USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘stone’
general
Myths
Narrative

The Stone Ñusta (Princess) of Pisac

Original
“Okay, esta es la historia de una princesa, una Anusta Inca, y esta es la historia de donde es la abuelita, toda la familia de tu abuelita Elva, de Pisac.

Hay un cerro a que le dicen Apu, que decian que era el protector del pueblo, Pisac. La princesa, hija del ese entoces, el principe, el rey de esa zona, Inca, era unica hija. Y le dijeron que el unico que se podia casar con ella era el que construiera un puente de piedra en una sola noche, en el Rio Vivilcanota que esta a la orilla del cerro del Apu. La condicion era de que ella tenia que subir el cerro toda la noche mientras el novio construia el puente de piedra en el rio.

Mientras ella subiera, no podia mirar para atras. El el momento que ella mirara para atras, todo se convertia en piedra. El tenia que construir el puente, y ella tenia que subir el cerro. Esa era la condicion para que se pudieran casar.

Entonces, el principe que era del otro pueblo, y que el matrimonio de ellos iba a constituir la allianza de los dos pueblos, estaba muy enamorado de ella y dijo que el iba a intentar de hacer el puente en una noche. Entonces en la noche que el estaba haciendo el puente, el estaba casi casi terminando, y dice la leyenda que todo el mundo le silvaba, que ella escuchaba como que la gente la llamaba por su nombre y que le silvaba y ella no podia voltear. Pero cuando ya se estaba amaneciendo, ella sintio que alguien la llamaba mucho mucho mucho, penso que ya podia voltear porque ya estaba amaneciendo, y el todavia no habia terminado el puente. Y entonces cuando volteo, todo se volvio de piedra.

Entonces cuando tu te vas al pueblo de tu abuelita, tu ves a una princesa, que es como una formacion de roca y de piedra, y tu ves unas rocas en el rio, como si se hubiera hecho un puente que no se ha terminado, ya l final, una roca grande que dicen que es la estatua del principe.”

Translation
“Okay, this is the story of a princess, an Anusta Inca, and this is the story from where your grandmother is from, and your whole grandmother’s family, in Pisac.

There is a hill that they called Apu, and they say that it was the protector of the village Pisac. The princess, the daughter of this, at the time, prince or king of the Inca village, was an only child. And they told her that the only man that she could marry was a man who could build a bridge made of stone in just one night, in the river Vivilcanota at the shore of the Apu hill. The only condition was that she also had to climb the mountain all night, while the fiancé built the stone bridge at the river.

While she climbed she could not look behind her. The moment she looked behind her, everything would turn into stone. He had to build the bridge and she had to climb the range, that was the condition so that they could marry.

So, the prince who was from a neighboring village, and the matrimony of these two would constitute the alliance of the two villages, was very enamored by her and said that he would try to make the bridge in one night. So at night when he was making the bridge, he was almost almost done, and the legend says that everyone was calling her and whistling at her. And that, she would hear people calling her name and whistling and she could not turn around. But when the sun was rising, she heard someone calling her a lot a lot a lot, and she thought that she could turn around now because it was already a new day… but he had not finished building the bridge yet. And so when she turned around, everything turned into stone.

So when you go to your grandmothers village you see a princess, who is like a rock formation made of stone, And you see some rocks at the river, as if someone had made a bridge and had not finished it, and at the end of that, you see a big rock that they say is the statue of the prince.”

Context: The informant is my mother, a Peruvian woman whose parents both come from villages near Cuzco, Peru. She grew up in Lima, the capital and the most metropolitan city in Peru. Peruvian culture, however, is deeply rooted in pride about their myths and legends, and these forms of folklore are widely known. I actually inquired about Inca creation myths on my own, but realized that this is a prime example of folklore.

Analysis: I spotted some of Propp’s functions in this myth, as well as some of the classic elements of myths, as this is a fairly traditional structure for a myth just with a bit more detail.

Childhood
Customs
Life cycle
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Touch Stones

 

Touch Stones

Personal Background:

Alaina is a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. She is originally from Washington, a small town about an hour away from Seattle. She has been a camp counselor for many years, and for many different age groups.

Camp Rituals:

Osprey Camp is a small independent camp in Washington. It is an educational camp that is meant for sixth graders, and it is a camp Alaina went to when she was in sixth grade. She has been a counselor for it for a few years noe. One thing she mentioned the campers did was have a friendship circle at the end of every week the students were there. A friendship circle is when the students sit in a circle and talk about the great things the other people did throughout the week. The last week of camp is special though because that was when they received their touch stones. Touch stones are something the couselors make for the campers when they come to the end of camp. It has been a tradition since Alaina has gone to camp there. Touch stones are basically little rocks made of clay that has the thumbprint in it. In the final friendship circle, the kids pass around their touch stones and the kids touch the part that has the print in it. It is a way to say goodbye and keep a memory of the camp.

Alaina was able to actually make the touch stones the second year she was a camp counselor. She remembered enjoying it when she was camp, but seeing the kids react to them was even better than she remembered. She loved seeing the different groups of kids interacting with kids they might not have if they were not at camp. She also enjoyed being able to touch some of the stones of the kids who had been her cabin. For her, it was a way to prove that the barriers could be broken of the kids at this awkward age where changes are occurring with new schools, as well as new friends. Since the campers and counselors were not able to keep in contact after the camp ended, the touch stone was a good reminder of all the people at camp.

Analysis:

This is a perfect example of a ritual and well as a folk object. It has the repition, as well as focuses on a certain culture, which is the campers culture. It is not something people would be doing all the time, and it has a special meaning for the people who have gone through it. It is almost as a right of passage, or a coming of age for the kids. It is a positive way to end a camp and start a lot of new friendships with people they might not have originally been friends with. It gives them that physical stone as well that have after camp ends.

To me, it was a great way to have the piece after the kids left the camp. Having that physical folk object once the ritual was complete is something that the can keep and have fond memories of for the rest of their lives.

Narrative
Tales /märchen

Noble Thief

Form of Folklore:  Narrative (Marchen)

Informant Bio:  The informant was born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia until 1990, when she and her family moved to the United States (Glendale, California), at the age of thirty six.  Most of the folklore she has been exposed to is founded in Armenian culture.  Her social surroundings in Armenia and her father are her primary sources of folklore.

Context:  The interview was conducted in the dining room of the informant’s house.

Item:    There once was a thief who wanted to repent for his sins and stop being a thief so he went to the nearest church to ask for God’s forgiveness.  The priest at the church told him that he should simply try to be a good person.  The thief asks, “How will I know if God has forgiven me?”  The priest points to a tree in the yard of the church and says, “When the fruit from that apricot tree grows, God has forgiven you.”  So the thief leaves and doesn’t steal from anyone even though he is really poor and is in need.  He keeps coming to check if any fruit has grown on the tree, but every time he checks, there’s no fruit.  Finally, he’s so desperate that he knocks on the door of a middle aged woman to ask for some help and shelter (so that he doesn’t steal again).  The woman say, “Well, I live here alone with my three children and we don’t have much but you are welcome to stay.”  Later, that night the children are begging there mother to give them food and she tells them that food is cooking on the stove and will be ready soon.  The thief sees that the woman seems to be boiling some sort of soup.  The children asked if the food is ready and the woman simply says, “Soon, soon”.  The children are running around and playing with each other as they wait for the food to be ready.  They play so hard that they get exhausted and fall asleep.  The thief approaches the woman and tells her that she is a horrible woman for not feeding her children before they fell asleep.  The woman, with tears on her face, says, “Sir, come see, I have no food.  All I have is a stone boiling in this pot.  I lie to my children that there will be food soon so that they may fall asleep with the prospect of being fed.”  The thief is startled and deeply saddened by this news, so much so that he leaves in the middle of the night and steals food for the woman and her children.  He leaves the food at their house and leaves.  On his journey from the house, he passes by the apricot tree in the church yard and to his surprise sees that there is fruit on the apricot tree.

Informant Comments:  The informant loves this story and told it to her children as her father had told it to her.  She likes the fact that doing the right thing is not a matter of black and white.  The story implies that the thief is forgiven for his sins when he actually steals.  The informant does not believe that this actually happened but has seen acts similar to the thief’s in her personal experience.  She believes if more people heard this story and understood it, then people would look out for one another and try to do the right thing more often.

Analysis:  The idea of receiving God’s forgiveness and Christianity are apparent in this marchen but seem to lead the listener to the true moral of the story; this being that the intentions behind actions are of far greater importance than the actions themselves.  When the thief would steal for himself, he was not forgiven; when he would do nothing at all, he was not forgiven; only when he stole in order to help others less fortunate was he finally forgiven.  Regardless of how religious or non-religious one is, this story offers the listeners a comfort in knowing that when they do something that is not typically considered “right” bur for the “right” reasons, they are being moral, even if their direct actions are not so moral.

folk metaphor
Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Constant Drip

The informant is recounting a Chinese proverb from home. He does not remember where he heard it.

“Constant dripping wears away the stone.”

He interprets this to emphasize the importance of perseverance.

 

That this is a widespread proverb interesting is interesting due to the connection to the popular legend of Chinese water torture. As the legend has it, the Chinese would torture prisoners by slowly dripping water on their foreheads. This could be a literal interpretation of this proverb.

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