Southeast Asia & Folklore

Featured Books

* Folk Stories of the Hmong: Peoples of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam
* A Glimpse of Vietnamese Oral Literature: Mythology, Tales, Folklore
* Cambodian Folk Stories from the Gatiloke
* In Grandmother’s House: Thai Folklore, Traditions, and Rural Village Life
* Indonesian Folktales

Folk Stories of the Hmong: Peoples of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam


by Norma J. Livo, Dia Cha
ABC-CLIO/Greenwood, 1991

Hmong culture has had an oral tradition for millennia, but the language itself did not even exist in written form until the 1950s. Compiled by famed author and storyteller Norma Livo and coauthor, Dia Cha, this is the first collection of authentic Hmong tales to be published commercially in the English language. Beginning with a description of Hmong history, culture, and folklore, the book includes 16 pages of full-color photographs of Hmong dress and needlework and 27 captivating tales divided into three sections: beginnings; how/why stories; and stories of love, magic, and fun. Appropriate for high school and adult readers, with selected stories appropriate for younger children, this collection is an important addition to multicultural units.

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A Glimpse of Vietnamese Oral Literature: Mythology, Tales, Folklore


by Loc Dinh Pham
Xlibris Corporation, 2002

VIET NAM: The ancient Vietnamese believed that their nation came into existence in the third millennium before the Common Era. The excavated cultural remnants of the earliest inhabitants in the land suggest that their culture belonged to the Bronze-tools Age in around the 7th century before the Common Era. Vietnamese literature in oral form was first to appear in their earliest times long before their written language was established. Oral literature is viewed as a literary treasure of any country in the world of literature. One scholar in Europe once has suggested, “Les peuples se rejoingnent par leurs sommets, et par leurs racines, et different par l´entre-deux”. That is, peoples in the world come across at the summit or great thoughts, and at the bottom or oral literature, and differ in spaces between the two.

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Cambodian Folk Stories from the Gatiloke


by Muriel Paskin Carrison
Tuttle Publishing, 1993

Fifteen folk stories with origins in the teachings of Buddhist monks and translations from the Gatiloke, an ancient literary tradition from Cambodia. The stories concern simple villagers, monks, lords, kings, talking animals, a Moslem, a Brahmani, even a “savage” Phong. Most of the stories will present difficulties for Western children. A thief escapes with a widow’s jewels, a king fails to keep his promise, an old woman plots to kill her son in order to marry a handsome youngster, but few of the offenders are punished; the point of the story lies else where. Carrison provides explanation in an introduction that gives an ac count of Buddhism and shows how its spirit infuses the tales. She also adds brief notes at the end of each story in order to make its meaning clear. An information-packed appendix contains a description of the land and people of Cambodia, a short history of the country, an account of village life, and a list of recommended readings aimed at adults. Attractive small line drawings are scattered throughout the book. Except for a few Cambodian tales included in the multi-volume set Folk tales from Asia for Children Every where (Weatherhill, 1975), there is nothing else available from this region. While some of the stories have a “worthy but dull” air about them, Carrison’s volume does go beyond filling the gap. More than a collection of folktales, it serves as an introduction to a little-known culture, exemplary in its scholarship and clarity. Ellen D. Warwick, Robbins Junior Lib., Arlington, Mass.

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In Grandmother’s House: Thai Folklore, Traditions, and Rural Village Life


by Peter Robinson, Sorasing Kaowai
Monsoon Books Pte. Ltd., 2011

In Grandmother’s House is the fascinating true story of a boy’s childhood in a remote Thai village. Brought up by his grandmother-the village matriarch, healer and midwife-Sorasing Kaowai retells some of the folk stories, traditions and superstitions that his grandmother passed on to him, including the strange tale of a mysterious forest-dwelling tribe of pygmies, a fifteen-meter-long python and even a local Bigfoot!

Sorasing recounts how village healers diagnosed and treated illnesses with a ball of sticky rice and a length of string or, in especially difficult cases, an egg. He explains why some Thai men were, and still are, terrified of being visited by Phi Mae Mai, a female ghost with an insatiable sexual appetite, and he remembers his delight at seeing his first tractor, only to be warned off the machine by his grandmother: And what does a tractor return to the Earth Mother?

Thailand has developed greatly since Sorasing’s grandmother returned to the Earth Mother last century. Many of the ancient rural traditions that influenced and guided her long life have now been lost and forgotten. In Grandmother’s House preserves at least a few of them for future generations.

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Indonesian Folktales


by Murti Bunanta, Margaret Read MacDonald (Editor)
Libraries Unlimited, ABC-CLIO, 2003

The world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is home to hundreds of ethnic groups with diverse cultures and languages. Focusing on the rich heritage of the country, this latest addition to the highly acclaimed World Folklore Series presents 29 stories from across Indonesia, most of which have never been published in the English language. Build your multicultural collection or expand your repertoire with tales that provide a moving and colorful image of the diversity and richness of the people and lands of Indonesia. Six thematic groups are presented: Jealous and Envious Brothers and Sisters; Stories of Independent Princesses; Stories of Ungrateful Children; Stories about Rice; Stories of Place Legends; and Stories of How Things Come to Be.

Libraries Unlimited, ABC-CLIO | Goodreads | Amazon | Google Books

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