Archive for the ‘Arabian nights’ Tag

Sindbad in Garšūnī   2 comments

The story of Sin(d)bad the Sailor, in Arabic Sindbād al-baḥrī, is known, at least nominally, in various incarnations (such as this 1958 film), but it was especially the French adaptation of The Thousand and One Nights (Alf layla wa-layla) by Antoine Galland, into which the story of Sindbad had been inserted, that first made the series of his seven voyages familiar in Europe. Recently, while looking over a Garšūnī manuscript from the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo containing The Colloquy of Moses, a text that survives in a few languages and on which I have been collecting some evidence, followed by a short, as yet unidentified, religious text, I came to the next work, the beginning of which was missing. The first rubric I found, a few folios into this new text, was simply “The third story [ḥikāya]”, but upon reading a bit of it, it was immediately clear that the text was The Seven Voyages of Sindbad. I had no Arabic text to check it against, and I still do not have one, but the text here is most certainly the same collection known from European versions of The Thousand and One Nights. The text in the folio images below corresponds, for example, to vol. 6, pp. 37-38, of the first edition of Richard Burton’s version of the stories. The text in this manuscript, SOAA 124(m), goes from ff. 98r-165v, and brings the codex to an end. The beginning, as intimated above, is missing: the story is extant from partway into the second voyage to the end. Some folios are missing elsewhere in the text, in addition to the initial lacuna. There are at least two scribes for the manuscript, in this text and the rest of the book, neither of whom recorded a date, but it is not, I think, particularly young.

Unexpected finds such as this make cataloging and manuscript-rummaging delightful work, and they also serve, especially in their accumulation, to remind us of the multifarious quality of a people’s literary (and thus, cultural) corpus.


U. Marzolph, “Sindbād (the sailor),” in Encyclopaedia of Islam, vol. 9, pp. 638-640.

Ff. 117v-118r

Ff. 118v-119r

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