MYTHS, LEGENDS,                                            Have you ever thought why such                                       How are stories told?
         FAIRYTALES and FABLES                                             stories come about ?

Storytelling is common to all cultures. This display       Although stories are there to amuse and entertain, they       Have you ever wondered how tales get passed on from             Children enjoy dressing up as characters from stories (1) and
explores the stories we are often told as children and     often have more serious functions. Myths and legends          generation to generation and from culture to culture?           acting out stories with dolls (8), but many adults also like to
through them the fabulous worlds and creatures we          help to explain 'the how and why of life'.                                                                                    become a part of a mythical story or legend, through role
are introduced to.                                                                                                       The way stories are told has changed through time just as       playing games. (9)
                                                           Creation stories: stories about the beginning of the world    our communication systems have changed. Thousands of
Many famous stories have their origins in myth and         and the origins of human beings are common to the             years ago, most people passed on stories through the            Different cultures have different traditional stories. When
legend. Real events and people from long ago merge         beliefs of most civilisations. In Japanese myth, the god      spoken word. Some civilisations also used pictures,             cultures meet, by trading, migration, occupation or sharing
with myths and folk tales. Fantastic stories are created   Kamui made the world from a slushy quagmire, and in           symbols and early writing systems, for example the tomb         of skills, their stories also meet. Sometimes the stories are
and we can no longer be sure what is fantasy and what      Hindu mythology, the universe was created by Brahma or        paintings and hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt. (3) The written   adapted to suit the new storytellers. Even as tourists today,
is fact. The stories of Robin Hood (1)and King Arthur      Purusha and it ebbs and flows as he sleeps and awakens.       word (4) became increasingly important, particularly when       we sometimes encounter stories from other cultures. (10)
and his Knights of the Round Table are examples of
                                                                                                                         printing meant that written stories became available to
real people turned into legends.                           Stories are often interwoven with religious beliefs and       more people who were able to read and write.                    Many fairytales have survived to capture popular
                                                           moral codes. They can serve to give people a sense of                                                                         imagination because they were 'collected' by people such as
Fairytales and fables invite us into fictitious worlds,    belonging but can also act to reinforce the moral codes of    Performance was and still is used by many cultures to           the Brothers Grimm. (12) Today, the global spread of
enchanting us with make-believe. They usually have a       societies. Many stories for example, feature gods and         pass on tales. Masks (5) and make-up (6) can be used to         information technology has also meant that, through means
moral end to the stories and traditionally fairy-tales     goddesses who punish or reward people's actions, setting an   transform an actors identity and the forms and colours          such as video, audio and the internet, stories have continued
have happy endings. Classic tales may change through       example to readers.                                           used often have symbolic meanings. Stories are also told        to be shared all over the world. (12)
time, from country to country, and by the way that
they are told, but the main themes stay the same. The                                                                    through body gestures in mime and dance and through
                                                           Some stories become associated with special festivals or      puppets. (7)
                                                                                                                                                                                         Q. Can you think of a myth, legend, fairytale or fable that has
storyteller remains an important person in many            times of the year. Tales involving ghosts and witches have                                                                    been passed on to you? Who told it to you and how did they tell
cultures, and we all make up our own stories, or           become associated with Halloween (2) and religious stories                                                                    it?
elaborate on existing ones.                                are told during the Hindu festival of Navrati.

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