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Monday on the Dark Night of the Moon: Himalayan Foothill Folktales Told by Urmila Devi Sood
     

Monday on the Dark Night of the Moon: Himalayan Foothill Folktales Told by Urmila Devi Sood

by Kirin Narayan, Urmila Devi Sood
 

ISBN-10: 0195103483

ISBN-13: 9780195103489

Pub. Date: 06/28/1997

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Oral tales establish relationships between storytellers and their listeners. Yet most printed collections of folktales contain only stories, stripped of the human contexts in which they are told. If storytellers are mentioned at all, they are rarely consulted about what meanings they see in their tales. In this innovative book, Indian-American anthropologist Kirin

Overview

Oral tales establish relationships between storytellers and their listeners. Yet most printed collections of folktales contain only stories, stripped of the human contexts in which they are told. If storytellers are mentioned at all, they are rarely consulted about what meanings they see in their tales. In this innovative book, Indian-American anthropologist Kirin Narayan reproduces twenty-one folktales narrated in a mountain dialect by a middle-aged Indian village woman, Urmila Devi Sood, or "Urmilaji." The tales are set within the larger story of Kirin Narayan's research in the Himalayan foothill region of Kangra, and of her growing friendship with Urmilaji Sood. In turn, Urmilaji Sood supplements her tales with interpretations of the wisdom that she discerns in their plots. At a moment when the mass-media is flooding through rural India, Urmilaji Sood asserts the value of her tales which have been told and retold across generations. As she says, "Television can't teach you these things."
These tales serve as both moral instruction and as beguiling entertainment. The first set of tales, focussing on women's domestic rituals, lays out guidelines for female devotion and virtue. Here are tales of a pious washerwoman who brings the dead to life, a female weevil observing fasts for a better rebirth, a barren woman who adopts a frog and lights ritual oil lamps, and a queen who remains with her husband through twelve arduous years of affliction. The women performing these rituals and listening to the accompanying stories are thought to bring good fortune to their marriages, and long life to their relatives. The second set of tales, associated with passing the time around the fire through long winter nights, are magical adventure tales. Urmilaji Sood tells of a matchmaker who marries a princess off to a lion, God splitting a boy claimed by two families into two selves, a prince's journey to the land of the demons, and a girl transformed into a bird by her stepmother.
In an increasingly interconnected world, anthropologists' authority to depict and theorize about distant people's lives is under fire. Kirin Narayan seeks solutions to this crisis in anthropology by locating the exchange of knowledge in a respectful, affectionate collaboration. Through the medium of oral narratives, Urmilaji Sood describes her own life and lives around her, and through the medium of ethnography Kirin Narayan shows how broader conclusions emerge from specific, spirited interactions. Set evocatively amid the changing seasons in a Himalayan foothill village, this pathbreaking book draws a moving portrait of an accomplished woman storyteller. Mondays on the Dark Night of the Moon offers a window into the joys and sorrows of women's changing lives in rural India, and reveals the significance of oral storytelling in nurturing human ties.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195103489
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
06/28/1997
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.96(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix(6)
A Note on Transliteration xv(2)
List of Illustrations
xvii
Introduction 3(22)
Part I Women's Ritual Tales 25(108)
Mondays on the Dark Night of the Moon 25(14)
1. Across the Seven Seas
27(12)
The Five Days of Fasting 39(68)
2. Daughter, My Little Bread!
41(9)
3. First Sour, then Sweet
50(9)
4. The Daughter-in-Law With No Groom
59(5)
5. The Frog Groom
64(6)
6. The Fragrant Melon
70(9)
7. Under the Berry Bush
79(9)
8. The Female Weevil Who Fasted
88(7)
9. The Dog-Girl
95(6)
10. The Skein Woman
101(6)
The Thunder Thread 107(26)
11. The Twelve Years of Affliction
109(16)
12. Earth into Gold
125(8)
Part II Winter Tales 133(74)
Divining Destiny and Rebirth 133(36)
13. In the Court of Destiny
135(12)
14. The Floating Flower
147(7)
15. Heaven and Hell
154(5)
16. The Two Gems
159(10)
Treachery, Separation, and Reunion 169(38)
17. The Astrologers' Treachery
171(7)
18. The Devouring Demoness
178(11)
19. Love Like Salt
189(4)
20. Fair with Freckles
193(7)
21. The Girl Who Went on Quests
200(7)
Afterword 207(16)
Appendix: A Note on Translation 223(4)
Acknowledgments 227(4)
Notes 231(24)
Bibliography 255

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