Telling a story is not like weaving a tapestry to cover up the world, it is rather a way of guiding the attention of listeners or readers into it. A person who can ‘tell’ is one who is perceptually attuned to picking up information in the environment that others, less skilled in the tasks of perception, might miss, and the teller, in rendering his knowledge explicit, conducts the attention of the audience along the same paths as his own.
Tim Ingold, “The Temporality of the Landscape”, World Archaeology, vol. 25, 1993, p. 153
Illustration based on a Buddhist image
Before Keldibek began a performance of Manas he told the herdsmen that they might come to the camp without fear because their cattle would go home by themselves, and no one –neither man nor wild beast– could steal even the last sheep whilst he was singing Manas. But when he began to sing, the yurt trembled, a mighty hurricane arose amid whose murk and din supernatural horsemen, Companions of Manas, flew down so that the earth shuddered beneath their horses’s hooves.
Kirghiz; quoted in Hatto, “Kirghiz”, en Traditions of Heroic and Epic Poetry. Volume I: The Traditions, edited by A. T. Hatto, London: The Modern Humanities Research Association, p. 305; Manas is the national epic of the Kirghiz people, and tells the exploits of the eponymous hero and his descendants.
Illustration inspired by a drawing of a fish found in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.
The truth is that the [Ainu] people must make much of memory in a land where there is not written language. They must commit everything important to memory. To such a community old traditions are a history, a literature, a philosophy, a science, a scripture, a code. In other words, folk-tales are a learning, a religion, a law – culture itself. In order to live as an independent Ainu, it is necessary to know an outline of the legends and traditions of his community; and especially it is so for those who command others.