USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Folk Legend’
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

Hawaiian Folk Belief/Legend Menehune

Note: The form of this submission includes the dialogue between the informant and I before the cutoff (as you’ll see if you scroll down), as well as my own thoughts and other notes on the piece after the cutoff. The italics within the dialogue between the informant and I (before the cutoff) is where and what kind of direction I offered the informant whilst collecting. 

Informant’s Background:

My mother’s mother’s mother and even from before her are from Hawaii but some England roots are interjected into the bloodline as well. My mother’s father’s father’s father hails half from Hawaii and the other half from China and Portugal. But what is funny about most Hawaiians, is that they are not only Hawaiian. They are also Caucasian, Portuguese, Chinese, Filipino, Samoan, Japanese, Korean, e.t.c…….Plantation workers were brought in to work the sugar and pineapple fields and they brought their culture with them.

Piece:

From when I was a little girl, we were taught about Menehune. They are little talented craftsmen,  Hawaiian people who help build things to bless others when no one is looking. When the good deed was done and the giver wasn’t pointed out or identified, we would hear our grandparents suggest that the Menehune did it. :)

Piece Background Information:

Informant already mentioned within their piece that she learned of the Menehune through her grandparents when she was a young kid.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Context of Performance:

Via email.

Thoughts on Piece: 
The Menehune seem to be another variation of other magical creatures in the folklore of other cultures such as Ireland’s leprechauns. There are many different origin stories behind the Menehune, but at the end of the day, the Menehune seem to be used or invoked as a solution to unknown phenomena. This is very interesting and explains why tales of the Menehune are still alive today though they date back so far- parents, grandparents, etc. pass it on to their children.
Legends
Narrative

Larry and the Dog

Larry and the Dog

informant: Okay so there was this guy and his dog and they were out in the middle of the woods with this house that they were going to redo for his own personal use. Anyways . . . so he decided to just move into the house so he didn’t have to go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And then at about 2 a.m the dog starts like freaking out. . . oh his name is Larry. Anyways so [a voice] is like,

“Laaaaaaary, I can see you” and Larry’s like,

“whhhhhhaaaaaat?????”. And he was all freaked out and then the voice was like, “Larry, I’m 10 feet away” and then it disappeared. And then the next night, at the exact same time, the dog started like freaking out and the voice was like,

“Laaarry, I’m on your porch”.  And then the next night the dog flipped out again at the same time and was like,

“Laaaaaarrry, I’m outside your bedroom door”. And then the next night, the dog didn’t bark, so he opened his bedroom door and there was the dog . . . . DEAD. And then he heard a voice that said,

“Larry, I’m behind you” and then he turned around and then he died.

Interviewer: Where did you hear this story?

Informant: My friend told it to me at school

Interviewer: Do you know where she heard the story?

Informant: I have no idea

Interviewer: Who do you typically tell the story to?

Informant: I haven’t told the story since like, 5th grade

  Interviewer’s notes:

The informant’s tale is in accordance with Olrik’s Epic Laws of Folk Narrative, specifically and prominently, the law of repetition. The repetition effectively divides the story into discernible narrative parts and the builds suspense for the audience, which is especially important as the story was told orally. Also the age of the informants when she first heard the tale is possibly significant. The informant, in fifth grade, was on the cusp of puberty, as children are trying the sort out childhood fears and anxieties with that of adult expectations. Stories like this bring fears to the forefront so that they may be expelled by the time the children reach adulthood.

general
Legends
Narrative

La Llorona

 

Material

One day there was a lady a lady by the field her name was la llorona she was screaming…where are my sons she was crying she was saying where are my sons because she murder she she put them in the water and she killed them she used to live in the mountains she came outside in the midnight all people in the village were scared of la llorona they told her sons to don’t come out.

Context

The informant’s grandfather told this legend to the informant when he was age 7. His grandpa told him the legend because the informant and his cousins were at his house and it was raining outside. My informant told me the legend was communicated primarily as a pastime.

Informant Analysis

The informant believes in the existence of this lady. When I asked him why he believed in her existence he said because when he goes out at midnight in Mexico there are a lot of noises and people screaming. I asked him if he goes to Mexico often and he said he goes every vacation. According to him, la llorona only exists in Mexico.

Analysis from Collector

I like how the informant emphasized that he only hears the llorona in Mexico even though nowhere in the actual story that he told me did he mention that the llorona lives in Mexico. I believe that because he learned about this legendary person in Mexico he has always connected the legend to that place. This has led to his belief that she only exists in Mexico and that she can only be heard there.

 I also find it interesting that the informant began the legend with the llorona crying and screaming then going on to explain why she was acting like that. I found this interesting because from studying some other folklore and hearing other versions of the same legend, the story begins with an act being committed then the after effects of that act being said. The fact that she cries for her children is usually not told until the very end of the legend in contrast, my informant began the legend with her crying, explained why she was crying then ended the legend with her crying. His version of the legend is very circular.

Other places this legend is found

·         An entry submitted by Melanie Frakes

·         A book called La Llorona: the wailing woman by Victor Zubeldia published by Instituto Oaxaqueño de las Culturas

Humor
Narrative
Tales /märchen

“When the Log Rolls Over We Will All Be Dead”

“Ok, this one: on the 13th floor, there is a room—said to be haunted—they can never rent it out to anyone, because anyone who does rent it out… dies. One day, a very rich man, well dressed, comes up to the counter and says, ‘I need a room for the night.’ And he says, ‘I’m sorry sir, we’re all booked up, the only room we have is room 13 and it’s haunted.’ The rich man says, ‘pfftttt, I’m not afraid of ghosts.’ Rents the room and, uh, goes up  to get ready for bed. He goes up and changes his jacket and pajamas, and he hears: ‘if the log rolls over we will all be dead!’ The man is petrified, and he jumps out the window, lands in the street and dies.”

“A couple weeks later, a very rich woman comes to the hotel and says ‘I need to rent a room.’ The man behind the counter says, ‘I’m sorry ma’am, we have no rooms to rent except room 13 and it’s haunted. One man died in that room a couple weeks ago.’ The woman says, ‘Pffftt, I’m not afraid.’ And she goes and rents the room. She’s just about to go to the bathroom and rent a shower and she hears: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’ She is so scared, she runs out the door, down the stairs, and out the lobby and into the street and she gets hit by a taxi and dies.

“A couple week later… a rather common man comes to the hotel… shabby dress, not a lot of money… he very well may have been living off the street. He goes to the counter and says, ‘I’d like to rent a room.’ The man says, ‘I’m sorry sir, we’re all booked up except for room 13 and it’s haunted. Two people have died there in the last month.’ The man says, ‘I’m not afraid.’ He goes and rents the room. He’s about to take a shower, and he hears: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’ Instead of being scared, he thinks, ‘that sounds like it came from the bathroom.’ He goes to the shower: nothing there. He hears it again: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’ He thinks, ‘is that coming from the taps?’ He goes to the sink: nothing there. He hears it again: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’ And he thinks, ‘That couldn’t be coming from the toilet?’ And he goes to the toilet: nothing there. He looks into the tank of the toilet: nothing there. Finally, he opens the lid. He sees a huge log of shit just floating in the water, and about a dozen ants perched on that log of shit, and every so often, the ants perch their heads up and chant: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’”

 

The informant is not sure where it comes from, but thinks his sister, who was around ten at the time they began making a ritual of telling this story around campfires (the informant was around six) learned it from her Girl Scout troop. At least once every camping trip since the first it’s retold. He likes it because they thought it to be hilarious, and they could also recite it from memory after the first time they heard it. He finds humor the fact that the rich people and the poor man just distract from the joke. He also likes the visual produced by the final scene (the informant says he imagines it as a single frame comic strip with the ants on a log and a speech bubble).

The structure of this story is so memorable it makes it extremely easy to retell. The groups of three (the right man, rich woman, and poor man; the three recitations of the “log rolls over…”), which occur frequently in folklore originating in Europe may be a result of their being so memorable. The repetition that occurs in the dialogue also makes it easier to remember, but perhaps what makes it so sticky is that the real joke of the story has almost nothing to do with the lengthy set up (which in itself is funny because it’s completely unexpected).

Legends
Narrative

Journey to the West

“So there’s this monkey, that–okay. There’s a rock on a mountain. It’s a spherical rock on top of a really high mountain. And I don’t know if lightning strikes it or what, but somehow it splits open, and there’s a monkey inside.

So the monkey–he doesn’t have a family. He literally came from a rock. So he tries to get along with the other monkeys down on the bottom of the mountain. I don’t think he gets along with them very well, because he’s an outsider. And then…some kind of coming of age story.

And then, turns out he has superpowers. So he has a lot of superpowers. So he can–he’s really mischievous. So he’s really like–how you would imagine a monkey to be. He throws poop. He’s the kinda guy who would throw his own poop. That’s the kind of hero this guy is.

So obviously, little boys would look up to this guy. Not as much little girls.

So one of his superpowers that I know pretty well, he can pluck one of his hairs and blow it, and it will turn into him. Like multiple copies of him. And that obviously makes his pranks a lot better. Because he can be anywhere at any time.

Oh and he can transform into things. So he can shapeshift into any person. Well, that obviously makes pranks a lot of fun.

He’s super strong, he has a tail–because he’s a monkey. And all that good stuff.

So he’s a prankster. And then, he’s like–really bold, and ambitious and egotistical. So he gets…his pranks get bigger and more grandiose. And he goes all the way to, like, mess with the gods. Of–of the…the multi–polytheist gods of China.

And then…there’s this forbidden tree kind of deal, with peaches. And the fruit can grant immortality, I think. And it’s like, up in the mountains where the gods live. And somehow he finds his way over there, and he’s just hanging out, and he grabs a peach. And eats it. And he’s immortal after that.

And then… Prank, prank, prank, prank, prank. And then one of the gods is like, ‘I’ve had enough of this.’ So he condemns him to–oh, he goes to complain to Buddha. Who, you know, he’s not a god, but in fairy tales he’s a god.

So he’s like, ‘Yeah, Buddha, there’s this monkey. And he’s really–you should do something about it.’ And Buddha’s like, ‘Oh…okay, fine. I have to deal with this.’ So the Buddha goes and he’s like, ‘Yo, Monkey King, stop doing what you’re doing. It’s really annoying.’ And he’s like, ‘No.’ And then…Monkey King challenges Buddha’s power. And Buddha’s like, ‘I bet I could race you from here to the edge of the universe. And I will win.’ So the Monkey King is like, ‘Sure, I could do that. I could beat you. You’re old.’

So he jumps on this cloud, that he can fly on–he has a cloud that flies–and he flies to the edge of the universe. And he’s in outer space or something. And there’s nothing there. So he thinks he’s won. So he’s like, ‘You know, I–I need to pee.’ So he goes and pees on one of the pillars at the edge of the universe. And then he–I think he writes his name out with his pee. And then he flies back.

And the Buddha’s there. And Monkey King’s like, ‘Yo, you didn’t even try, what’re you doing?’ and Buddha’s like, ‘No. I got there before you did.’ And he shows him his hand. And in one of the crevasses is his pee. Because apparently the pillar he peed on is Buddha’s hand.

So the Buddha wins. And I think they had a bet before hand. So the Buddha’s like, ‘For your crimes of mischievousness prankery, I condemn you to a life under this mountain.’ So Buddha throws a mountain on the Monkey King and he has to hang out there for a really long time.

But. So this is the origin story. There’s more.

So out of nowhere, like after five hundred years, because the Monkey King is immortal, uh, a priest–a Buddhist monk–that’s traveling from China to India to get the original Sanskrit texts for Buddhism, he’s on his way, and he passes the mountain. And the Monkey King is there, and he’s like, ‘Psst! Hey! Get me out of this!’ And the monk somehow makes a deal with Buddha, like ‘Okay, I will guide and mentor this monkey if you let him come with me on my journey to India to protect me.’ So Buddha says yes.

And then he turns the mountain that was on the Monkey King into this headband, and so that’s what the headband is on the Monkey King. The headband is kind of like his chains, his shackles. And I think it constricts sometimes to give him pain when he’s bad.

So the Buddhist monk and the Monkey King go to India to get the Buddhist scriptures. And along the way they have a lot of adventures and stuff.”

Here, my informant tells me a traditional Chinese tale about the Monkey King, focusing on the way he came to be. The Monkey King is very popular, and, as my informant told me, it is often used as a bedtime story for children. His implication was that there are many different adventures that can be told about the Monkey King, and so it is an ideal tale.
The story is about a prankster hero, so it’s clear why it would be popular among children – especially, as my informant points out, among little boys versus little girls. The story itself is fairly basic, and calls to mind Greek and Roman mythology. It seems that each culture has its own version of a prankster challenging the gods, just to be put in his place. It’s not difficult to understand why – this teaches humility and the idea that humans are inferior to the gods that they worship. In addition, although my informant focused on the origin story of the Monkey King, the larger story is clearly based around a journey, which is another popular trope in early folktales.
The story itself was interesting, but what I found most fascinating was the way in which my informant told me the story. Although he was telling a traditional Chinese story, the words, phrases, and intonation that he used made it clear that I was getting a solidly American retelling.
(May also be read in the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en)
Legends
Narrative

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

This story was told outside at 10 p.m. when the moon was clearly visible. It was not a special holiday, but it was dark with only the moon as a visible light source. The outside air was very still and peaceful. The speaker wished to illustrate a story that was very important to him because it is part of his culture.  It reflects the importance of filial piety, and how wit is important in making decisions tactfully and meaningfully. It also shows how good actions will bring good karma and good fortune will follow, while evil will be repaid with punishment and other problems. This story was learned from the speaker’s parents as he was growing up, and they would constantly tell this story to both teach him to honor his parents and to fill in his identity as a Japanese-American.

Once upon a time, there was an old bamboo cutter who, while walking home, saw a faint white light in the distance. And as he came closer to it, he saw that it was coming from this shining stalk of bamboo and he decided to cut it open. Inside it, there was a small little baby girl who was only a few inches tall but very beautiful. And the old man was very surprised and did not want to leave her there, so he decided to take her home to his wife. The old couple was glad because they didn’t have any children so they decided to raise her as their own and named her Kaguya-hime. And from that day on, every time the old man went to cut bamboo, he’d find a small piece of gold inside each bamboo stalk. And so the family became very rich. And eventually, as Kaguya-hime grew, she became extremely beautiful and news of her beauty quickly spread talking about how she was more beautiful than any princess ever. Eventually five princes came and thought that whenever they saw Kaguya-hime, she was the most beautiful person ever, and decided to try and get her hand in marriage. Each of the princes wrote to the father of Kaguya-hime asking for her hand in marriage but he didn’t know what to do because all the letters actually came at the same time and he thought that if he chose one of the princes the rest would became angry. He decided to ask Kaguya-hime to decide. But Kaguya-hime was not every interested in marriage and did not want to actually marry any of them and just wanted to stay with her parents. So she carefully planned and had all the princes come to the house. And so on a certain day the five princes would come to the house of the bamboo cutter and each one of them thought that they would be able to marry her. Kaguya-hime decided that if they wanted to be able to marry her they would try to accomplish one of these missions that she would give to them. These five princes were to retrieve these rare artifacts. The first prince was to go to India and find the great stone bowl of Buddha. The second prince was to bring a branch from the jewel trees that grew on the floating mountains of Hourai. The third prince was to bring a robe made from the skins of the fire rats. The fourth was to bring the shell which the swallows keep hidden in their nests. And the 5th prince was to bring a jewel from the neck of the sea dragon The princes hurried off hoping that they would be able to retrieve the item as fast as possible and be able to achieve Kaguya-hime’s hand in marriage. The first prince was supposed to retrieve the great stone bowl which was hidden in India that belonged to the great god Buddha, and the bowl supposedly gleamed and sparked as if set with the most beautiful gems and it was hidden in some great temple. Now the first prince was trying to go to India but he was very lazy and decided that he didn’t actually want to India and so he decided to try to come up with a clever plan to try and trick Kaguya-hime. He asked the sailors how long it would take to go to India, and the sailors said it would take about 3 years. And so he decided that he wasn’t going to go and he decided to go to another city, stay for a few years, and find an old stone bowl and try and dress it up as if it were the great stone bowl that was in India. When Kaguya hime received the bowl, she opened it up and found that it was made of common stone and saw that the prince had tried to trick her. She was very angry and did not want to even see the prince when he came. The second prince who had to find the branch of the jewel tree also thought that he could outsmart Kaguya-hime. He didn’t actually believe that there was a floating mountain called Hourai and didn’t believe that her were actually trees of gold with jewels for leaves. So he decided to actually make it himself. Nobody really saw the second prince for about 3 years and he would just appear out of nowhere with a beautiful branch of gold with blossoms and leaves with all these colored jewels. And so Kaguya-hime decided to ask the prince of his journey, and so the prince talked about how he had seen many different things like these beautiful cities and strange countries, how these great sea dragons and sea serpents and saw these strange birds, and he talked about how he struggled through these fierce storms and sometimes he had neither food nor water, but eventually he was able to reach the great mountain of Hourai and retrieve the branch of the jewel tree. And after the prince told the story, 3 men came in and asked for payment for making the jewel branch. And the prince had tried to drive them away, but Kaguya-hime asked them to stay and asked why they were there. And the three men talked about how they had been working for 3 years to make this beautiful golden branch and that they wanted their pay. And Kaguya-hime found out that the prince had just lied to her, so the second prince went home dejected. And Kaguya-hime gave the three men the jeweled branch to pay for their years of hard work. And they went off happy and praised the princess for her kindness. The third prince had a very difficult task as well and he was to find the fire robe. He was very rich and had friends all around the world, and he had one friend that lived in China and sent him a messenger with a great bag of gold asking him to find the robe made of the skins of fire rats. The friend did not know what to do because he had never heard of this thing before, but he decided to try his best. He sent messengers all around china looking for this robe, but they could never find it.  He went to every temple and asked about it, but he could never find it. And they had never even heard of it before. He even asked all the merchants as well. At last he decided that he would just send the gold back to the prince and say that he was unable to find it. But the next morning he saw a group of beggars passing by and decided to ask them about the fire robe. And they were very surprised about all this. And the friend asked them about the fire robe. Some of them laughed at his face because they didn’t think that it existed. One of them thought that they had heard of it but that it was only a story and that it didn’t actually exist. After all but one beggar left, there was one old man who told them a story about how when he was a child his grandfather talked about this fire robe that was kept in this temple on top of a mountain hundreds of miles away from this place. The friend was very delighted but was wondering why the messengers had never found it. So he went to look for the temple and sent a messenger there but the messenger said that there actually wasn’t a temple on the mountain. The beggar said that there was a temple during his grandfather’s time. So the messenger searched the mountain and tried to look for the temple and couldn’t find it and said they only found a couple of stones. And they searched around a long time and eventually they actually found a large iron box that was buried underneath the stones. They opened the box and within it wrapped in many folds of rich silk, a strange beautiful fur robe. They carried it home joyfully to the friend who was very glad to receive it and sent it to the third prince who was very excited. He took it out of the box, and looked at it, and it was very beautiful, and remarked how Kaguya-hime would look beautiful in it and he remembered that every time the fire robe was put into the fire, it would be more bright and silvery than it was before, and so he put it in, but before he could snatch it from the fire, the fire quickly consumed up the robe and left nothing but silvery smoke. And the 3rd prince was suddenly heartbroken. He decided to write to Kaguya-hime telling her all about what had happened and the truth and decided to leave forever. And once Kaguya-hime received the letter, she knew that he was telling the truth and wanted him to come to her but he had gone away forever and Kaguya-hime never heard or saw of him ever again. The prince who was to find the shell in the swallow’s nest decided that he would ask the servants and everyone he knew about the shells that the swallows kept in their nests. None of the servants knew about it or the gardeners or any of the people that he had known so he decided to ask the children. A little boy thought that he had seen one inside some nests and while he was in the roof of the kitchen looking for swallow’s eggs he thought he saw this supposed shell and thought it was the shell the prince wanted. The prince was delighted and ordered his men to go search the swallow’s nest on the roof of the kitchen to look for the shell but they couldn’t reach it. So the men spent about three days trying to climb up and get it but they failed. So their final solution was to get a rope and a basket to drop a man and look into the nest, but they couldn’t find a shell. At last the prince grew impatient and decided to go up to the kitchen and into the basket and look for a shell himself. But the men told him how dangerous it was but they decided not to refuse and brought him up and the prince decided to look into the nest. But the swallows began to peck at him. They didn’t want to have their eggs broken so they attacked the prince multiple times until he fell off of the basket and onto a stove and was just badly bruised and burned and eventually he just gave up. He didn’t want to look for the shell and forgot about Kaguya-hime. In the end, he would never climb up and look into the swallow’s nest from that day on. The last prince was to bring the dragon jewel, but while he was very rich, he was only a great boaster and a coward as well. He was going to get the dragon jewel but he didn’t want to get it himself so he called up a great number of servants and soldiers and told them they were to look for the dragon jewel. He would give them a bunch of money and they weren’t to come back until they found it, but they took the money and left because they didn’t believe that it existed. So the last prince decided to go look for it himself. And he took a few men and set off on a boat. It was okay for the first couple of days, but eventually there was a great giant storm. The storm was very dangerous and could potentially destroy the boat and kill them all. So the prince went up to the captain and asked what he should do and the captain responded that the dragon had probably heard he was going to kill it and take the jewel, so he had sent the storm to try and kill him. So the prince, fearing for his life, promised that he would never ever touch the dragon and eventually the storm died down and the prince came to land down elsewhere. And the prince was so scared for his life that once he had touched the ground he vowed that he would never leave the solid piece of ground and he would spend the rest of his life on an island far away. Many years passed and Kaguya-hime took very good care of her old father and mother. The mother and father finally realized why Kaguya-hime had asked the princes to do such impossible things and that Kaguya-hime had just wanted to stay with her parents. And Kaguya-hime knew that if she refused to marry them, they might cause trouble and attack and harm the family. And as each day passed, Kaguya-hime would grow more and more beautiful and kinder and gentler and eventually when she was 20 years old her mother died and she became very sad. And whenever the full moon rose to show, she would go by herself and weep. One evening late in the summer, Kaguya-hime was sitting on a balcony looking at the moon and was crying very much. Her old father would come up to her and ask what the problem was and Kaguya-hime replied that she knew that one day she would eventually leave him and that her home was actually in the moon; she was sent down to earth to take care of them but eventually the time would come where she had to leave. She did not want to leave them but she must. She said that when the next full moon came, the people from the moon would come and get her. The father was very sad to hear this but thought that he would be able to keep her there by asking the emperor for some help. Kaguya-hime replied that it would be no use and that no one could keep her there when the time was to come. The father thought that he could do something about this and went to the emperor and told him the entire story. The emperor was touched by Kaguya-hime’s story and decided to send a whole army to guard the house when the time came. The old bamboo cutter went home cheerful but Kaguya-hime was sadder than ever. Eventually the old moon faded away and the few nights would show only the blue lights of the heaven and the gold of the stars, and a tiny silver thread showed just after sunset which eventually widened and brightened. Kaguya-hime would grow sadder and sadder. On the first night of the full moon the emperor’s men stood guard all around the house and Kaguya-hime waited on the balcony for the moon to rise. Eventually, slowly over the tops of the trees of the mountain rose this great white silver ball and every sound hushed. Kaguya-hime went to her father who had lied down as if he were asleep. When Kaguya-hime came near he opened his eyes and said, “I see now why you must go. It is because I am going too. Thank you my daughter for all the happiness you have brought to us,” and the old man closed his eyes and Kaguya-hime saw that he was dead. The moon rose higher and higher and eventually a line of light like a bridge reached from heaven to earth and down this bridge came many soldiers with shining armor. There was no sound and no wind, but they came. The emperor’s soldiers stood as if they had turned to stone and could not do anything. Kaguya-hime went to the leader of these heavenly visitors and said that she was ready. The leader handed her a cup with the elixir of immortality and she drank from it and she would no longer be mortal. She would become a princess of the moon and live on forever. Kaguya-hime and the others would eventually rise up like the morning mists, passing on to Mount Fuji, the sacred mountain of Japan, and eventually reach the silver gates of the moon city where everything was all happiness and peace. Men say that now a small soft white wreath of smoke that curls up around the crown of Mt. Fuji comes up like a floating bridge to that city in the moon far off in the sky.

As the one recording this tale, I had the same reaction as the speaker did. By looking at the moon in the darkness and listening to the tale, it seemed much more convincing and meaningful. It was a reminder to treasure loved ones and to act wisely so as to stop harm from following. It teaches good moral lessons such as protecting things that are unable to project themselves and to live honestly. More broadly, the story indicates to me that Japanese culture prioritizes family and morality.

This story is also mentioned in a scientific article:

Folktales Commonly Told American and Japanese Children: Ethical Themes of Omission and Commission
Betty B. Lanham and Masao Shimura
The Journal of American Folklore , Vol. 80, No. 315 (Jan. – Mar., 1967), pp. 33-48
general
Legends
Myths
Narrative

The Church on the Hill

The following are the informant’s exact words:

“This is a story that my grandmother tells. It’s a pretty popular story, umm… that involves that… Juan Diego, a young man’s name… a peasant and a Mexican. And when she tells it, it is that he is walking one day, uhh… and the Virgen di Guadalupe appeared to him and said, “I’d like you to build me a church, here.” It was a particular hill I believe. And uhh… and he was like, “Well okay, I guess”. And ummm…  then he goes to, I believe, the power that be, the kinda Catholic Church, the bishop. And he says, “Okay well we need to build this church because the Virgen di Guadalupe appeared to me and said she wants a church.” And, uhhh, the bishop, because of, you know,  the lowly statues of this peasant, Juan Diego, said, “Well you know, why should we believe you, you need to have some proof, you need to find some proof.” So he’s kinda turned away. And the next day, or I don’t know, a week later I suppose, he’s walking by the same place, but he actually tries to go a different way, he’s kind of trying to avoid her I think (laughs), but she appears again! And she’s like, “Hey, why are you trying to avoid me?” You know. And he proceeds to tell her, ummm, you know, “They don’t believe me, you know, there’s no proof.” And she says, “Well, climb up on this hill and uhhh pick some roses, and uhh pick these roses umm to bring to this bishop.” And umm so he does that, he picks these roses. And he carries them in his ‘thilma’, in his shirt, uhh kinda like this, like makes a kind of pouch with his shirt and carries them. And then goes to the bishop and says, “Okay, she appeared to me again.” And uhh the bishop’s like, “Well where’s your proof?”And so he, he drops the flowers from his shirt. And you know, he’s thinks like, here’s my proof, the flowers, the roses. But actually, the roses, being carried in the shirt, had stained his shirt, his ‘thilma’ and there was an image of the Virgen di Guadalupe. And then the bishops all got down on their knees, because this is a holy thing, you know, and imagine this miracle, ‘milagro’, and so he got down on his knees. And there’s a church there today, right this is a church, a famous church, and that’s the story of that church.”

The informant said that his grandmother told him the story when he was much younger. The informant is half Mexican, and he included several Spanish words in his retelling of the story. The story seems very personal to the informant, because he learned it from a cherished family member and it ties back to his heritage. However, he said that he could not remember the name of the church, though he knew it at one point. Thus, the story meant more to him as a tale in itself, tying back to his grandmother, his Mexican heritage, and his religion, than a tale about a specific church. When he was telling it to me, his voice became more excited towards the end of the tale, when Juan Diego’s proof succeeds in convincing the bishops to believe him and build the church. The informant believed in the tale and regarded it highly.

Many narratives have meanings beyond the literary plot. This narrative has ties to heritage and religion. The informant, living in Los Angeles, doesn’t often get to celebrate his unique heritage and religion, and narratives like this help to reaffirm some of his beliefs. The story venerates both the Virgin of Guadalupe, the new Catholic church, and the efforts of a poor peasant man following the will of God. Thus, it is held dearly by a religious common-man. I found the tale interesting, more so because of the informant’s enthusiasm and emotional connections to it. I don’t know if I believe that the roses stained the shirt in the form of the Virgin, but I believe that something similar could have happened, or that the stain could have looked similar to her form. In any case, the connotations of the story are more important that it’s actuality. I think this legend is a good example of the strength of Mexican heritage and familial ties, the prominence of Catholicism in Mexico and its emotional power, and the tendency of legends to connect with the common-man.

It should also be noted that I didn’t know how to spell some of the Spanish words, specifically “thilma”, and I couldn’t find it online. I spelled it phonetically.

 

Folk Beliefs
Magic

The dancing women bring the rain

This story is about the old women in the village. So the old women in the village all have a…they all belong to a clan. I don’t remember the name of it. But usually when there is a drought they all dance and sing in the streets naked. And it is said that it brings the rain. Now, this is forbidden for anyone to watch, so I really don’t know when it goes on because no one knows when. You just know because the rain came. And if you watch you have bad luck and it’s said that something happens to your eyes. I don’t really know what happens because I haven’t watched—and I wont—so yeah, that’s it. I heard this from my family in Cameroon but I’ve never experienced that.

 

This story appears to have legendary qualities: the story is set In the real world, but its truth is debatable. Coco says cites the existence of a group of women who have the power to summon the rain in times of need yet she has never seen this group of women nor has anyone else (since seeing these women harms your eyes). Therefore, no one really knows if these women exist. Coco says that some claim to have seen them, but those who made these claims had no issues with their eyes. So which isn’t true, the existence of the women or the curse that they put on your eyes if you see them?

 

This story made me think of the ancient Greeks who seemed to have a god for everything because they did not understand fully how to describe the workings of the world in scientific terms. For example, if the sea was incredibly violent and was sinking many ships they might have said something like, “Poseidon is punishing us”. They would assume that the god of the sea was creating these inclement conditions rather than understanding that it was simply a storm that was causing the foul weather. Likewise, if people in this village did not understand the weather, they too might have placed the control of the weather into the hands of some supernatural being or group of people.

 

Coco’s grandmother taught her this story when she was very young, and she learned it when she was a small child. Her village is not highly educated nor is it particularly wealthy. This story of these women could simply be the result a lack of understanding of how weather works.

Legends
Narrative

Legend

La Llorona.

There is an old legend about a beautiful woman who put her babies in a river to spite her ex husband that left her, then regretted her decision immediately after doing so. She cried to them to come back but they did not. The next day the mother was found dead and they buried her. Now if you go by the river where she put her babies, you can hear her crying for them eerily.

The story is much longer but that is the condensed version my father told me. This is a very well known and famous legend throughout the hispanic community all over the world. It can be found on hundreds of websites and books now, as well as being passed down from family to family throughout generations. The moral of this tale, other than being a classic ghost story, is again to warn children not to go where they aren’t supposed to and to make sure that they don’t go outside at night where it could potentially not be safe.

[geolocation]