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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Śukasaptati, or Seventy tales of the parrot is a collection of stories originally written in Sanskrit. The stories are supposed to be narrated to a woman by her pet parrot, at the rate of one story every night, in order to dissuade her from going out to meet her paramour when her husband is away.

The stories frequently deal with illicit liaisons, the problems that flow from them and the way to escape those crises by using one's wits. Though the actual purpose of the parrot is to prevent its mistress from leaving, it does so without moralising. At the end of the seventy days, the woman's husband returns from his trip abroad and all is forgiven. Most of the stories are ribald and uninhibited, with some verging on the pornographic. The situations depicted in the stories not only test the bounds of marriage, some stray into taboo areas of incest and, in one case, bestiality.

The collection is part of the Katha tradition of Sanskrit literature. Some of the tales are actually repeated from earlier well-known collections in Sanskrit literature. In the tradition of Sanskrit literature, the tales are frequently interspersed with verse, many original, some repeated from earlier works. Though it is not known when it was originally written, current scholarship accepts that the collection was in its current form by the 12th century CE, though currently the oldest known manuscript dates back to the 15th century CE. The collection has been translated to many languages, including Persian in the 14th century, and in Malay, Hikayat Bayan Budiman, by a certain Kadi Hassan in 773 AH (1371 AD). It was last translated to English in 2000 CE.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Śukasaptati" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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