Monday, September 6, 2010

Scheherazade: a feminist tragedy

Silks instead of prison chains hang from her beautiful wrists. This was not always so; it takes cleverness to save a girl from her fate with an axe. Scheherazade had stories.

Her sister, one of the sultan's many wives, interjected in her favor. "A tale, my liege, to alleviate your boredom." And while Scheherazade spoke, she daubed oil over his skin and placed olives upon his tongue, all the while wishing desperately that she could wring his neck.

His eyes, in his listening, grew glazed and far away. He hung to her words, grew rageful when dawn's light interrupted golden through the windows. Scheherazade paused then. Shall I live another day? And the sultan had her dragged back down into the dungeons to await the coolness of night again. Her sister would steal down with a bite to eat, but she could not linger long. "Courage, sister! You are brilliant as the sun; it will not be long until you and he are united again."

Many, many moon cycles passed in this way, until the sultan realized these stories intrigued him like no other thing. "I release you from your execution, so long as you become my wife  and continue to regale me with, not only your stories, but your beauty as well." What could she say?

Now the storyteller stands, her golden ornaments gleaming in the sunlight that falls upon palace courtyards. She is still a prisoner.

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A feminist interpretation is not something I usually do; I tend to think the feminist movement mostly a silly one and prefer humanism myself. But there's something about these fairy tales I was fed growing up as a little girl, you know the ones that always end with the princess happily married off. Even Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, George Eliot and Georges Sand (women who took men's names) wrote so much romance. I can't fault them for it. But I've always felt something of a link with poor Scheherazade, a most intelligent scholar and imaginative storyteller. It seemed a shame she should end up, no matter how glamorous, just another wife of a Persian king. Yet that is how her story ends.

I wanted to celebrate her legacy in these very beautiful earrings. Gold-tone filigree, brass wire, and golden-amber colored glass drops symbolize her winning back the day with her clever intellect.

To learn more about this incredible figure, here is the wikipedia article.

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art2cee2 said...

Ah, 1001 Nights one of my favorite fairy tales as a child. Gorgeous earrings too love the filigree look ;-)

jamberry_song said...

Thank you so much! I can see why it was a favorite; it's an inspiring book, for sure. :) :)