Sunday, April 26, 2020

United Arab Folktales (Following folktales around the world 153. - United Arab Emirates)

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!

The tales from the next few countries are from two different books:

Folktales ​from the Arabian Peninsula
Tales of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, and Yemen
Nadia Jameel Taibah & Margaret Read McDonald
ABC-CLIO, 2015.

The Introduction tells us about the history and culture of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Three tales are from the Emirates.

Folktales from the Arabian Gulf
A selection of popular tales collected in the field
Dr. Fayyiz Shayyagh, Sylvia Ismail
Doha, 2003.

The stories in this book are from the archives of the Gulf Folklore Centre, which has been collecting traditional folklore from six countries around the Gulf for almost forty years. The short introduction talks about the work of the Centre, the process of selecting and translating the stories, and the cultural background of tales with female heroes. There is a separate chapter for opening formulas. The book contains four tales from the Emirates.


The tale of Aziz and Azizah took some unexpected turns. Two cousins were promised to each other, but on the day of their wedding the man fell in love with a mysterious woman who was sending him signals from a window. His wife helped him decode the messages and meet the woman in secret - who turned out to be none other but the famous wily Zeinab from the 1001 Nights! The man married her too, but when she found out Azizah had been decoding her riddles, and the girl was wasting away from heartbreak, she kicked out her husband. Too late, sadly - Azizah died of a broken heart.
In another story a man caught a bird that brought him good luck. One day the bird escaped, and a shopkeeper caught it. They took their argument to a sheikh, who asked the bird itself who its real owner was - and the bird spoke, pointing out the man who'd first caught it.


The story of Deinoh and Arbab was very similar to that of the seven kids, except here there were only two kids, devoured by an evil sorcerer. The mama goat charged at the sorcerer and rescued her babies from his stomach. The tale of The two friends was the classic story type where one blood brother rescues the other from danger multiple times, and turns to stone when disclosing the secret. Here, the other brother sacrificed his own child to bring his friend back to life. The story of The fisherman's daughter was a Cinderella variant, here with a helpful fish instead of a fairy godmother.

Where to next?

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