Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Brahmin and the Mongoose: The Narrative Context of a Well-Travelled Tale

  • Stuart Blackburn (a1)


Once upon a time, scholars believed that tracing the history and diffusion of folktales led to knowledge of a shared human culture. The enlightenment of the twentieth century, however, rooted out this superstition, with its evolutionary and devolutionary premises, and replaced it with a rigorous identification of tales, descriptions of their contents, and, more recently, analyses of the circumstances of their telling. The textual precision and ethnographic depth of these studies, not to mention the increasing number of folktale indexes, have taken us far beyond the naiveté of those nineteenth-century claims for a Buddhist or mytho-poetic origin to virtually all folk narrative. Deriving, for example, an English proverb (‘Don't count your chickens before they hatch’) from a Sanskrit story about a man whose dreams destroy him is almost as entertaining as it is untenable. One wonders, however, if, in reaction to such excesses, research did not retreat into a safer but more limited sphere by studying the stories of a single society. Without wishing to return to the hyperbole of those early folktale scholars, this essay acknowledges their comparative vision, bold hypotheses, and dedication to the international study of the folktale.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The Brahmin and the Mongoose: The Narrative Context of a Well-Travelled Tale
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The Brahmin and the Mongoose: The Narrative Context of a Well-Travelled Tale
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The Brahmin and the Mongoose: The Narrative Context of a Well-Travelled Tale
      Available formats



Hide All
Ayen, Rama Christian. 1855. Vier Geheimrath Minister. Hamburg: n. pub.
Baring-Gould, S. 1877 (1866). Curious myths of the Middle Ages. London: Rivingtons.
Belcher, Stephen. 1994. ‘Framed tales in the oral tradition: an exploration’, Fabula, 35:119.
Benfey, Theodor S. 1859. Pantschatantra. 2 vols. Leipzig: F. W. Brockhaus.
Benfey, Theodor S. 1862. ‘Ueber die alte deutsche Uebersetzung des Kalīlah und Dimnah’, Orient und Occident, 1: 138187.
Bloomfield, Maurice. 1917. ‘On recurring psychic motifs in Hindu fiction’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 36: 5489.
Bødker, Laurits. 1957. Indian animal tales: a preliminary survey (FFCommunications, 170). Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.
Bolte, Johannes and Polivka, G.. 19131932. Anmerkungen zu den Kinder und Hausmärchen der Brüder Grimm. Vol. 1. Leipzig: Wiecher.
Brown, W. N. 1919. ‘The Pañcatantra in modern Indian folklore’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 39:154.
Burhabhakat, K. 1927. Phakara. (2nd ed.) Barpeta (India): n. pub.
Campbell, Killis. 1907. The Seven Sages of Rome. Boston: Ginn and Company.
Cāmṭēṉiyal, P. and Jōcappiṉ, A.. 1989. Pañcatantira Vacaṉam. Publication No. 276. Tañcāvūr (India): Tañcāvūr Maharaja Sarfoji Sarasvati Library.
Chavannes, Edouard. (tr.) 1911. Cinq cents contes et apologues extraits du Tripiṭaka chinois. Vol. 2. Paris: Ernest Leroux.
Clouston, W. A. 1884. The Book of Sindibad. Glasgow: privately printed.
Clouston, W. A. 1887. Popular tales and fictions: their migrations and transformations. 2 vols. London: William Blackwood and Sons.
Clouston, W. A. 1889. A group of Eastern romances and stories from the Persian, Tamil, and Urdu. Glasgow: privately published.
Clouston, , Introduction to The king and his four ministers. See Natesa Sastri (1889).
Comparetti, Domenico. 1882. Researches respecting the book of Sindibad, trans. Mr.Coote, . London: The Folk-lore Society.
Crooke, William. 1892. Folklore of Hindustan. Indian Antiquary 21:185189.
Crooke, William. 1894. The popular religion and folklore of Northern India. 2 vols. Allahabad: Government Press.
Cuppiramaṇiyam, V. I. 1969. ‘Pañcatantiramum Cilappatikāramum’, Tamiḻ Vaṭṭam Āṇṭu Malar, 8791.
Damant, G. H. 1872. ‘Bengali folklore-legends from Dinajpur’, Indian Antiquary, 1:115 ff.
Dames, Longworth M. 1902. ‘Balochi folklore’, Folklore, 13:252274.
Day, Lai Behari. 1910. Folk-tales of Bengal. London: Macmillan.
Dorson, Richard. 1968. The British folklorists. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dundes, Alan. 1980. ‘Who are the folk?’, in Dundes Interpreting folklore, 119. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Edgerton, Franklin. 1924. The Panchatantra reconstructed. 2 vols. New Haven: American Oriental Society.
Elwin, Verrier. 1944. Folk-tales of Mahakoshal. Bombay: Oxford University Press.
Emeneau, M. B. 1940. ‘A classical Indian folk-tale as a reported modern event: The Brahman and the Mongoose’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 83:503513 (repr. in Emeneau, Collected Papers, Annamalai: Annamalai University, 1967).
Emeneau, M. B. 1941. ‘The faithful dog as security for a debt: a companion to the Brahman and the Mongoose story-type’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 61: 117. (repr. in Emeneau, Collected papers, Annamalai: Annamalai University, 1967).
Goswami, Praphulladata. 1980. Tales of Assam. Gauhati: Publication Board of Assam.
Hale-Wortham, B. (tr.). 1979. Hitopadeśa. Calcutta: Shakuntalal.
Hartland, Sidney. 1892. ‘Report on folktale research’, Folk-lore%, 3: 126131.
Herrtage, Sidney. 1962 (1879). The early English versions of the Gesta Romanorum. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Huilgol, Varadraj. 1987. The Pañcatantra of Vasubhāga: a critical study. Madras: New Era Publications.
Jacobs, Joseph. 1888. The earliest English version of the Fables of Bidpai: ‘The Morall Philosophia of Doni’. London: David Nutt.
Jacobs, Joseph. 1892. Celtic fairy tales. London: David Nutt.
Jason, Heda. 1989. Types of Indic oral tales, Supplement. (FFCommunications, 242.) Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.
Keith-Falconer, I. G. N. 1885. Kalīlah and Dimnah or The Fables of Bidpai. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Keller, John. 1956. The Book of Wiles of Women. (MLA Translation Series, no. 2.) Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina.
Mrs. Kingscote, Howard and Sastri, Pandit S. M. Natesa. 1890. Tales of the Sun, or Folklore of Southern India. London: W.H. Allen.
Kittredge, G. L. 1903. ‘Arthur and Gorlagon’, Studies and notes in philology and literature, vol. VIII, 150266. Boston: Ginn and Company.
Knowles, J. Hinton. 1893. Folk-tales of Kashmir. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner. (‘Four Princes’ first published in Indian Antiquary, 1886, 15:299–303, 328–335).
Maxwell, W. E. 1881. ‘The folklore of the Malays’, Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 7:1129.
Müller, M. Freidrich. 1895. ‘On the migration of fables’, in his Chips from a German workshop, Vol. 4, 412489. London: Longmans, Green and Co.
Nālu Mantiri Katai. 1923. Madras. [Anonymous pamphlet, India Office Library.]
Natesa Sastri, Pandit S. M. 1889. The king and his four ministers: an old Hindu romance. Introduction and notes by W. A. Clouston. Madras: G. W. Taylor.
Parker, Henry. 19101914. Village folk-tales of Ceylon. 3 vols. London: Luzac.
Past days in India by a late customs officer [anonymous]. 1874. London: Chapman and Hall.
Patil, Channabasappa S. 1995. Panchatantra in Kamataka sculptures. Mysore: Karnataka State Directorate of Archaeology and Museums.
Penzer, Norman M. (ed.). 1968. The Ocean of Story, [C. H. Tawney's translation of Kathāsaritsāgara]. 10 vols. Benares: Motilal Banarsidass.
Perry, Ben Edwin. 1960. ‘The origin of the Book of Sindibad’, Fabula, 3:194.
Perumal, A. N. 1981. Tamil drama: origin and development. Madras: International Institute of Tamil Studies.
Pieris, H. A. 1884. ‘The Widow and the Mongoose’, Orientalist, 1:213214.
Portnoy, Ethel. 1992. Broodje aap Met. Amsterdam: Uitgeveriji de Harmonie.
Ramachandra Dikshitar, V. R. 1933/1934. ‘Migration of legends: a study in Indian folklore and tradition’, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 15:212219.
Rāmaṇṇa, Kyathanahalli. 1972. Gondalingara Kathegalu. Mysore: Institute for Kannada Studies.
Ramanujan, A. K. 1983. The Indian Oedipus, in Edmunds, Lowell and Dundes, Alan (ed.), Oedipus: a folklore casebook, 234261. New York: Garland.
Runte, Hans R. 1974. Li Ystorie de la Male Marastre, Version M of the Roman des Sept Sages de Rome. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer.
Ryder, Arthur W. 1925. trans. The Panchatantra. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Schmitt, Jean-Claude. 1983 (1979). The Holy Greyhound, transl. by Tom, Martin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schmitt, Jean-Claude. 1990. ‘Hundes Unschuld (AaTh 178 A)’, Enzyklopädie des Märchens, vi 13621367. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Sir Stein, Aurel and SirGrierson, George. 1923. Hatim's tales: Kashmiri stories and songs. London: John Murray.
Mutaliyār, Tāṇṭavarāyar. 1826. Pañcatantira Katai. Madras: Fort St. George College.
Tauscher, Rudolph. 1959. Volksmärchen aus dem Jeporeland. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Thompson, Stith and Roberts, Warren. 1960. Types of Indie oral tales: India, Pakistan and Ceylon. (FFCommunications, 180.) Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakademia.
Ting, Nai-Tung. 1978. A type index of Chinese folktales. (FFCommunications, 223.) Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.
Ward, H. L. D. 1893. Catalogue of romances in the British Museum. Vol 2. London: British Museum.
Wilson, H. H. 1828. Descriptive catalogue of the Mackenzie Collection of Oriental Manuscripts. Vol 2. Calcutta: Government Press.

The Brahmin and the Mongoose: The Narrative Context of a Well-Travelled Tale

  • Stuart Blackburn (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed