Thursday, 26 April 2012 10:04
Aladdin (Arabic: علاء الدين, ʻAlāʼ ad-Dīn, IPA: [ʕalaːʔ adˈdiːn]; meaning, "glory of religion") is a Middle Eastern folk tale.
It is one of the tales in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), and one of the most famous, although it was actually added to the collection by Antoine Galland (see sources and setting).
Although Aladdin is a Middle Eastern tale, the story is set in China, and Aladdin is explicitly Chinese. However, the "China" of the story is an Islamic country, where most people are Muslims; there is a Jewish merchant who buys Aladdin's wares (and incidentally cheats him), but there is no mention of Buddhists or Confucians.
Everybody in this country bears an Arabic name, and its monarch seems much more like a Muslim ruler than a Chinese emperor. Some commentators believe that this suggests that the story might be set in Turkestan (encompassing Central Asia and the modern Chinese province of Xinjiang). It has to be said that this speculation depends on a knowledge of China that the teller of a folk tale (as opposed to a geographic expert) might well not possess, and that a deliberately exotic setting is in any case a common storytelling device.
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