The third and final pattern in the Fairy Tale KAL will be based on a Persian Fairy Tale from the Arabian Nights – Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.  The pattern will be available to the KAL participants on Feb 15.  It’s knit in Silk Lace from Sundara Yarn.  1 skein of Silk Lace in Ruby Port, or perhaps Turning Leaves or Fire Studies.

In a town in Persia lived two brothers, one named Cassim and the other Ali Baba. Cassim was married to a rich wife, while Ali Baba had to support his wife and children by cutting wood in a nearby forest. One day when Ali Baba was in the forest, he saw a group of men on horseback. He was afraid they were robbers, and hid from them. The men came into the clearing, dismounted and the leader went in amongst some bushes and said: “Open, Sesame!” so clearly that Ali Baba heard him. A door opened in the rock and the group went inside. The door shut itself again. and after some time the door opened and the men came out. After the last one had exited, the leader said “Shut, Sesame!” Then the men mounted their horses and rode off.

Ali Baba came out from his hiding place and went to the hidden door and said “Open, Sesame!” and stepped inside. He was amazed to find a cave full of riches – silk, gold and silver in heaps, and money. He brought out as many bags of gold as he thought his mules could carry, and hid it under the branches he had chopped down during the day. Then he said “Shut, Sesame!” and went home.

When he came home he showed his wife the gold and asked her to keep it a secret, and that they should bury the gold. “Let me first measure it” said his wife. “I will go borrow a measure from your brother while you dig the hole.” So she ran off to borrow a measure. But Cassim’s wife was curious to see what sort of grain she was measuring so she but some wax on the bottom of the measure before giving it to her. Ali Baba’s wife ran home and measured all the gold, and then brought it back to her sister in law, without noticing that a piece of gold was stuck to the bottom. When Cassim’s wife saw the gold she told Cassim, and Cassim confronted Ali Baba. When he found out about the treasure, he too wanted to visit the cave. Ali Baba, out of kindness more than out of fear, told him of the cave and the words to use.

Cassim set out the next morning to get treasure for himself. He soon found the place and said “Open, Sesame!” and the door opened and shut behind him. He gathered as much treasure as he could carry, but when it was time to go, he could not remember what to say. Instead of Sesame, he said “Open, Barley!” but the door remained shut. He named all sorts of different grains, all but the right one, but he was stuck.

Later that day, the robbers came to the cave and discovered Cassim there. They killed him and cut his body into four quarters and hung them up inside the cave, in order to frighten anyone who might venture in.

When Cassim hadn’t returned home in the evening, Ali Baba was worried, and set out to search for him. The first thing he saw when entering the cave was his dead brother. Full of horror, he cut the body home and brought him home. When he entered his home, the door was opened by the slave Morgiana, whom he knew to be both brave and cunning. They knew that they could not let the neighbours know of Cassim’s fate, as word might spread to the robbers. So the next day, Morgiana set out to get medicine for Cassim, and spread the word that he was ill. Therefore, in the evening, no one was surprised to hear the miserable cries and shrieks from Cassim’s wife and Morgiana, telling everyone that Cassim was dead. The next day, Morgiana went to an old cobbler, gave him a piece of gold and asked him to follow her with a needle and thread. Having blindfolded him, she took him to Cassim and asked him to sew the quarters together, and then brought him back home blindfolded. They then buried Cassim.

When the robbers returned to their cave and found that Cassim’s body had been removed, they realized he must have had an accomplice. They sent in a robber to the city, disguised as a traveler, and he just happened to come upon the cobbler. The thief asked him “Old man, how can you possibly see to stitch at your age?” “Old as I am” answered the cobbler” I have very good eyes. Will you believe me when I tell you that I sewed a dead body together in a place where I had less light than I have now?” The robber was delighted at his good fortune, and offered him a piece of gold in exchange for the location of the house where he stitched up the dead body. The cobbler replied that he had been blindfolded, but in exchange for another piece of gold, he donned another blindfold and managed to walk to the right house. The robber marked the door of the house with a piece of chalk, and decided to return in the evening with the other robbers. Morgiana happened to see the chalk mark, and quickly realized that some trouble was brewing. She fetched a piece of chalk and marked all the other doors in the neighbourhood.

In the evening when the robbers returned, they couldn’t find the right house. The leader was furious, and the robber was beheaded in the evening for having failed. The next day, another robber was sent to the city. Having won over the cobbler, he found the house and marked it by chipping out a piece of the gate. But Morgiana was too clever for the robbers and chipped out a matching piece of each of the gates in the neighbourhoods. So the second robber was also put to death.

The leader resolved to go himself the next day. But since he was wiser than the others, he did not mark the house, but looked at it so closely that he could not fail to remember it. Then he returned to his robbers and ordered them to go to neighbouring villages and purchase 19 mules and 38 barrels – all empty except one, which was full of oil. He put one of his men, fully armed, into each, rubbing the outside of the barrels with oil from the full barrel. Then the mules were loaded with thirty-seven robbers in barrels and a barrel of oil, and they reached Ali Baba’s town by sunset. The leader stopped his mules in front of Ali Baba’s house, and approached Ali Baba. “I have come to sell oil in the market tomorrow, but it is now so late that I don’t know where to spend the night, unless you would do me the favour of taking me in.” Ali Baba did not recognize the leader in his disguise, and welcomed the oil merchant into his home. He asked Morgiana to prepare a bed and supper for his guest. He then kept his guest company.

Morgiana prepared the guest room for the oil merchant, but while doing so her lamp went out, and she had no more oil in the house. One of her fellow slaves suggested she take some from one of the barrels belonging to the oil merchant. When she came close to the first barrel, the robber inside whispered “Is it time?” Any other slave would have screamed, but she quickly though of a plan and answered quietly “Not yet, but very soon.” She went to all the barrels, giving the same answer, and finally she came to the barrel of oil. She realized that her master had let 38 robbers into his house. She filled her oil pot, went back to the kitchen, and filled a large kettle with oil. When it boiled she went and poured enough oil into every barrel to stifle and kill the robber inside.

Shortly thereafter, Ali Baba called on Morgiana to entertain him and his guest. Morgiana performed an elaborate dance with a dagger, and brought it close to Ali Baba several times during the dance. As she approached the oil merchant, she stabbed him with her dagger and he fell dead to the floor. Ali Baba was appalled until Morgiana explained that the oil merchant was a robber in disguise who had brought 37 more robbers into the house to kill Ali Baba. Ali Baba thanked her, and gave Morgiana her freedom and offered her to his son in marriage, saying he owed her his life. He told his son the secret of the cave, which his son handed down in turn to his children and grandchildren. So the heirs of Ali Baba were rich to the end of their lives.


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