“Let me tell you a story about…” “There once was…” “Once upon a time…” Hearing a sentence starting with any of these words usually means it’s going to be a good story. Maybe one of your favorite fairy tales was about to be told by your favorite storyteller. Did you know most of the tales we tell our children today were meant to be sources of educating and entertainment, specifically for adults?

Even now, most stories told have a moral or lesson. The goal of the storyteller is to pass on those lessons to the next generations. Each culture has a form of storytelling, but the most popular and traditional form is an oral storyteller.

Today, many professional oral storytellers have the title of tradition-bearer. They pass along the knowledge of an artifact generation to generation. It can be done through a mother’s lullaby, a fairy tale, or even a dance. Most cultures had specific names to identify their storytellers. These are some of my favorites.

Chorus (Greek)

The original “narrator” of a play, the Greek chorus became the collective voice for stories. As the narrators, the Chorus knows more than the characters. They were the original flies on the wall.

Bard (English)

Similar to the Gaelic seanchaí and Nordic skáld, bards were professional poets. Bards were under the employ of a patron to commemorate one or more of the patron’s ancestors. Of course, a patron would want their own own notoriety captured forever too. These poets and storytellers were also verse-makers, music composers, oral historians, and genealogists.

Skáld (Scandanavian)

Skálds date back as far as the 9th century. They are poets and the primary preservers of Icelandic and Nordic history and culture. Their poetry is well-known for portraying the heroic age and commemorating Viking kings.

Seanchaí (Gaelic)

These storytellers are practically walking books! Seanchaí so excelled in their skills that it was thought they inherited them from the filí, pre-Christian poets from Ireland.

These are only a few titles for storytellers. The world is full of more names for our tradition-bearers. If you want to find them the old-fashion way, try out any of the historical and mythology books found at your local Bookmans. You may even fall under the storyteller category as you tell or recite the stories you find on our shelves.

Written by Sky D. (Bookmans Enthusiast)