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Fairy Tales

The Kalmyks have a rich fairy-tale tradition. Fairy-tales were traditionally composed by tuulchi, or story tellers. In the study of Kalmyk folklore there is a convention to divide fairy-tales into the following genres: magical, heroic, everyday fairy-tales and those about animals. In terms of story length, which correlates with the number of events in a given fairy-tale, Kalmyk fairy-tales are divided into 'long fairy-tales' ' (ut tuul') and 'short fairy-tales' (ahr tuul'). Magical and heroic fairy-tales usually belong to the former category, whereas everyday fairy-tales and those about animals to the latter.

Many fairy-tales start with stories originating in the real world - for example, at the khan's court or in the steppe - and then shift to the afterlife or to other worlds, such as the so-called 'upper' and 'lower' worlds, or to the 'water kingdom'. The central character or hero of a story is sent off on a difficult mission to carry out the orders of a khan, an evil step-mother, or one's parents or siblings. The fairy-tales have happy endings, with good triumphing over evil, a poor man becoming wealthy, a fool becoming wise, an ugly man becoming handsome, etc.

Heroes in Kalmyk fairy-tales are blessed with extraordinary skills, can move between different worlds with ease, can understand the language of animal and birds, and can transform themselves into creatures of various types.


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