Saturday, November 12, 2011

Arabian Nights

the second 'a' has a line above it
(  سلام )
PEACE in Arabic

cover for music album

Today I am in an Arabian Nights mood.
I can't say that without hearing Robin Williams
as 'Genie' in the Disney movie "Aladdin"
'Arabian Niiiiiiiiihts'!

Disney's 'Jasmine' marble magnet by inkspired

The story of Sheherazade telling her stories for the prince
night after night to avoid being killed has been a tale for ages.
It captured the romantic side of the Victorian Age
and crossed the ocean to America.
All things Arabian, Orientalism, Indian, Egyptian and exotic were pursued.
Whether factual or not!

vintage children's book

 It was a fanciful expression not allowed elsewhere.
The Victorian Age was a tight, limiting time on many aspects of regular life.
There were so many rules, and if high society didn't follow them,
they were cut off.
Remember, this is the time of the Language of Flowers to represent emotions that could not be said or expressed - except in flowers.
decorating your home in an exotic way,
women wearing turbans instead of hats (but mostly at home parties)
songs about exotic places and people,
giving 'themed' parties and costume balls
and having that all-time necessity of a foreign servant.
At least one that looked and behaved as foreign!

Munshi Queen Victoria's aide

My focus today is not really on the history of Aladdin, but the wonderful
song sheets that are a part of the 'story', the 'myth'
and wonderful dances that could only be allowed because they were
'historical' in nature (at least explained that way).
The paintings, the costumes...
ah, Aladdin!
'The Enchanted Horse' by Frances Brundage, 1893 

America's Aladdin fancy continued for several decades,
and even in the 1970's we had the wonderful TV show
"I Dream of Jeannie".
You can still find reruns occasionally.
There are several movies with the same actors, and all have been available on DVD for some time.

'I Dream of Jeannie' movie publicity photo, Barbara Eden

Let's explore some vintage Song Sheet cover art!

'An Arabian Scout' c.1903


c. 1900 - 1914

It seems foreign countries were rather blurred in the imagination of the public,
so similar images and themes may be labeled


 'Arab' or frequently 'Araby'


'Hindu' (sometimes spelled 'Hindoo' or Hindustan)
c. unknown





 and 'Morocco'
c. 1903

During this time, the Biblical story of John the Baptist, King Herod and Salome were frequently portrayed, as Salome was written as being quite beautiful.
Their thinking must have been something like this-
"Salome is set in old Israel, which is like almost Egypt,
so she must have danced Egyptian, which we all know
is belly dancing attire with middle section shown and veils.
Those silly Aladdin lovers!



The theatre life was filled with shows about 'Cairo', 'Salome',
'Kismet', 'Aladdin', 'Cleopatra' and 'Sheiks of the Desert'.

Art Deco graphics

poster for 'Kismet'

1930's 'exotic' dancer

c.1920, a Parisian 'oriental' dancer

MGM's 1955 version of 'Kismet' with Dolores Gray and Howard Keel

c.1910, Ida Rubinstein as 'Scherherazade'

It looks like I am about to write a book, 
so I will close for today.
Look for more 'Aladdin' tomorrow!!!


No comments:

Post a Comment