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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!