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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Parrot and the Merchant (The)
by Marjan Vafaian
Age Range: 6-8
Ma Jahan travels far and wide buying and selling beautiful things. On her journeys she collects exquisite colourful birds which she keeps in cages or chains so that they don't leave her. Ma Jahan loves all her birds, but her favourite, and the one she loves the most because it can talk, is a magnificent parrot from India. Ma Jahan wants to bring gifts back from her next trip so she asks her servants what they would like. When she asks the parrot he tells her to say hallo to his parrot friends in India and to ask them if they have any advice for him which Ma Jahan promises to do. Little does she realise that this strange request will lead to a surprising conclusion that she does not expect.
This poignant story is based on the fable by Rumi, a thirteenth century Persian poet, philosopher and mystic. It is a timeless tale about freedom and true love – setting free what you hold most dear – that is still just as relevant today. Award-winning Iranian illustrator Marjan Vafaian has brought a very modern twist to this ancient fable by casting a woman as the merchant. The illustrations look like a rich tapestry, with a mix of beautiful birds, fabrics and strange human characters that seem to cleverly emphasise the sense of captivity versus freedom in a metaphorical way.