Arabian Nights Centerpieces

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The main frame story concerns Shahryār (Arabic: شهريار‎, from Middle Persian šahr-dār, lit. "holder of realm" ), whom the narrator calls a "Sasanian king" ruling in "India and China". He is shocked to learn that his brother's wife is unfaithful; discovering that his own wife's infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her killed. In his bitterness and grief, he decides that all women are the same. Shahryār begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him. Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade (Arabic: شهرزاد‎, from Middle Persian čehr/lineage + āzād/noble ), the vizier's daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion of this tale, postpones her execution once again. So it goes on for 1,001 nights.