• Umber Bin Ibad Forman Christan College (FC College)
  • Ghulam Ali Shair University of Education Lahore
Keywords: Punjabi oral tradition, Punjabi folklore, protocols of orality, Var


This article presents a critique of folklore model of looking at Punjabi oral tradition by bringing forward the need to explore the dynamics of ‘orality’ that have been determining the protocols of preservation of human knowledge in the oral society of Punjab. In the most of academic historical literature, the terms Punjabi folklore and oral tradition have been used synonymously with the purpose of consulting them as a source of historical information. Borrowing from the theoretical paradigm of Jan Vansina, this study looks at the Punjabi folklore through the lens of oral tradition. The lens of oral tradition not only enables to question and evaluate the simplistic treatment met out to it under the guiding principles of literary criticism and Sufism it also problematizes the 19th century colonial folklorists and ethnographers’ engagement with Punjabi folklore. Drawing to the close, this study attempts to take the lens of oral tradition beyond the project of Jan Vansina; while he sees each genre within the oral tradition as message to be carried from one generation to another and, therefore, whole of oral tradition as history, there seems a possibility of looking of each genre as separate form of knowledge or of whole oral tradition as repository of various possibilities of knowledge within the pre-colonial context. For example, the genre of Var is more than just another kind of message to be carried out from one generation to the other as Vansina describes the case of epic, rather, it may present a case of indigenous historiography and historical sensibility embedded in the oral tradition of the Punjab.