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{{short description| Middle Eastern folk tale}}{{About|the original folk tale|other uses|Aladdin (disambiguation)|and|Aladdin (name)}}{{redirect|Magic lamp||Magic lantern (disambiguation)}}File:Aladdin in the Magic Garden - Project Gutenberg eText 14221.jpg|thumb|Aladdin in the Magic Garden, an illustration by Max Liebert from Ludwig Fulde's Aladin und die WunderlampeAladdin at alt=Aladdin ({{IPAc-en|ə|ˈ|l|æ|d|ɪ|n}}; , {{transl|ar|ʻAlāʼ ud-Dīn/ ʻAlāʼ ad-Dīn}}, {{IPA-ar|ʕalaːʔ adˈdiːn|IPA}}, ATU 561, ‘Aladdin') is a folk tale of Middle Eastern origin. It is one of the tales in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights), and one of the best known—despite not being part of the original Arabic text. It was added to the collection in the 18th century by the Frenchman Antoine Galland, who acquired the tale from Syrian Maronite storyteller Hanna Diyab.Razzaque (2017)BOOK, Horta, Paulo Lemos, Aladdin: A New Translation, 2018, Liveright Publishing, 9781631495175, 8-10,weblink 23 May 2019, In any case, since it first appeared, "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" has been one of the best known and most retold of all fairy tales.


Known along with Ali Baba as one of the "orphan tales", the story was not part of the original Nights collection and has no authentic Arabic textual source, but was incorporated into the book Les mille et une nuits by its French translator, Antoine Galland.Allen (2005) pp.280–John Payne quotes passages from Galland's unpublished diary: recording Galland's encounter with a Syrian Maronite storyteller from Aleppo, Hanna Diyab. According to Galland's diary, he met with Hanna, who had travelled from Aleppo to Paris with celebrated French traveller Paul Lucas, on March 25, 1709. Galland's diary further reports that his transcription of "Aladdin" for publication occurred in the winter of 1709–10. It was included in his volumes ix and x of the Nights, published in 1710. Payne also records the discovery in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris of two Arabic manuscripts containing Aladdin (with two more of the "interpolated" tales). One was written by a Syrian Christian priest living in Paris, named Dionysios Shawish, alias Dom Denis Chavis. The other is supposed to be a copy Mikhail Sabbagh made of a manuscript written in Baghdad in 1703. It was purchased by the Bibliothèque Nationale at the end of the nineteenth century.Payne (1901) pp. 13-15 As part of his work on the first critical edition of the Nights, Iraq's Muhsin Mahdi has shownIrwin (1994) pp. 57-58 that both these manuscripts are forgeries—"back-translations" of Galland's text into Arabic.Mahdi (1994) pp. 51-71 Dobie (2008) p.36

Plot summary

(File:Robida - Aladin illustration page1.jpeg|200px|thumb|left|The Sorcerer traps Aladdin in the magic cave.)The story is often "re-told" with variations—the following is a precis of the Burton translation of 1885.Burton (2009) pp. 1 ffAladdin is an impoverished young ne'er-do-well, dwelling in "one of the cities of China". He is recruited by a sorcerer from the Maghreb, who passes himself off as the brother of Aladdin's late father, Mustapha the tailor, convincing Aladdin and his mother of his good will by pretending to set up the lad as a wealthy merchant. The sorcerer's real motive is to persuade young Aladdin to retrieve a wonderful oil lamp from a booby-trapped magic cave. After the sorcerer attempts to double-cross him, Aladdin finds himself trapped in the cave. Aladdin is still wearing a magic ring the sorcerer has lent him. When he rubs his hands in despair, he inadvertently rubs the ring and a jinnī (or "genie") appears who releases him from the cave, allowing him to return to his mother while in possession of the lamp. When his mother tries to clean the lamp, so they can sell it to buy food for their supper, a second far more powerful genie appears who is bound to do the bidding of the person holding the lamp.With the aid of the genie of the lamp, Aladdin becomes rich and powerful and marries Princess Badroulbadour, the sultan's daughter (after magically foiling her marriage to the vizier's son). The genie builds Aladdin and his bride a wonderful palace, far more magnificent than the sultan's.The sorcerer hears of Aladdin's good fortune, and returns; he gets his hands on the lamp by tricking Aladdin's wife (who is unaware of the lamp's importance) by offering to exchange "new lamps for old". He orders the genie of the lamp to take the palace, along with all its contents, to his home in the Maghreb. Aladdin still has the magic ring and is able to summon the lesser genie. The genie of the ring cannot directly undo any of the magic of the genie of the lamp, but he is able to transport Aladdin to the Maghreb where, with the help of the "woman's wiles" of the princess he recovers the lamp and slays the sorcerer, returning the palace to its proper place.The sorcerer's more powerful and evil brother plots to destroy Aladdin for killing his brother by disguising himself as an old woman known for her healing powers. Badroulbadour falls for his disguise and commands the "woman" to stay in her palace in case of any illnesses. Aladdin is warned of this danger by the genie of the lamp and slays the imposter. Everyone lives happily ever after, Aladdin eventually succeeding to his father-in-law's throne.


The opening sentences of the story, in both the Galland and the Burton versions, set it in "one of the cities of China".Plotz (2001) p. 148–149 On the other hand, there is practically nothing in the rest of the story that is inconsistent with a Middle Eastern setting. For instance, the ruler is referred to as "Sultan" rather than being called the "Emperor", as in some re-tellings, and the people in the story are Muslims and their conversation is larded with devout Muslim platitudes. A Jewish merchant buys Aladdin's wares (and incidentally cheats him), but there is no mention of Buddhists or Confucians (or other distinctively Chinese people).Notably, ethnic groups in Chinese history have long included Muslim groups, including large populations of Uighurs, and the Hui people whose origins go back to Silk Road travelers. Islamic communities have been known to exist in the region since the Tang Dynasty. Some have suggested that the intended setting may be Turkestan (encompassing Central Asia and the modern Chinese province of Xinjiang in Western China).Moon (2005) p. 23For all this, speculation about a "real" Chinese setting depends on a knowledge of China that the teller of a folk tale (as opposed to a geographic expert) might well not possess.Honour (1973) - Section I "The Imaginary Continent"


Adaptations vary in their faithfulness to the original story. In particular, difficulties with the Chinese setting are sometimes resolved by giving the story a more typical Arabian Nights background.


  • One of the many literary retellings of the tale appears in A Book of Wizards (1966) and A Choice of Magic (1971), by Ruth Manning-Sanders.
  • "The Nobility of Faith" by Jonathan Clements in the anthology Doctor Who Short Trips: The Ghosts of Christmas (2007) is a retelling of the Aladdin story in the style of the Arabian Nights, but featuring the Doctor in the role of the genie.


(File:He's behind you.jpg|thumb|120px|right| An 1886 theatre poster advertising a production of the pantomime Aladdin.)In the United Kingdom, the story of Aladdin was dramatised in 1788 by John O'Keefe for the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.Witchard (2017) It has been a popular subject for pantomime for over 200 years.WEB,weblink Aladdin,, 2008-01-22,weblink" title="">weblink 5 February 2008, live, The traditional Aladdin pantomime is the source of the well-known pantomime character Widow Twankey (Aladdin's mother). In pantomime versions, changes in the setting and story are often made to fit it better into "China" (albeit a China situated in the East End of London rather than Medieval Baghdad), and elements of other Arabian Nights tales (in particular Ali Baba) are often introduced into the plot. One version of the "pantomime Aladdin" is Sandy Wilson's musical Aladdin, from 1979.Since the early 1990s Aladdin pantomimes have tended to be influenced by the Disney animation. For instance, the 2007/8 production at the Birmingham Hippodrome starring John Barrowman featured songs from the Disney movies Aladdin and Mulan.

Other musical theatre

File:Victoria Disraeli cartoon.jpg|thumb|right|180px|New Crowns for Old, a 19th-century British cartoon based on the Aladdin story (Disraeli as Abanazer from the pantomime version of Aladdin offering Queen VictoriaQueen Victoria


(File:Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1917).webm|thumb|thumbtime=6|Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1917))


  • The 1926 animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed (the earliest surviving animated feature film) combined the story of Aladdin with that of the prince. In this version the princess Aladdin pursues is Achmed's sister and the sorcerer is his rival for her hand. The sorcerer steals the castle and the princess through his own magic and then sets a monster to attack Aladdin, from which Achmed rescues him. Achmed then informs Aladdin he requires the lamp to rescue his own intended wife, Princess Pari Banou, from the demons of the Island of Wak Wak. They convince the Witch of the Fiery Mountain to defeat the sorcerer, and then all three heroes join forces to battle the demons.
  • The 1938 animated film Have You Got Any Castles?, Aladdin makes a brief appearance asking for help but was punched by one of the Three Musketeers.
  • Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp is a 1939 Popeye the Sailor cartoon.
  • The 1959 animated film 1001 Arabian Nights starring Mr. Magoo as Aladdin's uncle and produced by UPA''.
  • The animated feature Aladdin et la lampe merveilleuse by Film Jean Image was released in 1970 in France. The story contains many of the original elements of the story as compared to the Disney version.
  • Aladdin and the Magic Lamp was a rendition in Japanese directed by Yoshikatsu Kasai, produced in Japan by Toei Animation and released in United States by The Samuel Goldwyn Company in 1982.
  • Aladdin, the 1992 animated feature by Walt Disney Feature Animation (possibly currently the best known re-telling of the story). In this version several characters are renamed or amalgamated. For instance the Sorcerer and the Sultan's vizier become one character named Jafar while the Princess is re-named Jasmine. They have new motivations for their actions and the Genie of the Lamp only grants three wishes and desires freedom from his role. Other characters are simply replaced (for example, a magic carpet fills the place of the Ring Genie in the plot while a royal magic ring is used by Jafar to find Aladdin). Names from and elements of the 1940 live-action The Thief of Bagdad are borrowed (for instance, the names Jafar and Abu and the Sultan's delight in toys. Also, the physical appearances of the Sultan and Jafar greatly resemble their counterparts in the 1940 film). The setting is moved from China to the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah and the structure of the plot is simplified.
  • Aladdin by Golden Films was released directly on video in 1992.
  • The Return of Jafar (1994), direct-to-video sequel to the 1992 Walt Disney movie.
  • Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), direct-to-video second and final sequel to the 1992 Walt Disney movie.

Live action



  • In 1962 the Italian branch of Walt Disney Productions published the story Paperino e la grotta di Aladino (Donald and Aladdin's Cave), written by Osvaldo Pavese and drawn by Pier Lorenzo De Vita. As in many pantomimes, the plot is combined with elements of the Ali Baba story: Uncle Scrooge leads Donald Duck and their nephews on an expedition to find the treasure of Aladdin and they encounter the Middle Eastern counterparts of the Beagle Boys. Scrooge describes Aladdin as a brigand who used the legend of the lamp to cover the origins of his ill-gotten gains. They find the cave holding the treasure—blocked by a huge rock requiring a magic password ("open sesame") to open.Profile of Paperino e la grotta di Aladino
  • The original version of the comic book character Green Lantern was partly inspired by the Aladdin myth; the protagonist discovers a "lantern-shaped power source and a 'power ring'" which gives him power to create and control matter.Adam Robert, The History of Science Fiction, Palgrave Histories of Literature, {{isbn|9781137569592}}, 2016, p. 224


  • The Japanese manga series (Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic|Magi) is not a direct adaptation, but features Aladdin as the main character of the story and includes many characters from other One Thousand and One Nights stories. An adaptation of this comic to animation was made in October 2012.

Video games

  • A number of video games were based on the Disney movie:
  • The video game Sonic and the Secret Rings is heavily based on the story of Aladdin, and both genies appear in the story. The genie of the lamp is the main antagonist, known in the game as the Erazor Djinn, and the genie of the ring, known in the game as Shahra, appears as Sonic's sidekick and guide through the game. Furthermore, the ring genie is notably lesser than the lamp genie in the story.
  • The Disney version of Aladdin appears throughout the Disney/Square Enix crossover series Kingdom Hearts, with Agrabah being a visitable world.
  • In 2010, Anuman Interactive launched Aladin and the Enchanted Lamp, a hidden object game on PC and Mac.WEB, Aladin et la Lampe Merveilleuse PC, Mac {{!, 2010 |url= |website=Planete Jeu |accessdate=11 January 2019 |language=fr}}
  • In 2016 Saturn Animation Studio has produced an interactive adaptation of The Magical Lamp of Aladdin for mobile devices.


File:Robida Aladin illustration page4.jpeg| Aladdin trades the silver plates to a Jew for a piece of goldFile:Robida Aladin illustration page11.jpeg|The Sorcerer tricks a handmaiden and offers "new lamps for old lamps".File:Aladdinlookingup.jpg|Aladdin in Disney's stage show.

See also




  • BOOK, The Arabic Literary Heritage: The Development of Its Genres and Criticism, Allen, Roger, 2005, Cambridge University Press, 9780521485258,
  • BOOK, Burton, Sir Richard, Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, Publishing, 2009, 1-4209-3193-8,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Madeleine, Dobie, Translation in the contact zone: Antoine Galland's Mille et une nuits: contes arabes, Makdisi, S., Nussbaum, F. (eds), 2008, The Arabian Nights in Historical Context, Oxford University Press,weblink 9780199554157,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, El-Shamy, Hasan, The Oral Connections of the Arabian Nights:, The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia, 2004, ABC-CLIO, 9781576072042,
  • BOOK, Honour, Hugh, Chinoiserie: The Vision of Cathay, Ican, 1973, 978-0064300391,
  • BOOK, Irwin, Robert, Arabian Nights, The: A Companion, Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2004,weblink 1 86064 983 1,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Littman, Alf Layla wa Layla, 2nd, 1986, Encyclopedia of Islam, Brill,
  • BOOK, Mahdi, Muhsin, The Thousand and One Nights Part 3, Brill, 1994, 90-04-10106-3,
  • BOOK, Moon, Krystyn, Yellowface, 2005, 23, Rutgers University Press, 0-8135-3507-7,
  • BOOK, Payne, John, Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp and Other Stories, 1901, London,weblink
  • BOOK, Plotz, Judith Ann, Romanticism and the vocation of childhood, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001, 0-312-22735-3,
  • WEB, Razzaque, Arafat A., Who wrote Aladdin?,weblink Ajam Media Collective, 10 August 2017, 25 February 2019,
  • BOOK, Witchard, Anne Veronica, Thomas Burke's Dark Chinoiserie, 2017, Routledge, 9780754658641,weblink

Further reading

  • BOOK, Haddawy, Husain, The Arabian Nights, W. W. Norton & Company, 2008, 978-0393331660,
  • BOOK, Volume 16, Tome I: Kierkegaard's Literary Figures and Motifs: Agamemnon to Guadalquivir, Nun, Katalin, Stewart, Dr Jon, 2014, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 9781472441362, en,

External links

{{Commons category|Aladdin}} {{One Thousand and One Nights}}{{Authority control}}

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