Category Archives: Blog

Storytelling and Social Justice

On October 14th and 15th, 2015 a conference was held in Prague entitled “Making Anthropology Matter.” The discussion centered around European professional anthropologists’ ongoing concerns about how to best apply their largely-academic research efforts. Many anthropologists hope to usefully relate their findings to contemporary social concerns. With this in mind, most conference participants spoke about the tension they […]

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The Boar’s Tale

Dr. Beck in Prague The President of the Sophia Hilton Foundation spoke in Prague (capital of the Czech Republic) yesterday. She was dressed to represent the night sky, wearing a crescent-shaped white necklace made from a pair of wild boar tusks sourced from South India. Furthermore, she balanced this remarkable crescent moon theme with a […]

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WHAT LAND GRANT PROPOSAL IS THE KING DISCUSSING?

This particular scene conveys just one key message: the king has had a very prosperous growing season. The harvest has been abundant. The fields are lush and green. The king’s explanation for all this beauty and wealth around him is straight forward. He attributes it all to the skills and hard work of the nine […]

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WHO IS THE MAN IN RED?

WHY IS HE ACTING AS A SPOKESPERSON FOR OTHERS? Here is another very simple Legend of Ponnivala video clip. Again I have inserted it into my blog for teachers to use. The scene does not need much comment. As the story unfolds, the Chola king’s attendant goes to find Kolatta. He then brings him into […]

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WHAT ARE THESE EIGHT MEN ASKING OF THE CHOLA KING?

This is a simple question based on one scene in the Legend of Ponnivala animated story. Again for this blog post, I have chosen something simple. Here too, my comments should be well-suited to classroom teaching for the early grades. My query has a simple answer. These men are asking the king if he has […]

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WHY IS THIS LANDSCAPE SO LUSH AND GREEN?

This Legend of Ponnivala video clip is representative of the song refrains the bards used to lend extra emotional feeling to the story. You can hear the words of the original song (and tune) in the background. An English translation has been superimposed to aid a non-Tamil speaker in understanding what is being said. It […]

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Live Performance of The Legend of Ponnivala at Tamil Festival, Toronto

On Saturday, August 29th 2015 the first “street drama” performance ever to showcase the Legend of Ponnivala story, outside of India (and perhaps Sri Lanka), took place right in the middle of a major street in Toronto, Canada! The whole area of Morningside Avenue between Neilson and Finch was closed to vehicular traffic for the […]

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IS THIS PROMISE OF AN EXTRA PAYMENT FOR THE WIFE’S LABOUR FAIR?

This is the first time in this long Legend of Ponnivala story where a question of social justice, a matter with extensive modern implications, appears. When Kolatta offers his wife’s labour, alongside his own, the king responds by raising the total payment he promises in return. He offers only 16 measures of grain a month […]

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HOW TO SURVIVE A TERRIBLE DROUGHT?

This Legend of Ponnivala video clip describes an age-old dilemma: what to do when an ecological catastrophe such as severe drought settles on the land? This is a common problem that has plagued people and civilizations around the world as far back as collective memories can reach. Of course archaeological research shows that this problem […]

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HOW DOES A TRADITIONAL WELL-AND-BULLOCK IRRIGATION SYSTEM WORK?

This Legend of Ponnivala video clip is presented primarily to show and discuss a very unique traditional irrigation system used (as far as I know) only in the Kongu area of Tamilnadu, India. But first I want to say a few words about the perennial challenge of providing water to crops in this basically very […]

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