My daughter is taking up an online Tamil class during this COVID19 lock down. The instrcutor asked the kids to tell a story in Tamil. All the kids came with one of these two stories,
- Crow and the fox – popularly known as ‘kaka vada thiruduna kathai’. The Tamil variation of this story has a crow steal a vada from a grandmother who sells Vada. The clever fox praised crow and made the crow sing. Crow falling for the trap sings and drops the vada. Fox takes the vada away.
- Crow and the water pot – The thirst crow sees a pot of water. The water is too low in the pot, so the crow drops lots of stones in the pot to raise the water level and finally drinks it.
These two stories are so common and probably the first stories we narrate to our kids. But to my surprise both of these are recorded in Indus Valley pottery. In later Indus Period we find pottery in Lothal, one of the major port towns of Indus valley. Lothal served port that connected South India, Indus valley to Oman, Mespototmia and Egypt.
These stories of Indus valley are currently transmitted across India as folk stories and went into mainstream literature as Jataka stories in Pali, Panchatantra in Sanskrit and Aesop fables in Greek. Spread of Aesop fables across the world has resulted these stories known all across the globe.
The pot has motif of deer which is in awe. The story is that deer tried to drink water from pitcher, unfortunately they are not able to drink the water as the pitcher it is small/narrow. Now crow arrives, tries it luck and fails. Then Crow drops the stone, the deer sees this in an awe. The shape of the pottery on which we fin these motifs are tall narrow, probably to indicate that the crow tried to drink water from similar pitcher.
The second motif found in another motif is a bird on tree with a fish in its beak and a fox or jackal or similar animal waiting below for the fish to fall. This story is the precursor to the Kaka, paati,vadai story in Tamil.
Lothal – S.R.Rao
Painted Decorations on Pottery from Chalcolithic Sites of Gujarat: A Preliminary Study
Preeti A. Panjwani and Bratati Sen – https://www.ancient-asia-journal.com/articles/10.5334/aa.10206/