Malaysian Fables, Folk Tales and Legends contained the tales that taken from the lips of the Malay peasantry in the twilight of their own tropical jungle, during the progress of the Cambridge Expedition of 1899 through the remoter States of the Malay Peninsula. This is a reprinting of two books: Fables & Folk Tales from an Eastern Forest by Walter Skeat and Iban Folklore and Legends by Edwin Gomez. In each case, anthropologists of the British colonial period brought to a wider reading public homespun stories that had enthralled many on both the Malay Peninsula and in Borneo.
The tales themselves, as will be obvious to the reader, are the merest gleanings from an extensive harvest-field, and make no pretensions whatever to any completeness or finality. For the most part, indeed, Malaysian Fables, Folk Tales and Legends is an experiment, the object of which is to ascertain to what extent the native Soother-of-care (as the village storyteller is designated by his Malay audience) may tell his tale in words of his own choosing, without alienating the interest of the Western reader.
There are many fairy-tales and legends known to the Sea Dyaks (Ibans) of the present day. These seem to be handed down, by word of mouth, from generation to generation from ancient times. These stories and legends may be divided into two classes: (i) Those which are purely fabulous and related as such, and are simply meant to interest and amuse, and in these respect resembles the fairy-tales familiar to us all, (ii) And those believed to be perfectly true, and to have actually taken place, and are the traditions respecting their gods and preternatural beings. These form, in fact, the mythology of the Dyaks.
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