Monday, May 11, 2020

Wonders on wings (Following folktales around the world 155. - Bahrain)

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. Two tales from Bahrain.

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 Bahrain.


Prince Mohammad and the Winged Horse was a very beautiful story (flying horse, floating castle), and also quite fun - especially when the prince sprinkled hundreds of flyers from his horse among the people, describing the sins of his evil stepmother, like a veritable propaganda plane. A flying horse also figured into the tale of the Amazing bird, where the protagonist was a very likable young hunter. With the help of a magic bird he helped a prince find various things (including a bride), and lived happily with his royal friend in the end.
I was amused by the opening of the Magic eggs story, in which a man accidentally ate the fertility medicine of his wife, became pregnant, and gave birth to a baby girl. The girl, abandoned by her father, was raised by gazelles, until a hunting prince found her and married her.
There was also a beautiful legend about how the springs of Bahrain are born from stars that fall to the ground.


The woodman's daughter reminded me of other tales where a woman seduced her husband three times in a row in disguise (I read similar ones from Sicily and Turkey, for example). Aziz, son of his maternal uncle was surprisingly very similar to the Scandinavian legend of Sigmund and Sinfjotli.

Where to next?

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