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ATU numbers are used to classify types of folktales in the international folktales catalogue. The many types of tales are described there too, along with other information. [More]. (See Uther 2004 below).

Below, all the best known Grimm tales are given type numbers, that is, one or more ATU-numbers, for studying them better. Where the ATU type-title is as in the title of a translated, common Grimm tale, the title is left out after the ATU number. Besides, apart from all the tales in the final Grimm edition, data for two more tales is supplied on one of these pages: "Puss in Boots" from the Grimms' first edition, and the legend "The Children of Hameln" (See Grimm, 1981). - Tormod Kinnes

The Sparrow and His Four Children

ATU 157B, The Sparrow and His Sons. A sparrow asks his four children how they had survived the summer after the were separated from him when they were young, and before he had reached to instruct them about life. All the four of them did very well, though.

[The Tale]

Godfather Death

ATU 332, Godfather Death. (Including the previous types 332A* and 332B*.) A man wants a just godfather for his newborn son, and chooses one who treats everyone alike: Death. As a gift the son (or father) receives the power to see a special vision and forecast whether ill persons will recover or not. By this the man becomes a famous doctor. But when the doctor interferes with the conditions laid out by his godfather, and uses a trick to save the life of a person who was supposed to die, his godfather outsmarts him and ends his doctoring work.

[The Tale]

The Hut in the Forest

ATU 431, The House in the Forest. Three sisters one after the other go to a house in the forest where an old man lives with his three animals. The two older girls cook and make a bed only for the man, not for the animals, nor do they wait for the old man to go to bed before they do. He shuts them up in his cellar. The youngest girl, however, takes care of the animals, feeds them and takes the leftovers for herself, and goes to bed only after the old man is settled down for the night. She ends up in a palace with a young prince.

[The Tale]

The Wren and the Bear

ATU 222, 222, War between Birds (Insects) and Quadrupeds (previously War of Birds and Quadrupeds). A bear insults the children of a wren. The wren declares war, and the birds fight against the four-legged animals and win.

[The Tale]

The Bittern and the Hoopoe

ATU 236*, Miscellaneous Tales with Imitation of Bird Sounds. Cf. Types 106, 204.) Some variants explain the sounds made by the bittern and the hoopoe.

[The Tale]

The Goose-Girl at the Well

ATU 923, Love Like Salt A king or rich man casts out his youngest daughter when she says she loves him like salt. Later he comes to regret it when he gets aware of how stale food may taste without salt, after all.

[The Tale]

The Nixie of the Mill-Pond

ATU 316, The Nix of the Mill-Pond. A poor miller and his wife try to keep their son away from the water, for fear he will drown. But one day, after he got married, he went near a pond and was drowned by the water nix. His dear wife rescues him with the help of some precious objects, so love triumps in the end.

[The Tale]

The Ear of Grain

ATU 779, Miscellaneous Divine Rewards and Punishments. (Including the previous types 779A*-C*.)

[The Tale]

The Spindle, the Shuttle, and the Needle (Spindel)

ATU 585, Spindle, Shuttle, and Needle. A prince will marry, and an industrious, virtuous girl wins him, due to the magic of her working tools - what they do for her.

[The Tale]

Old Rinkrank

Similar to ATU 311, Rescue by the Sister. This is about young women and a suitor much older than them but eager to marry all the same. The two first sisters get blunt and are killed for it, while their youngest sister makes out of how to solve that sort of marriage.

[The Tale]

Rapunzel

ATU 310, The Maiden in the Tower (Petrosinella, Rapunzel.) A woman steals herbs from the garden of a sorceress and is forced to promise her unborn child to the witch. When a daughter is born, she is called Rapunzel (and so on), named after the stolen plant. The witch keeps her isolated: she locks her up in a tower. Up there, her long hair shines in the sun. A prince sees it and falls in love with her, and they have a love affair. The witch finds out, but the lovers flee together, pursued by the witch. They escape and the prince marries the girl.

The oldest version was published in Italy, in the Pentamerone by Basile.

[The Tale]

The Three Spinning Women

ATU 501, The Three Old Spinning Women (previously The Three Old Women Helpers). A false boast of a mother leads to that her young daughter is compelled to spin an impossible amount of thread. If she is successful a prince will marry her. She gets help from three old women who say they are deformed from too much spinning: the first has an enormous foot, the second has drooping lips, and the third has a thick thumb. In return for their help she must invite them to her wedding. She does, and they disgust the prince. Then they tell him it is spinning that has deformed them. Now he will never let his wife spin again. She was helped again by the aged spinning women.

[The Tale]

Hansel and Grethel

ATU 327A. A boy and girl are abandoned in the forest by their poor father. Twice the children find their way back home, following scattered pebbles, but the third time they fail in it. Then the children come upon a gingerbread house. The witch who lives in it, takes them into her house. Now the boy is fattened and the girl must do housework. When the witch wants to cook the fattened boy, the sister pushes the witch into her oven, and the children escape with the witch's treasure, get help on the way, and manage to get home.

[The Tale]

The Three Snake-Leaves

ATU 612, The Three Snake-Leaves. (Including the previous types 465A* and 612A.) A wife dies soon after the wedding. At her grave the husband sees a snake revive another snake with a herb - three leaves. He revives his wife in the same way. But his wife then falls in love with another man. She and the other man throws her husband into the sea while he is asleep. A faithful servant sees it, and comes to the rescue. He revives the husband with the snake-leaves, and the guilty couple is punished.

[The Tale]

Little Briar-Rose

ATU 410, Sleeping Beauty. (Dornröschen, La bella addormentata.) A daughter is born to a royal couple. An uninvited fairy to the birth celebration, utters a curse that the princess will die from touching a spindle or needle. Another fairy changes the death curse into a long sleep. And then it happens: In a hidden chamber the adolescent princess pricks her finger with the spindle, and falls asleep. So does all the court. Around the castle a hedge of thorns grows up. Then a princes comes to the place and awakens the princess with a kiss.

There are variants of the tale, and some of the motifs in it go back to Middle Age France and Catalania (Spain).

[The Tale]

The Knapsack, the Hat, and the Horn

ATU 569. The youngest of three poor brothers gets a magic object that produces food. On his way he exchanges the object for a knapsack that can bring forth an army, and with his army he gets hold of the first object again, and so on to other objects he gets in similar ways. He goes on to live a glamorous life until the magic objects are stolen from him by a cunning one, but by using the last magic object he gets them all back, and then marries a princess and inherits half of her father's kingdom.

There are variants.

[The Tale]

Faithful John

ATU 516. A prince wants to marry a beautiful princess from a distant land. A faithful servant helps him by trapping the princess on a ship. The princess is kidnapped or goes voluntarily. On the way back, the helper overhears three ravens as they foretell how a horse may run away with the bridegroom unless someone shoots it dead, and how a bridal garment will burn the prince, unless someone throws it into the fire, and also that on the wedding night the wedded princes will fall to the floor and die unless someone quickly picks her up and sucks three drops of blood from her breast. -- Now, when the helper acts to avert the dangers, his actions appear excessive and irrational. The prince in turn condemns his faithful helper to death. As the helping servant is turned to stone step by step, he is allowed to explain what he had overheard, and why he did what he did. The prince is some time later told how he can bring his stony friend back to life, and it ends well, very well.

[The Tale]

The Good Bargain

ATU 1642. Includes an episode of ATU-type 1610, Sharing the Reward. The general anecdote-type is comprised of various motifs and episodes from many other humorous tales.

In the Grimm's version, a foolish farmer performs various senseless actions that turn out to be to his advantage. The farce gets worse, with a Jew in the role as a victim.

[The Tale]

The Frog-King, or Iron Henry

ATU 440, The Frog King Or Iron Henry. A young princess drops her golden ball into a well, and a frog gives it back to her. He makes her promise him that he may eat from her plate, drink from her cup, and sleep in her bed. The frog then comes for his reward and the king insists the princess do as she had promised. Angry, she throws the frog at the wall and he turns into a handsome prince. When the prince takes the princess home into his own kingdom in his carriage, they meet his faithful servant Henry. The servant gets full of joy that his prince is no longer a bewitched frog.

Variants are found all over Europe, but many depend on the Grimms' version. In some variants the frog is disenchanted by means of a kiss, marriage, and so on.

[The Tale]

Cat and Mouse in Partnership

ATU 15, The Theft of Food by Playing Godfather (previously The Theft of Butter [Honey] by Playing Godfather). A cat (fox, jackal) and a mouse (bear, wolf) live together. The cat pretends that he has been invited to be godfather at a baptism, but instead he secretly and three times eats butter that he and the mouse had stored. When the mouse asks the cat the name of the baptised child, the cat makes up names that refer to their dwindling store of butter. The mouse discovers at last that the butter is missing, and accuses the cat of taking it. Who took the butter? The mouse is tricked to believe it was her, alas.

[The Tale]

The Wonderful Musician

ATU 151, A Man Teaches a Wild Animal to Play the Fiddle (previously The Man Teaches Bears to Play the Fiddle). A fiddler went through a forest, felt lonely, and wanted good company. He took his fiddle from his back and played on it. A wolf, a fox and a hare were one by one drawn by the music, but the musicial found ways to tie them by tricks. When the animals get free, they try to take revenge, but by then he had found a wood-cutter to play for. The wood-cutter raised his glittering axe in front of the animals. Terrified they ran back into the forest.

[The Tale]

The Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was

ATU 326, The Youth Who Wanted to Learn What Fear Is. A youth who does not know what it is to shudder, and goes out into the world to shudder. He undergoes many frightening experiences - even delivers a castle from a ghostly curse, and thereby wins a promised princess. When he falls asleep in bed, she empties a bucketful of cold water with small fishes in it over him, so that the little fishes sprawl about him. He wakes up and cries, "What makes me shudder so, dear wife? Now I know what it is to shudder!"

[The Tale]

The Pack of Ragamuffins (Scoundrels)

ATU 210, Rooster, Hen, Duck, Pin, and Needle on a Journey. The rooster and the hen set out on a journey, and get a duck, a pin and a needle for fellow travellers. Towards evening they came to an inn. The innkeeper did not think they were respectable people, but was persuaded by a fresh egg and an offer of keeping the duck, which laid an egg each day. The guests ordered food and drink - but early next morning, the rooster and hen sneaked away, and the duck swam fast down a brook. When the innkeeper woke up, he was hurt by the needle and pin and found that the three birds were gone. Afterwards he would never take in that sort of mean guests.

[The Tale]

The Hare's Bride

ATU 311, Rescue by the Sister.

[Left out]

The Twelve Brothers

ATU 451, The Maiden Who Seeks Her Brothers. A girl rescues her twelve brothers who had been transformed into birds. She has to be silent for some years and make shirts for her bird-brothers. A king finds the young woman in the forest and marries her. Her malevolent mother-in-law is harshly punished and her brothers saved in the nick of time.

In some variants of the tale-type (not this one) the disenchantment of one brother is not complete, for his sister did not get to finish his shirt.

[The Tale]

The Three Little Men in the Wood

ATU 403B, The Black and the White Bride. Includes an episode of the ATU type 480, The Kind and the Unkind Girls. A stepmother who hated her stepdaughter sent her in a frock of paper into the forest to pick a basketful of strawberries in winter. She met dwarfs who helped her, for she was very well behaved and kind. In return she was given great beauty, the power of dropping gold from her mouth, and that a king would come and marry her. All these things could be good for her, they thought.

The stepmother's own daughter was unkind to the dwarfs and was made ugly, and made to drop toads from her mouth when she spoke, and that she would die a miserable death.

Soon a king married the beautiful girl and they got a son, but the evil stepmother did not give up. She and the ugly daughter got rid of the beautiful queen unseen and the ugly one takes her place, covered up. However, the true queen visits the court three times in the form of a duck to care for her child. The last night the king stayed away and freed her from a ghastly fate by swinging his sword three times above her head. The false queen and her mother were duly punished.

[The Tale]

Cinderella

ATU 510A, Cinderella (Cenerentola, Cendrillon, Aschenputtel.) A young woman was mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, and had to live in the ashes as a servant. When her stepsisters and stepmother went to a ball at the king's castle, they gave Cinderella the unreasonable task of picking and sorting two dishes of lentils thrown into the ashes. She did it with the help of pidgeons and many other birds. Another bird came to her rescue and gave her a great dress and slippers, after the stepmother told the young woman that she was too poorly dressed to go the ball.

A prince fell in love with the well dressed woman. He would dance with no other. This happened three nights in an row, as long as the ball lasted. Afterwards she fled the ball, but lost a slipper. As no one more likely fitted into it, Cinderella washed her hands and face clean, and was made to try try on the shoe. It fit her. The prince recognised her and rode away with her. They were much helped by birds, these two, but the stepmother and stepsisters were not - for their wickedness and falsehood -

[The Tale]

The Riddle

ATU 851, The Princess Who Cannot Solve the Riddle. A prince and his servant were travelling about, and sought shelter for the night in a little house in a forest. A girl warned him against going in there, for her wicked stepmother was a witch who did not like strangers. The old woman brewed evil drinks for them, but they refused. Something of it spilled on the horse of the servant as he was leaving, and the horse fell dead at once. When a raven came and pecked at the dead horse, the servant killed it to have some food later. By nightfall the next day the prince and his servant came to an inn. The servant gave the raven to the innkeeper to make ready for supper. They had, however, stumbled on a den of murderers. Twelve of them came to kill the strangers and rob them. But first they sat down to supper, and the innkeeper and the witch sat down with them. Together they ate a dish of soup which contained bits of the flesh of the raven, and very soon fell down dead. The raven had become poisonous from the horse-flesh. Only the innkeeper's honest daughter was left at the inn.

The prince and his servant travelled on and came to a town where there was a pretty but proud princess. She was offered in marriage to whoever could ask her a riddle that she could not solve. The prince made a riddle based on what he had witnessed and experienced: "What is this?" he said, "One slew none, and yet slew twelve."

The princess could not find out of it, so she ordered her maid to creep into the prince's sleeping-chamber and listen to his dreams. Perhaps he would speek in his sleep and disclose the riddle. He took her mantle and drove her away, and the same thing happened next night with a another maid sent there. The third night the princess came herself, and when she thought he was asleep, she asked prince about the riddle. The prince, pretending to sleep, answered the questions, but when she tried to steal away, he grasped her misty grey mantle and held fast. She had to leave it behind.

The three mantles were used as evidence to prove she had cheated to get the answers, and the twelve gathered judged pronounced them man and wife.

[The Tale]

The Wishing-Table, the Gold-Donkey, and the Cudgel in the Sack

ATU 563, The Table, the Donkey and the Stick. Three brothers were to take care of their father's goat one day each, but the ungrateful animal lied to their father and said they had given her nothing to eat. The angry father drove the sons away from home. Next day he took care of the goat himself, and found out how she lied and how unfair he had been to his sons.

His sons became apprentices at different places, a joiner, miller and a turner. When the time came for them to wander about as part of their education in those times, the joiner gave a miraculous gift to the eldest son, the miller gave another parting gift to the second son, and the turner gave the youngest son a sack with a short, thick stick in it. The stick would beat about until the owner asked it to stop.

On their way home from their masters, the two eldest ventured into an inn, where the innkeeper stole their valuable things and replaced them with commonplace objects. They found out at home, and sent a letter to their youngest brother who had not finished all his training yet, and told what had happened to them. When the youngest brother got to the inn on his way home, the innkeeper stole his sack too. But the innkeeper was beaten by the stick till he returned all the valuable gifts the three brothers had got after their training.

[The Tale]

Brother Merry (Bruder Lustig)

The tale does not have its own ATU number, but includes episodes from ATU 785, Who Ate the Lamb's Heart?; ATU 753A, The Unsuccessful Resuscitation; ATU 330B, The Devil in the Sack; and ATU 330*, Entering Heaven by a Trick.

Brother Lustig had been a soldier. He was dismissed with just a small loaf and four silver coins. He was moved to give away three fourths of it all to three beggars in his way. Then it showed up that it was St. Peter who had begged from him in three different shapes three times. St. Peter and the former soldier then trudged along together and disagreed about what was seemly behaviour. Lustig wanted good payment in return for services rendered by the saint, for he had been promised half of it. However the saint did not want to be paid - and not get married to a princess he cured. Lustig and St. Peter split up, and Lustig tried to do things he had seen St. Peter do, but failed. The saint came to his rescue, with a farewell benediction, "Whatever you wish to have inside your knapsack, shall be there." Lustig did not handle the gift so very wisely at first, but when he came to a haunted castle things took a better turn. He wished nine haunting devils there into his knapsack and thereby rid the castle of them. Only one devil survived and managed to get back to hell. Lustig travelled on. When he got old, he got tired of wandering about and took the road to hell since is was broad and smooth. But one of the devils there recognised him, so hell did not want him in. Then Lustig found the gat of heaven. St Peter at the gate would not let him in at first, so Lustig tricked him: he threw the knapsack inside the gate and wished that he himself was in the sack. He was allowed to stay also, on St. Peter's word. "His word, his bond".

[The Tale]

Contents


Brothers Grimm household tales classified, ATU numbers for Grimm tales, Literature  

Brothers Grimm. The Complete Fairy Tales. Tr. Jack Zipes. Extended 3rd ed. London: Vintage Classics, 2007. ⍽▢⍽ The book contains a translation of the tales in the seventh edition of the Grimm tales from 1857, plus thirty-two more tales that the Grimms shaped and refined and published in earlier editions of the work. Dr Zipes' critically acclaimed, large book (over 1000 pages) contains much of relevant information. Besides, the language of the tales reads well. Better be warned: there are violence-ridden tales among many others.

Grimm, Jacob Ludwig Karl. The German Legends of the Brothers Grimm. Vol. 1 and Vol 2. Ed. and tr. Donald Ward. Philadelphia: The Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1981.

Hunt, Margaret Raine, tr and ed. Grimm's Household Tales with the Authors' Notes. 2 vols. London: George Bell and Sons, 1884.

Uther, Hans-Jörg. The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. Vols 1-3. FF Communications No. 284-86, Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2004.

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