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Tales From The Hakawati

Middle East

 :: 

Arabic Diaspora

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Story:

Jaafer Ben Yehya

ISBN #

Hardback:

Paperback:

eBook:

978-1-915081-16-2

978-1-915081-15-5

978-1-915081-14-8

More Information...

This volume, Tales from the Hakawati, is the second in a set of collections covering indigenous tales from what we in Europe know now as The Middle East. Tales from the Hakawati concentrates on telling stories from the broader Arabic diaspora, with a particular focus on telling stories from beyond the usual One Thousand Nights And One boundary.
In putting this small collection of tales together I’ve found the process to be particularly rewarding. Arabic folklore and fairy tales reflect the deep cultural roots and diverse traditions of the Arab world. The stories are embedded with cultural symbols, practices, and values, offering a unique window into the rich heritage of the region.
I’ve also been impressed by the diversity of the narratives. Arabic storytelling encompasses a wide range of tales that vary across different regions and communities. Reading these tales exposes you to a wide range of themes, characters, and settings, so much of it stemming from the strong oral traditions of the wider community. Many Arabic folktales have been passed down through generations via this oral tradition. This continuity connects contemporary audiences with the storytelling practices of their ancestors, fostering a sense of cultural continuity and identity.
In particular I’ve found that by exploring Arabic storytelling, I have gained a better understanding of the perspectives, beliefs, and worldviews of the wider Arab peoples, which can only help to foster cultural empathy and help break down stereotypes. I believe wholeheartedly that engaging with the world’s storytelling promotes cultural exchange and mutual understanding. It allows us to connect with the cultural expressions of a community and fosters appreciation for the similarities and differences that make our global society so diverse and so engaging.
Arabic folklore and fairy tales also include a wealth of imagination and creativity. That creativity, combined with a deep connection to history means that these tales can often reflect the historical and social dynamics of the regions where they originated. Reading these stories can provide historical context and insights into the evolution of cultural practices.
Of course, like many folktales, Arabic stories often convey moral lessons and ethical principles. They address common human experiences and challenges, providing insights into virtues such as courage, kindness, and perseverance.
We should also never forget that Arabic storytelling has significantly influenced world literature. Many stories have been adapted and reimagined in various cultures, showcasing the universal appeal of these tales and their enduring impact on global storytelling traditions. Arabic folklore and fairy tales have been and remain a rich source of inspiration for writers, artists, and creators. The fantastical elements, unique characters, and imaginative plots can serve as a springboard for your own creative endeavours.
One of my favourite aspects of this tradition is the use of magical realism in storytelling: Arabic folklore often blends the ordinary with the extraordinary, creating worlds where mythical creatures, powerful jinn, and enchanted objects coexist with everyday life, adding a sense of wonder and imagination to the tales.
Above all, Arabic storytelling is filled with captivating stories that entertain and engage readers. Whether it's the adventures of legendary heroes or the magic of mythical creatures, these tales have an enduring appeal that transcends cultural boundaries. As with most storytelling traditions, these tales were originally told by firelight as a way of preserving histories and educating both adult and child. These tales form part of our shared heritage, witches, warts, fantastic beasts, and all. They can be dark and violent. They can be sweet and loving. They are we and we are they in so many ways. I’ve loved reading and re reading these stories. I hope you do too.

Sample

Story Of The Rich Man And his Wasteful Son

Once, there was a wise man who had three sons and many grandchildren. Over time, disagreements arose among them. The wise man decided to gather his sons and address the issue. He said, "You must support one another and avoid belittling each other. Remember that unity is strength. If you seek help from outsiders against each other, you will only bring destruction upon yourselves. I have some wealth, which I will hide in a specific location. It will serve as a safety net for you in times of need."
After this talk, the sons left their father. However, one of them secretly watched his father bury the treasure outside the city. The next morning, the son went to the hidden spot, dug up the treasure, and took it for himself. When the old man was nearing the end of his life, he called his sons and told them where he had hidden his wealth. After his death, the sons went to the location, uncovered the treasure, and divided it among themselves. What they didn't know was that the first son had stolen a portion earlier and added it to the rest.
Years later, the first son had a son of his own, a remarkable child who grew up to be the most distinguished person of his time. Worried about his son's future, the first son decided to share the secret of the hidden treasure. He advised his son, "In my youth, I wronged my own family regarding the inheritance. I see that you are in a good position now, but if you ever face hardship, open the hidden chamber and find the treasure."
When the old man passed away, the young man couldn't resist the temptation. He opened the chamber, only to discover it was empty, with a rope hanging down and a message advising him to hang himself if he ever faced poverty. Disheartened, the young man tried to hang himself, but the rope broke, causing a portion of the ceiling to collapse. Hidden within were immense riches. He realized his father had used this elaborate scheme to teach him a valuable lesson.
The young man restored his wealth and prosperity and rejoined his friends who had distanced themselves from him during his hard times. He told them a fabricated story about locusts devouring a stone instead of bread to prove a point. They were perplexed by his tale but left him, and his fortunes thrived.

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