The origins of Aladdin


The tale of ‘Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp’ originates as one story in the epic

‘1001 Nights’ or ‘Arabian Nights’. The original is set in China, but a very

Arabian China (populated with the same genies and magicians that inhabit

the rest of the tales).


The ‘Arabian Nights’ collection of stories was first recorded in the 9th Century,

with tales brought together from China and places in the East. In 942 AD the

collection contained only 264 stories. It is believed that others, including ‘Aladdin’

were added later during European translations in the 18th Century, when the number increased.

Originally these tales were supposed to be the stories told by Scheherazade to her husband, the King. The King, set on revenge after his first wife was unfaithful to him, decided to marry each day, and execute his wife the next morning. Not surprisingly the wives were in short supply, and it became the turn of the Vizier’s daughter, Scheherazade.

Scheherazade hit on a plan to remain alive for as long as possible, and each night would tell her husband a thrilling story, promising to complete it the following day. Eventually, after 1001 nights of entertaining stories the King abandoned his cruel plot and Scheherazade was saved.


Aladdin : A Summary


Aladdin lives in China with his mother, Widow Twankey. They are poor and Widow Twankey works very long hours in a launderette in Peking. Aladdin always tries to avoid hard work which does not impress his mother one bit.

Enter villain Abanazar, who offers Aladdin the chance to get rich. He gives Aladdin a magic ring, asking him to do a favour in return. Abanazar tells Aladdin to go deep into a cave and bring him an old lamp. However, Abanazar tries to trick Aladdin by telling him to pass up the lamp, while plotting to leave Aladdin in the cave. Guessing that a trick is being played on him, Aladdin won’t hand over the lamp, so Abanazar refuses to let Aladdin out and seals the cave forever with a magic spell.


Finding himself trapped, Aladdin rubs his hands in despair, inadvertently rubbing the ring which conjures a genie, the Slave of the Ring. With the help of the genie, Aladdin eventually escapes out of the cave with the lamp.

The lamp contains a Genie, who can grant 3 wishes. Through the Genie’s wishes, Aladdin and his mother, Widow Twankey, become very rich, but Aladdin’s life is not complete. Aladdin knows of a beautiful girl, Princess Jasmine, the Emperor’s daughter, whom he wants to marry. With the help of the Genie of the Lamp, the Emperor agrees to the marriage and Aladdin and his new Princess bride live very well - never wishing for anything more. The Genie builds Aladdin a wonderful palace - far more magnificent than that of the Emperor himself.


But, it is not yet a happy ending. Abanazar returns with a plan to trick Jasmine, who is unaware of the lamp's importance, into exchanging the lamp for a new, non- magical one. Once he has his hands on the lamp, he orders the Genie to take the palace and the Princess, to his home in a hidden desert in Egypt. Fortunately, Aladdin retains the magic ring and is able to summon the Slave of the Ring. Although the lesser genie cannot directly undo any of the magic of the Genie of the Lamp, he is able to transport Aladdin to Egypt, and help him recover his wife and the lamp, and defeat Abanazar.