Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kalamona

This is really going to be short.

Kalamona Binds the Winds is a Hungarian folktale; one that I will probably translate into English in its full glory on the oh-so-desirable Other Side of the Great Thesis Project. For now, here are some spoilers:

Kalamona is a monster; he (it?) is never really described in the stories, it is just said that it can change shape, has a mouth big enough for an oxcart to turn around in it, and likes kidnapping princesses. Oh, and he also has the power and bind the winds, thus ruining kingdoms forever. And then comes the hero with the quest to unbind the winds and defeat Kalamona. Apprently, Kalamona also likes the cold, because he lives in a castle made of ice.

I just told the story of Kalamona for the first time in English this week, to 5ht grade. They paid a lot of attention - and I mean, a LOT. This story follows a basic Hungarian folktale storyline, but it also has a few nice unique elements. The kids especially seemed to enjoy the piglet that claims to be a magic horse, and then turns into the sassiest, preppiest táltos horse I have ever seen (and told). The Old King of the Mountains is all kinds of creepy (eating a live cow with his long yellow fingernails, gah). I had to tweak the story a bit to have earth spirits in it instead of devils, because I was not sure if the librarians would call the wrath of the principal down upon my head if I said "hell" and "devil" too many times (also, in this story the devils actually help the hero, which would raise a lot of awkward questions from the educators. Probably not the kids though, kids are fine with that stuff).

Kalamona Binds the Winds took about 25 minutes to tell (and I was already editing it down to fit in the time frame). I will keep working on it; it has all the good elements of an epic tale, if I have more time, it might even turn into one.

I might even put the devils back into it.


  1. That is my first time hearing about Kalamona and it sounds very interesting. I'm part Hungarian but know nothing about the culture.
    Fellow A-Zer!

  2. I love the idea of a piglet thinking it is a magic horse.


  3. Devils help the hero because Hungary was christianized in about 1000 and many of the old pagan beliefs translated a bit awkwardly. Devils, the "ördög" were more like evil-ish but sometimes stupid spirits and monsters, like the Kami in Japan, thats why it was possible that they help the hero and that they aren't all-powerful and satanic.

    Similarly the Christian "Hell" concept merged with the pagan "Under - World" concept which was more like an other world with evil spirits, but not as harsh as full of fire and torture as the Christian concept of Hell. So thats why in a lot of Hungarian folk tales the hero gets help from "devils", because these Hungarian pagan devils aren't as dangerous as the modern christian ones :D