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"The Sultan who became a weaver"

Updated: May 28, 2023

A story I read from the Book- "Craft Traditions of the World" By Bryan and Polly Sentence.

There was once a Sultan in a far off land. He was wise and beneficent, just and merciful, a father to his people. But one day he turned to his Vizier with a troubled look upon his handsome face.

'What am I to do, my friend?' he asked. 'I am rich and powerful with servants to supply my every need, I have a beautiful wife and children who are the joy of my heart yet I am restless and unfulfilled.'

'Well, my lord,' answered the Vizier. 'You must learn a craft.

Every man should learn a craft! I will call all the master craftsmen to the palace to demonstrate their skills and you can choose from amongst them.'

So the Vizier summoned the master craftsmen, the master potter, the master carpenter, the master copper smith and the most skilful artificers of every trade, and they demonstrated their skills before the Sultan. The Sultan watched and finally he called the master weaver to him and engaged him as his teacher.

Every day the master weaver came to the palace and showed the Sultan how to set up the warps on his loom, how to open the shed, how to send the shuttle flying across from side to side and how to beat the weft down tight. Every day before he sat in court or held audience the Sultan practised on his loom.

Every day his skill increased and he found a sense of peace and contentment come upon him.

The Sultan became skilful on the loom and particularly adept at weaving a pattern of flowers. He made rugs for his wife and his children, for his Vizier and for his favourite courtiers, all with the pattern of flowers.

Now, one night the Sultan called the Vizier and, as was their practice, they went out in disguise to see how things were amongst their subjects. Returning home before dawn they were set upon by a band of robbers who mistook them for a pair of merchants. The brigands tied them securely and locked them in a house in a back alley intending to sell two such healthy specimens to a slave trader for a good price.

'Wait!' said the Sultan. 'I might be worth more to you if you don't sell me. I am a skilled weaver and my weavings would fetch you a great deal of money.'The robbers were intrigued and set up a loom in the courtyard and watched as the Sultan's shuttle flew back and forth and the pattern of flowers began to appear.

"Now that is what I call weaving!' exclaimed the chief of the robbers who was used to handling expensive merchandise even if it was usually stolen. 'When he has finished we could sell this at the royal palace.' And indeed when the Sultan had finished the chief of the robbers himself took the rug to the palace and showed it to the first courtier he met.

'Just wait here,' ordered the courtier who recognized the pattern of flowers. 'The Sultana herself should see this. I am sure she would pay a lot for such fine workmanship,' and he hurried off to show the Sultana. The Sultana, who had been beside herself with anxiety over the mysterious disappearance of her husband, instructed the courtier to give the robber a large bag of gold for the rug but to have him followed when he left. The delighted robber chief swaggered home with the gold but as he entered his house the armed men the Sultana had sent rushed in, rescued the Sultan and the Vizier and arrested the band of robbers.

After he had returned to the embraces of his relieved family, the Sultan sat upon his throne and had the robbers summoned into his presence.

'Take these men away,' he said, 'And lock them in a cell with a loom. When they have learned how to weave a carpet you may let them go. After all, it is my firm belief that every man should learn a craft!'

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