On stories, spelling, and 1001 nights…

“The Sultan Shakriar, convinced of the falsehood and inconstancy of all women, had sworn an oath to put to death each of his wives after the first night. However, the Sultana Sheherazade saved her life by arousing his interest in the tales that she told him during 1001 nights. Driven by his curiosity, the Sultan postponed her execution from day to day, and at last abandoned his sanguinary design. Sheherazade told many miraculous stories to the Sultan. For her tales she borrowed verses from the poets and words from folk-songs combining fairy-tales with adventures.” from Rimsky-Korsakov’s preface to his Sheherazade score.

My friend Jenny convinced me to enter a doll in the Eastern States Exposition this year. (After two years of trying and me wimping out.) I decided to enter one of my fairytale inspired dolls, and opted for Sheherazade.  She has (possibly too) many friends. It started with the blue one, entirely Disney’s fault, that blue=genie. Then came the mix of modern comic artists and Victorian illustrators, and I had to do a multicolored rush of them, and a Sheherazade to tell the tales. She ended up taking a red ribbon at the show, so once the holidays are a distant memory I’ve got to start plotting how to get a blue one next year. (To at least color match Jenny’s many fiber ribbons. She even spun the red highlights in Sheheradade’s hair; how many dolls get custom highlights?!)

Color and shape-wise I was first influenced by the vibrancy of P. Craig Russell’s  work in the story Ramadan. (This is a story in the amazing Neil Gaiman’s  Sandman.) Then I saw the work by Mark Buckingham and Daniel Vozzo in the series Fables, not as striking as Russell’s but great movement and hints of detail. (Disclaimer: Yes, I’m a bit of a geek. These are both wonderful comics/graphic novels steeped in art, history, literature, philosophy, and the liberal arts in general and seasoned with complex story arcs and an off sense of humor.)

I like using the more brilliant colors of modern influences in my dolls, but really want to catch a hint of the delicacy of the Victorian/Edwardian illustrators.  For example, the gentleness of the fabrics in Dulac’s Sheherazade.  I also want to figure out how to make her curled Turkish slippers.

I will guiltily admit that I’ve only read the Burton translation of 1001 Nights and that only in pieces. I find a distressing number of the characters really annoying. Sinbad especially. He goes on an adventure, everyone dies but him, he marries and becomes wealthy, then gets bored and goes on an adventure and everyone dies…rinse and repeat. You’d think he’d learn…

I’d heard that a conductor I liked was going to be working with our local symphony, and how two of the pieces were interpretations of the 1001 Nights. So of course I had to go. They played Ravel’s song cycle based on three poems, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s suite , both called Sheherazade. I enjoyed them both, though I’ll confess that I’d like Ravel’s cycle better without the poems!

*note on spelling* Sheherazade and Scheherazade are two different anglicized varients of Shahrazad. It’s a Persian name that means ‘person of the city.’ I tend to use the one without the ‘c’ just because that’s what I’ve run across, like these two music pieces. Apparently with the ‘c’ is more common among certain translations, and is the one microsoft prefers.

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3 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Crafts

3 responses to “On stories, spelling, and 1001 nights…

  1. I like the red one the best, she’s lovely! BTW, reading comic books and graphic novels doesn’t make you a geek! I read both of them and…oh…wait…

  2. Ack…I meant to add…Congratulations!! (Darn fumble fingers!)

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