S. Schmidt: South African |Xam Bushmen Traditions and Their Relationships to Further Khoisan Folklore [PDF]


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QKF Research in Khoisan Studies Volume 31

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X, 251 pp.
7 colour photographs

Text language: English

The present study focuses on the texts which Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel Bleek (1827–1875) and his sister-in-law Lucy Lloyd (1834–1914) wrote down from dictations of Bushman prisoners in Cape Town between 1870 and 1884. This collection of nearly 13,000 pages has been published only in parts. It has only come to light over the course of the last decades how valuable this unique collection is as a source for further study of the spiritual world of a culture which has meanwhile disappeared. Researchers of various fields devoted studies to it, particularly to the tales. These tales were interpreted on the basis of the general /Xam [|Xam] material and a few further Bushman sources.

This investigation treats the texts for the first time within the framework of the general Khoisan folklore and compares more than 40 individual tales with related traditions of other Khoisan peoples, occasionally also with those of Bantu neighbours. As a rule, the comparison goes beyond a mere comparison of motifs. Basic questions of style and form of folktales, also in relation to international folklore, are discussed as well as the individual style of the three main /Xam [|Xam] narrators. In this way new insights into the trickster stories and the character of the trickster are gained.

Accordingly, the well-known /Xam [|Xam] trickster |Kaggen cannot be viewed as a prototype of Khoisan tricksters. Special emphasis has been given to the investigation of the ancient magic tales of the Bushmen whose character had not been understood because they were treated merely as animal stories. A concluding chapter examines the roles of men, women and children as heroes of tales.

Under these links you will find publications by the author and further descriptions of the languages, cultures and of the history of southern Africa:

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