(5/12/04 7:10 am)
Another possibility from Japan is the "Robe of Feathers" or "The Celestial Robe" in which a fisherman finds the robe of a Moon Maiden. Without it she can not return to the heavens, but the fisherman doesn't want to give it back. He finally agrees, under the condition that she perform a dance from the Heavenly Court. She does so and ascends back to heaven as she dances. It's also a Noh play, and I'm not certain if the folktale precedes it. There's a text to it online.
Edited by: Richard Parks at: 5/12/04 10:27 am
(5/12/04 9:53 am)
Thanks, Richard--I like that one a lot. Seems related to selchie stories, or swan maiden tales.
(5/30/04 1:00 pm)
This was a challenge! I did a little searching and came up with these tales.
1) "The Poor Gypsy and the Devil" (gypsy tale from Austria) - A Gypsy helps a miller who's besieged by a devil every night, by playing his fiddle. The devil dances uncontrollably till the gypsy captures him and forces him to sign a contract not to bother the miller again.
2) "The Rom in the Piano" (Gypsy tale from Czechoslovakia) - God, disguised as a beggar, is housed by a poor Rom (gypsy). The Rom can't help but play God's (forbidden) violin and discovers it makes people dance uncontrollably. (I like: "God was too old to dance around like a fool.") The Rom hides in a piano and plays the violin, using this device to get what he wants. (Interestingly, he gives up the princess as his lover and returns to his wife--but he does get the king to give gypsy musicians two bags of ducats.)
I got these from Gypsy Folk Tales, Diane Tong (MJF Books, NY, 1989).
3) "The Robe of Feathers" (Japan) - a beautiful crane/swan maiden tale (I don't think the tale described which bird, but since it's Japanese I'd imagine she's a crane). The man who discovers the robe agrees to give it back if the maiden dances for him--she does, and flies away. I had never seen this version before--and, oddly enough, I just wrote a swan-maiden tale called "The Cloak of Feathers."
I discovered this on pitt.edu/~dash/japanlove/html (the Maryland folktale site). It lists sources.