Saturday, March 27, 2010

Middle Eastern Tales - Baghdad, then Iraqi Jews, Kurdish, Other Sources

A favorite theme among cultural tales is the comeuppance - the evildoer or trickster who ultimately is foiled, often by his own means.

In these days of cultural divides particularly between Muslim and Christian culture, see this commonality in a Middle Eastern story, dating back to the time of the Thousand and One Nights

1.  Read "The Enchanted Storks" at  There was a mighty Caliph, a good man and revered ruler, who often disguised himself with his Vizier, and hoth went into the city to learn of the talk of the citizens.  He and the Vizier fall prey to a spell when all they wanted to do was enjoy a fine flight above Baghdad.

But, is the beggar who told them the magic words, and gave them the mysterious box, really a beggar?  Does sorcery as a shortcut ever work.  What happens when the Caliph and Vizier disappear? Who comes to take power, and is there a comeuppance.

This is not a long story - find it at the site. 

"The Enchanted Storks: - a retelling by Aaron Shepard, from an earlier written tale that then became told frequently. Do a search for his name. It is seldom that a full tale is online, and this is a delight for us who are overused to European tales.

2.  Still in the Middle East -- Tales of Iraqi Jews - collected in Israel, representing a long tradition.

See ://  This, however, does not offer access directly to the folktales.

Changing websites:  There used to be reference to these folktales at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, but its site has moved to www://  Now we cannot locate the Iraqi Jews tales.

Still, Nanzan University in Japan offers much in cultural tale collecting, and the Iraqi Jewish tales may still be there, see, that also has a fine section (indexed) on Japanese folktales about the human condition, at ://

Go to pages 184 ff.

3.  Kurdish folktales -see Scroll down and enjoy. Start at page 4 for the index of titles:  as you read of Iraqi divisions in politics and war, and the Kurdish identity crossing borders, take time to see them as a culture with concerns and lessons through stories similar to ours.

We started scrolling around and started with the Black Slave.  Start where you like --

King of the East
The Cleverness of the Three Brothers
The Black Slave  (a moral - find and ascertain facts before acting)
Brokenhearted Uncle Homar
The World-Revealing Goblet
The King Who Had Seven Sons
The Results of Stinginess
Give Up Your Head But Don't Divulge Your Secret
The Grateful Bear
Hasan the Trapper
The Result of Greed
The Zay Tree and the Tay Falcon
Hisayn the Water Carrier
King Amad
The King and Fate
The Weaver's Son
Strike, Strike, What You Saw Is All You'll Get

Pick one.

Start reading.  We have ....