Tag Archives: Nabi Bakhsh Baloch

The Folktales of Sindh – An introduction – Words Without Borders

The Folklore and Literature Project, the forty-two-volume Sindhi folklore collection compiled by the scholar, philologist, and folklorist Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch (1917–2011) and published by the Sindhi Adabi Board, is one of the great treasures of world heritage. This literature spans the historic land of Sindh, home to the Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1300 BCE), situated in present-day Pakistan. It is likely that in the folktales preserved in the Sindhi language, we can find the structures and traces of the earliest stories from the Indus Valley Civilization

Baloch divided this literature into several broad categories: “Fables and fairy-tales; pseudo-historical romances; tales of historical nature; folk-poetry; folk songs; marriage songs; poems pertaining to wars and other events; riddles; proverbs; wit and humor; and folk customs.” Of this collection, seven volumes were dedicated to folktales: The Tales of Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses (vol. 21), Tales of Kings, Viziers, and Merchants (vol. 22), Tales of Fairies, Giants, Magicians, and Witches (vol. 23), Tales of Kings, Money-lenders, Wise-Men, Thugs, and the Common People (vol. 24), Children’s Tales (vol. 25), Fables of Animals and Birds (vol. 26), and Even More Folktales (vol. 27).

Collected from both the oral tradition of the villagers and written records, the stories were gathered and compiled over five years from 1957 to 1961. A network of field workers stationed in each district transcribed the folktales from the oral accounts of villagers in different parts of Sindh. The field workers were instructed to transcribe the tales exactly as they heard them. At the compilation stage, different versions of the same tale were compared, the variants noted, and a final version prepared for publication. Where only a single version for a folktale was found, it was retained with minimum verbal modification necessary to make it readable.

Continue reading The Folktales of Sindh – An introduction – Words Without Borders