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Monday, June 23, 2014

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: The Persian Cinderella


Today we are going to share The Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo. Now Persia is known today as Iran. Iran is known to be home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. In the 7th century, Rashindun Muslims invaded Persia (putting an end to the Roman-Persian Wars). During the Islamic Golden Ages Persian literature, art, philosophy, and medicine played important roles in the development of the Muslim Civilization. 
1866 Mitchell Map of Persia, Turkey and Afghanistan (Iran, Iraq) - Geographicus - PersiaAfghanistan-mitchell-1866
Source: Samuel Augustus Mitchell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons




Now let's move onto our story. In this Cinderella tale, Settareh (which means star) was born with a starlike birth mark on her face. Within a few hours of her birth, her mother died. She was left to live in the women's quarters with her aunts, cousins, stepmother and two stepsisters. She often felt like she belonged to no one since her father was off being busy in the men's world and her aunts and stepmother ignored her. Her stepsisters grew jealous of her beauty which increased every day and made fun of her for her birthmark saying she was always dirty. She was given her stepsisters throw-offs for clothes and scraps to eat. 

One day her father visits the women's quarter to tell them about Prince Mehrdad's party for No Ruz (New Year). He gives each woman a gold coin to buy fabric to make a new outfit for the party. He tells them to chose wisely as he hands Settareh her coin. The women put on their scarves to cover their faces and go to the market. Settareh gets distracted in the market by the smell of roasted almonds. She is very hunger after all since she barely got any food to eat. She buys some almonds and eats them quickly and rushes to catch up with her family. Instead she finds a woman begging for a coin. She drops several of her silver coins which was her change in purchasing the almonds into the woman's cup. The woman blesses her and tells her good fortune will come her way soon. Now Settareh hopes to have enough money to buy fabric for a new sash, but as she goes by a potter's stall, she sees a small, cracked blue jar that she falls in love with and asks the potter how much it costs. It was laying on the ground as if thrown away, but the potter tells her it is worth a lot and she shows him what she has left and he sells it to her. 




When Settareh meets up with her family, her stepsisters make fun of her for her purchase of a leaky, old jug. She goes off into the courtyard by herself. While out there she talks to her jug. She tells her jug that she loves it, but wishes it had jasmine flowers in it. She guesses there is a pari (a fairy) in the jug. The jug grows warm and shakes and then it is full of white flowers. She asks next for something to eat and then tells the jug she is cold and finally that she is lonely and each wish was granted. She did not dare to wish for more in case someone in her family takes notice. On the eve of No Ruz, her stepsisters tease her about not being able to go to the party. As soon as they leave she asks her jug for an outfit to wear for No Ruz. She is given a beautiful dark red silk gown. The outfit also includes sparkling diamond ankles which fit her small ankles perfectly. 

Once she is dressed she tells the jug she is ready to go and she is outside the palace immediately. As she timidly enters the palace she passes a young man with a beard who stares at her. She quickly covers her face more and finds the women's room. She has a wonderful time at the party and no one recognizes her in her clothes. She keeps her star birthmark covered for the night. All of sudden the party is ending and she realizes she has to be home before the rest of her family. She rushes out of the palace and home. She does not realize one of the anklets falls off. 

The anklet is found by a horse the next morning and the stableboy takes it to his boss who takes it to the prince. The prince wants to find the woman who wore the anklet. The queen takes on the task of finding the woman. She takes it to each house and every woman tries it on, but no one can get it on. When she gets to Settareh's house all the aunts and her stepmother try and then the cousins and stepsisters. It does not fit anyone. Then as the queen gets ready to leave, Settareh walks out in the gown she wore to the party and asks to try it on. It goes on easily and she shows the matching anklet on her other foot. The queen tells her Prince Mehrdad wants to meet her. She quickly runs out to the courtyard to grab her blue jug and one of the stepsisters follows her and finds out about the fairy. 

The queen gave Settareh a mirror to see the prince's face and he could see her reflection in the mirror. He saw the star and she became embarrassed until he tells her it was told by a fortune teller that he would marry a woman with a star on her face. Her father is called for to arrange the marriage. 

The stepsisters are extremely jealous even though Settareh invites them to the palace for all the pre-wedding festivities. While she is out walking in the garden with the queen, the stepsisters break into Settareh's room and chest and find the jug. The ask it for a way to get rid of Settareh for good. It grows so warm the stepsister holding it drops it and among the broken pieces are six hairpins. The stepsisters offer to put Settareh's hair up for the wedding. After washing and brushing it, they start to put in the hairpins. Even though Settareh complains they get all six in and she turns into a turtledove. The stepsisters try to convince the prince to marry one of them, but he is heartbroken and locks himself in his room and will not see anyone or eat anything. The only company he has is a turtledove that visits his window. Over time the turtledove trusts him enough to have him pet it and he finds strange bumps on it that he realizes are hairpins. When he pulls them all out, he discovers he is holding Settareh. He marries her right away and they have a very happy life together. The stepsisters grow so jealous that their hearts explode and they die. 

This version has so many similarities to other versions as well as having the magic jug like Aladdin. The special anklets reminded me of the version from India: Anklet for a Princess.  The deadly hairpins reminded of Snow White. 

For this book, we made a small blue jug with a crack. We used Model Magic. I also thought of making some hairpins, but decided not to take the time.


For more Cinderella in different culture posts: