Monday, February 04, 2008

three princes from India

fairy tale illustration

Illustration by J. D. Batten to the story
"The Three Princes and Princess Nouronnihar"
in E. Dixon (ed): Fairy Tales from the Arabian Nights (1893)
@ Wollamshram World

In this story, each of the three princes contributes to achieving the end of saving the princess from a near fatal illness: the eldest acquires a tube that allows him to see at a great distance (and hence learn of her fate), the second has a carpet that allows the princes to travel quickly to her bedside, and the youngest has an artificial apple that is a panacea or universal remedy for any ailment.

In determining which prince will take the maiden in marriage, the sultan orders that each shoot an arrow with the one shooting farthest obtaining the princess as wife.

The sultan did not make them wait long; and as soon as he arrived, Prince Houssain, as the eldest, took his bow and arrow, and shot first. Prince Ali shot next, and much beyond him; and Prince Ahmed last of all; but it so happened, that nobody could see where his arrow fell; and, notwithstanding all the search of himself and everybody else, it was not to be found far or near. And though it was believed that he shot the farthest, and that he therefore deserved the Princess Nouronnihar, it was necessary that his arrow should be found, to make the matter evident and certain; so, notwithstanding his remonstrances, the sultan determined in favour of Prince Ali, and gave orders for preparations to be made for the wedding, which was celebrated a few days afterwards with great magnificence.

from E. Dixon (ed): The Three Princes and Princess Nouronnihar

This is a really odd ending. It seems contrived and unfair, especially when compared to the outcome of almost every other known fairy tale of its sort. I certainly know of no other exception to the rule that gives the bride to the youngest of the three sons. I'm not sure - just now - what to make of this curiosity.

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At Sunday, 13 September, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typical islamic not letting a woman decide. No, do a little competition, say a few lies (princes and princeses) and unfair.


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