Monday, April 24, 2017

T543.4. Birth from fungus (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.

T is the Motif Index stands for Sex (I'll never understand why he could not just make the initials line up...). Also, love ("T92.1. - The triangle plot and its solutions"). Marriage. Chastity. Incest. But no actual sex acts, so if you were hoping for something dirty, you are out of luck. What we do have, however, is all kinds of miraculous births and conceptions. For example:

T543.4. Birth from fungus

This tale from the Ekoi people in Nigeria and Cameroon is called The Fungus Daughter. It starts with a classic folktale motif: A childless couple wishes for a child.
The husband goes out into the bush and searches for a child. Instead, he finds a giant "ebbuya ball" (a sort of puff fungus), and, hoping it would turn into a child, carries it home in his bag. And lo and behold, the fungus indeed turns into a lovely daughter.
When the girl is old enough, she is sent to the fatting-house (a place of seclusion where she is supposed to fatten up to be healthy and attractive). A slave girl is supposed to care for her, but she refuses: "You are not the proper daughter of those whom you call parents. You are nothing but an ebbuya ball!"
Hearing these unkind words, the fungus girl returns to the bush, and turns back into a puffball. Her parents find out from a servant boy what happened, and the father goes out to search the bush for ebbuya balls again - but none of them turns into a child ever again. The story claims that if she had not been hurt by unkind words, people could still get children from puffballs.

Fungus children are children too.

(Read the story here.)

T10.3. Girl continually falling in love
T11.4.4. Love through seeing marks of lady’s teeth in fruit which she has bitten
T76. Princess calls her suitors ugly names
T85.3. The Pot of Basil. Mistress keeps murdered lover‘s skull in flower-pot
T99.1. Death from excess of women
T117.5. Marriage with a tree
T126.2. Marriage of mountain and cockle-shell
T146.2. Woman requires thirty men
T322.1. Woman kicks lecherous monk down the stairs
T333.5. Hero cuts off head and wraps it in napkin so he will not be tempted by sight of virgins
T511.3.2. Conception from eating spinach
T511.8.3. Conception from eating mess of fairy pottage
T511.8.5. Woman impregnated after accidentally partaking of crane‘s dung
T515.1. Impregnation through lustful glance
T517.3. Conception through ear
T525.2. Impregnation by a comet
T532.1.3. Impregnation by leaf of lettuce
T532.10. Conception from hiss of cobra
T552.2.1. Child born bearing lizard in each hand
T581.2.2. Blind wives fall into a pool where they give birth to children
T583.1.1. Pains of woman in childbirth repeated in person of the man
T586.5.1. Woman bears child every month
T589.1. Co-operative birth. Each of two wives bears a half-boy. They are placed together and form a real boy


  1. Very interesting. I love myths legends and folktales.

  2. Unkind words definitley are culprit! They sprout from the dark fungus that grows in the minds of some people.
    Interesting story!
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

  3. Why does this remind me of Thumbelina?! impregnation by crane dung -eww! Definitely today's choice.

  4. As a woman who suffered from subfertility, I would have wrecked some serious vengeance on that slave girl for her cruel, cruel words.

    Her Grace, HeidiRomance Spinners

  5. Oh man, I want to hear the full stories of every one of those runner-ups.

    And making kids out of fungus would be so much easier.

    T - Toronto's Ill-Fated First Hanging

  6. ROFL. You're story selections are awesome. I'm really bummed that servant messed up the puffball children for the rest of us.
    Discarded Darlings - Jean Davis, Speculative Fiction Writer, A to Z: Editing Fiction

  7. Nasty slave girl! It would be far more easy to have babies today...
    Eva - Mail Adventures

  8. Replies
    1. Probably a polite way of saying "Death by Snoo-Snoo"

  9. Some of these folktales make me wonder what their creators were smoking...

  10. Ha! What interesting stories you find. So much for seeking beautiful children in fungi.

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Tide Pools in Puerto López

  11. I'm not sure what the moral of that one is - don't be rude to a puffball? :)
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

  12. T.11.4.4 is wonderful in both senses of the word, because it makes me wonder.

    Tale types that require falling in love via picture Faithful John, many False Bride type tales are often thought to be quite recent, but maybe only the picture motif itself is recent? Surely Faithful John is quite modern, but does that apply to all tales featuring portraits?

    1. If not portraits, there are many tales where someone falls in love with a woman through seeing a strand of her hair, or a footprint, or something like that

  13. This is such a poignant tale which echoes of modern day malaise like bullying and name calling.So many young lives are turned upside down by unkind words uttered by unkind people.
    T is for Tavaa Toast

  14. OK, that is a weird one. You did forget, however, the story of the stork. ;)

    It is strange how so many stories have been made up to explain how children are born. No wonder people were/are so confused.

    M.M.aka Naila Moon from A-Z

  15. Wow. Just Wow. Woman requires 30 men?? Hero cuts off his own head so he's not tempted? I think I'd like to read some (all ) of these, too!
    Lisa / Tales from the Love Shaque

  16. this has been a fun series this year; thanks!! and thanks for being such a great co-host (?) of A to Z Challenge!

    joy @ The JOYOUS Living

    1. Thank you! It has been great fun writing (and co-hosting) the challenge this year :)

  17. Clearly sticks and stones AND words will hurt a puffball. The world needs more kindness.

  18. I wish I could turn into an ebbuya ball any time someone is mean to me.
    Tolerance #Lexicon of Leaving

  19. Aww, it's sweet but also sad. It helps that she was a cute-sounding puffball, though, rather than some crazy amanita or something. Runner-up winner goes to hero cutting off his own head!

    A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

  20. Woman requires 30 men? For moving furniture?

    1. I can't get over "woman bears child every month"! O.o Poor woman.

  21. Well, that's a lesson to be learned. Seems like making children out of puffballs is a precarious business.

  22. Myths and folktales certainly don't operate under the normal laws of conception, pregnancy, and birth! That's a very important lesson learnt from this story.

  23. "The story claims that if she had not been hurt by unkind words, people could still get children from puffballs." <--mean girls ruin everything! XD

    I wonder if she turned into a child-sized puffball, or shrunk down into a normal sized one? I'm also wondering if the puffballs are psychotropic as the father saw one and thought "That's how you make a baby!" hehe.

    Great folktale. I'm really loving this series. :D

    Here's my "T" post :)