USC Digital Folklore Archives / general
Folk speech

The Law of The Stick

Subject: Indian tale.

Author: Erin P. Moore

Book: Gender, Law and Resistance in India.

Original performance: “A clever Brahman received a buffalo from his patron. The buffalo was fat and looked as if it had a lot of milk. Taking the buffalo the Brahman walked the direction of his village. The road was deserted and dangerous. Halfway there the Brahman saw a man carrying a walking stick [lathi] in his hand. The man tried to make friends with the Brahman and walked with him for a while. After a bit he stopped and said “Brahman, Maharaj, your buffalo if very strong, give it to me. “Why give it to you?’ the Brahman said.” No reason” the man said, swinging his stick in the air. “Quickly, give me the buffalo. If you don’t give me the buffalo immediately, with this I’ll smash your skull to pieces. To the extent possible, I want to save myself from the sin of killing a Brahman. Otherwise, I’ll put an end to you.

The Brahman was startled. He too was strong. But upon looking at the stick in the mans hands he became worried. He thought for a moment then said happily “ brother, if you want to take this buffalo, give me something in exchange. If you take it without paying, wont this is a sin for you? I am a Brahman. If you give me something, it wont be a sin.” “What do I have to give you?” the man said. “If I had something id give you for sure.” “You have a stick,” the Brahman said, smiling to himself. “Give this to me. I am a Brahman- what does the stick mean to me? I am a Brahman and in this way you can save yourself from sin. I understand your dharma. Exchange the stick for the buffalo and you will be saved from sin.”

On hearing this, the man was very pleased. He thought, “this Brahman, what a fool he is! He is exchanging just a stick for this sturdy buffalo.” He immediately gave his stick to the Brahman. “Move aside, move aside! “The Brahman said loudly. “Move away from my buffalo. If you don’t I’ll break your skull.” He swung his stick in the air. “What is this Maharaj?” the man said nervously. “Why wont you give me the buffalo in exchange for me stick?” “You don’t know?” the Brahman scolded him.” The one who owns the stick owns the buffalo, now go away.”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: this story is shared by villages in Rajasthani to display their vision of justice that “might makes right.”

Thoughts about the piece: This piece is interesting because it exhibits the view of justice held by the villagers of Rajistani, which is very different to those of the West. While the west believes in trial and equal sharing, the unfair might of the powerful is what drives justice in these villages.


Moore, Erin P. Gender, Law, and Resistance in India. Tucson: U of Arizona, 1998.



Workplace Tradition

Subject: Event Planner Traditions (Workplace)


Original script: “We always carry an emergency case with us, literally think like a magicians magic hat. We have EVERYTHING in it, from shampoo to protein bars, and it is only in a little clutch! It has saved our lives a dozen of times! And we use it for everyone! The brides, the clients, us, the vendors, it does come in handy. In fact I don’t know an event planner that doesn’t carry one of these kits with her. “

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Abby says “I have been working with an event planning company for a couple of months and love it. I can say throughout these moths these emergency kits have come in handy DOZENS of time. They are literally the best things ever. “

Context of the Performance: The Emergency kit it used during wedding celebrations.

Thoughts about the piece: The wedding kit is a piece of occupation folklore that no one outside of the wedding planning business would be aware of. Because of Abby’s work ethic, and because she works for a professional company, the wedding kit is essential knowledge and an essential tool for preforming the job correctly and avoiding any major disasters.


The Lady in Red


Navy POW/MIA Table

They are different everywhere, but all the items are the same.


Folk speech

English Proverb.

Subject: Proverb

Original script: “ your geese are always swans”.

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Liz was told this while she was at work after defending a colleague who had done a bad job.

Thoughts about the piece: The swan is a prominent member of Anglo Saxon folklore and are often associated with love, beauty and nobility.


German Phrases

“Ess Mein Kind”

“I’m going to make a “Wush-shin””



Familial Jokes

  • “What do you call a Jewish Dilemma?
    • Pork chops at half price
  • If your lipschitz then my ass smiles
  • “You know why I’m looking forward to tomorrow?
    • Because I get better looking everyday.

A Rabbi and A Priest

“The rabbi and the priest talk about how they collect money. The priest says that the church has a box to put money inside. Then the priest turned to the rabbi and asked, how they collect money. The rabbi responded that he throws money into the air and says “It’s God’s money, so whatever comes back down is mine.”


One way to make people know that they aren’t welcome at your house

When you receive visitors and do not want them to come back to your house you place an upside down broom in your doorway so that the brussels are sticking out of the top of the door. If someone sees this, they know not to come back



  • Whenever you pour coffee, Turbulence starts
  • Whenever you start to eat anything someone rings and calls for a flight attendant’s help.
  • Jetblue has TVs so you can ignore your neighbor.