Trivia: Aladdin was Chinese

In the original text of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, the story of Aladdin was set in China.

In fact, Aladdin was a little Chinese boy.


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No Arabic source has been traced for the tale, which was incorporated into the book One Thousand and One Nights by its French translator, Antoine Galland, who heard it from an Arab Syrian storyteller from Aleppo. Galland's diary (March 25, 1709) records that he met the Maronite scholar, by name Youhenna Diab ("Hanna"), who had been brought from Aleppo to Paris by Paul Lucas, a celebrated French traveller. Galland's diary also tells that his translation of "Aladdin" was made in the winter of 1709–10. It was included in his volumes ix and x of the Nights, published in 1710.

John Payne, Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp and Other Stories, (London 1901) gives details of Galland's encounter with the man he referred to as "Hanna" and the discovery in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris of two Arabic manuscripts containing Aladdin (with two more of the "interpolated" tales). One is a jumbled late 18th century Syrian version. The more interesting one, in a manuscript that belonged to the scholar M. Caussin de Perceval, is a copy of a manuscript made in Baghdad in 1703. It was purchased by the Bibliothèque Nationale at the end of the nineteenth century.

Although Aladdin is a Middle-Eastern tale, the story is set in China, and Aladdin is explicitly Chinese.[3] However, the "China" of the story is an Islamic country, where most people are Muslims; there is a Jewish merchant who buys Aladdin's wares (and incidentally cheats him), but there is no mention of Buddhists or Confucians. Everybody in this country bears an Arabic name and its monarch seems much more like a Muslim ruler than a Chinese emperor. Some commentators believe that this suggests that the story might be set in Turkestan (encompassing Central Asia and the modern Chinese province of Xinjiang).[4] It has to be said that this speculation depends on a knowledge of China that the teller of a folk tale (as opposed to a geographic expert) might well not possess,[5] and that a deliberately exotic setting is in any case a common story tellers' device.

For a narrator unaware of the existence of America, Aladdin's "China" would represent "the Utter East" while the sorcerer's homeland in the Maghreb (Northern Africa) represented "the Utter West". In the beginning of the tale, the sorcerer's taking the effort to make such a long journey, the longest conceivable in the narrator's (and his listeners') perception of the world, underlines the sorcerer's determination to gain the lamp and hence the lamp's great value. In the later episodes, the instantaneous transitions from the east to the west and back, performed effortlessly by the Djinn, make their power all the more marvellous.

From wikipedia
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In the earliest known origin of the story, Aladdin is from a land in the east, which geographicaly makes it china, however as a folk tale, it more than likely does not refer to any geographical land at all.

Folk tales which tell of a land in the east are not uncommon, as all cultures are aware that the sun rises in the east, and that is the basis of Mystical lands in the east (see Celtic, Indian even Chinese)

if Aladdin is indeed an original folk tale and not a more modern creation, then China is a modern addition to a tale that most likely does not even acknowledge china existing when the story was created..
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