Monday, July 13, 2020

Love and integrity (Following folktales around the world 164. - Cyprus)

Today I continue the blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts here, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

A ​fügemagbeli szép leány
Ciprusi török népmesék
Mustafa Gökçeoğlu
Attraktor, 2007.

This book contains 24 Turkish folktales from Cyprus, collected by Mustafa Gökçeoğlu in the 1990s (sadly, I don't think this collection has an English translation). Each story comes with notes that list the place and time of the collection and the name, education, occupation, and age of the storyteller.There is a glossary at the end, and an afterword that talks about folktale opening formulas, the past of collecting Turkish folktales (including the work of Kúnos Ignác, who wrote the book I'm reading for Turkey), and details about the folktale tradition.
(I would have liked a more complete collection from Cyprus, but this was the only one I could get my hands on.)


Image from here
The title story of the collection, The fig seed girl, was an interesting love story: a prince fell in love with a girl born from a fig seed, then abandoned her, then started courting her again. She tossed all his gifts and messages aside, and only forgave him when he apologized honestly in person. In the story of Mehmed the Fisherman a mermaid fell in love with a fisherman, and insisted on marrying him even though he constantly worried that having such an exotic wife would bring trouble. It did, but every time they solved the problems with the mermaid's magic, until the husband accepted that everything can work out just fine.
There were some rare stories in the book too. One was about a king who got so into magic spells that he used them to cause havoc in the kingdom. Eventually a man saved his daughter (accidentally turned into a snake) and convinced the king to stop practicing magic. Basket of pears was a simple yet lovely story about three brothers who took baskets of pears to a king as a gift - but the only one who made a successful journey was the one who honestly declared what he was carrying.
My favorite tale in the whole book was titled The hodja with the bells. In it, a traveler went from one town to another, seeing strange things and asking people to tell their stories to explain them. One story led to another, and the traveler listened patiently to all.


There were once again a lot of familiar tale types. Three oranges, magic flight (Rose Honey), stolen golden apples and descent into the underworld (The emerald griffin), Love like Salt, Koschei the deathless (Lentilfire), animal husband (Ahmed the Fish - including the motif of a clever little girl bringing news to the princess about her lost love), prince made of jewels (Pearls and Coral), tablecloth, donkey, stick, Cinderella (The elder daughter of the jam maker), and the classic chain story where people get anxious about the fate of a child they don't even have yet (My dear son). Once again I encountered one of my favorite folktale types, about a magic pot that steals things and brings them to a girl - food, clothes, and eventually a husband. In another familiar story a clever woman helped a man get his stolen money back from a crooked pawnshop owner.

Where to next?

No comments:

Post a Comment