Tag Archives: Folk narrative

Armenian Tale: Kikoyi Mahy

Կիկոյի մահը

Transliteration: Kikoyi Mahy

Translation: Kiko’s Death

Description by Informant:

There was a poor family who had three girls. All of which were unmarried. One day the dad sent one of the daughters to bring a water from the well nearby. The girl goes to the well and sees a big tree next to the well. She starts thinking or dreaming, “If I get married one day and have a son named Kikos, what if Kikos comes to the well and climbs the tree and falls from it and dies?” She starts crying, “My dear Kikos, why did you die? Oh my dear son, how did this happen?” And she stays at the well and keeps crying and crying as if this truly happened.

Meanwhile, the parents notice the girl didn’t come back, so they sent the second sister to see what happened. The second sister goes to the well and finds her older sister crying at the well. After finding out why she is crying, the sister also starts crying “Oh my dear nephew Kikos, why did you come here and climb the tree?”. Then the third sister joins and also cries. Then the father sends the mother to see what happened to the girls. The mother arrives and finds out what could happen to Kikos. She joins the daughters in crying.

Finally the father decides to go and see what happened to his family. When he comes to the well and finds out the destiny of his unborn grandson, he says “Are you women crazy? Who says that Kikos will come to the well to get water? Kikos is going to become a king. When have you seen a king go and get water for himself? Someone else will get the water for him. Now lets go enjoy life!”. The End.

Background Information: This is a popular Armenian children’s fable/ fairytale. Many different versions, some with more detail than others.

Context: The informant told me about this tale during a conversation in which I asked her to tell me about an Armenian folk narrative that she knows about.

Thoughts: It is clear that this is a story for children. I believe that the moral of the story is to not look too far into the future and worry about things that may never happen. Live in the present and enjoy life. If you are going to thing about the future then think positively, not negatively. I think the story has underlining air of misogyny. It is portraying the women as these highly emotional beings who cannot decipher reality from fantasy, while the only man in the story is pictured as the reasonable one although he does say that his grandson will become a king. I think he says this to be sarcastic and to show how dramatic the women are being.

Chinese Legend General Zhuge

Note: The form of this submission includes the dialogue between the informant and I before the cutoff (as you’ll see if you scroll down), as well as my own thoughts and other notes on the piece after the cutoff. The italics within the dialogue between the informant and I (before the cutoff) is where and what kind of direction I offered the informant whilst collecting. 

Informant’s Background:

My parents and I are from Central China, but I grew up in Kentucky.


My parents told me about this general from China, who lived however many dynasties ago but he was just known for being very clever. And like one of the smartest, most cunning generals out there. He was fighting out there, with I don’t know exactly who, but he was talking to one of his lieutenants and he said that in order for them to have a successful battle, they were going to need 100,000 arrows. There was no way to get that many, so they were as good as done. But the general said he could figure something out. So he concocted a plan, his name was General Zhuge. So General Zhuge found a day where it was especially foggy. He had a plan to kind of trick the enemies into giving them their arrows. On that day, the enemies were prepared and on edge because at any moment General Zhuge’s troops would storm the beach. Zhuge had boats sent across the river. It was foggy so they couldn’t see anything so the general freaked out on the other side and ordered the enemies to start shooting arrows at these boats. What was clever, what the general did was that he filled these boats with straw people instead of men. So the arrows got stuck in the straw and as the straws got stuck, Zhuge started pulling the boats back. By the end of the day, he had more than 100,000 arrows, and all from the enemies. And I guess the kind of like moral of the story is that you have to be cunning if you want to win a war.

Piece Background Information:

I don’t know if it’s true or not but it was kind of to frame how clever and how cunning this general was back in that dynasty. They told me one day when I was out with my parents and my dad wanted to share Chinese folklore with me. I was in high school, in like sophomore or junior year. He learned that from his parents, and I guess also from the culture because it’s a pretty famous story.


Context of Performance:

In person, during the day at Ground Zero, a milkshake shop and cafe on USC’s campus in Los Angeles.

Thoughts on Piece: 

I enjoyed the informant’s story on the legendary General Zhuge. While this story about collecting the arrows with straw may or may not be true, General Zhuge existed. The Wikipedia on General Zhuge Liang states that this particular event is not documented in the official dynasty history and is purely fiction.

Legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

“So in 1540, the Spanish arrived in whats modern day Phoenix. The area was inhabited by Apache Indians who considered the Superstition Mountains the sacred ground of the Thunder God. Coronado, one of the main conquistadors in the area, was in search of a golden city and heard from Apache stories that the mountains did, in fact, have gold. The Apache refused to help the Spanish and told them they would be cursed if they trespassed. The Spanish, didn’t take heed and instead led a troop into the range and began disappearing one by one. Despite trying to keep everyone together, more men would disappear and their bodies would be found days later headless and completely mutilated. Conquistadors fled the mountain, vowing never to return. However, 200 years later the Peralta family received a land grant that encompassed the supposed gold treasure hidden in the mountains. Mining operations occurred, though in small doses to keep the Apache happy. The Peralta brothers eventually found the gold they were searching for but were unable to collect it before the American-Mexican war began. The Peraltas then heard rumors that the Apache were coming to attack them for their intrusion on sacred grounds and concealed the entrance to the mine. They didnt make it out of the range however, as the Apache trapped them and killed all the brothers except one who escaped. He didnt dare come back for another 16 years before leading another expedition with 400 men, all of whom were ambushed while ascending the range and savagely ripped apart. Its rumored that the ghosts of the Peraltas still roam the range, waiting to attack any people trying to find their lost gold mine.”

When my roommate began telling me this story when I asked him one afternoon about stories he might know about Arizona, many memories of my childhood rushed back as I too knew the story of the Peralta’s and their supposed hauntings of the Superstition Mountains. The informant, who grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, about 45 minutes from the Supersitions said he heard the story through his elementary school where teachers sometimes brought up the story when recalling Arizona’s history. I have experience with the story due to many family members living in the area, and when I’ve gone to visit them I’ve taken hikes through the Supersitions where my uncle would recite the story to me, though I had forgotten most of the legend until my roommate retold it.

The informant said that when he and his friends were older, they would sometimes drive then hike to one of the rumored areas of the mine to see if anything would happen. Nothing occurred the first two times they went out there besides a friend or two trying to scare others in the bushes. On the third time, however, he and his friends recall hearing footsteps behind them that accompanied a fait metal clank. He recalls it scaring the daylights out of everyone and has since never returned. I loved hearing this legend due to my fascination with the Wild West. Furthermore, due to my familiarity with the location of the legend, it gives me a feeling of both suspense and excitement to know I’ve ventured through where the legend occurred.