KI-BUKH ("Book of Cows"), anonymous 16th-century Yiddish fable collection. First mentioned in the *Mayse-Bukh (1602) as a morally corrupting book, the collection comprises 35 tales (each accompanied by an explicitly framed "moral of the story"), deriving from two fable traditions: the Aesopic (the sources of which were *Berechiah ben Natronai ha-Nakdan's late 12th- or early 13th-century Hebrew Mishlei Shu'alim and Ulrich Boner's Edelstein (1461)) and the Arabic maqama. Most of the fables in the Ki-Bukh are longer than their sources and tend toward humor, earthiness, and an interest in the details of Jewish daily life of the time, while emanating the comparatively liberal tonality characteristic of 16th-century Yiddish literature composed in Northern Italy. The collection provides corroborative evidence of the persistent popularity of didactic fable in the Jewish literary tradition during the period. The condemnation of the book as morally corrupting so soon after its initial publication indicates its great popularity. While the date of the first edition remains unclear (1555?), the first extant edition is Verona 1595. The number of woodcuts included in the book is little less than astonishing: 83 in 67 folios. With some relatively minor omissions and (anti-liberal) revisions, Moses b. Menassah Eliezer b. Moses Wallich's Seyfer Mesholim (1697) is a reprint of the Ki-Bukh.
M.N. Rosenfeld (ed.), The Book of Cows: A Facsimile Edition of the Famed Kuhbuch, Verona 1595 (1984); E. Katz (ed.), Book of Fables: The Yiddish Fable Collection of Reb Moshe Wallich, Frankfurt am Main, 1697 (1994); J.C. Frakes (ed.), Early Yiddish Texts: 1100 – 1750 (2004), 415–20, 750–72; J. Baumgarten, Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature (2005), 321–26.
[Jerold C. Frakes (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.