Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves ( Folktale from Arabian Nights)

Alibaba is hiding on the tree

This is the story of a poor woodcutter named Alibaba.He lived in the land of Arabia.Alibaba was simple and hard working man.
One day when Ali Baba was cutting the wood in the forest he heard  the sound of running horses. The sound came near and near. Ali Baba thought that there must be a group of robbers, he climbed up a tree and hid himself behind the leaves.
His suspicion was right, it was a group of thieves who were forty in number and each of them had bags with them which were supposedly filled with stolen goods . They stopped near a cave.The captain of the thieves stood  in front of the door of the cave.

Captain of the thieves standing in front of the cave

''Open Sim Sim'' , he said in a loud voice.The door opened and the thieves went into the cave with their bags.
Ali Baba was astonished to see all of this, he couldn't believe his eyes. He stayed there to see what would happen next. 
At Last the thieves came out, this time the captain of the thieves said, ''Close Sim Sim'' and the door got shut.
When the thieves got away from there , Ali Baba came down and said ''Open Sim Sim'' standing in front of the cave. The door opened and Ali Baba entered the cave.
There in the cave was a big treasure of  gold,silver, pearls and diamonds.Which the thieves had stolen and collected there.
Ali Baba took a bag full of gold coins and came out from the cave. He made the cave's door shut by saying 'Close Sim Sim' and left the place.
 Ali Baba's wife became so happy to see the bag full of gold coins   when he reached home. Ali Baba asked his wife to go to his brother's home and borrow scales from his sister in law to weigh the coins. 

Ali Baba's Brother Qasim and his wife

Ali Baba's brother Qasim was a wealthy but cunning and greedy man. His wife was just like her husband. She put a blob of wax in the scales to find out what Ali Baba and his wife were going to weigh with the scales.
When Ali Baba's wife returned the scales, Qasim's wife found a gold coin sticking to the scales and she told her husband about that.
Under pressure from his brother, Ali Baba was forced to reveal the secret of the cave.
Next day Qasim himself went into the cave to take as much wealth as possible. In the excitement of getting the treasure he forgot the magic words and failed to open the door of the cave.The thieves found him in the cave and they killed him.
When Qasim did not return home his wife asked Ali Baba to get him back.Ali Baba found his brother's dead body cut into many pieces at the door of the cave.He brought his body home. Everybody  got struck with grief.
There was an intelligent slave girl Morgiana from Qasim's household. Alibaba entrusted Morgiana with the task of making others believe that Qasim died a natural death.

Morgiana with old tailor Baba Mustafa

Morgiana knew an old tailor who was expert in stitching, his name was Baba Mustafa.She offered him a good number of gold coins for stitching a dead body. Baba Mustafa agreed, Morgiana led him to Qasim's house with a blindfold over his eyes.There he stitched the pieces of Qasim's body back together. 
Ali Baba and his family gave Qasim a proper burial without anyone knowing that what had happened with Qasim. Ali Baba did not want to leave his brother's family alone in this difficult time so he and his family moved into Qasim's house to look after his late brother's family and his business. 

On the other hand, the captain of thieves realized that there must be another person who knows the secret of cave when he found the dead body gone.
He sent one of the thieves to the town to track that person down. 

There in the town that thief came across the tailor Baba Mustafa. He became friendly with the tailor. While talking with him Baba Mustafa mentioned that he has just stiched a man's dead body back together.
The thief offered him some gold coins if Baba Mustafa would lead him to that house where he stitched the body.
The tailor was blindfolded again and managed to retrace his steps and found the house.The thief marked the door with a symbol so that when he come back with other thieves at night he would be able to recognize the house and kill everyone in the house.

The clever girl Morgiana noticed that symbol and made the similar marks on the door of other houses too.In the night the thieves came and could not identify the correct house. Now the captain of thieves himself went into the town and and memorized every single detail of the house.
 The captain went to that house pretending to be an oil merchant who wanted to make a business deal with Ali Baba. He brought mules with him loaded with oil containers, one filled with oil and in the others, thieves were hiding with weapons.Their aim was to kill each person in the house.The captain of thieves requested Ali Baba  to let him stay in his house for one night as he was very tired from his long journey.Kind hearted Ali Baba allowed him to stay there.
                             Captain talking to the thieves who are hiding in the oil containers
At night the captain was discussing the plan of killing the family with other thieves, Morgiana heard them talking.Later in the night, Morgiana killed all the thieves in their jars by pouring hot,boiling oil on them.

Morgiana pouring hot oil on thieves
  The captain managed to escape from there.Ali Baba was so impressed with the loyalty and bravery of Morgiana, he set her free and let her stay in the house as a family member. 
After a few months in order to take his revenge, the leader of thieves established himself as a diamond merchant.He befriended Ali Baba's son who was now taking care of Qasim's buisness. Ali Baba's son invited him home for the dinner.However the thief was recognized by Morgiana. She performed a sword dance and killed the thief with her sword. At first Ali Baba got angry with Morgiana for what she had done, but when he came to know the truth he was extremely grateful and rewarded Morigana by marrying her to his son.
Now only Ali Baba knew the secret of the  treasure in the cave and he decided that he would use the treasure for the welfare of poor and needy people of his town.     
                                                                        Arabian Folktale 
                                                         Re-told by-Aunt Mary

You May Also Like

The merchant and the magical herb Mega( Japanese folktale)
The kind young man and his magic brush( Chinese folktale)
A young man's wish ( Chinese folktale)


  1. Every kid has heard this story at least one.

    1. You are right, it is the most popular tale from Arabian nights.Thank you Rajesh for for commenting :)

  2. One of my childhood favourites. I can remember having a wonderfully illustrated book of the Arabian night stories.

    1. That's my favorite too. Arabian Nights stories are really wonderful :)

    2. Forgot to say thank you. Thank you for reading Tracy)

  3. My childhood favorite too! Loved to read the tale of AliBaba once again. The illustrations are very nice.

    1. Thank you so much Somali, I loved those illustrations too:)

  4. My childhood favorite too! Loved to read the tale of AliBaba once again. The illustrations are very nice.

  5. Hello Aunt Mary, thank goodness for Morgiana, she certainly was intelligent and brave. I love the Edmund Dulac illustrations you’ve used here. He is one of my favourite illustrators.

    1. Hi Barbara,
      Yes you are right, I think Morgiana is the most interesting and lovely character of this tale.Edmund Dulac illustrations of Arabian nights are really amazing.Thank you fr reading:)