Baira Goryaeva, About Kalmyk Fairy Tales and Myths
Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge
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Terbish, B. (2018). Baira Goryaeva, About Kalmyk Fairy Tales and Myths [Video file]. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.42539
An expert on Kalmyk folklore, Baira talks about Kalmyk fairy tales and myths: In terms of length, fairy tales can be divided into long, and short. The former usually includes heroic or magical fairy tales, whereas the latter are everyday life tales or tales about animals. There is a Kalmyk saying ‘There is no lie in history, but there is no truth in a fairy tale’ (Tuuzhd khudl uga, tuul’d unn uga). Fairy tales are understood as stories about things that never actually happened. Thematically, fairy tales can be divided into those (1) about animals, (2) daily activities, (3) heroic tales and (4) magical tales. The most ancient of them are fairy tales about animals, which are related to clan totems. Later when a belief in totemic animals disappeared, legends about animals turned into fairy tales. The main difference between legends and fairy tales is as follows. If people believe in the events described in folklore, then it is a legend. As soon as people cease to believe in the content of a myth, it turns into a fairy tale. Having said this there is no clear cut between legends and fairy tales, for legends include elements of a fairy tale and vice versa. For example, according to a legend about the origin of Tsoros, their clan originated from a baby which was fed by an owl under a willow tree. Today such legends are perceived as a fairy tale. Despite recounting stories about non-existent things, fairy tales reflect ancient rules and understandings. For example, Kalmyks differentiate between personal welfare/happiness (kuunya kishg) and communal welfare/happiness (olna kishg). It is believed that a person cannot take someone else’s welfare/happiness. Here is a fairy tale about it, as recounted by Sh. Boktaev: One person, who could understand the language of birds and animals, sees a thin, lame lamb running in the rear of its flock and bleating about how it is difficult to bear happiness that belongs to his shepherd master. The man asks the owner of the lamb to give it to him, to which the shepherd agrees. While they were chasing the lamb, a dog reaches the lamb first, grabs its leg and takes the happiness away. The man asks the shepherd to give him the dog instead, to which he receives a positive reply. While they were running after the dog, it left the happiness on a pile of wool. While the man was collecting the wool, a woman took some of it and turned it an object. The man understood that it is impossible to take someone else’s happiness. One can only become a part of it. Another fairy tale, as recounted by D. Nandyshev: One poor man meets the personification of his fate. It looked as poorly dressed and thin as he himself was. During a conversation that they struck up, his fate tells the man: ‘Marry the girl who is collecting dung nearby, for she is a happy one and you will enter the realm of her happiness’. The man did as he was told, and became happy.
Fairy tales, myths
Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.42539