Tag Archives: fairy tale

The bee and the orange tree

–Informant Info–

Nationality: French

Age: 47

Occupation: Teacher

Residence: Los Angeles, California

Date of Performance/Collection: 2022

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): French

(Notes-The informant will be referred to as DK and the interviewer as K)

Background info: DK is a mother of 1 who was born in the United States and moved to France when she was young, moving back to the US in 2017. She notes that she was told this story all the time but has not heard of it once in the US, and when she has brought it up to other people, they have never heard of it.

K: Ok so, what’s the name of the folklore, how do you know of it, and what’s the context of the performance? Like when is it told, under what circumstances?

DK: It’s called uh..The translation would be The bee and the orange tree. It was always told to me when I was little, in like school, or my parents and people like that. It’s kinda like Cinderella, you know? It was told like that.

K: Yeah that makes sense! Uh whenever…whenever you’re read you can tell the story.

DK: Ok. The story goes that there was this princess called uh Aimée who was lost after a ship wreck. She drifted to a little island in her crib, where a lot of uh…ogre’s lived. They only took her in because they wanted her to marry their son when she got older, normally they eat people who come ashore. When she was uh 15 I believe, she was told she would marry that ogre but the thought of that disgusted her. She went for a walk along the beach and found a man, who was actually her cousin, but neither of them knew that or could uh…say that. After a little while, the man, a prince, discovered who she was because she had a locket with her name on it. The little ogre said it was time for them to marry, and she fled but hurt herself on a thorn so she couldn’t walk. The prince went to find her when she didn’t show up and got captured. I don’t really remember the details here so I’m sorry

K: Thats alright! Just whatever you do remember tell me, even if its confusing

DK: Alright, uh so Aimee managed to trick some of the ogres into eating each other and found an uh magic wand somehow. Using it, she made herself speak the prince’s language and he told her everything. She used the wand again to distract the ogres and flee, but one of them followed them using his…magic boots. She would use the wand to disguise herself and the prince each time the ogre came close. She turned herself into a bee and the prince into an orange tree and stung the ogre, and in the chaos, the wand was stolen so they were stuck like that. Later, another princess fell in love with the orange tree, who was the prince. Aimee stung her out of jealousy, and the other princess ribbed a branch off the tree to defend herself, causing blood to flow out of the wound. Aimee left to fetch balm for the wound. A fairy came by while she was gone and detected the enchantment on the prince, turning him back. The prince explained the situation, and when Aimme returned the fairy uh turned her back also. They returned home to her parents and got married. The end *laughter*.

The king of ants

–Informant Info–

Nationality: Chinese American

Age: 27

Occupation: Student

Residence: Los Angeles, California

Date of Performance/Collection: 2022

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Mandarin

(Notes-The informant will GT be referred to as and the interviewer as K)

Background info: GT is a Chinese American student who was born and raised in California. Both his parents were born and raised in a small town in China, which is where he knows this story from. He told me this story in his home during the daylight.

K: Uh…so what’s the name of the story, the uh context of the performance and uh where-or how do you know if it? Like who told you or where did you hear it?

GT: *laughter* sorry I’m like super awkward. Uh, it’s called 蚂蚁之王, which means like uh “The king of ants” in English, I think. It’s told just like an uh like a bedtime story, like a fairytale and I always heard it from my mom or grandma. Oh! Also like everyone has a pretty different version, the only real similarity is like the ants help someone out, so this is only my, uh my family’s version of the story.

K: Cool! That’s perfect actually, start whenever you want. And if you only know a word in Mandarin or whatever that’s fine I can translate later.

GT: Yeah ok so uh… it’s really simple. So there was this guy, Ho Kwan of Kuang Nan, and he was like super kind. Like Buddhist level kind. He had this big jar of silver he had been saving for like his whole life when one day a bunch of ants came in and ate part of the silver. Oh! The ants were also white, which is important. Anyways uh, the guys’ family wanted to take revenge so they found where the ants were living, and there were MILLIONS, and said they would destroy them. Ho Kwan said no and argued until his family eventually left, leaving the ants unharmed. Uh…then he had like a dream uh that night, and it was like super weird. *laughter*. So a bunch of soldiers dressed in white (emphasized word white while winking) escorted him through this like huge, magnificent, rich city to the king who was also dressed in white. The king thanked uh…Ho Kwan for sparing him and his people, and said like sorry for the other ants stealing his silver. He directed Ho Kwan to a tree and said there’s a big jar of silver uh buried there for him. So Ho Kwan woke up and meditated and dug up the dirt and realized that like there was silver there! The end *laughter*

Interpretation:
This was the first bit of Chinese folklore I had really ever heard and it was so interesting! I like the fact that there are so many versions of this same story, which isn’t surprising due to how physically large China is. I did a little bit of further research on some of the other versions of the story, and most of them were a man helping the ants in some way and later getting rewarded. Most of them included someone else trying to attack the ants and the man protecting them. I thought that especially was important to note. A lot of these stories originate from around the rise of Buddhism in China, so it makes sense that so many of these stories would include being kind to living beings that normally you wouldn’t think twice about. The reward also makes sense. Although not very Buddhist in teaching, the reward system in this story appeals to more people than a purely Buddhist reward, which one won’t see until death.

The sorcerer of the white lotus lounge

–Informant Info–

Nationality: Chinese American

Age: 27

Occupation: Student

Residence: Los Angeles, California

Date of Performance/Collection: 2022

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Mandarin

(Notes-The informant will GT be referred to as and the interviewer as K)

Background info: GT is a Chinese American student who was born and raised in California. Both his parents were born and raised in a small town in China, which is where he knows this story from. He told me this story in his home during the daylight.

K: So uh same questions. Name of the story, context of the performance, and uh…where did you hear it?

GT: Yeah, I remember. Its called 白莲山庄的巫师 or like…sorcerer of the white lotus lounge if I make it make sense in English. Uh so its another like fairytale I heard from my mom or like books and stuff

K: Ok neat, whenever youre ready

GT: Yeah ok uh so like…Uh, it starts with there was a very powerful sorcerer, who could use dark magic. He had pupils as he like taught them dark magic I guess. Anyways, he asked them to watch a covered bowl and to not uncover it but of course, the students did, and all that was in it was a little straw boat in clear water. They like messed with the uh boat, and it tipped over. The sorcerer came back and said he knew what they had did, even if they denied it. The next night he left them with an uh..a candle and told them to watch it so it doesn’t go out. They all fell asleep and it went out, and again they denied it but the sorcerer knew, and that like…scared the students. Later uh, one of them insulted him, so he turned him into a pig and sold him to a butcher who killed him like a butcher does to an uh pig. Anyways, that student’s dad found out so the Emporer arrested him and his family. As they were going up an uh…a mountain all of them, the soldiers and such, saw this huge tree with a giant mouth and eyes. The sorcerer said his wife could handle it, and she got eaten. He said his son could handle it and then he got eaten, then he begged to handle it, and then HE got eaten. The thing is, it was all a trick and the three of them got away scot-free. The end

K: Is there like…a moral to this story

GT: *laughter* you’d think huh? No, just don’t fuck with sorcerers I guess.

Interpretation:
This was an odd one. The fact that there’s no real moral, in fact, the “bad guy” got away with his deeds, was super interesting. Most other folklore and/or fairytales at least have the good guy succeeding, if not rife with moral teachings. I later asked for further clarification from the informant, and he told me that the sorcerer was part of the lounge of white lotus, as seen in the title. This lounge was, at least according to my research, a revolutionary society in China, so it makes sense that they’d go against the grain in who “won” in a fairytale. I also thought it was interesting that the sorcerer was meant be scary. The story did not shy away from making him the very obvious bad guy, at least by today’s standards. He turns one of his students into a pig and sells him to a butcher!

The Man With the Coconuts

Context

The following story comes from my friend who enjoys telling me about various Philipino folktales that she heard from her parents when she was younger.

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Performance

The following is a transcription of the story told to me.

“So there’s this man with a bunch of coconuts and he’s loading them all up on his horse, and it’s really heavy. On the way back home, he gets really tired and he finds a boy on the side of the street. He calls the boy over and asks him how long more it will take to reach the town. The boy tells him that the town is fairly near! The boy also tells him that the man will arrive very soon but if he goes fast, it will take him all day. So he tells the man to just go slowly. The man is confused and thinks the boy is just being dumb and naive. So he rides his horse fast to the town. However, along the way the coconuts keeps falling off the horse and the man has to stop and continuously pick up the coconuts. Then he would try and ride even faster on his horse, to make up for lost time, but then the coconuts would keep dropping and he would have to stop and pick them up. And eventually the man made it back to town at the end the day.”

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Analysis

This Filipino folktale is one that is meant to share a message and a lesson. The lesson is to never rush something because you will not do the task properly and you will end up needing even more time than if you had just been patient and worked diligently. This folktale is one that is commonly told as a bedtime story to younger children. It is meant to impart the lesson of patience and hard work. Many other Filipino folklore also have a strong message behind the story. To read more Filipino folklore: https://www.jstor.org/stable/537202

Ratcliff, Lucetta K. “Filipino Folklore.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 62, no. 245, 1949, pp. 259–289. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/537202. Accessed 30 Apr. 2021.

Russian Urban Legend

Name: Баба Яга

Transliteration: Baba Yaga

Description: Informant describes it as an Urban Legend that became a fairytale, but presented more like a legend. It is a witch who lives in a traditional log cabin. The cabin sits on either two or one giant bird feet. She is a cannibalistic witch. Her house is decorated with the decapitated heads of her victims. She flys in the sky on a butter churner. She lures children if they are not sleeping and kidnaps them. Described as an ugly old lady with a big hook nose. People have expressed memorates of how they have seen her and how disturbing she looks.

Background Information: Russian legend whose story is told by adults to children or spread from children to children. Also spread and kept alive through memorates.

Context: The informant had originally told me this story when we were children. She recently reiterated it to me through video call. She is of Russian and Armenian descent. She was originally introduced to Baba Yaga by her cousin who was living in a small town named Stary Oskol, which is located in Russia.

Thoughts: Classic example of stranger danger. This legend is used as a lesson to children to sleep and not to wander (especially into the woods). Informant told me that Russia is very forested, so Russians try to warn children to not go into the woods because it is very dangerous. Baba Yaga is used as a cautionary tale to not go into the woods because the witch lives there. Adults need to make a fear that the children will understand instead of telling them the reality of the danger of the woods. Fantasy is more effective for children in contrast to reality.