Monday, January 13, 2020

Creole tales from the blue ocean (Following folktales around the world 138. - Seychelles)

Today I continue the blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts here, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

Stars ​and Keys
Folktales and Creolization in the Indian Ocean
Lee Haring
Indiana University Press, 2007.

This book was written by the same person as the previous one, where I got the Comorean folktales, but this one was more of an academic folklore publication for adult audiences, and not really a story book. The introduction contained the same chronology of the history of Indian Ocean islands. Each story came with notes, comments, and cultural context (usually wedged into the text with a slightly different font, which was very distracting). Most tales were recorded in the early 20th century by various collectors; a lot of them were from Madagascar, including creation myths and pourquoi tales. They were eleven stories from the Seychelles included.

Since the previous book also had five stories from the Seychelles, and I already read them, I included those in this post as well.


I was not really captivated by any of the stories, but if I had to pick a highlight I'd choose Kader, which was a "man searching for his luck" type story. This time, our hero set out to ask the Sun why it rises and sets red. On the way he encountered battling rocks, logs, and an eel bridge, and he managed to make his way back across them as well. Then he was sent to fetch the Queen of the Sea for a king, but of course he ended up marrying her instead.


Ti Zan and the doctor was a classic Magician's Apprentice story; there was also a Blacksmith and the Devil type tale where the protagonist, who got stuck in the mortal realm after cheating death one too many times, was Poverty. 
The resident trickster is Brer Soungoula, who is described as "some kind of monkey", although he also tricks monkeys sometimes. In one story he ate all Tiger's children and then blamed Monkey for it; in another he tried to steal water from a communal well, and was caught by the usual tar baby trick. He made Elephant and Whale do a tug-o-war, and made Wolf believe the mountain was going to fall if he did not hold it up (using the movement of clouds to prove the illusion). He swam a race with Turtle, and won once because he hitched a ride on his back - but on the second run, Turtle decided to dive for some food, and poor trickster was drowned.

Where to next?

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