Folk tales and myths


Greece


THE BEAUTIFUL GIRL AND THE SON OF THE TSAR

Description: Fairy tale in the very rarely recorded Meglen Vlach vernacular of Kárpi (Tsrnareka). The theme in the fairy tale told by Katerina Kirku, is the love between the tsar's son and a beautiful girl, a common subject in the fairy tale landscape of Southeastern Europe. Nevertheless, some circumstances like the difficulties that one of the main characters is set to may always vary: within this story, we deal with a role reversal, and we see how a young girl has to experience a long road of difficult exams until she finally reaches the fated love.

Cite as:  Fɛ́ta lítšnă ši tsăréscu fitšór  The beautiful girl and the son of the Tsar; performer: Katerina Kirku; camera/ interview: Andreea Pascaru; transcription/ translation: Andreea Pascaru, Thede Kahl; editor: Ani Antonova, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: megl1237GRV0001a.


VANI AND THE UNREACHABLE BAG

Description: The fairy tale about Vani, a young boy who is sent by his father to graze the oxen, represents a cycle of happenings with symbolic significance of environmental aspects, especially those of interdependence of plants, animals and human beings.

Cite as: Váni ši sicúlʲu ăn pom – Vani and the unreachable bag; performer: Stella Vragali, camera/ interview: Andreea Pascaru, transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, Andreea Pascaru; editor: Antonio Fichera, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: megl1237GRV0006a.


THE SNAKE AND THE FLUTE

Description: Travelling through the past of 1950s Archangelos, Northern Greece (Oshanj), Stella Vragali, in this video accompanied by Stella Koziari, narrates a series of unique stories that marked her as a little girl. Through her autobiographical interviews, Stella gifts us with her love for stories on miracles performed through the intercession of Saints and everyday life happenings. Her stories reveal the portrait and the harsh reality of a village and at the same time of a little girl's life through the eyes of the later distinguished woman she is today. Most of the stories reflect the social relationships and structures, the social and religious norms of those times. While she is defining the past in the most original way, her sources of knowledge and inspiration are often called to be her family circle that shaped her views on life, social behavior and religious morals for the most part. "The snake and the flute", the first story to be recalled here, resembles a fairy tale. A snake that cannot get enough of drinking the milk from people's cattle finds its end when almost fantastic, though real forces come to help. This narrative shows that the community would almost always have to get back to the elders' experiences and use uncommon practices in order to restore peace to the village. In the interviews' second part we find out more about snake species and other animals to whom the village and the region are home. We then learn how some sentient beings, in this case, the mole, can become part of the traditional medical practice and even cure wounds.

Cite as: Šárpili ši sfirélu – The snake and the flute; performers: Stella Vragali, Stella Koziari; camera/ interview: Andreea Pascaru, transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, Andreea Pascaru; editor: Antonio Fichera, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: megl1237GRV0005a.


North Macedonia


LEGEND FROM KOUPA

Description: Dionisie Papatsafa (Macedonian: Papacafa), the author of the book "Prikozmur din Meglenia" (Влашки прикасни од Меглене, Скопје 1997) is reading the legend of the foundation of his village Cupa (Greek: Koupa) in Greek Macedonia. Papatsafa was, like his father, a teacher at the Romanian school in his native village. As a graduate of the former Romanian High School in Thessaloniki, he spoke fluent Romanian, despite the fact he had never been to Romania. Beginning in 1864, Romanian authorities financed more than hundred Romanian schools in Aromanian and Meglen Vlach villages throughout the Southern Balkans. When the last schools were closed following the second world war, Papatsafa was forced to leave the country. He handed over the keys of the school to Greek officials and settled in Skopje in the former Yugoslavia. The example he reads from his book refers to a legend he heard from older generations in his village. As in all other Meglen Vlach villages, it is also said that Cupa/Koupa was located somewhere else and was formed by merging a number of smaller settlements. According the legend, the villagers were forced to battle the plague until they decided to follow a bee which showed them the ideal place to form a permanent village that was resistant to the horrors of the terrible disease.

Cite as: Legénda din Cúpa – Legend from Koupa; performer: Dionisie Papatsafa; camera/ interview/ transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl; editor: Ani Antonova, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: megl1237MKV0003a.


Romania


CHOOCHOO MANJOU AND THE CAT

Description: The narrator of this story is an excellent speaker of Meglen Vlach. Living in Banat, Western Romania, far from her ancestor’s place of origin (the village of Lʲumniʦa/Skra in Central Macedonia) and her birthplace in Southern Dobrudja (present day Bulgaria), she was able to preserve her language very well despite the similarity to the Romanian language. Čučúi̯-Mandžúi̯ (or Choochoo Manjou in our English version for the sake of simplicity) is the Meglen Vlach version of the fairy tale with the child in the shape of a dwarf, well known in oral folk literature, such as Tom Thumb in English or Kontorevithoulis in Greek folklore. There are many variants of the fairy tale and different motives (according to the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index 700). In this story, a lonely couple wishes for a child (Motif T553) and finds one whose size is even smaller than a cat. While trying to escape the cat, he falls into the cooking pot, which is why his parents do not find him immediately when they get back home.

Cite as: Čučúi̭-Mandžúi̭ ši mátsa – Choochoo Manjou and the cat; performer: Velica Șuca, camera/ interview: Thede Kahl, Andreea Pascaru, transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, editor: Antonio Fichera, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: megl1237ROV0001a.


Turkey


WE ARE THE VAMPIRES NOW!

Description: The population of the former Muslim Vlach village of Nânti (Gr. Notia, Turk. Notya) in the Meglen (Almopia) region of central Macedonia was forced to leave their "memleket" (homeland) around 1922 and was settled in different rural regions of Turkey. A couple of the second generation of refugees tells us about vampires and fairies. Even if nobody seems to believe in vampires anymore, stories about the phenomenon are still recalled. Vampires used to eat young girls; in this short story a young guy can get rid of the vampire through a ruse. The reason why the vampires disappeared is easy: We humans are today's vampires, and the samuvili (wooden fairies) left because of the electric light. Today's Muslim Vlach are not accustomed to speaking Meglen Vlach anymore and only very old persons have knowledge of this old Balkan Romance variety.

Cite as: Noi im vampíri mo! – We are the Vampires now! Performers: Ağuș Kara, Zülfisiye Kara; camera/ interview/ transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, Andreea Pascaru; editor: Valentina Paul; retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: megl1237TRV0004a.