Sunday, April 30, 2023

Z is for the Zygomatic bone (Body Folktales)

This year, my A to Z Challenge theme is Body Folktales. Enjoy! 

The zygomatic bone is your cheekbone; it's part of the skull. Since I have already done cheeks this month, I'm going to look at folktales about skulls.

Sosruquo and the giant's skull (Abkhaz legend)

One of my favorite tales among the Nart sagas of the Caucasus. The heroes encounter a huge skull, and decide to bring its owner back to life, to ask some questions just out of curiosity. They revive the giant, who tells them of his life long ago. (In other versions, they mistake the skull for a cave, and sleep in it first.) As an archaeologist, I'd love to have this power.

Ottilia and the skull (Tyrol)

A poor girl is chased away from home by her cruel stepmother, and seeks shelter in a castle in the woods. Turns out the castle is inhabited by a talking skull, who turns out to be quite friendly. Ottilia carries it in her apron and cooks food for the both of them. At night, a skeleton appears, threatening the girl, but she holds out without fleeing, and thus breaks the curse that had turned the castle's mistress into a skull. (You can read a friendlier retelling here.)

Céatach (Ireland)

A long hero story featuring an apprentice magician who saves a girl from a giant named Steel Skull. he giant is undefeatable, because when his head is cut off, it rejoins his body and he becomes stronger. Céatach, however, finds a way to cut off the head and kick it far away, finally defeating the giant.

The wicked mendicant (India)

A prince is promised to a sinister mendicant before he is born. When he turns twelve, the mendicant comes to claim him, and takes him into the woods to a shine of Kali, to sacrifice him. The boy, however, finds a pile of skulls by the shine (the previous victims) and the skulls tell him how to survive. After he kills the mendicant, the brings the other victims back to life.

The laughing skull (India)

A banker gives out loans to people, agreeing to get repaid in the next life. Some ruffians borrow money from him with no intention of paying, and spend it on sweets. However, on the way they encounter a human skull that tells them his story: he didn't believe in next-life payments either, and yet he still could not rest in peace before his debts. The ruffians reconsider the loan.

The talking skull (Nigeria)

A hunter encounters a skull in the wilderness, and wonders how it ended up there. The skull speaks: "Taking got me here!" The hunter runs to the king, claiming he's found a talking skull. The king doesn't believe it, so he follows the hunter into the bush. The skull, however, remains silent. The king, angered by the wasted trip, orders the hunter to be beheaded. Once his head is left alone with the skull, the skull speaks: "What brought you here?" "Talking got me here!"... This motif (K1162) is typically African, and also appears in African traditions across the Atlantic.

The girl who married a skull (Efik people, Nigeria)

A girl decides to only marry a perfect man. A skull from the spirit world borrows body parts from various spirits, and turns himself into a dream husband. However, when he takes his smitten wife back home, he returns the body parts too, and she realizes too late she's married a skull spirit. Luckily, an old woman helps her escape and go back home. She even gets her a spider hairdresser. (I really like this folktale type for some reason, it has many exciting variants.)

Whew! That's the last letter done! Thank you all so much for following along, see you all tomorrow for Reflections! :)


  1. I enjoyed your body part folk tales and congratulations on finishing!

  2. Jamie (
    Congrats on finishing! I never knew about a lot of the body parts you mentioned. Thanks for producing an interesting A to Z.

  3. Congratulations on another great challenge! I'll be sure to swing by during the road trip....

  4. A cave skull - that's creepy wonderful. I so enjoyed your body parts theme and all the stories you shared.

  5. She married a skull... LOL. I enjoyed your A-Z posts this month :-)

    Ronel visiting for Z:
    My Languishing TBR: Z
    Zoo: Faery Frogs

  6. Congratulations on you A to Z Challenge. Very interesting enjoyed it immensely x Lu x

  7. All your posts have been a fun read - thanks for digging up all the tales and finishing the challenge.

    Donna McNicol - My A to Z Blogs
    DB McNicol - Small Delights, Simple Pleasures, and Significant Memories
    My Snap Memories - My Life in Black & White

  8. Yay! Congratulations!
    Maybe Ceatach invented soccer. Also, the talking skull reminds me of the singing and dancing frog from the cartoon.