How to Read a Folktale: The Ibonia Epic from Madagascar
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Colophon: 01, 02, 03


Foreword to Ibonia

Mark Turin


1. Introduction: What Ibonia is and How to Read it

2. How to Read Ibonia: Folkloric Restatement

3. What it is: Texts, Plural

4. Texture and Structure: How it is Made

5. Context, History, Interpretation

6. Ibonia, He of the Clear and Captivating Glance

There Is No Child

Her Quest for Conception

The Locust Becomes a Baby

The Baby Chooses a Wife and Refuses Names

His Quest for a Birthplace

Yet Unnamed

Refusing Names from Princes

The Name for a Perfected Man


Stone Man Shakes

He Refuses More Names


He Arms Himself

He Is Tested

He Combats Beast and Man

He Refuses Other Wives

The Disguised Flayer

An Old Man Becomes Stone Man’s Rival

Victory: “Dead, I Do Not Leave You on Earth; Living, I Give You
to No Man”

Return of the Royal Couple

Ibonia Prescribes Laws and Bids Farewell

Appendix: Versions and Variants

Text 0, “Rasoanor”. Antandroy, 1650s. Translated from Étienne de Flacourt (1661)

Text 2, “Ibonia”. Merina tale collected in 1875–1877. James Sibree Jr. (1884)

Text 3, Merina tale collected in 1875–1877. Summary by John
Richardson (1877)

Text 6, “The king of the north and the king of the south”. Merina
tale collected in 1907–1910 at Alasora, region of Antananarivo. Translated from Charles Renel, Charles (1910)

Text 7, “Iafolavitra the adulterer”. Tanala tale collected in 1907–
1910 in Ikongo region, Farafangana province. Translated from
Charles Renel (1910)

Text 8, “Soavololonapanga”. Bara tale, ca. 1934. Translated from Raymond Decary (1964)

Text 9, “The childless couple”. Antankarana tale, collected in 1907–
1910 at Manakana, Vohemar province. Translated from Charles Renel (1910)

Text 14, “The story of Ravato-Rabonia”. Sakalava, 1970s.
Translated from Suzanne Chazan-Gillig (1991)

Works Cited


Supplementary material

The original versions of many of the texts translated in this volume are provided on the website associated with this volume: