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Archive for the ‘fairy tales’ Category

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. (more…)

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I started this blog to have a great excuse for reading my way through folktales from all kinds of peoples and then to share them. In this endeavor, let me tale you a Magyar folktale today. Weirdly enough, I never read one before which was obviously a great miss – judging from this one.

The Wishes

There were 10,000 wagons rolling along the turnpike road, in each wagon there were 10,000 casks, in each cask 10,000 bags, in each bag 10,000 poppy seeds, in each poppy seed 10,000 lightnings. May all these thunderous lightnings strike him who won’t listen to my tale, which I have brought from beyond the Operencian Sea!

...and then the fairy was gone again...

There was once, it doesn’t matter where: there was once upon a time, a poor man who had a pretty young wife; they were very fond of each other. The only thing they had to complain of was their poverty, as neither of them owned a farthing. It happened, therefore, sometimes, that they quarrelled a little, and then they always cast it in each other’s teeth that they hadn’t got anything to bless themselves with. But still they loved each other. (more…)

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The brilliance of this fairy tale, which was “told in Picardy by Narcisso Dufaux, aged 48 years, a cap-maker at Warloy-Baillon (Somme)”, lays in the punch line. Read for yourselves!

Skilful John

One day a poor man sent.his son, Skilful John, to carry some buttered rolls to his parents, who lived three miles off, telling him not to stop by the way. John sauntered along the road and lost his way. Seeing a light, he followed it and came to a little hut. He knocked at the door.

Skilful John a few years later...

“Tap! tap!
Open to a poor lost boy.
Tap! tap!
God therefor will have great joy.” (more…)

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Again, I swear this is not an animal tale. It’s actually an ancient Irish fairy tale about the devil. It’s not my fault if he decided to come in cat-shape. Is it?

The Demon Cat

There was a woman in Connemara, the wife of a fisherman; as he had always good luck, she had plenty of fish at all times stored away in the house ready for market. But, to her great annoyance, she found that a great cat used to come in at night and devour all the best and finest fish. So she kept a big stick by her, and determined to watch.

another somewhat creepy cat though not the devil

One day, as she and a woman were spinning together, the house suddenly became quite dark; and the door was burst open as if by the blast of the tempest, when in walked a. huge black cat, who went straight up to the fire, then turned round and growled at them.

“Why, surely this is the devil,” said a young girl, who was by, sorting fish. (more…)

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First of all – never fear, this is not another animal tale. It’s actually a fairy tale from Japan. Enjoy.

The White Fox

Many years ago, the son of a lord was hunting in the forest of Shimoda, near Yokohama. He had the rare luck to catch a snow-white female fox. He wanted to kill the animal but Yasuna, the son of the temple’s master who had joined the hunt, asked to be given the fox as a present since he knew that such foxes with white fur have magical powers, live to several thousand years of age and can shift into any shape. But the son of the lord wanted to keep the beautiful fur of the fox for himself. He thus denied Yasuna’s plea and ordered his men to kill the vixen. But Yasuna sized her by force by fighting the hunters for her and although he was bleeding from many wounds, he could flee with the animal. After he had run for a while, he collapsed in exhaustion; he had to let go of the vixen who swiftly vanished into the forest. Curiously, his betrothed Kuzunoha suddenly appeared who, as she saw his wounds, tended to them immediately and guided him home. (more…)

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Until now I presented you with folktales I had translated myself – either from Mongolian or from German – and I intend to keep doing that, of course, but let’s try something different. The following tale is taken from a selection of Kashmir folktales which was first published in 1885.

crow-girl with her friend the crow

And you can’t know right now as you haven’t read it yet but this picture which is not even an illustration? Is a crazy fit! I’m so insanely excited that I found it.

The Crow-Girl

ONE day two potters’ wives went to the jungle to get a special kind of soil, which their husbands wanted for making some pots. They carried their little infant children with them a-straddle on their hips. When they reached the place where this earth was to be found, they put down their children, a little boy and a little girl, to play together, while they filled their baskets. A kite and a crow noticed what was going on, and swooped down upon the children and carried them off. The kite killed the boy, but the crow flew away with the girl to the hollow trunk of a tree in a distant part of the jungle, and there dropped her. Instead of crying the child thought it was great fun, and so laughed and played with the bird; and the bird got very fond of her, and brought her nuts and fruit, and scraps of bread and meat sometimes, whenever it could get them. The little girl grew up and became very beautiful.

One day a carpenter chanced to visit that part of the jungle for cutting wood. “Salám,” said the girl to him. “I wish you would make me a spinning-wheel. I am here all alone, and I wish to do something.”

“Why are you here? Where is your home? Have you no more clothes than the rag you are wearing?” asked the carpenter. (more…)

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Remember the Little Fable by Franz Kafka I told you a while ago? One might think that the sense of disturbance this text leaves us with is something very typical for a fable in modern literature? Not quite. As the following fairy tale, recorded and narrated by the Brothers Grimm proves…

A Begging Soldier Woman

The Old Beggar Woman

Once upon a time, there was an old woman – you surely have seen an old woman begging before? This woman was a beggar, too, and when she was given something, she said ‘May God be with you’. This beggar woman came to a door and their stood a friendly imp of a boy near the fire warming himself. The boy kindly said to the poor, old woman who was standing their at the door, freezing: “Come, old dear, and warm yourself up.” She came into the room but stood to close to the fire so her rags started to burn without her realizing. The boy stood there and saw it. He should have put it out, yes? Isn’t it so, he should have put it out? And if he had no water then he should have cried out all the water in his body through his eyes so that there would have been two pretty little streams of tears to put out the fire with.

Copyright for translation: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: Daniel Chodowiecki’s The Begging Soldier Woman @ WikiMedia Commons

*****

This one is so disturbing to me. And I’m not even sure if it is because I just don’t expect this kind of language or this kind of setting or this kind of character – in the boy’s case – from a fairy tale. Or if it’s because the issue described here seems so modern to me. Youth that has lost touch with reality… Not those video games’ fault after all, huh?

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