Historical Reprints History Folk Lore of Women

Folk Lore of Women

Folk Lore of Women
Catalog # SKU1765
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name T. F. Thiselton-Dyer


Folk-Lore of Women

T. F. Thiselton-Dyer

A rare view through the looking glass of history of how the world has viewed women through folk-lore of the ages. Folk-lore is a mirror of reality, in that it relates through story the predominant feelings of the particular era in which it was written, whether fable, fiction, satire, parody or comedy.

From the Author:

IN one of his essays, Emerson tells us that "proverbs, like the sacred books of each nation, are the sanctuary of the intuitions," a statement which, if accepted, must place this class of literature on a very high footing. But, although due caution must be taken, when analysing proverbial lore, to differentiate between the serious and jocular element contained therein, it may safely be said that, taken as a whole, such adages and saws--which form an important branch of folk-lore--express more or less correctly the estimate of mankind relative to the subject specially handled. And, when it is remembered what a wealth of material proverbial literature supplies in connection with every concern of daily life, it is not surprising that woman should have been made a prominent theme for criticism and comment, the judgment passed on her being in most cases fairly evenly divided between what is in her favour or the reverse.

In a field, too, so wide we have been content to cull, from here and there, sufficient typical instances of the proverbial wisdom of the human race in its teaching of woman's character as to illustrate the subjects classified in the following chapters, without unduly multiplying examples, which only too frequently are a repetition of the same adage told in a different form.

And, although at one time or another numerous volumes have been published on woman, no work similar to the present one has been attempted in this country, wherein we have endeavoured in a handy and concise form to classify under their subjective headings the proverbial sayings, folk-rhymes, superstitions, and traditionary lore associated with the fair sex.


French proverbial wisdom in further enumerating the main features of a woman's character, says that her heart is a real mirror, which "reflects every object without attaching itself to any;" and in Germany, whilst due praise is bestowed on the fair sex, women's varied traits of character have not escaped criticism--one very common maxim affirming that "she is at the mercy of circumstances just as the sand is at the mercy of the wind;" whilst we are further told that, although "woman reads and studies endlessly, her thought is always an afterthought." The Russian is of the same opinion, for, according to him, "a woman's hair is long, but her sense short," and "a dog is wiser than a woman, he does not bark at his master." Tamil proverbial wisdom declares that "the skill of a woman only goes so far as the fireplace"--in other words, cleverness is no use to a woman outside domestic affairs; and the not very complimentary old English adage says, "When an ass climbs a ladder, we may find wisdom in a woman;" whilst another old saying runs, "She hath less beauty than her picture, and truly not much more wit."

In some instances, we find the essential requirements needed to make a good woman laid down, as in an excellent Chinese proverb, which runs thus: "We ask four things for a woman--that virtue dwell in her heart, modesty in her forehead, sweetness in her mouth, and labour in her hands;" with which may be compared a well-known Sanskrit maxim, "The beauty of the cuckoo is the voice, of women chastity; of the deformed learning, and of ascetics patience." On the other hand, under a variety of forms, proverbial literature inculcates the necessity of our remembrance of these four evils thus summed up in the Italian warning: "From four things God preserve us--painted woman, a conceited valet, salt beef without mustard, and a little late dinner." A similar idea is conveyed in the Assamese proverb: "To be the husband of a worthless woman, a cart covering with a hole in the middle of it, a hired weaver--these three are the agony of death." To understand this proverb it must be remembered that "in Assam the bullock cart is covered with a hood made of matting, with bamboo hoops to support it. Any one who has travelled in a bullock cart with a hole in the hood will appreciate its truth."

A trait of character, however, which women are proverbially said to their disadvantage to possess, is a lack of truth and reliability; and, according to an old proverb, "He who takes an eel by the tail, or a woman at her word, soon finds he holds nothing." The popular adage which warns a man not to trust a woman further than he can see her has been variously expressed, one version in Germany being "Arms, women, and books should be looked at daily;" and, according to another, it is said, "Beware of a bad woman, and put no trust in a good one;" which are similar to the Hindustani adage, "A hare and a woman are yours while in your power."

The Italians have a maxim to the same effect, "Woman always speak the truth, but not the whole truth," and hence there are the frequent admonitions against trusting womankind, for the French affirm that "he who trusts a woman and leads an ass will never be free from plague;" and, similarly, it is said, "The ruses of women multiply with their years;" and where truth is deficient in a woman there can be no reliance in her word, for, as the Chinese affirm, "An untruthful woman is rotten grass and tangled hemp." But, unreliable as a woman at times may be, we cannot endorse the Turkish maxim, "The dog is faithful, woman never;" which is not unlike the Kashmiri proverb: "A horse, a wife, and a sword, these three are unfaithful;" and Hindu proverbial literature, speaking of woman's insincerity, says that "while the wife is eating her husband's food, she is inwardly singing the praises of her mother."


Chapter I Woman's Characteristics
Chapter II Woman's Beauty
Chapter III Woman's Dress
Chapter IV Woman's Eyes
Chapter V Woman's Tongue
Chapter VI Woman's Goodness
Chapter VII Bad Women
Chapter VIII Woman's Love
Chapter IX Woman's Hate
Chapter X Love Tests
Chapter XI Woman's Secrets
Chapter XII Red-Haired Girls
Chapter XIII Woman's Fickleness
Chapter XIV Local Allusions To Women
Chapter XV Woman's Will
Chapter XVI Women And Marriage
Chapter XVII Women As Wives
Chapter XVIII Young And Old Maids
Chapter XIX Widows
Chapter XX Woman's Curiosity
Chapter XXI Sister Legends
Chapter XXII Brides And Their Maids
Chapter XXIII Superstitions About Women
Chapter XXIV Woman's Tears
Chapter XXV Woman's Blushes
Chapter XXVI Daughters
Chapter XXVII My Lady's Walk

Softcover, 5¼" x 8¼", 220+ pages

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