Motif is a word used by folklorists who analyze, interpret, and describe the traditional elements found in the lore of particular folk groups and compare the folklore of various regions and cultures of the world based on these motif patterns. Ultimately, folklorists identify motifs in folklore to interpret where, how, and why these motifs are used, so they can understand the values, customs, and ways of life of unique cultures. In cultural anthropology and folkloristics, the meaning of motif encompasses the meanings of motif used in the areas of music, literary criticism, visual arts, and textile arts because folklorists study motifs (i.e., recurring elements) in each of these areas, motifs that create recognizable patterns in folklore and folk-art traditions.
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