Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Tales Less Told

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Ever since humans acquired the gift of speech, they have been telling tales. Originally these stories were no more than details of the last great hunt or the location of a bountiful hunting ground and the prowess of the one exceptional huntsman who successfully brought down a large animal that fed the clan for days on end.

With the establishment of farming communities and the first settlements some ten thousand years ago, the tales changed dramatically. Now there were yarns of the last drought and its accompanying shortage of food or the deluge in the time of a vaguely remembered grandsire that wiped out so many clans and settlements. But now, living as they were in cities, humans also had tales to tell of love and treachery, of courage and honour, of social customs, of journeys of trade and adventure and of long-ago ancestors that had to be elevated to lofty pedestals and a larger than life persona.

As societies developed and grew, religions replaced each other in succession and the adherents of the one felt obligated to show how their belief was better than a preceding one. They invented and worshipped saints who outwitted the gods of an older belief system. Then there were conquerors that were, depending upon a society’s viewpoint, either vilified or lionised.

In nearly every case legends preserve actual historical events behind a veil of curious, sometimes bizarre, embellishment. That is the narrator’s license applied again and again on each re-telling through countless generations. Be they love stories or heroic sagas or tales of men and women endowed with supernatural powers, most of them preserve a kernel of historical fact or social practice. In the other case, legends attempt to describe ordinary physical features and events that we can easily explain today but which were enigmatic for story-tellers of yore.

The twelve legends that feature in the following pages are just that: in its folds of fanciful trimming, every single one conceals either an historical event, social custom, ancestor worship or the explanation of a physical phenomenon. They are here looked at with a discerning eye to grasp the underlying sentiment behind each.

Note: Twelve tales narrated in this Book of days will come up here next

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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days