This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
(Presented by Lalrinmawii Tochhawng, Sr. Lecturer in English, Govt. T.Romana College, Aizawl & Ph.D. Scholar, Dept. of English, SOH, IGNOU at the National Seminar on ‘Traditions of Folk in Literature’, IGNOU, August 30 & 31, 2010)
The Mizo people trace their origin to Chhinlung, a crevice within the earth literally meaning ‘closed stone’. Based on the rich oral tradition that has been passed on from father to son through many generations, they believe their forefathers emerged from this fissure in couples to populate the earth. Although the ‘A, Aw, B’, the Mizo alphabet was framed only in the 19th century by Welsh missionaries, the oral tradition, in the absence of a written language, had given the Mizo his identity, origin and history. The folktale comprises a large body of this oral tradition. A problem arises in defining folktales because there is a continuing debate about the relationship between various forms of traditional literature, identified as folktales, myths, legends and fables. While some scholars accept the different forms as types of the folktale, some others regard the forms as distinct but overlapping. It may be best at this point to accept the lines of demarcation between the various forms as existing, yet difficult to clearly define. In the Mizo language, ‘thawnthu’ is the term given to all forms of traditional narrative making the distinction even more complicated. However, in this study, I have only included traditional narratives that feature elements common to folktales although some may verge on the legendary or mythical. Folktale classification: After the pioneering work of Stith Thompson and Antii Aarne in the early 20th century, folktales are now arranged in international catalogues according to the motifs or themes in them, by numbers, titles and summaries of the content. Despite many criticisms, the A-T numbers have proved to be practical tools in the study of folktales. Clear-cut divisions are impossible and there are obvious cases of overlapping but the tale-type index remains popular and folktales are categorised into sets on the basis of their similarities. It should be kept in mind, though, that tales are continually shifting function and definition as the folk migrate, mingle and change beliefs. A story earlier accepted as explanatory may survive as fancy and is therefore wellaccepted that the “definition of any folktale depends on its function in a society and the way the narrator and the audience think of it at the time of performance.”2 Salient Features of the Mizo Folktale: Mizo folktales have been told mainly for the purpose of entertainment and much of their dissemination has been through the telling of tales to children. In the process, the oral tales have served to preserve tradition and history and have been vehicles for education. The general elements that go into the making of the Mizo folktale can be summarised as follows: a) Setting: In most Mizo folktales, the time is quickly set in the introduction with the words, ‘Hmanlai hian mawm’ (A very long time ago). This establishes the tale as history, or as a story that has actually happened at one point of time, a time that is undetermined or unspecified. Place is usually generalised as one village or a certain forest. Very rarely is the place named in the folktales. However, there are now many places named after characters in these tales and believed to have been the actual settings for important episodes although the tales themselves make no mention of these locations.
The Mizo people are the people inhabiting Mizoram and spread over other hill states in North East India. They are made up of different sub-tribes, the most dominant of which are the ‘Lusei’ or ‘Lushai’. 2 "Folktales," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopaedia 2006 http://encarta.msn.com
b) Characters: The characters are usually flat and do not undergo much emotional developments or mental torment, show little or no reaction to startling events. In the story of Kungawrhi for instance, the heroine shows absolutely no reaction when her husband morphs into a tiger. The more common and stereotypical human characters are the stepmother, the orphan, the beautiful daughter of the chief or an affluent man and the ugly, poor or ‘different’ suitor with some magical or un-natural power. Quite a few stories also mention a ‘Vai3 Lal’ meaning a non-Mizo Rajah, and ‘Pawi4 sumdawng’ (hinting at the Mizos’ interaction with outsiders and their opinion of neighbours. Spirits of different kinds also feature as characters in many of the tales, in roles of both helper and villain. Of animals, the monkey is the most common character, very often in the role of a trickster. Appearances of the snake, tiger, cat and bear are also more common than others. c) Plot: The plots are simple and swift-moving. Repetitious patterns are common although recurrences of the number 3 and 7 are not as common in Mizo folktales. Explanations are kept to the minimum and action is concentrated. There are a few tales that consist of more than one plot, with episodes yielding new functions and capable of being treated as new tales in their own right. We find in Chawngchilhi a resolution of one conflict in the killing of the heroine by her father. This is immediately followed by the tale of one of her snake-offspring terrorising people leading to the establishment of a village. d) Theme: Many Mizo folktales are didactic in nature. The themes espouse goodness and hold up a mirror to the lives of the folk. Punishable offences include cruelty to a step-child, jealousy, pride and treachery. Folktale themes revolve around character and almost all Mizo folktales are named after the lead characters. Tales almost always carry a moral while religious themes are non-existent in the body of Mizo folktales. Money is never an issue although trade in the form of barter features prominently in some tales. Themes of romance and relationships are common. e) Style: Mizo folktales are oral, employing a language rich in imagery while dispensing with lengthy descriptions. Dialogue is rare and there is a formulaic introduction to the tales although the endings are varied. An interesting stylistic element is the use of verse, both as dialogue and as an expression of emotions. The use of stress on individual words is common, to show intensity, be it for exaggeration, the passage of time or the depth of emotions. This intensification also helps to heighten the drama and increase suspense during narration. f) Motifs: Motifs of character include- the cruel stepmother, the poor or mistreated step-child, the good younger sibling and mean elder one, the weak-willed husband/father, the underdog hero, the kind/brave/handsome hero victimised by circumstance, the monkey trickster, the tiger-man. Magical objects like seeds of fire, stones and thorns, Bahhnukte, Sekibuhchhuak and others are motifs of objects. Besides common motifs like transformations, journeys, and tasks, there are unique motifs of events and action like splitting bamboo, the giving of bride-price, the celebration of Khuangchawi5, and Inkawibah, a traditional game. Classification of Mizo Folktales: An analysis of Mizo folktales clearly shows that some of the tales defy a simple thematic classification. Many of the tales may have more than one dominant theme or motif so a single
Vai is a term formerly used to refer to all non-Mizo people, now popularly used for the people of the plains. A tribe closely akin to the ‘Lusei’. The term was used in a derogatory manner to refer to people of such a tribe who often traded in and beyond the Mizo hills. 5 An expensive ceremony performed in several stages to ensure the performer’s entry into Pialral or Paradise as opposed to the common Mitthi Khua or ‘Land of the Dead’
tale may thus find mention in more than one class of tales when broken down into themes and motifs for a deeper analysis. In this study an attempt has been made to catalogue fifty-two tales from four popular written sources under different tale-types according to dominant themes and motifs found in the tales. The themes and motifs understandably overlap but leading features within the tales allow classification into accepted tale-types. Some of these tales do verge on the mythical and legendary. However, they are narrated not as fact, even if they aren’t considered wholly fictional. Moreover, these tales are not marked by specific time or place and on this basis have been included among folktales generally accepted as fictional. Animal Tales Mizo animal tales are non-mythological in that they do not feature fantastic animals that are culture heroes responsible for the good or bad in the life of the tribe, as for instance, the Coyote in tales of the American Indian tribes. The only special quality given to the animal in most tales is their ability to speak and this is a universal feature of animal tales around the world. The number AT 2075 is used to index tales in which animals talk. Traditional Mizo literature asserts that animals were at par with human beings at the beginning of creation and that both species could communicate freely. Two explanations are given for the animals’ subsequent loss of speech- a) that of the legendary event of ‘Thimzing’ where many humans were transformed into animals thus losing their power of speech, and b) the request made to God by his daughter who had married a human. Anthropomorphosis is another feature of Mizo animal tales. In ‘Kungawrhi’, the heroine of the tale is carried off by a ‘Keimi’, which can be literally translated as ‘tiger man’, thus meaning a tiger which can change into a human being as and when he wished to do so. There are several instances of transformation to animals but the Keimi appears to be the only one with the ability to shift shapes. Many animal tales contain elements of a trickster tale and the monkey is the most common trickster. The monkey, through its wit and cunning, gets the better of some other animal. But in the end, the monkey is often required to pay the price of his cunning, usually with the same coin. In the story, ‘The Tortoise and the Monkeys’, it is a group of monkeys that takes on the role of trickster. They trick a tortoise into climbing a tree and leave it there while they run off with the salt the tortoise had brought from town. The tortoise pays them back by making them eat its defecation. When the monkeys make an attempt to do the same to the tortoise, their plan backfires and they end up rolling down a steep cliff and die. Such tales approach the kind of tales called fable, carrying a moral and a lesson for posterity. The underlying lesson in these tales is that crafty schemes to benefit from others’ misfortunes do not pay. The monkey is by far the most commonly featured animal in Mizo folktales. The snake probably comes second by way of the number of appearances made. It is difficult to assign a typical characteristic trait to the snake for it appears in different roles in the tales. One thing that is clear, though, is that the perception of the snake as a sly, wily animal in Western cultures is not shared by the pre-Christian Mizo society. It is rather looked upon as a powerful creature to be feared and revered. In the story ‘Chungleng leh Hnuaileng Indo’ (War of the Birds and Animals), the leader of the creatures on land is a snake. Although it is not worshipped, there are certain superstitions associated with the snake and the entry of a snake into the house is looked upon as extremely unfortunate. Ritualistic cleansing is considered to be necessary should a snake happen to enter the living quarters (Shakespeare, 107). Chawngchilhi is the tale which supposedly explains the origins of the ‘Rulpui’ or the big snake. Chawngchilhi had a snake for a lover and when Chawngchilhi’s father found out about their affair from her younger sister, he was angered to the point of killing the snake and his own daughter who had by then been
impregnated by the snake. When the father killed Chawngchilhi and slashed her with his dao, tiny baby snakes made their way out and he killed each of these except one. The one which escaped grew into a large snake, a ‘Rulpui’ that began devouring even human beings. Legend holds that the snake settled itself in a cave which came to be known as ‘Rulchawm kua’ (Snakefeed cave) where villagers would provide it with goats and other animals to prevent it from venturing out and devouring men. The village known today as ‘Rulchawm’ is believed to have sprung from the settlement around the snake’s cave. Other animals which commonly appear in Mizo folktales are the tortoise, the deer, the bear and the tiger. The people apparently believed in the existence of a kind of hierarchy among the animals for their tales often speak of one animal working for, or in subordination to, another, as in ‘The Bear’s Water Hole’ where a monkey is made to watch the bear’s water hole. The ‘War of Birds and Animals’ also supports this view. Common folktale patterns like a competition and a trial between animals is also found among animal tales of the Mizo folk. Many animal tales also highlight the existence of a relationship between animals and human beings. But animal spouses, a regular feature in folktales of other cultures, are almost unknown in Mizo tales except in the cases of anthropomorphosis. Märchen or Tales of Magic/ Wonder Tales Such tales, as defined by folklorists, are considered to be purely fictional, occurring in a land of wonder and not set in the world as we know it. It is difficult to comfortably class any Mizo folktale under this head as the tales are, or rather, were all believed to be true incidents narrated and diffused over time for the purpose of entertainment. However several tales must be put under this type for their inclusion of supernatural elements and the display of patterns found in tales of this class. When using such criterion for the tales’ inclusion in this class, we will find that the largest number of Mizo folktales come under this class. This is probably so because the folks’ beliefs in the supernatural and their strong animistic tendencies found their way into the tales they told. According to the story Lalruanga leh Keichala, mankind is supposed to have first learnt the art of magic from a deity called Vanhrika, the keeper of all knowledge. It should therefore prove constructive to look at some of these patterns under the head of Märchen or tales of magic and wonder. A typical plot in a Märchen, according to Encarta6 “involves an underdog hero or heroine who is put through great trials or must perform seemingly impossible tasks, and who with magical assistance secures his or her birthright or a suitable marriage partner.” We find this particular pattern in the story Vanchungnula, where Vanchungnula, a lady of renowned beauty residing in the heavens is courted by seven brothers, the youngest of whom is our hero called Tlumtea. On their way to the heroine’s house, all the people they meet find Tlumtea the handsomest of all the brothers. So his elder brothers, being jealous, sent him home. But the six older brothers find no favour in the girl’s eyes and it is with Tlumtea who later calls on her that she falls in love. The girl’s father, wanting to test his mettle, puts three tests to him, upon the fulfilment of which he would be allowed to take the girl as his bride. Tlumtea has no problem with the first two tasks but the third is the daunting task of filling a spoon with water without wetting the bottom. Now on the way to the heavens, Tlumtea had saved a little bird from the clutches of an eagle and this bird appeared to help him fulfil the third test thus securing for him his bride. Magical objects like Chhura’s Sekibuhchhuak and Rairahtea’s Bahhnukte are motifs well-known to those familiar with the body of Mizo folktales. These can be classed with the motif of fairy gifts indexed in AT 503. The Sekibuhchhuak which we find in the adventures of Chhura was the horn of a mithun which could produce a tasty meal at the owner’s command. In
"Folktales," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006 http://encarta.msn.com
the Rairahtea tale, we find a powerful magical object called Bahhnukte with which the hero was able to achieve a variety of otherwise impossible tasks like bringing back to life his dead father and building a palace of gold within a single night. Rairahtea’s magic object was actually given on loan to him by a Rulpui as a show of gratitude for sheltering him from the enemies. The Vanchungnula tale also includes another magical element- the changing of forms. In the story we find that a Taunu, identified as one of the many harmful spirits believed to inhabit the human world, had swallowed Vanchungnula and ejected her as the fruit of a gourd plant which was commonly used as liquid containers. Tlumtea saved this gourd and it changed into Vanchungnula whenever the couple were out of the house. When Tlumtea found out about this, he set Vanchungnula against the Taunu making certain Vanchungnula won the match. The most apparent of a shape-shifting incident is in the case of the Keimi in ‘Kungawrhi’ where a tigerman is enabled to shift between the human or tiger form. In this tale, we also come across the appearance of harmful spirits called ‘Khuavang’, a three-forked road believed to have been the spirits’ abode and a Khuavang village. In the tale ‘Pa-fa hruaibo’ one of the abandoned sons is changed into a bird whose egg he had swallowed, in ‘Mauruangi’, we find that the heroine’s mother is changed into a fish after her husband throws her into a flowing river. Some Mizo tales of wonder bear close resemblances to known tale-types worldwide. One common pattern is that of the Swan Maiden where a man wins the love of a supernatural maiden by stealing her feathers dress while she is bathing. They have children but the maiden one day finds her dress and flies away. In most cases, the man goes in quest and recovers her only after accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks. In the Mizo tale Sichangneii, the man kills himself over the loss of his wife and it is the couple’s sons who go in quest of their mother. Other popular patterns which find a parallel among Mizo folktales include: Beauty and the BeastKawrdumbela where a beautiful princess agrees to marry the ugliest man in the village in order to save her family and her people from destruction; Thumbelina- Kungawrhi, the tale of a tiny girl born out of her father’s thumb, who grows up to be a beautiful young girl. Noodlehead Story A noodlehead story is also called a numskull, droll or humorous story and revolves around a rather dumb character who makes unbelievable mistakes. The point of such a story is that in spite of the character’s stupid mistakes, he nevertheless wins out in the end and this provides an uncomplicated means of entertainment. The man known as Chhurbura is the unchallenged hero of Mizo folktales whose character is a study in paradox. “According to one view, he was the silliest of all the simpletons. According to the other view, he was the cleverest of all the wise men and all his actions and behaviours by which he was called foolish were in fact all due to his abiding love and affection for his elder brother, Nahaia.” (Thanga, 49) Chhura, in his person and through many of his adventures, offers humorous and entertaining anecdotes and is an embodiment of the figure of a numbskull. His brother, Nahaia, on the other hand, personifies the figure of a human trickster who is always out to take advantage of his brother’s trusting and naïve character. However, in some of the instances involving Nahaia and his sly tricks, we find that Chhura, in his innocence, gets the better of his scheming brother. In one story, Nahaia exchanged his jhum field with Chhura because he feared the Phungnu, a female spirit, residing in the hollow-tree at the bottom of his field. Chhura never denies his brother’s requests and the exchange of the jhum fields comes about as Nahaia wanted. In his cunning, Nahaia specially told Chhura to do exactly what he should have warned him about- disturbing the peace of the Phungnu and her babies. Now when Chhura bombarded the Phungnu’s hollow, the frightening Phungnu attempted to scare Chhura as she had done his brother. But Chhura, more out of his naivety, was not afraid and
managed to turn the tables on the she-spirit who became increasingly frightened of our hero. This great fear later proved fortunate for Chhura for it was the Phungnu’s fear which finally gains for him the gift of the Sekibuhchhuak, a powerful magical object. Realistic Tales: The folktales told by the Mizo people were mostly believed both by the teller and the audience and in their appearance, they all probably sprang from real accounts and incidents which have gained elements of the fantastic over time and repeated performances. Although we find few tales that are completely free of unbelievable or improbable incidents, the basic storyline of many of these tales correspond to what is called the realistic tale. This may be spoken of as similar to the subclass called ‘Novelle’ in Aarne-Thompson’s Types of the Folktale. In these tales, there is no explicitly magical or supernatural element and it is the human wit and intelligence, rather than magic or the supernatural that wins the day for the hero or the heroine. The clever peasant girl is a common motif in tales of this type and this is placed as AT875b in the AT type-index. A Mizo tale of this pattern is ‘Chemteii’. It features the character of Chemteii, the daughter of the younger of two brothers. Chemteii’s father was in dispute with his elder brother over a mithun7. Now the chief, before whom these two brothers appeared, was a bachelor and he tested the two men with questions whose answers will determine which brother would keep the mithun. Chemteii answered the questions for her father and through her wit and intelligence, wins the heart of the chief and marries him. Rimenhawii is a tale about the fidelity of a wife to her husband and how, through her wit and quick-thinking, she is able to save herself from her captors. A lady of renowned beauty, Rimenhawii and her husband Zawlthlia were very much in love and lived happily together. One day while Rimenhawii was bathing in the stream near their house, she lost a long strand of hair and this was eaten by a fish which was in turn caught by the servants of a Vai king. So fascinated was the king with this single strand of hair that he sent his servants to find the source from whence the hair came. The servants were sent thrice to Rimenhawii’s house and after a lot of persuasion, Rimenhawii told them her name. When the chief sent his servants to take her, she gave a strong resistance. But when they threw an orange inside, Rimenhawii could no longer resist and just as she raised her hand to take the orange, one of the servants caught a hair strand and would not let go. Rimenhawii, fearing the loss of even a single strand, let herself be taken by the chief’s servants. But before the servants took her away, Rimenhawii left a message for her husband with her dog and her chickens telling him that she would leave a trail of thread for him to follow. On receiving the message, Zawlthlia set off immediately and overtook the captors in the dark of the night. He killed all of them and took his wife back with him and they continued to live happily. The motif of the clever heroine is a common pattern in realistic tales and we find instances like Rimenhawii and Chemteii even in Mizo folktales where female characters are otherwise usually flat and presented as weak and pitiable. Cumulative Tale: Cumulative tales are simple folktales in which a definite formula is followed. There is not much plot involved, but they carry a lot of rhythm and events follow each other logically in a pattern of cadence and repetition. Among Mizo folktales is the well-known cumulative tale Chemtatrawta. Like most other tales, this tale is also known by the name of its protagonist and is about the only Mizo folktale that follows the trend of the cumulative tale.
An animal that is a cross between a cow and a bison, (Thanga, 1) expensive and a dominant mode of payment in traditional Mizo society.
Chemtatrawta is said to have gone to a river to sharpen his dao and there he was bitten by a lobster. The bite greatly irritated Chemtatrawta and he reacted in a violently by seizing a bamboo upon which a creeper was climbing. This action of Chemtatrawta set off a chain of events that eventually culminated in an old widow defecating near the village water supply, angering the people who depended on that water source. They set about finding the reason for each action and go through the entire chain of events in reverse order until they came back to the lobster that had bitten Chemtatrawta. Each action precipitated a reaction which climaxed in an event that touched the life of an entire village. The actions follow a logical order of cadence and repetition and offer a kind of suspended and animated entertainment to the listeners. One may also note the fact that the story does not simply end following the discovery of this chain of events. The villagers sought a way to punish the lobster which died in the process of trying to escape. Before the lobster died, however, it managed to pronounce a curse on the stick of a hnahthial plant used as a weapon and this curse has resulted in permanently changing the shape of the said plant. In this class too, we find a tale which contains elements of both the cumulative and etiological tales. Romantic Tales: The largest group among Mizo folktales comprise tales of romance wherein enchantments and magical elements may also make an appearance. The essential difference between such tales and of those classed under Märchen is that in the tales classified as Romances, these supernatural or fantastic motifs serve the purpose of realising the romantic theme of the story instead of claiming a dominant role. The most common source of obstacle between lovers in Mizo folktales is the opposition of parents because of disparity in their social and economic backgrounds. Some of the more popular tales of romance include Tlingi leh Ngama, Lianchhiari leh Chawngfianga, ‘Zawlpala leh Tualvungi’, ‘Chawngvungi leh Sawngkhara’. In the background provided with the story in Mizo Thawnthu (1964) and Mizo Thawnthu Zirzauna, these two are supposed to have been inseparable even as infants and they grew to love each other as they grew up. Their romance bloomed but when Ngama’s parents sent a proposal for Tlingi’s hand, they were unexpectedly refused by her mother. The lovers finally decided to run away after sleeping together for they feared the wrath of their parents. For a long time they took shelter in a cave until Tlingi’s parents took the couple home with the promise of marrying them in a proper fashion. But when they retracted on their promise, Ngama had no other recourse except to put a kind of black magic supposedly known to the Mizos. He collected the footprints of Tlingi and placed it above the house fire because of which she fell sick and he could go to visit her without her parents objecting. This plan backfired when one day, Tlingi’s footprints caught fire and she died. It was only after her death that Tlingi’s mother realised what a big mistake they had made in keeping the two apart but there seemed to be no way to correct that terrible mistake. A point of great interest in the story is how Tlingi and Ngama were finally united in the land of the dead, giving evidence of the early Mizos’ belief in a life after death. Love finally triumphs when Ngama kills himself by his own hand and joyfully goes to join Tlingi in her spiritual home. In ‘Chawngvungi and Sawngkhara’ too, it is Chawngvungi’s mother, ever conscious of social class, who stood in the way of their union. A peculiar element in this tale is the appearance of the magic potion called Zawlaidi which the hero uses on his lady to make her fall in love with him. This is the most apparent use of magic in a Mizo romantic tale. In ‘Lianchhiari and Chawngfianga’, the lovers come from two extreme ends of the social strata, Lianchhiari being the chief’s daughter while Chawngfianga was of a lowly stock. Here, the villains are not the parents but the palai- the male’s emissary to the bride’s family bearing a proposal. He was jealous of Chawngfianga and deceitfully goaded him to flee to
another village lying that the chief wanted to have him killed. The two finally married different people and were never united except for a short while when Chawngfianga visited Lianchhiari’s village and she freely socialised with him in front of her husband for she had married him on condition that he would never be jealous of her love for Chawngfianga. The sad fate of these two lovers has enriched Mizo folk literature for many are the verses they are supposed to have composed in their longing for each other. In ‘Zawlpala and Tualvungi’, it is Phuntiha, supposedly a king from Manipur, who symbolised the force of opposition for the married couple. This story resembles the Biblical triangle of Abraham, Sarah and the Pharoah in Genesis because Zawlpala, fearing the alien king, said that Tualvungi was his sister instead of his wife. He demanded a price for Tualvungi that he was sure this king would not be able to pay but he had misjudged Phuntiha’s wealth and he finally had to part with his wife. Phuntiha, the evil king, found out about the real relationship between the two and he had Zawlpala poisoned. Tualvungi joined him in death and they were both transformed into beautiful butterflies. This tale is believed to be one of the first among Mizo folktales for Tualvungi’s songs of grief are some of the oldest tunes in the Duhlian8 dialect (Thanga, 79). The Mizo stories of romance are beautifully and emotionally told and they have probably survived the test of time for their universal theme with which the audience continues to empathise. The common motifs found in such tales are: the humble hero, the well-born lady, the wicked mother, the jealous emissary, the wicked alien king, bride-price and the use of magic. Human Trickster Tales: The animal trickster has its human counterpart in the Mizo trickster heroes Chhura and his brother Nahaia. A trickster may possess a wide range of personality traits. He could be cunning, greedy, wily, pretentious and given to deceit. Often a trickster is lazy and prefers to procure food and other goods through trickery rather than through honest work. Sometimes tricks are motivated by sheer prankish intent. Nahaia apparently has all these qualities if we look at the tales of his adventures with Chhura. He makes Chhura do all the work while he gets the produce in their joint ownership of a mithun. He also ended up having Chhura’s Sekibuhchhuak through a clever trick. Because a trickster often behaves badly, these tales, while primarily entertaining, also communicate lessons about moral values in society. By laughing at a trickster, we recognize common human foibles and remind ourselves in a humorous way that this is not acceptable behaviour. As we had earlier seen, there are times when Nahaia also loses out in the end because of his trickery. Chhura is himself a great trickster, especially as narrated in the course of his travels. He once visited the Mawngping village, which can be literally translated as ‘closed rear’ and its inhabitants had no hole in their asses from which to pass their excrement. They were greatly awed by Chhura’s doing so and wanted holes for their children. So Chhura took their babies and made incisions in their buttocks with a hot iron. After Chhura left the village and they found all their babies dead, they ran after him in hot pursuit determined to kill him. The adventures that follow show Chhura in the light of a clever trickster who managed to escape from his pursuers at every turn. He also tricked a rich Pawi merchant into freeing him and encaged the merchant in turn taking with him all his riches. He then turned the tables on the men of the Mawngping village by tricking them to go down to a river-bed where they all met their deaths. Furthermore, he also tricked the women into paying him a price for their house fires which he had killed while they were away from their houses. Some accounts say that Chhura demanded that each woman sleep with him in exchange for their fire. This is probable because tinges of sexual escapades are common in Mizo trickster tales.
Duhlian is the dialect of the dominant Mizo sub-tribe known as the ‘Lusei’ or ‘Lushai’ clan, now commonly used as the Mizo tongue.
Sometimes a trickster may act in a helpful manner in response to the needs of their fellow creatures displaying their complex characteristic. In one incident when Nahaia played dead, Chhura mourned for him and carried his body on his back till their house. From this selfless act of kindness, Nahaia is supposed to have learnt his lesson resolving to always treat his brother with love and compassion. This dualistic personality is noted by Roger Abrahams: "Trickster [is] a figure who, at one and the same time, represents primal creativity and pathological destructiveness, childish innocence and self-absorption" (Abrahams 1983, 155). Some tricksters are considered culture heroes, legendary characters who have powers beyond their peers. Many stories of Raven and Coyote, in African folktales show these characters in semi-creation roles. But these tricksters, though they might have superhuman powers, are neither gods nor deities. Chhura, through other accounts of creation myths and legends, also qualifies in this category. It is said that “Chhura played an important role when the shape of the world was made. He shaped the world by beating and hitting the solid earth with his big stone club, levelling parts of it thereby creating hills, mountains, plains and valleys” (Khiangte 1997, 15). The legendary hero Chhura thus embodies two figures identified in Folktale scholarship- the numbskull and the human trickster. A thorough analysis of folktales more often than not reveals characteristics that defy clear-cut classification in terms of types or motifs. Psychological and structural approaches may also be employed to determine the place and function of such tales. However, as the name suggests, ‘folktales’ are tales told by folk, stories born out of experiences and events that are noteworthy. As such, study and research continues to be content-based and classification such as the one made here are tools of reference, both for the purpose of analytical study as well as for making inventories of the material found in the make-up of a Mizo folktale. REFERENCES: Primary Source of Tales: Dahrawka, P.S. Mizo Thawnthu. 1964. 4th ed. Aizawl: Lengchhawn Press, 1994. Lalruanga, Dr. Mizo Thawnthu Zirzauna. Aizawl:Zomi Book Agency, 2000. Tribal Research Institute. Mizo Thawnthu. 2nded. Aizawl: R.K.Printing Press, 1997. Vanlallawma, C. Hman lai hian mawm 4th ed. Aizawl: Zamzo Publishing House, 2000. ______________________________________________________________________ Abbot, Jerry, and Khin Thant Han. The Folk Tales of Burma: An Introduction. Boston: Brill, 2000. Abrahams, Roger D. African Folktales: Traditional Stories of the Black World. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983. De Vos, Gail. New Tales for Old: Folktales As Literary Fictions for Young Adults. Colorado: Anna E. Publication, 1999. Georges, Robert A. “The Centrality in Folkloristics of Motif and Tale Type.” Journal of Folklore Research 34.3. (1997): 204-208 Hluna, Dr. J.V. “The Introduction of New Education under the Aegis of the Christian Missions.” ICHR National Seminar on ‘From Orality to Writing: Understanding A Hundred Years of Change in Mizoram. Aizawl. 2-4 May, 2006.
Hluna, John Vanlal. “Education in Mizoram 1894-1947:A Historical Study with special reference to the Role of Christian Missions.” Ph.D Thesis. University of Gauhati, 1985. Khiangte, Dr. Laltluangliana. Folktales of Mizoram. Aizawl: LTL Publications, 1997. --- ed. Mizo Songs and Folk Tales. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 2003. Lalthangliana, B. Mizo Literature. Aizawl: M.C.Lalrinthanga, 1993. ---. Culture and Folklore of Mizoram. New Delhi: Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, 2005. Leopard. Classic Folktales from Around the World. London: Random House, 1996. Lewin, Capt. Thomas Herbert. Progressive Colloquial Exercises in the Lushai Dialect of the ‘Dzo’ or Kuki Language, with Vocabularies and Popular Tales (Notated). 1874. Aizawl: Tribal Research Institute, 1984. Liangkhaia, Rev. Mizo Chanchin Bu I. Aizawl: Hmingliana & Sons, 1940. Lorrain, J. Herbert, and Fed W. Savidge. A Grammar and Dictionary of the Lushai Language (Dulien Dialect). 1898. Aizawl: Tribal Research Institute, 1976. McCall, Major Anthony Gilchrist. Lushai Chrysalis. 1949. Aizawl: Tribal Research Institute, 1977. Shakespeare, Lt. Col. John. The Lushai Kuki Clans. Aizawl: Tribal Research Institute, 1998. Thanga, L.B. The Mizos: A Study in Racial Personality. Guwahati: United Publishers, 1978. Thompson, Stith. The Folktale. 1946. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Thompson, Stith, and Jonas Balys. The Oral Tales of India. Bloomington: Idiana University Press, 1958. Tribal Research Institute. The Mizo Folk Tales. Aizawl: Tribal Research Institute, 2006. Uther, Hans-Jörg. “Indexing Folktales: a Critical Survey.” Journal of Folklore Research 34.3. (1997): 209-217 Zawla, K. Pi Pute leh an Thlahte Chanchin. 1964. Aizawl: Hmar Arsi Press, 1976. Electronic Sources: "folk literature." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 18 Mar. 2010 http://search.eb.com/eb/article-237459 "Folktales," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006 http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2006 Microsoft Corporation. “digital prop.” Ed. Lewis Seifert. Spring 2001. Brown University. 10 August, 2010. http://www.brown.edu/Courses/FR0133/Fairytale_generator.html
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.