Occupation: Compounding Pharmacist
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/17/19
Primary Language: Persian
Other Language(s): English, Spanish
Main Piece (direct transcription):
Dad: Iranians believe that if something is predicted, it will happen. There was a king, and he had a son. Somebody came, and told him that that boy… It’s the same thing as Disney, the same concept, do you remember…
Me: Sleeping Beauty?
Dad: Yes, with the spinning wheels. In our story, the king had a son, his only son, and a magician told him that his son would be bitten by a scorpion and would die. The king told all his people to kill all the scorpions and took his son to an island where there were no scorpions. He was guarded by many servants, and when the son was older, he was sitting by the beach with one of his servants, and he asked the servant,
“Why did my dad do all of this for me?”
The servant told him what happened. And the son said,
“But I’ve never even seen a scorpion. What does it look like?”
The servant drew the picture of a scorpion in the sand, and it came to life. The scorpion then stung the son and killed him.
Context: The informant, my father, is a pharmacist who was born in Shiraz, Iran. He moved to the United States after growing up in Iran, and now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His first language is Farsi, his second is Spanish, and his third is English. He lived in Spain for several years before moving to the United States, and therefore has collected folklore from his time in these different countries throughout his lifetime. My dad was telling me about different Iranian folktales, since my dad was originally born and raised in Iran. We were originally talking about superstitions, and he decided to tell me this story. The moral of the story, he said, was that “if it has to be, it will be”, and that we could not escape our fate.
I thought this story was particularly interesting, because it had the same basic plot as Sleeping Beauty. Since I grew up with Disney, and know the story of Sleeping Beauty well, my dad did not even need to get very far into the story before I made the immediate connection between the two. I thought it was funny how my dad, before even really starting the story, asked me if I could already see the connection between his story and Sleeping Beauty. Being from Iran, he is not as familiar with the Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and he knows many of his European fairy tales through Disney movies that he watched with me and my brother as we were growing up. My dad had never told me this Persian tale before this moment, and so I was unaware that there was an Iranian equivalent to the Sleeping beauty story in their culture.
For another version of this tale, please see Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Little Briar-Rose (1857), which can be found here