In the flickering lamplight, a young boy lays in bed, unable to sleep. His dream of knowledge were once dashed, but now they are reignited as a mysterious stranger invites him on a journey of discovery. Will his first trip out of Baghdad lead to everything he always wished for? Or will it lead to an unknown enemy’s long-stewing revenge?
Meet Alyan, the half-Chinese, half-Persian protagonist of Stela’s new illustrated mbook, Alyan and the Lamp. What similarities does he share with the famed Aladdin of myth? And where will this journey take him? Let’s look a little deeper…
A Diamond in the Rough
The history of the famous Arabic figure is more confusing than you might believe. For example, his origins may not even be Arabic at all! While he is known from the famous storybook, One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin’s story wasn’t first included in the collection until it was added by a French translator in the 18th century. Not only that, but despite what the 1992 Disney film would have you believe, the original Aladdin and the Lamp was set in China, not Arabia.
Our Alyan pulls from a range of sources to create an entirely new spin on the character. In this version, Alyan is of both Chinese and Persian descent, paying tribute to the dualistic nature of his history. But while both the original story and the Disney adaptation portray Aladdin as an impoverished thief, Alyan is a gentler child of a merchant family, desperate to rise above his station and join the prestigious House of Wisdom in search of knowledge.