Sunday, November 11, 2012


This profile is inspired by an ancient folkloric character who continues to have a hold on popular culture.

Scheherazade (pronounced "sheh-heh-rah-ZAH-day") is a Persian name derived from Sahrazad, a name recorded by a scholar named Ibn al-Nadim. The meaning he proscribed to the name was "she whose land is free." Other sourced state that the name means "born in the city" or "of noble lineage." The popular fairy tale character was partially based off of another legendary queen. Homay, daughter of Bahman, was sometimes known as Cehrazad, meaning "she who appears noble."

This is the name of the legendary Persian queen and the storyteller in One Thousand and One Nights, a compilation of folk tales throughout West and South Asia. Scheherazade's story is what is known as a frame story, a literary technique in which the main narrative exists for the purpose of setting the stage for other stories. So in a way, Scheherazade is really just a device much like how The Illustrated Man really isn't about The Illustrated Man. One Thousand and One Nights includes a wide variety of genres. Some are very long while others only last one sentence. The English translations added popular stories like "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp," "The Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor," and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves."

Most people have at least a passing familiarity with Scheherazade's story. Before he met Scheherazade, King Shahryar was married to a woman who turned out to be unfaithful. Unable to trust a woman again, he would marry a new virgin only to behead her the next day. Eventually the Vizier cannot find any more women. Against her father's wishes, the Vizier's daughter volunteers as the new bride. That would be Scheherazade.

Scheherazade was a very bookish girl, and was determined to stay alive. So that night she asked the King if she could bit farewell to her beloved sister Dinazade. Dinazade asked Scheherazade to tell her a story, which was preplanned. The King listened to her all through the night, but then Scheherazade stopped in the middle. The King wanted her to continue, but Scheherazade replied that she couldn't because it was dawn and therefore it was time for her execution. He had no choice but to allow her to live for another night. The next night, she finished the story but left the next one unfinished. So the King had to allow her to live for the next night. After 1,001 nights and having given birth to three princes, Scheherazade finally ran out of stories. But the King had fallen in love with her and decided to make her Queen.

Scheherazade has been a well known character in the Western world for a very long time, but her name has never been a popular name in the United States. It's a heck of a name to figure out how to spell and pronounce if you're unfamiliar with it. Still, it has a positive association and an exotic sound. There are lots of reasons to be attracted to it.


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1 comment:

  1. Hi, I wanted to first say I love your blog. I've always been facinated with strange and bizarre names. Probably because I have the most cookie cutter name there is, Emily. Though everyone calls me Emzley.
    Anyway I'm leaving this comment to ask a huge favor. I'm writing this connective book series about in old tired beaten genre, werewolves. I like the werewolf stories because well I'll be honest you never hear of a werewolf with the name Jill or Pam.
    I've gotten all of my main couples except one set and it's the last of the six stories that I'm working on so far. They are, in order:
    Alpha of Darkness
    An Alpha's Mistake
    Omega Alpha
    A Luna's Silence
    Doctor Alpha
    Check Mate!
    The last story Check Mate! is the story that I'm having trouble with naming the characters and it's getting really frustrating! Names are usually my thing but no matter what I find or try nothing seems right. I'm the type that can go through multiple name changes in a story until the character has their name. Since you seem to share the same love for names I was wondering if you might be able to help.
    The story is about a shifter that is the last shifter on record even though she really isn't the last. All the other shifters have gone into hiding to escape the crazy Werewolf Council. So the shifter girl has really become sort of a pet to the council and they won't leave her alone. They try to control her but can't.
    She's also a dancer that belongs to a traveling company. This is how she meets the main boy. Her company comes to perform in a small skiing town in the Vermont. He is of course the Alpha but he's always stayed out of Werewolf Council politics. Even though he hates them and their rule he's never of fighting them until he met the shifter girl.

    So do you think you can help me with their names? In case you do I'll gve you the names of the other couples so that you won't repeat any of the names. In book order they are,
    Mimzy Roux and Dante Desoto
    Lovella Galligan and Rafe Williams
    Chrysanthemum Salvatore and Merrik Lennox
    Vixen Canadair and Leo Rhodes

    As you can see I'm not opposed to the odd and unusual. Thanks in advance if you do.


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