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The artworks for and associated with One Thousand and One Nights have had many influences over time. This thesis examines the effects of these influences on 27 examples of the artwork through five of the many tales. The tales used for this examination are Shahryar and Scheherazade, Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor, and the Fisherman and the Jinni. One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of stories and tales by various authors that have been collected over many centuries. The earliest written example of these stories is a 9th century manuscript fragment. From the start of the artwork’s introduction to the publications in the late 18th century they have centered around topics of Orientalism, othering, exoticism, and have had racial connotations. Exoticism was heavily prevalent in these artworks as it was a projection of the fantasies of Western European societies onto other societies and cultures. The artworks are filled with racial exaggerations and blends of various cultures that were seen as other and exotic. The tales of One Thousand and One Nights were extremely popular in French and English societies thanks to Antoine Galland’s introduction of the tales in 1704 and Edward William Lane’s meticulously detailed publication in 1912. The main tale of Shahryar and Scheherazade is a frame story, which is a literary device in which the characters of the original story begin weaving their own stories and tales within the narrative. These stories included many fantastic creatures and plots that were accepted because they were stories within stories. The artworks therefore are filled with magical creatures and landscapes. Many of which were seen as the reality of the Arab world despite the tales being fictional. Western European societies dominated the illustrations and artworks for these tales and projected their fantasies and thoughts about other cultures outside of Europe into them. They also made assumptions and blended many cultures together to create their idea of an Arab world.
Stout, Jacquelyn, "An artful examination of the stories within the story One Thousand and One Nights as they evolve through history and the world." (2023). Honors Theses. 3652.
Honors Thesis-Open Access