Tag Archives: folklore

A Chinese Love Story

Title: A Chinese Love Story – similar to Romeo and Juliet 

General Information about Item: 

  • Verbal lore, Legend, Myth, Drama
  • Language: Chinese
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Informant: Brandy Zhang
  • Date Collected: 11-07-19

Informant Data:  The informant’s name is Brandy Zhang. Brandy is a twenty-year-old female who attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as a sophomore. Brandy studies music and theatre—she is very passionate about both, and loves to listen to music, play music, and watch theatrical productions in her free time. She was born and raised in Shenzhen, China, where she still lives today. Brandy attended Blair Academy for high school, which is located in New Jersey. When Brandy is in China, she lives with her mother—her parents are married but live in different households due to work. Brandy spends a lot of her time with her maternal grandparents. She is an only child.

Contextual Data: This story can be viewed on screen as an opera or it can be told to children as a bedtime story.

Item:

“So, this is a story about these two people, the man is called Liang Shanbo and the woman is called Zhu YingTai. Basically, this is known as the Romeo and Juliet of China, but it came like thousands of years ahead of time—ahead of Shakespeare so that’s an interesting little side note. So, there are a lot of different versions in different towns. Even within the same province there are a lot of different versions, either written down or just passed on as oral traditions.

So yeah, basically the story is the man, Liang Shanbo, wanted to learn and study, and that was something that…if you are trying to be a cultured man and trying to get into the court of the emperor, you go study somewhere. He was very talented, so he found this master that he studied with—so that’s his side of the story.

And for the girl, her name is Zhu YingTai. Basically, she was ahead of her time and she wanted to learn as much as anybody else did. Back in those days, girls weren’t allowed to learn or attend school, or get schooling of any sort, so she had to pull a Mulan. So, she basically disguised herself as a man and then went to the same master, as a matter of fact, and became a student of his.

So, these two, the man and the girl who is disguised as a man—they met and then they became roommates. So, during this whole duration of their schooling, which lasted about two and a half, three years, they became really great friends, during which the man never knew that his roommate was not supposed to be male. But then they build such a strong emotional connection that Zhu YingTai, the girl was very much in love with her roommate.

So, the schooling was coming to an end and they have to leave—or she has to leave because family pressure. There’s a famous snippet of the story; they walked about 18 miles…I don’t know exactly how many miles that is nowadays, but it’s a pretty long walk, I would say. So, they walked to this mountain. And then, near this mountain there’s this little pavilion thing. And then, they basically talked and then the girl was so in love that she was like ‘If you come find me, I will make sure that my little sister marries you.’ But then, she’s actually talking about herself because she is the youngest daughter of the family.

And then Liang Shanbo, the man, was like ‘Oh, cool. Would be sick if I could marry my best friend’s little sister.’ And then basically, what happened was she left and then she went home, he went back. The master, who was very wise, was like, ‘Oh, I bet you didn’t notice that your roommate, your best friend, is/was a girl, or was a woman.’ And then he’s like, ‘Oh god, she literally just promised me that she would marry me if I go find her.’ And then he’s like, ‘I’m gonna go find her!’

So, then he went all the way to her hometown to try to marry her because he’s like, ‘This is great—I love my best friend and now that she’s a girl it’s even better.’ But then when he got there, he wasn’t even allowed to go into the courtyard of her house because apparently, right after she got home, her dad has made a wedding arrangement for her and this random man who is supposed to be a prominent figure. She’s never met him before, but again, this is very old times.

So yeah, she didn’t have a choice. And as a bride, or a bride-to-be, she is not allowed to see anybody, or like, she was supposed to be kept in the dark, especially when her supposed lover is looking for her. So, the man became very depressed; he didn’t even get to see her or say goodbye. He was just shunned away and had to go home. He was so sad that he became very sick. And so, he contracted what we know nowadays as tuberculosis. Basically, back in that time, it’s like cancer—there’s no cure for tuberculosis. You get it, and that’s it for your life.

For the very end of his life he told his mom, ‘Hey mother, if I die, please bury me at the pavilion where I said goodbye to my best friend.’ So, his mom did so. And on wedding day—so, brides are carried in like, chariots, but not chariots, but carriages that are carried by strong men. And then, they go from their home…they have a face cover, it’s like the equivalent of a veil, but more opaque so you can’t see the face at all. So, their confined in this carriage box with their veil. So, the girl had to be carried from her own house to the husband’s house. And what happened was, when they passed the spot, the pavilion where they said goodbye, there was this monstrous wind that just passed by. And the whole queue of people had to stop because the wind was so strong. So, she asked to come outside and to see what’s going on and then she realized that she is where the pavilion is. And because of that she saw the grave, the tombstone of the man. And she became really sad, so she decided to…kill herself by hitting her head against the tombstone. It was said that the power, it was so powerful that she cracked the tombstone. And then, for some reason, after she died, she disappeared into the crack, and then, out flew two butterflies. And then, they were intertwined and together forever as butterflies.”

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Brandy Zhang – Chinese & English

Informant’s Comments: 

“Well, it was definitely one of the most famous stories. It’s actually one of the four major love stories of Ancient China, which sounds really funny. There are three other ones that are very intense as well. This is the only one—like all of them have some sort of magical element to it throughout, or one of the characters is magical, or some sort of snake person or whatever—but this is the one where they’re both normal humans, and their very ordinary people. And the funny part is, just the idea of the girl disguising herself as a man to go study somewhere is like a very modern…you can see it in a lot of modern iterations of different stories. You can see like a girl goes into an all-boys school because of sports—you see a lot of troupes like that, which is very interesting considering this story came from thousands of years ago. I remember watching it in like a Beijing Opera version with my grandparents during one of the summers. And I’ve asked very specifically, you know, what does all of this mean? And a fun fact is that in…well it’s not the Beijing Opera, it’s like the regional type of Chinese opera. In that specific genre, men are considered…it’s the complete opposite of Shakespearean times…it’s considered disgraceful for men to perform and they can’t hit high notes like women can. So, both the man and the woman are played by women. It’s very interesting, I remember that very well.”

Collector’s Comments: 

Like Brandy mentioned, this story is very similar to Romeo and Juliet; it’s a story of two star-crossed lovers who cannot end up together because of external influences. The ending is a bit different though; I thought it was very unique. The two lovers turn into butterflies and end up together. While this story first appears to have a tragic ending, it actually has a happy one. This differentiates it from the Romeo and Juliet tragedy.

Collector’s Name: Milla McCaghren

Tags/Keywords: Legend, myth, love story, China, folklore

Diving Suit Superstition

Title: Diving Suit

General Information about Item:

  • Customary folklore: rituals
  • English
  • United States of America

Informant Data:

  • Allison Green was born on January 1st, 1997. She began diving year round at age 8. She is now a sophomore at Dartmouth College and a member of the women’s varsity diving team. She specializes in the 1m board.

Contextual Data:

  • Allison described divers in general as very superstitious. She described one typical item here that was passed down from each captain to the youngest members of the team.

Item:

  • Allison describes how divers often practice in their competition suit and can only compete in it if they dive well in it during practice. The item exemplifies contagious magic.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Diving Suit

Collector’s Name: Robert Purvis

Tags/Keywords:

  • folklore, water sports, diving, diving suit superstition

Kipsalana Cheer

Title: Kipsalana Cheer

General Information about Item:

  • Customary: Verbal, Cheers
  • English
  • United States of America

Informant Data:

  • Robert Purvis was born on May 27th, 1997 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He got into swimming because his two sisters were swimmers and inspired him to start. He started swimming year round at age 6 at his local club, the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester. He is now a sophomore at Dartmouth and is a butterfly specialist on the varsity swim team.

Contextual Data:

  • Robert learned this cheer from his captains within his first month on the team. It is taught to all incoming freshmen on the team. This is a video of the team after practice teaching the freshman the day before their first met.

Item:

  • The men’s team cheer reads as follows

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Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Informant’s Comments:

  • “No one knows what this cheer means anymore or where it originated from. I once spoke to a ’76 about it and he said the same thing, that no one knew the origin or meaning of the cheer.”

Collector’s Name: Robert Purvis

Tags/Keywords:

  • folklore, swimming, water sports, men’s swimming, cheer, verbal, customary, ritual

Sorority Welcome Song

Welcome Song Initiation/Ritual

  • Informant Info
    • Sophomore Year of Dartmouth College
  • Type of Lore
    • Verbal
  • Language
    • English
  • Country of Origin
    • United States
  • Social / Cultural Context
    • Dartmouth Sorority
  • Informant’s Comments
    • Taken very light-hearted. The sorority and those who wish to partake sing a welcome song to new members that replaces the lyrics of notorious “Sweet Home Alabama” with lyrics that are unique to the sorority. Only members of the sorority sing the song.
  • Collector’s Comments
    • Anonymity in order to not reveal identity of fraternity and informant. The seriousness with which the songs are treated varied greatly between southern houses and Dartmouth. The amount of time and material coordination was directionally proportional to seriousness/geographic location.
    • See “Bid Chant” post for example videos of sorority welcome songs

“TDX-mas”

“TDX-mas” Initiation/RitualScreen Shot 2016-05-31 at 4.41.43 PM

  • Informant Info
    • Sophomore Year
  • Type of Lore
    • Customary
  • Language
    • English
  • Country of Origin
    • United States
  • Social / Cultural Context
    • Dartmouth Fraternity
  • Informant’s Comments
    • Taken light-hearted yet seriously as all brothers of the house partake in the festivity. The basement is completely covered in Christmas-styled wrapping paper. This is done for an end of the term party that the entire school is welcome to join.
  • Collector’s Comments
    • Anonymity in order to not reveal identity of fraternity and informant
    • Further research of publicly available fraternity information revealed that this practice is also done at other campuses that have this fraternity, such as MSU, dating back past 2010.

UCLA Initiation

Initiation/Ritual

  • Informant Info
    • Freshman year of UCLA (1983)
  • Type of Lore
    • Customary
  • Language
    • English
  • Country of Origin
    • United States
  • Social / Cultural Context
    • UCLA Fraternity
  • Informant’s Comments
    • Taken very seriously while light-hearted as the event could last up to 12-24 hours. The freshmen were painted, blindfolded, then driven 30 minutes from UCLA’s campus to USC’s and then duct-taped to the flag pole in the center of campus at midnight. During this time, USC students would say profanities and throw items at the freshmen until they were cut down.
  • Collector’s Comments
    • Anonymity in order to not reveal identity of fraternity and informant

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

Informant information:

Mike and Sue have a daughter who has autism. She is twenty years old and participates in the “My Own Voice” choir, a choir for children with special needs in Andover, Massachusetts.

Type of lore: Customary

Genre: Tradition

Language: English

Country of Origin: United States of America

Social / Cultural Context: This poem is passed on to new members of the special needs community – these new members are family members of children who have been recently diagnosed. It is unique in it’s own way because it is meant to give the family a sense of what their child is feeling, because ascertaining that from a child who cannot speak is very difficult.

Poem:

“When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking”

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you hung my first painting on the refrigerator and I wanted to paint another.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you fed a stray cat and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you baked a birthday cake just for me and I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you kissed me at night and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes we can cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you smiled and it made me want to look that pretty too.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you cared and I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked and I wanted to say thanks for all those things you did when you thought I wasn’t looking.

–Your special child

Informant’s comments:

 Hello Angelina,
We received an email from your mother about your project and thought we would send a few quick things along. Our 20 year old autistic daughter participates in rehearsals at “My Own Voice” but really can’t completely join in so she does not participate in the concerts. However, your mother is great and of course she welcomed Jamie with open arms and it has been a really good experience for [her]. [She] is verbal but really has no language so it is difficult for her  to get the whole concept of singing, etc. but she does enjoy being there.
Sorry we’re running late on getting it to you …..
There are two attachments: One is a little funny story that my wife always remembers [her] doing for a long time and the other is a poem I have hanging up in my office. It is a poem  that someone wrote that kind of sums up maybe what [she] is thinking since she can not articulate her thoughts.
Good Luck
Mike and Sue
Collector’s comments:
The poem that Mike and Sue sent us is particularly something we thought could be considered folklore. Once again, like “Welcome to Holland”, this poem serves to help the family transition into this new community and serves to remind parents of the impact their actions have on their child on a daily basis, even when it cannot be expressed.
Tags/Keywords: special needs, Autism, tradition, folklore, customary

 

 

 

Explaining Through Stories

Explaining Through Stories

Informant information: 

Pam is from Andover, Massachusetts. She has a seven-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome who participates in the “My Own Voice” choir, a choir for children with special needs in Andover.

Type of lore: Customary

Language: English

Country of Origin: United States of America

Social / Cultural Context: This book is shared among parents of children with special needs when trying to decide how to explain a new baby’s special needs to their typical siblings. Therefore it is most often used when the family is first entering the special needs community.

Informant’s comments

Another book, I thought was very helpful in explaining Down Syndrome to my other kids was… “We’ll Paint the Octopus Red” by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

It is a story about how a family is expecting a baby, and the older sister is all excited to do all these fun things with the new baby ( go to the beach, visit grandma, sing, paint, dance, love, play kickball etc). But after the baby is born the parents are crying. The little girl asks what is wrong? The Dad explains that the baby, little Isaac has Down syndrome. the girl says, ooh.. So does that mean the baby can’t play kickball with me? The dad says, it might take the baby a little longer to learn how to walk, but he could learn to play kickball. The little girl says, so baby Isaac won’t be able to ride in the minivan and eat fruit snacks with me, and the dad says I think he’ll be able to do that too.. Well then he won’t be able to go visit grandma and have sleepovers with me, and the dad says I think he would love to do that… So the little girl says, so if Isaac has this down thing then what can’t he do? And the dad says there actually probably isn’t anything that he can’t do.

We found the book helpful. And then it was a good conversation starter about what is Down syndrome… we explained it to our kids, how everyone when they are born are given a set of chromosomes, one set from your mom and one from your dad. And how these chromosomes are the directions that your body follows on everything, how to breathe, grow, the color of your eyes, if you will be a good singer etc.. And when [our daughter] was born she got one more chromosome then the rest of us… So she has more sets of directions to follow then us, and that is why it takes her longer to learn how to walk and talk and sing…

Collector’s comments:

The informant stated that the title of the book was “Let’s Paint the Octopus Red” but the title is actually “We’ll Paint the Octopus Red”

The book itself is not folklore since it has an author, and folklore is authorless by definition. However, we found that the shared behavior of using this book to explain Down Syndrome to children was a tradition shared between parents of children with special needs.

Tags/Keywords: special needs, Tradition, Down Syndrome, Folklore, Book, Story

 

The Wine Game

Informant info: The informant was Ian Raphael, a Dartmouth ’18, who was born in Kirkland, WA and raised in Miami, FL. He learned to climb when he was 18 from an older, close friend in Port Angeles, WA.

Date Collected: 5/16/16

Place Collected: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Type: Customary Folklore, Ceremony, Prayer

Language: English

Country of Origin: U.S.A

Social/ cultural context: The wine game is ceremonial in climbing culture and is used to bring members together. Climbers often go on day trips together. At the end of each trip, climbers are usually tired and hungry. The wine game is a way to finish off the night and come together to reflect on the day.

Associated File:

Picture1

Lore: After a long day of climbing, climbers gather around in a circle with a gallon of wine and christen it by making toasts into the fire to famous past climbers and the climbing “gods”. The climbers toast to Earl and Valerie, John Joline, DMCers of the past and present, and the “homies and the homeless”. Afterwards, the gallon wine bottle is passed around the circle. Participants may only hold the bottle to drink with their pinky finger. The person who drinks the last drop of wine is considered the winner of the game.

Informant’s Comments: This is a way to celebrate after a climb. It is a fun way to wrap up the day and have fun with your friends. No one knows why we toast to the “homies and the homeless”, but we toast to Earl, Valerie, and John Joline because of their importance to the club.

Collector’s Comments: The wine game begins with a prayer when the climbers christen the wine. It is followed by a game where each player tries to drink the last drop. The game is a celebration of the end of a long day of climbing. It is a way to reflect on the day and relax after a long climb; basically, it encourages mindfulness and team bonding. While playing the game, climbers celebrate their friendships and their outing.

Tags/Keywords: wine, games, prayer, climbing, alcohol, celebration, Customary, DMC, folklore

S&S Imposter

Title: S&S Imposter

Genre: Verbal and Customary Folklore

S&S Folkore

Informant: Emma Margaret Roberts. Dartmouth ’19. From Boston, Mass. Age 19. Lives in Russell Sage Dorm. 

Type of Lore: Verbal Folklore, Customary Folklore,  Joke.

Language: English.

Country of Origin: United States of America.

Social Context: Students drinking in a dorm room can be faced with a lot of trouble if caught by S&S.One measure that S&S takes to stop students from partaking in this activity is walking through dorms at various points in the night.  If S&S feels as though there is something bad happening in a dorm room, they will knock on the door and demand to be let in. The joke described by the student in the interview plays off of the fear of S&S knocking on the door. Students have adapted this S&S practice into a joke where they will knock on their friends door and pretend to be S&S, inciting fear in all of the people in the dorm room. This joke is widely practiced and understood by the students on campus.

Video: https://youtu.be/3WbYbGJnJj0 

In this video the informant tells about how the joke would be performed and of her personal experience with the process. She gives an example of how S&S has knocked on her door during a party and speaks about the fear of this being universal on campus. She then goes into detail about how she would perform this joke on one of her friends and how the joke would be performed on her.  

Informant Comments: The informant said that she has partaken in this Joke numerous times and that is is widely practiced by the students on campus.

Collector Comments: I have also experienced this Joke. Both as the performer and as the victim. This joke is born out of superstition and fear of S&S, and really plays on that. It is another piece of folklore that has gone unnoticed by many on campus because they are part of the folk and take part in the joke without a second guess.

Collected by Carter Copeland and Luke Hudspeth, Class of 2019.