in its era, argues Ott, is that it took its readers and listeners, as they were commonly told out loud by a storyteller, from the furthest West in Andalusia to the extreme Eastern point of the Islamic world.
(Read entire article.)

Via Medieval News. Share

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