List of One Thousand and One Nights characters  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

This is a list of characters within the medieval collection of Middle Eastern folk tales One Thousand and One Nights.


Characters in the frame story


Dunyazad (also called Dunyazade, Dinazade, or Dinarzad) (Template:Lang-fa) is a fictional character in One Thousand and One Nights, the younger sister of the doomed Queen Scheherazade. In the story cycle, it is she who (at Scheherazade's instruction) initiates the tactic of cliffhanger storytelling to prevent her sister's execution by Shahryar. At the successful conclusion, she marries Shah Zaman, Shahryar's younger brother.

She is recast as a major character as the narrator of the Dunyazadiad segment of John Barth's novel Chimera.


Scheherazade (Template:Lang-fa Šahrzād also called Shahrazad) is a legendary Persian queen and the storyteller and narrator of The Nights. She is the daughter of the kingdom's vizier and sister of Dunyazad (Template:Lang-fa).

She marries King Shahryar, who has vowed that he will execute a new bride everyday. For 1001 nights, Scheherazade tells her husband a story every night, stopping at dawn with a cliffhanger, forcing the King to keep her alive for another day.

Scheherazade's Father

Scheherazade's Father, sometimes called Jafar, is the vizier of King Shahryar. Every day, on the king's order, he beheads the brides of Shahryar. He does this for many years until all the unmarried women in the kingdom have either been killed or run away, at which point Scheherazade offers to marry the king.

The vizier tells Scheherazade the Tale of the Bull and the Ass, in an attempt to discourage his daughter from marrying the mad king. It does not work and she marries Shahryar anyway.

At the end of the 1001 nights, Scheherazade's father goes to Samarkand where he replaces Shah Zaman as sultan.


'Shahryār or Shahriār or Shahriyār or Schahryār or Shahrayar or Shaharyar is the fictional Persian Sassanid King of kings in One Thousand and One Nights, who is told stories by his wife, Shahrazad.

He ruled over a Persian Empire extended to India, over all the adjacent islands and a great way beyond the Ganges as far as China, while Shahryār’s younger brother, Shāhzamān (شاهزمان) ruled over Samarkand. There is an anomaly in the story, for the King Shahryār is a Sassanid, and thus a Zoroastrian and not a Muslim as most of the stories' characters are.

In the frame-story, Shahryār is betrayed by his wife, which makes him go mad and believe that all women will, in the end, betray him. So every night for three years, the mad king takes a wife and has her executed the next morning, until he marries Scheherazade, his vizier’s beautiful and clever daughter. For 1001 nights in a row, Scheherazade tells Shahryār a story, each time stopping at dawn with a cliffhanger, thus forcing him to keep her alive for another day so that she can complete the tale the next night.

Shah Zaman

Shah Zaman

Shah Zaman or Schazzenan is the Sultan of Samarkand, sometimes called Samarcande and brother of Shahryār. Shah Zaman catches his first wife in bed with a cook and cuts them both in two. Then, whilst staying with his brother, he discovers that Shahryār's wife is unfaithful. At this point, Shah Zaman comes to believe that all women are untrustworthy and he returns to Samarkand where, as his brother does, he marries a new bride every day and has her executed before morning.

At the end of the story, Shahryār calls for his brother and tells him of Scheherazade's incredible tales. Shah Zaman decides to stay with his brother and marries Dunyazad, whom he has fallen in love with.

Characters in Scheherazade's stories


Prince Ahmed is the youngest of three sons of a Sultan of the Indies. He is noted for having a magic tent which would expand so as to shelter an army, and contract so that it could go into one's pocket. Ahmed travels to Samarkand city and buys an apple that can cure any disease if the sick person smells it. Ahmed rescues the Princess Peri Banu (or Paribanou), a genie.


Aladdin is perhaps one of the most famous characters from the Nights and appears in Aladdin and The Wonderful Lamp.

Ali Baba

Ali Baba (Template:Lang-ar) is a character described in the adventure tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Ali Shar

Ali Shar is a character from Ali Shar and Zumurrud who inherits a large fortune on the death of his father but very quickly squanders it all. He goes hungry for many months until he sees Zumurrud on sale in a slave market. Zumurrud gives Ali the money to buy her and the two live together and fall in love. A year later Zumurrud is kidnapped by a Christian and Ali spend the rest of the story in search for her.

Mercury Ali

Mercury Ali of Cairo or Ali the Egyptian appears in The Adventures of Mercury Ali of Cairo. Mercury Ali is a sharper, who repeatedly evaded police (hence the name ”Mercury” or quicksilver). He traveled to Baghdad, where he tried to outsmart the prominent local tricksters Dalilah the Crafty, Zurayk the Fishmonger and Azariah the Jew to win the hand of Dalilah's daughter Zaynab.

Prince Ali

Prince Ali is a son of Sultan of the Indies. He travels to Shiraz, the capital Persia, and buys a magic perspective glass that can see for hundreds of miles.

The Barber of Baghdad

The Barber of Baghdad is wrongly accused of smuggling and in order to save his life, he tells Caliph Mustensir Billah of his six brothers:-

  • Bacbouc who was hunchback
  • Al-Fakik who was toothless
  • Al-Bakbuk who was blind
  • Al-Kuz who lost one of his eyes
  • Al-Haddar who was very lazy
  • Shakashik who had a harelip


Cassim is the rich brother of Ali Baba who is killed by the Forty Thieves when he is caught stealing treasure from their magic cave.

Dalilah the Crafty

Dalilah the Crafty or Dalilah the Wily appears in The Rogueries of Dalilah the Crafty and Her Daughter Zaynab the Coney-Catcher. Dalilah and her daughter Zaynab were left "unemployed and neglected" after death of her husband, a town-captain of Baghdad. Zaynab persuaded her mother to "Up and play off some feint and fraud which may haply make us notorious in Baghdad, so perchance we shall win our father's stipend for ourselves." Dalilah proceeded to trick and fool people, cheat them out of money, jewellery and other goods. After being caught, she managed to sell her pursuers into slavery to the Chief of Police. At the end, she was pardoned by the Caliph and was given important positions of governess of the carrier-pigeons and portress of the Caliph's Khan.


The Name of the Rose

"The King opened the book, and found the leaves stuck together; so he put his finger to his mouth and, by moistening it, he easily turned over the first leaf, and in like way the second, and the third, each leaf opening with much trouble; and when he had unstuck six leaves he looked over them and, finding nothing written thereon, said, "O physician, there is no writing here!" Duban replied, "Turn over yet more;" and he turned over three others in the same way. Now the book was poisoned; and before long the venom penetrated his system, and he fell into strong convulsions and he cried out, "The poison hath done its work!" --"The tale of the vizier and the Sage Duban"

Duban appears in The tale of the vizier and the Sage Duban and is a sage described as being a man of extraordinary talent. The ability to read Greek, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Byzantine, Syriac and Hebrew, as well as a deep understanding of botany, philosophy and natural history are only a few.

He cures King Yunan from leprosy. Duban works his medicine in an unusual way: he creates a mallet and ball to match, filling the handle of the mallet with his medicine. When the king plays with the ball and mallet, he perspires, thus absorbing the medicine through the sweat from his hand into his bloodstream. After a short bath and a sleep, the King is cured, and rewards Duban with wealth and royal honor.

Yunan's vizier, however, becomes jealous of Duban, and persuades Yunan into believing that Duban will later produce a medicine to kill him. The king eventually decides to punish Duban for his alleged treachery, and summons him to be beheaded. After unsuccessfully pleading for his life, Duban offers one of his prized books to Yunan to impart the rest of his wisdom. Yunan agrees, and the next day, Duban is beheaded, and Yunan begins to open the book, finding that no printing exists on the paper. After paging through for a time, separating the stuck leaves each time by first wetting his finger in his mouth, he begins to feel ill. Yunan realises that the leaves of the book were poisoned, and as he dies, the king understands that this was his punishment for betraying the one that once saved his life.


Prince Hussain, the eldest son of Sultan of the Indies, travels to Bisnagar (Vijayanagara) in India and buys a magic teleporting tapestry, also known as a magic carpet.


Morgiana is a clever slave girl from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. She is initially in Cassim's household but on his death she joins his brother Ali Baba and through her quick wittedness she saves Ali's life many times and eventually kills his worst enemy, the leader of the Forty Thieves. As reward, Ali frees her and Morgiana marries Cassim's son.


Princess Parizade is the daughter of the sultan Khosrouschah in the story The Two Sisters Who Envied Their Cadette. She searches for and finds the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree and the Golden Water, and soon after discovers her royal heritage, which she had until then been unaware of.

Sinbad the Porter

Sinbad is a poor porter from Baghdad who one day pauses to rest on a bench outside the gate of a rich merchant's house. The owner of the house is Sinbad the Sailor, who hears the porter's lament and sends for him. Amused by the fact that they share a name, Sinbad the Sailor relates the tales of his seven wondrous voyages to his namesake.

Sinbad the Sailor

Sinbad the Sailor is perhaps one of the most famous characters from the Nights. He is from Basra, but in his old age he lives in Baghdad. He recounts his the tales of his seven voyages to Sinbad the Porter

Sultan of the Indies

Sultan of the Indies has three sons Husain, Ali and Ahmed. All three want to marry their cousin Princess Nouronnihar, so the Sultan says he will give her to the prince who brings back the most extraordinary rare object.


King Yunan is a fictional king of one of the ancient Persian cities, in the province of Zuman, now modern Armenia who appears in The tale of the vizier and the Sage Duban. At the start of the story, Yunan is suffering from leprosy but he is cured by Duban the physician whom he rewards greatly. This makes Yunan's vizier becomes jealous and he persuades the King that Duban wants to overthrow him. At first Yunan doesn’t believe this and tells his vizier the Tale of the Husband and the Parrot to which the vizier responds by telling the Tale of the Prince and the Ogress. This convinces Yunan that Duban is guilty and he has him executed. Yunan later dies after reading a book of Duban's, the pages of which had been poisoned.

Zayn Al-Asnam

Prince Zayn Al-Asnam appears in The Tale of Zayn Al-Asnam. He erects eight statues of gold (or diamond) and in quest for a statue for the ninth unoccupied pedestal, finding what he wanted in the person of a beautiful woman for a wife.

Al-Asnam is given a mirror by a Genie. Called the touch-stone of virtue, the mirror would inform Al-Asnam, upon looking into it, whether his damsel was faithful or not. If the mirror remained unsullied so was the maiden; if it clouded, the maiden had been unfaithful.


Zumurrud-the Smaragdine (Persian زمرد سمرقندی Zumurrud e Samarkandi which means "emerald from Samarkand". At the time of the story Samarkand have been famous for its emeralds) is a slave girl who appears in Ali Shar and Zumurrud. She is bought by, and falls in love with, Ali Shar with whom she lives until she is kidnapped by a Christian. Zumurrud escapes from the Christian only to be found and taken by Javan (Juvenile) the Kurd. Again, Zumurrud manages to get away from her captor, this time by dressing up as a man. On her way back to Ali Shar, Zumurrud is mistaken for a noble Turk and made Queen of an entire kingdom. Eventually, Zumurrud is reunited with Ali Shar.

Real people

Abu Nuwas

Abu-Nuwas al-Hasan ben Hani al-Hakami was a renowned poet at the court of the Caliph Haroun al-Rashid. The hedonistic poet appears in several of the tales.


Mustensir Billah (or Al-Mustansir) was the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad from 1226 to 1242. The Barber of Baghdad tells Mustensir stories of his six brothers.


Az-Zahir (or Al-Mustazi as he’s called in the Nights) was the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad from 1225 to 1226 and appears in The Hunchback’s Tale.

Harun al-Rashid

Harun al-Rashid, fifth Abbasid Caliph who ruled from 786 until 809. Hārūn the wise Caliph serves as an important character in many of the stories set in Baghdad, frequently in connection with his with his vizier, Ja'fa, with whom he roams in disguise through the streets of the city to observe the lives of the ordinary people.


Ja'far ibn Yahya (Ja'far in the stories) was Harun al-Rashid's Persian Vizier and appears in many stories, normally accompanying Harun. In at least one of these stories, "The Three Apples", Ja'far is the protagonist of the story, depicted in a role similar to a detective. In another story, "The Tale of Attaf", he is also a protagonist, depicted as an adventurer alongside the protagonist Attaf.


Khosrau II was a King of Persia from 590 to 628. He appear with his wife, Shirin, in a story on the three hundred and ninety-first night called Khusrau and Shirin and the Fisherman.


Shirin the Armenian was the Christian wife of the Sassanid King Khosrau II. She appears with her husband, Khosrau, in a story on the three hundred and ninety-first night called Khusrau and Shirin and the Fisherman.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "List of One Thousand and One Nights characters" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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