The Maithil women of the Himalayan region have long explored their individual and collective life experiences by sharing stories with one-another. Sometimes fantastical, sometimes including a kind of magical realism, these tales have helped women create community through a deeply personal and always evolving storytelling form. In Maithil Women's Tales, Coralynn V. Davis investigates how female storytellers weave together their own life experiences--the hardships and the pleasures--with age-old themes. In so doing, Davis demonstrates, they harness folk traditions to grapple with social values, behavioral mores, relationships, and cosmological questions The Maithil womens storytelling tradition flourishes against a backdrop of cultural conventions that suppress women's speech and mobility. Not surprisingly, many tales express the pain of contending with patrilineal household formations, the seclusions of purdah, and an honor system that values modesty and servility in women. Each chapter includes stories and excerpts that reveal Maithil women's gift for rich language, layered plots, and stunning allegory. In addition, Davis provides ethnographic and personal information to reveal the complexity of women's own lives, and includes works painted by Maithil storytellers to illustrate their tales. The result is a fascinating study of being and becoming that will resonate for readers in women's and Hindu studies, folklore, and anthropology.
Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology
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