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Why is the tuft of the lark dishevelled?

The Story of the Helpful Lark.

ANOTHER story of the lark tells of one who went in search of his sister, who had been stolen away from her home by Sila Samodiva. [1] He was directed by a curious dream, in which he saw an old man with a long white beard, who told him to go in search of her, for he was sure to find her. On his way he came to a very old man, who turned out to be the king of all the birds. In the evening all the birds came to him to be fed, but one bird was missing. It came in rather late, limping and tired, and when the king saw it he recognised it to be the lark. And he asked the bird why it was so tired and what had befallen it. The bird said, "Thou hast ordered me to live so far away that it takes me a very long time to come to the court, and it is with great difficulty that I have been able to come here to this place in obedience to thy command." Then the king asked the lark where he had his nest, and when he replied in the gardens of Sila Samodiva, the brother was full of joy, for that was the place where his sister had been taken. Then the king asked the bird whether he could lead the man to that place. "Willingly will I do so," replied the lark. "I will jump from tree to tree and from bush to bush, and flutter about gently, and if he follows me I am sure to lead him to the place of his desire." And so following the bird, he reached a golden palace in which the fairy Sila Samodiva was living. He entered the palace by holding on to the tuft of the lark, which has since remained dishevelled. A fairy put him to various trials, which he successfully accomplished, and thus was able to rescue his sister and to return home in safety.


Needless to point out, that in these two tales we have parallels to the famous legend of the hoopoe in the Solomonic cycle. In it Solomon orders all the birds to come and render homage; only one bird does not appear at the proper time. It comes in very late, limp, tired and exhausted, and excuses itself by telling Solomon of its long flight from the court of the Queen of Sheba, to whom King Solomon then sends a message by means of the same bird. But we are not told in this story anything of the origin of the bird, except that it is described as one leading the travellers to the places in the other world which they wish to reach. Another very elaborate fairy tale gives us the origin of the lark.


[1]  Sila Samodiva, one of the fairies of the Rumanian popular tales.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Why is the tuft of the lark dishevelled?
Tale Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Book Title: Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Book Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1915
Country of Origin: Romania
Classification: unclassified

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