Fantastic 13th – a Chronicle of Magical Creatures: Magic Carpet

This month’s magic creature is actually an item! The best form of transportation – the magic carpet!

WHAT IS IT?

Most of us know magic carpets from Aladdin when “street rat” Aladdin had a flying rug he used to woo princess Jasmine. However, the magic carpet/flying carpet has a rich – and convoluted – history. Basic storytelling says the magic carpet is enchanted oriental rug that a rider uses to travel from one destination to another.

ORIGIN

(The album cover for "The Magic Carpet" showcasing a man with two woman on a carpet flying high above a city)
(The album cover for “The Magic Carpet” showcasing a man with two woman on a carpet flying high above a city)

The flying carpet is perhaps one of the most iconic images of Arabian folklore. The magical item is undeniably from the Middle East, but it’s questionable of just when the tool began appearing in stories. One of the earliest cases of a flying carpet can be found in One Thousand and One Nights, first published during the Islamic Golden Age which ranged from 786 to 1258! One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Arabian folktales – much like the European Grimm fairy tales – which makes finding an exact date of when the item came to be nearly impossible to pin-down.

It’s clearly over 1,000 years old, but it’s still one of the most recognizable magical items in the world. Nearly every incarnation of the flying carpet mentions it as merely just a means of travel. In fact, in my research I could only find one instance where the carpet had a personality or any indication that it had sentience. Disney’s 1992 Aladdin!

(a World of Warcraft character travels via flying carpet)
(a World of Warcraft character travels via flying carpet)

MODERN USE

Despite being one of the oldest mythical items, flying carpets can be found in hundreds of 21st century media. As pictured above, World of Warcraft users can utilize the magic carpet as a means of travel in the game. Magic carpets are also found in Zelda games, on abc’s Once Upon A Time, comic books, movies, fantasy novels and the 1960’s band Steppenwolf released a song called Magic Carpet Ride. Additionally, it could be argued that the magic carpet was one of the first forms of the hoverboard!

However, as stated earlier, nearly all versions of media have the item appearing the same way – simply a means of travel.

Unique Ideas

I’ll admit that making the magic carpet unique is going to be hard. It’s not a living object, so there’s not a lot of room for writers to play. Unless it’s given a personality, the carpet won’t have motivation, won’t have conflict and won’t keep readers attentions.

That said, flying carpets are weird and fun. Maybe a story focuses on a used flying carpet salesman (think slimy used car dealerships plus magic spells) or a joyride gone wrong. Maybe the protagonist of your story is an excellent magic carpet racer preparing for The Big Competition.

In a world where rugs fly, can you be arrested for FUI (Flying under the influence)? what’s the insurance rate on a magic carpet? Are all flying carpets equal or are there a mercedes-like tapestry available to purchase? Are there public transit carpets fitting over 200 people with flight attendants and pilots for long distances? What’s the fuel? And the wear and tear on flying a carpet across the country? Where can I find a mechanic to fix the frayed edges?

So the next time you’re dragon slayer goes on a vacation, don’t just say they grabbed a carpet and headed to the beach. Build a world around it!

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