Birbal and Akbar’s Missing Thumb

The enforced proximity during the coronavirus lockdown makes this old tale strangely appropriate

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An old folk tale which is told in a variety of settings, including this typical interchange between the Mughal emperor, Akbar and his wise and witty advisor. Somehow the situation for many couples during the current coronavirus lockdown suggested an appropriate introduction to the tale.

I was delighted to find a word which so accurately describes Birbal: agathism. (My thanks to Anu Garg, of A Word a Day.)


The video clips here are all amateur quality, shot in various theatres or – as here – recorded at home during the lockdown.

Their intention is just to show the range of my storytelling and give a flavour of a live performance.

Permission is granted for use in non-commercial educational contexts.

The videos are © Richard Martin.

Professionally recorded CDs and DVDs are available here.

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For those who are teachers: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling