Folklore as One of the Sources About the Origin of Griots

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Senior Research Fellow, Centre for History and Cultural Anthropology, Institute for African Studies, RAS
Affiliation: Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 10

Griots, a uniquely African profession, fulfill a variety of roles as genealogists, historians, spokespersons, diplomats, musicians, teachers, praise singers, and advisors. The history of griotism begins in ancient times with the appearance of the first ancient states on the territory of West Africa. It can be assumed that they have an «extraordinary» origin. The earliest information relates to folklore. The article provides an analysis of the myths and legends about the origin of the griots of the peoples of West Africa. A comparative analysis of folklore texts showed that griots have a long history and rich historiography. Similar historical conditions and stages of social development, ethnic and cultural community of many West African nations contributed to the formation of their similar ideas. Most of the etiological legends about the origin of griots have a “blood shedding” motive. The storylines of these works were not static, they evolved as a result of changes that occurred in West African society. Traditional ideas about the origins of griots change with the growth of influence and the spread of Islam in West Africa. Griots borrow events and protagonists from Arabic literature, diluting the plot in different proportions with elements from local African culture. This tradition cannot be a source of information about historical characters and events, but it gives a vivid idea of ??how the history of griotism developed with the adoption of Islam as the local African religion.

Keywordsgriot, West Africa, myth, legend, blood, Islam
Publication date31.10.2019
Number of characters21514
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