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Notes to Norwegian Folktales ❧ 6
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The Land and Water Ship (The Ashlad and His Crew) - ATU 513B

(Formerly: "The Extraordinary Companions", AT 513). A king has promised his daughter to the man who can build a ship that goes both on land and on water. Three brothers want to try their luck in this. However, the older two are unkind to an old man who asks what they want to do, and fail. Only the third answers the old man honestly and gives him food, and gets help from him in return: the man builds the magic ship in return.

On the way to the king's court the hero is joined one after the other by extraordinary companions (a man eating stone, another hearing the grass grow, and others with other unusual abilities). When the young man brings the ship, the king is amazed, but since the young man is of humble origin, the king tries to back away from his bargain and constantly invents new and more difficult tasks to get rid of them. But the hero, assisted by his helpers, accomplishes them all and marries the princess.

The type number (AT 513) refers to a cycle of related tales. The type of tale goes back to Argonautica of Appollonios Rhodios (ca. 250 BCE).

[The tale]

The Old Woman and the Wolf Fall into the Pit Together (Father Bruin in the Corner) - AT 168A

A man uses a little dog to trap wild animals (fox, wolf, bear) in a pit. An old woman falls into it too. The man comes and sees the catch. He rescues the woman and kills the animals.

[The tale]

The Boy Who Raised the Treasure

The tale is from Kvideland and Sehmsdorf 1982, 322-23. It was collected by Knut Hermundstad from Ragni Bjørnsdotter Rølloug in Nord-Aurdal, Valdres, Oppland (Norway). (Ib. 323)

As with other tales about buried treasures, those who want to dig them up, have to be properly prepared in some way or other and must neither talk nor laugh while digging. But time and again strange apparitions lure the treasure hunter into breaking that taboo. (Ib. 317, 321)

There is a core of historical fact behind the many treasure legends in Scandinavian folk tradition, write Kvideland and Sehmsdorf furter. Before Scandiavians were Christianised, they were slave-trading bandits and pirates - in one word: cruel. In another word: Vikings. Some Vikings got hoards of gold, silver, coins and other valuables, and these were in part buried in graves to be available to the dead in the afterlife. Also, in the Viking Age and much later, people hid money underground for safekeeping. (Ib. 317)

[The tale]

The Three Stolen Princesses (The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain) - AT 301

When three princesses are out in the garden, they disappear. Their father promises half the kingdom and his golden crown and any of the sisters to the one who rescues them. The hero sets out in company with some others to seek three stolen princesses. The companions come to a pit-passage to the lower world, and the hero is lowered into it in a basket. He saves the princesses, but his treacherous companions then leave the hero behind below. But he is helped out in a superhuman way and is identified by the babes on their wedding day by means of some tokens of his authenticity. The impostors are punished and the hero marries the youngest princess and becomes king.

Hans Lien Brækstad's translation forms the basis.

[The tale]

The Interrupted Fairy Wedding - ML 6005, The Interrupted Fairy Wedding

Motif F303, Wedding of mortal and fairy.

From Christiansen 1968, No. 51a. "The Interrupted Huldre Wedding at Melbustad."- slightly reworked for this edition. There are many Norwegian variants of this tale. Also, Christiansen cites similar stories in Swedish and Danish traditions.

This legend was collected by A. Faye in Land (eastern Norway) before 1844 and printed in his Norske Folk-Sagn (1844), p. 26. It has been translated into English in F. Metcalfe, The Oxonian in Norway. Another variant from Land is to be found in Boka om Land, II, 281.

[The tale]

Pork and Honey - AT 49. The Bear and the Honey

After a wager a fox takes the heart of the pig the bear is carrying, but when the bear threatens to retaliate for it, the fox promises to take him to a beehive. Instead he takes the bear to a wasps' nest. The bear bites into it to suck honey from the nest and is badly stung.

[The tale]

The Hog Who Was Tired of His Way of Living - AT 211*

Rendered by T. Kinnes.

The pig goes to court to get a better way of life. The fox fools him on the way home, and the pig forgets what the judge said. His life remains the same.

This type of tale seems to be recorded only in Norway, and may therefore be of Norwegian origin, and thus a rare find.

The tale of the hog who was fed up with his way of living is in the last edition of Asbjørnsen and Moe. It has for long had an AT number, but because it is considered "regional" it has got no ATU number so far. At any rate, the tale is "one of the very rare, purely Norwegian tales". ATU-numbered folk tales are international "shareware" mainly.

[The tale]

The Silver King

Migratory Legend ML 8010f, Hidden Treasures. Christiansen 1968, No. 11a. Hidden Treasures: The Silver King.

Stories about hidden treasures are common all over Norway, as in many other parts of the world. The legend of the silver king at Meheia was collected by the Reverend M. B. Landstad in the 1840's. The farmer with much silver on him in the tale, tells of the silver mines of Kongsberg, in Buskerud county in Norway. The mines in Kongsberg consisted of over 80 different mines and the mind field was the largest pre-industrial working place in Norway. Over 4,000 people worked there at its peak in the 1770s. The mines supplied over 10% of the gross national product of the Danish–Norwegian union. Large amounts of silver had been mined out.

Silver was first discovered between the 1 July and 5 July 1623. The story goes that two small children - Helga and Jacob - were out shepherding their cattle at the top of Gruveåsen hill. They had an ox with them, and the ox happened to scrape on the side of the mountain. The children could see something shining and glimmering, picked it up and took it home to their father. he recognised it as silver and quite valuable, melted it and brought it to the town of Skien in Telemark county to sell it. But in Skien he was arrested, for the police thought it was suspicious that someone would try to sell silver at such a low price as him.

The authorities were convinced that he was a thief, and he was given the choice between telling where he had found the silver, or being sentenced to hard labour. He chose to tell the silver had been found in Southern Sandsvær, which was the old name for Kongsberg.

The king of Norway and Denmark at the time, Christian IV, came to Norway the following year and founded the town of Kongsberg in 1624. (Source of a large part of this section: WP, "Kongsberg Silver Mines")

[The tale]

Dyre Vaa - ML5020

Retold by T. Kinnes.

Reidar Christiansen, devised a catalogue of Norwegian Migratory Legends, and "Dyre Vaa" is classified in it as is shown in the headline: "M is for migratory, L is for legend, and 5020 is the allotted number of the type.

It is a type of legend that deals with ferrying trolls. There exist a few Norwegian variants of the tale. Two variants are from the hands of the early collector Andreas Faye, and another is by the son of Jørgen Moe, Moltke Moe. These texts are publicly available from the University in Oslo: [◦Link]

This legend from Telemark is from a Norwegian ballad and a prose rendering by Martha G. Sleeper, in her Sweden and Norway; Sketches and Stories of their Scenery, Customs, History, Legends, etc., New York: Sheldon, 1867, p. 34-38.

There is also a ballad on Dyre Vaa from 1846 by the Norwegian poet Johan S. Welhaven (1807-73).

[The tale]


Norwegian folktales, Norway fairy tales, Asbjørnsen and Moe folktale and fairy tales notes, literature

Asbjørnsen, Peter Christen. Fairy Tales from the Far North.. Tr. Hans Lien Brækstad. New York: A. L. Burt, 1897. ⍽▢⍽ Forty tales.

Asbjørnsen, Peter, og Jørgen Moe. Samlede eventyr, bd 1-3. Oslo: Kunstnerutgaven, Gyldendal, 1965.

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

Bø, Olav, et al, eds. Norske eventyr (Norwegian Fairy Tales). Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget, 1982.

Christiansen, Reidar Th., ed. 1968. Folktales of Norway. Paperback ed. Tr. Pat Shaw Iversen. London: University of Chicago Press.

Dasent, George Webbe, tr. Asbjørnsen, Peter Christen and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe. East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1921. ⍽▢⍽Fifty-nine tales of a total of about one hundred and thirty in all by Asbjørnsen and Moe. Dasent's Tales from the Fjeld contains fifty-two more.

Dasent, George Webbe, tr. Tales from the Fjeld: A Second Series of Popular Tales, from the Norse of P. Chr. Asbjørnsen. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874. ⍽▢⍽ Fifty-two more Norwegian tales.

Gade, Helen and John, trs. Norwegian Fairy Tales: From the Collection of Asbjörnsen and Moe. New York: London: Humphrey Milford, 1924. ⍽▢⍽ Thirty-three tales.

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

Kvideland, Reimund, and Henning K. Sehmsdorf, eds. 1988. Scandinavian Folk Belief and Legend. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Stroebe, Clara, ed. The Norwegian Fairy Book. Tr. Frederick Herman Martens. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1922. ⍽▢⍽ Thirty-seven tales.

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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