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Even though the world cup is still going on – and is still eating the bit of time I have besides university and job – let’s have a folktale today with no connection to any world cup participant. This one is from Lapland.

The Woman Wants Something for the Button

Once upon a time an old man lived in a miserable hut with his old wife. They were so poor that they had not a single thing of worth but for a golden button on top of the woman’s spindle.

Lapland's coat of arms

It was the man’s habit to go either hunting or fishing every day to provide for their basic livelihood.

Not far from the hut, there was a big hill. And people believed that there lived an elf inside who was called Kidhus and who one should be wary off.

Once, the man was going hunting as was his habit while the woman stayed home after her own habit. As the weather was beautiful on that day, she took her spindle outside and spun for a time. Then it happened that the golden button fell off the spindle and rolled so far away that the woman could no longer follow his path with her eyes. She was very unhappy about it and searched every but alas, she could not find it. Continue Reading »

Back to Mongolian animal tales. It’s been way too long. And this one is an epespcially interesting one.

The Cat Who Pretended To Be A Lama

A long time ago there was a lama, a Buddhist monk, who spent his time in deep meditation. Next to him there lay a cat. One day the cat stole the lama’s snuff bottle and the lama went after the cat and got his snuff bottle back. Then another time the cat stole the lama’s rosary and hid in a hole. When the lama grabbed the cat by the tail, the tail suddenly got torn off.

not a Mongolian snuff-bottle but close enough

The cat went away and came upon a place where many mice lived. There she made herself comfortable and put the rosary around her neck. One day some mice came along the way and circled the cat warily. So the cat said: “Don’t be afraid of me! I’m one of those lama cats. Let me teach you the holy doctrine saying not to kill another living being. Come! Come here!”

So the mice went to the cat and let her teach them. After a few days had passed Khuchin tuct, the khaan of the mice, told them: “Oh, it seems as if our teacher is eating us. In her excrements there are traces of bone and hair. Go back home and get a bell.” He sent a few mice to carry out his request.

The mice went home and came back with a bell. They said to the cat: “Teacher, please accept this jewellery from us!” And they put the bell around her neck. Khuchin tuct told his mice: “After today’s lesson will be over, we will exit one after another. If the bell should ring, we’ll turn around and hurry back.” Continue Reading »

Sorry. Could thing I warned you that the posts might be not as regular. Between the world cup and apartment hunting and a presentation at university… Gah.

But today, let’s have another one of the most famous fables by Aesop. And beware of the very political contemplations at the end of this post.

The Lamb and the Wolf
by Aesop

wolf, lamb and the - ghost of its father?

A little lamb was quenching its thirst at a small stream. Further up the stream and thus closer to its well, a wolf was also drinking his fill. As soon as he caught sight of the little lamb, he cried:

“Why are you muddying the water that I want to drink?”

“How could that be possible?” replied the little lamb timidly. “I am standing down here and you so high up the stream. The water is flowing from you to me. Please believe me that it never crossed my mind to do something evil to you!”

“See! You are doing exactly what your father did six months ago. I remember very well that you were with him, too, but could make a lucky escape as I had his hide for his abuse!”

“Oh, mister!” begged the trembling little lamb, “I am but four weeks old and never even knew my father because he has been dead for so long. How could I atone for him?” Continue Reading »

Actually, I just wanted to post another classic with this famous fable by Aesop but incidentally – I’m also keeping with the idea of posting a tale from a nation in the football world cup. As Greece played today, winning against Nigeria as well.

The Fox and the Grapes
by Aesop

One evening in autumn, a mouse and a sparrow sat beneath a grape-vine chatting about this and that. Suddenly, the sparrow chirped to his friend: “Hide yourself, the fox is coming!” And he himself quickly flew up into the vine’s foliage.

trying to get to those grapes

The fox sneaked closer and closer to the grape-vine, his eyes longingly on the fat, blue, overripe grapes. Carefully he peeked into all direction. Then he pounced, put his fore-paws against the vine’s stem, stretched his body and tried to catch a few grapes with his mouth. Alas, they were hanging too high.

Somewhat angered, he tried his luck again. This time he took a giant leap but again he only caught empty air.

He tried a third time and he tried as hard as he could, jumping with all his might. Almost beside himself with greed, he snapped after the juicy grapes and stretched and stretched until fell down on his back. Not a single leaf had moved.

The sparrow who had silently observed the fox’s attempts until now, could no longer contain himself and chirped cheekily: “Mister fox, you have your sights set too high!”

The mouse peeked out from her hiding place and piped up: “Do not bother, you will never get the grapes.” And like an arrow she shot back into her mouse-hole.

The fox bit his teeth, turned up his nose and said loftily: “They are simply not ripe enough yet. I don’t like my grapes sour.” And with his head held high he pranced back into the forest.

Copyright for this fable’s translation: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image used: The Fox and the Grapes, from ”The Æsop for Children”,

*****

Re-reading this fable, I’m wondering about hens and eggs. Because has this one become a classic because it successfully and entertainingly embodies the lesson about over-ambition and pride which is at the heart of Western societies. Or has this critical stance on ambition and pride become central because it has been advocated in central socio-cultural texts such as these? Huh.

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Firstly, to let you know that my posting might be somewhat irregular until July 11th as the football world cup is going on and I’m watching way too much of it.

okay, it's actually a cork oak

Secondly, tomorrow Portugal is playing their first match of the tournament. And as I love them dearly, let’s have a Portuguese folktale tonight. :)

The Story of a Turner

There once lived a turner who was in the habit of going into a forest which was some distance from his cottage to cut down wood to make spoons. One day as he was sawing a venerable old chestnut tree he noticed a deep hole in the tree, and being curious to see what was inside he unluckily penetrated within, and immediately an enchanted Moor came forward to meet him, and in angry tones at the intrusion said to him: “Since you have dared to penetrate into my palace I order you to bring me the first thing you shall meet on reaching your cottage, but take heed that you comply with my command, otherwise you will surely die within three days.” The turner now departed and went home, where he had three daughters and a little pet dog which always came to the door to meet him.

That day, however, contrary to her custom, as ill luck would have it, it was his eldest daughter, and not his dog, who came out to meet him. This of course so distressed him that he, weeping bitterly, told her what had happened to him and what the Moor had demanded from him. But he entreated her at the same time to go with him and give herself up to the Moor, for otherwise she and her sisters would remain without a supporter or protection. Continue Reading »

This Mongolian animal tale one is actually representing a particular type of the genre: three friends, one gets trapped, another one wants to eat him, the last one comes to the rescue. Sounds kind of like the tale about the lame magpie? Yeah, no. Not really. But read for yourselves. Especially since you can never read too many Mongolian animal tales.

The Khulan, the Crow and the Wolf

In times long ago, a khulan – that is a Mongolian wild ass –, a crow and a wolf lived together as brothers. One day they went in search of a new place to live and the crow said: “There is this place where every one of us would find plenty to eat. But there lives a skilled hunter with his bow and his traps. The traps would be a danger for us.”

little khulan all relaxed

The wolf thought: “If the khulan would happen to get caught in one of the hunter’s traps, I could eat as much as I want.” So he said out loud: “Let’s move to this beautiful place and live there. Or are you afraid of one hunter?”

Therefore the three friends moved to that place and for a while they lived there in peace. But one day the khulan got caught in a trap. As soon as the wolf heard about it, he hurried to get to the trapped animal before the crow would find him. When he arrived there, the wolf asked the khulan: “How did this happen?” Continue Reading »

Somehow even when I try to fight down by animal tale love in order to give you a broader variety, I tend to still land with fables. So today let’s have an English legend. And please ignore the fact that it’s also not animal-free. Apparently it can’t be helped. :)

The Baker’s Daughter

A very long time ago, I cannot tell you when, it is so long since, there lived in a town in Herefordshire a baker who used to sell bread to all the folk around. He was a mean, greedy man, who sought in every way to put money by, and who did not scruple to cheat such people as he was able when they came to his shop.

baking normal bread

He had a daughter who helped him in his business, being unmarried and living with him, and seeing how her father treated the people, and how he succeeded in getting money by his bad practices, she, too, in time came to do the like.

One day when her father was away, and the girl remained alone in the shop, an old woman came in—

“My pretty girl,” said she, “give me a bit of dough I beg of you, for I am old and hungry.”

The girl at first told her to be off, but as the old woman would not go, and begged harder than before for a piece of bread, at last the baker’s daughter took up a piece of dough, and giving it to her, says— Continue Reading »

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