USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘foot’
Proverbs

“Hitting your foot with an axe”

Main piece:

Apne aap pe kulhadi maarna

“Hitting your foot with an axe”

 

Background information (Why does the informant know or like this piece? Where or who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them?):

Informant is an international student from India. Her grandmother first taught her but everyone uses it in their day to day talk.

Context (When or where would this be performed? Under what circumstance?):

It means that when you put yourself in trouble. You planned everything but in the end there was trouble. For example, Person A is manipulative and tells everyone that Person B is cheating in school to ruin his/her reputation. In the end, it turns out that Person B never cheated and everyone finds out. Person A’s plan backfires and is now known as a bad person. This is when you would say, “Apne aap pe kulhadi maarna”.

Personal Analysis:

This is really similar to the American saying “shoot oneself in the foot”. The meaning is universal because the situation is a common occurrence in any society. The indian equivalent of a gun is an axe. It shows how different cultures are familiar with different weapons and might hint at what time period these proverbs started.

 

Folk Beliefs
Gestures
Kinesthetic

Don’t shake your leg

“If you shake your leg when you’re sitting, you shake off all your good luck.”

 

My informant comes from a Korean family. She had no idea why she was taught this as a child, but recalled her mother being adamant about the dangers of shaking one’s leg (she demonstrated – the saying seems to apply to when one is sitting with one leg crossed over the other, jiggling the foot of the leg on top). There could be some sort of superstition involved in this belief; however, I think it’s likely that people simply wanted their children to stop fidgeting and made up a reason for them to refrain.

Folk Beliefs
Signs

Thai folk belief: Mole on foot

Shortly before starting her freshman year at college, my informant noticed a mole on the back of her left foot which she was sure hadn’t been there before. She mentioned the mole to her mother, and it was then that her mother told of her the Thai belief that when you get a mole on your foot, it means you’ll travel far. (My informant’s mother is from the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand.)

My informant strongly believes that this belief is accurate, because she moved away from home and into a college dorm a few weeks after noticing the mole. She told me that the belief was bo-lan, a historical saying, or ancient/common knowledge, and that you have to respect bo-lan. Though she didn’t move far (her home is about a half hour drive from her college), she believes that this is because her mole is fairly small, and the size of the mole either determines or predicts (she’s not sure which) how far you’ll be traveling.

The location of the mole on the foot is probably significant. The feet are associated with walking, and therefore travel. This belief reminds me of another bit of folk speech: the “travel itch,” the desire to travel. Moles can itch, prompting the desire to walk, which could be a metaphor for travel.

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