Monday, January 6, 2020

Little islands, full of trickery (Following folktales around the world 137. - Comoros)

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!

Indian ​Ocean Folktales
Lee Haring
National FolkLore Support Centre, 2002.

This book contains 27 folktales, out of which 5 are from the Comoros (the others were collected in Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion and the Seychelles). The introduction talks about the history and storytelling traditions of the islands (including a long chronological list). Each island is introduced in a short chapter, and the stories are prefaced with the names of the storyteller and the collector.
Since there were only five tales, I'll write about all five:

The animal diviner

This story had a beginning and an end, and they had nothing to do with each other. In the beginning a chameleon swore revenge against an elephant for stepping on his son's foot. In the end, the animal's diviner the frog foretold than Man was about to appear, and since Lion did not want to flee, he was defeated by humans with trickery. I think this story was missing a link somewhere.

Alimtru and the Buzzard
A young man's wife was stolen by the king, so he made another one from wood. When she was stolen too, the man assembled all the birds, and with buzzard's help tricked the king into taking off the amulets that made the wooden wife come alive. She turned back into a tree, and made the whole palace collapse in the process. Win.

Clever Bunwaswi
"Distant fire" type trickster tale. A king challenged a man to spend a night standing in ice cold water, but when he won the wager, the king did not want to pay, saying he was warmed by a fire in the distance. Bunwaswi the trickster taught the king a lesson by inviting him to a feast where food was being "cooked" on a distant fire...

The poor man's story
Trotroc, the trickster, wanted to win a king's daughter as his wife. The king kept sending him for various things to the king of the devils, but he always solved the mission somehow, and eventually won the princess.

The mysterious woman
A tutor wants to seduce a young girl, but she blinds him in self-defense. Her parents believe the tutor over her, so she runs away and starts a new life. She goes through various adventures, and uses magic spells to protect herself from all kinds of people who want to harm her. Eventually she becomes a prince in disguise, and uses her power to make the tutor and the other assailants confess their crimes.

Where to next?
To the Seychelles!

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