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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Steel - Bopoluchi - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

By the time you read this Valentine's Day will have ended.  Hopefully yours ended safely.  The media seem determined to warn people about all the tricksters out to cheat unsuspecting seekers of love.  Here in the Detroit metro area a man using a dating app was murdered.  SHEESH!  Sometimes modern life seems determined to show us a dangerous world, but yet some of our oldest stories are cautionary tales from Red Riding Hood to Bluebeard.  They show we always should keep alert.

While I wasn't seeking a cautionary tale, I've been spending more hours in support calls to India than probably the average person there spends in a week or even longer.  I believe my new computer is finally working correctly and thank the HP technician, Sukanya, a woman of persistence and humor.  Along the way I learned she loves to relax by reading and might even find this a site to visit.  For her I went specifically looking for something from India.

Flora Annie Steel traveled India searching for stories, carefully keeping their humor, drama, and poetry.  Her 1894 book, Tales of the Punjab, was further documented by Major R.C. Temple, and illustrated by Rudyard Kipling's father, J. Lockwood Kipling.  (I decided just to use "Kipling" as a subject label so that later I might include some of Rudyard's work.)  Two of the notes can wait until the story's end, but one word tripped me up, "billhook."  The internet showed me billhooks and the sickle shaped tools can vary in size with the smallest being used for harvesting rice and the larger ones like this used for tasks like cutting firewood or clearing paths.  In medieval times it also was a weapon on a pole.  On seeing it and hearing about its agricultural usage, I realized it was what I commonly call a "brush hook."  I suspect our heroine, Bopoluchi, had the small version.

Now for the story, complete with a recurring refrain of warning, which always makes for a tellable tale.
That's certainly a bit of folklore that includes female empowerment!  Oh, okay she should have listened to the warnings, but once she accepted her situation she certainly acted.

Now about those notes I thought were better to wait.  Several of them give the original word for parts of the story and Bopoluchi was certainly named well for it means Trickster.  As for that scarlet bridal dress, we are told in the notes "Every Panjabi bride, however poor, wears a dress of scarlet and gold for six months, and if rich, for two years."  https://www.culturalindia.net gives a whole section to Indian Weddings and under regional weddings the Punjabi wedding says:
The Punjabi bride is a sight to behold. Resplendent in a gorgeous lehenga and lots of fashionable jewelry, she walks in beauty. Punjabi brides are very picky when it comes to their wedding lehenga and love to go all the way for the perfect one. Although Red is the traditional wedding color for all Indian brides, Punjabi brides are known to go for other colors like green, gold, fuchsia and orange. She pairs the lehenga with a matching dupatta with which she covers her head. She wears a lot of jewelry, some of it made of gold while some of it may be modern costume jewelry. Some compulsory components are maangtika, bangles, Nath, Chooda (a traditional red and ivory colored bangle set in multiples of four), kamarbandh and Paijaniya. The sister-in-law of the bride ties a set of Kalire to her wrists. These are gold or silver ornaments that are dome shaped with multiple danglers attached to them.
from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjabi_wedding_traditions

Surely the traditional wedding was what this young orphaned girl dreamed of having, like her friends. Dreams are sometimes dangerous if you don't examine them carefully.  Folklore is frequently  criticized as living in a "fairy tale world", but our ancestors often looked beyond the "happily ever after."
******************
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Mutt - The Clever Peasant Girl - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

A story has been haunting me as I look a bit ahead to Valentine's Day.  I knew the story's ending impressed me as a wonderful proof of love, but couldn't remember the story's source or even its country.  This wasn't as hopeless as it seems because I went looking in Margaret Read MacDonald's excellent reference book, The Storyteller's Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children. -- Don't let that part about children stop you, this is definitely a story for mature adolescents and adults.  At the end I'll say a bit more about the motif index which helped me find it, but here are the many cultures that tell this motif in the order MacDonald gives them:  it is found in anthologies for Serbia, the Kirghiz (of Kyrgyzstan), Estonia, Czechoslovakia (when published still one country with no sign if the story is Czech or Slovak), Wales, Rumania, Poland, Russia, Netherlands, and Italy.  Stories do travel and clearly this has traveled from Central Asia and across Europe.

By the way, it's also a story loaded with riddles and that, too, is a common element in many stories.  I challenge you to try and answer them before seeing how the Clever Peasant Girl answers them.

I have many of the anthologies MacDonald cites and the best known version is probably Parker Fillmore's "Clever Manka" in The Shepherd's Nosegay; stories from Finland and Czechoslovakia, but both the original book and the story's reprint in May Hill Arbuthnot's Time for Fairy Tales Old and New are ex libris complete with library binding which preserves the book, but makes it hard to scan.  

Looking further at those anthologies, another version rose to the top, the Estonian one.  I have long-time family friends who are Estonian American and also know later this month is Estonian Independence Day, so I checked my two books of Estonian tales.  The more recent (and still in copyright) The Moon Painters and Other Estonian Folk Tales by Selve Maas is a lot of fun, but it includes many of the same stories found in the older Fairy Tales from Baltic Shores; Folk-lore stories from Estonia by Eugenie Mutt.  The two books each give their retellings of "The Clever Peasant Girl."  The older volume also includes wide margins perfect for scanning as well as being a graphic gem with full color and small black and white illustrations and page design by Jeannettte Berkowitz -- although I quibble a bit with where the publisher inserted them. 

Let's see it!


Now how did I find it and why did it seem so appropriate to me?  MacDonald used the Aarne-Thompson Motif classification to group types of stories.  The general group is J for "The Wise and Foolish" and I found J1545.4 "The exiled wife's dearest possession.  A wife driven from home by her husband is allowed to take her dearest possession.  She takes her husband."  I'll admit this clever wife found a more comfortable way than I seem to remember, but none of the other anthologies are in Public Domain, so I didn't read them for my faintly remembering she picked her husband up and carried him out on her back!  In this case an exiled Queen would surely not do that and would be allowed a coach to carry her and whatever she valued most.  ("Clever Manka" also had a wagon to carry out her burgomaster.)  Clearly whether it's used for love and Valentine's Day, Estonian Independence Day (February 24), or saved for Women's History month, it's a story worth Keeping the Public in Public Domain.

Not in Public Domain, but I've been given permission to post another Estonian tale I found online and wanted to use at the start of this month and the lunar New Year.  I hope that tempts you to return here for a humorous story which may have another application to the Year of the Rat.
**************************


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Cornplanter/Canfield - The First Winter - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This is not the start of winter (thank heavens!), but we still have a lot of it left.  This past week I saw the first hopeful sign...the local parks have changed their sunset closing to half an hour later!  It means the days are finally a bit longer with more coming.  Winter is starting to leave -- HOORAY!  Okay, it's a long way until it's over, but it fits with today's story.


Recently I was able to purchase The Legends of the Iroquois which is officially listed as being written by William W. Canfield, but he attributes the source to "The Cornplanter", a Seneca who died in 1836 at the age of 104.  I have quite a few Iroquois books, including one by J.(Jesse)J. Cornplanter which is a reprint from Iroqrafts, so it is recognized as an important book to the Iroquois (originally published in 1938 and still under copyright because of renewal).  Jesse died in 1957 and was a descendant of the chief commonly called "The Cornplanter."  Jesse's father worked closely with the Seneca folklorist, Arthur C. Parker, whose books are starting to enter Public Domain.  The Seneca are among the five original (and still are) members of the Iroquois Confederation or League.  Their own name is the Haudenosaunee or "People of the Longhouse."  Living so long and training his son and Arthur Parker was not the extent of the Cornplanter's passing on of Iroquois folklore, so when I saw this book with its close reproduction of legends, I had to get it!

None of my half dozen other books include this story which matches my delight in the lengthening of daylight.  After the story I will include the notes accompanying the story, but first let it speak to us as we huddle in our "shorthouses."  (Yes, I made up that name, but the longhouses of the Haudenosaunee were perfect for this elder's passing along their traditions.)  Canfield explained it was during the last twenty years of his life the Cornplanter "recalled and told (the legends).  He did not speak of them generally, for he held them sacred, but reserved them for the ears of those in full sympathy with the people of which he was one of the last true representatives."  May you receive them with respect.
The notes show the work of William C. Canfield in interpreting and explaining the stories.  The type size in the Notes is truly the "fine print" so I will provide it here for your understanding and "full sympathy" with the Haudenosaunee values.
The Indians were taught never to speak ill of any of the celestial bodies or of the works of nature.  They must never complain of the glare and heat of the sun, lest they be stricken blind; nor must they complain of the clouds for fear that they might be shut up in caves in the mountains where no light could enter.  The moon must be treated with the same respect and consideration, for those who said aught against her were in imminent danger of death by a fall of rocks from the sky.  The most severe storms of wind, snow, frost or hail must be treated only with great respect.  Those who complained about them were by this act unarmed and could not resist their attacks and rigors.  In fact, they were taught to 'take the bitter with the sweet' without making wry faces.  This training through long generations rendered the race cold and stoical, apparently indifferent to suffering.  They probably suffered the same as others, but they bore it without a sign.  This legend was a very common one and was frequently told the young in order that the lesson might be deeply impressed upon them that they should never set themselves up in opposition to the Great Spirit or complain of the enforcement of his laws.
Canfield calls the legend "a very common one", but I find it interesting none of my other major Iroquois sources give it.  This is both a "pourquois" tale explaining how something came to be and a cautionary tale.  It does indeed offer lessons, but the trick is for the teller to avoid becoming "preachy", turning off the listeners.  The common saying about the weather is "everybody talks about it; no one does a thing about it."  This story shows an extreme our common grumbling, thank heaven!, doesn't create.  I plan to keep on grumbling, but am grateful something like this isn't caused by it.

Until next week "that's my story and I'm sticking to it!"
******************
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!



Saturday, January 25, 2020

Parker - The Rainmaker Wirinun - Keeping the Public in Public Domain


'Entire Species Are Being Wiped Out' Ecologists Say Half a Billion May Have Been Killed
As of January 23, 2020 when a crash killed three Americans battling the Australian wildfires, CBS News reported:
The tragedy brings the death toll from the blazes to at least 31 since September. The wildfires have also destroyed more than 2,600 homes and razed more than 25 million acres, an area bigger than Indiana. 
(New South Wales Premier Gladys) Berejiklian said there were more than 1,700 volunteers and personnel in the field, and five fires were being described at an "emergency warning" level - the most dangerous on a three-tier scale - across the state and on the fringes of the nation's capital, Canberra.
The Reuters news service said the wildfires have killed an estimated billion animals.
On my Facebook page (open for viewing to the public) I've posted about the matching funds being raised by the American Veterinary Medical Association to help Australian veterinarians helping animals in the fire.  I featured that because the species in Australia are unique and in danger of extinction from the wildfires.  Food is also being airdropped for animals surviving the fire but losing their natural food supplies.

Yes, people help and they need help too.  You can guarantee assistance through religious relief groups, including the Salvation Army of Australia (nicknamed the Salvos in Australian English), who are doing an excellent job of detailing the ongoing work of their Disaster Relief Team, or the international Red Cross is an option through Australian Red Cross' Disaster Relief and Recovery



The classic Public Domain Australian Aboriginal stories are found in the 1896 collection by K. Langloh Parker in Australian Legendary Tales.  That link to the Wikipedia article on it does a good job of reviewing the book's Victorian colonial shortcomings and its more favorable view of her methods which she defended by saying:
I am very careful to get them as truly as I can—first I get an old black to tell it in his own language—he probably has little English—I get a younger one to tell it back to him in his language he corrects what is wrong—then I get the other one to tell it to me in English—I write it down, read it and tell it back again to the old fellow with the help of the medium, for though I have a fair grasp of their language I could not in a thing like this trust to my knowledge entirely.
Parker grew up on a northern New South Wales station (prime territory for the current fires although they are widespread throughout the continent) and she is believed to have developed an early affection and interest in Aboriginal culture after being saved from drowning at age six by an Aboriginal girl.


The Euahlayi people, of whom Parker writes have their own language and names for things and people.  At the risk of delaying their story, I will give this "glossary", but you may use it later or when you wish.  Because the language at the time Parker wrote was taken from oral language without a standardized written spelling, occasionally an alternative is given parenthetically.  Parker sometimes also inserts the meaning within the story.  The chant within the story is not explained.  I'll let the pronunciation guide wait until the end.

Glossary in order the words appear in the story as given by Parker

wirinun (wirreenun): literal meaning "clever-man"; medicine man; sorcerer; a fully initiated man; a learned person
dardur(r): bark humpy or shelter
humpies: not defined in the glossary, but the previous word explains it's a shelter
Noonga(h)-burra(h): tribe of blacks on the Narran River; belonging to the Nooga(h) country
Narran (Narrin): name of river
wilgu-wilgu (willgoo-willgoo, wilgoo-wilgoo): painted stick with feathers on top
gubbera(h): clear magic stone; crystal
waywa(h): belts worn by men, consisting of a waistband of opossum's sinews, with bunches of strips of paddymelon skins hanging from them
corroboree (corrobboree): aborigines' dance
Bora (Borah, Boorah): sacred initiation rites and ceremonies
Baiame (Byamee): literal meaning, "Great One"; culture hero or god; creator
goodoo: codfish
murree: species of fish; the swift-to-hunt-game
tukki (tucki): fish, a species of bream
bunmilla(h): a fish


Certainly rain is needed to help, but the drought preceding the wildfires was frequently set ablaze by lightning.  The high volatility of the oil in Australia's Eucalyptus, which forms three quarters of its forests, also has an adaptation to fire, regenerating from buds deep inside its thick bark.

Since eucalyptus leaves form the bulk of a koala's diet, I'm hopeful especially after reading how places that had the fires back in September have already begun to rejuvenate.

If you wish to read even more from Australian Legendary Tales it's available at Project Gutenberg because it's Public Domain.  By the way, when re-published in 1953, it was chosen by the Children's Book Council of Australia as "Book of the Year" for 1954.
************************
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Chinese New Year of the Rat and "The Rat Princess" - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

HD Wallpapers at http://wallpapers9.org/chinese-new-year-pictures/
Did you know our Solar or Gregorian date of January 17 is the start of what is called the Little Year?  It's mainly a time to prepare for the start of the Chinese New Year.  Many countries besides China and the Chinese people celebrate this time of the Lunar New Year, although the Wikipedia article also points to several Asian Lunar New Year dates due to all the many ways calendars were figured out.  Still those other dates are dwarfed by China's large population and many of Chinese ancestry around the world and it "has strongly influenced lunar new year celebrations of China's neighbouring cultures, including the Korean New Year (seol), the Tết of Vietnam, and the Losar of Tibet.[3] It is also celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant Overseas Chinese populations, including Singapore,[4] Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar,[5] Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines,[6] and Mauritius,[7] as well as many in North America and Europe."  (Those footnotes are in the Wikipedia article.) Vietnam and Korea share similar Confucian culture, so they celebrate the Lunar New Year.  Japan once celebrated it.

Back to the current time of the "Little Year", it's not only preparation for the coming celebration, but its main activities are house cleaning to sweep away bad luck and prayers to the stove god.  Considering how it's winter in the northern hemisphere and definitely here in the mitten-shaped state of Michigan, I may not consider my stove, furnace, or fireplace a god, but certainly want to keep them all working!  As for bad luck, I'll gladly pick up a broom and sweep especially around the dirt left by my old computer tower and hope my new "All in One" lasts a long time.  I first learned of the "Little Year" at this site, ChineseNewYear.net

The whole combination of three festivals (Little Year, Spring Festival -- which we think of as Chinese New Year, and the Lantern Festival which runs from February 5th to 8th) is there, along with a large section about food, decoration, myths about Chinese New Year, historical and modern clothing, taboos, and, of course, more.  That last one, taboos, caught my eye.  I'm not superstitious, but my recent computer woes had me check what to avoid to guarantee good luck, since that's the big wish in New Year's festivities, lunar or solar.

Taboos:
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
  1. Do not say negative words (this includes death, sick, empty, pain, ghost, poor, break, kill!)
  2. Do not break ceramics or glass
  3. Do not clean or sweep (you did that during Little Year, now you don't want to throw out the garbage or sweep away your good luck)
  4. Do not use scissors, knives or other sharp objects (originally this was to give women a break, but nowadays 99% of hair salons close until lunar February 2, when festivities end)
  5. Do not visit the wife's family (it implies marriage problems, but on lunar February 2 they should visit the wife's family along with their children and bring a modest gift -- To my own daughters, hint, hint!)
  6. Do not demand debt repayment, but also don't borrow money lest you need to borrow all year
  7. Avoid fighting and crying to ensure a smooth year
  8. To avoid being sick all year you shouldn't take medicine, visit the doctor, have or do surgery, or get shots, although if you're chronically ill or suddenly ill you should do what is needed
  9. Do not give New Year blessings to someone still in bed (lest they be bed-ridden all year), but also don't tell them to wake up or you'll be bossed around all year
  10. Gift-giving taboos rule out clocks, apples, and splitting pears.  Those all involve similarity to Chinese pronunciation, which reminds me the site's listing of Chinese New Year Greetings don't include pronunciation, but I was always told tone in Chinese could make such a difference that if you said something incorrectly you might be talking about your mother-in-law (#5?) instead of your horse and vice-versa.
It's fun to look at such traditions and doubt much is really believed, although lovers of the television show Fresh Off the Boat or various Asian books and films can just hear the mother saying "It's for your own good!"

Freestocks.org at Unsplash.com
I imagine you have heard about the 12 Chinese zodiac animals and how the coming year is the Year of the Rat.  That doesn't  sound like a good year to most of us, but "In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, married couples also prayed to them for children."  The good attributes of a Rat person is they're "clever, quick thinkers, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life."


Today I can celebrate by once again bringing a Public  Domain story . . . HURRAY!  It's from Sara Cone Bryant whose work has appeared here 3 times before.  It can be found with other stories and storytelling tips in her classic How to Tell Stories to Children and Some Stories to Tell and the story opens with a hint on telling it.  The story lets us go back to the days when Japan celebrated the Lunar New Year with this tale that might remind you of yet another Japanese tale, but I'll talk about that after the story.

Some readers may be familiar not only with the style of this story and how one thing leads to another before coming back to the beginning, but it especially reminds me of yet another Japanese tale so well illustrated by the award-winning Gerald McDermott in The Stonecutter.

If you go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbHiI8Qo8rs you can have the rare opportunity to watch his first commercial film at the age of 19, an extremely complex animation short featuring approximately 2000 animation cels presented in six minutes.  He only made five films and all are under 12 minutes.  After retiring from film animation at the age of 32, McDermott began producing animated children’s books, eventually becoming one of the world’s best-known authors of books for young readers, winning numerous awards in the process. More about McDermott at http://www.afana.org/mcdermott.htm" from http://archive.org/

Maybe he started the Lunar New Year at age 32 making a book and we are all the richer for it!
***************** 
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Life Goes On (despite the "Joys" of Computers)

LoiS(uffering through my own computer crises as my aged computer died over the holidays & I'm still struggling through the backup downloaded to my new computer)

Storytelling programs of "History as viewed by the 'average' person" are a touch of sanity in the midst of the above-mentioned Computer Chaos.  This past week I once again became Liberetta Lerich Green, telling the story of the Lerich family's Underground Railroad Station and their work during the War of Rebellion (there was nothing Civil about the "Civil War").
Next week is the anniversary of the start of Prohibition in the United States.  I will be at the Clarkston Independence District Library where you can join me as a reporter/flapper telling how Michigan had a two year head start on Prohibition and then supplied 3/4 of the smuggled alcohol during Prohibition for "High Times in the Dry Times."  This program includes music and a bit of audience participation!
Everybody always seems to look back at the past as "the Good Old Days", but I have to mention the problems back then, too.  I offer "edutainment", however and don't dwell on the violence of the past, but must mention it when telling about "History as viewed by the 'average' person."  Personally my difficulties with switching computers does indeed make me Luddite enough to wish all of this wasn't necessary and to worry that technology is also losing history.  Still I know this is a two-edged sword helping find information quickly, it just requires the knowledge to track it all down.  If you look at the sidebar here you will find information that came from microfilmed newspaper articles about the Michigan 5th Infantry during the Civil War.  Old technology should not be discarded.

Hopefully by next week all the bits, bytes, apps will have been sorted out enough that this blog goes on in the way it should.