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What nationality was Aladdin?

Arabian Nights is one of the most famous stories ever told.

It's unique blend of adventure, magic, mystery and exotic locations has thrilled countless generations down the years. So you'd have thought something as fundamental as the apparently obvious race of the lead character, Aladdin, would be known to all by now. Guess what? He's been Chinese all along.

The Aladdin story is part of the "One thousand and One Nights" told by Scheherazade, a concubine who's life literally depended on her not completing a story in order to keep the Sultan hanging on for more, because if he thought he'd no futher use for her, he''d have her killed.

The legend goes that Aladdin, the story, was created as part of this, along with the Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves story and the Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor, amongst others.

Pretty much everything changed

In the original:

  • Aladdin was Chinese, not Arabian
  • Aladdin was not an orphan, he lived with his mother
  • He was not a foreigner but a native to the land he lived in, China

Apart from that, the version we're all familiar with today is pretty faithful to the original ;-)