We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Golden…And All Things That Glimmer. Each post highlights golden items from a folktale from around the world. Each time you have to wonder, is something that is golden a blessing, a curse, or both?
What has inspired all this gold?–The Golden Spike with the 150th Transcontinental Railroad and the Spike 150 Grant for this year’s Story Crossroads Festival.
As the whole Golden theme is due to the Golden Spike, this story is shared despite not being a folktale. Though, having such a way to travel did involve “the folk” to make it happen with many different cultures including the Chinese, Irish, recently-freed African Americans, Shoshoni, Paiute, Washo, and Mormons (today preferred to be called members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
Utah – https://utah.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=e679f80b19ed4482b10910f2a918946e&folderid=578cf9fd8d4a4ce083a62bb331829c67
Locomotives traveled faster than any other way. Asa Whitney petitioned Congress in 1845 for grants to build railway. Many routes considered. The joining of two railroads–Central Pacific and Union Pacific–took place on Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869. Golden spike missed twice but still considered “done” by telegraph heard around the world.
These “spears” are not weapons but are due to two mountains that looked like golden spears. This story has a “Rip Van Winkle” feel to it. Thankfully, the mother did know what happened to her two children probably by some messenger of the Fairy Queen.
Ireland – https://www.worldoftales.com/European_folktales/Irish_Folktale_4.html
Connla and Nora saved thrush from hawk. Thrush said they must hear nine fairy pipers on “Golden Spear,” mountain’s nickname. Thrush told them to see crystal hall of fairies. Children explored and saw second “Golden Spear” mountain. Saw fairy queen. Slept for seven years (felt like one night). Returned. Happiness.
This story is almost exactly like the “Golden Goose” and well as similar to the “Golden Elephant Tusks.” Though it does not reveal it in this link below, but I heard that the father was reincarnated as the swan and explains more of the concern the swan has for the family.
India – https://www.culturalindia.net/indian-folktales/jataka-tales/the-golden-swan.html
Swan with golden feathers learns of poor family. Swan explains that he will give a golden feather. Hurrah! Money. Swan gives another feather. Hurrah! Money spent. Repeats. Greed. Woman takes all feathers. These feathers turn white/normal when forcefully taken. New feathers grow back. Normal. Swan never returns.
A Princess tosses a snail out of garden…what many people would do. It is tough to be cursed for a simple act, especially when no malice was meant.
Indonesia – https://indonesiantale.blogspot.com/2017/02/indonesian-folktales-for-storytelling-golden-snail-keong-mas.html
Prince and Princess married. Witch curses Princess into Golden Snail. Widow catches snail. Comes home to clean place and meal. Discovers Golden Snail is enchanted. Widow tosses shell to break half of curse. Prince will remarry if wife-to-be looks like former wife. Finds Princess. Holy orchestra plays. Curse completely broken.
The opening and closing of the story references “Roland,” one of the 52 bells of a carillon tower. “Roland” sings for victory or tolls for fire. On top of this tower is a golden dragon weather vane and this story explains why.
Belgium – http://whisperingbooks.com/Show_Page/?book=Classic_Fairy_Tales_And_Stories&story=Dragon_Of_Ghent
Dragon wept whenever Belgians and Saracens fought. Tears brought fertile land and tulip (Turk’s Turban). Taff took seeds home. Soothsayer predicted that dragon’s brown scales would change to gold. Did! Dragon flew to find Taff’s garden to see flowers he created. Arrow shot down dragon. Dragon weather vane overlooks flowers.
Golden Spinning Wheel-
You may think this is about Rumpelstiltskin and the spinning wheel that could change straw to gold. Nope. There is a golden spinning wheel that spins its own tale.
Czechoslavak – http://oaks.nvg.org/czech12.html#gospiw
Twin girls. Dobrunka-kind. Zloboha-cruel. Dobrunka provides meal to Man. Man proposes next day. Mother and Zloboha chop off Dobrunka’s eyes, feet, and hands while man’s gone. Hermit gives golden spinning wheel for two eyes, golden distaff for feet, golden spindle for hands. Dobrunka restored. Golden spinning wheels sings deception. Reunion.
Cinderella stories do not usually begin with the Cinderella character already a princess.
Scotland – http://www.misskelly.org/cinderella/golden_shoes.htm
King remarried. Queen mistreated stepdaughter. Princess tended sheep. Starvation. Grey-horned sheep fed her. Discovered! Butchered-then-resurrected sheep. Prince saw shepherdess/Princess. Prince gave tiny golden shoes. Princess ran. One shoe left behind. Prince vowed to marry who fits shoe. Queen’s daughter cut off toes. Bird warned of bloody shoes. Princess found, married.
Cinderella stories often involve a ball or party of some kind. This party is for more than one night. One can be careful the first night….
Philippines – https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0510a.html#fansler
Father remarried. Stepmother with two daughters. Maria treated poorly. Discussing clothes to Prince’s ball. Crab is Maria’s mother. Caught and cooked. Shell buried, turned into tree that granted Maria’s wardrobe/golden slippers. Party for two nights, Maria ran. One slipper left. Prince vowed to marry who fits slipper. Maria fits. Marriage.
Another Cinderella tale. Isn’t it nice to compare? Forget golden shoes or slippers. Let’s now have golden sandals.
Middle East – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/830061.The_Golden_Sandal
Maha’s Father remarried. Maha saved red fish, granted help for years. Merchant to be married. Henna celebration beforehand. Due to red fish, Maha dressed with golden sandals. Forgot time. Ran. Golden sandal fell in water. Bride’s brother found sandal. Vowed to marry to whom it belonged. Marriage. Stepmother’s trick backfired.
Gold Giving Serpent-
This feels a little like the “Golden Swan” above or the “Golden Goose” or “Golden Elephant Tusks“…only that there is death involved.
India – https://www.culturalindia.net/indian-folktales/panchatantra-tales/gold-giving-serpent.html
Brahmin failed at farming. Serpent appeared. Brahmin apologized to serpent, offered milk. Next day, gold coin in bowl. Brahmin gave more milk to serpent. More gold. Brahmin asked son to care for serpent. Greed. Son struck serpent. Serpent killed son. Brahmin learned of son’s death. Greed over grief. Serpent left.
Golden Star Fruit Tree-
This is really the same story as “Golden Flute” but this instrument is “Golden Reed Pipe.” Otherwise, the same. Though, this is more complete than the link found for “Golden Flute.”
Vietnam – http://www.vietnam-culture.com/articles-15-4/The-Golden-star-fruit-tree.aspx
Rich man died. Inheritance. Oldest son took all while Youngest got star fruit tree. Raven ate fruit and asked for three-foot bag only. Raven carried Youngest to island with gold/stones. Truth revealed. Oldest exchanged his riches for star fruit tree. Oldest did two six-foot bags. Heavy for Raven! Oldest drowned.
We started with a historical tale with “Golden Spike” and will end with a historical tale “Golden Stool.” Thank you to International Storyteller Mara Menzies for reminding me of this story.
Ashanti (Ghana) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfaoybhVfco
Golden Stool conjured from sky and landed in King Osei Tutu’s lap. British led 2,500 troops to subjugate Ashanti. Ashanti defeated in July, 1874. Must cover cost of 1874 war. Refused to use Golden Stool. March 25, 1900 – speech – British Queen entitled to Stool. Ashanti women united, strengthened men. Exiled Ashanti King yet Stool protected!
Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.
While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 15, 2019 with free performances May 13-16, 2019 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2019-schedule/.
We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts (Spike 150), the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other businesses and individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.)