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Historically Accurate Jasmine


Being the history geek that I am, I guess it is kind of surprising that I haven't really done a "historically accurate" animation series before, but after seeing that awesome Buzzfeed Disney Princess video, and of course all the amazing art on here, I was inspired to make my own.  I guess it is better late than never!

As I've said before elsewhere, from an artistic standpoint, I'm not at all bothered by the animated designs of the characters in Disney and Dreamworks films. They weren't documentaries after all so in most cases they didn't need to be accurate, and in animation in particular, it is more important to convey character and style in the designs.  I am not trying to "fix" anything because I don't think there is anything to fix!  That being said, it can still be fun to learn how your favorite characters might have looked if they had existed in real life.    

For my series, I am trying to be as accurate as I possibly can.  I'm taking the country of origin, the social class, the culture, and the specific decade into mind (instead of just a general sweep of multiple decades), and also adapting the colors and styles to fit what was available and worn everyday.  I will try to keep the characters recognizable where I can, but I want to make my pictures realistic and so some elements of the original designs might be altered in the process.

Yep, here it is time for another revision!  Hey, I said I was going to be super accurate, and that means making some changes when you learn something new!  For my original drawings of the Aladdin characters, I based their fashion on the clothing worn in the Ottoman empire, since it was ruled by a Sultan like Agrabah is in the film and there were some Ottoman references in the movie's design.  However, this week I was doing some reading and learned that there were ALSO sultans within the Abbasid caliphate, the widespread Arab empire of the middle ages.  By the 8th century there were many "autonomous provinces" in the Arab world that were only nominally controlled by the caliph.  If Agrabah had been a real region in the Arabian Peninsula, it could have still been ruled by the Sultan like in the movie, but more as a mini-kingdom within the overall empire (kind of like the Ghaznavid Sultanate).  I think an Abbasid sultanate would be an even better fit than an Ottoman one, especially since it involved Arabs and not Turks - so here we are!  I marked this version of Jafar as set in the "Arabian Peninsula" since Agrabah is a fictional Arabian country, apparently a combination of the Indian city of "Agra" and the Arabic city of "Baghdad."  But most of my references were illuminations from medieval Baghdad since Disney's movie was heavily based on the earlier film "The Thief of Bagdad" (and I just also read that that was where the movie was supposed to be set until the Gulf War started).  As for the period, I set it in the 13th century near the end of the Abbasid caliphate.  Since Genie mentioned Scheherezade, I definitely wanted to set it after the 10th century which was the earliest mention of that character.   But I settled on the 13th century based on the line from "Prince Ali" where he was mentioned as fighting "galloping hordes," probably a reference to the Mongol hordes that were invading the Arab world around that time.  At this period in time, though, clothing stayed pretty much the same for several hundred years.

Here at last we have Jasmine!  :)  She took a little longer this time around because it was tough, at first, to find images of Arabic women during the Abbasid period.  Fortunately, though, when I discovered the 13th century illustrations by Al-Wasiti and Al-Jaziri, I was able to learn a lot about the kind of fashions an Arabian princess could have worn.  I wanted to draw Jasmine in an outfit she could wear for the majority of the film, and since she spends most of the film with male characters like Jafar or Aladdin, her outfit would need to be of the more modest variety, since Muslim women were required to dress differently around men they could possibly marry.  

When I was looking at the period illustrations, I seemed to identify three kinds of fashion.  The first kind was the most “revealing,” where women wore a crown-like hat that revealed their face and hair.  This looked to be worn mainly indoors, so I’m assuming it was only appropriate around related men.  The most modest was a full-body wrap similar to the modern “chador,” which looked to be mainly worn outdoors or before important people, either with or without a face veil– I got the impression that it was not necessarily required, but worn for “extra” modesty, or maybe just in place of the headwrap since they don’t appear to be worn both at once.  For Jasmine’s historical look, I took a middle of the road approach based on women that show up in works by Al-Jaziri, Al-Wasiti, and others.  These women wear a headwrap similar to the modern “Al-Amira” style, with a decorative fillet tied on top.  Since they are shown wearing it in front of men, and since women didn’t generally wear a covering around other women, I *think* Jasmine could properly be around Aladdin and Jafar in this clothing, though she’d probably add the extra wrap when venturing into Agrabah.

Many women were shown wearing shorter dresses that revealed the salwar underneath, which was a nice match for Jasmine’s outfit in the film.  This time around I was able to go with the bluish-green color for her clothing, since that is regularly depicted in the artwork.  Since Abbasid women were known for being very decorative  I added embellished tiraz bands on her dress, pearls in her plaited hair, and a turqouise jewel on her fillet, based on the ones in this Persian image.  Despite their headcoverings, Abbasid women appeared to wear both makeup and visible jewelry, similar to some modern Muslim girls who wear hijab, so I drew Jasmine wearing kohl on her eyes and henna on her fingertips like the women in the artwork.  Her earrings are based on these, and since you wouldn’t be able to view her necklace, I gave her heavy golden bangles instead.

Even though Jasmine’s clothes are way more modest than in the movie, I still think she looks beautiful.  It was fun learning more about the medieval Arabs while working on these Aladdin revisions, so I hope I was able to do her culture justice!

You can check out the original Ottoman version in my stash here

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© 2015 - 2021 Wickfield
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ghashogh's avatar

wow, very impressive work and art:clap: and could jasmine be really an iranian princess, in original or something like that :)

wow, an iranian women as one of princess of disney too:meow:

09alih's avatar

I actually like this outfit better than the one in the film.

distractthemonster's avatar

she's looking awesome in this!

rosegoldgirl's avatar
Gulliver63's avatar
This is very nice...
TheGreenDome's avatar
i wonder if Jasmine will look like this in the live-action remake?
ZaynMalikLover21's avatar
Actually no,her outfit is South Asian. Presumably Mughal Indian.…
ghashogh's avatar

or maybe iranian:)

TheGreenDome's avatar

[I posted this comment WAY before I saw the remake. But thanks.]
Wickfield's avatar
No, she will probably look like a belly dancer girl.
TheGreenDome's avatar
But she looks lovely in this outfit!
Wickfield's avatar
TheGreenDome's avatar
hichamarezki's avatar

i love this one, i think it actually better than the one the movie did go with. it feel arabic and it give me a good sense..try to work in disney movie one day
Wickfield's avatar
hichamarezki's avatar
your welcome

and looking at your other works, you really can work on an animation studio, you're just good at it
Wickfield's avatar
Aww thanks, that would definitely be amazing!
hichamarezki's avatar
xVanyx's avatar
This is awesome! I love how you can "read" those old images. I always have trouble deciphering the old drawing styles and "re-thinking" how it would have looked if people back then could have drawn better. I can see how much effort you must have put into this and seeing your reference pictures was a huge joy ^__^. Keep up the good work!
Wickfield's avatar
It does take some practice to get used to those stylized images for sure!  But most art until the Renaissance was stylized so if you want to draw anything before then you have to get used to the style fast. ;)  I'm glad you like the drawing!
xVanyx's avatar
You're very welcome! Until now I have tried imitating the contemporary art styles or (when using my own style) only drawing post-Renaissance fashion, but I hope I will get better with references in the future. 
PrismWings's avatar
This is lovely!
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