Bulgarian Torbalan tale

This piece folklore was gathered at the San Fransisco trauma recovery center. I met with a group of social workers and over the course of one hour we all got came together in a meeting room and in one big group we decided to go around the table and each discuss folklore from their lives. At the beginning of the discussion I gave a brief description about what folklore could be. After that everyone shared pieces of folklore from their lives.

“There is a creature, a midivil creature in Bulgaria thats called Torbalan. The legend is that he has a huge bag and he puts children in there. He steals children and puts them in there and then he dismembers them and makes bread out of them.”

Background information about the performance from the informant: “My grandmother always if I didn’t do something my grandmother wanted me to do she would always say, “I’ll give you to Torbalan if you don’t do this.” So I never said anything against my grandmother. I did everything she said as you can imagine. I am not aware if that story exists in other parts of the country but it definitely did in my village.”

Final Thoughts: This is one of several pieces of folklore I have collected that deals with using fictional monsters to discipline children. These stories seem to exist to teach children to be afraid of the outside world. These stories let children know that the outside world is a dangerous place that can and will hurt them if the children travel into it unprepared. The stories also hold an unspoken social contract between the child and the parent telling the story. The parent will protect the child from the monster as long as the child does what the parent says. this is one of the earliest social contracts a growing person will make and is an important part of a child’s development.