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The country Aladdin is set in?

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:43 pm    Post subject: The country Aladdin is set in? Reply with quote

Right now Im having an argument with a friend of where the movie is set in. As far as I can tell its suppose to be Iraq. Even Cha Cha says modern day Iraq. But I dont know how to explain how it is set there. Can anybody help me? Or even tell me if Im wrong and its set somewhere else?
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Genie of the Messageboard

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for visiting!

It's definitely not present-day, unless your friend means the part with the narrator at the beginning, although even that could be set at any time since it's Genie. On the DVD, IIRC, the "official" time it's set is in the 15th century (they never mentioned this anytime before), although most of us think it's earlier, around 900-1000 or so. It can't possibly be earlier than the mid 600s. There's a good discussion about this here.

You're partially right, since in previous versions of the script it was set in Baghdad, but after the Gulf War started it was changed to the fictional city of Agrabah and they were deliberately vague about where that is to avoid offense. It's definitely not just a renamed Baghdad now, though, because the things we know about its location (it's near the ocean, it's not on a river) don't match Baghdad. I've seen good arguments for it being in Iraq, North Africa, Arabia, or India, but it's like arguing where Springfield is on the Simpsons, really.
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Vizier's Handmaiden

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agrabah could not have really existed anywhere. Its architecture is 15th century Persian, its rulers' titles are Turkish (well, they come from Arabic words, but Sultan wasn't widely used as a title before the Ottoman Empire and Vizier is the Turkish pronunciation*), but its people are obviously, even stereotypically, Arab. That's even before you get into why baguettes, New World monkeys, and scarlet macaws are there.

When I wrote a fanfic that absolutely HAD to place Agrabah in a real-world location and time frame, I gave it mid-800s Syria and figured I'd hand wave the architecture if I had to. Most of the time though I just figure it's some kind of alternate universe.

*I'll accept that as Translation Convention though. That's the pronunciation and spelling that was accepted into English, so you're almost never going to find anyone using the original Arabic version. Besides, in a movie where an Arabic marketplace has English signage and baguettes, I'm not going to nitpick that the Vizier isn't the Wazir.
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Genie of the Messageboard

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't make up my mind on the Turkey/Iran or Turkey/Syria borders. Possibly even Turkey/Iraq, but I feel like Turkey is part of the equation. That covers a little of each piece of problem the grab-bag that is Agrabah creates since Turkey kind of turns into that later on down the line with European and Middle Eastern influences. It just goes along with the original story being a Syrian tale about Chinese people living in Islamic China, I guess Laughing

The issue is there's a couple places it's definitely not *LALALA NOT EGYPT LALALA*, but there's a bunch of places it could be. I feel like anything that in Iran/Iraq/Syria/Turkey area is a fair guess. Any other place seems off to me.
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Vizier's Handmaiden

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I would never put Agrabah in Egypt, although I did once put Egyptian characters in Agrabah. In that fanfic, it's in Syria, though I think it's TOO close to Damascus.

At least, it's too easily reached from Damascus for characters with a car. So maybe from a medieval standpoint it's still a good distance away.
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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's based partly on India although it has strong Arabic/Baghdad influences.

In India, there is a famous town called Agra (find similar to Agrabah?) which has the TAJ MAHAL (which looks very much like the Sultan's palace). Not to mention the use of Hindi/Urdu names: Sultan means emperor. Aladdin is actually Allah-uddin meaning the one religious about Allah (the Muslim God).

The setting has some Indian influence within its Islamic theme, it really seems that it can't be anywhere except the Indian subcontinent. It most closely resembles a setting of the Mughal Empire, maybe 16th century. Although, that's not to say the film is portraying Mughal India. I will, however, refer to the Mughals in some examples below.

I'd say there's an overwhelming misconception about the film's setting and about how the film was made. A misconception which comes from a lack of familiarity with both Islamic Middle Eastern settings and Islamic Indian settings. But for those that know the differences and similarities between the two, it seems the obvious choice is the Indian subcontinent. It's the only location, in the entire world history, where all of the various cultures portrayed in the film have existed together, at the same time.

The Sultan's palace internals exemplify a combination of Islamic and Hindu forms of architecture and artwork. Here, Ganesha is an explicit focal point of the Gate. The fort's royalty has known the likes of both Hindus and Muslims.

The elephant sculpture at Sultan's throne has a distinct Indian style. Elephant subjects depicted this way also have a Hindu theme. Even though these depictions aren't explicit portrayals of Ganesha, they're always associated with the deity, and are meant to represent the associated symbolism. Thus, the sculpture implicitly is Hindu.

Many communities of the Indian subcontinent are made of both Hindu and Muslim people. Rajputs are a people who've had great influence in in northern regions there. The term "Muslim Rajputs" refers to people in this region, who have Hindu heritage, and have at some point converted to Islam. These conversions occurred throughout the Middle Ages, and was quite widespread. Now I'm not saying Sultan is himself a convert, but given his royal setting, it seems Hindu symbolism offers some significance in his kingdom, or at least in his abode.

These particular kinds of imagery are isolated to the Indian subcontinent, during the Middle ages, as they very clearly portray Hindu themes.

--Three street performers in Agrabah: a fire performer, a fire walker, a snake charmer. The fire performer does both "eating" (which has Hindu symbolism in India) and "breathing" acts. When taken together, with the other performers in the film, along with the overall setting, this combined display of street performance is virtually isolated to India during the Middle Ages.

Although Sultan mentions Allah, this per se doesn't suggest his being a Muslim. However, Jafar being The Royal Vizier does, since the title (not the word itself) of Vizier is an Islamic development. The architecture of the palace and some of the common dwellings of the Agrabah have an Islamic theme, as well as a style not found before the Middle Ages.

If a time period could be set using historically significant, or otherwise various places and things found in the setting, then it seems best set c. 16th century. The list for these includes: The Great Pyramids, The Great Sphynx, intricate glassware/porcelain, Ancient Greek architecture, Islamic architecture, The Forbidden City, Jafar's hookah. From earliest to latest, these are all shown in the film. Keep in mind, the guy working on the Sphynx likely isn't building it. The water pipe on Jafar's hookah, specifically is an invention not mentioned in literature before the 15th century.

The film does indeed seem to portray a setting that more closely resembles an Islamic Indian setting, than an Islamic setting found any place other than the Indian subcontinent. It very likely is intended to be in India.

The peddler at the beginning greets the audience with:

Salaam: Urdu for Hello or Peace. although in Arabic it means the same thing.

Jasmine's father is the Sultan - The Mughal Empire destroyed/subsumed most of the Sultanates, it would be unlikely that there would be a Sultan within a Mughal setting. He would more likely to be called a Nawab.

The Sultan wears a large white turban, with a feather in the middle.

The turbans worn by the Mughal Emperors were similar and often more ornate, with multiple colours and beads woven in.

Aladdin and Abu both wear a fez which is a common Indian Muslim dress code.

There is one man, the Fire-eater, that wears distinctly Indian attire, appearing to be dressed as a Swami.

The swords in Aladdin, though highly stylized, are clearly shown to be extremely curved. This is true for those swords owned by merchants, and the Sultans own guards.

With the architecture, yes domes of Agrabah could be seen as similar, though highly stylised, to that of Mughal architecture in India Such as the Taj Mahal (built 1632-1653).

Shatranj or Chess had a piece (analogous with the bishop) called the Alfil or Elephant.

The elephants are shown with headdresses and dressed tusks, more in line with the style depicted in the Sultan's throne room.

The desert has similarities with the Rajasthan Thar Desert in India where is abundant sandstone and sand.

Jasmine's pet, Rajah is a tiger, the national animal of India. Monkeys and parrots as pets were pretty common in India.

Although I don't think it has any similarities to modern day India. The setting is somewhere loosely based on mixture of Baghdad (Arabian) and Agra (Indian) era.
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