Cor Hendriks – The Macaws (35): The Floating Hair

Beautiful lady surrounded by autumn leaves (1) (Stock Images)

Beautiful lady surrounded by autumn leaves (2) (foto Waterpik)

The Macaws (35): The Floating Hair

The wooden Garuda plays also an important role in a story from the Mongolian Siddhi Kür: Six friends, the sons of a rich man, a painter, a doctor, a carpenter, a smith and an astrologer leave together their parents, part at a confluence of rivers, where they each plant a life tree [= life token]. After six years they will return there. The son of the rich man has followed one of the rivers to its source, is offered the daughter of an old couple, and lives with her. Once her ring drops in the river and floats down the river, and finders offer it the king, who has the woman searched [compare to Rhodopis], who must live at the source of the river. She is brought with her husband to the King, who marries her, and when she still loves her husband he has him killed and his grave covered with a big stone. Not long after that the friends come to the river and see at the tree that their friend has had an accident. The son of the astrologer discovers where he is buried, the son of the smith crushes the grave stone, the son of the doctor revives him with a draught, the carpenter’s son builds an airplane (a wooden garuda) in the form of a bird, that is painted by the son of the painter. The revived one flies in it to the palace to go get his wife. The Khan sees the bird circling over the palace, thinks it is a good omen, and asks the woman to come on the roof terrace and feed the bird. Her husband makes himself known to her and returns with her to his friends (unfortunately here it comes to a fight, because each one claims the woman, who is stabbed to death by accident [Horálek, in Fabula 7 (1964 -29 65) p. 6, Cosquin 1922, p. 604f, the friends fight over her and chop her to pieces].

The story of the floating ring is already part of the Old Egyptian ‘Tale of the Two Brothers’, where it is a lock of the woman’s hair, that is washed up on the coast of Egypt and is given to Pharaoh. According to the scientists it is a lock of a daughter of Re Harachti (this is the Morning Sun), and Pharaoh has the woman brought to him (with the help of a woman). She told the King how to kill her husband, Bata, by cutting down the acacia tree that contained Bata’s life. When the next morning Bata’s older brother Anubis wanted to drink his beer, the foam ran over the side [and by this life token he knew that his brother has had a fatal accident] and he went to search for his brother, and brought him back to life, whereupon Bata then took on the appearance of a beautiful bull, not in order to recover his wife, but to avenge himself on her. Then the story takes another direction, because the bull is killed and from two drops of his blood two trees grow up, that are made into furniture on orders of the Queen, who is overseeing the felling of the trees; a wood splinter flies into her mouth and impregnates her and she gives birth to Bata, who becomes Pharaoh at the death of the old Pharaoh. Then has his mother judged and executed, appoints his brother Anubis as Crown Prince (who outlives his brother and becomes then Pharaoh) [Brunner Traut 1974, p. 27 – 37, Nº4, Kaster 1993, p. 270 – 281, Nº22. Bata has to grow up very quickly and be of the same age as before to be outlived by his older brother. In the story Pharaoh loves his son (Bata) at birth and makes him his Royal Son of Kush, this is Viceroy of Nubia who became many days after this Crown Prince of the whole land. Sometime after this the old Pharaoh dies, and Bata becomes the new King. Compare also Frazer, 1971, p. 882f. The lock of hair was not lost by the woman but taken by Yam, the Sea, as a result of the ignoring by the woman of the interdiction laid upon her by Bata: not to go outside lest the Sea would carry her off. This is comparable with the motif of the Forbidden Room. This story of the reborn hero is also part of the Yemenite tale we saw before ( The girl in the castle of the Garguf decides to run away and comes upon her brother Ali. But soon the Garguf appears and invites Ali in his castle. They go there, have a good time, and the Garguf takes Ali shopping, but in fact kills and eats him, bringing the leftovers home in a basket. But a white female vulture dives down and snatches up a piece of the meat: the finger with the ring, and drops it in the court where the girl is working (compare to shoe of Rhodopis), saying ‘Oh Maryam, murdered is your brother. This is his finger and ring.’ This is like ATU 720. She cooks the meat, the Garguf eats it and collects the bones, buries them together with the finger and the ring, waters it every day and a tree grows up. One day, when she plucks off a twig, a child comes out of it and she gives it milk, and brings it to the Garguf as his and their child. When he has grown up she tells him how he is her brother Ali. Later they plan how to kill the Garguf with his own sword (Daum, 1983, p. 55 – 69, Nº 5).

The last part of this story is catalogued by Aarne and Thompson as ATU 318 as The Faithless Wife. Batu, the Egyptian “Two Brothers” Tale. Plots with paramour against life of her husband. Episode I. Rescue of a Princess from a Dragon [R111.1.3, II.,Treacherous Wife). The hero marries the Princess, but she falls in love with another man [T232]. She deceives her husband into giving up his magic weapons and she plots against his life [K2213, III, Transformations]. A magician, or the hero’s brother who has been warned by a life token [E761], teaches the hero how to take the form of a horse, a tree or a duck. The wife always recognizes him and orders the horse to be killed, the tree to be cut down, et cetera [D610ff, IV, Vengeance]. Through the help of a servant girl, the husband regains the magic weapons, avenges himself on his wife and her lover and he marries the servant girl [Thompson, 1961, p. 112, the articles he refers to by Liungman and Von Sydow are not accessible to me].

An example from Western Bulgaria in a combination with ATU 301 is summarized by Horálek. The story starts with the well known abduction of the daughter of an old King although he keeps her locked up in a tower, by a dragon who takes her over the sea. A booze loving soldier is the only one who applies for the job. He leaves with a ship and the soldiers are led by an officer. Across the sea they find on the shore a cave. While the others hunt for food, one stays in the cave to cook the midday meal. Two times the cook is killed by a monster, that eats up the meal. The third day the soldier stays to cook and when the monster comes, they hold a drinking contest. After a while the monster passes out and is killed by the soldier, who opens the [concealed trap] door through which the monster came in and finds in a room the Princess. He shows her a ring he got from her father and takes her to the ship together with the valuables. Then he realizes that he has forgotten the ring of the King and goes back to get it. The ring has no special power, served only for recognition. Meanwhile the officer (compare to Knight Red! leaves with the ship and forces the Princess to say that he was her savior. The abandoned soldier wanders along the coast and comes to a King who takes him in as a guest, but forbids him to enter a certain room [compare to continuation of Jewel Mountain,]. The soldier cannot restrain his curiosity and is sent away by the King, who gives him three magic objects: a money bag, a saber and a horse. On the horse he goes faster than the ship and arrives as first in his homeland [compare Arion, also in part nine] and starts there an inn where people can repose for free. The King himself comes once there as a guest and invites the liberal host to his Palace. Here is the wedding of the Princess with the officer is at hand! During the feast meal the Princess hands him a glass of brandy and he throws the ring in it. The Princess recognizes at once her rescuer and makes everything known. The officer is chased away and the soldier marries the Princess. So far the ATU 301 part. A foreign Prince, who in the past had courted the Princess [instead of the King alerted of her existence by a lock of her hair], sends an Army to abduct her, but the Prince with his magic saber destroys the Army. Instead of sending an old woman. The Prince manages to gain the sympathy of the Princess and advises her to find out the secret of her husband’s force [as Delilah with Samson]. She discovers the secret of the saber and switches it with an ordinary sword [compare the usual switching in ATU 563, 565]. In a renewed attack the foreign Prince is victorious and kills the soldier. The Princess goes with the Prince, who has her parents locked in a dungeon. On the grave of the soldier grows a tree [with branches that hit the Princess], the Princess has it felt and burnt. One wood chip remained [fell into the pocket of] and says to a serving girl to put him in the bed of the Princess. In the night the chip turns into the soldier, who takes his saber back and kills the Prince. Then he liberates the parents of the Princess, tells them everything, and they leave it to him to decide her fate. He kills her and marries the servant girl who had helped him [Horálek, p. 31 after Arnaudov, in Sbornik za narodni umotvorenija 38, 1930, p. 23 – 27 Nº4].

Thompson has the story of the Floating Hair as ATU 516B: The Abducted Princess (Love Through Sight of Floating Hair). (1) A Hero Wins a Princess. After the marriage, the Princess (1a) loses a hair, or (1b) a shoe, which floats down the river, or (1c) which is swallowed by a fish. A strange Prince sees the hair [Motif T11.4.1] (shoe) [T11.4.2] and falls in love with the Princess .[…] (2), The Abduction). An old woman, sent by the strange Prince, ingratiates herself with the Princess and abducts her [R39.2] (2a) by using a flying bedstead [D1520.17.1], (2b) by killing the hero, (2c) or by stealing the hero’s magic object. (3) The Recovery. The Princess refuses to marry the strange Prince for a period of time, using as excuse a vow. The hero’s helper [P361] in disguise recovers the Princess, (3a) kills the old woman and (3b) restores the hero to life. Or (3c) the hero’s helpers recover the magic object (see type ATU 560). Thompson adds a note. This story rarely appears as a separate tale. Instead it is usually found combined with other tale types such as ATU 516, 534, and 560. [Thompson 1961, p. 185). Of course the Floating Hair motif can also serve as introduction to a ‘love story’ as in the Mongolian Kuntuγmïš romance. Xālbeka dreams one night of the beautiful Prince Kuntuγmïš, who appears with the 40 čiltan (saints), and when she wakes up she is holding a ring in her hands. Xālbeka has a portrait of herself painted, ties it with one of her hairs onto Kuntuγmïš’s ring, puts both into a box and throws the box in the water. The box arrives in the land of the Noγâj, where Kuntuγmïš finds it. He opens the box, sees Kālbeka’s portrait – and faints, overcome by love (Reichl, in Fragen 5, p. 313f).]
The type description is based on 11 Indian versions, as is type ATU 534 The Youth Who Tends the Buffalo Herd (24 versions) which has the same motif of the Floating golden Hair, this time of a boy who lives in the forest with wild buffaloes from whom he gets a horn (flute) to call them when in need. The hair is found by a Princess who falls in love with the [unseen] youth [Motif T11.4.1.1] (4) The King sends a parrot (crow) to find the boy (the parrot steals the boy’s horn or flute). (4a) The boy is brought to the Palace. (4b) The boy calls his buffaloes to the Palace. (4c) The boy marries the Princess [Thompson, 1961, p. 192].

A combination with ATU 560 can be found in the Tamil romance Madana Kamaraja Kadai and is summarized by Clouston in his Popular Tales and Fictions. The young Prince, living alone with his mother, buys for a lot of money a kitten and the second time a snake. One day his mother doesn’t want the snake in the house. He takes it to the woods and is then taken by the snake to the Palace of his father Adisésha, the King of the snakes, from whom he receives a wish ring. In the jungle he wishes that a country arises with him as King. Then he discovers that the daughter of King Svarnésa is meant for him. He has her brought sleeping on her divan. When she wakes up, she is with the Prince in agreement, and the wedding night is postponed. The Prince has her brought back and sends ambassadors to the King, after which the wedding is celebrated in the highest pomp [so far ATU 560, 562]. The Princess is fond of bathing in sea and has her husband (with the ring) make a tunnel from her bedroom to the coast. Once a hair comes loose and washes as a ball on some coast, where the King of Kochchi [this is Cochin,] drives by and sees the ball. He unrolls it and sees that it is a hair of 10 bhagams [two times a yard]. He wants the owner of the hair as his wife and offers a great reward. An old, bent woman takes it upon her and goes from the find spot of the hair along the coast to ‘that place’ [the exit of the tunnel]. She collects some wood, makes a fire, seats herself by it, weeping. The Queen from Nishada (the city and land of the Prince Nishadésa) comes bathing, hears the weeping, sees the woman near the ‘funeral pile’, and goes to comfort her. As soon as she sees the Queen, the old woman throws her arms around her, pretending that she is her just burnt daughter. The Queen thinks that the woman has lost her mind out of grief, takes her to the Palace and has a room prepared for her. The old hag shows herself devoted to the Queen, and even Nishadésa likes her. She thinks is a very pious and virtuous woman. Once the old woman asks for a mango out of season and the Queen asks her husband, who says in the presence of the old woman. ‘Let a mango appear by the power of this ring.’ It appears. The hag understands that with the ring it will be a trifle to get the Queen for the King of Kochchi. A few days later she pretends to have a terrible headache. Nothing avails and finally she asks the Queen if she may wear the ring of her husband for just a moment. As soon as she has it on her finger, she wishes herself to the King of Kochchi, and after receiving her reward and handing him the ring she tells him he only has to wish for the woman and she will be there. The King does this and the Queen of Nishada flies to him. He also wishes that the King of Nishada becomes crazy and his Kingdom turns to ashes. The Queen gets eight days to prepare herself for the wedding and receives money and food to divide under the poor who daily flock to the Palace. Among them is also her husband, the former King of Nishada and now a poor fool wandering around with his cat, begging for bread. He argues with the leaf divider about a leaf (serving as plate for food) for his cat. The Queen intervenes on behalf of the cat. After the meal he lays himself down to sleep with the cat on his chest, who sees rats, among them a big one, obviously the rat Rajah, grabs him, threatens to eat him unless he delivers the ring that is in the possession of the King. The rat sends out his subjects, who discover the ring in a box in the bedroom of the King, and bring it to the cat, who releases the rat Rajah. The cat wakes up his master by placing the ring on his breast. As soon as he puts it on his finger, the King regains his senses, wishes himself and his Queen back to Nishada that he lets arise again. Then he wishes the King of Kochchi crazy and his Kingdom destroyed [Clouston, 1887, p. 337- 345].

The story of the tunnel under water is also present in a Tamil version called ‘The Abducted Princess’, which is a very complicated mixture of themes. The long childless Raja and his minister both have a son, who grow up as brothers. When they are 12, they are handed their fathers positions, but they want to travel first. Therefore they mount their horses and fly through the air to see the world. The Prince gets thirsty, but his friend warns that they are above Cuddalore, the ‘Sea Town’, where the water is undrinkable. They go on, see a pond in a forest, land, and drink from the water. There are many fruits, so they decide to stay. After they have tied up the horses the Prince takes a nap, while the minister goes off with a bag for food. Out of the pool comes a snake that wants to bite the Prince, but he wakes up in time and kills the snake. Out of its mouth falls a ring that the Prince puts on his finger. Then he wants to clean his sword in the water, but the water shrinks back. The Prince goes down deeper and deeper into a tunnel in the water, and arrives at a row of 12 houses, but no one is there until he reaches the last house. There is hot water in the first room and he takes a bath, food in abundance in the second room, and he eats his fill. In the third room he sees the nine jewels [?], in the fourth even more. Finally he reaches the tenth room, where a girl all alone is playing the vina (a string instrument). While he is standing there confused, she asks who he is. He tells what happened with the snake. She doesn’t believe him, because the snake was a Rakshasa who had abducted her. He brings her to the corpse of the snake, whereupon she declares to have been the snake’s wife for 12 years, although she is a Princess, but now she will live her with him as his wife. Inn the meantime he minister comes back, cannot find his friend, goes to Benares. The Prince has discovered that the parting of the water results from the ring. He often uses it to go play outside. So once playing outside with his wife, they were seen by a local raja’s minister, who tells the raja that the woman is much more beautiful than the Queen. But as he says this, the Prince and his wife go back into the water, so no one else has seen the woman. The girl blames the Prince (for wanting to go outside), but after 10 days he wants to go again, and this time they are spotted by the Raja who has come alone. He sees them bathing and gathering their bronze pots. He offers a reward of half his Kingdom and 6.000 fanams (times 200 rupees). When a Brahman’s widow hears this, she goes to the pond and sits there weeping. The Prince wants to take a look, but his wife says it is dangerous. ‘But I am a Prince. Nothing can hurt me.’ The old woman says ‘Help! My child has died. Now I am going to die on this pyre.’ The Prince says that he will protect her, and takes her to the underwater Palace. When she sees him use the ring to part the water [does he make a gesture?], she thinks about killing him and using the ring to steal the girl. She lives a week with them. Then arrives the opportunity to ‘poison’ the Prince with soup. Before this the Prince has told his wife about his friend, who not only speaks all languages [ATU 670, animal languages, virtually blind motif], but also has a Mantra to revive the dead. So, when her husband is dead, the Princess decides to find that minister. The old woman builds a chest, puts the body of the Prince in it, and takes his ring. With it [and the Princess] she goes to the Raja and claims her reward. He gives her the money and agrees to give half the kingdom to her son when he comes back from Benares. The wife of the prince says to the raja she will marry him but first has to live half a year on her own, during which time he has to give food to everyone who comes to the Palace [= a free restaurant]. Each must be asked if he has lost a friend. If so, he must be brought to her. When the six months are almost passed, the minister comes back from Benares, asks the local herdsmen for news, hears about the Brahman’s widow who has helped catch a Princess, and whose son, who went to Benares, is entitled to half the Kingdom. De minister is disguised as a Saddhu, goes to the old woman, telling everyone that he is her son returned from Benares. The woman takes him in, and he says ‘Mother, when I left the house, we had nothing to eat. How did you come by this?’ She tells how she went into the tunnel, killed the Prince and stole the Princess. He asks her for the water parting ring and she gives it to him. Then he goes for a free meal in the Palace, has lost a friend and is put in a room. The Princess comes, discovers that he is the friend and leaves with him for the pond. When in the morning her disappearance is noticed, the old woman (for her son stealing the Princess) is blamed by the King and burnt. At the pond the minister brings the Prince back to life. After this the story becomes a version of ATU 516, whereby the accidents that are prevented by the minister are the work of the son of Karkottan, the snake the Prince killed at the pond. How the birds know this is not motivated. At the end an explanation is given by the Princess about her background. She is from a nearby Kingdom, one of 12 Princesses who went gathering flowers, when the snake came. The others ran away and she was taken by the snake Rakshasa who kept her prisoner in the underwater Palace, where she was six months his wife, before the Prince found her (which is something else than the 12 years she told before) [Blackburn, 2001, p. 38 – 44, Nº 5].

The motif of the Prince in love with a hair can take on exceptional forms. In the Tamil story ‘The Bouquet’, the minister’s son is the faithful friend of the son of the Raja. During their travels they come to a temple where the Prince falls madly in love with a statue of a Princess with a bouquet. The minister [= the son] asks the temple priest who that woman is. She is the daughter of a Chettiyar merchant, living beyond the Seven Seas. When the sculptor saw one of her hairs he made this image. The minister leaves the crazy Prince in the care of the priest, and goes searching. He rides a long way and then sees a cobra in a tree eating two just hatched chicks in a bird’s nest. Every day the bird lays two eggs and every day the snake breaks the eggs and eats the chicks. The snake keeps on eating this family day after day. When the minister sees the snake sneak into the nest, he understands what is going on. He kills the snake with his sword and makes a mountain from it. The rescued chicks say to the minister (they are of the kind that speaks from birth) ‘Who are you, great savior, who has rescued us from this historical destruction of our race! Tell us what you want and our parents will grant it to you.’ ‘I have to cross the Seven Seas.’ ‘We will do that. Now hide, so our parents won’t see you. They are very savage and might bite you. Don’t come out before we call you.’ The parent birds come, weeping, because their offspring will have been killed, but when they see them alive, they are thrilled and say ‘You know how long it is since I saw one of my children alive? Wonderful!’ ‘Mother, father, promise that you will kill no one.’ ‘We promise it,’ say the parent birds. ‘Look at that mountain; that is what has devoured our family for so long. A young man has saved us and now you have to bring him over the Seven Seas. When you refuse, we will never eat again. You have to do it and now.’ The parents agree, the minister can come out of hiding and climb onto the wings of the parent birds. Flying over the Third or Fourth Sea the minister thinks of how to present himself to the Chettiyar. He cannot come there empty handed. Looking down he sees rubies, emeralds and diamonds. He tells the birds he has to go to the toilet. They put him down, he fills his pockets with jewels, and continues his journey a rich man. On the other side of the Seventh Sea the birds give him a little wand that he has to take between his hands as if in prayer and they will come back. To gain the daughter of the merchant the minister makes use of the ruse of Inclusa, known from the Book of Sindibad (or The Seven Sages), tjis is ATU 1419E, Underground Passage to Paramour’s House. A woman goes from one [house] to the other. Her husband [in this case father] is made to believe that the woman next door is her sister [in this case a woman who looks like her]. Accompanied by the Chettiyar the minister and the woman go to the coast where the minister calls the birds. They each climb a bird, and fly off, waved goodbye by the Chettiyar who only after coming home finds out that he has been duped. The birds take them all the way to the temple, and the minister thanks them for their help in curing the Raja’s son [Blackburn, 2001, p. 55 – 59. Nº 10. The ending is confused and has a decisive question (Vetalapanchavimsati, see The minister hides, while the woman with the bouquet offers the Prince the flowers. The woman says, questioned by the Prince, that the minister is dead, whereupon the Prince dies from sadness. The woman then dies too. Then the teller says that there are three bodies, but the minister is not dead, so he must have killed himself by the sight of the other two dead. When the priest sees them he also commits suicide. The question is which ones of these deaths were legitimate and which were not (compare Thompson 1961, p. 419 for Inclusa)].
In a second version of this story from the same collection the same Raja’s son and minister’s son go hunting for six months. When the Prince becomes thirsty, they come to a temple with painted walls. Near the entrance is the painting of a woman with a bouquet, and the Prince stands there frozen and unmovable. The minister’s son asks the priest, who made the paintings. He is referred to the builder, who also made the paintings. So the minister’s son goes to the sculptor and asks him how he made the painting. ‘One evening a hunter showed me something shining as gold or silver. I bought it, took it home, and saw in the morning that it was a fingernail of a woman. By looking at the beauty of that nail I was able to imagine the beauty of the woman and that’s how I painted her.’ The minister’s son asks him about the hunter, and the man tells where he met him. The minister’s son goes there and waits for the hunter. He asks him about the nail and the hunter refers him to a certain banyan tree where he found it. The minister’s son goes to this tree, and seats himself there. In the tree are many bird’s nests [?]. A male and a female bird lay every day an egg and leave. Then a snake comes and eats the eggs. Every day the birds go over the Seven Seas to find food for their young, but by the time they come back the eggs are eaten by the snake. The minister’s son sits under this tree with naked sword, and when the snake comes he cuts it in two. When the mother bird comes back, she is surprised to see the birds. ‘How come that my young today have hatched? Not one has survived all these years!’ The baby birds say in bird language ‘A man came and killed the snake. If he hadn’t been there, we wouldn’t have been here. That snake came every night and ate us.’ The bird flies down to the minister’s son, and says that she will do whatever he asked as thanks for the fact that he saved her young. ‘Amma [= mama], I don’t need help; I only need information. Did you drop, a month or so ago, close to here a nail?’ The storyteller explains. You must know, the minister’s son knows the animal languages, bird languages, all of them. ‘A nail?’ asks the bird mother, ‘well, we cross the Seven Seas and look for food. One day we saw something shining down there, and we brought it back, not knowing what it was. We couldn’t eat it. It was a nail, so we threw it away. That’s how someone else must have found it, but I don’t where it comes from.’ ‘Then there is just one thing that I wish you to do for me, Bring me to the place where you saw the nail.’ The minister’s son climbs on the back of the male bird and flies over the Seven Seas to a Palace covered with diamonds and gold. ‘Here I have seen it. Look here,’ says the bird. The minister’s son makes a bag out of his tuntu and collects dozens of diamonds and gold pieces, climbs again on the back of the bird and flies to the Kingdom of the Raja, whose daughter has lost her nail. Arrived there the minister’s son takes leave of the bird, but first asks ‘How can I call you when I need you?’ ‘When you have seen the daughter of the Raja and want to return, burn this like a incense stick,’ says the bird and gives him one of his feathers. Then follows the inclusa scene. The Princess joins through the tunnel the minister’s son as his wife. When the Raja, the merchant (the minister’s son) and his wife (the Princess) are standing on the cay ready to leave, the minister’s son lights the feather tip and the two birds come [conveniently two] and on them they fly over the seven seas [Blackburn, 2001, p. 150 – 155, Nº 47, ‘The bouquet’. Here also the Raja’s son kills himself when he hears that the minister’s son is dead. Then also the woman kills herself. The minister’s son puts the bodies in chests and brings them home. His wife is a devotee of Kali and has promised her right hand when her husband comes home safe. So after his return she sneaks off in the night to the temple of Kali to fulfill her pledge. But when she wants to cut off her hand, Kali prevents that and will put her power in her right hand, with which she can revive the dead. She revives the Prince and Princess, which is followed by a blurred version of ATU 516].

Clouston points to another Indian version of the motif from Bengal. The first day they went bathing a hair of [Princess] Keshavati fell out and as it was the habit among women never to throw away a hair without something attached to it. She made it fast to a shell, that floated on the water downstream and finally came to the qhat (bathing place), where Sahasra Dal and his companions used to do their washings. The shell floated by when Sahasra and his friends were bathing. When he saw it from a distance, he said ‘Who manages to get that shell, will receive 100 rupees as reward.’ They all swam towards it and Sahasra Dal, who was the fastest swimmer, got hold of it and discovered the attached hair. But what a hair it was! It was exactly seven cubit long. ‘The owner of this hair must be a remarkable woman and I must see her,’ said Sahasra Dal and he went from the river homeward in a sad mood [Clouston, 1887, p. 341, after Day, Folk Tales of Bengal, Nº 4].

The story of the abducted wife (ATU 516B) is also recorded in the Philippines, probably with a Portuguese background as the hero is called Juan. An old man advises the woodchopper Juan to marry Princess Lorna, who has already worn out 150 Princes, who all died in the wedding night [compare Sara of The Book of Tobit], after which nobody wants to marry her anymore. The old man tells him what to do. The marriage is closed and at midnight Juan is standing guard outside the bridal room. When the clock strikes 12, he penetrates the room. Lorna is asleep, with next to her a bog serpent. Juan bends over Lorna and says ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.’ This way Juan doesn’t die to everyone’s joy [what happened to the serpent is not clear]. When he gets bored after a few months, Juan goes incognito in the service of a carpenter, who has to build a castle for a Count, and gives his workers meager rations. Juan protests to the Count and suggests ‘I will feed all your men and (when I don’t succeed this afternoon in this), then I’ll give you my head to chop off, but if the food for 1.000 workers is there, the castle will be mine.’ The Count accepts the bet and loses. Juan and his wife go and live in the castle. So far the introduction; now we come to the 516B part. A typhoon takes away the roof of the castle with the portrait of Princess Lorna, to another Kingdom. That King sees the portrait, has his spies track down the woman and sends his Army that abducts the woman. Juan disguises himself as wandering woodchopper, goes to search his wife. He meets a vinegar seller, buys his load. Then he comes to the Palace of the King, sees his wonderfull beautiful wife on the balcony, calls out. ‘Vinegar for sale!’ The woman recognizes his voice and has to smile for the first time since her abduction. The King goes to the vinegar seller, exchanges his clothes with him. Juan goes into the palace to his wife. The King calls ‘Vinegar for sale!’ When it doesn’t succeed in making his wife smile, he throws the bottles to pieces and commands the guards to arrest Juan, but they don’t listen to a vinegar seller and put him in jail [Coyaud & Potet, 1986, p. 66f, Nº 72, ‘Le buchéron qui épousa une Princesse’ = ACF, p. 74 – 81].

But the motif of the Floating Hair (ring, shoe) is of course dispensable as can be seen in an Albanian version. The son of a poor widow goes to find his fortune with the magic saber he has inherited of his father. On the way he befriends Star and Sea, whereupon he calls himself Saber. They come into a town, where the King has promised his daughter to whomever jumps over a broad ditch. The three of them jump over it and Saber allots the Princess to Star, while Sea receives a high position from the King. Saber leaves a feather behind as life token and comes to a tower, where an old woman points the way to the Most Beautiful Woman on Earth who lives in the Palace of a Kutshedra (dragon), who is killed by Saber. The local King hears about it and wants to possess the Most Beautiful, but his Army is beaten by Saber. Then the old woman from the tower is sent to the Most Beautiful and she discovers that Saber’s power is connected with his saber, steals it at night and tosses it into the sea. Thereupon Saber becomes very ill and the King goes to collect the Most Beautiful. The ‘brothers’ see the feather dripping blood. Star takes Sea on his shoulders and they go so fast that they arrive before the King does. Sea finds the saber, puts it on the motionless Saber, who awakens, saying ‘What a long time did I sleep!’ A typical remark for someone revived, whereupon the reviver says ‘If I wouldn’t have revived you, you would have slept forever.’ With his saber he then defeats the King.
In another Albanian version the motif is present but in an altered way. The youngest of three brothers acquires the Beauty of the World as wife, opens despite her interdiction a certain room and the Luck Fairy of the woman flies away in the shape of a white cloth, that comes down on the tower of the Palace of a King. He opens a search for the woman to whom the cloth belongs. An old witch helps him, sneaks into the bedroom of the hero, kills him and abducts the woman. The hero is brought to life by his brothers and wins his beautiful wife back [Horálek, p. 12f after Leskien, p. 236 – 244, Nº 52 (= Beit II, p. 442). ID, p. 13 after Lambertz, 1952, p. 66-82].

The story of Saber is also known in Bulgaria. A childless couple receives by a miraculous impregnation (apple, prayer) a son, who receives from an old man (God) a knife, that he must not draw out of its sheath or leave lying on the ground. The youngest of three brothers inherits from his father a horse, clothes and saber. Together with two blood brothers (with magic powers, compare ATU 513A) the hero sets out in the world. With his knife (saber) he conquers the Army of the King and kills a dragon (Lamia = female dragon). His blood brothers marry the girls, gained by these actions. The hero marries a girl of unheard off beauty (saved from the Arab, Samovilla, heroine who with her breath beats a man deep in the earth, who turns a person to stone with her glance). A King falls in love with the woman when he sees her portrait or when he finds in the river her lost ring (slipper, golden hair). The King sends someone (sorceress) to bring him the beauty. When she has enters into the house of the hero, the old woman discovers the secret of the knife, throws it into the sea (leaves it on the ground or pulls it out of the sheath). Now that he has lost his power, the hero is killed and his wife brought to the King. After the blood brothers have found out about his death (by a life token or otherwise). They find the knife, fix it and revive the hero. The hero disguised as a woman sneaks into the Palace, hides at night in the bedroom of his wife. Then kills the King and presents himself in the morning to the people as the King, rejuvenated by the beauty. The last part is also catalogued as ATU 516B, ‘The Stolen Bride’. After his marriage with a beauty the hero loses her ring or the bride lets a golden hair (shoe, ring, picture) fall into the river (spring). A King finds it and  falls in love with the woman. An old woman (sorceress) sent by the King sneaks into the house of the hero and finds out the secret of his magic knife. After he has lost his power, the hero is killed and his wife is brought in a flying earthen pot (lantern) to the King. The stolen beauty manages to postpone the marriage with the King by maintaining silence. The helpers of the hero find the magic knife and revive the hero [Daskalova and others, 1995, p. 66f type, 302B (summary based on 11 variants), p. 115 type 516B].

The version with the birth giving apple is known in Macedonia, summarized by Horálek, and entitled ‘The deeds of the Tsar’s Son and his two Companions’. A childless Tsarina gives birth after eating with her husband of an apple from an old man, whom she promised to make godfather to a son who becomes strong and dangerous [like many a hero of the Strong John type, compare to especially ATU 650A]. The son wants when he is ten from his father money and a horse to go out into the world. Because he is not yet baptized, the old man is invited. This old man stabs the boy a knife in the right leg and gives him the name Knife Prince. Because he can’t be kept in line in school [remember, even Jesus had problems at school with his supreme forces]. He receives from his father a horse and money. He goes into the mountains, where he meets a strong man, who turns out to be on his way to measure himself with the Knife Prince. They fight for three days and nights without one of them falling. Thereupon the Prince offers the man to become blood brothers. He is a psychic and knows all that is happening on earth. The Prince admits that no one can resist his knife, but that he has to die when someone steals it. Together they go further and meet up on a mountain another man on his way to fight the Knife Prince. Also this fight remains undecided. This new blood brother can make a road through the sea. The three of them arrive at a fire and try to jump over it in order to gain a Princess, what finally is done by the Knife Prince, who gives the woman to the ‘older brother’ and moves on after leaving behind some hairs [life token]. Also for the other ‘brother’ he gains a wife by jumping over a river (even carrying a donkey). Then he comes to a fork in the road, with a stone on which is written ‘Whoever chooses this road, returns, whoever chooses this road, doesn’t return.’ He takes the road without return and soon comes upon three Lamias (dragons), whom he beats to death with a club, just like the six that follow, as well as a minaret high one after that. Then he comes to a Palace and finds in the last of the 50 rooms a girl. Soon after three ships come to get the girl [no reason given why]. The Prince sinks two ships, the third escapes and reports to their Tsar. An old woman offers him her assistance and has herself brought in a chest to the castle. She finds out from the woman, where the force of the Prince is, pulls at night the knife out of his leg, throws it into the sea, and the Prince dies. From the hairs [left behind at the blood brothers] blood flows, the ‘brothers’ go to seek the wrecked Prince, and find him in the Palace. The psychic informs the other where the knife is and he gets it out of the sea. They stab it back in the Prince’s leg and he awakes (‘What did I sleep long!’) They sail nine days, exactly the delay the woman has managed to get from the Tsar. The Prince chops the old woman into pieces, wants to kill the Tsar too, but he offers him nine loads of ransom money, which the Prince shares with his brothers, after which each goes homeward [Horálek, in Fabula 7, 1966, p. 10 – 12 from the collection of Leskien, 1915, p. 34 – 41, Nº 9 (compare Beit, II, p. 374f)].

A Bulgarian Macedonian version is summarized by Horálek. A King bequeaths his Kingdom to his two eldest sons, and to his youngest a magic horse and saber, with which he goes to find his fortune. On the way he takes two men as blood brothers with him, helps a Tsar and receives his daughter in marriage. He marries her and her sister with his travel companions, leaving a life token behind. He comes in another country to a beautiful Samovila (fairy), marries her, but is distracted during the hunt by thinking of her, whereupon she gives him a ring to concentrate. When washing the blood of his hands, the ring drops in the water and is found by the servants of the Tsar when they come to let the horses drink. The Tsar reads on the ring that it belongs to the Greek Samovila, who makes everyone young who marries her. He sets out with a big Army. The woman sees them coming while the hero sleeps [with his head in her lap like the dragon killer], weeps and wakes her husband with a [burning hot] tear. Twice he beats the Army of the Tsar, who then summons the witches and magicians. An old hag flies on a magic jar to the beauty and is taken in the house by the husband to keep his wife company (as a mother). She wrangles out of the Beauty the secret of the strength of her husband, his saber, steals it in the night, throws it into the sea and immediately the man dies. She lures the Beauty with her into the woods and into her jar. Next she flies with her to the Tsar. The blood brothers come to the rescue of the dead man, find the saber in the sea. They bring it to the hero and he revives. He goes after his wife, arrives just before the wedding. He sends an old woman to his wife, who advises him to enter the Palace in disguise. In the night he kills his rival, hides the body, and presents himself the next morning as the rejuvenated Tsar [Horálek, p. 13f from Sbornik za narodni umotvoranija 6, 1891, p. 170 – 172,  Nº3].

Beit, Hedwig, Symbolik des Märchens: Versuch einer Deutung, drei Teile, Bern, 1952.
Blackburn, Stuart, Moral Fictions. Tamil Folktales from Oral Tradition, Helsinki, 2001 (FFC 278).
Brunner Traut, E, Egyptische Sprookjes, Utrecht Antwerpen, 1974 (= Altägyptische Märchen, Köln, 1963).
Clouston, W.A., Popular Tales and Fictions: their migrations and transformations, Edinburgh, London 1887.
Cosquin, E, Les Contes Indiens et l’Occident, Paris, 1922.
Coyaud, M et JP Potet, Contes et Nouvelles des Philippines, Paris, 1986.
Daskalova, and others, Typenverzeichnis der Bulgarischen Volksmärchen, Helsinki, 1995 (FFC 257).
Daum, Werner (ed.), Märchen aus Jemen. Mythen und Märchen aus dem Reich von Saba, Köln, 1983.
Frazer, James, The Golden Bough, A study in magic and religion, London, 1971.
Horálek, Karel, ‘Ein Beitrag zur volkskundlichen Balkanologie’, in Fabula 7 (1964 -1965), p. 3 – 32
Kaster, Joseph, The Wisdom of Ancient Egypt, Writings from the Time of the Pharaohs, New York, 1968.
Thompson, Stith, The Types of the Folktale, Helsinki, 1961 (FFC 184).
Fragen = Fragen der Mongolischen Heldendichtung, herausgegeben W Heissig.

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