Monday, May 30, 2016

C044. Baer (p. 66). Brother Rabbit's Riddle

This is Chase044.

Types ATU0049 Bear and Honey
K1023 Bear and honey
K0622.2 escape from captor by throwing objects to grow distance, which captor tries to procure
K0714 Victim tricked into putting head in bees' (wasps') nest.
The first episode, throwing the objects, is Indo-African, and for the second episode see notes on Chase028: Brer Bear and Bees.

Mbiti has an Akamba story "absolutely parallel" -- I'm not sure if summary comes from Baer or Mbiti:
Hyena persuades Hare to climb paw-paw tree and throw paw-paws to him.
Hyena sits by trunk of tree, plannign to catch Hare when he comes down backwards.
Hare throws paw-paws away from tree and escapes when Hyena goes after them.
Hare has riddle: A large bird sings! A small bird steals! Offers to help Hyena solve it.
Hare gets Hyena to put his head in a bee-hive, the bees sting. Hyen's head swells, and he dies.

And Baer explains, "This tale presents a slight problem regarding direction of transmission." Florence Cronise wrote to Harris in 1901 that while in Sierra Leone  she had collected stories and also reading stories to people there: "I read the stories to a most eager group of listeners. I did it thus late in my sojourn there that I might not influence them by your stories to tinge thereby their own." ... one of those books she read to them was Nights. 

Baer observes: "While Cronise's story-reading sessions took place across the continent from Mbiti's area of collection, some fifty hears had elapsed -- more than enough time to "contaminate" all of Africa. The individual episodes have a history of African provenience older than contact with Uncle Remus's version; but the arrangement of episodes, the interjection of the particular riddle, combined with African access to the Uncle Remus story, and with comments of many collectors on how rapidly tales travel are all considerations in determining the source of the tale. One thing is certain: Brother Rabbit's Riddle is an African/Afro-American tale."

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