Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (FAIRY TALES)

Created: 2014-09-15 12:40
Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
Description: The Kalmyks have a rich fairy-tale tradition. Fairy-tales were composed by tuulchi, or story tellers, who lived in great numbers in Kalmykia until the mid-20th century.
In the study of Kalmyk folklore there is a convention to divide fairy-tales into the following genres: magical, heroic, every-day fairy-tales and those about animals.
Although many Kalmyk fairy-tales are universal, they have their specificity stemming from the nomadic lifestyle, traditions, worldviews and history of the Kalmyks. In terms of story length, which correlates with the number of events in a given fairy-tale, Kalmyk fairy-tales are divided into 'long' (ut tuul') and 'short fairy-tales' (ahr tuul'). Magical and heroic fairy-tales usually belong to the former category, with everyday fairy-tales and those about animals to the latter.
Many fairy-tales start with stories originating in the real world – for example, at the khan’s court or in the steppe – and then shift to the afterlife or to other worlds, such as the so called 'upper' and 'lower' worlds, or to the 'water kingdom'. The central character or hero of a story is sent off on a difficult mission to carry out the orders of, for example of the khan himself, an evil step-mother, his parents or those of his older brothers. The fairy-tales have happy endings, with good triumphing over evil, a poor man becoming wealthy, a fool becoming wise, an ugly man becoming handsome, etc.
Heroes in Kalmyk fairy-tales are blessed with extraordinary skills, can move between different worlds with ease, can understand the language of animal and birds, and can transform themselves into creatures of various types.
Regrettably, the tradition of telling fairy-tales and their oral transmission are gradually disappearing, being increasingly replaced by other forms of entertainment and methods for imparting knowledge.

72 Fables
Among Kalmyk fairy-tales a genre called the '72 Fables' stands out with its originality and humour. Uttered either in poetic or prosaic form accompanied by short poems, this genre has enjoyed great popularity among the Kalmyks. It has the following content. The khan announces that his daughter is to be married to a man who can tell seventy two fables in the most entertaining manner. A commoner takes up the challenge and does a brilliant job in storytelling. The khan, however, refuses to give his daughter away, arguing that the commoner had told seventy three fables instead of only seventy two.
The fables consist of a series of absurd, impossible, comical situations and events. The happenings, actions and objects in the fables do not reflect earthly reality. For example, time runs backwards, both animate and inanimate objects share the same characteristics, etc.
 

Media items

This collection contains 30 media items.

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Media items

Alena Lidzhieva, A Fairy Tale

   17 views

Once upon a time a Buddhist monk set out on a journey to a distant settlement. The road was long and the weather smoggy. As he had been travelling longer than it usually took to...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (FAIRY TALES)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Fri 12 Jun 2015


Badma Narmaev, About the Heroic Epos Geser

   10 views

Badma studies a Tibetan version of the epos Geser which is stored at the Russian National Library in St Petersburg. One of the oldest versions of this epos, the Tibetan version,...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (FAIRY TALES)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Sat 24 Sep 2016


Bembya Fedorov, About the Heroic Epos Geser

   20 views

Bembya displays two pictures of Geser and explains that there are many legends about this epic hero. In 1802 during his trip to the Volga Kalmyks, the German scholar Benjamin...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (FAIRY TALES)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Mon 30 Jan 2017


Bembya Fedorov, The Cow and the Well

   4 views

Once upon a time there was a Kalmyk man who lived by a dried up well. He had an old cow that had stopped giving milk. One day the old cow fell into the well. Since he was thinking...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (FAIRY TALES)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Mon 30 Jan 2017


Bembya Fedorov, The Great Khan and His Friends

   12 views

Once upon a time there lived a khan. His name was Naran Arslan meaning ‘a solar lion’. He had three dear friends – his younger brother, a yellow elephant that could fly, and a...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (FAIRY TALES)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Mon 30 Jan 2017


Lidzhi Amikov, Turnta

   9 views

An elderly couple had a stupid son. The father was so frustrated with his son that one day he dies prematurely. The mother asks her stupid son to go to a market place and buy red...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (FAIRY TALES)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Wed 18 May 2016


Lyubov' Kekeeva, Fairy Tales

   8 views

Fairy tale One. In the past, the Kalmyks used to ask Buddhist monks for help in all life situations. One day a woman came to a monk to ask for fertility, saying that she had been...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (FAIRY TALES)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Sat 20 Jun 2015


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