Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Kahramana & the 1000 Nights

Kahramana roundabout is regarded as one of the most famous spots in Baghdad. It is located on the crossroads between the famous Karrada Dakhil and Karrada Kharij districts. People driving by the roundabout can see the Statue of a beautiful young girl carrying a jar and pouring water down and surrounded by another forty jars around her. The statue was made during the 1960s of last century, by the artist Mohammed Gheni.
Many Iraqis believe that the statue of Kahramana is somewhat related to the story of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, from the 1000 Night and One Night. However, there are who tell another story about the young and smart Kahramana, who used to help her father running a small hotel in old Baghdad. The father used to bring a cart full of empty jars, and in the next morning he fills each jar with oil and sells them in the market. On a cold winter night, Kahramana heard some noise and later discovered that there were thieves hiding in the empty jars. Their heads were only visible to watch. Kahraman went to her father’s room, woke him up, and told him about what she saw. They came up with an idea to make some noise in the hotel so the thieves would hide completely inside the jars. When this happened, Kahramana filled a jar with oil and started pouring the oil on every single jar with a thief hiding in it. The thieves began screaming, and one after the other jumped out of the jars, by the time this happened, the police came and arrested them.

The statue of Kahramana still intact till today. There were some maintenance applied, such as painting, and planting some flowers, but familiar pouring water from Kahramana’s jar dried for some time now.

For artist Mohammed Ghani, Kahramana’s story was not the only inspiration from him taken from the tales of Thousand Nights and One Night. He made later another beautiful statue, which became a landmark among sites in Baghdad; driving through the Abu Nawas Street, there is on the right side two big statues of king Shahrayar and his wife, Shahrazad. It is featuring a man of royal status sitting and watching a standing beautiful woman who are spreading her both hands to either side like wings. Both are the main characters in that famous tale. The story of Shahrayar and Shahrazad is about the king whose queen betrayed him and he had her killed. He decided then to marry a woman every night and kill her in the morning, so she won’t betray him. Shahrazad was the daughter of the Vizier who taught her the art of storytelling since she was a small girl. When she knew about the king, she decided to stop all these executions ordered by him and submit herself as the next bride.
She was certain of making the king changes his mind about women. On the first night of marriage, she asked the king to spear her life, and in return she will tell him a story before going to bed. The king agreed and spent the whole night listening to Shahrazad’s story till dawn time. The king fell asleep before Sharazad finishes her story, so the next day he decided to spear her life and listen to the rest of the story. The same thing happened on the second night and the third and the fourth, till it reached thousand nights and one night.


A. Damluji said...

i heard a version where there were 40 jars in which ali baba's 40 thieves were hiding waiting for a chance to kill him, so she poured boiling oil on them and this is where it gets fuzzy.. i remember the narrator saying they died inside the jars.. but i could be wrong :)
great blog!

MixMax said...

yes, I also heard this story when I was in Iraq back in the old and good days :)

cile said...

hey! but you're in NL!
if you'd want to meet, please let me know.