The University of Bahrain launched the Encyclopaedia of Bahraini Folktales: Thousands and Thousands of Tales, in collaboration with the Folk Culture Archive for Studies, Research and Publishing and the International Organization of Folk Art (IOV World), on Monday (18 February 2019) at the University Campus in Sakhir.
This unique encyclopaedia, which consists of five large volumes and 2500 pages, is the largest collection of folktales in the Arab world. It took ten years to complete and documented folktales using local dialects.
The encyclopaedia official launching ceremony was held under the patronage of Prof. Riyad Y. Hamzah, President of the University of Bahrain, and the participation of Mr. Ali Abdulla Khalifa, President of IOV World. Faculty members, students, intellectuals and those interested in heritage and folklore also attended the ceremony.News 19 02 2019 1b
‘Nothing compares to the sense of pride and accomplishment we feel when we produce solid scientific research or a scientific book that contributes to human knowledge. Today, we are celebrating the launch of this great encyclopaedia of Bahraini folktales. It is the first time an encyclopaedia of this size and diversity has ever been published,’ said Prof. Hamzah.
Prof. Hamzah also highlighted the importance of folk literature in inspiring generations and expanding their horizons and imagination. He recalled ‘How storytelling used to strengthen the bonds between family members. The primary storytellers used to be the grandparents conjuring feelings of love and warmth. Today, this aspect of family life seems to have disappeared. Storytelling has now changed in the digital age depriving children of this wonderful experience. When we were children, we used to get involved while listening to a story. We tried to imagine the characters, the situation, and the theme in the story. Today there are stereotypes created by what international film companies produce and promote. The visual image has replaced the imagination and the stories presented are so distant from our culture,’ added Prof. Hamzah.
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Mr. Ali Abdullah Khalifa praised the geographical comprehensiveness of the encyclopaedia, which, and for the first time, included a large number of narrators and dialects.
‘When this project was sent to be reviewed by Prof. Noor Al Huda Badis, Director of Field Research at Folk Culture Archive for Studies, Research and Publishing, we were confident that this project, which lasted for ten years, had adopted a comprehensive approach in the documentation of folktales using local dialects,’ said Mr. Khalifa.
He also said that IOV World was very proud to be part of this great Arab achievement.News 19 02 2019 1a
Dr. Dheya Abdulla Al Kaabi, who oversaw the production of this encyclopaedia said that ‘this national achievement seeks to capture and document the Bahraini Folklore before it disappears. The project aims to preserve the Bahraini identify and highlight its diversity. Bahrain is known historically as a model of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among all cultures, religions and sects.’
Dr. Al Kaabi pointed out that the first edition is especially for research centres, universities and institutions concerned with popular culture, stressing that other editions for a non-specialist audience will be printed later.
“This collection is an important document for specialised libraries of folk culture and university research centres,’ said Prof. Nour Al Huda Badis, Director of Field Research at the Folk Culture for Studies, Research and Publishing.
Prof. Ahmed Morsi from the IOV World, called for the translation of some of the folktales contained in the encyclopaedia into English, so that other people would learn about the folk culture of Bahrain.