Jan 26, 2023 I Bibhu Dev Misra

The Magical Flying Carpet of King Solomon: Clues Lead to UFOs and Subterrestrials

Anyone who has watched Disney’s animated film Aladdin knows a thing or two about magical flying carpets, and why they are a must-have for those who have just fallen in love and are being chased around by goons. However, the original story of Aladdin in The Thousand and One Nights – a collection of Middle Eastern folktales compiled in Arabic - did not have any flying carpets. That’s right, it was a Disney invention, and quite skillfully inserted into the tale, one must add. But there is another story in The Thousand and One Nights called “Prince Ahmad and the Fairy Peri-Banu”, where a flying carpet has been described in detail. 

This story – like many others in the collection - was set in medieval India. Sir Richard Francis Burton, in his translation of the Arabic text, writes that, a Sultan of India had asked his three sons to bring back to him the most wonderful object in the world. The winner would wed a beautiful princess whom they all adored. Prince Husayn, the eldest son, journeyed to the wonderful land of Bishangarh (i.e. Bisnagar or Vijayanagara), a highly prosperous kingdom of Southern India. At the bustling, exotic marketplace, a merchant offered to sell Prince Husayn a carpet, some four yards square, for the princely sum of thirty thousand gold coins. When the Prince asked the dealer what special virtue the carpet has, to demand such an exorbitant price, he replied, 

“Its properties are singular and marvellous. Whoever sitteth on this carpet and willeth in thought to be taken up and set down upon other site will, in the twinkling of an eye, be borne thither, be that place nearhand or distant many a day's journey and difficult to reach.”[1]

The dealer offered the Prince to test out the carpet by spreading it out on the ground. After both of them sat on it and the Prince wished to visit the caravanserais from where he came to Bishangarh, “the twain were at once transported as though borne by the throne of Solomon to the Khan.”

Sir Francis Burton mentions that a similar tale is recorded in Icelandic legends compiled by Powell and Magnusson. The story was probably taken there by Arabian or Persian traders. The Icelandic version tells us who made the flying carpet – a dwarf with magical prowess. Oh, those dwarfs again! Childish, playful creatures, prone to becoming vindictive when offended. In Norse legends they are described as a wise and skillful folk, who live in caves deep below the ground, and fashion magical devices from the precious metals of the underworld. As per the Icelandic version of the tale, the second son of the King travels across the world in search of a wonderful gift for the girl he wished to marry, and reaches a populated city:

“He heard that there lived a short way from the town a dwarf, the cleverest maker of curious and cunning things. He therefore resolved to go to the dwarf in order to try whether he could be persuaded to make him any costly thing. The dwarf said that he had ceased to make things of that sort now and he must beg to be excused from making anything of the kind for the prince. But he said that he had a piece of cloth, made in his younger days, with which however, he was very unwilling to part. The king's son asked the nature and use of the cloth. The dwarf answered, "On this cloth one can go all over the world, as well through the air as on the water. Runes (i.e. Germanic script) are on it, which must be understood by him who uses it."…The prince was truly glad to have got the cloth, for it was not only a cloth of great value, but also the greatest of treasures in other respects, having gold-seams and jewel-embroidery.”[2]

Scholars agree that the source of the legend of the flying carpet goes back to the time of King Solomon, who possessed a wonderful flying carpet. Solomon, the son of David, was the third King of Israel. An exceedingly wise person, he ruled for forty years from 971 - 931 BCE. Because of his wisdom, his reign was rewarded with peace and unprecedented riches. As per The Jewish Encyclopedia, “His realm is described by the Rabbis as having extended, before his fall over the upper world inhabited by the angels and over the whole of the terrestrial globe with all its inhabitants, including all the beasts, fowls, and reptiles, as well as the demons and spirits…His control over the demons, spirits and animals augmented his splendour, the demons bringing him precious stones, besides water from distant countries to irrigate his exotic plants.”[3]

It is possibly because of his association with the demons and spirits that Solomon seemed to have access to unusual means of traveling through the sky. The Jewish Encyclopedia states, “Solomon was accustomed to ride through the air on a large eagle which brought him in a single day to Tadmor in the wilderness.” This is reminiscent of ancient Hindu legends, in which Lord Krishna travels on the back of a large eagle called Garuda. Regarding Solomon’s flying carpet, The Jewish Encyclopedia has more to tell us:

“When God appointed Solomon king over every created thing, He gave him a large carpet sixty miles long and sixty miles wide, made of green silk interwoven with pure gold, and ornamented with figured decorations. Surrounded by his four princes, Asaph. B. Berechiah, prince of men, Ramirat, prince of the demons, a lion, prince of beasts, and an eagle, prince of birds, when Solomon sat upon the carpet he was caught up by the wind, and sailed through the air so quickly that he breakfasted at Damascus and supped in Media.”[4]

The size of Solomon’s carpet, at a humungous 3600 square miles, is bigger than many modern provinces of Israel, which indicates that it is either a grossly exaggerated figure or the “mile” of those days was much smaller that of the present day. The speed of the carpet appears to be less than that of today’s commercial airliners. The distance between Damascus and Ecbatana (one of the primary cities of Media in northwestern Iran) is around 1400 kms, and if this distance was covered by Solomon between breakfast and supper, then we can deduce that the speed of the flying carpet was possibly around 200 kmph, assuming a travel time of around 7 hours. Of course, it could have been faster than that as well. Since a flying carpet does not have an external covering, the wind force would have been considerable at that speed, and would not have made for a very comfortable flight. 

As per The Jewish Encyclopedia, “One day Solomon was filled with pride at his own greatness and wisdom; and as a punishment therefore the wind shook the carpet, throwing down 40,000 men. Solomon chided the wind for the mischief it had done; but the latter rejoined that the king would do well to turn toward God and cease to be proud; whereupon Solomon felt greatly ashamed.” The rabbis seem to have delighted in inventing stories that tried to convey the moral message that a king should not be proud of his wealth and prowess. In one such story, Solomon was sailing over a valley where there were many swarms of ants. Solomon placed the queen of the ants upon his hand, and asked her whether there was anyone in the world greater than he. 

“The ant replied that she was much greater: otherwise God would not have sent him there to place her upon his hand. The king, greatly angered, threw her down saying, ‘dost thou know who I am? I am Solomon, the son of David!’ She answered: ‘I know that thou art created of a corrupted drop: therefore thou oughtest not to be proud.’ Solomon was filled with shame, and fell on his face.”

Solomon, apparently, traveled far and wide on his flying carpet, if we are to go by the legends and beliefs of disparate nations. The Sulaiman Mountains, also known as Koh-e Sulaiman i.e. Mountains of Solomon are a range located to the west of the Indus River valley, in Balochistan, Pakistan. The most well-known peak of the Sulaiman Mountains is the Takht-e-Sulaiman or “Throne of Solomon” at 3,487 metres (11,440 ft). As per local legends, King Solomon used to land on top of the mountain on his flying carpet, and the jinns carried boulders from here for the construction of his Temple. Some say that the fabled gold mine of Solomon – the biblical Ophir, which had yielded 34 tons of gold for the Kingdom of Israel - is hidden somewhere in these mountains. It is quite likely, however, that these stories were conceived during the Arab conquests of the region, for Solomon was highly venerated by the Arabs who regarded him as a messenger of God. 

The Throne of Solomon is a natural platform, about 14 feet below the Summit of Koh-e-Sulaiman, on the side of a sheer rock face. Balochistan, Pakistan. Source: Balochistanvoices.com

Another place associated with Solomon is in Iran. The Takht-e Soleyman or “Throne of Solomon” is an archaeological site in the West Azerbaijan province of Iran. Built during the Sassanid period, it used to be a sacred site of Zoroastrianism. The site received its biblical name after the Arab invasion of Iran in the 7th century. Folk legends relate that King Solomon used to imprison monsters inside a nearby 100m deep crater called Zendan-e Soleyman i.e. “Prison of Solomon”. A place with a similar name also exists in Kyrgyzstan. Sulayman Rock or Sulayman Mountain is a sacred rock in the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan which has been a place of Muslim pilgrimage for centuries. It contains a shrine which supposedly marks Solomon’s grave.

Takht-e Soleyman, Iran. Credit: Elaheabed CC BY-SA 4.0

Additional details about Solomon’s flying carpet can be found in Arabic literature, where Solomon is represented as having power over spirits, animals, wind and water, all of which obeyed his orders by virtue of a magic ring set with the four jewels given to him by the angels that had power over these four realms. The author of the Quran devoted a considerable section of Surah XXVII to the correspondence that passed between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. The eminent Egyptologist Sir E.A. Wallis Budge writes,

“Among the many gifts that God bestowed upon Solomon were the understanding of the speech of birds, and knowledge of every kind. He was the lord of men, genii and birds. When he travelled through the air on his magical carpet of green silk, which was borne aloft by the wind according to the King’s direction, the men stood on the right of it, and the spirits on the left, and a vast army of birds of every kind kept flying over the carpet to protect its occupants from the heat of the sun.”[5]

One of these birds was the lapwing, which told Solomon about the Kingdom of Sheba, ruled over by a beautiful and powerful queen named “Bilkis”. This began a series of correspondences between Solomon and Bilkis, that eventually persuaded Bilkis to come to Jerusalem with gifts, in order to test the wisdom of Solomon by means of a series of riddles. As per the Kebra Nagast – the Ethiopian national saga translated from Arabic in 1322 CE – the Queen of Sheba, whose Ethiopian name was Makeda, spent a long time in Jerusalem, and, on being instructed by Solomon, she converted to Judaism. On returning to Ethiopia, Makeda gave birth to Solomon’s son Menelik I, from whom the Ethiopian dynasty claims descent till the present day.

The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon. Oil on canvas by Sir Edward John Poynter, 1890. Source: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia, Public Domain

That’s pretty much all we know about Solomon’s flying carpet from various historical sources. Now we need to grapple with the rather difficult question of whether there is any historical merit to these tales, or if they were all invented at a later date to glorify the wise ruler.

A rather unusual academic paper on these lines, titled, “The Secret History of the Flying Carpet”, was published by Azhar Abidi  in the Southwest Review journal in 2006.[6] He wrote that a French explorer named Henri Baq had found 13th century Persian scrolls in the underground cellars of a castle near Alamut, Iran. The manuscript was translated from Persian into English by the reknowned linguist Professor CGD Septimus. Written by a Jewish scholar named Isaac Ben Sherira, the scrolls made the astonishing claim that flying carpets were woven and sold till the late 13th century CE. But the clientele for these carpets were at the fringe of respectable society, since Muslim rulers looked upon flying carpets as devil-inspired contraptions.

As per Ben Sherira, the flying carpet of King Solomon was sent to him by Queen Sheba. Azhar Abidi writes in his paper that,

“At the inauguration of the queen in 977 BC, her alchemist-royal, a Talmudist, demonstrated small brown rugs that could hover a few feet above the ground. Many years later she sent a magnificent flying carpet to King Solomon. A token of love, it was of green sendal embroidered with gold and silver and studded with precious stones, and its length and breadth were such that all the king’s host could stand upon it. The king, who was preoccupied with building his temple in Jerusalem, could not receive the gift and gave it to his courtiers. When news of this cool reception reached the queen, she was heartbroken. She dismissed her artisans and never had anything to do with flying carpets again.”

Ben Sherira goes on to make a number of extraordinary claims about flying carpets. According to him, “the great library of Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I, kept a large stock of flying carpets for its readers. They could borrow these carpets in exchange for their slippers, to glide back and forth, up and down, among the shelves of papyrus manuscripts.” Now, isn’t that neat? It seems to me that Ben Sherira just stopped short of claiming that, when the library of Alexandria was destroyed, most of the flying carpets were secretly taken to the Hogwarts Castle in Britain, where they are still safely hidden away from the prying eyes of muggles.

Ben Sherira wrote that the use of flying carpets by the general populace came to an end in the mid-8th century when a young soldier of Baghdad eloped with the royal princess on his flying carpet. This event instigated the furious Sultan to hunt down and destroy all traders and artisans involved in the business of flying carpets. There was a brief resurgence in 1213 CE, when Prince Behroz of the state of Khorasan in eastern Persia, got two dozen flying carpets made by his father-in-law and positioned a squadron of archers on them to form the world’s first airborne cavalry. But the invasions of Ghenghis Khan in 1226 put the final nail in the coffin in the history of this magical contraption. Genghis Khan ordered all flying carpets in the kingdom to be confiscated and burnt, apparently because he wanted his sons and soldiers on the saddle and not on the carpet. 

Interestingly, Ben Sherira even gave particulars of the technique that the artisans employed to weave the flying carpets. Apparently, the ancient Persian artisans superheated a particular type of clay, which then aquired anti-magnetic properties. Then they dyed the wool in this clay, before weaving them into a carpet. The magnetized fibers of the carpet hovered above the ground, being repelled by the Earth’s magnetic field. Propulsion went along the magnetic lines of the Earth, which acted like aerial rails. Whew! A lot of ancient science right there.

But is any of it true? Very unlikely. If flying carpets were a dime-a-dozen they would have appeared in many historical anecdotes of antiquity, whereas we hear about them only in relation to King Solomon, and much later in The Thousand and One Nights, which were clearly fables that were composed to entertain and to convey moral lessons. Besides, even in The Thousand and One Nights, a flying carpet was regarded as a rare and precious commodity. If we assume that the 13th century Persian scrolls are genuine – for it would be quite silly to hoax them, considering that scrolls can be easily carbon dated – it means that Ben Sherira had fabricated stories in order to justify the existence of flying carpets. Does that mean that the flying carpet of King Solomon was purely imaginary? I don’t think so. There wouldn’t have been so many ancient sources - Jewish, Arabic and Ethiopian – writing about King Solomon’s flying carpet if there wasn’t a grain of truth in it. However, the flying carpet may not really have been a carpet, but something else altogether.

A clue to the real nature of King Solomon’s carpet is hidden in Ben Sherira’s fabricated manuscript. Azhar Abidi writes in his paper: “But there is one episode, witnessed by many people on the ground, where a party of turbaned men flew from Samarkand to Isfahan at whirlwind speed. This incident is corroborated in the facsimile of another rare text, produced in the seventeenth century, in which one witness is quoted as saying ‘We saw a strange whirling disc in the sky, which flew over our village [Nishapur], trailing fire and sulphur.’” A strange whirling disc, indeed! In other words, what we refer to as a UFO or flying saucer. Eyewitness accounts of UFOs from around the world describe them as spherical or disc-shaped metallic objects, decorated with rows of light on the underside. If the metallic underside of a UFO reflects the green vegetation of the Earth when flying overhead, then it would closely resemble the flying carpet of King Solomon which was said to be made of green silk and embroidered with gold and precious stones. 

It appears to me that the flying carpets of the ancient legends were really UFOs. There is no reason to believe that the UFO phenomenon has begun recently. King Solomon was probably one of the earliest UFO passengers of the world. Not the first one, though, since UFOs or vimanas have been described in the ancient texts of India which go back to 7000 BCE. Now that we think about it, it makes far more sense for a monarch to ride a UFO than a carpet. Imagine King Solomon arriving at his destination drenched in a thundershower, his hair in an absolute mess due to the high-speed winds, and, in the unfortunate case of winter rains, shivering in a half-frozen state with icicles dangling from his beard. That would have caused a big dent in his glamour and reputation. On the other hand, a ride in an alien craft would have been speedy, comfortable and awe-inspiring.

Finally, we need to ask, how did Solomon get to ride a UFO whenever he desired? Probably because he ruled over demons and spirits, who, in Arabic literature, were referred to as the djinns (genies). The djinns were involved in most of Solomon’s public works such as the building of temples, mining of precious materials etc., and accompanied Solomon on his UFO. In Islamic belief, the djinns were created long before men and have very long lifespans. They live in a parallel dimension hidden from us. Mostly, though, they are said to inhabit ruins, graveyards, hills, caves and deep tunnels, all of which are inaccesible to us. 

The meaning of the word djinn in Arabic is “hidden from view”. The djinns can not only remain invisible to us, they can also shapeshift into any form of their choice. As per the Prophet Mohammad, certain kinds of djinns have wings and can fly through the air. Also, every person has a djinn appointed to be his constant companion, who can lure us into evil acts or save us from trouble. While benevolent djinns reward people for good acts, malevolent ones have been known to possess people and drive them insane. 

The black king of the djinns from the 14th-century Kitab al-Bulhan. Source: Oxford Digital Library, Public Domain

In case you are wondering how the djinns are tied up with the UFO phenomenon, my answer is: very intimately. The djinns correspond to the “fairy folk” of European legends, who comprise of a large ensemble of magical creatures such as elves, dwarfs, fairies etc. The dwarfs, in particular, were believed to be very clever and capable of building magical gadgets. In many UFO sightings, dwarf humanoid beings dressed in silver suits have been reported. UFOs have also been seen diving into oceans and water bodies such as lakes and cenotes, which could be the points of entry into the underworld bases of these supernatural beings. I had discussed in an earlier article that, in Hopi lore, the kachinas are “underworld spirits” who answer to the Hopi prayers for health, rain and crops. They ride around in “flying shields” having two parts: a lower part which spins and an upper one that remains still. The Hopi say that the kachinas had emerged with them from their underground shelters at the beginning of the Fourth World, and gave guidance to the clans during their migrations.

All of this suggests that a significant fraction of the modern day UFO phenomenon can be attributed to various classes of subterrestrial beings that were known by different names – kachinas, djinns, fairies, dwarfs, elves etc. It appears from the ancient Jewish and Arabic accounts that the djinns had great respect for Solomon for his wisdom, and, possibly, also for being the son of David. That’s probably why they obeyed his commands and conducted him around in one of their spacecrafts, which gave rise to the legend of Solomon’s flying carpet. The rulers who came after Solomon, apparently, did not command the respect and obedience of the djinns, and over time the story of Solomon’s aerial adventures passed into the realms of fantasies and myths.

 
References

[1] Sir Richard Francis Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 13, The Burton Club, 1887, https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/3447/pg3447-images.html#linknoteref-319
[2] Ibid
[3] “Solomon”, The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol.11, 1901, p.440.
[4] Ibid
[5] E.A.W. Budge, The Kebra Nagast [1922], https://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/kn/kn006.htm
[6] Azhar Abidi, "The Secret History of the Flying Carpet", Southwest Review, Vol. 91, No. 1 (2006), pp. 28-35, https://www.jstor.org/stable/43472497. This article can be read on Azhar Abidi’s personal blog: http://secrethistoryflyingcarpet.blogspot.com/

Bibhu Dev Misra

Bibhu Dev Misra is an independent researcher and writer on ancient civilizations and ancient mysteries. His passion is to explore the knowledge left behind by the ancients in the form of inscriptions, artifacts, monuments, symbols, glyphs, myths and legends. His articles have been published in different magazines and websites such as the New Dawn, Science to Sage, Nexus, Viewzone, Graham Hancock's website, Waking Times etc. and he has been featured on podcasts, interviews and online conferences organized by Earth Ancients, Portal to Ascension, OSOM, Watcher's Talk, Times FM and others. He is an engineer from IIT and a MBA from IIM, and has worked in the Information Technology industry for more than two decades. He can be reached at [email protected] and via his website Ancient Inquiries: www.bibhudevmisra.com

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