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1001 Stories Collection

The Talking Skull

1001 thetalkingskull
Added on 08th July 2020

Oral tradition Folktale from Africa

Africa Fables
1001 , Audio , Text

This folktale teaches the chatterbox that there may be another way.

Story

This is a tale about a man who does not hold his tongue and suffers the consequences. He finds a talking skull and tells everyone in sight about what he has witnessed. They accuse him of lying and when the skull does not speak on cue, he faces real danger.

Why we chose it

The Talking Skull was one of the stories in our original audio stories collection. These stories are particularly suitable for learning to retell.

Where it came from

The first versions of The Talking Skull story come from West Africa, potentially from Cameroon. It is likely that this tale was told by elders to children. The theme of an individual being duped by a talking skull is not found in Europe.

Where it went next

The tale was passed on by slaves and can be found in forty different versions across the Africa and America.

Associated stories

An adaptation of the story can be found in the Bermudan tale Counting out the Bodies, which is recorded by Florenz Maxwell in The Spirit Baby and Other Bermudan Folktales. The Singing Tortoise, The Talking Sheep, and The Talking Leopard are also variants of the tale spread across Africa.

Added on 08th July 2020

Oral tradition Folktale from Africa

Africa Fables
1001 , Audio , Text

Story Resources

  • The Talking Skull story text PDF (245.032 KB)
    Download