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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/105

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Report on Folk-tale Research.

because here for the first time we are presented with tales, some of which, at any rate, profess to be derived, with but one intermediary, from Africa. We are told in general terms in the preface that they are all "verbatim reports from numerous sable story-tellers of the Sea Islands" of Carolina, "some of whose ancestors, two generations back, brought parts of the legends from African forests." And Prince Baskin, one of these narrators, is represented as saying that he was told them by his "ol' gran'daddy", who was kidnapped as a boy from his native land where he had heard them. The personages brought on the stage are the beasts with which we have been familiarised by Uncle Remus ; and for the most part the tales correspond with those admirable pieces of negro tradition. For some of them — The Tar-baby, for instance — the authoress claims priority of publication. A version of Rhampsinitus' Treasury is given. Though not absolutely new as a negro tradition, since it occurs in Jones' Negro Myths of the Georgia Coast, it is not one of Uncle Remus' tales. The story of De Tiger an' de Nyung Lady is said, and perhaps not without reason, to be "unique". It points, however, not as Miss Christensen suggests, to a matriarchal state of society as that in which it took shape, but to a transitional state between mother-right and father-right. I think the story of Ali Baba has never before been found among the Negroes. Here the Rabbit, of course, plays the part of the astute Ali Baba, the Wolf is Cassim, and the Whale the Robbers. The Whale lays her eggs in a house on the river-bank. The Rabbit watches her, and overhears her say "Olawia ! Olawia !" to open the door, and "Olatic-tic-tic!" to close it. I ventured at the Congress to argue that, while the words "Open Sesame !" point to a German origin for the tale of Ali Baba, the incident on which it is founded is derived from an archaic superstition known in many parts of the world, and that the superstition has given rise to analogous tales whose origin it would be difficult to trace to a single centre. In view of the argu-