Judgement of Solomon

Rolf Koch roheko at MERKUR.NET
Mon Nov 1 09:47:24 UTC 1999

I have found two Solomon stories in Prakrit sources
which are dated about 500 AD.
Folktales not reflected in classical Sanskrit literature
are to be found to a certain part in
early and later Prakrit (Jain) sources.

John Brockington wrote:

> Naseem Hines asks about sources of the Judgement of Solomon story.
> Almost certainly the earliest recorded instance of this tale is Biblical (1 Kings
> 3:16-28); this may have been original, but could equally have been adapted from a
> current oral narrative.  The Biblical account entered Judaeo-Christian-Muslim tradition;
> whether it was first Hebrew or Arab cannot be determined.
> References to the story as a European (? Christian-derived) and Jewish folk-tale can be
> found in Stith Thompson's "Motif-Index of folk literature", motif J 1171.1 (cf. the
> extension in J 1171.2 'The divided bride' -- 3 claimants! and J 1171.4 -- mares and
> colt) supplemented by Antti Aarne's "Types of the folktale", type AT 926.
> An early Indic source of a similar but not identical motif, and set in a different
> story, is the Jataka tale translated by van Buitenen ("Tales of ancient India", p.168)
> as 'Mahosadha's judgement'.  This may be an adaptation of the Solomon tale (or its
> source), or may have arisen independently as a fairly obvious illustration of the
> lengths to which a mother will go to protect her child -- a universal theme.
> Thompson's and Aarne's Indic references (detailed in Thompson and Balys, "Oral tales of
> India", and Thompson and Roberts, "Types of Indic oral tales"; no new references in
> Jason's "Supplement") are:
> J. Davidson, 'Folklore of Chitral', "The Indian Antiquary" 29: 249 (Kashmir)
> Sarah Davidson and Eleanor Phelps, 'Folk tales from New Goa, India', "Journal of
> American folklore" 50 :43-44 (Bombay)
> "North Indian Notes and Queries" 3: no.378 and 5: no.617 (Mirzapur, U.P.)
> G.R. Subramiah Pantulu, "Folklore of the Telugus" : 41 = "Ind. Antiq." 26: 111 no.18
> (Madras)
> (type 926C) "North Indian Notes and Queries" 4: no. 316 (Mirzapur, U.P.)
> (J 1171.4) J.H. Knowles, "Folk-tales of Kashmir": 255.
> At a fairly cursory glance, I have not found the variant you refer to in Ramanujan's
> "Folk tales from India"; please could you give me the reference?
> Many folk tales are common to South Asian and Arab traditions ('Aladdin' is perhaps the
> most famous), and determining the direction of spread -- if any -- is complex and
> hazardous.  The automatic assumption that international tales necessarily originated in
> India (which used to be popular) should be resisted!
> sent on her behalf by John Brockington
> Professor J. L. Brockington
> Sanskrit, School of Asian Studies
> University of Edinburgh
> 7-8 Buccleuch Place
> Edinburgh   EH8 9LW     U.K.
> tel: +131 650 4174
> fax: +131 651 1258

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