(Artifacts. I mean the artifacts.)
This year, since I got home in time to participate, I landed a gig with the Damjanich János Museum in Szolnok, who were planning a Sarmatian theme for their program. The city lies in a part of Hungary that used to be Sarmatian territory back in the good old Roman times, and pretty much any time someone puts a shovel down, Sarmatian stuff starts jumping out. I have always loved Sarmatians, and I had three good reasons to be excited for the gig:
1. I already had a period dress ready, courtesy of my Sarmatian SCA persona (follow the link for an awesome blog on the topic);
2. The gig involved telling Ossetian Nart sagas, on the account of the historical, ethnic and cultural relations between the Ossetians and the Sarmatians, and I freaking love those stories;
3. One of my best friends and former Archaeology classmate works at the museum, and I got a chance to see her.
The first round of storytelling was the program for children titled "Giants, heroes, and tricksters." Since all the kids immediately got stuck at the "archaeology sandbox" digging feverishly for finds, the program started a little late. A little boy arrived first with his grandma, and was very shy; but once I started telling him a story, other flocked in too, and eventually I had a neat little audience of 15 or 20 people. I told my favorite Nart story, in which the heroes dig up the bones of an ancient giant and bring him back to life to learn about how people lived in the past. If there has ever been a fitting story for Archaeology Day, this one was it. I also told the tale where the Narts go adventuring and they all get stuck in magical chairs, just to be rescued by Sirdon the Trickster before a bunch of giants eat them. I love this story not only for the humor, but also because it is a clear parallel to one of my favorite Irish Fianna legends, The Hostel of the Quicken Trees.
here). Then I told the story of how Soslan saved his mother Satana from the Lake of Hell and how he was accepted as the greatest hero of the Narts (ironically, not for saving her, but for failing to save her, because he stopped to help people along the way who were in greater need). I told the fun little bit about Satana and her husband Urizmag getting a divorce - a folktale type when the wife can take what's "dearest to her" from the household, and she takes her sleeping husband (this one is so popular they even used it in a movie). After this we circled back to Soslan winning a wife through a dance-off (also mentioned on the link above). The kids loved this one. At this point the audience stared asking for "one more story!" every time I finished one, which is the greatest compliment a storyteller can get. I told a short funny story about Sirdon the Trickster tricking the Narts when they tried to bully him.
Alimbeg's Daughter - the sex-change story I posted about last week. The audience listened with keen interest, and the lyrical nature of the tale seemed to carry everyone along. They seemed more shocked by Alimbeg having seven wives (a man even muttered "poor guy") than his daughter turning into a man, actually. I chose option 3 from my musings - but the story, when told, needed a lot less tweaking than I expected. It also probably helped with the adults that I told them Hungarians have the same story in tradition - it sounded less foreign that way.
And Night of the Museums is only three weeks away!