Situated on an important highway of learning, and
culture, Kashmir attained eminence in the domain of art and letters in the past.
In philosophy and mysticism, poetry and aesthetics, grammar and history, our
ancestors took long strides towards what is still accepted as an enviable
standard of perfection.
For various causes the creative urge of the people
suffered a peculiar setback and several generations of Kashmiris lapsed into
muted backwardness. During this period it was left to eminent Western scholars
to introduce Kashmir to the civilized world through translation and
interpretation of the literary and artistic wealth of earlier ages. Apart from
their value to the outside world these works gave a sense of purpose and pride
to our generation.
Interest in Kashmir's history and culture rose to a
peak in the months following the independence of India. A resurgence of creative
activity in all parts of this multilingual region was consequently stimulated.
Along with the development of recognized literary forms in what were hitherto
regarded barren languages, folk arts have come to claim a good deal of attention
and patronage. The unprecedented pace of education during the last few years
bids fair to quicken this resurgence of the creative urge. In this context the
publication of Kashmiri folk tales in English translation in the present form is
of some significance.
This volume of folk tales presents many of the stories
generally current in Kashmir today, some of them indeed with many parallels in
other parts of India and outside. Manut and Pan:uv or Toh Thug and
Mengan Thug occur frequently in the idiom of our conversation everyday,
and Himal and Nagrai, Shabrang and Akanandun are referred
to in our parlance off and on. Though the tales are generally the product of the
imagination of our people, several of them can at once be identified by local
readers as built round the nucleus of an actual event to which the tale is true
in substance and spirit.
The author of the present work has, by and large,
bypassed tales based on fantasy, romance and magic, though such material exists
in abundance in our folklore. He has also eschewed tales of a patently foreign
character. There is, thus, a ring of modernity about them which sheds light on
the modes of thought and ways of living of our people. The efforts of the author
are commendable and I have no doubt that his book will be read and appreciated
30 June, 1961
G. M. SADIQ