Folk Tales of the Maldivesby NIAS
2012, 240 pp. 15x23 cm.
The Maldives are mainly known as an equatorial tourist paradise to the south of India but some will know the archipelago risks drowning owing to global warming. Far less is known about the people, who have occupied these islands for millennia but whose deep indigenous culture is today under threat from a multitude of external forces.
This volume is a collection of 80 traditional short stories and legends selected from the large corpus of stories in the local oral tradition, and translated and illustrated by the author who is the foremost authority on the language and anthropology of the Maldives. These folk tales offer keen insights both into the history, culture and beliefs of the people of the Maldives and into the world they live in. The close relationship the Maldivians have with their environment is clear, likewise the syncretic nature of their Islamic faith, the tales bustling with spirits, sorcerers and monsters as well as local people, seabirds, etc.
Would-be travellers to the Maldives will find this a unique insight into the real country behind the tourist brochures. For scholars, the folk tales and analytical material offer a wonderful literary/folklore resource as well as fresh perspectives on the effects of globalization.
About the Author
Born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1954, Xavier Romero-Frias is the foremost authority in the anthropology of the Maldives. He lived in the Maldive Islands between 1979 and 1991 studying the oral traditions and other folk expressions, like arts and crafts. Fluent in the language of the Maldives, including dialectal forms, Dr Romero-Frias is considered the world’s leading non-Maldivian expert in the Maldivian language. In addition, as part of his work with Maldivian folklore, he carried out research on the ancient Divehi scripts. He is also a talented artist whose work has been exhibited in public and used to illustrate several books. In 1999 he published a monograph on the ethnography and the oral tradition of Maldives, the bulk of which has been personally recorded by him.