A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Traveling between Cultures in Folktales

Issue 22
Traveling between Cultures in Folktales

Folktales are one of the most important focuses for modern criticism. Today, literary criticism pays great attention to folktales as they represent narrative - an oral literary genre - and they have specific ways of creating suspense.


Folktales are a collective product with no known author; their collective nature allows them spread beyond borders, regions, and even history because no specific date can be attached to their origin. Folktales have always been loaded with cross-cultural and emotional symbols. Exoticism, mystery and the supernatural are also dominant features of folktales, particularly mythical folktales.

Traveling is one of the most important themes of the folktales of the Figuig oasis, and it is an example of the above-mentioned exotic nature of the tales.   

The traveling described in the tales reflects the thoughts of the collective, the concerns of the individuals and society in the oasis, and their perceptions of the world and the Other.

This paper aims to pose important questions that may serve as a starting point for a scientific project that includes a comprehensive study of the folktales in Figuig and their creative narratives.

Throughout history, folktales have played a major role in the passing down of culture and the exchange of knowledge.
Folktales have also played a major role in entertaining travelers and acting as their companions during long journeys because they are filled with suspense and enthralling due to the narrative techniques, long overlapping events, sophisticated plots, victories and defeats, and techniques that build anticipation.

The audience member will usually not remember a certain version of the folktale’s narrative, but he will remember the narrative event with all its details, including the facial expressions, body language, songs, poems, and words of wisdom. The audience member can reproduce the narrative tales based on his perspective and language so folk culture travels from one person to another, from generation to generation, and from culture to culture, thereby becoming universal rather than being limited to a certain group or community.

The cross-cultural nature of folk literature reveals anthropological factors proving that the human experience is universal, and the existence of collective global themes reflect the human desire to subdue nature, defeat evil and experience happiness.

By referencing supernatural phenomena such as jinns, ghosts and the old beliefs associated with religious offerings, superstition and bad luck, Figuig folktales symbolize the challenges we face in reality.

Abdul Qahar Al Hajjari

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