Saturday, April 8, 2017

G11.6.2. Woman who marries tiger is fed human nails regularly (WTF - Weird Things in Folktales)

Welcome to my A to Z Challenge blog series titled WTF - Weird Things in Folktales! Find the introduction post (explaining the theme) here. Find all other participating blogs in the comments of each day's post on the main blog! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

G is a relatively short category, and it is somewhat vaguely labeled as Ogres. It encompasses things that usually appear as villains or adversaries in folktales, such as "G200. Witch," or "G303. Devil" (do not get me started on my pet peeve rant of people translating all kinds of folk creatures as 'ogre', which is simplistic and eurocentric...). One of the largest categories on this list deals with cannibalism, such as:

G11.6.2. Woman who marries tiger is fed human nails regularly

The story comes from the Lepcha people in Sikkim, one of the Himalayan states of India, and it is titled The tiger hunted by wind and lightning. It tells of three siblings: Two brothers, Yong-rumbo and Yok-gnibu, and their sister Naremnom. Naremnom is married to a tiger named Tung-bo. The tiger and his brother kill and eat people, and fry their fingernails, which the wife eats as her favorite delicacy.

Eventually word gets out, and when the two (human) brothers set out to find wives for themselves, everyone rejects them - since they are the brothers of a cannibal, and no one is sure if they are cannibals too, so prospective wives are not keen on taking a chance.
The brothers go and seek out their sister, and they find her munching on something. They snatch the food away from her, and it indeed turns out to be fried human fingernails (yum). The brothers grow angry and decide to kill the man-eating tiger husband. One turns into wind, and the other into lightning, and they chase down and kill the tiger with the help of a bamboo plant.
When Naremnom finds out that her husband died, she turns into a bird in her grief, and flies off into the jungle. People say she can still be heard crying for the tiger, making a distinctive "hoo-hoo" sound. 

Love works in mysterious ways. For some, it's flowers and chocolates... and for others, it's fried human fingernails. 

(Read the original story here.)

G11.1. Cannibal dwarfs
G11.6.3. Old woman calls beasts together to join her in feast on human flesh
G11.8. Cannibal meteor
G211.2.8. Witch as raccoon
G241.1.5. Witch rides on whale
G269.19. Witches as ducks pinch victim
G303.3.1.22. Devil as astrologer
G303. Devil has passionate look in eyes
G303. Devil has only one nostril or is without nostrils at all
G303.9.8.1. Devil spins and knits
G303.9.8.4. Devil causes salamander to appear in glass of rum, drinks it
G303.10.14. The bagpipe is the devil’s bellows
G308.9. Demon-octopus
G328. Rectum snakes
G362.2. Pug-nosed ogre


  1. But all you have to do to get human nails - if you really like the taste! - is offer to cut them for someone...?

    I like the runner-up about the bagpipes. Personally, I enjoy bagpipe music, but a lot of people would agree with that theme!

  2. Sometimes I wonder how the original folk tale teller came up with snacking on fried fingernails, and I often wonder why the audience didn't cry foul.

    But as I read along and looked at your list and the category labelled "ogre", I realised it was an icon of "this is not normal", with "not normal" being an earmark of something/one to be wary of. Cautionary tales?

    So, I guess someone who bites their nails can claim to follow raw foodism? ;)

  3. I don't think I'm working hard enough to find good stories for Willoughby to narrate in his new book. This one.... is so weird I must find a way to adapt it for him!!

    Jemima reviews Gangsta Granny today

  4. Wind and lightening needed the help a a bamboo plant?
    Did the tiger fry the nails for this wife before giving them to her?

    Does the hoo-hoo sounds relate to a bird that can be found in the area?

    And rectum snakes???

    Believe In Fairy Stories: Theme - Folklore & Fairy Tales

  5. What a truly bizzare story, I loved it. It certainly is one of those things that makes a person scratch their head in wonder, fried human fingernails?! Thank you for sharing.

  6. woaa that's fingernail biting story. Sikkim is state near my home state but this story is new to me :D

  7. Gross. Fried fingernails... I'm not sure if that's better or worse than plain, raw fingernails.

    Witch As Raccoon needs to team up with Devil Astrologer and get up to mischief. ;)

    A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

  8. That folktale is pretty darned weird...

  9. Oh, yuck! Isn't eating your own fingernails a disorder? Eating someone else's? Yeesh.

    What a story!

    G is for Gardasil—Is It Safe?

  10. I wonder if this tale began as a way to discourage kids from biting their nails.

    Emily | AtoZ | My Life In Ecuador

  11. Fried fingernails... I just don't know. Maybe fried fingers, but fingernails?
    Finding Eliza

  12. The title of this post certainly catches your attention. I'm not sure why anyone, even someone married to a tiger, would want fried fingernails but sounds like she enjoyed them. WeekendsInMaine

  13. I don't even like chewing my own nails, but whatever floats your boat!

    I think we dodged a bullet by not getting to hear about "rectum snakes"...

  14. Hello fellow A-to-Zer! This is indeed remarkable. I think the one I am most interested in of your possible topics is the passionate look in the eyes of the Devil... I'd like to know about that, too.
    -Melanie Atherton Allen

  15. Fantastic tale this. Thank you. I've been to Sikkim once and I can imagine how the wind and lighting and the 'hoo-hoo' sound of the bird would've inspired the birth of this tale in this beautiful state in eastern India.

  16. Fried fingernails? Do fried human nails taste different from fried animal nails, say fried tiger claws for instance? Just wondering...

    Today's vote for the runners up is split between rectum snakes(eww) and devil gets passionate look in his eyes (why? why? agog)


  17. okay that one is definitely a WTF... Wow.

    Joy @ THE Joyous Living

  18. OMG!! That one is just wrong on so many levels. I'm loving the thought of the devil with a passionate look in his eyes - that one sounds intriguing. Great post as always.

    Pamela @ Highlands Days of Fun

  19. As someone who chewed her own nails for a good portion of her life, I can say they taste like... nothing. They would be crunchy though, so maybe that's the appeal?

    Calling random creatures "ogre" isn't even euro-centric, it's France-centric. You wanna know what the first instance of the word "ogre" used in a German movie was? Shrek! When I first saw the movie, I thought it was a word just made up for the film!

    It's weird how it was so accepted to just insert "fairy" for "good creature" and "ogre" for "bad creature" for so long. I have a German translation of 1001 nights from the 90s(!) that prided itself on being a direct translation of the Arabic text and therefore so much closer to the original than translations based on the French version, but somehow found it acceptable to translate ghoul as "werewolf". Granted there was a foot note explaining it, but if they were gonna use a foot note in the first place then why not just leave it as ghoul? GRRRR!

  20. Umm..ew lol! I'd definitely take the flowers and chocolates. Although part of me wonders if they battered the fingernails before frying. XD

    Here's my "G" post :)

  21. Love truly works in mysterious ways, and certainly in weird ways too :-)
    But I wonder, can eating nails truly be considered cannibalism?

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

  22. My kid sister still chews her nails to the quick to this day, so I can't wait to send her this story! And I would watch or read the crap outta "Witch Raccoon & Devil Astrologer!"
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog | Ato...? 2017 - Dragons in Our Fandoms