Originally, a short, humorous tale. Now, the term commonly refers to single episode narratives, regarded as true and commonly concentrating on an individual.
Stories (narratives) told as conscious fictions in which the characters, though they speak and behave like human beings, are animals. These animal characters are commonly stock types. For example, in many Native American traditions, coyote is regarded as an exploitive, impulsive manipulator. In African American tales, rabbit is type cast in the same role. The tales are most often moralistic (‘‘don’t be greedy’’) or etiological (why the frog has no tail) in intent.
The attribution of a living soul or spirit to places, inanimate objects, natural phenomena and creatures– like the sun and stars, trees and rivers, winds and clouds, rocks and mountains, and animals become personal animate creatures that can influence human events.
The belief of the existence of spirits separable from bodies is also present, from Latin anima, “breath, spirit, life”.
Animism has many forms, which reflect the geographical environment, the religious or spiritual cultural history, and the distinct worldview of the people groups who practice its various expressions. Expressions of animism are found in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Neopaganism, and Shinto, as well as other spiritualties or religions.
Legends or personal experience narratives that are told with the purpose of validating a particular folk belief.
Stories whose plots embody a message cautioning against the consequences of particular kinds of behavior.
The way of life of a population, including shared knowledge, beliefs, values, attitudes, rules of behavior, language, skills, and world view among members of a given society. It shapes human behavior because it is the foundation of conscious and unconscious beliefs about proper ways to live.
Cultures change constantly.
Different members of a society internalize and express different parts of their culture. Subcultures can also reflect differences by geographic region or other subgroups within a larger society.
“Kulturgeschichte” wants to understand a people historically. Johann Gottfried Herder, wrote „ Was ich bin, bin ich geworden“ – What I am I have become.
Because “Culture” does imply everyday attitudes, values, assumptions and prejudices, and the rituals and practices that express them, from magical beliefs to gender roles and racial hierarchies. In this sense, our instincts, thoughts, and acts have an ancestry which cultural history can illuminate and examine critically.
Cultural history tries to understand people’s efforts to create meaning and beauty, to express joy and sadness, and to communicate. Those efforts have taken an extraordinarily wide array of forms historically, including the fine arts, literature, music, and architecture, but also everyday material culture, the built environment (gardens, landscapes, and citycapes), and food. Film, radio, television, and other media became equally important In the twentieth century.
cultural diversity and religion:
The same religion can have a very different expression in one place compared to another, even though they share the same theology and beliefs. A religious expression is very much influenced by the history of the people practicing it and the surrounding groups influencing them. Religion helps many interpret and create meaning in their lives. It has a powerful influence on family life, identity, diet and understanding death.
For example, Hindus in India, Nepal and in Bali share similar cosmologies, they share the same Deities, the Ramayana, and the Vedas but the expression of Indian Hinduism, Nepalese Hinduism and the expression of Balinese Hinduism are unique and distinct. Same happens with Buddhism, Jain, Sikhism and many more religious groups.
Or consider Russian Orthodox Christianity and Roman Christianity, both are recognizably traditions venerating Christ, his sacrifice, and resurrection yet the cultural overlay, history and expression of Christianity in those settings are distinctly different.
This is one reason we say no one has a single culture, but they participate in many cultures. They may have one or more ethnic cultures they participate in depending on their parentage, religious culture(s), occupational cultures, gendered or non-gendered cultures, hobbies etc.
For example, mothers the world over share certain practices (breast feeding) values (maternal connection) and concerns (the survival of their offspring) that tie them together in a culture of Motherhood. Yet how Motherhood is influenced, and then expressed, varies by social organization.
Muslims the world over share their reverence for the Koran, the Prophet Mohammed, and the pillars of Islam (alms giving, prayer, the Haaj) but its practice in the Arabic countries, in Indonesia and in India can appear markedly different on the surface, and include many local customs unique to the expression of faith in that region.
Character in myth who finishes the work that brings technology (usually symbolized as fire), laws, religion, and other elements of culture to humans. Culture heroes may take over the business of creating order out of chaos where a Supreme Creator left off. The culture hero serves as a secondary creator or transformer of the universe. He/she transforms the universe by means of his gifts into a universe in which humans can live. In some myths, the culture hero cleanses the universe of things that threaten human existence: monsters, cannibals, or meteorological phenomena.
A group of tales that focuses on a central character, plot, or theme.
Tree worship refers to the tendency of many societies throughout history to worship or otherwise mythologize trees.
From dendro- + -latry, from Ancient Greek δένδρον (déndron, “tree”) + λατρεία (latreía, “worship”)
Originally defined by Gordon (1964) as a group of individuals with a shared sense of peoplehood based on race, religion, or national origin, it is now commonly used to refer to a group with a distinctive culture.
Ethnicity is the active expression of culture.
An ethnic group is a large group in which members self-identify. They internalize and share a heritage of, and commitment to, unique social characteristics, cultural symbols, and behavior patterns that are not fully understood or shared by outsiders.
Ethnobotany is the study of how people traditionally use plants – the botanical knowledge of a social group and its use of locally available plants in foods, medicines, clothing, or religious rituals.
The prefix ethno-, translates to ethnic “ethnic” and includes the study of culture, beliefs, language, and folklore.
The suffix -botany, is the study of plants.
Ethnobotanical knowledge encompasses both wild and domesticated species, and the term implies the study of indigenous or traditional knowledge of plants. Both ethnomedicine and ethnopharmacology overlap significantly with ethnobotany.
At earthstoriez, we particularly treasure those threads of the fabric of knowledge that carry an awareness of how humans are woven into nature. This knowledge is apparent in the worldview of a people, which arises as beliefs, stories, myths, instructions, songs, art forms, rituals, recipes, and practices. The lore has for millennia informed the young people of these cultures in how to be human in a natural world. Lore comes from the same root word as learn. It includes both knowledge and know-how, passed down from ancestors.
Ethnomedicine is the study of traditional medicines, whether written (as in Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine), or remembered and transmitted via oral tradition (such as in much Native American, Latin American or African folk medicine, or in Euro-American herbal medicine). Medical anthropology studies contemporary ethnomedicine, which includes concepts of what illness is and how healing occurs. Ethnopharmacology is the study of the uses, effects and modes of actions of naturally-occurring drug compounds. This is a key field that often explains the effectiveness of herbal medicine, stimulants, analgesics, inebriants or psychoactive species.
Ethnomusicology approaches music as a social process in order to understand not only what music is but why it is: what music means to its practitioners and audiences, and how those meanings are conveyed.
The word etiology is derived from the Greek αἰτία, which means cause. In the field of literature a narrative is said to be etiological when it attempts to explain (in mythic, religious, or literary terms) the origin of something. It is, in other words, an imaginative story triggered by a question about how (or why) something came to be in the world. It is opposed to a historical or scientific explanation
Etiological narratives are not synonymous with the origins of people and peoples or with the founding myths of places.
The study of the origin of words and the way in which their form and meanings have changed throughout history. From Greek etymologia “analysis of a word to find its true origin,” or “study of the true sense (of a word).”
Fictional narrative ending with a didactic message that is often couched in the form of a ‘‘moral’’ or proverb.
predominantly functional or utilitarian visual art created by hand (or with limited mechanical facilities) for use by the maker or a small circumscribed group and containing an element of retention—the prolonged survival of tradition. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic.
Accounts based on perceptions of historical events rather than on written documentation or similar media.
a type of traditional and generally rural music that originally was passed down through families and other small social groups. Typically, folk music, like folk literature, lives in oral tradition; it is learned through hearing rather than reading. It is functional in the sense that it is associated with other activities, and it is primarily rural in origin. A folk singer
is a person who sings folk songs or other songs in the folk idiom.
traditional customs, beliefs, stories (tales) and sayings of a community, passed down through generations largely by word-of-mouth. Term coined by folklorist by W. J. Thoms to replace earlier popular antiquities.
Read more Memory, Modernity & Identity
Highly formulaic and structured fictional narrative that is popularly referred to as ‘‘fairytale’’ and designated by folklorists as Märchen or ‘‘wonder tale.’’ Term coined by folklorist Stith Thompson. Stories passed down through generations, usually through word-of-mouth, within a community or culture. Most of these stories originate in popular culture and contain the cultural memories, ideals and philosophies of their communities.
Story (narrative) told as truth, set in the historical past, and that does not depart from the present reality of the members of the group.
Legends derived from and closely associated with specific places and events believed to have occurred in those locales.
A body of traditions and knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group, typically passed from person to person by word of mouth. (tree lore, plant lore, child lore weather lore…)
Medical anthropology, refers to all practices that might alleviate disease, including rituals and psychotherapeutic approaches to healing that are regarded as effective by members of a social group.
minnesang and minnesänger:
German courtly love poetry, or Minnesang, emerged around 1170 (to the14th century), produced both by singers who wandered from court to court looking for patrons of their art, and also by members of the highest aristocratic circles.
The first signs of profound changes affecting Minnesang occurred around 1200 with the appearance of great poet Minnesänger such as Walther von der Vogelweide, who went far beyond the artificial conventions with which the Minnesang had been governed by introducing an element of practical realism, both in his love poetry and in his Sprüche. He wrote a great many philosophical and political Sprüche that reflected prevailing conditions of the Reich and the church. They contained satire and humor, frequently attacking high ranking persons.
The Minnesang was meant to be sung but the melodies were not well documented and mostly only lyrics are left.
Narratives that explain the will (the intent) and the workings (the orderly principles) of a group’s major supernatural figures. Myth is set in a world that predates the present reality.
Historically religion is one of the most powerful forces shaping culture. Beliefs, practices, rituals, cosmologies, explanatory models, and specialized classes of people comprise culture, and much of this is defined and given significance by religion. Culture is often about power, who is entitled to it and who isn’t. Religion sometimes has a strong hand in determining this as well, so it is among those systems of power operating in human societies.
But the same religion can have a very different expression in one place compared to another, even though they share the same theology and beliefs. A religious expression is very much influenced by the history of the people practicing it and the surrounding groups influencing them.
Religion helps many interpret and create meaning in their lives, and often intersects with medical practice. It has a powerful influence on family life, identity, diet and understanding death.
sage or saga:
Following the general use of the word “Sage” in German secondary literature its etymological based on “to say” and translated into legend.
While the Norse sagas are written prose narratives.
Can be defined as whomever or whatever provides someone a transcendent meaning in life. It may be expressed as a relationship with one’s god(s) or the creator, but can also refer to values such as: nature, energy force, belief in the goodness of all, or belief in the importance of family and community.
Among some populations, it includes organized religion. It may or may not include belief in, and communication with, forces in the form of spirits.
story & stories:
Tale, narrative, lore, myth.
Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are orally shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values. Art, ritual, and performance overlap in various ways, stories are continually told and retold.
Modern storytelling has a broad purview. In addition to its traditional forms (fairytales, folktales, mythology, legends, fables etc.), it has extended itself to representing history, personal narrative, political commentary and evolving cultural norms.
A saying is the simple, direct term for any pithy expression of wisdom or truth.
Traditional values have disappeared or are changed over time, but some proverbs that explicate moral and spiritual wisdom remain with the people. Still told to help educate and pass wisdom down from one to another, they teach a message of behavior or give philosophical wisdom.
They have been defined as the wisdom of many and the wit of one.
Although sayings, like motto, mantra, aphorism, proverb and maxim may be highly believed and are current in the same culture they ironically often contradict each other.
Standard, recurrent folk narrative plot.
Fictional narrative often told as a firsthand experience, which gradually introduces hyperbole until the audience realizes by the conclusion that the tale is a lie.
Beliefs, ideas, customs and practices passed down from generation to generation within a community. These include religious or ritualistic practices and often trace their origin to certain folktales, legends or myths.
A body of traditions, stories and knowledge on trees, held by a particular group, typically passed from person to person by word of mouth.
Version of a story.
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For this glossary I used Green T. The Greenwood Library of American Folktales. Four Volumes. 1944-2006.
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