The flying carpet is the quintessential symbol of the fantasy of Arabian Nights in the Western imagination. And yet, it is not a motif that is prevalent in the actual text of The Arabian Nights. The flying carpet first appears in Galland’s final volume, vol. 12 in the story “Histoire du prince Ahmed et de la fee Pari-Banou” (The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Pari Banon), published posthumously in 1717 (in English probably by the 1720’s).
These stamps from Iraq appeared in 1966. As they are associated with The Arab International Tourist Union, one can’t help wondering if they had more to do with exploiting the western ideas of the magical and mysterious East, and encouraging visits to that mythical place than with celebrating the Arabian Nights texts.