A List of Australian Wonder Tales

Here are a few wonder tales and other folk narratives that have been collected in Australia. These are just some of the ones I have come across in my travels. I have more stories to add to this list, and I expect there will turn out to be many more that I don’t yet know of, buried in obscure publications, recordings, private collections of family memorabilia, people’s memories and so on.

Teller: Unknown Cultural Background: Anglo-/Cornish-Australian Name of Story: ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’        Location and Date of Telling: Australia, 1860s        Collector: Joseph Jacobs      Publication: Joseph Jacobs, English Fairy Tales, David Nutt, London, 1890, Tale 13         Website: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0328jack.html Notes: This is one of the best known and most often republished versions of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, usually assumed to be English in origin. However, Jacobs says in his endnotes, “I tell this as it was told me in Australia, somewhere about the year 1860”. Mabel Kaplan (Transmissions: Journal of The Australian Folklore Network, December, 2003) says, “At the age of six, according to Professor Graham Seal (1986), Director Australian Folklore Research Unit at Curtin University, WA, Jacobs was told the tales of ‘Henny Penny’ and ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ on a visit to the Cornish Community in South Australia.” I haven’t yet been able to track down Graham Seal’s source for this claim in online searches, so I will try to contact him directly to find out more. Stay tuned….

Teller: Unknown Cultural Background: Anglo-/Cornish-Australian Name of Story: ‘Henny Penny’     Location and Date of Telling: 1860s      Collector: Joseph Jacobs          Publication: Joseph Jacobs, English Fairy Tales, David Nutt, London, 1890, Tale 20          Website: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type2033.html#jacobs      Notes: Not strictly speaking a wonder tale. Instead, it is classified, somewhat confusingly, both as an Animal Tale (ATU Type 20C – ‘The animals flee in fear of the end of the world’) and as a Cumulative Formula Tale, (Aarne-Thompson Type 2033 – ‘The Sky is Falling’). Jacobs says in his endnotes: “SOURCE: I give this as it was told to me in Australia in 1860.” See note for ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

Note: Joseph Jacobs also mentions two stories he remembers hearing told in Australia, ‘The Rose Tree’ (ATU Type 720 – ‘My Mother Slew Me, My Father Ate Me’ [‘The Juniper Tree’]), and ‘The Old Witch’ (ATU Type 480 – ‘The Kind and Unkind Girls’, an example of a variant of this type common in English-speaking countries called ‘The Long Leather Bag’ Group). Unfortunately for Australian wonder tale explorers, Jacobs ended up publishing English versions of these stories, so we have no idea how the Australian versions may have differed. The English version of ‘The Rose Tree’ is Tale 3 in English Fairy Tales (see http://www.authorama.com/english-fairy-tales-5.html ), while ‘The Old Witch’ is in More English Fairy Tales (David Nutt, London, 1894, Tale 21 – see http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14241/14241-h/14241-h.htm#The_Old_Witch ).

Teller: Unknown Cultural Background: Australian Name of Story: ‘Galah on the Gallows’      Location and Date of Recording: Unknown  Collector: Bill Wannan          Publication or Recording Location: Bill Wannan, Bullockies Beauts and Bandicoots: Australia’s Greatest Yarns, Currey O’Neil, 1960, pp. 45 ff.. Website:   Notes: This is a humorous yarn retold by Wannan from an unknown source or sources. The story is about a bushranger due to be hanged who is left standing with his head in the noose, blindfold on, when the hangman knocks off for lunchtime. A simpleton comes to sweep the prison yard and the bushranger manages to trick him into changing places with him, saying that he gets paid more for his job than the simpleton does for the sweeping. This is a version of ATU 1332 (‘Lazy Numskull Takes Place of Man on Gallows’), or ATU 1538 (‘The Youth Cheated in Selling Oxen’) – there is some confusion as to the Type, depending on which folklorist is discussing it. The Motif is K841 (‘Substitute for execution obtained by trickery’). There are some examples of the Type that were collected in North America. One such was told by Delbert McDaniel of Perry County in the Kentucky hills, called ‘The Lazy Irishman’, recorded by Leonard Roberts and published in his book South from Hell-fer-Sartin: Kentucky Mountain Folk Tales (1955).[i] Another is ‘Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Bear’, tale 23 in Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus.[ii]

A closely-related motif is K842 (‘Dupe persuaded to take prisoner’s place in the sack’), a motif often found in stories of ATU Type 1535 (‘The Rich Peasant and the Poor Peasant’) and occasionally in ATU Type 1525 (‘The Master Theif’). International examples of stories containing this motif include an Irish version of ATU 1535 called ‘Hudden and Dudden and Donald O’Neary’, told by D. W. Logie to Alfred Nutt and published in Joseph Jacobs’ Celtic Fairy Tales[iii], an English version of ATU 1525 called ‘Jack the Robber’ or ‘Jack and his Master’ (told in 1897 by Cornelius Price to John Sampson and published in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society[iv]), another English Gypsy story ‘Sheep for the Asking’ (ATU 1535 – told by Durham Lees in 1914[v]), ‘The Little Peasant’ (ATU 1535 – Number 61 in the Grimms’ Kinder- und Hausmärchen), and several versions from America, including ‘Snick and Snack’ (ATU 1535 – told by Sally Corder and Zora S. Lovitt of Williamsburg, Kentucky in 1955[vi]).

Amongst the many yarns published by Wannan, a number could be classified using the Aarne-Thompson-Uther index, though most would be classified as ‘Jokes and Anecdotes’ (ATU 1200 – 1999), rather than ‘Ordinary Folktales’ (ATU 300 – 1199), where Wonder Tales tend to be found. Often there may be recognisable motifs that could be found in the ATU Motif Index. This would be a worthwhile study, showing the relationships between Australian and international forms of humour. From 1955 until 1980, Wannan published a weekly column on Australian folklore, including tall tales and jokes, in Australasian Post magazine. Wannan’s sources for much of his material came from his extensive reading of Australian literature, memoirs and history, and sometimes from readers writing in with stories. These stories were then written up, usually in Wannan’s own words, though occasionally he would quote from a relevant text or bush poem. A number of these stories were republished in Wannan’s many books of Australian folklore and history. In his Foreword to an omnibus edition of three of his books, including Bullockies, Beauts and Bandicoots, republished as The Bill Wannan Book of Australian Yarns (Lansdowne, 1974), Wannan describes his weekly column as being “sustained by many thousands of contributions from interested readers. It was from the earlier years of that column’s life that the articles which make up the three volumes here represented were originally selected.” Many of Wannan’s letters and papers are held in the National Library of Australia (see http://nla.gov.au/nla.ms-ms9924 ). It may be possible for a researcher to explore Wannan’s correspondence from contributors to the column and track down some of the sources and informants of these often anonymously-published stories.

Teller: Unknown Cultural Background: Australian Name of Story: ‘The Big Murray Cod’          Location and Date of Recording: Unknown  Collector: Bill Wannan          Publication or Recording Location: Bill Wannan, Bullockies Beauts and Bandicoots: Australia’s Greatest Yarns, Currey O’Neil, 1960, pp. 49 ff.. Website:   Notes: This tall tale, involving a huge Murray Cod being caught with a giant fishhook made out of a bent crowbar, baited with a bull’s head, fastened to a big grey gum with chains from a bullock wagon. When the fish takes the bait it uproots the gum tree and almost drags a bullock team into the river. It takes three bullock teams nearly twenty-four hours to land it and in the process they drag the river three miles out of its original course. When they open up its mouth, two swagmen walk out from the fish’s belly.

This is a Tall Tale rather than a Wonder Tale in the strict sense (ATU Type 1960B – ‘The Great Fish’ and also 1889G – ‘Man Swallowed by Fish’), but it has motifs that can be found in wonder tales (Motif X1723.1 – ‘Swallowed person is discovered in animal’s stomach still alive’). This is most famously found in Biblical mythology with the story of Jonah, but also in the Munchausen stories, and in ‘Assipattle and the Mester Stoorworm’, a story told by Mr. W. Traill Dennison of West Brough, Sanday in the Orkney Islands[vii]. The motif also appears in a traditional song called ‘The Wonderful Crocodile’, collected by John Meredith circa 1956 from Sid Heather of Hurstville, New South Wales[viii]. In this humorous song the narrator is swept into the mouth of an enormous crocodile, and after ‘popping down his throat’ finds rum kegs and bullocks in its stomach, and proceeds to live inside the crocodile’s belly for a number of years. In the end the croc dies of old age and the narrator has to hack his way out.

There are American parallels to this. Leonard Roberts published ‘The Tale of the Big Turkle’, told by Mrs. Euphemia Epperson of Harlan County, Kentucky in 1955, which features a fishhook made from an iron bar which catches a turtle so big that it shakes the big sycamore tree the fishhook is tied to and drags an ox into the river. I’m sure I have read a story in which Babe, Paul Bunyan’s blue ox, pulls a river off course, but I can only locate references to Babe pulling crooked logging roads straight (Motifs X1237.2.6*(e)[ix]).

Another Australian version of this story was recorded in 1973 by Ron Edwards from J.K. of Laura, North Queensland, who says he heard the story told by Bill Kynuna. It involves an elaborate description of the making of a greenhide rope for the fishing line, the forging of a fishhook out of three crowbars, dragging a stretch of the Normanby River into a big bend and the formation of the Jack lakes as a result of the fish’s struggles.[x] See listing below.

Teller: Simon McDonald Cultural Background: Irish-Australian Name of Story: ‘The Black Entire from Bryan O’Ville in the Underworld’ or ‘The Witch’s Tale’      Location and Date of Recording: Springmount/Creswick, Victoria, 1967         Collector: Hugh Anderson   Publication or Recording Location: Hugh Anderson, Time Out of Mind: Simon McDonald of Creswick, National Press, Melbourne, 1974, Appendix 1, pp. 136 ff.; recording is in The National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2105 ; 2093885 ; nla.oh-2105-0000-0002-s2-m [8:40 – 30:40], nla.oh-2105-0000-0003-s1-m [25:25 – 29:00]    Website: http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/2093885    Notes: ATU Tale Type 953 (‘The Old Robber Relates Three Adventures’) + ATU 303 (‘The Blood Brothers’). Both elements of McDonald’s story have their closest relatives in Ireland. Across Ireland as whole, 182 versions of ATU 953 were collected. Some are in English and some are in Gaelic. The earliest published version we know of from Ireland appeared sometime before 1825 in a chapbook called The Royal Hibernian Tales. The story in that is called ‘The Black Thief and Knight of the Glen’ and was republished by Andrew Lang in The Red Fairy Book (available online – http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/116.htm ). At least three other Irish versions have been published.[xi] The remainder are cared for in the Irish Folklore Collection (formerly the Irish Folklore Commission), now part of the Department of Irish Folklore of University College, Dublin. A wonderful version of ATU 303 (the section of McDonald’s story involving horses, hawks and hounds) was told in 1930 by an Irish Traveller or Tinker called John Power, and published in Gmelch and Kroup’s To Shorten the Road: Traveller Folktales from Ireland.[xii] The tale’s immediate ancestry may be from Ireland, but McDonald’s ancestors had been in Australia since the 1850s and he tells the story in broad rural Australian vernacular.

Teller: Edna Mark        Cultural Background: Solomon Islander-Australian Name of Story: ‘Legend of the Coconut’       Location and Date of Recording: Bamaga Mission, Holloway Beach, Queensland, 1972 Collector: Ron Edwards        Publication: Ron Edwards, The Australian Yarn, Rigby, 1977, pp. 226.  Website: http://www.uqp.com.au/book.aspx/323/The%20Australian%20Yarn   Notes: This is a myth told in parts of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, about a snake-like creator spirit/god called Hatuibwari in parts of the Solomons, and Tangalua or Tangaroa in parts of Vanuatu. I have read a few retellings of related stories told by people from the Solomons and Vanuatu. They tend to share many motifs in common with Edna Mark’s telling, including “the snake whose human daughter marries a man who later kills the snake when he sees it coiled round their child”.[xiii] However, Edna Mark’s version has many motifs in it that are commonly found in ATU 510A (‘Persecuted Heroine’ or ‘Cinderella’) – the transformed mother, attending three nights of dancing incognito, the “prince… – the chief’s son” falling in love with her, the tree growing from the mother’s grave. In my research thus far, I have not come across these motifs, with the exception of the last one, in other versions of the Hatuibwari/Tangalua/Tangaroa story. If it is true that these ‘Cinderella’ motifs are only found in the Australian version of this story, it seems possible that they were introduced into the traditional story by Edna Mark or her mother (or some other teller in the chain of transmission), perhaps after exposure to a European version of ATU 510A. It may yet turn out that some or all of these motifs can be found in other versions of the Hatuibwari/Tangalua/Tangaroa story.

Teller: “Two American Children” Cultural Background: American, living in Australia Name of Story: ‘Caramel Candy’    Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1972       Collector: Students at the Institute of Early Childhood Development / Gwenda Davey.   Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/15 ; 702303 ; nla.oh-2632-0015-0000-s3-m [13.45 minutes into the recording]     Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/43571589          Notes: ‘Caramel Candy’ is a parody of ‘The Three Bears’ (ATU 171), lasting all of 45 seconds, told as a joke for the sound effects punchline.

Teller: J.K. Cultural Background: Australian, unknown ancestry Name of Story: ‘A Big Fish’  Location and Date of Recording: Laura, Queensland, 1973       Collector: Ron Edwards     Publication or Recording Location: Ron Edwards, Yarns and Ballads of the Australian Bush, Rigby, 1981, pp. 51 ff..    Website:    Notes: 1960B – ‘The Great Fish’

Teller: Antoine Hambalian   Cultural Background: Lebanese-Australian             Name of Story: ‘The Son of the Thief’ Location and Date of Recording: North Carlton, Victoria, 1975 Collector: Peter Parkhill         Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2525/86 ; 3311835 ; nla.oh-2525-0086-0001    Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/9280156?selectedversion=NBD26649166            Notes: This is a version of ATU 950 (‘Rhampsinitus’), with the parson-stealing episode from ATU 1525A, ‘The Master Thief’ (subtype – ‘Stealing the Count’s Horse, Sheet, and Parson’), though in this story it is the king of India who gets ‘stolen’. ATU 950 and ATU 1525 often appear together, both in the Arab world and beyond. There is a Scottish version called ‘The Tale of the Shifty Lad, The Widow’s Son’, told by John Dewar of Arrochar, June, 1860 (Tale XVIId in J.F.Campbell, PopularTales of the West Highlands, Vol 1, p. 330), which also combines these types. ‘Ali Baba’ contains a number of similar motifs, and Aboubakr Chraïbi argues that Galland’s 1717 version of ‘Ali Baba’ (which he based on a story told to him in 1709 by Hannâ, a Maronite monk from Aleppo, Syria), usually classified as ATU 954 (‘The Forty Thieves’), is also a combination of ATU 676 (‘Open Sesame’) and ATU 950 (‘Rhampsinitus’)[xiv]. On Parkhill’s recording, Antoine Hambalian tells the story in Arabic, but there is also the transcript of a recording of Hamabalian telling the story in English available from the National Library of Australia. His English is that of a fairly recent migrant, but one can hear elements of the Australian vernacular language in his telling.

Teller: Anna and Rita Vasileva Cultural Background: Macedonian-Australian Name of Story: ‘Tentelina and the Wolves’   Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976       Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/8-9 ; 679993 ; nla.oh-2632-0008-0000-m [Macedonian telling 9.00 minutes into the recording] and nla.oh-2632-0009-0000-m [Macedonian telling 0.00 minutes into the recording, English telling 3.50 minutes into the recording]    Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/34996661?selectedversion=NBD9219280 Notes: This story is a version of ATU 310 (‘Rapunzel’) + ATU 313 (‘The Magic Flight’). In this story, the female protagonist is promised to a wolf before birth, and when the wolf takes her away, she is kept high up in a tree. She and her brother flee from the wolf and his pack with the help of the magical gifts given by an old woman helper and thrown behind them to transform into obstacles for the pursuing wolf pack. There are two tellings in Macedonian on the recording, and one in English. The recordings of the Vasilevas go over two tapes (which are then put onto two tracks on the CD the NLA sends out). One of the Macedonian tellings is about 9 minutes into the first track (9.00 – 18.20), and another Macedonian telling is at the very start of the second track, with a telling in English at 3 minutes and 50 seconds into the second track (3.53 – 10.47). On the NLA website the title is spelled ‘Tentalina’. I believe ‘Tentelina’ is the correct spelling (though it should be written in Cyrillic). There are a number of other folk stories on the same recording. A Macedonian version of the story has been published and translated into English in the book 101 Macedonian Folk Tales by Danica Cvetanovska and Maja Miškovska (Bigoss, Skopje, 2003 – http://books.google.com.au/books/about/101_Macedonian_Folk_Tales.html?id=HSzaAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y ). ‘Tentelina and the Wolves’ is on page 191. It is fairly similar to Rita and Anna Vasileva’s version, with a few interesting differences.

Teller: Anna and Rita Vasileva Cultural Background: Macedonian-Australian Name of Story: ‘Mara and the Chicks’ Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976          Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/9 ; 679993 ; nla.oh-2632-0009-0000-m [Macedonian telling 24.55 minutes into the recording, English summary at 31.15]      Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/34996661?selectedversion=NBD9219280          Notes: This is a version of ATU 480 (‘The Kind and Unkind Girls’). From the English summary the informant gives, this version seems not to have the magic or otherworldly elements of other versions of this tale (like ‘Mother Hollë’ or ‘The Three Heads in the Well’), though there may well be details in the Macedonian telling that are not included in the brief English summary. The recordings of the Vasilevas go over two tapes (which are then put onto two tracks on the CD the NLA sends out). The Macedonian version of ‘Mara and the Chicks’ is at 24.55 – 31.15 on the second track (nla.oh-2632-0009-0000-m). The English summary is at 31.15 – 33.15.

Teller: Anna and Rita Vasileva Cultural Background: Macedonian-Australian Name of Story: ‘Grandmother Bear and Krushka’  Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976       Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/8-9 ; 679993 ; nla.oh-2632-0008-0000-m [Macedonian telling 0.00 minutes into the recording, English telling 31.35 minutes into the recording]     Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/34996661?selectedversion=NBD9219280 Notes: This story seems to me to be loosely related to the broader family of ATU 333 (‘The Glutton’ or ‘Little Red Riding Hood’). In this version, however, the little girl character only exists as a fiction told by the grandmother character to escape the bear who wants to eat her. The old woman is picking pears from a pear tree when a bear (called ‘Grandmother Bear’ in Macedonian and Bulgarian tradition) comes along wanting to eat her. The woman tells the bear she should eat her niece Krushka instead and gives the bear long-way-round directions to her house. She gets home before the bear does and when the bear comes knocking, makes an excuse as to why the fictional Krushka can’t come out to be eaten. The bear comes knocking again (each time the bear comes to the cottage she calls out “Babohhhh!” in a deep, booming voice, dramatically delivered in Vasileva’s Macedonian telling) and the woman makes another excuse for her imaginary niece. The third time the bear comes calling, the bear breaks the door down, but hunters are waiting inside the cottage and kill the bear. Calling the bear ‘Grandmother Bear’ (‘Baba Metsa’) reminds me of the North-East Asian versions of ATU 333, ‘Grandaunt/Grandmother Tiger’[xv], though the plot is quite different. The Macedonian telling is at the very start of the recording (0.00 – 4.24), while the English telling is sometime later on the recording (31.35 – 37.16).

Teller: Anna and Rita Vasileva Cultural Background: Macedonian-Australian Name of Story: ‘The Carrot’        Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976          Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/9 ; 679993 ; nla.oh-2632-0009-0000-m [51.50 – 55.40 minutes into the recording]          Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/34996661?selectedversion=NBD9219280           Notes: This is a version of ATU 2044 (‘Pulling Up the Turnip’), a Cumulative Formula Tale, pulling up a carrot.

Note: There are a number of other traditional stories the Vasilevas tell, including some Nasreddin Hodja (Hoca) tales (often associated with Turkish tradition), some about Clever Peter (Nasreddin Hodja’s Macedonian equivalent and his occasional rival), and some animal tales – ‘The Horse and the Wolf’, ‘The Fisherman and the Fox’, ‘The Fox and the Grapes’ – as well as some riddles, rhymes and songs.

Teller: Mrs. Hegedich Cultural Background: Croatian-Australian Name of Story: ‘Pepelluga’  Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976     Collector: Gwenda Davey    Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/18 ; 2194441 ; nla.oh- [Croatian telling: 0.44 – 5.17 minutes into the recording; discussion in English: 0.00 – 0.43 and 5.18 – 6.44]   Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/35115720?selectedversion=NBD9288993         Notes: This is a version of ATU 510A (‘Persecuted Heroine’ or ‘Cinderella’). Mrs. Hegedich tells the story in Croatian and gives a brief summary in English. As the English summary is quite probably incomplete, it is hard to work out how similar or different Mrs. Hegedich’s version is to other versions of this story (that is, until I can afford the services of a translator). There are two Serbian versions that have been translated into English: one in Denton, Rev. W., editor. Serbian Folk-lore: Popular Tales selected and translated by Madame Csedomille Mijatovics. London, 1874. pp. 59-66. (Reprinted New York: Benjamin Blom, 1968); the other in Petrovitch, Woislav M. Hero Tales and Legends of the Serbians. London: George G. Harrap and Company, 1917. Both can be read on Heidi Anne Heiner’s ‘Sur La Lune Fairytales’ website : http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/cinderella/stories/papalluga.html and http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/cinderella/stories/pepe.html .

Teller: Helena Berar Cultural Background: Serbian-Australian Name of Story: ‘Little Red Riding Hood’         Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976          Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/18 ; 671865 ; [0.00 – 3.22]  Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/35116249?selectedversion=NBD9289232         Notes: ATU Type 333. It is told in Serbian, with no English telling or summary, so until I get Berar’s telling translated I do not know how much it differs from other versions (Perrault, Grimm, etc.). Later in the recording, talking about her telling of ‘The Frog Prince’, Berar says that she learnt that story from a book, probably a translation or retelling of the Grimms’ version. It is possible that ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ came from a book as well.

Teller: Helena Berar Cultural Background: Serbian-Australian Name of Story: ‘The Teddy Bear and the Little Rooster’ Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976       Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/18 ; 671865 ; [English Summary: 21.33 – 24.04; Serbian telling: 24.05 – 27.43]          Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/35116249?selectedversion=NBD9289232           Notes: This is a version of ATU Type 61B (‘Cat, Cock and Fox Live Together’, a subtype of ATU 61 – ‘The Fox Persuades the Cock to Crow with Closed Eyes’), another version of which is in Alexander Afanasyev’s Russian Fairy Tales (Tale 29, p. 86 in the Routledge edition). Berar tells it with many rhythmically chanted rhymes – what the fox said to the rooster and so on – with a child’s voice sometimes joining in with the rhymes on the recording (a daughter or granddaughter, perhaps, who has heard the story told often enough to know the thrice-repeated rhymes herself).

Teller: Helena Berar Cultural Background: Serbian-Australian Name of Story: ‘Tom Thumb’      Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976     Collector: Gwenda Davey    Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/18 ; 671865 ; [7.25 – 9.30] Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/35116249?selectedversion=NBD9289232           Notes: The telling seems to end abruptly. The recording may have been cut short by a tape running out or some other glitch in the recording process. There is no English summary, so those of us who don’t speak Serbian will have to wait until we have a translation before we can research Berar’s version further.

Teller: Helena Berar Cultural Background: Serbian-Australian Name of Story: ‘The Princess and the Frog’  Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976          Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/18 ; 671865 ; [English Summary: 9.35 – 11.10; Serbian telling: 11.10 – 13.57]   Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/35116249?selectedversion=NBD9289232 Notes: After summarising the story in English, Berar says,“I know that story because I read that book when I was… you know… but I have… when I was a child, but I have now that in English…”. The story in the book may have been the Grimms’ version, or based on it, as Berar’s story seems very similar. In her English telling, the Princess hits the frog with a stick after taking him to her bedchamber. The Grimms’ version has her throwing him against the wall. It is ATU Type 440.

Teller: Sonia Orzecko Cultural Background: Chilean-Australia Name of Story: ‘The Fox and the Crow’      Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1976          Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/4 ; 670164 ; [0.00 – 3.01]     Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/34981043?q&versionId=43419710 Notes: This story is told in Spanish, and there is no English summary or telling on this recording. I assume the telling is a version of the fable usually ascribed to Aesop. It is Number 124 in the Perry Index of ‘Aesopica’.

Teller: Sonia Orzecko Cultural Background: Peruvian/Chilean-Australia Name of Story: ‘El Toro Negro’ (‘The Black Bull’)    Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1977       Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/3 ; 2192710 ; [Spanish telling: 0.00 – 6.30; summary in English: 6.40]           Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/34980738?q&versionId=43419284     Notes: This story is about a boy who hears about a bull that lives on a mountaintop in the Andes from his South American aboriginal grandparents. He treks up to the mountaintop in summer and finds a beautiful lake but does not see the bull. Then he climbs the mountain in winter and sees that the lake up there is about to flood as a result of an avalanche. He rushes down the mountain in time to warn the other people in his village and they escape before the flood arrives. He doesn’t ever encounter a literal bull, but when the boy is shouting his warning of the impending flood to the villagers, he shouts, “The bull! The bull!” in the local aboriginal language.

Orzecko says that this story is from Peru. I have not yet been able to track down any published South American versions of this tale. However, there are some interesting points made by Evelio Echevarría in an article called ‘Legends of the High Andes’, particularly on the adoption of the bull as a mythological or legendary motif by Indians from the Andes. There are several legends, he says, about Inca treasure that was thrown into mountain lakes when the Incas fled after the Spaniards executed the Inca king. “Tradition has in time posted a guardian by the sacred lakes, and that guardian is usually a bull with golden horns. In time, too, the legendary bull became a de facto defender of Indian tradition, since the Indians of the Andes hope that their buried treasures will some day be recovered to aid the redemption of their oppressed race.

“The surprising side of this very common Andean legend is that it is the bull, most Spanish of animals, that defends the Indian tradition against the very descendants of the Spaniards. This has however an explanation, supplied by the Peruvian novelist José María Arguedas. Contrary to popular belief it was not the horse among European animals but the very Spanish bull that impressed the Andean Indians most. The Indians had in their mythology a ferocious dragon, the amaru. To their astonishment, they saw all the fearful characteristics of an amaru fully materialized in the Spanish bull and they adopted this animal as theirs. The amaru in time fell into oblivion. Today, the now Indian bull lives near lakes, tarns and even craters and mountain tops and the awesome sounds of the mountains at night are caused by those guardians of Inca treasures. It might also be added that legends of this type carry a clearly revindicationist political message in favour of an oppressed race. (Reference: José María Arguedas, Mitos, leyendas y cuentos peruanos (Lima, 1976), pp 49-52.)”

Echevarría also notes that there is a “very common notion among most of the Andeans about the deluge or flood” as a Genesis of earth and mountains myth. He later describes one such flood story from Arauco in southern Chile, involving the malevolent serpent, Cai Cai, who caused a flood to wipe out humankind. (Reference: Saint-Loup, Monts Pacifiques (Paris, 1951), pp 171-3).[xvi] Was Cai Cai related to the amaru dragons who later transformed into the bulls of the mountain-top lakes? Is Orzecko’s mountain-top lake bull related to this tradition?

Teller: Sonia Orzecko Cultural Background: Chilean-Australia Name of Story: ‘The Story of the Three Bears’        Location and Date of Recording: Melbourne, Victoria, 1977          Collector: Gwenda Davey     Publication or Recording Location: National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection Library Call Number: Oral TRC 2632/3 ; 2192710 ; [Spanish telling: 11.00 – 16.40]    Website: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/34980738?q&versionId=43419284   Notes: This is a magnificently-told Spanish rendition of ‘The Three Bears’ (ATU 171). There is no English summary. From listening with my extremely rusty knowledge of Castellano (Spanish), it seems that the porridge thief is a young girl, similar to Goldilocks (though I am open to correction from more fluent Spanish speakers). The bears are definitely a Father Bear, Mother Bear and Little Bear. Earlier English versions of the story featured an old woman and three male bears, and the porridge thief does not appear as a young girl in published versions of the story until 1849, and she is not named Goldilocks until 1904. The bears only become a father, mother and child around 1860.

Notes

[i] Leonard W. Roberts, South from Hell-fer-Sartin: Kentucky Mountain Folk Tales, The University Press of Kentucky, 1955, pp. 127 ff..

[ii] Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings, Grosset and Dunlap, 1880, pp. 113 ff..

[iii] Joseph Jacobs, Celtic Fairy Tales, David Nutt, London, 1892, Another Irish version, called ‘Donald and his Neighbours’, first appeared in print in the pre-1825 chapbook The Royal Hibernian Tales (see Séamus Ó Duilearga, Béaloideas 10 (1940), 148-203)

[iv] Journal of Gypsy Lore Society, 3rd series, IX, pp. 51-6; republished in the F. J. Norton Collection, V, pp. 64-8; and Katharine M. Briggs, A Dictionary of British Folk-tales in the English Language, Part A: Folk Narratives, pp. 413 ff.

[v] T.W. Thompson, Thompson Notebooks, MS, awaiting publication; published in Katharine M. Briggs, A Dictionary of British Folk-tales in the English Language, Part A: Folk Narratives, pp. 262 ff.

[vi] Leonard W. Roberts, Old Greasybeard: Tales from the Cumberland Gap, Folklore Associates, 1969, pp. 154 ff..

[vii] ‘Assipattle and the Mester Stoorworm’, written down as a MS. by Mr. W. Traill Dennison from his memories of stories told in the Orkneys, published in Sir George Douglas, Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales, Walter Scott Publishing Company, London, c. 1892, republished by Lomond, 2003, pp.58 ff..

[viii] First published in Singabout 1/3/10 1956: title ‘The Crocodile’; reprinted Authentic Australian Bush Ballads 10 1960 with title ‘The Wonderful Crocodile’; in Folk Songs of Australia Vol. 1, 134 as ‘Wonderful Crocodile’; and in The Second Penguin Australian Songbook 112 1980, title ‘The Crocodile’. For John Meredith’s field recording, stored in the National Library of Australia (ORAL TRC 4/8B ; 57533) see http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/43015442 and http://nla.gov.au/nla.oh-vn57533 . The song was published as a broadside (in Ireland, possibly) at some stage before 1888. A copy is in the collection of the National Library, Dublin, volume C.

[ix] Ernest W. Baughman, Type and Motif-Index of the Folktales of England and North America, Folklore Institute of Indiana University, 1966, pp. 496.

[x] ‘A Big Fish’, J.K., Laura, 1973, published in Ron Edwards, Yarns and Ballads of the Australian Bush, Rigby, 1981, pp. 51 ff..

[xi] One by Jeremiah Curtin in Hero Tales of Ireland (1894) told by Thomas Brady of Teelin, County Donegal; one by Seumas MacManus, The Donegal Wonder Book (1926); and one in Gaelic told in 1943-4 by Amhlaoibh Ó Luínse (Humphrey Ó Lynch) of Coolea, County Cork, published by Seán and Donncha Ó Cróinín in Scéalaíocht Amhlaoibh Í Luínse (Dublin, 1971). An analysis of this version, along with a detailed list of different versions of the folktale that have appeared in print, can be found in Séamus Ó Duilearga, ‘The Royal Hibernian Tales‘, Béaloideas 10 (1940), 148-203: 200.. You can hear a recording of the opening scene told in Gaelic by Pádraig Ó hAllmhuráin (O’Halloran) on The Doegen Records Web Project – http://doegen.ie/LA_1171g1 .

[xii] George Gmelch and Ben Kroup, To Shorten the Road: Traveller Folktales from Ireland, Macmillan, Toronto, 1978 (first published by The O’Brien Press, Dublin, 1978), pp. 125 for John Power’s biography, pp. 138 ff. for ‘Horse, Hound and Hawk’. This was collected between 1930 and 1932 from an Irish Traveller or Tinker called John Power, from Longford and Westmeath (he lived for a time in Ballymahon).

[xiii] Alphonse Riesenfeld, The Megalithic Culture of Melanesia, Brill Archive, 1950, pp. 151 – http://books.google.com.au/books/about/The_Megalithic_Culture_of_Melanesia.html?id=PdgUAAAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y

[xiv] Aboubakr Chraïbi, ‘Galland’s “Ali Baba” and Other Arabic Versions’, in The Arabian Nights in Transnational Perspective, edited by Ulrich Marzolph, Wayne State University Press, 2007, Page 3 ff.

[xv] See Wolfram Eberhard, ‘The Story of Grandaunt Tiger’, in Alan Dundes, Little Red Riding Hood: A Casebook, University of Wisconsin Press, 1989, pp.21 ff.; and H. Chih-chun, ‘The Earliest Version of the Chinese “Little Red Riding Hood”’, 1993

[xvi] Evelio Echevarría, ‘Legends of the High Andes’, Alpine Journal, 1983, pp. 85 – 91. http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_1983_files/AJ%201983%2085-91%20Echevarria%20Legends.pdf

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