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Structural Analysis of Kasmiri Folk Tales (An Old and Rare Book)

Structural Analysis of Kasmiri Folk Tales (An Old and Rare Book)
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Item Code: NAX306
Author: Lalita Handoo
Publisher: Central Institute Of Indian Languages, Mysore
Language: English
Edition: 1994
Pages: 230
Other Details: 10.00 X 7.00 inch
weight of the book: 0.45 kg

The Central Institute of Indian Languages has reached 25 years of age and it is a time for reflection about its origin, development, achievements and shortfalls.

The study of Indian language with the objective of preparing them for the new roles of national reconstruction and development was the concern of many from the independence of the country. The major responsibility to support such a study was to be taken up by the State. The Kher Commission of the Government of India recommended the establishment of three Central Institutes for this purpose. The Official Language Resolution of 1968 made the Central Government also responsible for the development of all Indian languages in addition to Hindi. These and other developments led to the establishment of Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) in Mysore on July 17, 1969.

The primary objective of the Institute is the development of Indian languages ensuring coordination between the various developmental activities at the governmental and non governmental levels and also by orienting linguistic research for the development of Indian languages. The Institute is also to contribute towards the maintenance of multilingualism of the country through language teaching, and translation and to strengthen the common bond between the Indian languages.

The work of the Institute consists of research, training and production of teaching materials. The results of these activities can be seen in its more than 300 publications and 6879 teachers trained in its Regional Language Centres. The Institute has been able to make an impact in language teaching in schools making it skill based and function oriented. It has brought audio visual and computed technology to aid the teaching of Indian languages. It has helped many tribal languages to be codified, described and used in education. Its research and training programmes in social, physiological and folkloristic aspects of language and culture have introduced new dimensions to research on Indian languages. The International Institutes organised by the Institute in sociolinguistics, semiotics, phonetics and other areas have helped the development of human resource in these areas.

The major problem of the Institute is that it cannot meet all language needs of. the whole country. It has to play the role of a catalyst and mqdelsetter. The other agencies-are to take over the universal implementation of the innovations, This has not taken place to the desired extent.

In the coming years, the Institute plans to consolidate the earlier work and expand the work in the ares of translation, computer applications and production of audio visual materials. It wishes to strike new grounds in language evaluation and storage and dissemination of language information. The Institute will move into anew Campus to carry on the work with new vigour and vision.

One part of the Silver Jubilee Celebration is the publication of 25 special volumes. The present book is one of these volumes.


Structuralism in folkloristics was born with the publication in Russian of V. J. Propp’s Morphology in 1928. However, this big leap in folkloristics from historical to descriptive and form diachronic to synchronic era of analysis was not seriously felt, even in Russia, till the English translation of Morphology appeared in 1958. Besides other reasons, one important reason for this backwardness in folkloristics was simply because folklore studies all over the world was not prepared to receive the scientific benefits of this big leap. Propp, in that sense, was much ahead of his times. Folkloristics had to wait thirty long years to feel the real impact of this big leap.

Once the English translation of Propp’s work appeared in 1958, structuralism, particularly Proppian structural analysis, spread like wild fire not only in folkloristics but in almost all social sciences and related disciplines. There is hardly any country now in the world where Propp’s structural method has not been tested, applied and used with confidence and where it has not highly influenced folkloristics, literary theory and other related areas.

Very often scholars have expressed doubts about the cross-generic and cross-cultural validity of Propp’s structural method. These doubts basically seem to stem from the age old problem of universals and specifics in cultures. The debate on this and other issues still continues.

In this excellent study Dr. (Mrs.) Lalita Handoo, a folklorist, has tried to test Propp’s method cross-culturally and cross- generically by studying Kashmiri folk- tales on Proppian lines. This kind of exercise is unique and important in the sense that in India very few serious studies in folklore have been based on Proppian method. I hope that this work will inspire more serious work on Propp and structuralism in India.


The main thrust of the present work is to test scicntifically VJ. Propp’s morphological theory and method of narrative analysis in anon - Russian and non European culture. The study addresses two, folkloristically important, question: (i) across - cultural application of Propp’s morphological - structural approach, and (11) testing the validity of the method across different types of folktales. The famous and celebrated collection of folktales by J. Hinton Knowles Folk - Tales of Kashmir (London, 1893) is used as the basic data to answer these questions. This celebrated collection is not only a collection of fairy tales, but contains all kinds of narrative types, traditionally labelled by folklorists as novellas, legends, animal tales, religious tales etc. Because of its diversity the data qualified for the application of Propp’s structural theory across various types of folktales.

As regards the morphology, the Kashmiri folktales are highly structured and show similar formal complexities as one notices in marchen, or any other type of narrative with similar properties. However, as expected, morphological oicotypization was quite evident in the structure of these tales.

My own theoretical background, which is structuralist has kept me strictly within the boundaries of my self-imposed structural objectives. At times, it was tempting to take recourse to paradigmatic analysis or psychological interpretations. However, the present study did not provide enough scope for these exercises. In this respect, then, I follow Propp’s footsteps and limit my analysis strictly to the framework of the form of these tales.

This study has seven Chapters or parts. Chapter one introduces the historical and geographical background of the Valley of Kashmir and its surrounding areas. It also gives a vivid description of the various ethnic groups, their linguistic affinities and socio-cultural conditions. These socio-cultural factors that contribute to the processes of acculturation and identification in cultures, might have significant bearing upon the pattern of Kashmir folklore in general, and folktale in particular, are also discussed in detail in this Chapter.

Attempts are made in Chapter Two to trace the tradition of Kashmiri oral narrative. The special status of the folktale genre in the overall folkloric phenomenon cf Kashmir is also briefly discussed. This Chapter also provides a historical chronology of the available literature on Kashmiri oral narrative.

In Chapter Three, an attempt has been made to describe a sound classificatory and an analytic unit, in view of the needs of structural analysis, particularly the syntagmatic structural analysis of oral narrative. Furthermore, this Chapter also discusses briefly the growth and development of structural theory and the method or methods it very strongly advocates. These methodologies and the view points they present have been summarily © described under the names of their chief proponents such as Joseph Bédier, A.I. Nikiforov, Adolf Stender Peterson, V.J. Propp, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Thomas A. Sebeok, Alan Dundes, A.J. Greimas, Claude Bremond, Roland Barthes, Heda Jason, Elli Kéngas Maranda and Pierre Maranda.

In Chapter Four Propp’s morphological method has been introduced both as a scale, and as a scheme to measure the morphology of Kashmiri folktales. The morphology and the morphological combinations thus found in these narratives are of the following kind: (i) Villainy - Villainy Liquidated (A - K) type, (ii) Lack - Lack Liquidated (a - K) type, (iii) Task - Task Resolved (M - N) type. This morphological scheme takes into account, both the Single Move Tales and the Multi Move Tales. However, in this Chapter, the morphology of only Single Move Tales (both A - K anda- K type) is discussed.

In continuation of the previous Chapter, the morphology of the Multi Move Tales, their various move - combinations, schemes and the order they followin variousconditions are discussed in Chapter Five. Four main Move Combinations are, therefore, identified, described and discussed. These are: (i) Direct Move Combinations, (ii) Interwoven Move Combinations, (iii) Embedded Move Combinations and (iv) Simultaneous Move Combinations.

In Chapter Six, the structure of the so-called "non-fairy" tales, traditionally known as novellas or sometimes labelled as numskull or trickster tales, etc, is described. These simple narrative forms, for obvious reasons, do not exhibit the complex morphology of the fairy tales. However, they are highly structured narrative forms, and as such demand the application of Propp’s structural method atleast in its basic logical metaphor. An attempt has, therefore, been made in this Chapter to reduce the basic structure of these thematically different narratives into a logical formula, which works out as Task - Task Resolved (M - N) Type. This basic structure is further subdivided into three groups, which are discussed both structurally and in terms of themes as well.

Besides a brief summary of the preceding Chapters, the final part of this study, in the form of a Conclusion, briefly discusses the main structural characteristics of Kashmiri folktales, from the point of view of their morphology. This chapter further consolidates the findings as far as the applicational aspects of Propp’s method are concerned.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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