Monday, May 18, 2020

Pearls of wisdom (Following folktales around the world 156. - Kuwait)

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. Ten stories are from Kuwait.

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 Kuwait.


The tale of the white pearl and the black pearl was beautiful, but ended tragically. A princess wished for a priceless black pearl that matched the one she already had; a young pearl diver volunteered to get one, since his father had lost his life acquiring the first pearl. He ventured into the cave of a giant octopus, and heroically obtained the second pearl - but because he could not marry the princess (white pearl), he killed himself in the end.
"Kill the man who killed the dog" was the story describing the arab tribes' sense of justice. Once people failed to protect a neighbor from the injustice of someone killing his sheepdog, many other injustices followed; an old man warned everyone they should have stopped and avenged the first one right away.


The helpful dog reminded me of the Swedish version of Princess and the Pea (or Puss in Boots). A poor girl pretended to be a noble lady and married a prince with the help of her dog; however, when she mistreated the dog, it told her secret to her husband.
The woodcutter and the treasure was familiar from other collections as well. A man decided to stay in bed, trusting that "God will provide" - and, thanks to a series of accidents, his donkey actually came home laden with treasure, proving him right.
There was also a classic Love like salt tale.
The trickster in residence is Jouha, a distant relative of Nasredding Hodja. For example he was the protagonist of the adorable tale where he loved his own singing in the bath - but once he tried to sing from the minaret people did not agree with his assessment. In the tale of Nesóp and the ungrateful snake it was the Fox who played the role of the clever judge.

Where to next?
Saudi Arabia!

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