1. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    Cultural Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Research' started by TwinPanther13, Aug 1, 2008.

    I am working on a new short story and I want it to be fantasy. I am tired of gnomes, elves, dwarves, and all the typical Tolkien, D&D style fantasy.

    I want to look into African, Native American, Indian, and South American fantasy, but where would I go. I want to know what there nymphs, dragons, and demons would be if that makes sense.

    If any here have links or know something about the cultures first hand please let me know. Nothing asian, (excluding India) norse or classical fantasy.

    I would prefer to not make up creatures because the next story I write I want to have some cultural basis in reality.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    google is your best friend!
     
  3. Chef Dave
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    Chef Dave Member

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    Out of curiosity, why not Asian?
     
  4. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    the only reason is because it is not new to me. I live in texas and the asian population in my school was larger then caucasian by 10%, in fact the caucasian were grouped with other. Hispanics, blacks and Asians were the bulk of what I grew up with.

    In that arena I learned a lot abut them, and I read a lot of Manga and watch a lot of anime. I am not an expert on there culture. But I know some myths, legends and heroes enough. Plus I was a military brat and lived in Japan and korea when I was younger, as well as europe. I just want to know about something new.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    How about the Taino Indian culture of the Caribbean and northern areas of South America?

    I have stuff on that.
     
  6. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    Wreybies I would really appreciate that thanks
     
  7. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    In Native American folklore you will not easily find dragons, or sprites, or those kinds of things. Sorry.

    Mainly you will find animal spirits, the forces of nature, things like that.

    Animal spirits, people as animals, werewolves and things would common folklore.

    You need to also understand that the many different native American tribes each had their own legends and folklore.

    Allow me to explain:
    Dragon counterparts would be:

    The Thunderbird, said to be forty feet long with over a hundred foot wing span. A Great bird that sored over the skies.

    The Firebird is another good example or a "Great magisterial animal"

    Also

    Nymphs would be "Forest Spirits" or spirits that inhabit the trees and things like that.

    Here is some links for you: Basic Native American Folklores and Fables.

    Folklore and Legends by Tribe List (This is also a great resource about native American Indian tribes in general)

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    Thank you Ungood that actually helps out a lot. I am not looking for dragons specificaly even if it were a wolf the size of a buic that for them was unstopable I would like to know.

    I am trying to decide what cultural background my character should be from. After becoming immortal during the cultures greatest period and how he struggles with that immortality after western civilization has taken over a thousand years later
     
  9. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Good Hook there.

    I am glad some of what I could provide helped you out.
     
  10. Etan Isar
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    That description screams "Boat of a Million Years" at me. The book is sci-fi, but it deals with the immortality through the ages issue you mention.

    Beyond immortality(some of your noted cultures may not deal much with that concept, but that's why the research, right?), how big of a role do these legends/myths play in the story?
     
  11. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    Without giving too much away, as time passes and it get nearer to the goal he must meet to be able to grow old he becomes a detective. Before becoming immortal he had no faith in the mystic beliefs of his culture.

    After becoming immortal he realizes how true they were and starts to follow his peoples beliefs. Made harder because Modern times makes the struggle between his religion and faith even harder in his quest to become mortal.

    an example if i went native american would be to have him fight a firebird, or maybe have an ally who is a wolf spirit. He could have a blessed bow and arrows or axe from his time as a warrior for his people. The more info you have the more you can work it
     
  12. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    So basically, you want true beliefs that can still affect events in the modern era? That really depends on the culture you choose, and you may have to change your plot around a little if you plan to conform fairly accurately to the beliefs you choose to utilize. A really important factor is at what time he becomes immortal, and what his relationship to other people is at that time.
     
  13. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I feel you on that. I want him to be one of the great warriors, but definitely the weakest in faith, yet still loved by the people. As far as time, 1000 ad or a little after is good. the reason for this is because every 1000 years he has a chance to become mortal and I want the story set as close to the present as possible
     
  14. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    never read boat of a million years by the way i will have to look it up
     
  15. Ohmytheoctopus
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    Ohmytheoctopus Member

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    Have you ever read the "His Dark Materials" Trilogy by Philip Pullman? One of those was just turned into a movie. I'd classify his books as "High Fantasy" although they aren't set in a Tolkein-like world. While I'm not reccommending that you copy the world he's created exactly, I think it would help if you read the books. Pullman used spirits, witches, angels, and other typical fantasy beings without making them cliche. If that's the type of thing you mean by not using "typical Tolkein, D&D style fantasy", then that's what I'd reccommend.
     
  16. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    As someone intensely interested in Ojibwa (Chippewa) mythology, I take a bit of issue with this. :D

    Re: dragons, there are numerous "serpents" and waterserpents/lake monsters in various Native American Indian mythologies; the primary ones among the Ojibwa, for example, are the Mishupishu (the "Great Horned Lynx" or "Underwater Lynx") and the Mishiginebik (Great Serpent...I might be spelling it somewhat wrong, though there are lots of spellings). Think "water dragon," not "land dragon." I would never try to equate the Thunderbird with the dragon, though; they're nothing alike IMO. In lots of traditions the Thunderbird and the water monsters are deadly enemies.

    Re: "sprites," the Ojibwa had numerous "little people" said to live in both the woods and in rocky areas. Pukwudjininees (various spellings) were friendly to humankind and would warn them away from water where Nebanaubae (merfolk) dwelled. Mizauwabeekum were little stone people who lived in the rocks. There were other little people who were so ashamed of their appearance that they would always hide their faces from humans, and they traveled in tiny stone canoes. Etc.

    And there are all sorts of other things but 1. I don't wish to bore anyone and 2. I'm writing about them myself. :D

    I wouldn't call anything in many American Indian mythologies the exact equivalent of something like the Asian or European concept of a dragon of a sprite, but there are lots of close comparisons. The thing is, they just aren't always known by all the various tribes. A few concepts like the Thunderbird are almost universal, however.

    And I better shut up before I blather on forever. :D
     
  17. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Just make sure you do A LOT of reading and research (and I mean real books, not just online) before settling on a particular culture/mythology and attempting to use it for your story, otherwise your work might come across as cliched or "wrong." I have no clue about "firebirds," but I know that in a lot of beliefs it would be odd for a good guy to fight a Thunderbird, for example, as Thunderbirds are usually the allies of mankind. (I. e., you'd have to write a pretty convincing reason why he's fighting an ally.) You can always take artistic license (I do), but you might have to include a disclaimer so readers know it's done on purpose and not out of ignorance of the culture.

    American Indian mythology and beliefs, you have to be really careful about the sources you refer to. There are a lot of frauds out there. I wouldn't know about other belief systems or cultures. Your best bet is books written from an anthropological viewpoint, and to beware of anything that seems to fall into the "New Age" category ("How to find your totem animal!" is a big no-no, for example), because that's often just modern individual (and usually European American) beliefs disguised as native traditions. If a book on American Indian beliefs tells you "how to do" something then it's often New Age. Historical and anthropological/sociological works are usually more reliable. I imagine it's the same for other cultures with belief systems that are still in use, for example, Celtic beliefs.

    *has over 70 books on her subject and is STILL making mistakes and learning*
     
  18. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    There are hundreds of Native American Indian tribes, each with their own legends, myths, and fables.

    I am sure that some of them may very well have had better "Dragon" equals then the Thunderbird.

    I am sure if you look, you can find some of the most fascinating things and ideas that you could ever hope to find. Things strange and exotic so much so that typical fay and sprites might seem rather bland and too simple.

    But...

    .... that is precisely why I used the "Thunderbird".
     
  19. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    Actually I went by my local Half-price Books and found a lot of Fables and folklore from around the world. I need to do the research now but I appreciate all of you for the help and the links.
     
  20. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    This is for the benefit of anyone else who might have questions about writing fantasy about other cultures:
    In addition to what tehuti88 suggested, I'd also suggest finding people to talk to and check it for accuracy, if it's possible. I'm also writing a non-European fantasy (North African/Arabic, specifically Moroccan/Egyptian, with anti-colonialist themes, although it was inspired by a hugely stereotypical American operetta and meant to be a response to common Western ideas about that region.) and I've been doing some research on Arab stereotypes, Bedouin culture, folklore etc.)
     

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