Constrained by traditions restricting their movements and speech, the Maithil women of Nepal and India have long explored individual and collective life experiences by sharing stories with one another. Sometimes fantastical, sometimes including a kind of magical realism, these tales allow women to build community through a deeply personal and always evolving storytelling form.
In Maithil Women’s Tales, Coralynn V. Davis examines how these storytellers weave together their own life experiences--the hardships and the pleasures--with age-old themes. In so doing, Davis demonstrates, they harness folk traditions to grapple personally as well as collectively with social values, behavioral mores, relationships, and cosmological questions.
Each chapter includes stories and excerpts that reveal Maithil women’s gift for rich language, layered plots, and stunning allegory. In addition, Davis provides ethnographic and personal information that reveal the complexity of women’s own lives, and includes works painted by Maithil storytellers to illustrate their tales. The result is a fascinating study of being and becoming that will resonate for readers in women’s and Hindu studies, folklore, and anthropology.