Folk art serves an important purpose in any culture. Not only a documentation of history, it’s designed to remind us of where it is we come from and that everything we experience has happened before. Folk tales in particular are entwined with moral lessons that apply still in modern society, and are relevant today. That is, if we pay close attention.
The Greedy Sparrow is an Armenian folk tale retold by Lucine Kasbarian. By tradition passed down aurally, and now printed in English, the story lives on to reach a new audience. We follow the circular story of one clever sparrow and his bargaining skills as his path crosses several characters along the Armenian country-side. His intentions are not clear to the reader, or to his encounters it seems.
The sparrow’s motivation throughout the tale is driven by his ambition to gain more and more. And with each accomplishment he is not satisfied, or has no limit. Several moral lessons arise throughout his adventures, not only the question of greed, but how we may lose sight of our best judgment when we are consumed by the rush of success. An indifference to consequences, or seeing the outcome of his actions only in the present moment lead to unexpected results in the end. The choices of the sparrow and the momentum of his adventures are the heart of the story that carries one through from one vignette to the next.
A thought-provoking children’s story The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale is colorfully illustrated by Maria Zaikina to reflect tradition and folklore. Sharing this tale with children and youth has the capacity to teach meaningful life lessons we are always at risk to forget faced with promises of success. Our grandmothers, great-grandmothers and their mothers have kept alive this story, perhaps for good reason. We continue the tradition, now in text form.