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Storytelling: Stories, Fables
and Fairy Tales

  • Stories, Fairy Tales and Fables, Asian Canadian Storytelling

The Asian Canadian One Thousand and One Nights

One Thousand and One Nights is a prime example of West, Central and South Asian as well as North African stories and folktales tracing back to ancient and medieval Persian, Arabic, Indian, Mesopotamian and Egyptian folklore and literature. Famous characters and stories from the original Arabic manuscript and its subsequent translations in European languages include Scheherazade's tales, Aladdin's Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. These were widely adopted in music, literature and film, such as in Disney's film Aladdin (1992).

Here in the Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage, you'll find the Asian Canadian version of One Thousand and One Nights. To the Asian Canadian storytellers, besides the stories and folktales, there is an added level of meaning: Asian Canadian storytelling shows an interaction of different cultures, delicately combining traditional and literary stories with personal family stories of diaspora. Have a look at how Ariel Balevi tells stories from the folklore and classical literatures of Iran and Turkey. These stories derive from such sources as the Shahnameh, the Haft Paykar, the Masnavi of Rumi and One Thousand and One Nights.

Other Asian Canadian storytelling captures the struggles, the history, the contributions and the success stories of Asian Canadians. In her stories, Bernice Gei-ying Hune remembers Chinese elders talking of the railway, the head tax and the struggle to overcome barriers; Chinese festivals such as Autumn Moon Festival, the Lunar New Year; or stories of transformation showing how old and new world ties are renewed through family relationships. tha REAL of Little Empire narrates the immigrant story of how his parents came from Sri Lanka, the challenges in adapting to their new country, how he pursued his interest in hip hop, and the ways in which his music echoes his connections to both Canada and Sri Lanka.

What about stories told by children? See how Grade 6 Students at Sathya Sai School in Toronto tell their tales through their paintings! Experience with them festivities from South Asia (Diwali, Guru Poonima, Ugadi and Raksha Bandhan), from Mongolia (Naadam), and from Thailand (Pongal and the Swing Festival).

Sathya Sai School: Diwali
Sathya Sai School: Guru Poonima
Sathya Sai School: Ugadi
Sathya Sai School: Naadam of Mongolia
Sathya Sai School: Thai Pongal
Sathya Sai School: Swing Festival of Thailand
Sathya Sai School: Raksha Bandhan
Sathya Sai School: Sinhala or Aluth Avurudhu

Perhaps you have a story to tell too? Let us know! Email VMACCH