​27 year-old Noa Snir, a graduate of Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, has created a new set of illustrations for the stories of One Thousand and One Nights, which she hopes will revive interest in the ancient masterpiece

New illustrations for an ancient classic

 

Copyright: Illustration courtesy Noa Snir

A deep sense of mission, of making the stories of One Thousand and One Nights accessible to Israeli readers, was the trigger to Noa Snir’s decision to create new illustrations for the stories of the Arabian Nights. A longing to feel the geographical space she inhabits drew the illustrator to "begin an academic exploration of the stories of the One Thousand and One Nights, while simultaneously initiating visual research that included observations of Persian miniatures, traditional Muslim illustrations in India, arabesques and more," Snir says. 
"I was guided by the idea that the creation of of a new and modern edition of the book would stimulate renewed interest in the cultural discourse in Israel regarding this literary gem. My intention was to create a rich, inviting and seductive visual language," the 27 year-old Jerusalemite and graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design notes. If it were up to her, Snir would add the work to the curriculum of Israeli schools. 
New illustrations for an ancient classic

 
Illustration courtesy Noa Snir

In conjunction with the reading of the stories themselves, "I began to conduct research from an academic viewpoint while at the same time initiating visual research that included observation of Persian miniatures, traditional Muslim illustrations from India, arabesques and more. I also learned about contemporary Arab design and Illustration, and was introduced to the work of Iranian illustrators, Lebanese designers and the Dubai art scene.  I discovered a whole world I did not know existed," she says.
Snir’s infatuation with the text was immediate and total, as she herself describes: "I couldn’t understand how I had never been exposed before to this amazing creativity that combines all the elements of classic literature. There is something in these works that were collected from various sources over many years that allows great freedom. Indeed, the works cover the entire potential range of themes. Love, betrayal, loyalty, religious belief, violence, jealousy, song and verse. This awareness, that it is a work great enough to contain it all, really appealed to me."
New illustrations for an ancient classic

Illustration courtesy Noa Snir 

Snir is interested in ascertaining the reactions of the Arab public to the project, which won the Prize of Excellence in her academic institution and an enthusiastic response from the Israeli public.  From responses of Arab residents of Jerusalem who have seen the work, Snir learned that "while the older generation is well acquainted with the stories, and some would even recite them by heart at gatherings and events, the younger generation has mainly lost interest – similar to the Israeli public."  
Snir’s solo exhibition, which is currently on display in Portugal, is an extension of the project. "The image of Sheherazade and her experience in the king’s palace form the center of the current exhibition," she says.