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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/98

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Report on Folk-tale Research.

Matted Hair yields to none in the collection for interest to the student. It has been translated from a Játaka by Mr. W. H. D. Rouse specially for this volume (where it appears for the first time in English), and is put down by Mr. Jacobs as the original of Uncle Remus' famous story of the Tar-baby. The incident having been found among the Hottentots, Mr. Jacobs considers "there can be little doubt that the Játaka" was carried to Africa "possibly by Buddhist missionaries, spread among the negroes", and was by them carried to the New World. Well, a very plausible theory! And yet, though "there can be little doubt" about it, that little doubt will persist in making its appearance. The Buddhist missionaries we may deal with when Mr. Jacobs produces his evidence of Buddhistic influence to be found among the negroes; for the present we may ignore them. There remains nothing more than the conjecture of transmission from India, disguised by the bold words "there can be little doubt". Now, what is certain is that the Hottentots are, in race, if not in culture and space, about as far removed from true Negroes as Esquimaux from Aztecs; that the Játaka is not the simplest, but a highly-developed, highly-civilised form of the story, while the Hottentot form is the simplest, the most uncivilised; that hitherto the story has nowhere else been found on the African continent; and that it has been found outside of India only where the African race has been for a long period in constant contact with nations of European origin. These facts do not warrant any definite conclusion as yet. They point, however, decidedly against the Indian origin of the incident. The African origin is a probable conjecture, and that is all: the channel of transmission between Africa and India is still to seek.

Again. In the story of the Princess Labam, Mr. Jacobs lays stress on "the sequence of incidents: Direction Tabu—Aninials—Bride-wager—Tasks." Now, the best evidence of transmission occurs, not where the sequence is closely interwoven, but where an apparently unconnected incident