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The Arabian Nights Entertainments is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. The work was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West, Central, and South Asia and North Africa.
The tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Mesopotamian, Indian, Jewish, and Egyptian folklore and literature. In particular, many tales were originally folk stories from the Caliphate era, while others, especially the frame story, are most probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hazār Afsān, which in turn relied partly on Indian elements. What is common throughout all the editions of the Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryār and the framing device incorporated throughout the tales themselves.
The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord. Some editions contain only a few hundred nights, while others include 1,001 or more. The bulk of the text is in prose, although verse is occasionally used for songs and riddles and to express heightened emotion. Most of the poems are single couplets or quatrains, although some are longer. Some of the stories very widely associated with The Nights, in particular "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor", were not part of The Nights in its original Arabic versions but were added to the collection by Antoine Galland and other European translators.