Sindbad the Sailor

From Academic Kids

Sindbad the Sailor (also spelled "Sinbad", from Arabic السندباد—As-Sindibad, 三保 "Sānbǎo", from Chinese ) is the name of a legendary sailor who has numerous fantastic adventures during his voyages throughout the seas east of Africa and south of Asia. The collection of travel-romances which make up the Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor found in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) are based partly on real experiences of Oriental sailors, partly on ancient poetry such as Homer's Mediterranean-based Odyssey, and partly upon Indian and Persian collections of mirabilia.

The character Sindbad were inspired by the culmulative tales of many Arab seafarers that had followed, traded and worked in various support ships as part of the armada of Chinese Ming Imperial Treasure Fleets. The fleets of Emperor Zhu Di (朱棣) were led by the Chinese-Muslim Admiral Zheng He (Traditional: 鄭和; Simplified: 郑和; pinyin: Zhng H; Wade-Giles: Cheng Ho; Birth name: 马三宝; pinyin: Mǎ Sānbǎo; Arabic name: Hajji Mahmud Shams) whose surname "Mǎ" (derived from Mahmud ) and name "Sanbao" (derived from Shams). He was the sixth generation descendant of Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar.

Ma belonged to the Semur minority, who are originally from Central Asia, but he grew up in Yunnan in China. His popular official title known as "Wang Sanbao" was the short form of "Eunuch Sanbao to the Western Ocean" (三保太監下西洋) of which the colloquil "Sānbǎo" was derived. The seven imperial voyages ruled the open seas of the Far East to East Coast of Africa in the early 15th centuries.

Zheng He oversee the building of a total of 1622 ships and made at least 7 major voyage between 1405 AD and 1430 AD, reaching Somalia and probably France, Holland and Portugal. In each exceursion, a total of 27,800 people set-off on more than 300 ships, of which close to 60 major ships were deployed measuring about 475 ft long and 193 ft wide. The ship are huge and can hold up to 1000 people per ship.


The tales

Sindbad the Sailor and Sindbad the Porter

The tales, which take place during the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, begin in Baghdad with Sindbad the Porter, a hard-working landsman who complains in verse before the estate of a wealthy man about his life of endless toil for little reward. Sindbad the Porter is thereby brought inside where he meets his namesake, the wealthy Sindbad the Sailor, who was impressed by the porter's verse. Over the next seven days Sindbad the Sailor then entertains Sindbad the Porter (whom he now considers as a brother) with the tale of how he became a seaman and eventually rose to his present state of prominence, each day giving a gift to the poor porter after the story of each voyage is complete.

The First Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor

Sindbad the Sailor was the son of a wealthy merchant who died when Sindbad was young and left everything to him. Upon reaching adulthood Sindbad used his inheritance to live an existence as a pleasure-seeking wastrel until he had carelessly spent it all. The loss of much of everything he had was a turning point in his life -- he decided to sell all he still owned and travel to foreign lands. Sindbad embarked on board a ship bound for Basra which then traveled to several islands and shores, buying and selling their goods. They finally came across a beautiful island upon which they had their shore leave. This island, however, was an ancient, huge fish which had been stationary for so long that sand and trees had settled upon it, and the fires the sailors lit now awoke it. Sindbad was among those who could not return to the ship in time when the fish swam into the depths and was only miraculously saved from drowning when he grasped a passing wooden wash-tub. Floating on the sea in the tub for some time, Sindbad finally beached upon the shore of a deserted island where he spent several days.

One day while wandering along the shore he came across a mare which was tethered on the beach and found a man hidden in the ground nearby. Sindbad befriended this man, a groom of King Mihrjan, who explained that the mares were brought to this island for breeding purposes during every new moon. The "stallions of the sea" would rise out of the ocean and impregnate the mares, causing them to bear colts and fillies of the highest quality. Sindbad was brought to the capital city of King Mihrjan who was astonished at the tale of his survival and, believing him one blessed by Allah, made him his agent for the port and registrar of all ships that entered the harbor. After a while the ship on which Sindbad had originally sailed came to Mihrjan's harbor, and Sindbad convinced his former shipmates after some difficulty that he was still alive. Sindbad then used the best of the goods he still possessed on that ship to make a present for King Mihrjan before returning home. In Baghdad once more after a successful voyage, Sindbad the Sailor used his newfound wealth from a grateful King Mihrjan to make himself richer than he had ever been before.

The Second Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor

Sindbad set out again and traded among the islands. His ship left without him and he was stranded on the island of giant snakes and the even more gigantic bird who preyed upon them. These birds were the rocs of Arabic legend and were so large that one of them could carry off an elephant in its talons.

Sindbad also discovered an inaccessible canyon with fabulous diamonds at its bottom. On the cliffs above lived merchants who would throw huge chunks of meat into the valley. The birds would carry the meat back to their nests, then the hunters would drive them away and collect the diamonds that had stuck to the meat.

The wily merchant effected his escape from the valley by strapping one of the pieces of meat to his back. He was carried back to the nest along with a large sack full of diamonds he had collected. He was rescued from the nest by the merchants and returned to Baghdad with a fortune in diamonds.

The Third Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor

On his next voyage, Sindbad's ship anchored at an island inhabited by hairy dwarves about two feet tall. These tiny men were very savage and took the ship, leaving the crew marooned on the island. The crew soon learned that the island was ruled by terrible one-eyed giants. The giants imprisoned the sailors and began to eat them, one each day. Finally Sindbad and a few of his crew mates used a wooden skewer to put out the eye of the giant who guarded them and escaped on rafts they had made while the other giants threw great rocks after them.

The rafts took Sindbad and his fellow survivors to another island. On this island a giant serpent began to prey on the men, devouring them until only Sindbad was left. Fortunately Sindbad was able to signal a passing ship and was rescued.

The first part of this adventure is generally assumed to be an adaptation of the adventure of Odysseus and Polyphemus the cyclops which first appeared in the Odyssey.

The Fourth Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor

The Fifth Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor

The Sixth Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor

The Seventh Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor


Several films, television series, animated cartoons, and novels have been made, based on the tales of Sindbad the Sailor. These include:

Sinbad is also a nickname given to all sailors and nautical people as well as to window cleaners in Britain (especially ones who do the inside of windows as if they were portholes, and not the corners).da:Sinbad de:Sindbad


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