The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, Volume 1: by John Payne


1. The visible and the invisible. Some authorities make it three worlds (those of men, of the angels and of the Jinn or genii), and ethers more.

2. The Arabic word for island (jezireh) signifies also "peninsula," and doubtless here used in the latter sense. The double meaning of the word should be borne in mind, as it explains many apparent discrepancies in Oriental tales.

3. A powerful species of genie. The name is generally (but not invariably) applied to an evil spirit.

4. God on thee! abbreviated form of "I conjure thee (or call on thee) by God!"

5. lit. bull

6. Epithet of the ass and the cock. The best equivalent would be the French "Père L'Eveillé."

7. i.e. stupid.

8. The Arabic word for garden (bustan) applies to any cultivated or fertile spot, abounding in trees. An European would call such a place as that mentioned in the tale an oasis.

9. in preparation for death.

10. Jinn, plural of genie.

11. A dinar (Lat. denarius) is a gold coin worth about 10s.

12. i.e. I have nothing to give thee.

13. A dirhem (Gr. drachma) is a silver coin worth about 6d.

14. Afriteh, a female Afrit. Afrit means strictly an evil spirit; but the term is not unfrequently applied to benevolent Jinn, as will appear in the course of these stories.

15. for his impatience.

16. A Marid is a genie of the most powerful class. The name generally, though not invariably, denotes an evil spirit.

17. Of Islam, which is fabled by the Muslims to have existed before Mohammed, under the headship, first of Abraham and afterwards of Solomon.

18. From this point I omit the invariable formula which introducer each night, as its constant repetition is only calculated to annoy the reader and content myself with noting the various nights in the margin. {which will not be included in this electronic version}

19. Probably the skin of some animal supposed to be a defence against poison.

20. Literally, "eyes adorned with kohl:" but this expression is evidently used tropically to denote a natural beauty of the eye, giving it that liquid appearance which it is the object of the use of the cosmetic in question to produce.

21. A fabulous tribe of giants mentioned in the Koran.

22. The word here translated "eye" may also be rendered "understanding." The exact meaning of the phrase (one of frequent recurrence in these stories) is doubtful.

23. A fabulous range of mountains which, according to Muslim cosmography, encompasses the world.

24. The prophet Mohammed.

25. Various kinds of cakes and sweetmeats.

26.  The appearance of which is the signal for the commencement of the fast. All eyes being on the watch, it naturally follows that the new moon of this month is generally seen at an earlier stage than are those of the other months of the year. and its crescent is therefore apparently more slender. Hence the comparison.

27. Caravanserai or public lodging-place.

28. A kind of religious mendicant.

29. One condition of which is that no violation of the ceremonial law (which prohibits the use of intoxicating liquors) be committed by the pilgrim, from the time of his assuming the pilgrim's habit to that of his putting it off; and this is construed by the stricter professors to take effect from the actual formation of the intent to make the pilgrimage. Haroun er Reshid, though a voluptuary, was (at all events, from time to time) a rigid observer of Muslim ritual.

30. It is a frequent practice, in the East, gently to rub and knead the feet, for the purpose of inducing sleep or gradually arousing a sleeper.

31. An expression frequent in Oriental works, meaning "The situations suggested such and such words or thoughts."

32. Religious mendicants.

33. Referring, of course, to the wine, which it appears to have been customary to drink warm or boiled (vinum coctum) as among several ancient nations and in Japan and China at the present day.

34. Or chapter or formula.

35.  A play upon words is here intended turning upon the double meaning ("aloes" and "patience") of the Arabic word sebr.

36. See note on p. 120. {Vol. 1, FN#35}

37. Dar es Selam.

38. A certain fixed succession of prayers and acts of adoration is called a rekah (or bow) from the inclination of the body that occurs in it. The ordained prayers, occurring five times a day, consist of a certain number of rekahs.

39. i.e. "There is no god but God", etc.

40. or sinister conjunction of the planets.

41. Menkeleh, a game played with a board and draughtmen, partaking of the character of backgammon, draughts and fox-and-geese.

42. A common Oriental substitute for soap.

43. i.e. newly dug over.

44. lit. rukh.

45.  A sweet-scented, variegated wood.

46. The Arabs consider a slight division of the two middle teeth a beauty.

47. The Egyptian privet; a plant whose flowers have a very delicious fragrance.

48. A kind of mocking-bird.

49. Of providence.

50. Literally, "O my eyes!"

51. A niche in the wall, which indicates the position the worshipper must assume, in order to face Mecca, in accordance with the ritual of prayer.

52. cf. Germ. Zuckerpuppchen.

53. i.e., moles, which are considered a great beauty in the East.

54. A female genie.

55. The unveiling or displaying of the bride before her husband is the culminating ceremony of a Muslim wedding of the better class. The bride is always displayed in the richest clothes and ornament that can be mustered or borrowed for the occasion.

56. Moles?

57. There is a play upon words in this line, founded upon the double meaning of the word shirk, sharing (or partnership) and polytheism or the attributing partners or equals to God (as in the Trinity), the one unpardonable sin of the Muslim religious code.

58. Both afterwards Khalifs.

59. i.e. God.

60. lit "though lying save, yet truth saves and saves."

61. On which she sits to be displayed.

62. Placed there for the purpose of the ablution prescribed by the ceremonial law.

63. Speaking, of course, ironically and supposing Bedreddin to be the hunchback.

64. Bedreddin.

65. Mosul is a town of Mesopotamia, some two hundred miles N.E. of Baghdad. It is celebrated for its silk and muslin manufactories. The Mosulis doubtless set the fashion in turbans to the inhabitants of Baghdad and Bassora, and it would appear from the Vizier's remark that this fashion was notably different from that followed at Cairo.

66. Eye-powder. The application of kohl to an infant's eyes is supposed to be beneficial.

67. The North wind holds the same place in Oriental metaphor and poetry as does the West wind in those of Europe.

68. Or kernel.

69. lit. puppet or lay figure.

70. Mole.

71. A well-known legist and Cadi of Cufa in the seventh century.

72. The Sun.

73. The word melik 'king,' by changing the second (unwritten) vowel to e becomes melek 'angel'.

74. A measure of about five bushels.

75. The left hand is considered unclean, being used for certain ablutions, and it is therefore a breach of good manners to use it in eating.

76. Between the two palaces.

77. Apparently said in jest.

78. i.e. do not forget me.

79. A kind of edible arum.

80. This is apparently some proverbial saying. The meaning appears to be, "Let every man be judge of his own case."

81. That none might stare at or jostle her.

82. About a hundred and twenty-five pounds.

83. About five hundred pounds.

84. i.e. of prime cost.

85. The face of a mistress.

86. It is a common Oriental figure to liken a languishing eye to a dying narcissus.

87. One of the companions of Mohammed.

88. Prater.

89. Babbler.

90. Gabbler.

91. The Stone Mug.

92. The Braggart.

93. Noisy.

94. Silent.

95. Mohammed.

96. Or attendant on the people in the bath.

97. i.e. a stoker or man who keeps up the fire in the baths.

98. A sort of sermon, which immediately follows, the noontide call to prayer on Fridays.

99. Preliminary to the call to prayer.

100. A.H. 623-640.

101. A leather rug on which they make criminals kneel to be beheaded.

102. It will be seen that the stories told by the barber do not account for the infirmities of all his brothers, as this would imply.

103. A formula of refusal.

104. lit. ladder; a sort of frame, like the triangles to which they bound criminals sentenced to be flogged.

105. Dinars; 100,000 dirhems would be only five thousand dinars and it will be seen from the sequel that El Feshar proposed to spend half that amount upon the dowry and presents to the tire-women alone.

106. i.e. try this.

107. The moon is masculine in Arabic.

108. Mohammed.

109. Or Hajji, pilgrim; title given to those who have made the pilgrimage to Mecca.

110. lit. the fundamentals are remembered.

111. i.e. chanting the ninety-nine names of God or repeating the words "There is no god but God."

112. i.e. a fair faced cup bearer.

113. Generally, the floating ends of the turban. This was for the purpose of concealment and is a common practice with the Bedouins.

114. The name Kerim means "generous."

115. Or perhaps "cancelled."

116. To simulate the customary evidence of virginity.

117. Names of her waiting women.

118. Of providence.

119. i.e. monarch of Persia, the realm of the ancient Kisras or Chosroes.

120. Fitneh.