'Ala' ad Din

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
Aladdin finds the wonderful lamp inside the cave.
Folk tale
NameAladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
Aarne-Thompson groupingATU 561 (Aladdin)
RegionPersia, China, Arab
Published inThe One Thousand and One Nights, translated by Antoine Galland

Aladdin (/əˈlædɪn/ ə-LAD-in; Arabic: علاء الدين‎, ʻAlāʼu d-Dīn/ ʻAlāʼ ad-Dīn, IPA: [ʕalaːʔ adˈdiːn], ATU 561, ‘Aladdin') is the eponymous character in Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (simply Aladdin), a folk tale from Baghdad associated with the One Thousand and One Nights.

Despite the story of Aladdin not being part of the original Arabic text of One Thousand and One Nights, it is one of the best known tales associated with the whole collection.[1] (The tale was actually interpolated by French translator Antoine Galland, who acquired it from Syrian Maronite storyteller Hanna Diyab.)[1]


Known along with Ali Baba as one of the 'orphan tales', Aladdin was not part of the original Nights collection and has no authentic Arabic textual source; rather, it was incorporated into the French version, Les mille et une nuits, by its translator, Antoine Galland.[2]:280

Poet John Payne quoted passages from Galland's unpublished diary, recording Galland's encounter with a Syrian Maronite storyteller from Aleppo, named Hanna Diyab.[1] According to the diary, Galland met with Hanna, who had travelled from Aleppo to Paris with celebrated French traveller Paul Lucas, on 25 March 1709. Galland's diary further reports that his transcription of "Aladdin" for publication occurred in the winter of 1709–10. It was included in the 9th and 10th volumes of his Nights, published in 1710, without any mention or published acknowledgment of Hanna's contribution. Paulo Lemos Horta, in the introduction to his translation of Aladdin, speculates that Diyab might even be the original author of at least some of the 'orphan tales', including Aladdin.[3]:8–10

In Paris' Bibliothèque Nationale, Payne also records the discovery of two Arabic manuscripts containing Aladdin (with two more of the "interpolated" tales): one written by Dionysios Shawish (alias Dom Denis Chavis), a Syrian-Christian priest living in Paris; the other supposedly being a copy, made by Mikhail Sabbagh, of a manuscript written in Baghdad in 1703.[4]:13–5 The manuscripts were purchased by the Bibliothèque Nationale at the end of the 19th century.[4] As part of his work on the first critical ion of The Nights, Iraq's Muhsin Mahdi has shown that both these manuscripts are "back-translations" of Galland's text into Arabic.[5]:57–8[6]:51–71[7]:36

Plot summary[]

The Sorcerer traps Aladdin in the magic cave.

Aladdin is often retold with variations. The following is a précis of the 1885 translation by Richard Burton.[8]

Aladdin 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 goodwill by pretending to set up the lad as a wealthy merchant. The sorcerer's real motive, however, 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, still wearing the magic ring that the sorcerer lent him. When Aladdin rubs his hands in despair, he inadvertently rubs the ring and a jinnī (or 'genie') appears, releasing him from the cave and allowing him to return to his mother while in possession of the lamp. When his mother tries to clean the lamp, hoping to 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 impostor.

Aladdin eventually succeeds to his father-in-law's throne.


The opening sentences of both the Galland and Burton versions set the story in "one of the cities of China."[9] However, 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 "Emperor" (as in some retellings), and the people in the story are Muslims whose conversations are larded with devout Muslim platitudes. A Jewish merchant buys Aladdin's wares (and incidentally cheats him), but there is no mention of either Buddhists, 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).[10]

For all this, speculation about a 'real' Chinese setting depends on a knowledge of China that the teller of a folktale (as opposed to a geographic expert) might well not possess.[11] In early Arabic usage, China is known to have been used in an abstract sense to designate an exotic, faraway land.[12][13]

Motifs and variants[]

In the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index, the story of Aladdin is classified as tale-type ATU 561, "Aladdin", after the character. In the Index, the Aladdin story is situated next to two similar tale types: ATU 560, The Magic Ring, and ATU 562, The Spirit in the Blue Light. All stories deal with a down-on-his-luck and impoverished boy or soldier, who finds a magical item (ring, lamp, tinderbox) that grants his wishes. The magical item is stolen, but eventually recovered thanks to the use of another magical object.[14]

A South Asian variant has been attested, titled The Magic Lamp and collected among the Santal people.[15][16] Western variants of the Aladdin tale have replaced the lamp with a tinderbox.


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.

Books and comics[]

Musical theatre[]

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 Victoria an Imperial crown (of India) in exchange for a Royal one)


An 1886 theatre poster advertising a production of the pantomime Aladdin.


Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1917)

Animated films[]

Live-action films[]






See also[]


  1. ^ a b c Razzaque, Arafat A. (10 August 2017). "Who wrote Aladdin?" Ajam Media Collective. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  2. ^ Allen, Roger (2005). The Arabic Literary Heritage: The Development of Its Genres and Criticism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521485258.
  3. ^ Horta, Paulo Lemos (2018). Aladdin: A New Translation. Liveright Publishing. ISBN 9781631495175. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b Payne, John (1901). Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp and Other Stories. London.
  5. ^ Irwin, Robert (2004). Arabian Nights, The: A Companion. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 1 86064 983 1. Google Books: FYWlfx1FpDwC.
  6. ^ Mahdi, Muhsin (1994). The Thousand and One Nights Part 3. Brill. ISBN 90-04-10106-3.
  7. ^ Dobie, Madeleine (2008). "Translation in the contact zone: Antoine Galland's Mille et une nuits: contes arabes." In The Arabian Nights in Historical Context, ed by S. Makdisi and F. Nussbaum. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199554157.
  8. ^ Burton, Richard. [1885] 2009. Aladdin and the Magic Lamp. Digireads.com Publishing. ISBN 1-4209-3193-8. pp. 1 ff
  9. ^ Plotz (2001) p. 148–149
  10. ^ Moon (2005) p. 23
  11. ^ Honour (1973) - Section I "The Imaginary Continent"
  12. ^ Arafat A. Razzaque. "Who was the "real" Aladdin? From Chinese to Arab in 300 Years". Ajam Media Collective.
  13. ^ Olivia B. Waxman (2019-05-23). "Was Aladdin Based on a Real Person? Here's Why Scholars Are Starting to Think So". Time. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  14. ^ Thompson, Stith. The Folktale. University of California Press. 1977. pp. 70-73. ISBN 0-520-03537-2
  15. ^ Campbell, A., of the Santal mission. Santal Folk-Tales. Pokhuria, India : Santal Mission Press. 1891. pp. 1-5.
  16. ^ Brown, W. Norman. "The Pañcatantra in Modern Indian Folklore." Journal of the American Oriental Society 39 (1919): 1-54. Accessed May 9, 2020. doi:10.2307/592712.
  17. ^ "Profile of Paperino e la grotta di Aladino". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-24.
  18. ^ Adam Robert, The History of Science Fiction, Palgrave Histories of Literature, ISBN 9781137569592, 2016, p. 224
  19. ^ "Cole Porter / Aladdin (London Stage Production)". Sondheim Guide. Archived from the original on 23 October 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  20. ^ Slater, Shawn (9 September 2015). "All New 'Frozen'-Inspired Stage Musical Coming to Disney California Adventure Park in 2016". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on 3 July 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  21. ^ "MTIshows.com Music Theatre International". Archived from the original on 2015-05-15. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  22. ^ Witchard (2017)
  23. ^ "Aladdin". www.its-behind-you.com. Archived from the original on 5 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  24. ^ "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp". Letterboxd. Archived from the original on 17 January 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  25. ^ "The Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog:Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp". Archived from the original on 2017-09-09. Retrieved 2017-09-08.
  26. ^ "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on 9 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  27. ^ Article on Arabian Nights at Turner Classic Movies accessed 10 January 2014
  28. ^ "Dhananjaya became Aladin". Sarasaviya. Archived from the original on 2018-10-02. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  29. ^ News, VICE (2019-05-24). "What It Takes to Make a Hollywood Mockbuster, the "Slightly Shittier" Blockbuster". Vice News. Archived from the original on 2019-05-29. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  30. ^ Adventures of Aladdin (2019), retrieved 2019-05-29
  31. ^ "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp - Rabbit Ears". www.rabbitears.com. Archived from the original on 2019-04-10. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  32. ^ "চেরাগের দৈত্য I Humayun Ahmed I Jayanta Chattopadhyay" (in Bengali). NTV Natok – via YouTube.
  33. ^ "নগরে দৈত্য I Humayun Ahmed I Jayanta Chattopadhyay" (in Bengali). Laser Vision – via YouTube.
  34. ^ "নিতুর ঘরে ফেরা I Humayun Ahmed I Jayanta Chattopadhyay" (in Bengali). Laser Vision Natok – via YouTube.
  35. ^ "Aladin et la Lampe Merveilleuse PC, Mac | 2010". Planete Jeu (in French). Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  36. ^ Beyond Expectations: Integrated Report (PDF). Sega Sammy Holdings. 2017. p. 73. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-02-26. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  37. ^ Graser, Marc (2 August 2013). "'Dark Knight' Producer Plays Pachinko to Launch Next Franchise (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Archived from the original on 29 November 2019. Retrieved 23 November 2019.


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