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JoSelle Vanderhooft
Registered User
(9/12/06 1:00 pm)

The Devil's Three Golden Hairs
Hi, board!

I'm a bit new around here. I'm JoSelle, and I write fairy tales and a few other things :) I joined awhile ago but didn't have much to ask until now.

Last night during my bed time reading, I read the Bros. Grimm story "The Devil's Three Golden Hairs". I found it remarkably similar to the plot of "The Luck Child", from Jim Henson's Storyteller series, and which is identified as an early Russian tale. To summarize for those who don't know this story (and for those who do, I beg your patience!), both tales have this basic plot: a boy is born who is prophecied to become king. The wicked king has the boy thrown into the sea where he is rescued. The king finds the boy later, realizes who he is, and sends him to the palace with a letter to the queen that the boy is to be killed. The boy runs into thieves in delivering the letter, who swap it out with one that says the boy should marry the king's daughter. When king comes home and finds this, he sends the boy on a quest to find the devil's golden hair (it's a gryphon's golden feather in the Henson episode). Boy meets a ferryman along the way who can't leave his post, and the devil's grandmother not only pulls the devil's hairs out (the thief does it for the boy in the Storyteller episode), but the devil also reveals how the ferryman may be liberated: if he gives his oar to someone he ferrys across. Of course, the king eventually goes to see the devil, to steal his gold, and takes the oar.

I'm curious. What is the Russian variant of this, or did Henson and co. just get the attribution wrong?

- Jo

Heidi Anne Heiner
ezOP
(9/12/06 1:35 pm)


Re: The Devil's Three Golden Hairs
All the tales presented on Henson's The Storyteller tend to be hybrids.

But to answer your question, the Russian tale is Marco the Rich and Vasily the Luckless and is in:

Afanasyev, Aleksandr. Russian Fairy Tales. Norbert Guterman, translator. New York: Pantheon Books, 1945 (1973). p. 229.

The tale is AT-461, by the way.

Other variants available online include:

Rich Peter and Pedlar (Norse)

The Seven Doves (Italian)
The Three Wonderful Beggars (Serbian)

There are many more from other countries, but they aren't available online.

Heidi

JoSelle Vanderhooft
Registered User
(9/12/06 7:02 pm)

Re: The Devil's Three Golden Hairs
Thanks so much, Heidi! I look forward to reading through the links :)

pinkolaestes
Registered User
(9/13/06 11:16 pm)

Re: The Devil's Three Golden Hairs
Just my opinion in old age, but I think even the old tales are hybrids, in fact, probably every written tale is, not to mention tales handed down in oral tradition. Tales are living beings and they grow, develop, add tangents, renew and shed just like all other living things. The tale versions you wrote out so nicely for us, carry a central story of the ancient greek mythos of Charon on the river Styx...this I heard from truly ancient old whiskered women from Greece who have long passed the bar now... Charon (not to be confused with Chiron) is the ferryman who ferries the souls of the dead across the The Land of The Dead...the river Lethe and the River Styx have tiny remnants in the stories you gave too I think... in that there is a 'forgetting'... a mixing of messages between one world and the other as a soul crosses over (death is turned to life for instance even for the dead who are said to live on but in a completely different way_)... Charon can only be relieved of his work, if he can trick a living human being into stepping into his boat, in which case the oars would magically release from his hands and attach to those of the living being... and Charon would spring out of the boat... free.
Hope this was helpful or interesting or both.
with kindest regards,
cpe

Heidi Anne Heiner
ezOP
(9/13/06 11:33 pm)

Re: The Devil's Three Golden Hairs
Oh, I agree. The more I read and learn as I build upon SurLaLune, the more I begin to see all of the tales as hybrids. Then I start thinking about chickens and eggs, too, wondering what came first and will we ever really know the answers to most of our questions. Not really, but it's great fun to read and explore and wonder. The wonderful malleability of the tales still invigorates me and consequently keeps SurLaLune alive. I've been having great fun with the Russian tales of late, but need to return to some other projects at hand, too. If only I had a few more of me...and then a brownie to do the housework. Actually, I would just be satisfied with the brownie.

Still, as a series, Storyteller is even more hybrid than usual when trying to trace to a particular recorded tale. Frustrating fun for scholars, entertaining fun for the rest of us. It's much easier to find exact tales, with some hard work at times, to connect to the Storybook International series, a well done series, but not as commercially viable as The Storyteller.

Heidi

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(9/17/06 1:14 pm)

and in Grimm?
I think it's in Grimm too but I've forgotten the name. Dragon, devil?


Heidi Anne Heiner
ezOP
(10/7/06 9:29 pm)

Re: and in Grimm?
I've just added the Grimms' notes to this tale here at the bottom of the page.

Thought you might be interested.

Heidi

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(10/7/06 10:38 pm)

Re: and in Grimm?
Thank you very much. For that and everything. :-)

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