Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ever wished that your infant would grow up in less than a day?

During times of personal crisis, parents around the world may have wished that their most helpless dependents could turn into their saviors overnight. 3 folktales from 3 continents illustrate this:

Seeking the Sun

Origin: Xihu (West Lake) region of China

There lived a young farmer Liu Chun with his wife, the weaver Huiniang. One day, the sun failed to rise. For many days, the earth remained in darkness, and demons emerged to trouble the humans. An old man told the people that the sun had been snatched by the demon king who lived under the eastern sea. Liu Chun, seeing that his fellow villagers were dying of cold and hunger, decided to go on a journey to bring the sun back.

Taking leave of his pregnant wife, Liu Chun departed with his companion, a golden phoenix. For many days, Huiniang waited for her husband's return, until the golden phoenix returned to her alone. At that moment, Huiniang realized that Liu Chun was dead. In a state of grief and shock, she delivered a child who grew into a tall strapping man in the time it took for 3 gusts of wind to blow.

Huiniang named her son Baoshu. When Baoshu learned of his father's death, he decided to complete Liu Chun's failed quest. In the company of the golden phoenix, he set off from the village...

Read the full story in Chinese on Baidu Encyclopedia.

Sasabonsam's Match

Origin: Sefwi ethnic group of Ghana

A hunter had just killed an antelope when he was accosted by the forest giant Sasabonsam. This horrifying creature had spear-like teeth and feet that pointed forward and back. Sasabonsam ordered the hunter to cut off the legs of the antelope. Sasabonsam ate the rest of the animal, leaving only the legs for the hunter.

Day after day, the incident repeated itself. The hunter's pregnant wife wondered why her husband brought home only the legs of his catch. One day, she decided to find out. The hunter's wife secretly followed her husband into the forest. Her presence was discovered by Sasabonsam, who wanted to eat her. But when he grabbed her, her unborn child Akokoaa Kwasi Gyinamoa emerged and quickly grew to the size of Sasabonsam.

Spewing smoke and fire, the child defended his mother from Sasabonsam. After defeating the monster, Akokoaa Kwasi Gyinamoa returned to his mother's womb to await his natural birth.

Read the full tale in Story #15 on page 28 of "West African Folktales", collected and translated by Jack Berry.

The Tale of Tsar Saltan

Origin: Russia

Tsar Saltan was away at war when his wife gave birth to his heir. The tsaritsa's envious sisters arranged to have her and her son sealed in a barrel and thrown into the sea. The baby Prince Guidon grew to manhood overnight and supplicated the sea to deliver him and his mother to shore.

Cast on a distant shore shore, the prince rescued a swan, who turned out to be a princess with great powers of magic. The Swan Princess helped Guidon punish his aunts and reunite his parents.

Read the full tale in Alexander Pushkin's poetic adaptation.

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