Jataka Tales

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Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby – American literature

By |2017-08-14T11:16:41+00:00August 14th, 2017|Literature, North America|

Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby This is a story about Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox. Br'er Fox was sick and tired of Bre'r Rabbit tricking him. He decided to settle Br'er Rabbit for good. Br'er Fox took some sticky black tar and some turpentine and he shaped it into a Tar Baby - a [...]

Br’er Rabbit stories – American literature

By |2017-08-14T10:06:30+00:00August 14th, 2017|History|

The printing press of the Cherokee Advocate in the 1800s Br'er Rabbit is short for "Brother Rabbit". He's a rabbit who sometimes tricks people and sometimes gets tricked. Br'er Rabbit is a lot like like the African Anansi the Spider. He's also like the rabbit in earlier Creek and Cherokee stories. Some of his stories [...]

Early Cherokee language and stories

By |2018-04-07T17:05:42+00:00August 10th, 2017|Literature, Native American|

Cherokee statues from Etowah (now northern Georgia) Cherokee is part of a group of Iroquois languages. Before the Spanish conquered the Cherokee, the Cherokee people didn't use writing. But they told many stories about themselves and their gods. During the evenings, or at religious ceremonies, people sat around the fire together. Cherokee story-tellers told stories that entertained people. [...]

The Clerk’s Tale – Chaucer – Canterbury Tales

By |2017-08-03T22:00:27+00:00August 3rd, 2017|Literature, Medieval|

Clerks in the Manessa Codex (1300 AD) Chaucer's Clerk's Tale is actually taken from one of Boccaccio's stories, and because of that the story's action happens in Italy. It shows the young monk's ideas about how women ought to behave. It's about Griselda, a poor woman who marries a rich man. Her husband, Walter, wants to make sure Griselda [...]

Boccaccio – Decameron – Medieval literature

By |2018-04-24T09:23:18+00:00August 3rd, 2017|Literature, Medieval|

Florence, Italy Most of the people who knew how to write in the early Middle Ages were monks. So most of them wrote about serious things like God and Heaven and Hell. Even writers who weren't monks, like Dante, usually wrote about Christian ideas. But Boccaccio was different. Boccaccio wrote about real people and their real lives. Some [...]

Mullah Nasruddin – Islamic Stories

By |2018-04-23T15:30:20+00:00July 25th, 2017|Islam, Literature|

Grapes on a Seljuk period plate Nasruddin lived in the time of the Seljuk Sultans. One day Nasruddin was coming from the vineyard with baskets of grapes on his donkey. The children crowded around Nasruddin. "Give us some grapes!" they cried. "Let us taste them!" Nasruddin picked up a bunch of grapes and pulled one grape - [...]

Arabic language and literature

By |2018-04-08T01:10:49+00:00July 25th, 2017|Islam, Literature|

Sabataean writing Arabic is in the Semitic language group. Semitic languages seems to have gotten started before the beginning of writing, somewhere near modern Syria. They spread from there through Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan down to the Arabian peninsula. Because the Arabian peninsula was more isolated, people there kept speaking an older version of the language. [...]

Vessantara Jataka – Buddhism – India

By |2017-08-03T21:58:55+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Vessantara and Maddi and their two children (Sanchi stupa, Northern Gateway, ca. 50 BC) This Buddhist story is a Jataka tale from about 400 BC. In the story, the Indian boddhisatva Vessantara wanted to give up everything for Buddhism. He gave up his kingdom and all his money and lived with his wife and children in the forest. Jujaka and his young wife [...]

What is karma? Hinduism – India

By |2018-09-24T07:45:54+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

What is karma? Jataka Tales about karma: King Siva offers his body to save a dove from a hawk, and King Candraprabha is so generous that he gives away his own head (Mogao Caves, China, about 500 AD) What is karma? Karma is the Sanskrit word for "action" or "doing something." It comes from an [...]

Boddhisatva – Buddhism – religion

By |2018-04-18T17:33:57+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

A Song Dynasty statue of the boddhisatva Guanyin What is a boddhisatva? A boddhisatva, in Buddhist religion, was a holy man or woman.  They were special, closer to God than other people. They were like holy men in ancient West Asia, or saints in Christianity. Buddhists who were enlightened Among Buddhists, the main goal of life was to [...]