Folklore

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Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of that culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called folkloristics. The word 'folklore' was first used by the English antiquarian William Thoms in a letter published by the London Journal in 1846.[1] In usage, there is a continuum between folklore and mythology. Stith Thompson made a major attempt to index the motifs of both folklore and mythology, providing an outline into which new motifs can be placed, and scholars can keep track of all older motifs.

Folklore can be divided into four areas of study: artifact (such as voodoo dolls), describable and transmissible entity (oral tradition), culture, and behavior (rituals). These areas do not stand alone, however, as often a particular item or element may fit into more than one of these areas.[2]

Contents

Artifacts

Objects such as dolls, decorative items used in religious rituals, hand-built houses and barns,[3] and handmade clothing and other crafts are considered[by whom?] to be folk artifacts, grouped within the field as "material culture". Additionally, figures that depict characters from folklore, such as statues of the three wise monkeys may be considered to be folklore artifacts, depending on how they are used within a culture.[4] The operative definition would depend on whether the artifacts are used and appreciated within the same community in which they are made, and whether they follow a community aesthetic.

Oral tradition

Folklore can contain religious or mythic elements, it equally concerns itself with the sometimes mundane traditions of everyday life. Folklore frequently ties the practical and the esoteric into one narrative package. It has often been conflated with mythology, and vice versa, because it has been assumed that any figurative story that does not pertain to the dominant beliefs of the time is not of the same status as those dominant beliefs.[citation needed] Thus, Roman religion is called "myth" by Christians. In that way, both "myth" and "folklore" have become catch-all terms for all figurative narratives which do not correspond with the dominant belief structure.

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