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[W, storyteller; guide, leader; spell, magic].

Name given in medieval Welsh tradition to storytellers, all of whom are anonymous except for Bledri ap Cydifor (also Bledericus Walensis, Bleherus). The profession had disappeared before the oral composition of the Mabinogi was complete (12th cent.). The culmination of the cyfarwydd's tradition is the Mabinogi, where his role is described as offering pleasant tales to a patron. Although a member of the bardic order, a cyfarwydd occupied a lower echelon. A cyfarwydd might borrow materials from other poets or printed sources and need not rely on his own imagination; his powers of dramatic presentation were especially esteemed. The survival of meanings associated with cognates of cyfarwydd imply that the storyteller might have played other roles; cf. cyfarwyddai [magician]; cyfarwyddyd [guidance, instruction, information, knowledge].

See Constance Bullock-Davies, Professional Interpreters of the Matter of Britain (Cardiff, 1966);Proinsias Mac Cana, Learned Tales of Medieval Ireland (Dublin, 1980);Patrick K. Ford, ‘The Poet as Cyfarrwydd in Early Welsh Tradition’, Studia Celtica, 10/11 (1975–6

Subjects: Religion.

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