Day 91: Scheherazade

scheherazade 1

And the countdown begins.

For the last ten days, I’ve picked ten stories and am illustrating them in circular windows. I can tell you, choosing them was hell and painting these are going to be a wonderful nightmare. Wonderful because I love doing this, and nightmare because it is driving me batshit crazy. I spent about seven hours on this one, around five of which were spent on itsy-bitsy details with the paper about three inches from my face, but worth it. So worth it.

Anyhoo, that aside, I figured the best way to begin a series of story windows is with a tale of a famed storyteller. Schereherazade was the narrator of the famous One Thousand and One Nights. Her father was the grand vizier to King Shahrayar, whose wife had been unfaithful to him. Thus, the king resolved to marry a new virgin everyday and behead the previous day’s wife so that she could never be unfaithful. I know, completely insane. Anyway, nearly a thousand young women died until the turn of the vizier’s daughter came.

Now, the vizier was terrified for his daughter, but she was a clever and resourceful woman. She hatched a plan with her younger sister, Dunyazade, and once she had married the king and was in his chambers, she asked if she might ask for a final wish and bid farewell to her sister. The king agreed, the sisters met, and Dunyazade begged Scheherazade for one final story.

scheherazade 2

Scheherazade, who was well-read in history, folklore, poetry, and scholarly works, began telling Dunyazade a story. The hours of night passed and both the king and Dunyazade listened with rapt attention. Scheherazade always stopped in the middle though, saying that dawn was breaking and it was time for her to die. The king, wanting to know how the story ended, decided to spare her life for another day. The next night, Scheherazade finished that story and began another one, and on and on for a thousand and one nights. These stories included the well-known ones of Aladdin and his magic lamp, the adventures of Sinbad, and Ali Baba and the forty thieves, the three of which are illustrated here.

scheherazade 3

Anyway, at the end of the thousand and one nights, the king realized that he had fallen in love with Scheherazade, and made her his queen. I notice they gloss over the fact that he killed over a thousand innocent virgins before meeting Scheherazade and being won over by stories, but it’s a folktale set in a completely different day and age, so let’s move along.

This story has been adapted a number of times, in books, plays, movies, even a ballet.

A few fun facts:

  • The screen pattern on the title and the window are made to match. One is meant to be a window, the other a tile pattern.
  • Scheherazade’s and Dunyazade’s jewelry is based off Afghan traditional styles rather than Persian. I just really like Afghan jewelry.
  • Sinbad’s ship is based off the one in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas by Dreamworks Animation. I think that movie is terribly underrated.
  • Yes, Aladdin is based off the design in Disney, but I’ve made him younger. In the original story, he was just a boy when he found the lamp. It was only after he used the genie to make himself and his mother wealthy merchants did he come across the princess Badroulbadour.

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