Sunday, May 4, 2014

Legends of Kashmir (1982) by Edna Machanick


Edna Machanick lived in India from 1951 to 1955 and often spent months on houseboats of Kashmir. Here she collected these tales from Pandits and Muslims. Much later, she illustrated and published the stories as 'Legends of Kashmir'.

The stories included in the book are:

The Birth of the Lakes of Kashmir (A pandit folklore about origin of Springs in Kashmir, this one is about a place called Khrew, which once had more than three hundred springs and now only about eight remain. Th story and the place...some time soon)

The Rajah and the Snake Princes, rather famous story of Ali Mardan Khan and his Chinese Snake wife, also given in the most authoritative work on the subject, 'Folk-Tales of Kashmir' by Rev. J. Hinton Knowles (1888)

Phutu, the Dwarf. ('Foot Two' of English), is rather funny tale of an unlikely hero.

Lelemal

The Farmer's Wife and the Tiger

She who became the Sister of the Prince. An interesting tale in which an evil Afghan prince is reformed after he takes a Pandit woman as sister. The story gives the name of the evil Prince's father, who is a thorough good fellow, as 'Sultan Jannulabdin'. An obvious reference to Zain-ul-Abidin, the Budshah. However, in this story, it is the Prince who suffers from an ailment (a curse) and is cured by a Pandit woman whom he had earlier disrespected.

The King of the Crocodiles. About a girl who is almost force married to a Crocodile who doesn't turn out to be a bad guy.

The Princess of the Green Chili. This one about a little Chili lady raised by a Jinn. A typical 'put-to-sleep' Kashmiri tale involving birds.

The illustration by Edna Machanick are truly imaginative and give the magical feel of the story and the place perfectly. The only other illustrated version of Kashmiri folktales is by 'Kashmiri folk tales' (1962) S. L. Sadhu in which local talent was utilised, but the illustration by Edna Machanick are more expansive and detailed.

It is amazing the places our tales have traveled. Tales we have forgotten. It is amazing the places I have to recollect them from. This beautiful book of Kashmiri folktales come all the way from South Africa. The name Edna Machanick is much respected there is even a scholarship awarded in her name to female undergrad students.






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