The Bird Who Cleans the World: And Other Mayan Fables

Overview

The Bird Who Cleans the World and other Mayan Fables is collection of Jakaltek Mayan folktales, first told to the author by his mother and the elders of his Guatemalan village. They deal with the themes of creation, nature, mutual respect, and ethnic relations and conflicts. Told here for the first time in English and illustrated with Mayan images, these stories and fables speak eloquently of an ...

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Overview

The Bird Who Cleans the World and other Mayan Fables is collection of Jakaltek Mayan folktales, first told to the author by his mother and the elders of his Guatemalan village. They deal with the themes of creation, nature, mutual respect, and ethnic relations and conflicts. Told here for the first time in English and illustrated with Mayan images, these stories and fables speak eloquently of an ancient culture, at once preserving its history and recreating its tradition. 
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Montejo adapts animal fables from Mayan Guatamala. Illustrations. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This collection starts strongly, with some unusual etiological, or ``just-so,'' stories on the origin of serpents, bats, and monkeys, on why buzzards eat carrion, rabbits have long ears, and dogs wag their tails. Like European fables, these tend toward moralizing plots, showing the folly of children's disobedience, of ingratitude, laziness, interfering, or boastfulness. (But the rabbit's devious--if not amoral--cleverness is admired, at least until the final story, where misguided trust in a friend leads to his death.) Unfortunately, the last half-dozen or so tales are weak, with confused plots (perhaps merging several stories) and muddled morals. The inclusion of these lackluster tales, and some intrusion of modern elements (e.g., concern with pollution) are relatively minor incongruities, however. Interesting graphics from Mayan sources help underscore the essential originality of this volume.-- Patricia Dooley, Univ. of Washington Lib. Sch., Seattle
From the Publisher

"The book's illustrations . . . help connect ancient Mayan myths with the oral tradition that persists today. Mr. Montejo's introduction to this tradition is a gift that outsiders should treasure." —The New York Times Book Review

"Montejo writes in clear, simple prose that transforms the short tales with the same mystical power of prose/poetry. . . . The Bird Who Cleans the World is one of the few books to capture the oral Mayan tradition, making it also a crucial study of pre-Columbian beliefs." —The Bloomsbury Review

"Interesting graphics from Mayan sources help underscore the essential originality of this volume." —Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781880684030
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1995
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 120
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Victor Montejo holds the position of Professor in Native American Studies at UC Davis. 

Wallace Kaufman is a writer and translator who currently resides in Oregon.

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Table of Contents


Author's Preface
Introduction

The Bird Who Cleans the World
From Mouse to Bat
The Affair of the Horns
How the Serpent was Born
The First Monkeys
Sometimes Right Is Repaid with Wrong
The Disobedient Child
The Tail of the Dog
The Toad and the Buzzard
The Toad and the Crab
The Proof of the Mice
Laziness Should Not Rule Us
Advice from a Jackass
Who Cuts the Trees Cuts His Own Life
The Ungrateful Alligator
The Little Boy Who Talked with Birds
The Child Who Saw Visions
The Snail and the Minnow
The Curious Mice
The Work of the Mosquito
The War of the Wasps
The Kibng of the Animals
The Loudmouth and Death
The Hen and the Frog
The Man and the Buzzard
The Vulture and the Sparrow Hawk
The Buzzard and the Dove 
The Possum and the Jaguar
The Lazy Man
The Great Jaguar
The Skunk and the Rabbit
The Old Ones' Friendship: The Dog, the Jaguar, and the Coyote

Notes

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