USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘sheep’
Childhood
general
Narrative
Tales /märchen

The Boy Who Cried Wolf- Children Story

Main piece: 

“There was a boy who was a shepherd. The boy would get very bored watching the sheep all day, so he decided to yell out that there was a wolf amongst the sheep one day. All the villagers came in a hurry to find out that there was no wolf. The next day the shepherd boy did it again. And the villagers came running, only to find that once again there was no wolf. On the third day, the shepherd boy was watching the sheep, and a wolf came. The boy yelled out to the villagers, ‘there is a wolf! Help! there is a wolf!’ but this time no one believed him, and the wolf ate all of his sheep.”

Context and Analysis:

My informant is a 21-year-old female. I asked her to narrate to me a commonly known story she is familiar with. The informant narrated to me the story of the “Boy Who Cried, Wolf.” She claims this was a bedtime story told to her when she was a child. My informant believes the message of this story is that “if you lie people will catch on to it and then they will not believe anything you say ever, even if it is true.”

I agree with my informant’s interpretation of the story. The story of The Boy Who Cried wolf is often used to teach children about the dangers of lying. The story follows the plot of a boy playing around with the kindness of the village and the sense of community that made them reach out to help when the boy was in danger. Because of this when the boy was actually in danger, the villagers no longer believed him and did not come out to help. I think this story also emphasizes the fragility of community awareness and support. Most communities are known for caring for one another and wanting to help other members of that community, however, this bond takes work on both sides. Each member of the community must participate in making it strong. By tricking the village, the boy broke this bond and therefore he was excluded from the community. I think many times people take these communities for granted and do not put in what they are getting from it. This story does not just warn about the dangers of lying, but also about preserving the trust within a community.

I think the use of three is also important to note as it is a prominent number in storytelling. The boy cries out to the villagers three times. Having a trio creates a pattern making the story more memorable and emphasizes an idea. 

Musical

Russian Children’s Song about a Sheep

Main Piece: Russian Song/Rhyme

Протекала речка, / через речку мост, / на мосту овечка, / у овечки хвост.
Эх, раз, два, три, четыре, пять, шесть, семь, aх семь, шесть, пять, четыре, три, два, один.
Пересохла речка, / развалился мост, / умерла овечка, / отвалился хвост.
Эх, раз, два, три, четыре, пять, шесть, семь, aх семь, шесть, пять, четыре, три, два, один.
Мне не жалко речки, / мне не жаль моста, / мне не жаль овечки, / а мне жаль хвоста.
Эх, раз, два, три, четыре, пять, шесть, семь, aх семь, шесть, пять, четыре, три, два, один.

Не было-б речки, / не было-б моста. / Не было-б овечки, / не было-б хвоста.

Эх, раз, два, три, четыре, пять, шесть, семь, aх семь, шесть, пять, четыре, три, два, один.

Phonetic:

Protekala rechka, / cherez rechku most, / na mostu ovechka, / u ovechki khvost.
Ekh, raz, dva, tri, chetyre, pyat’, shest’, sem’, akh sem’, shest’, pyat’, chetyre, tri, dva, odin.
Peresokhla rechka, / razvalilsya most, / umerla ovechka, / otvalilsya khvost.
Ekh, raz, dva, tri, chetyre, pyat’, shest’, sem’, akh sem’, shest’, pyat’, chetyre, tri, dva, odin.
Mne ne zhalko rechki, / mne ne zhal’ mosta, / mne ne zhal’ ovechki, / a mne zhal’ khvosta.
Ekh, raz, dva, tri, chetyre, pyat’, shest’, sem’, akh sem’, shest’, pyat’, chetyre, tri, dva, odin.
Ne bylo-b rechki, / ne bylo-b mosta. / Ne bylo-b ovechki, / ne bylo-b khvosta.
Ekh, raz, dva, tri, chetyre, pyat’, shest’, sem’, akh sem’, shest’, pyat’, chetyre, tri, dva, odin.

Translation:

A river ran / a bridge across the river. / On the bridge a sheep, / the sheep had a tail.

Eh, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, ah seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

The river ran dry, / the bridge fell apart. / The sheep died, / the tail fell off.

Eh, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, ah seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

I do not feel sorry for the river, / I do not feel sorry for the bridge, / I do not feel sorry for the sheep, / but I’m sorry for the tail.

Eh, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, ah seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

If here was no river, / there would be no bridge. / If there was no sheep, / there would be no tail.

Eh, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, ah seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

 

Background Information:

  • Why does informant know this piece?

This is a song/rhyme that he learned in kindergarden.

  • Where did they learn this piece?

The Soviet Union.

  • What does it mean to them?

Its just a funny song/rhyme that can be accompanied by a guitar. While it is associated with children, it is also often associated with being drunk and wanting to sing.

 

Context:

  • Where?

At enjoyable gatherings.

  • When?

For children, whenever. For adults, usually when under the influence of alcohol.

  • Why?

For enjoyment.

 

Personal Thoughts:

My father and uncles and grandfathers taught me this song. If was always very fun to sing until the couplet when the sheep dies, which used to make me sad. It is a very strange and ironic song.

Narrative
Tales /märchen

Abu khan Ki Bakri

Informant Bio: Informant is my father.  He was born in Mumbai, India and moved to the U.S . when he was 22.  He still remembers many of the poems and songs from his childhood.  He is fluent in over five languages and recounts a translated tale below.

 

Context: I was interviewing the informant about childhood traditions, rituals, songs sung and tales performed.

 

Item: “Abukhan was an old, lonely man living in the village of “Almoda” in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains

He would keep one or two goats at a time and spend his time walking with them around the village and farmland.

At night, he would tie the goats with a rope in his yard.

One after the other, in matter of days he would lose the goats as they would run away into the mountain and be killed by a coyote.

Finally, he got tired and decided, no more goats! I will spend the rest of my life without any goat, he thought.

A few days passed and he was very sad and lonely without the goats.

Yes, he went and bought a very pretty little goat and named her “Chandni” (meaning “moonlight”).

He thought if he gave her nice feed and grains and showered her with lots of attention, this one won’t run away.

But sometimes he felt that the goat was getting bored. Time to make her life more interesting.

He thought and thought and then decided to move her from his small yard to his much larger fenced-in farm. There he would tie her with a long rope. She had much larger area to run around in and it was safe.

Chandni seemed happy with this greater freedom seemed to have bonded with the old man

They bonded so well that they could as if talk and understand each other like human beings. Abukhan was really happy that this goat was a keeper and would never run away.

More time passed and Abukhan slowly realized that Chandani was showing fresh signs of boredom.

Secretly she was longing to go up the mountain. He knew this because he had seen her gazing in that direction for hours. She was definitely more restless.

And then she started eating less and less. She wasn’t happy to be confined in that farm – as big as it was, it was no longer big enough for her…

She was all grown up and wanted to explore the world – that mountain -seemed as if it was beckoning her

All of a sudden the rope around her neck felt like a noose. She’d gaze at the top of the mountain and think the air there must be so fresh, the scenery from there… the greenery around there…  the smell of freedom and here I am confined in this small, pitiful little farm… Yes, Abukhan is nice to me but mountain is calling and I have heard the call now…

She kept looking at the mountain all the time. She was smitten. Nothing else would make her happy.

This went on for a while. Abu was very unhappy. Chandni was very unhappy.

Abu talked to Chandni everyday telling her that it is not a good idea to go to the mountain. There are dangers and a certain death. What more can I do to make you happy? Longer rope? Better feed?

Nothing seemed to work. Finally, Abu told her, if you go to the mountain, coyote will surely kill you. How are you going to fight him?

Chandni showed her horns and said these… these will fight the coyote…they have grown in the past few years and I am strong…

Abu said your horns are no match for the coyote. I just can’t let you do this.

Abu said to himself, this is it. Chandni must not be kept here in this field. It is time she is put in the cabin on the farm with the door locked.

That afternoon Chandni was taken to the cabin and the door was shut and locked.

Little did he realize that the back window of the cabin was wide open. Well, that was the opportunity Chandni was waiting for.

Night fell and Chandni escaped running straight to the mountain.

She reached there and the smell of freedom… Her beloved mountain… she was finally there… all that greenery.. So much to eat… so much to see… so much to enjoy..

She enjoyed herself beyond her wildest dreams. Ever so slowly heading towards the top of the mountain. She had enjoyed a few days of freedom.

She was re-invigorated, she felt young again and there she met a herd of other mountain goats. They welcomed her in their herd. They roamed together for a while. A male goat even showed some interest in beautiful Chandani, even she felt the attraction. But she didn’t want to jeopardize her freedom being tied to a life in a herd with other goats.

She was a true free spirit. There was no time for emotional attachment. She had to go her own way wherever her heart was leading her – to the top of the mountain.

But Chandani was a smart goat. In her new found life, she was still ever so vigilant of the coyote. Goats in the herd didn’t have to remind her. The encounter was destined to happen at any moment.

And came the dusk. Cool breeze felt ever so pleasant on the skin. In the valley she could see the village and Abu Khan’s hut, his yard, the farm and the cottage. It looked wonderful from far away…

In the distance, she even could hear Abu’s pleas for her to return home. For a moment, she felt maybe she should return, but then she remembered the rope, slavery, dependency and her life there – may be more comfortable, but certainly not as sweet as this freedom. Whatever the price – she couldn’t – she wouldn’t give up her newly found freedom

She is deep in thoughts as she heard some noise in the leaves behind her… yes, coyote was closing in on her… Should I run down the mountain and back to loving Abu Khan or face this deadly encounter!!

The decision was made in a split second. She chose to fight and die rather than live in comfort of Abu’s home and rope tied around her neck

She saw the coyotes shiny eyes in the darkness. There was no other option left. Coyote gave her a look as if saying, Oh, here we go again. This one looks like Abu’s well-cared for goat. They have all been special and delicious and such easy kill…

Chandani kept her head down, straightened her horns and in a split second charged straight to the coyote at lightening speed and bam!! Smack into him…

Coyote didn’t expect this, he had never been attacked like this before by a goat! Yes, this was an attack…

He was truly taken aback. In a moment, he regained his balance and composure and the fight was on..

As the fight went on, Chandani was gradually losing ground, but earned a healthy respect of her opponent. Coyote has never had to work so hard to overwhelm a goat prey.

Chandni was bloodied but kept on fighting. The dance of death went on into late night. Stars were disappearing one by one in the sky. Dawn was about to break thru.

She was taking her last breaths. She fell to the ground. A moment more and it was going to be over. Million thoughts raced thru Chandni’s mind. It was over… Ground was bloodied… Chandni had taken her last breath but in freedom. Fully aware of this outcome as the final price. She did have a smile on her face as she lay dead.

Up on the tree, a whole group of birds were watching this fight almost since it started. Coyote won the general consensus declared. Said “No” an old bird, “Chandni is the winner here.”

 

Analysis: This tale came to popularity during the time of British occupation of India.  It is a tale describing that for the self-aware, freedom must be the ultimate goal.  No matter how nice the accommodations are under the oppressor, one will always wonder and always be drawn to freedom.  The desire of the sheep to fight against the coyote despite knowing the eventual outcome shows that freedom is worth any cost, even one’s life.  The initial surprise of the coyote at the attack from the seemingly week sheep parallels what colonizing countries exhibit in the face of a rebelling colony.  The coyote, or colonizing country exhibits judgment and prejudice against the subject, much like colonizing countries do of their subjects.  This idea of resorting to fighting was not held by all in India.  The famous Mohandas Gandhi advocated nonviolence and an approach of demonstration and sacrifice to show commitment and enact change.  Obviously in the animal world, in which you are either a predator or you are prey, these issues have to be simplified, as they are in this tale.

 

Note: This tale is also recounted in the publication Abu khan ki bakri dusri kahaniyan by Zakir Hussain.

Customs
Earth cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Ramadan in Sudan

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  He is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is from Sudan and they are Muslim.  Both he and his twin brother were educated in international schools.  He speaks Arabic and English.

 

Context: I was talking with the informant about traditions and rituals his family has.

 

Item: “Yeah so basically for once a year for one month, all of Sudan is fasting for 30 days.  We fast from sun up to sun down.  You’re not allowed to drink water, no food, can’t have any sexual intercourse.  Some people say you’re supposed to stay away from certain pleasures, but that stuff’s impossible.  So some people are like, you should never curse during Ramadan as that breaks your fast.  I don’t really subscribe to that notion, but some people definitely take it a lot more strict than others.

 

The point of Ramadan is that you be in solidarity with unfortunate people around the world who go through not eating on a daily basis so we get a better idea of their pain and their suffering.  We’re supposed to also develop better appreciation for the stuff we have, so you appreciate the fact that you can come home every day and there’s a meal waiting for you.  In a place like Sudan, you take that really seriously during Ramadan.

 

At the end of Ramadan you have a very large feast, on Eid.  You go and meet up with pretty much your entire family and have a large feast and pretty much eat whatever you want.  We also sacrifice a sheep, so you kill a sheep and then eat it.  And, uh, growing up I watched the killing of the sheep at my grandma’s house and it’s really gruesome by the way.  So they throw it up there and slit it’s throat and there’s a ton of blood and they’re just tearing apart the insides.  I’ve seen so many sheep stomachs just laying outside of homes, it’s ridiculous.  There’s no like recycle process in Africa.  So you eat lamb; there is a Qa’ranic basis for that, but I don’t know what it is.  There’s some story of a guy that sacrifices a sheep instead of his son and it might even be in the Bible but I’m not really sure.

 

Typically, the kids got a lot of money from relatives, which was dope, or got presents, but I usually got a lot of money.  This is a great time, there’s lots of family reunions and a week of from school.  So Ramadan goes back 11 days every year.  The next, like, six to eight years are going to be the toughest for Ramadan since it falls in the summer and is moving earlier.  The days are longer and they’re super hot and it’s really tough.  Anyways, one other thing is you’re kind of obligated to eat at sundown.  It’s considered a sin if you don’t eat immediately, you can’t wait to finish up your video game, you gotta eat right away”.

 

Analysis: The informant, although away from home for the past three years, still continues to embrace the Muslim period of Ramadan and all the sacrifices with it.  Although it is undoubtedly a struggle for them while in the U.S., the importance of religion to their lives outweighs all other concerns.  Especially in Sudan, with the extremely high unemployment and poverty levels, Ramadan is a serious time where exceptions are not accepted.

 

The fast does not extend only to food, like in some other religions (lent in Catholicism).  It also applies to other aspects of the body and spirit.  In this way, it tests self-control to a much greater extent to bring about greater self-awareness and control for the practitioners.

 

With regards to the sacrifice of the sheep, the informant is referring to the story involving Abraham and Ishmael, in which Abraham is willing to sacrifice his son to God.  God spares Ishmael and a sheep is sacrificed instead.  The sacrifice of the sheep seems to occur in many instances in Islamic countries (at graduations and other large and meaningful events).

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