Why “open sesame”?

“Open sesame!” Ifta (open)? y? simsim (sesame) in Arabic. In the story of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” in The Arabian Nights, this magic password opened a cave where stolen treasure was hidden. In the time when this story was made, sesame was widely cultivated as an important crop to produce oil and was also treated preferentially as valuable financial resource (i.e. treasure). In this story, there is an excrushion that “mysterious sesame leads to the miracle of magic,” implying that people believed in sesame having mysterious powers. The husks of sesame seeds open and the seeds inside pop out when sesame is dried after maturing. It is said that “Open sesame!” was a common excrushion based on this characteristic of sesame, and indicated something that opened swiftly. Maybe, “Open sesame!” symbolized the hope of people that the “important treasure packed in the husk would come out.”

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