Sunday, May 3, 2020

Great women in a small country (Following folktales around the world 154. - Qatar)

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 Qatar.

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 Qatar.


I really liked the tale about the invention of the first sail, in which pearl divers had a boat race to decide who has the rights to dive in the best location. A woman joined the race with her ship, and suddenly she raised a triangular sail - the first people had ever seen. She won the race and the pearl claim, but in exchange she taught everyone else how to sail.
I really enjoyed the story of The four women and the cow-seller; it reminded me of Zaynab and Dalilah from the 1001 Nights. Four friends decided to play pranks on a man; three of them got him into trouble, but the fourth got him out of it.
There was a short and concise wisdom tale about how if Love is present in a house, Wealth and Success follow (after people invited a traveler named Love in first).


The helpful fish was once again a Cinderella variant, very much like the one I read from the Emirates. The golden cow was one of those folktales where a girl hides (in this case, inside a golden cow), and only sneaks out occasionally until a prince catches her. The thorn tree was a classic Basil Maiden story, where a girl exchanged banter and pranks with a man until he admitted that she is smarter than him.
The story of Assoom and Arooy, the two sheep, was a chain story which followed the usual pattern: one of them wanted a wolf to eat the other, but by the time the animals and people in the chain started acting, the wolf mistook his target, and ate the traitor instead. A very fitting ending.

Where to next?

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