Cap’s Off to You!-Wajuppa Tossa (Posthumously) and Celebrating Story

Featuring: Wajuppa Tossa

Protector of Stories, Guardian of Storytellers, Encourager for Good

Wajuppa Tossa did as much as she could to bring joy throughout Southeast Asia through storytelling. Yet, her enthusiasm stretched beyond and soon her name was known around the globe. Not because she wanted center stage. She organized at least six festivals in Thailand, supported three festivals in Korea, preserved stories from the Lao people – and this is just the beginning. When I heard of her passing, it was through the StoryTELL listserv with a touching ode from Margaret Read MacDonald. Then I saw much shared through Facebook–of people after people–influenced by Wajuppa Tossa.

And I wish I could do her justice. I never met her and was unfamiliar to an embarrassing degree – though working on that – as late as though it may be. I still wished to honor Dr. Wajuppa Tossa in some way. First, I ordered her book “Lao Folktales” that was also written with Kongdeuane Nettavong and edited by Dr. Margaret Read MacDonald. The beginning focused on the tensions of the Thai and the Lao people. The government insisted on the Thai language. Sadly, some people feared the consequence of speaking their own language or even having in their possession Lao texts written on palm leafs so they burned many of the stories that had been passed on from one generation to another. Wajuppa Tossa took it upon her to preserve these stories along with many others. Part of this included organizing or supporting storytelling festivals.

She worked at the Mahasarakham University in Thailand for 40 years since 1978 and then “retired” and worked full-time as a storyteller. Dr. Wajuppa Tossa thought first of the children in being proud to speak their native tongue and to know their stories. What she wished for the Lao people she truly wished for all people and all cultures. She believed in telling stories with your heart.

She was nervous to even call herself a storyteller until working with Margaret Read MacDonald. Once she had that confidence instilled, she reached out to others to call themselves “storytellers.”

When the Asian Congress of Storytellers was being formed, Margaret recommended Wajuppa to the organizers, such as Sheila Wee, to make the dream a reality. She reminded people “school is for kids.” While many policies and procedures are faced by teachers, the most important thing to remember is that the kids–the students–come first. Wajuppa always involved her students, which could be a struggle to make the logistics work, but somehow it worked out. To the delight of all.

In all this, Wajuppa had a sense of humor. She wished to laugh and have joy. She sang often, danced, and worked hard – many times alone – on the various projects. The festivals made the difference of launching the modern storytelling movement in Asia.

Dr. Prasong Saihong became a huge part of being there for Wajuppa Tossa. He was a student of hers and then became trained and turned around and shared that training for others. Yet, people have been impacted by Wajuppa. Feel free to share your stories.

Wajuppa Tossa said she wanted people to remember the stories, not her. But many will remember both her stories and who she is as an amazing human being. It’s not too late to know her.

Some video that I found featuring Wajuppa Tossa gives a hint to her ever-smiling and engaging manner:

Over two hours of memories and honoring upon her passing can be viewed here–

Still, more can be viewed:

Interview with a Storyteller: Wajuppa Tossa and Hans Laurens

Dr. Wajuppa Tossa and Dr. Prasong Saihong performed for the World Storytelling

Storyteller: Wajuppa Tossa, Thailand

If you have links to add – video, audio, articles – please share by emailing info@storycrossroads.org or commenting on this blog post.

Do you know a Story Artist who has passed on and want others to remember them? Memories? Pictures? You can submit names and memories of Story Artists who have passed on through our online form. 

I appreciate Wajuppa Tossa for her heart and determination to bring understanding to the art of storytelling, culture, and language. And she did. That legacy will continue to impact generations to come.

Wajuppa still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.

N is for Not-What-They-Seem Nariphons – A to Z Blog Challenge

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Beating the Odds…Lucky Folktales Around the World to Brighten Your Day. Each post highlights that the stars aligned and what would have normally been…bad…turned out after all. Considering what we – as humankind – have experienced the past year, how nice is it to remember that all of us can “beat the odds” to some level in our lives.

And we’ll admit now…some are actually myths, legends, or epics rather than only limited to folktales. So is that a type of “loading the dice”? Ah, but the stories were too wonderful to pass by.

NARIPHONS-

From Thailand

Nariphons are 12 trees that bear fruit that looks like women created by Indra, who is god of gods in Hindu mythology. That’s necessary for you to know before reading the story summary. Though, what is a yogi? In Thailand, a yogi is a traveler and sometimes they travel for so long that they have hermit-like attributes. They do much medication and why someone who does yoga has been known as a yogi. While being alone in the wilderness can be refreshing and satisfying, this story tells of yogis who were not satisfied enough. You may even wonder why I didn’t save this one for the “Y” post. Choices, choices. And a sala? That’s an open pavilion.

What makes nariphons dangerous? Are nariphons really what is dangerous?

Having a tree that bears fruit that appears like women? This seems to fall under “pleasure” versus “pain.” Any harm in it? In this story, this type of fruit saved this couple from a terrible circumstance. Though, if you were deceived by such a thing but then figured it out later…how dangerous would be the aftermath? Hmmm.

50-words-or-less summary:

Indra and family lived in sala. When wife gathered fruit, she could be attached by yogi. Despite being meditative, the yogi were overpowered by lust. Indra created 12 nariphons that bore women-shaped women that looked like his wife. Yogis took those fruit home and saved his wife from attacks.

That wife was lucky that those yogis could be “distracted”…though not sure how I feel about the “how.” Still, I am relieved the wife is safe. This was not a one-time incident. After four months, the yogis attempted again and had to led away by those fruit.

Finding the Story or about Nariphons:

https://amp.en.googl-info.com/1430380/1/nariphon.html

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Thai_Folklore/g2MDngEACAAJ?hl=en

https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Wonders_of_Thai_Art/28efAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=Nariphon&dq=Nariphon&printsec=frontcover

Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind. While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings with virtual as well as proper-distanced/masked/outdoors.

We are excited for the monthly All Things Story virtual workshop series as well as the hybrid Story Crossroads Festival on May 10-13, 2021 (then viewing beyond the event to June 15, 2021). Interested in deeper articles and e-workbooks plus stories, activities, and recipes? Then pursue Story Crossroads Memberships.

As we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, you can also support by donating today!

F is for Golden Fish, Flute, Fleece & Feast–A to Z Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019FWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Golden…And All Things That Glimmer.  Each post highlights golden items from a folktale from around the world. Each time you have to wonder, is something that is golden a blessing, a curse, or both?

What has inspired all this gold?–The Golden Spike with the 150th Transcontinental Railroad and the Spike 150 Grant for this year’s Story Crossroads Festival.

Golden Fish-

Four golden fish from four different countries…I was fascinated in the comparisons. The golden fish could be as popular as Cinderella.  Well, not that popular. Still, it is impressive.

Russia – https://russian-crafts.com/russian-folk-tales/golden-fish-tale.html

50-word-or-less summary:

Fisherman catches small golden fish. Fish speaks. Fisherman releases fish without accepting offered wish. Fisherman’s wife upset when hears story. Go back. Wish for bread. Bread received. Wish for wash-tub. Wash-tub received. House. Governor’s Lady. Fisherman not treated as husband. Queen. Mistress of the Sea. Everything disappears. Lived as before.

China – http://www.topics-mag.com/folk-tales/folk-tale-greed-china.htm

50-word-or-less summary:

Old man caught golden fish. Fish asks to go. Man says will eat fish (despite impressive talking of fish). Fish offers man golden rope. Proof. Fish advises. Man then finds rope. Pulls rope. Does not release fish. Greed. So much rope in boat that it sinks. Man dies. Fish lives.

Bangladesh/India – https://www.pitara.com/fiction-for-kids/folktales/the-golden-fish/

50-word-or-less summary:

Fisherman catches small golden fish. Fish speaks. Fisherman releases fish without accepting offered wish. Fisherman’s wife upset when hears story. Go back. Wish for bread. Bread received. Wish for cottage. Cottage received. Man was threatened and lashed. Queen. Threatened with beheading. Empress of the Sea. Everything disappears. Lived as before.

Thailand – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suvannamaccha

50-word-or-less summary:

Hanuman is building a causeway/bridge to rescue Sita. Sita’s husband, Rama, needs bridge so his army can attack and save wife. Suvannamaccha (means Golden Fish) orders her mermaids to take away stones at night so bridge cannot be built. Hanuman attacks mermaids. Failure. Sees Suvannamaccha. Woos her. Love. Sita’s rescued.

Golden Flute-

A few other musical instruments are golden. With a flute typically being made of metal anyway, then why not a golden flute?

China – https://www.readinga-z.com/book.php?id=206

50-word-or-less summary:

Little Red (girl) stolen by dragon. She predicted brother would save her. Mother confused-no son. She eats berry, pregnant, has son, Little Bayberry. Bayberry becomes like 14-year-old in days. Learns of sister through crow. Quest. Pushes rock. Finds golden flute. Lizards dance/obey. Plays for dragon. Forced dancing. Rescues sister.

Golden Fleece-

I couldn’t pass up this classic story of “Jason and the Golden Fleece.” Jason had so many adventures, though this is probably my favorite.

Greece – https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/jason-and-legendary-golden-fleece-001307

50-word-or-less summary:

Pelias steals throne of Iolcus. Jason born. Pelias worried this is one to take revenge on him. Orders Jason to get Golden Fleece (skin of winged ram of Zeus). Protected by dragon. Jason recruits 50 Argonauts including Hercules. Sows land with flaming bull and teeth-warriors. Attacked! Sorceress/Medea magic. Success!

Golden Feast-

Compliments to the host for such a golden meal…or not.

Philippines – http://afterschool.smarttutor.com/stories-for-kids-the-golden-feast/

50-word-or-less summary:

Couple loved to count gold coins. Did not fix their house, rather count gold coins. Servants said dinner was ready. Counted coins instead. Counted so long that feast turned to gold. Couple excited. Invite neighbors! Continued counting. Any food brought in house turned to gold. Never left home again.

Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 15, 2019 with free performances May 13-16, 2019 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2019-schedule/.  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts (Spike 150), the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other businesses and individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.