Art And Culture

‘1001 Nights’ First Compiled in Middle Persian

‘1001 Nights’ First Compiled in Middle Persian‘1001 Nights’ First Compiled in Middle Persian

A conference ‘170 Years of Book Reading’ with ‘1001 Nights’ was held at Iran’s Book House Institute last Wednesday.

The event was attended by the German orientalist and scholar of folk literature Professor Ulrich Marzolph, CEO of Book House Majid Gholami-Jalisseh and Iranian experts and authors, IBNA reported.

This year marks the 170th anniversary of the translation of ‘1001 Nights’ into Persian by Mirza Abdul-Latif Tasuji, “and this is the first official conference on the work in Iran although earlier similar events have been held elsewhere as it is a well-known work in the world,” Gholami-Jalisseh said.

The work has been reprinted in Farsi several times by Iranian publishers, especially after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and “it can play a very strong role in developing the culture of book reading since the text has amazing power in storytelling which can draw the readers, especially the young generation.”

Marzolph, an expert in Islamic studies and Persian narrative tradition and professor at the Georg-August University in Germany, said it is commonly understood that the book is a collection of Persian, Arabic and Indian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic more than a thousand years ago. “But based on documents and evidences, the stories were written in Middle Persian (Pahlavi) language first, between the 8th and 13th centuries, and then translated into Arabic.”

‘1001 Nights’ is often known in English as the ‘Arabian Nights’, from the first English edition (1706), which rendered the title as ‘The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment’.

 Extensive Research

Marzolph has conducted extensive research on Persian folk literature for many years and among his works on Iranian literature and culture, particularly ‘1001 Nights’ are ‘The Arabian Nights: An Encyclopedia’ (two volumes), ‘The Arabian Nights in Transnational Perspective’ and ‘The Arabian Nights Reader’.

Maryam Jalali, a faculty member at Shahid Beheshti University, said one way to encourage children to preserve Iranian identity is introducing them to the classic works of literature. “The book with its different themes could draw the attention of the writers of children’s works so that important concepts of national, historical, and moral education could be conveyed to children and teenagers.”

The book is full of moral lessons and contains symbolic narratives of the stories of animals and strange creatures and has always been a rich source of imagination.

Some of the stories are widely recognized in the world, in particular ‘Aladdin’s Lamp’, ‘Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves’ and ‘The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor’.