Monday, April 10, 2017

H506.5. Test of resourcefulness: To swing seventy girls until they are tired (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.

The H section of the Motif Index lists all the Tests that heroes in folktales need to go through to accomplish their goals. And none of them are standardized... You might recognize some of them (such as "H41.1. - Princess on the pea," "H36.1. - Slipper test," or "H761. - Riddle of the Sphinx"), while other are a little more obscure. Case in point:

H506.5. Test of resourcefulness: to swing seventy girls until they are tired

The tale is aptly titled How Raja Rasalu swung the seventy fair maidens, daughters of the King, and it is from Punjab. 

Raja Rasalu, "tender-hearted and strong" (a popular Punjabi hero) rescues a cricket from a forest fire, and the cricket promises to return the favor. The Raja visits a King who has seventy daughters (whew!), and falls in love with the youngest princess. The other sixty-nine get jealous, and decide to give him tasks to win their sister. First he has to separate a hundredweight of millet seed from a hundredweight of sand - which he does successfully with the help of an army of crickets. Second - he has to swing all seventy maidens in swings until they are tired.

Raja Rasalu tells the girls that he has no time to swing them one by one - if they want to be swung, they all have to get into one swing. The girls all pile in, "merry and careless, full of smiles and laughter," and the Raja fastens the swing rope to his mighty bow, shooting an arrow into the sky. The swing goes up and up and up, pulled by the arrow - and when it swings down, the Raja draws his sword and cuts the ropes. All seventy girls fall out, getting bruises and broken bones - except for the youngest, who lands on top of the pile. 
The Raja also breaks seventy drums and seventy gongs; the father of the maidens then tries to poison him, but doesn't succeed. In one version of the story, a whole lot of other adventures follow; the others end kind of abruptly. 

(Read the story here, here, or here.)

Image from here

H13.2.7. Recognition by overheard conversation with stove
H35.5. Recognition by manner of throwing cakes of different weights into faces of old uncles
H71.10.3. Frogs croak at prince‘s command
H186. Hero spits twice at his wife as sign of recognition
H316.5. Expressing love by throwing little stones
H322.3. Suitor test: bringing leg that fits into dragon claw left by the beloved of the princess
H326.1.1. Suitor test: constructing automatic peacock
H328.2. Suitor test: being swung by mustache without shedding tears
H411.16. Catching salmon as proof of virginity
H412.2. Chastity ordeal: holding shaven and greased tail of bull
H413.5. Chastity test: throwing certain number on dice
H1021.4. Task: making a knot of spilled brandy
H1154.10. Task: capturing badgers
H1212.3. Prince sulks until quest is accomplished
H1212.4. Quest assigned because of longings of pregnant woman
H1331.5. Quest for marvelous goat
H1377.2. Quest for bouquet of all flowers. (Beehive.)
H1381.3.2. Quest for Glass Princess
H1521. Clam test
H1522. Killing trees threaten hero
H1536. Toboggan test. Attempt to kill hero on dangerous toboggan
H1588.1. Litter of puppies tested by throwing them one by one at hanging hide of wild beast, and keeping the one that grips hide


  1. Is that really a way to impress your love, by sticking her on a crazy swing with her sisters and then breaking it? Hmm, one had to wonder! Now, making a knot of spilled brandy sounds like an interesting runner up!
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

  2. I'd never heard this story before. I'm surprised he was still motivated enough to want to marry her, after all those adventures.

    Harkla and Hoppipolla: Exotic Words with no English Equivalent

  3. The things they think up to test love. Swinging 70 maidens. This was a fun read. Will ask some Punjabis whether they've ever heard this lovely tale.
    Hindsight #Lexicon of Leaving

  4. Swinging seventies of a different kind! :) Runners up throwing stones to test love (unless they were diamonds or something) and swinging suitor by mustache (ouch!)


  5. I imagine there was a great deal of screaming involved with the swing.
    Also, from the runners up - spitting at one's wife does not seem to be a very proper greeting.
    Tasha's Thinkings - Shapeshifters and Werewolves

  6. I'm thinking that I need to get all my family to heave some cakes at their uncles some time, because otherwise I won't be able to recognize them from the way they throw cakes into the faces of old uncles. I mean, do you recognize the distinctive manner in which your loved ones throw cakes int he faces of their uncles?
    A-Z of Printmaking

    1. Haha, I actually tried to look that one up, but it was in French, and I could not get the book through the library... :D

  7. Another interesting post. I don’t find this one as bizarre as the fried fingernails, but still meets your “WTF” criteria.

    H for Hungry


  8. So all of the jealous girls get bruised and broken and the one he likes does not. Interesting. And I imagine he was glad of the cricket´s assistance.


    My Life In Ecuador

    Humpback Whales

  9. You know you're in fairytale land when seventy girls piling onto each other do so "full of smiles and laughter". Yeah, right.

    I laughed out loud for the Quest for Marvelous Goat. For some reason, it made me think the goat is the one questing, and not the other way around. I might need to write a story about that...

    A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

  10. I didn't really know this story but this sounds very much like something we Indians would concoct so I can't rule it out. Knowing us, there will be people out there claiming it really happened as well! :)

  11. P.S. Really need to get some share buttons :D

  12. haha! catching salmon as proof of virginity??? :P

    joy @ The Joyous Living

  13. the puppy one is appalling! and some of the other runner-ups are plain freaky.

    the guy broke all those girls. wow. i don't know what else to say.

  14. I am so glad the father tried to poison him. I read that and couldn't help but think "Seriously? He beats up 69 of his daughters so he can get with the last one and you're going to let him get away with that?

    H - Frederick Haultain and the Province of Buffalo

  15. I have to wonder what a "clam test" would be...

  16. I wonder if those seventy daughters are from the same wife, or multiple wives! People in myths and folktales certainly don't operate under the same scientific rules as real people.

  17. Distinctly odd. I bet he wouldn't have enjoyed being swung by the moustache.

  18. That would be quite a feat - swinging 70 girls. I have always loved folklore. Thanks for sharing

  19. I'd love to know how these women all piled on that swing. And even better, how did he guarantee that his love wouldn't break a bone? Interesting story.

    With Love,

  20. But does he win the hand of the youngest daughter after all that effort?

    Here's my "H" post :)

  21. Another interesting folktale! I also read the runner-up, "Prince sulks until quest completed," and thought, I hope that's a story about girl power! 😄
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog | Ato...? 2017 - Dragons in Our Fandoms