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The Story of Caliph Stork: A Tale From Baghdad

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Caliph Stork is an interesting story from Baghdad and teaches children to

  • Never believe strangers.

  • Good always wins over evil.

An Overview of the Story of Caliph Stork

Children are quite fond of stories involving kings, queens and magic. Have you heard of the Caliph Stork story? The Caliph Stork summary is about the ruler of Baghdad by the name of Caliph Chasid and his vizier, who are tricked by a magician posing as a peddler. He sells them a snuff box with a powder that can turn humans into animals. The Caliph and his vizier give into this temptation and turn into storks.

This story shows how good wins over evil and how not to get tempted by strangers.

Summary of the Caliph Stork Story

The Caliph Stork summary starts with one fine afternoon. Caliph Chasid of Baghdad was relaxing on his divan. He was smoking a long pipe and sipping coffee an enslaved person handed him. After each sip, he rubbed his long beard with pleasure. In short, anyone could see that the Caliph was having a good time.

The Caliph appeared to be at peace with the world. Indeed, he was approachable at such an hour and received a visit from his Grand Vizier, Mansor, every day.

But this afternoon, the Grand Vizier appeared thoughtful and unwilling to speak, so the Caliph took his pipe from his mouth and asked what was wrong with him.

The Grand Vizier answered with his arms crossed on his breast and a low bow and replied that he was feeling disappointed because a merchant was selling exquisite wares outside the castle, but he could not buy it as he did not have any money.

The Caliph, who had always preferred the Grand Vizier, immediately dispatched an enslaved Black person to accompany the merchant to his presence. He did not have to wait long before a little fat man with a sunburned face and ragged clothes appeared. The merchant was carrying a bag full of treasures: jewels and rings, lavishly ornamented pistols, golden cups and combs.

The Caliph and the Vizier rummaged through the items, and the Caliph purchased some fine pistols for himself and Mansor and a comb for the vizier's wife. While the merchant was packing his goods in his box, the Caliph spotted a small drawer and inquired about its contents. The merchant opened the drawer and showed them a snuff box containing black powder and a small piece of paper with something written on it that neither the Caliph nor the vizier could read.

The peddler explained that he got it from a merchant in Mecca.

The Caliph, who had many rare manuscripts in his library that he could not decipher but was proud of, bought a snuff box and paper and dismissed the peddler. He was intrigued by the meaning of the writing, so he asked the vizier if he knew anyone who could translate it.

Mansor said that Selim, the Scholar, lived near the Great Mosque and understood all languages.

The learned man was summoned. The Caliph asked him to look at the writing. Selim humbly bowed and said that it was in Latin and that he would do it.

Selim read, "Whoever found this, praise Allah for his mercy. Whoever snuffed the powder in this box and said "Mutabor" would transform into an animal and gain the ability to understand animal language. He only needs to turn to the east, bow three times, and repeat the word to reclaim his manhood. But he must be careful not to laugh during his transformation; if he did not, he would forget the magic word and remain an animal forever."

Satisfied with Selim's translation, the Caliph gave him a new kaftan and sent him away, binding him by solemn oaths not to reveal the secret between them. He told his Grand Vizier that he would like to be an animal once in a while and asked him to come tomorrow morning. They would go outside the city together, snuff a little of this powder, and perhaps understand the language of those who fly, swim, or crawl.

The Caliph Chasid had barely finished his breakfast when the Grand Vizier arrived, ready for the appointed walk. The Caliph tucked the snuff box into his sash, requested his followers remain in the city and set out alone with the Grand Vizier.

The Caliph chose the pond and walked together to its bank, where quite a few of these quaint birds took no notice of their approach and continued to fish for frogs. At the same time, they noticed another stork flying overhead, hurrying to join the others.

Mansor put forth the idea of becoming a stork.

The Caliph said it was a fantastic idea to turn into a stork and reminded himself how to become men again. They would have to bow three times to the east and say "Mutabor," after which he would be Caliph, and Mansor would be Grand Vizier again.

While the Caliph spoke, he watched as the Stork above their heads balanced his wings and slowly descended to earth. He quickly drew forth the box, took a good pinch of snuff, as did the vizier, and both cried: "Mutabor."

Their legs shrivelled and turned thin and red; their lovely yellow slippers became stork feet and their arms wings; their necks stretched to nearly a yard in length; their beards vanished, and their bodies got covered in feathers.

The Caliph and the Vizier saw a female stork, but when she stood on one foot and waved her wings effectively, they could not hold back their laughter and burst out laughing. They could not recall the words that would make them human again.

They flew over Baghdad and learned that the magician had tricked them and become the ruler himself. They flew away and came across the ruins of a castle and decided to rest.

While resting, they encountered an owl who spoke Arabic and realised that the magician had also tricked her. She said that the magician came to the ruins once a month. They gossiped about their scandalous tricks; maybe this time, they would utter the magic word and become human again. The Caliph planned to marry the owl princess to the vizier. He denied it, so he decided he would wed her.

While talking to his friends, the magician split the word "Mutabor", and the caliph stork, Mansor, and the princess gleamed with joy.

They uttered the word and became humans again. They returned to Baghdad, where the magician was punished, and the Caliph married his princess, lived happily ever after, and narrated the Stork story to their children.

The Caliph and Vizier meet the owl princess

The Caliph and Vizier meet the owl princess

Moral of the Story of Caliph Stork

This story helps the children understand the importance of not getting tempted by strangers offering things and how good wins over evil every time. If the children have full faith and believe in themselves, they can win any challenge in life.

The story of Caliph Stork helps them understand the difference between good and evil and the outcome of doing bad things.

Note to the Parents 

Parents can narrate the story of Caliph Stork to their children and explain to them the quick thinking and wittiness of Caliph Chasid and his vizier and how they become humans again. They can learn that it is good that wins over evil every time.

Understanding that bad intention and doing bad things to others will become the wicked person's downfall, like the magician's. Believing and doing good to others is a lesson they must learn.

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FAQs on The Story of Caliph Stork: A Tale From Baghdad

1. Why did the Caliph buy the snuff box?

The Caliph bought the snuff box because he was fond of rare manuscripts with languages he could not decipher.

2. Why could the Caliph and his vizier not turn back to their human self?

The Caliph and the vizier could not return to their human self because they had laughed and forgotten the word "mutabor".

3. Who was the owl?

The owl was a princess.


Caliph Stork is an interesting story from Baghdad and teaches children to

  • Never believe strangers.

  • Good always wins over evil.