Saturday, April 29, 2023

Y is for Yoke (Body Folktales)

This year, my A to Z Challenge theme is Body Folktales. Enjoy! 

Alright fine, this letter was hard. Yoke is a term used in body building for the neck, trapezius muscles and deltoids together. So, I basically just went with neck. Sue me.

Edao plays hide and seek (Marshall Islands)

Edao is the resident trickster of Marshallese folklore, famous for dirty jokes and shapeshifting abilities. There is one story where he repeatedly tricks his brother Jemaluit by transforming into various things (such as into a tree which lets Jemaluit fall when he climbs it). Finally, he bends over and transforms himself into a palm tree, with his anus serving as a water hole in the tree. Jemaluit, feeling thirsty while walking in the woods, sticks his head in the water hole to drink... at which point Edao clamps down on his neck. He eventually lets go and they both laugh - but people's necks have been narrower than their head ever since. Just so you know.

The guru and his disciple (Mauritius)

A guru and his disciple visit a foreign country where the king is doing justice all wrong. He first wants to punish an old woman because her house accidentally falls on some thieves breaking in, and then changes his mind and wants to punish the builder of the house. However, the builder's neck is too thin for the hangman's noose, so the king orders his men to find someone whose neck fits the noose and hang them instead. They arrest the guru's disciple - but the two clever men manage to find a way to survive, and trick the cruel king into being hanged instead.

Rokurokubi (Japan)

Rokurokubi is the name of a female yokai who can stretch her neck to great length, allowing her head to wander around freely at night (sometimes without the woman realizing this while awake). Sometimes the head hunts animals, sometimes it licks the oil out of lanterns, and sometimes it just scares people.

Jacob and Esau (Bible)

The story of Jacob and Esau in the Book of Genesis is a story of sibling rivalry. After Jacob cheats Esau out of their father's blessing, the brothers part ways for several years before they meet again. Their reunion is described as a preparation for battle that turns amicable when Esau runs to Jacob to embrace and kiss him. However, Talmudic sources have a different explanation for the same moment: they claim that Esau tried to bite his brother in the neck and suck his blood. In a moment of miracle, Jacob's neck turned "hard as ivory" or marble, making Esau's teeth "melt like wax." Instead of weeping for joy, they wept in anger and pain. (I am sure there is vampire fan fiction about this somewhere.)


  1. Jamie (
    You made another interesting choice. I can't wait to see what your Z is going to be. A lot of the terms you used were unusual to me.