USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘treasure’
Legends
Narrative

Legend of Lost Gold in Mexican Cave

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 Mexico but he has lived in Southern California for nearly all of his life.

 

Context: I was talking to Fabian about Mexican stories and folklore.  He originally learned this story at age 13 from his mother when he went hiking in mountains in which the specific cave is supposed to be located.  His uncle had previously gone exploring and looking for the gold in this area.  The tale is well known in the informant’s state of Michocoan.

 

Item: “So there’s this famous bandit, and, um, he like stole a lot of gold, but the thing is, he disappeared all of a sudden along with all his gold.  They never found his body or his gold.  People think that he buried it in some tunnels in the mountains.  The legend around the gold is that you can only find it if you are looking for it by unselfish means.  People who have been looking to get rich have never found the gold, but, people who have explored the cave for fun have randomly stumbled upon gold coins.  And then at night, sometimes you will the bandit’s spirit running on his horse”.

 

Informant Analysis: Ghost riders are an extremely common phenomena in Mexican legends and tales.  Unlike in the U.S. where ghosts and dead spirits are seen to be creepy, dead spirits are common in Mexican tales.

 

Analysis: Many Mexican tales seem to have an emphasis on intentions and values.  The bit about only the unselfish/non-evil searchers being able to find the gold out of virtue seems to be a common thread in other cultures across the world.  Mexicans are highly religious in general and also place great importance on familial duty, honest work, and honor.  If you perform honest work then no one criticizes you while you can be ostracized for doing dis-honorable, illegal or morally question deeds.  This tale seems to celebrate the fact that if you have good intentions and live purely, that you will indeed sew good luck and receive benefits in the end.

Narrative
Tales /märchen

Persian Tale- Man of Baghdad

This is a tale my informant heard from her mom, who is Persian. The story goes that a man living in Baghdad was very poor and so asked God to help him. That night, he dreamt of treasure that was at a certain place in Egypt. When he arrived, though, he was arrested because the police thought he was a thief for some reason. They beat him nearly to death. Later, when the police chief asked him why he’d come there, he said he dreamt that he’d find treasure if he did. The man just told him that he was a fool then. He continued that he’d often dreamt of finding treasure in a certain place in Baghdad but never pursued it because it was just a dream. It turned out that the spot the man had described in Baghdad was actually the house of the first guy. So, he returned home and found the treasure there.

My informant likes this story because of the reversal of fortune, which is unexpected but satisfying because as an audience, we want to see the man succeed after he is brought so low by the world. She also likes it because it emphasizes hope and trusting the universe to give you what you need. The man follows his dream and eventually succeeds, even though the police chief calls him foolish for this. Maybe sometimes you need to be foolish to just do what you think is right or what you think will get you what you want, though.

The tale speaks to a lot of different themes. For one, that we will generally get what we need in life, but it won’t simply be given to us. The man asks God for treasure, but he has to travel to Egypt to find out it was under his own house the whole time. He had to undergo a journey, as well as suffering (being beaten) to get the reward. The story also seems to say that dreams are meaningful. While we might not really believe this, it seems very human to want to, so this story serves as wish fulfillment in that way. The police chief gives the realist view that trusting dreams is foolish, but it pays off for the main character because we like the idea that a dream can guide us to something good.

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