Author Archives: ralfaisa

Bhutan Folktale.


Bandar is an American who was traveling in Bhutan when he heard this folktale. He is an abid traveler and student with a masters in International Relations.


Original script:

Two friends, monkey and hen live together. Monkey is always sent to work everyday hen stays at home and cooks for the monkey. The hen of course lays egg.

One day the monkey is working hard, right? In the field he works, while the hen gets to stay home, you know? So the monkey says, “ Now I’m going to cook for you, YOU go in the field and work”

Before, he watches the hen how hen does cooking and cleans everything up. What monkey sees is hen laying an egg over the pan. Monkey send hen to the field, she cleans everything up. She starts to cook and like the hen she sits over the oven and squeezes. No egg come out but of course other things come out, the poops come out, and it splashes the oil and burns off all his fur. So then we say its not always good to copy”


Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Bandar was traveling in Bhutan when the guide he was traveling with told him this folktale and recorded it for me.


Context of performance:

Told to my informant on a long car ride up in Bhutan.


Thoughts on this piece:

The story like most tales reflects belief system in the Bhutanese culture and provides a moral story on common sense. It is interesting that the narrator switches the sex of the Monkey and Hen. Does this mean that gender roles are not as important in Bhutan?

Time Myth



Brandon grew up in Saccremento California to a practicing Jewish family. He is an only child and works as a financial advisor at a back in New York City.

Original script:My father always used to say that if you are in a group or someplace where people are talking and everyone goes quite at once and you look at your watch it will be 20 past the hour.”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: The informant has a strained relationship with his parents. It’s interesting to me that his father uses this time related myth as a way of explaining lulls in conversation.

Context of the Performance: When there is a lull in the conversation.

Thoughts about the piece: I had never heard this before but it is a good way to break the awkwardness in social situations. Like a lot of tales, proverbs, and other folkloric things it helps people in social situations.

American Proverb.

Subject: Proverb.


Brandon grew up in Sacramento California to a practicing Jewish family. He is an only child and works as a financial advisor at a back in New York City.

Original script: This too shall pass.My grandmother on my mothers side always said it, she literally said it for everything.
Happy or sad, she always said this too shall pass, it to me is a reminder to enjoy every moment because nothing lasts forever, sorrow fades as much as the happiness does. To me it’s not negative, it is grounding, and a reminder that change is constant.”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: The informant had a tattoo of the proverb on his foot. He got it to remind him to always live in the moment.

Context of the Performance: No context.

Thoughts about the piece: Like most proverbs, this one is used to guide someone in times of hardship. I can also relate it to the American Future Worldview that Dundes wrote about in his article “Thinking Ahead”.

Arabic Proverb 2

Subject: Arabic Proverb


Haifa Saud (51): Haifa grew up in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to a progressive family. She is a Professor at the King Saud University in Riyadh and conceders herself a religious person, but does not believe in a lot of the superstition behind some of the stories. She grew up, and works, around all different kinds of people that shared with her different traditions and folklore of which she has shared some of her favorite.

Original script:

مثل إللى يبيع سمك بالبحر.

Phonetic (Roman) script: Mithl illy yibee’e samak bil bahar.

Transliteration: Mithl illy yibee’e samak bil bahar.

Full translation: It’s like selling fish in the sea.

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Like a lot of Arabic proverbs, this is used by people all over the Middle East to and used to express the uselessness of some act. It is much like the saying “selling sand to an Arab.”

Thoughts about the piece: A lot of Arabic proverbs use humor to get the point across and are used in place of jokes in everyday interactions. This piece, I believe, exhibits the humor in the proverbs that are often centered around comparisons between people and animals.

Le Chuza


Jackie grew up in Sonsonate El Salvador to a traditional catholic close knit family. She has 7 brothers and sisters and is close with all of them. She believes in the stories and relates them to me as stories that have happened to people she knows. Her Grandfather, Miguel is the person who she has heard most of the stories from.

Original script: “ My grandfather told me of a story from his friend in Mexico. His friend’s grandparents lived in a rural area in Mexico in a village. That night, everybody went to bed and his grandmother had a 6 month old baby. They were all sleeping and at midnight they heard a very loud noise and heard the baby crying, but they couldn’t move, their bodies were very heavy. The next day, they woke up and the baby was dead with birds mouths all over his body (bites). His family looked for help with people who does Magic Blanca (white magic). They told him his grandfathers ex-girlfriend was jealous that he married someone else and she sent this owl witch to the house to take her baby away. That’s why we call it Lechuza, a woman suspected of being a witch turn into a Lechuza.

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Jackie’s grandfather would tell them stories like this when usually when the conversations would turn to someone who had suffered a loss or a sickness. The whole family believes that these stories are 100% true and have happened to people they either know or come from the same village.

Context of the Performance: No real context.

Thoughts about the piece: This story has notes of stories such as La llorona and La Malinche, presenting both the mother (grandmother) and the Whore (the ex-girlfriend) paradigm. In most stories of this kind, the woman is the one who punishes and is punished. Although the grandfather in this story is affected, it is the grandmother who is the object of jealousy and in turn the person marked by the scorn of the ex-girlfriend.

We also see another character that makes appearances in different folklore throughout the world, the owl. The owl’s nocturnal nature makes it a mysterious character that is often seen as a bad omen or as a bringer of death or sickness in societies ranging from the Native American, Arab, and Romans. Here, the owl is a weapon used by the Witch to cause harm to the baby.