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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sinbaad The Sailor

Sinbad the Sailor (also spelled Sindbad; Persian Sendbad; Hindi Arabic as-Sindibad al-Bahri) is a story-cycle of ancient Middle Eastern origin. Sinbad is a Persian word hinting at a Persian origin. In fact some scholars believe that the book of Sindbad, as such, was originally compiled in Sassanid Persia, in the Middle Persian language, and that while it is not a translation of a pre-existing Sanskrit work, its author was familiar with Indian narrative and nomic works, presumably in Middle Persian translations.The oldest texts of the cycle are however in Arabic, and no ancient or medieval Persian version has survived. A variation of the name, Smbat, can also be found in Armenia, as well as the version Lempad of his father's name Lambad.

Sinbad, the hero of the stories, is a sailor from Basrah, living during the Abbasid Caliphate. The stories themselves are based partly on real experiences of sailors around the Indian Ocean, partly on ancient poetry (including Homer's Odyssey and Vishnu Sarma's Panchatantra), and partly upon Arab, Indian and Persian collections of tales. They recount the fantastic adventures of Sinbad during his voyages throughout the seas east of Africa and south of Asia.

The collection is tale 133 in Volume 6 of Sir Richard Burton's translation of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights).This remains the classic translation in English (famed as much for Burton's footnotes as for the tales themselves), but modern readers are perhaps more familiar with abridged versions produced for a more juvenile audience. While Burton and other Western translators have grouped the Sinbad stories within the tales of Scheherazade in the Arabian Nights, its origin appears to have been quite independent from that story cycle and modern translations by Arab scholars often do not include the stories of Sinbad or several other of the Arabian Nights that have become familiar to Western audiences.

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