Riding a Flying Carpet, an 1880 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov
|Plot element from Middle Eastern literature|
|Specific traits & abilities||Capable of flight, or instant movement of passengers from one place to another|
A magic carpet, also called a flying carpet, is a legendary carpet that can be used to transport persons who are on it instantaneously or quickly to their destination.
One of the stories in the One Thousand and One Nights relates how Prince Husain, the eldest son of Sultan of the Indies, travels to Bisnagar (Vijayanagara) in India and buys a magic carpet This carpet is described as follows: "Whoever sitteth on this carpet and willeth in thought to be taken up and set down upon other site will, in the twinkling of an eye, be borne thither, be that place nearhand or distant many a day's journey and difficult to reach." The literary traditions of several other cultures also feature magical carpets, in most cases literally flying rather than instantly transporting their passengers from place to place.
Solomon's carpet was reportedly made of green silk with a golden weft, sixty miles long and sixty miles wide: "when Solomon sat upon the carpet he was caught up by the wind, and sailed through the air so quickly that he breakfasted at Damascus and supped in Media." The wind followed Solomon's commands, and ensured the carpet would go to the proper destination; when Solomon was proud, for his greatness and many accomplishments, the carpet gave a shake and 40,000 fell to their deaths. The carpet was shielded from the sun by a canopy of birds. In Shaikh Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Tadifi al-Hanbali's book of wonders, Qala'id-al-Jawahir ("Necklaces of Gems"), Shaikh Abdul-Qadir Gilani walks on the water of the River Tigris, then an enormous prayer rug (sajjada) appears in the sky above, "as if it were the flying carpet of Solomon [bisat Sulaiman]".
In Russian folk tales, Baba Yaga can supply Ivan the Fool with a flying carpet or some other magical gifts (e.g. a ball that rolls in front of the hero showing him the way, or a towel that can turn into a bridge). Such gifts help the hero to find his way "beyond thrice-nine lands, in the thrice-ten kingdom". Russian painter Viktor Vasnetsov illustrated the tales featuring a flying carpet on two occasions (illustrations above and to the left).
In popular culture
Magic carpets have also been featured in modern literature, movies, and video games, and not always in a classic context.
- A magic carpet is featured in the film The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and its remake The Thief of Bagdad (1940).
- Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos features an alternate America in which flying carpets are a major form of transportation, along with brooms.
- Tam Sventon uses a flying carpet as his mode of transportation in the first three books of the series.
- Peter Molyneux produced a god game in 1994 called Magic Carpet, originally made for MS-DOS and then ported to the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation, where you play a wizard on a magic carpet that collects mana to start cities and defeat enemies. It was followed by a sequel called Magic Carpet 2 in 1995.
- A flying carpet is also a character (complete with personality) in the 1992 Disney film Aladdin.
- In the 1998 video game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a merchant can be seen riding a magic carpet in the Haunted Wasteland.
- In MÄR, Flying Carpet is a Dimension ÄRM that is owned by Edward the Dog. It transforms into a flying carpet that can be used as a mode of transportation.
- In the online MMORPG RuneScape, magic carpets (made from camel hair) used to be a popular and common method of transportation around the Kharidian Desert, but lost favour after the Emir of Al Kharid, the desert town, fell to his death after mistaking an ordinary carpet for his magic one.
- In the comic series and its animation adaptation Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Aladdin, the series' protagonist, usually uses his turban as a magic carpet for transportation.
- In Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Jafar uses a magic carpet as his mode of transportation.
- Asterix and the Magic Carpet – illustrated comic story book on the adventures of Asterix, Obelix and Cacofonix in India
- Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet (Frogwares) (PC)
- King Solomon's Carpet – novel
- Old Khottabych, Soviet book and later 1956 film with the depiction of Flying Carpet
- Steppenwolf – song "Magic Carpet Ride"
- Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, p. 305 1894.
- Burton, Richard The Thousand Nights and a Night" Vol. 13, 1885
- Retold for children by Sulamith Ish-Kishor, The carpet of Solomon: A Hebrew legend 1966.
- The Jewish Encyclopedia, s.v. Solomon: Solomon's carpet"
- The Jewish Encyclopedia, ibid.
- Qala'id-al-Jawahir book 6
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