A systematic study of folk literature began in Karnataka in about 1783 when Col. Colin McKenzie, a western scholar who traveled in many parts of Karnataka and collected valuable information regarding folk stories, medicines, rituals, legends, mythology and other customs. It is because of his enormous efforts that the information which was primarily oral got transformed into a written form. Later, the German missionary worker and a scholar Rev. Ferdinand Kittel and J.F. Fleet made some extensive studies in Kannada folklore. Kittel has compiled a number of proverbs collected from the general public and Fleet collected a number of folk songs and compiled them in his series of articles entitled “A Selection of Kanarese Ballads” in 1885.
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In recent years, scholars such as L.R.Hegde, M.M.Kalburgi, Aravinda Malagathi, Karim Khan and H.L.Nagegowda have made considerable research work in the field of folk literature. The Kannada University of Hampi, the Karnataka Sahithya Academy, the Janapada and Yakshagana Academy and Karnataka Janapada Trust have played an active role in studies with an anthropological approach for collecting a vast body of knowledge concerned with the life of common man and some marginalized communities.