Tell me if you have a topic you'd like to see. (Contact: .)
Please also let others know about this site.

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." 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.

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.
  • 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 -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - 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 .  It's not easy, but go to 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 - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - 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 -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

No comments: