Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for Hatred (or rather, against it)

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge! My theme this year is Representation and Diversity in Traditional Stories. I am looking for rare and interesting motifs in folktales, fairy tales, and legends that add variety to the well-known canon.

Today I am looking for traditional stories that describe (and condemn) hatred against another group of people - showing how it is harmful, useless, and stupid. While not a direct representation, it is an important topic linked to diversity.
Some people believe that the history of humanity has always been one of difference and prejudice, but some tales can attest tot he fact that there have always been people who spoke out against hate as well.

A folktale from Senegal, adapted by amazing storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston. An orphan girl wanders into a village of Longnecks, who accept and grow to love her despite her short neck - except for one woman, who thinks short necks have no business in their community. The woman chases Anniko away... and all the Longnecks in the village band together to find her and bring her back.
(Read it in Ready-to-Tell Tales)

Bikkhu Sok
Cambodian folktale. I mentioned this one under Adoption, but I am mentioning it again, since the boy's family is massacred out of prejudice for a different group of people.
(Read the story in this selection from the Gatiloke)

I wrote about this Mongo/Bantu epic last year - it is an epic about a hero that is prophecised to bring peace between two tribes who had been at war for a long time, and he achieves it without either side being conquered or killed.
(Read about it here)

Black and Yellow
An old Spanish pourquoi tale about two neighboring villages, one where everyone is stern and works all the time dressed in black, and one where everyone is cheerful and parties all the time dressed in yellow. Both villages have a horrible opinion about the other, calling them good-for-nothing, until a magician decides to bring them all together, and create a new mixed community, better than the sum of its parts.
(Read it in New World Tales)

This story from the vast legends of the Mahabharatha tells about a young archer from a forest tribe who wants to apprentice with a famous master - but when they find out his background (he was born outside the caste system) he is turned down. He practices alone, until he becomes the best archer in the land... but now that he has proven the master wrong, the master decides to punish him for it.
(I included this story in my book, Tales of Superhuman Powers)

A drop of honey
In this chain tale (ATU 2036) an accidental drop of honey sets off a series of accidents and events that results in two villages (or factions) going to war. The formula tale illustrates what minor, dumb events feuds can start with, and how fast they escalate. In the Burmese and Thai versions of the story, the entire decline is observed by the king who originally dripped the honey, and who keeps stubbornly claiming "it's not my problem!" A fitting political allegory.
(Read the Burmese version of the tale here)

If you are interested in more tales of conflict and resolution, read Margaret Read McDonald's Peace Tales. It's a wonderful folktale collection.

Are there other tales that should be on this list? Let me know!


  1. Whenever I visit your blog, two things happen to me:1) I want to stop everything and read all those tales and 2) I'm awestruck.
    Btw, I'm in Budapest these days- my first visit- hope to pop into some bookstores to get books on Hungarian legends. Any recommendations?

    1. Hmm, I don't know how many of those will find in English, but here is a list of books:

      And here is a list of folktales and legends:

      I hope you enjoy Budapest! :)

    2. Thanks for this. I will go book hunting on Monday. I'm loving Budapest:)

  2. Also, keep seeing Virag shops here. Does your middle name mean flower?

  3. These stories would be great for children to read. Get them while they're young!

  4. I'm glad there are tales where it's not all about one lot conquering another.
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  5. Particularly intrigued by Anniko :-)

    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

  6. Sometimes I think that the best stories are those that can teach without being preachy.

  7. Zalka, I wish there were more stories like this and maybe even there would be a collection or a class or something delving into them in more depth.

  8. As always a splendid array of stories that I've never encountered (except here) that are fascinating and intriguing.

  9. Powerful AtoZ post! Your book ~ Tales of Super Human Powers ~ sounds interesting after having read these tales and how they illustrate social injustice. Thanks!
    Me in the Middle

  10. We need to share these kinds of stories widely. Glad you're posting about them here.

  11. Loving all these tales you've been recommending. So many are now on my must-read list :D

    x Joy (The Joyous Living)

  12. Amazing story choices. I have been doing the Read-the+World Challenge and am astonished by the stories about hatred between cultures. When will we evolve?

    Meet My Imaginary Friends

  13. Intresting you should mention Ekalayva in the caste related hatred and discriminations. The other story if that of Karna in mahabharata, born illegitmately to the sun god and queen kunti he was abadoned and brougth up by a lower caste man. This is probably a story more suited for friendship, promises and sacrifice.

    Interesting read on folktales from other cultures. I will be back during the blog hop in the month of May.

  14. Your theme is unique: H is against Hate. Excellent choice. Many of your reading choices interest me. But when I read your synopsis for A Drop of Honey where the king claims "it's not my problem" after he caused the problem, I had to agree with your assessment: A fitting political allegory.

    Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge
    Theme: The Fun in Writing #226

  15. Perhaps some of our politicians should sit down and read your blog. They might learn something in this post.

  16. Maybe some of these should be required reading.

  17. I hope these tales are read far and wide. There's so much hatred and prejudice in this world.

  18. I appreciate the topic, but I appreciate the diversity of the sources of the books even more. Definitely not the same old stuff.

  19. That's a great collection of books. I agree with others in that some of these should be required reading in school. Might help increase understanding of other cultures.

  20. There should be more stories like those, particularly since, traditionally, we first hear folktales and fairytales when we're young and impressionable. Baseless hatred is never a good thing to teach.