What is beauty and why do people deify it? Is it a vessel, which is empty inside, or a flame, burning within? What are the secrets of mesmerizing beauty of Scheherazade?

What is beauty and why do people deify it? Is it a vessel, which is empty inside, or a flame, burning within? What are the secrets of mesmerizing beauty of Scheherazade?

Scheherazade … possessed courage, wit, and penetration, infinitely above her sex. She had read much, and had so admirable a memory, that she never forgot anything she had read. She had successfully applied herself to philosophy, medicine, history, and the liberal arts; and her poetry excelled the compositions of the best writers of her time. Besides this, she was a perfect beauty, and all her accomplishments were crowned by solid virtue.” – The Arabian Nights Entertainments (1811) as translated by Jonathan Scott, Vol. I, p. 20

Let the story begin.


10 beauty secrets of Scheherazade


Sultan Shahriyar


The sultan’s brother Shahizamon executed the unfaithful wife and went to Shahriyar to share his misfortune. It turned out, however, that things were no better for Shakhriyar either – his wife was also cheating on him.

Soon, the royal brothers met another woman and learned that she cheated on her genie-husband 570 times – not even hiding, but right in his presence while he was sleeping. Each of these betrayals she marked by a ring, then made a necklace out of them and wore it around her neck. This sad experience leads the brothers to the opinion that there is no woman among women who would not be whores.

So, Shahriyar executes his first unfaithful wife and resolves to marry a new virgin every day and to have her beheaded the next morning so that the girl does not have time to dishonour him. He executed over 1000 beautiful girls.


10 beauty secrets of Scheherazade
Scheherazade and Shahryar – Photo credit: https://clck.ru/UqHp2



Scheherazade, whose name means “from noble and exalted lineage,” stopped this bloodshed. She was a daughter of the great vizir. According to the tales, Scheherazade volunteered to marry the sultan against her father’s wishes.

His eldest daughter, who was his delight and pride, Scheherazade said to him, “Father, I have a favour to ask of you. Will you grant it to me?” “I can refuse you nothing,” replied he. “Then listen,” said Scheherazade. “I am determined to stop this barbarous practice of the Sultan’s, and to spear the girls and mothers from the awful fate that hangs over them.” ― Anonymous, The Arabian Nights Entertainments

Once in the royal bedroom, she tells fascinating tales and deliberately stops each one at the most interesting place exactly when the sun rises. The intrigued sultan has to postpone the execution of Scheherazade every morning in order to hear the continuation of the story the next night.

We are all like Scheherazade’s husband, in that we want to know what happens next.” – E. M. Forster.

She would take him to faraway lands to observe foreign ways, so he could get closer to the strangeness within himself.”~ Fatima Mernissi, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood

This continues for 1,000 nights in a row, but, at the 1,001 night, Scheherazade says to Shahriyar that she had no more tales to tell. Scheherazade comes to the sultan with her three sons born from him during this time. By that time, the first son was already walking, the second was crawling, and the third one was just an infant. But there was no need to do so because her intelligence and exceptional beauty won the sultan’s heart. Shahriyar began to cry and tightly hugged his beloved wife and his children. And they lived happily ever after.

My intention was to grapple with the metaphysical meaning behind Scheherazade and present that meaning in its essence. Scheherazade is the symbol of the savior. She weaves tales not to save her own life, but to save humanity from its unending retributive response to injury.” – Alonzo King

Now, smile:

Scheherazade is the classical example of a woman saving her head by using it.” – Esme Wynne-Tyson


Scheherazade’s  stunning beauty


10 beauty secrets of Scheherazade


Now her hair is like the nights of disunion and separation and her face like the days of union and delectation; She hath a nose like the edge of the burnished blade and cheeks like purple wine or anemones blood-red: her lips as coral and carnelian shine and the water of her mouth is sweeter than old wine; its taste would quench Hell’s fiery pain. Her tongue is moved by wit of high degree and ready repartee: her breast is a seduction to all that see it; and joined thereto are two upper arms smooth and rounded; She hath breasts like two globes of ivory, from whose brightness the moons borrow light, and a stomach with little waves as it were a figured cloth of the finest Egyptian linen made by the Copts, with creases like folded scrolls, ending in a waist slender past all power of imagination.” ― Richard Burton, The Arabian Nights

All who looked on her bepissed their bag-trousers, for the excess of her beauty and loveliness.” – Richard Burton, The Arabian Nights


10 beauty secrets of  Scheherazade


10 beauty secrets of Scheherazade


The tales of Scheherazade are works of fiction and don’t provide explicit details about her beauty care routine. The specifics of her beauty regimen are taken from the traditional Persian beauty care practices of the time and left to your imagination and interpretation.



Scheherazade was also famous for having impeccably smooth skin. To achieve smooth and gentle skin, she took care of her beauty using her own peeling formula – a mixture made of honey and nuts. For depilation she used special sugar balls with lemon juice. In hammam, a slave massaged her with this mixture, exfoliating and moisturizing the skin. In Persian culture weekly exfoliating and scrubbing rituals in hammam are mandatory, they are incorporated into daily lives.




10 beauty secrets of Scheherazade


Scheherazade regularly visited hammam, where she took baths. The body was alternately poured with cold and warm water, and then cleaned with a natural mitten. A gentle massage exfoliated dead skin, thoroughly cleansed the body, making it soft and smooth to the touch. Moisturizing was the next step in the care of the Persian Queen. The attendant massaged her body with olive oil mixed with fruit.


Natural soap

One of the most popular cosmetics used in enzymatic peels was black soap made from pressed olives. Its thin layer is enough to apply to the whole body, sprinkle with water and massage with a glove or a rough sponge. This procedure makes the skin silky and soft almost immediately.


Facial mask with quail eggs


10 beauty secrets of Scheherazade


A facial mask with quail eggs was one of the Scheherazade’s favourites. Compared to chicken, quail eggs contain many times more vitamins A, B1, B2 and essential amino acids. You can do it too! It’s what you need: 2 quail eggs; 1 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice; 1 tsp of honey; 1 tsp of olive oil. Thoroughly mix all ingredients and apply the mask on your face and neck for 15-20 min.


Henna and basma:

Scheherazade used to color her coal-black hair with basma and henna. Afterwards she washed her hair with fresh juice made of various fruits. For centuries, these two plants have been used to color hair and to heal the body. Henna dye comes from the crushed leaves of the henna plant and its botanical name is Lawsonia inermis. Basma comes from the crushed leaves of the indigo plant and its botanical name is Indigofera tinctoria. Basma can be used only with henna, because basma itself can dye your hair in green or greenish blue.


Nuts and seeds


10 beauty secrets of Scheherazade


Being staples of traditional Persian diet, without any doubts, nuts and seeds were on the Scheherazade’s table every day. They are packed with fibre, essential fatty acids, protein, minerals, and vitamins, which are responsible for making the skin smooth and glowing. Almonds and pistachios are best known for keeping the skin glowing and maintaining youthfulness, whereas walnuts reduce skin lesion, redness, blemishes and make it look radiant.


Herbal Tea


10 beauty secrets of Scheherazade


Jasmine tea, green tea, chamomile tea, white tea, lemon tea, rose tea, spearmint tea, horsetail tea, ginger tea and peppermint tea … They are not only good for a healthy glowing and radiant skin, but also a great way to induce antioxidants into the diet. Herbals teas help you to reduce weight, prevent premature ageing, add lusters to dull skin, and reduce pigmentation and dark spots. It’s one of the easiest ways to emanate beauty from inside out along with the nutritionally dense food choices. Drinking herbal teas is an ancient Persian tradition and, definitely, Scheherazade had at least a couple of cups of these pleasant drinks every day.





In Iran, rosewater is called Gulab, literally means flower (gul) and water (ab). In Persian beauty care rosewater has been for millennia. The Persians use rosewater extensively – in their cooking and ceremonies and as part of their beauty rituals. Rose essence is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that moisturise the skin. All Iranian households have a bottle of rosewater in their kitchen, and the palace where Scheherazade lived must have had plenty of it.



Sormeh is an ancient eye cosmetic, traditionally made from almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts and coconut ground down and roasted in sesame oil to produce black soot. Sormeh is the Persian word for kohl which has been worn by Egyptians of all social classes since the Protodynastic Period of Egypt (c. 3100 BCE), originally as protection against eye ailments. It is usually applied with either a wooden or bone applicator to embellish and enhance their eyes. No doubts, Scheherazade used this eyeliner 



Perfumes and scents were highly valued in the ancient Middle East. Scheherazade may have used aromatic oils, attars (perfume oils), or incense to enhance her personal scent and create an alluring atmosphere. “I want to inhale the fragrance of your skin, drink from your open mouth.” ― Suzy Davies, “Johari’s Window”


All of us, especially educated Arab women, would say, ‘No, do you think I am Scheherazade? A slave sitting and telling you stories so you won’t kill me?’ This is how we thought about Scheherazade at the beginning. ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ … wasn’t looked at as … Arabic literary heritage. People thought it was vulgar; they thought it was very bad literature — it’s not literature, it’s folk tales and nothing else. But then everything changed … I fell in love with her because I thought she was the first feminist. Second, because she was a philosopher, an artist, a writer, and she was trying through literature to humanize the king and men around her.” – Hanan al-Shaykh, in “Scheherazade: From Storytelling ‘Slave’ To ‘First Feminist'” at NPR (9 June 2013).


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