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Ivan, the Glowing Bird and the Grey Wolf

AT 531. A firebird, a magical, glowing bird from far away, appears in this tale and other Slavic folk tales too. The bird is a large bird in majestic plumage that glows in red, orange and yellow light. In later works the bird is somewhat like a small peacock of fire colours, a crest on its head and tail feathers with glowing "eyes".

In fairy tales, searching for the firebird after first getting one of its feathers, becomes a difficult undertaking. The hero meets a magical helper on the way, one who helps in travelling and capturing the bird alive. The magical helper also helps the hero to return from afar with the prize.

The firebird has parallells in such as Iranian legends, "The Golden Bird" by the Grimm brothers, and the story of the quest is parallelled in an Armenian tale. The effects of the bird differ among the versions from several countries. In the Armenian tale the bird does not glow but makes the land bloom, in other tales the bird gives hope to those who need it.

The present Russian version about Ivan Tsarevich (tsar-son), the glowing bird and the grey wolf is the most popular one. (Wheeler, p. 93-121)

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Folktales comments on fairy tales, notes, LITERATURE  

Aarne, Antti. The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography. Translated and Enlarged by Stith Thompson. 2nd rev. ed. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia / FF Communications, 1961.

Ashliman, D. L. A Guide to Folktales in the English Language. New York: Greenwood, 1987.

Hodne, Ørnulf. The Types of the Norwegian Folktale. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1984.

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.

Wheeler, Post. Russian Wonder Tales. London : Adam and Charles Black, 1917:93-121



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