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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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DEATH FESTIVAL

DURING THE DEATH FESTIVAL IN LIBERIA THE DRUMMERS
ARE AT THEIR BEST. ONE CAN DISTINQUISH THE TRIBE
WHO IS CELEBRATING A DEATH BY THE DRUM TUNES.
THE KRU TRIBE OF WHICH I AM A MEMBER USE A KEROSENE
DRUM WHICH PRODUCES A VERY ANNOYING SOUND TO HEAR.
IT SOUNDS LIKE TEN BABIES SCREAMING TOGETHER.
THE VAI TRIBE USES A GROUND HAND DRUM WHICH IS PITCHED
VERY HIGH. THE BASSA AND KPELLE PEOPLE USE A BIG BASS
UPON WHICH LEATHERED COVERED STICKS ARE USED. ALONG WITH
THE DRUMMERS COMES THE DANCERS. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DRUMMERS
DEPENDS ON HOW IMPORTANT THE DECEASED WAS IN THE VILLAGE
OR THE COMMUNITY. A LOT OF LIQUOR IS THEN CONSUMED AND A
GIGANTIC FEAST IS PROVIDED AT THE EXPENSE
OF THE DECEASED'S RELATIVES AND CLOSE FRIENDS. AT THE BURIAL
AND AGAIN, DEPENDING ON HIS IMPORTANCE IN THE VILLAGE
AND COMMUNITY, THE DECEASED'S VALUABLE BELONGINGS WILL
BE PLACED IN HIS GRAVE. THE BELONGINGS USUALLY
CONSISTS OF CLOTHING, JEWELRIES AND FOOT WEAR. PALM OIL AND
PUSSAVA ARE PLACED ON THE THE DECEASED'S GRAVE BI- MONTHLY
TO APPEASE THE SPIRIT OF THE DEAD.

Submitter comment: DEATH IS CELEBRATED BECAUSE THE KRU, BASSA , KPELLE AND
OTHER TRIBAL PEOPLE IN LIBERIA BELIEVE THAT THE DECEASED'S
TROUBLES ON EARTH HAS FINISHED.
THERE SHOULD BE SADNESS AT BIRTH AND CELEBRATION AT DEATH.

Where learned: LIBERIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial

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BELIEFS

TO BE HOSTILE TO YUOR ESCORT IS A SURE SIGN OF PRIDE.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Marriage

Date learned: CA00001966

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SUPERSTITION

IF YOU SEE A DOG EATING GRASS IT IS GOING TO RAIN.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Mammal
BELIEF -- Weather sign or control
BELIEF -- Cloud Fog Mist Rain Hail Ice Snow Frost Dew

Date learned: CA00001965

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SUPERSTITION

IF YOU HAVE A BACK AILMENT, GET AN OLD PAIR OF SHOES AND PUT THEM
UNDER YOUR BED UPSIDE DOWN.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Dress HandsFeet
BELIEF -- Remedy P750.8

Date learned: CA00001936

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SUPERSTITION

IF YOU SEE A SHOOTING STAR YOU SHOULD SAY MONEY THREE TIME FOR
GOOD LUCK.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: 686 Thirds / Thrice / Three / Triple
BELIEF -- Good luck
SPEECH -- Formula

Date learned: CA00001935

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FUNERAL LORE

COUNT THE CARS IN A FUNERAL PROCESSION IS BAD LUCK

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Number Counting beliefs
BELIEF -- Bad luck

Date learned: CA00001935

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OMENS

TO SLEEP ON A LARGE PILLOW DENOTES A SUCCESSFULL BUSINESS ENTERPRISE

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: Observation
BELIEF -- Work Commerce Business
BELIEF -- Measure of time Sleeping
BELIEF -- Measure of space: distance, height, depth

Date learned: CA00001966

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CONVERSIONS

STEPPING OVER A FISHING POLE WILL RUIN YOUR LUCK.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Bad luck
BELIEF -- Conversions

Date learned: CA00001966

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TO DRIVE AN AMBULANCE IS A SURE SIGN THAT YOU ARE GOING TO VISIT
A FRIEND WHO IS A LITTLE INDISPOSED.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: Observation
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

Date learned: CA00001965

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BELIEFS

AN EMPTY ROCKING CHAIR THAT IS MOVING IS A SIGN OF DEATH.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Number Emptiness, nothingness, zero

Date learned: CA00001964

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BELIEFS

TO HEAR ONE SING SIGNIFIES GOOD NEWS.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: Observation

Date learned: CA00001966

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SUPERSTITION

AN EMPTY ROCKING CHAIR THAT IS MOVING IS A SIGN OF DEATH

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Number Emptiness, nothingness, zero
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: CA00001964

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SUPERSTITION/DEATH

WHEN A DOG HOWL AT NIGHT IS A SIGN OF DEATH.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: Observation
BELIEF -- P441
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour

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BELIEFS

TO COUNT YOUR TEETH IS A SIGN OF YOUR TEETH ROTTEN OUT QUICKER.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: Observation
BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Number Counting beliefs
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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BLIEFS

TO PUT A HORSESHOE OVER YOUR DOOR, DRIVE GHOST OUT YOUR HOUSE.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter

Date learned: CA00001935

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MARRIAGE CUSTOM

TO JUMP OVER A BROOM, ON YOUR WEDDING DAY IS A SIGN OF GOOD LUCK.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Marriage
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: CA00001935

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TO TAKE A PICTURE OF A DEAD CORPSE IS A SIGN OF BAD LUCK.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Bad luck

Date learned: CA00001965

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BELIEFS

TO WASH YOUR BEARD SIGNIFIES LOSS OF APPETITE.

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal

Date learned: CA00001935

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BELIEFS

TO SWIM IN MUDDY WATER IS A SIGN OF FAILURE IN BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS

Where learned: CALIFORNIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Work Commerce Business

Date learned: CA00001965

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LIBERIAN PROVERBS

YOU CAN'T SPILL WATER AND THEN PICK IT UP. (WHAT ONE HAS
SAID CAN'T BE TAKEN BACK.)
A ROOSTER CAN'T CROW IN HIS FRIEND'S VILLAGE. (YOU CAN'T DO IN
ANOTHER VILLAGE WHAT YOU NORMALLY CAN DO IN YOUR OWN VILLAGE.)
BAMBOO KNOWS WHERE TO RUB HIS BOTTOM. (A WISEMAN KNOWS
WHO TO FIGHT.)
YOU SEW LOOSELY, YOU WEAR LOOSELY. (A LAZY PERSON WILL
PRODUCE LAZY WORK.)
CASSAVA LEAF IS NOT FOR GOAT ALONE. (SCHOOL IS NOT FOR
CHILDREN ALONE.)
WHEN THE LION IS NOT IN THE FOREST, THE BEARS ARE
FRISKY. (CHILDREN PLAY WHEN THE ELDERS ARE AWAY.)
WHEN AN ELDER'S TEETH IS ABOUT TO FALL APART, DON'T TOUCH THEM.
(DON'T BE CRUEL TO YOUR ELDER, YOU CAN BE CRUEL TO YOURSELF.)
AN AXE CAN CUT DOWN A BIG TREE. (THE TRUTH WILL FREE A PERSON.)
PLAY IS PLAY AND JOKE IS JOKE BUT NEVER POINT YOUR FINGER
AT A CASKET. (DON'T TEASE, IF YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE CONSEQUENCES.)
YOU CAN BEND A YOUNG STICK BUT NOT AN OAK TREE. (TRAIN A CHILD
WHEN THE CHILD IS VERY YOUNG.)
EMPTY POTS MAKE LOT OF NOISE. (PEOPLE WITH LITTLE
THINGS PRETEND TO OWN THE ENTIRE WORLD.)
NEVER LOOK AT A PRETTY WOMAN'S FACE. (LOOKS ARE DECEIVING.)
WOMEN ARE LIKE THE RAINBOW WITH SEVERAL COLORS. (WOMEN ARE
HARD TO SATISFY.)
A MONKEY'S HAND IS ALWAYS DARK. ( ONCE A ROGUE, ALWAYS A ROGUE.)
YOU HAVE TO CRAWL BEFORE YOU WALK. (EVERYTHING HAPPEN
IN A SEQUENCE.)
IF YOUR KNIFE CUTS YOU, THROW IT DOWN AND PICK IT UP. (IF
YOUR RELATIVE HARMS YOU, FORGIVE HIM, BUT NEVER TRUST HIM AGAIN.)
PALM NUTS DO NOT GROW ON ORANGE TREES. (EVERYTHING ON THIS
EARTH HAS A PLACE AND TIME.)
ONE TREE DOES NOT MAKE A FOREST. (IT TAKES MANY PEOPLE
TO ELECT A LEADER.)
DON'T SEND A MAN TO TAKE OFF DRY FISH. (IF YOU KNOW THAT
A MAN IS CRIMINAL, DON'T TRUST HIM WITH ANYTHING.)
IF A ROGUE COMES TO YOU, LET HIM IN YOUR HOUSE, BUT IF A LIAR
COMES TO YOU TURN HIM AWAY. (ROGUES TAKE THINGS THAT CAN
BE REPLACED, BUT THE TALES OF A LIAR HURT FOREVER.)
SOFTLY, SOFTLY, CATCHES MONKEY (NICE WORDS CAN MAKE MORE FRIENDS THA
RABBIT OR A POT OF RICE.)
ONE CAPTAIN CAN'T STEER TWO SHIPS AT THE SAME TIME. (TWO
CHIEFS CAN'T RULE A TRIBE. THEY WILL EVENTUALLY
BRING ABOUT CIVIL WAR.)
HUNGER MAKE MONKEY EAT PEPPER. (WHEN THINGS ARE ROUGH, YOU WILL
DO ANYTHING TO MAKE IT BETTER.)
THE BIG MAN IS THE SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE. (THE EDUCATED
PERSON CORRECTS WHAT THE UNTRAINED PERSON DID WRONG.)
SMALL PEANUTS ARE NOT SLAVES TO BIG ONES.
(EVERYONE IS EQUAL IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.)
FAMILY STICK CAN BEND, BUT IT NEVER BREAKS. (RELATIVES MAY
FUSS, BUT THEY WILL BE TOGETHER IN TIME OF NEED.)
A NEW BROOM SWEEPS WELL. (A NEW RELATIONSHIP HAS NO FAULTS,
IT SHINES ALWAYS.)
AN INDIVIDUAL CAN'T DRINK A WELL DRY. (IT TAKES MORE THAN
ONE PERSON TO COMPLETE A PROJECT.)
WATER IS SWEET WHEN THE WEATHER IS DRY. (YOU NEVER REALIZE
A GOOD THING UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE.)
WHAT IS DEATH TO FROG IS FUN TO A CHILD. (WHEN YOU HURT
SOMEONE, YOU DON'T REALIZE HOW SERIOUS IT CAN BE.)

Submitter comment: THESE PROVERB WERE FREQUENTLY HEARD IN MY HOUSE IN MONROVIA.

Where learned: LIBERIA ; MONROVIA

Subject headings: PROVERB -- Proverbial Metaphor

Date learned: 00-00-1965

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