Sinbad (or Sindbad) /ˈsɪnbæd/ the Sailor (Arabic: السندباد البحري, translit. as-Sindibādu al-Baḥriyy) is a fictional mariner and the hero of a story-cycle of Middle Eastern origin. He is described as hailing from Baghdad during the early Abbasid Caliphate (8th and 9th centuries CE). In the course of seven voyages throughout the seas east of Africa and south of Asia, he has fantastic adventures in magical realms, encountering monsters and witnessing supernatural phenomena.
The tales of Sinbad are a relatively late addition to the One Thousand and One Nights – they do not feature in the earliest 14th-century manuscript, and they appear as an independent cycle in 17th and 18th century collections. The first known point at which they are associated with the Nights is a Turkish collection dated 1637. Traceable influences include the Homeric epics (long familiar in the Arabic-speaking world, having been translated into that language as early as the 8th century CE, at the court of the Caliph al-Mahdi), Pseudo-Callisthenes's "Life of Alexander" from the late 3rd/early 4th century CE via the 9th century "Book of Animals" of al-Jahiz, and, even earlier, in the ancient Egyptian "Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor". Later sources include Abbasid works such the "Wonders of the Created World", reflecting the experiences of 13th century Arab mariners who braved the Indian Ocean.
The Sinbad cycle is set in the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid (786–809). The Sinbad tales are included in the first European translation of the Nights, Galland's Les Mille et une nuits, contes arabes traduits en français, an English edition of which appeared in 1711 as The new Arabian winter nights entertainments and went through numerous editions throughout the 18th century.
The earliest separate publication of the Sinbad tales in English found in the British Library is an adaptation as The Adventures of Houran Banow, etc. (Taken from the Arabian Nights, being the third and fourth voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.), around 1770. An early US edition, The seven voyages of Sinbad the sailor. And The story of Aladdin; or, The wonderful lamp, was published in Philadelphia in 1794. Numerous popular editions followed in the early 19th century, including a chapbook edition by Thomas Tegg. Its best known full translation was perhaps as tale 120 in Volume 6 of Sir Richard Burton's 1885 translation of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights.
Like the 1001 Nights the Sinbad story-cycle has a frame story which goes as follows: in the days of Harun al-Rashid, Caliph of Baghdad, a poor porter (one who carries goods for others in the market and throughout the city) pauses to rest on a bench outside the gate of a rich merchant's house, where he complains to Allah about the injustice of a world which allows the rich to live in ease while he must toil and yet remain poor. The owner of the house hears and sends for the porter, finding that they are both named Sinbad. The rich Sinbad tells the poor Sinbad that he became wealthy "by Fortune and Fate" in the course of seven wondrous voyages, which he then proceeds to relate.
After dissipating the wealth left to him by his father, Sinbad goes to sea to repair his fortune. He sets ashore on what appears to be an island, but this island proves to be a gigantic sleeping whale on which trees have taken root ever since the whale was young. Awakened by a fire kindled by the sailors, the whale dives into the depths, the ship departs without Sinbad, and Sinbad is saved by the chance of a passing wooden trough sent by the grace of Allah. He is washed ashore on a densely wooded island. While exploring the deserted island he comes across one of the king's grooms. When Sinbad helps save the King's mare from being drowned by a sea horse (not a seahorse as we know it, but a supernatural horse that lives underwater), the groom brings Sinbad to the king. The king befriends Sinbad and so he rises in the king's favour and becomes a trusted courtier. One day, the very ship on which Sinbad set sail docks at the island, and he reclaims his goods (still in the ship's hold). Sinbad gives the king his goods and in return the king gives him rich presents. Sinbad sells these presents for a great profit. Sinbad returns to Baghdad where he resumes a life of ease and pleasure. With the ending of the tale, Sinbad the sailor makes Sinbad the porter a gift of a hundred gold pieces, and bids him return the next day to hear more about his adventures.
On the second day of Sinbad's tale-telling (but the 549th night of Scheherazade's), Sinbad the sailor tells how he grew restless of his life of leisure, and set to sea again, "possessed with the thought of traveling about the world of men and seeing their cities and islands." Accidentally abandoned by his shipmates again, he finds himself stranded in an island which contains roc eggs. He attaches himself to a roc and is transported to a valley of giant snakes which can swallow elephants (like the Bashe); these serve as the rocs' natural prey. The floor of the valley is carpeted with diamonds, and merchants harvest these by throwing huge chunks of meat into the valley: the birds carry the meat back to their nests, and the men drive the birds away and collect the diamonds stuck to the meat. The wily Sinbad straps one of the pieces of meat to his back and is carried back to the nest along with a large sack full of precious gems. Rescued from the nest by the merchants, he returns to Baghdad with a fortune in diamonds, seeing many marvels along the way.
Restless for travel and adventure, Sinbad sets sail again from Basra. But by ill chance he and his companions are cast up on an island where they are captured by "a huge creature in the likeness of a man, black of colour, ...with eyes like coals of fire and large canine teeth like boar's tusks and a vast big gape like the mouth of a well. Moreover, he had long loose lips like camel's, hanging down upon his breast, and ears like two Jarms falling over his shoulder-blades, and the nails of his hands were like the claws of a lion." This monster begins eating the crew, beginning with the Reis (captain), who is the fattest. (Burton notes that the giant "is distinctly Polyphemus").
Sinbad hatches a plan to blind the beast with the two red-hot iron spits with which the monster has been kebabing and roasting the ship's company. He and the remaining men escape on a raft they constructed the day before. However, the Giant's mate hits most of the escaping men with rocks and they are killed. After further adventures (including a gigantic python from which Sinbad escapes using his quick wits), he returns to Baghdad, wealthier than ever.
Impelled by restlessness Sinbad takes to the seas again and, as usual, is shipwrecked. The naked savages amongst whom he finds himself feed his companions a herb which robs them of their reason (Burton theorises that this might be bhang), prior to fattening them for the table. Sinbad realises what is happening, and refuses to eat the madness-inducing plant. When the cannibals have lost interest in him, he escapes. A party of itinerant pepper-gatherers transports him to their own island, where their king befriends him and gives him a beautiful and wealthy wife.
Too late Sinbad learns of a peculiar custom of the land: on the death of one marriage partner, the other is buried alive with his or her spouse, both in their finest clothes and most costly jewels. Sinbad's wife falls ill and dies soon after, leaving Sinbad trapped in an underground cavern, a communal tomb, with a jug of water and seven pieces of bread. Just as these meagre supplies are almost exhausted, another couple—the husband dead, the wife alive—are dropped into the cavern. Sinbad bludgeons the wife to death and takes her rations.
Such episodes continue; soon he has a sizable store of bread and water, as well as the gold and gems from the corpses, but is still unable to escape, until one day a wild animal shows him a passage to the outside, high above the sea. From here a passing ship rescues him and carries him back to Baghdad, where he gives alms to the poor and resumes his life of pleasure. (Burton's footnote comments: "This tale is evidently taken from the escape of Aristomenes the Messenian from the pit into which he had been thrown, a fox being his guide. The Arabs in an early day were eager students of Greek literature.") Similarly, the first half of the voyage resembles the Circe episode in The Odyssey, with certain differences: while a plant robbed Sinbad's men of their reason in the Arab tales, it was only Circe's magic which "fattened" Odysseus' men in The Odyssey. It is in an earlier episode, featuring the 'Lotus Eaters', that Odysseus' men are fed a similar magical fruit which robs them of their senses.
"When I had been a while on shore after my fourth voyage; and when, in my comfort and pleasures and merry-makings and in my rejoicing over my large gains and profits, I had forgotten all I had endured of perils and sufferings, the carnal man was again seized with the longing to travel and to see foreign countries and islands." Soon at sea once more, while passing a desert island Sinbad's crew spots a gigantic egg that Sinbad recognizes as belonging to a roc. Out of curiosity the ship's passengers disembark to view the egg, only to end up breaking it and having the chick inside as a meal. Sinbad immediately recognizes the folly of their behaviour and orders all back aboard ship. However, the infuriated parent rocs soon catch up with the vessel and destroy it by dropping giant boulders they have carried in their talons.
Shipwrecked yet again, Sinbad is enslaved by the Old Man of the Sea, who rides on his shoulders with his legs twisted round Sinbad's neck and will not let go, riding him both day and night until Sinbad would welcome death. (Burton's footnote discusses possible origins for the old man—the orang-utan, the Greek god Triton—and favours the African custom of riding on slaves in this way.)
Eventually, Sinbad makes wine and tricks the Old Man into drinking some. Sinbad kills him after he has fallen off, and then he escapes. A ship carries him to the City of the Apes, a place whose inhabitants spend each night in boats off-shore, while their town is abandoned to man-eating apes. Yet through the apes Sinbad recoups his fortune, and so eventually finds a ship which takes him home once more to Baghdad.
"My soul yearned for travel and traffic". Sinbad is shipwrecked yet again, this time quite violently as his ship is dashed to pieces on tall cliffs. There is no food to be had anywhere, and Sinbad's companions die of starvation until only he is left. He builds a raft and discovers a river running out of a cavern beneath the cliffs. The stream proves to be filled with precious stones and becomes apparent that the island's streams flow with ambergris. He falls asleep as he journeys through the darkness and awakens in the city of the king of Serendib (Ceylon, Sri Lanka), "diamonds are in its rivers and pearls are in its valleys". The king marvels at what Sinbad tells him of the great Haroun al-Rashid, and asks that he take a present back to Baghdad on his behalf, a cup carved from a single ruby, with other gifts including a bed made from the skin of the serpent that swallowed the elephant[a] ("and whoso sitteth upon it never sickeneth"), and "a hundred thousand miskals of Sindh lign-aloesa", and a slave-girl "like a shining moon". And so Sinbad returns to Baghdad, where the Caliph wonders greatly at the reports Sinbad gives of the land of Ceylon.
The ever-restless Sinbad sets sail once more, with the usual result. Cast up on a desolate shore, he constructs a raft and floats down a nearby river to a great city. Here the chief of the merchants weds Sinbad to his daughter, names him his heir, and conveniently dies. The inhabitants of this city are transformed once a month into birds, and Sinbad has one of the bird-people carry him to the uppermost reaches of the sky, where he hears the angels glorifying God, "whereat I wondered and exclaimed, 'Praised be God! Extolled be the perfection of God!'" But no sooner are the words out than there comes fire from heaven which all but consumes the bird-men. The bird-people are angry with Sinbad and set him down on a mountain-top, where he meets two youths who are the servants of God and who give him a golden staff; returning to the city, Sinbad learns from his wife that the bird-men are devils, although she and her father are not of their number. And so, at his wife's suggestion, Sinbad sells all his possessions and returns with her to Baghdad, where at last he resolves to live quietly in the enjoyment of his wealth, and to seek no more adventures.
Burton includes a variant of the seventh tale, in which Haroun al-Rashid asks Sinbad to carry a return gift to the king of Serendib. Sinbad replies, "By Allah the Omnipotent, O my lord, I have taken a loathing to wayfare, and when I hear the words 'Voyage' or 'Travel,' my limbs tremble". He then tells the Caliph of his misfortune-filled voyages; Haroun agrees that with such a history "thou dost only right never even to talk of travel". Nevertheless, a command of the Caliph is not to be negated, and Sinbad sets forth on this, his uniquely diplomatic voyage. The king of Serendib is well pleased with the Caliph's gifts (which include, among other things, the food tray of King Solomon) and showers Sinbad with his favour. On the return voyage the usual catastrophe strikes: Sinbad is captured and sold into slavery. His master sets him to shooting elephants with a bow and arrow, which he does until the king of the elephants carries him off to the elephants' graveyard. Sinbad's master is so pleased with the huge quantities of ivory in the graveyard that he sets Sinbad free, and Sinbad returns to Baghdad, rich with ivory and gold. "Here I went in to the Caliph and, after saluting him and kissing hands, informed him of all that had befallen me; whereupon he rejoiced in my safety and thanked Almighty Allah; and he made my story be written in letters of gold. I then entered my house and met my family and brethren: and such is the end of the history that happened to me during my seven voyages. Praise be to Allah, the One, the Creator, the Maker of all things in Heaven and Earth!".
In some versions we return to the frame story, in which Sinbad the Porter may receive a final generous gift from Sinbad the Sailor. In other versions the story cycle ends here, and there is no further mention of Sinbad the Porter.
Sinbad's quasi-iconic status in Western culture has led to his name being recycled (as are virtually all names) for a wide range of uses in both serious and not-so-serious contexts, frequently with only a tenuous connection to the original tales.
Many films, television series, animated cartoons, novels, and video games have been made, featuring Sinbad not as a merchant who happens to stumble into adventures, but as a dashing dare-devil adventure-seeker.
A pair of foreign films that had nothing to do with the Sinbad character were released in North America, with the hero being referred to as "Sinbad" in the dubbed soundtrack. The 1952 Russian film Sadko (based on Rimsky-Korsakov's opera Sadko) was overdubbed and released in English in 1962 as The Magic Voyage of Sinbad, while the 1963 Japanese film Dai tozoku (whose main character was a heroic pirate named Sukezaemon) was overdubbed and released in English in 1965 as The Lost World of Sinbad.
Media related to Sindbad at Wikimedia Commons
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Pohádky tisíce a jedné noci (literally Tales of 1,001 Nights) is a 1974 Czech animated film directed by Karel Zeman. The film combines the voyages of Sindbad the Sailor with elements of other tales from the Arabian Nights. Released in America as Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor, it is also known as A Thousand and One Nights. The film was animated using paper cutouts and draws its visual inspiration from Persian miniatures.Alif Laila
Alif Laila (Urdu: اَلف لَیلیٰ) is an Indian television series based on the One Thousand and One Nights, also known as the Arabian Nights. It was produced by Sagar Films (Pvt. Ltd.). It was made in two seasons: the original broadcast in 1993 on DD National. The popularity of the show led to it receiving syndicated airing in Bengali on BTV, Gazi Television, and ETV (Bangladesh). The show started re-airing from 2012 on every weekdays on Dhamaal TV and its sister channel Dabangg TV.The plot line of the series starts from the very beginning when Shahrzad starts telling stories to Shahryar and contains both the well-known and the lesser-known stories from the One Thousand and One Nights which are mentioned here. The name Alif Laila is a short form of the original Arabic title of the One Thousand and One Nights - Alif Layla wa-Layla (Arabic: ألف ليلة وليلة).Janbaaz Sindbad
Janbaaz Sindbad is an Indian adventurous fantasy television series, which premiered on 27 December 2015, and is broadcast on Zee TV. The show is based on Sinbad the Sailor folktale and is produced by Sagar Pictures and Ashvini Yardi, Meenakshi Sagar. It was a weekly series airing on every Sunday nights. The show ended abruptly without completing the story due to the low TRP ratings, the last episode was telecasted on 28 February 2016.Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor
Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor is a two-reel animated cartoon short subject in the Popeye Color Feature series, produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on November 27, 1936 by Paramount Pictures. It was produced by Max Fleischer for Fleischer Studios, Inc. and directed by Dave Fleischer, with the title song by Sammy Timberg. The voices of Popeye and J. Wellington Wimpy are performed by Jack Mercer, with additional voices by Mae Questel as Olive Oyl, and Gus Wickie as Sindbad the Sailor.Scooby-Doo! in Arabian Nights
Scooby-Doo! in Arabian Nights (also known as Arabian Nights) is a 1994 made-for-television film produced by Hanna-Barbera and premiered on TBS on September 3, 1994. It is an adaptation of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights and features appearances by Scooby-Doo and Shaggy Rogers, in wraparound segments.
The bulk of the special is devoted to two tales, one starring Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo, and the other featuring Magilla Gorilla. It is animated with bright colors, stylized character designs and a more flat style compared to the previous television movies, and musically scored by veteran animation composer Steven Bernstein, showing strong influence from the high-budget Warner Bros. Animation and Steven Spielberg cartoons of the era, Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.
This would prove to be the last film in which Don Messick voices Scooby and Boo Boo (though he would voice Scooby one more time in the video game Scooby-Doo Mystery), the last film in which Casey Kasem voices Shaggy until 2002, the last film in which Allan Melvin voices Magilla Gorilla (as well as his last film role overall) and the last time the latter character would appear until an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.Sinbad (1992 film)
Sinbad is a 1992 animated film originally released on May 18, 1992 and based on the classic Arabian Nights tale, Sinbad the Sailor. Like all other Golden Films productions, the film features a single theme song, "As Brave as a Man Can Be", written and composed by Richard Hurwitz and John Arrias. The plot involves Sinbad the Sailor and his companion Habeeb traveling to a strange island where Sinbad is forced to marry the King's daughter, and the dangers they get into while trying to find their way home.
Sinbad was produced by Golden Films and the American Film Investment Corporation, it was distributed to DVD in 2003 by GoodTimes Entertainment, packaged together with The Three Musketeers (1992) and The Count of Monte Cristo (1997).Sinbad (film series)
Sinbad (シンドバッド) is a series of Japanese animated family adventure films inspired by One Thousand and One Nights and produced by Nippon Animation and Shirogumi. Made in celebration of the former company's 40th anniversary, the trilogy of movies were directed by Shinpei Miyashita and written by Kaeko Hayafune and Hiroyuki Kawasaki. Miyashita died during the production of the third film, which was later dedicated to him. The movie was finished by his student, Terumi Toyama.The first film, A Flying Princess and a Secret Island (空とぶ姫と秘密の島, Sora Tobu Hime to Himitsu no Shima), was released in Japan on July 4, 2015 by Aeon Entertainment. Pony Canyon released it on DVD on December 16, 2015. The second film, The Magic Lamp and the Moving Islands (魔法のランプと動く島, Mahō no Lamp to Ugoku Shima), was released theatrically on January 16, 2016 and on DVD on May 3, 2016. The third and final film, Night at High Noon and the Wonder Gate (～真昼の夜とふしぎの門～, Mahiru no Yoru to Fushigi no Mon), was released theatrically as part of a compilation with the two others films on May 14, 2016. It was later released individually on DVD on December 21, 2016.The three films were released in Japanese with English subtitles and with an English dub by Ocean Productions on Amazon Video in the United States and the United Kingdom in April 2017.Sinbad (musical)
For the 1891 musical of the same name, see Sinbad (1891 musical)
Sinbad is a Broadway musical with a book and lyrics by Harold R. Atteridge and music by Sigmund Romberg, Al Jolson and others. Jolson plays a porter in old Bagdad where he meets a series of characters from the Arabian Nights, including Sinbad. He is transported to various exotic settings.
The musical was produced by Lee Shubert and J. J. Shubert and staged by J. C. Huffman and J. J. Shubert. After a tryout in New Haven, Connecticut, the Broadway production opened on February 14, 1918 at the Winter Garden Theatre, where it ran for 164 performances. The cast included Jolson (in blackface), Kitty Doner, Constance Farber and Forrest Huff. This show was a “musical comedy” with little purpose other than to provide a vehicle for Jolson, who sang specialty songs that were written for him by himself and others, while Romberg's songs held the show together. As with Jolson’s previous shows, songs were interpolated during the run and for the national tour, which ran for nearly two years.Sinbad and The Minotaur
Sinbad and the Minotaur is a 2011 Australian fantasy B movie directed by Karl Zwicky serving as an unofficial sequel to the 1947 Douglas Fairbanks Jr. film and Harryhausen's Sinbad trilogy. It combines Arabian Nights hero Sinbad the Sailor with the Greek legend of the Minotaur.Sinbad of the Seven Seas
Sinbad of the Seven Seas is a 1989 Italian fantasy film produced and directed by Enzo G. Castellari from a story by Luigi Cozzi, revolving around the adventures of Sinbad the Sailor. Sinbad must recover five magical stones to free the city of Basra from the evil spell cast by a wizard, which his journey takes him to mysterious islands and he must battle magical creatures in order to save the world.Sinbad the Sailor (1935 film)
Sinbad the Sailor is a 1935 animated short film produced and directed by Ub Iwerks.Sinbad the Sailor (1947 film)
Sinbad the Sailor is a 1947 American Technicolor fantasy film directed by Richard Wallace and starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Maureen O'Hara, Walter Slezak, and Anthony Quinn. It tells the tale of the "eighth" voyage of Sinbad, wherein he discovers the lost treasure of Alexander the Great.Sindbad's Eighth Voyage
Sindbad's Eighth Voyage (1964) is a play by Bahram Beyzai.Son of Sinbad
Son of Sinbad is a 1955 American film directed by Ted Tetzlaff. It takes place in the Middle East and consists of a wide variety of characters including over 127 women.
Initially, the film was shot in 1953 and planned to be released in 3D. Because of difficulties with the Motion Picture Production Code, studio mogul Howard Hughes shelved the film until 1955, when it was converted to the Tushinsky SuperScope process, in 2-D (flat). It is Vincent Price's fourth and final 3-D film.
Dale Robertson (as Sinbad) co-stars with Sally Forrest and Price, as well as Lili St. Cyr, a well-known stripteaser of the 1950s.The 7 Adventures of Sinbad
The 7 Adventures of Sinbad (previously The 7 Voyages of Sinbad) is a 2010 American film directed by Adam Silver and Ben Hayflick. As a mockbuster distributed by The Asylum, it attempts to capitalise on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Clash of the Titans.The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is a 1958 Technicolor heroic fantasy adventure film from Columbia Pictures, produced by Charles H. Schneer, directed by Nathan H. Juran, that stars Kerwin Mathews, Torin Thatcher, Kathryn Grant, Richard Eyer, and Alec Mango. This was the first of three Sinbad feature films from Columbia, the later two from the '70s being The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977). All three Sinbad films were conceptualized by Ray Harryhausen using Dynamation, the full color widescreen stop-motion animation technique that he created.
While similarly named, the film does not follow the storyline of the tale "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor" but instead has more in common with the Third and Fifth voyages of Sinbad.
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was selected in 2008 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".The Fantastic Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor
The Fantastic Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor is a television series that aired during 1996–1998 on Cartoon Network. Based on the Arabian Nights story of Sinbad the Sailor, it was animated by Fred Wolf Films.
The series had Sinbad as a teenager with an exotic cat cub (Kulak) and a young boy (Hakeem) as constant companions.
Sinbad the Sailor