Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/150

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124 Reviews.

of the aboriginal Veddas ; second, those drawn from the lower castes, including the drummers, (who, like the weavers of India, are proverbially simpletons), and those told by the Durayas or porters, the Rodiyas, a semi-vagrant tribe, and the Kinnaras, who stand at the bottom of the social system.

The connection between the people of Ceylon and India, due to immigration and propinquity, is so close that we may naturally expect to find a close resemblance in the folklore of the island and that of its greater neighbour. Into this question, save by the quotation of numerous parallels, Mr. Parker does not enter in detail. Whatever connection there may be appears to be largely pre-Buddhistic, because Buddhism seems to have had little in- fluence on the lore of the folk, and there is little in this collection which is drawn directly from the Jataka. We find no tales which can be identified with the Sindibad series or other cycles included in the Arabian Nights. Many of the stories are certainly very old, though save in a few cases it is impossible to assign exact dates to them ; for example, there is no mention of the Portu- guese, who arrived at the beginning of the sixteenth century. In short, the exceptional interest of the tales rests on the fact that, to use Mr. Parker's words, "we have in them the only existing picture of the village life of ancient times, painted by the villagers themselves. From the histories we can learn practi- cally nothing regarding the life of those of the ancient inhabitants of Ceylon who were not monks or connected with royalty, or the conditions under which they existed." For knowledge of such things we must go to the folk-tales.

The tales include many familiar motifs and incidents which can be recognised in the folklore of India and other countries. For example, we have the primitive legend of the sky resting on the earth ; the pursuit of the hero by an ogress and his preservation through magical obstructions ; various cases in which the ogre, like the Devil in European folklore, is befooled ; the separable soul, ("Today my death is in my thumb"); the life-index, ("Should I be not alive, the blue lotus flower will fade, and the lime trees at your house will die"); the destruction of the ogre by driving a thorn into his head, which is compared with the common Black Magic practice of fixing thorns or nails in a wax figure ; two