The first in a weekly series of my favorite vintage fairy tale images/artists, featuring works by Elenore Abbott and Howard Pyle.
Meet the gashadokuro, a yōkai (supernatural Japanese being) whose story proved strangely elusive for a giant clattering skeleton-demon.
I don’t have a proper post today, but I wanted to share a couple blog-related things: some great books I bought recently, and an ongoing map of the world’s mythical creatures, cryptids, and assorted supernatural beings. Book Haul: 2 New Treasures and 1 Mystery Thanks to this blog, I’ve made three folklore-related book purchases in […]
In looking for more versions of “The Singing Bone,” I came across a tale called “継子と笛” or “The Stepchild and the Flute.” I took a stab at translating it, since I found only one other Japanese variant in “Green Willow and Other Japanese Fairy Tales,” the source of the featured image.
In stories like “The Singing Bone,” we see sibling rivalry that turns to murder, a crime eventually revealed by the eerie song of an instrument made from the murder victim’s bones.
There’s a lot of messed-up stuff there, but of course the most important question is: Can you really make instruments from human bones?
As an introduction to the next set of tales, how about some music?
Appropriately for a tale type known as “The Singing Bone” (ATU type 780), it comes not only in prose, but many, many musical variants of a murder ballad under the general name of “The Twa Sisters.”
Have you ever heard that an adult swan can break a person’s arm?
Disappointingly enough, that’s a myth.
But in the past few days, I’ve learned that swan-maidens are absolutely capable of breaking a mind. There are just so many variants, so many connections between stories, so many different directions to take.
But I used some restraint and included just a few of the variants I found, some main themes, and a good number of illustrations — a more pleasant version of my own journey in pursuit of the swan maidens.
While searching for art and images related to selkies, I came upon a series of 10 beautiful postage stamps from the Faroe Islands that deserve their own post. They were inspired by the story of Kópakonan, or the Seal Woman, and designed by Edward Fuglø.
Selkies are one of my favorite mythical/supernatural creatures, no doubt related to the melancholy nature of the legends told about them. Look, if it’s not absurdly bloody, heart-crushingly sad, or at least suitably bittersweet, it’s no good. And the various selkie legends have got those criteria covered.
In the process of writing the last few posts, I find my mind returning again and again to “The Story of Mr. Fox” and “The Sweetheart in the Wood,” unconsciously conflating some details, and wondering: What made her take that severed hand, when she herself was in mortal danger? What was it like, to walk home alone through the forest carrying that lump of flesh? Where was it kept between then and the dinner party? And this is what came of those wonderings.