Ali Baba

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Ali Baba ( ʿAli Bāba) is a fictional character from medieval Arabic literature. He is described in the adventure tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Some critics believe that this story was added to One Thousand and One Nights by one of its European translators, Antoine Galland, an 18th-century French orientalist who may have heard it in oral form from a Middle Eastern story-teller from Aleppo. However, Richard F. Burton claimed it to be part of the original One Thousand and One Nights. The American Orientalist Duncan Black MacDonald discovered an Arabic-language manuscript of the legend at the Bodleian Library;Duncan Black MacDonald, ‘’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (April 1910): 327-386. however, it was later found to be counterfeited.

This story has been used as a popular pantomime plot such as in the pantomime/musical Chu Chin Chow (1916). Like many other folk tales frequently adapted for children, the original tale is darker and more violent than the more familiar bowdlerised versions. Popular perception of Ali Baba, and the way he is treated in popular media, sometimes implies that he was the leader of the "Forty Thieves": in the story he is actually an "honest man" whom fortune enables to take advantage of the thieves' robberies.


Ali Baba and his elder brother Cassim are the sons of a merchant. After the...
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