Mr Simigdáli

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Mr Simigdáli is a Greek fairy tale, collected by Irene Naumann-Mavrogordato in Es war einmal: Neugriechische Volksmärchen.[1] Georgios A. Megas collected a variant Master Semolina in Folktales of Greece.[2] There are about forty known Greek variants on the fairy tale of baking a figure and having it brought to life.[3] It is Aarne-Thompson type 425, the search for the lost bridegroom, in an unusual variation, involving motifs similar to Pygmalion and Galatea.[4]


A king's daughter refuses all her suitors. She takes almonds, sugar, and groats—or semolina—and makes the figure of a man from them. Then she prays for forty days, and God brings the figure to life. He is called Mr Simigdáli (Mr Groats)—or Master Semolina if made from that—and is very handsome. An evil queen hears of him and sends a golden ship to kidnap him. Everyone comes out to see it, and the sailors captures Mr Simigdáli. The princess learns how he had been carried off, has three pairs of iron shoes made for herself, and sets out.

She comes to the mother of the Moon, who had her wait until the Moon came, but the Moon can not tell her where Mr Simigdáli had been taken, and sends her on to the Sun, having given her an almond. The Sun and its mother give her a walnut and send her on to the Stars. One star has seen him, and the Stars and their mother give her a hazelnut. She goes on to the castle where Mr Simigdáli is prisoner. She looks like a beggar and he does not recognize her, so she begs a place with the geese.

Then she breaks the almond and it holds a golden spindle, reel and wheel. The servants tell the queen, who asks what she wants for her; the princess will trade it only for Mr Simigdáli to come to spend a night with her. The queen agrees but gives Mr Simigdáli a sleeping potion. The princess can not wake him. The walnut contains a golden hen and chicks, and she tries and fails again. The hazelnut contains golden carnations, but that day, a tailor asks Mr Simigdáli how he can sleep with the princess's talk. Mr Simigdáli readies his horse and does not drink the potion; when the princess begins to talk to him, he rises and takes her with him on his horse.

In the morning, the queen sends for him, but he is not there. She tries to make her own man, but when the figure is done, she curses instead of praying, and the figure rots. The princess and Mr Simigdáli return home and live happily.


Although the tale is classified as the more general type ATU 425, "The Search for the Lost Husband", the tale pertains to a cycle of stories found in Italy, Greece and Turkey, about a heroine creating her own husband. It could be considered, therefore, a subtype specific to Italy.[5] The type is also considered a Greek-Turkish oikotype of The Disenchanted Husband, which, according to Jan-Öjvind Swahn's study, falls under type 425B: the artificial husband and the exchange of three nuts for three nights with her husband.[6][a]

Pintosmalto is a literary variant of this tale. The Armenian Nature's Ways follows part of it, ending with the princess's marriage to the newly created man. Other variants of the search for the lost bridegroom usually involve an enchanted man rather than a newly created one, as in The Enchanted Pig, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and Black Bull of Norroway. The Two Kings' Children includes a similar series of exchanges for the true bride to reach the bridegroom.

Folklorists Megas and Michael Merakles noted that in these tales, the hero is named after the materials with which he was created.[8] As such, Greek variants of the tale are known as Moscambaris or Muscambre, after the materials used to build the husband:[9] namely, musk and amber.[10]


Folklorist Ruth Ann Musick collected a variant from West Virginia from a man named Jon De Luca, in Fairmont, who learned from his mother, who learned from her mother. In this tale, titled The Dough Prince, a princess who cannot find any fitting suitor, decides to create her own lover: she mixes dough and shapes it like a human male, to whom she gives life with a kiss. As it happens in other tales, the prince is captures by a foreign queen, and his princess goes after him. She meets an old man who gives her three valuable stones and she trades them for three nights with the prince.[11]


  1. ^ For clarification, in his work Swahn calls type B the one which involves the "three nights" and "the artificial husband".[7]


  1. ^ Max Lüthi, Once Upon A Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales, p 165, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., New York, 1970
  2. ^ Georgios A. Megas, Folktales of Greece, p 60, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1970
  3. ^ Anthony L. Manna and Christodoula Mitakidou, Mr. Semolina-Semonlinus, ISBN 0-689-81093-8
  4. ^ Max Lüthi, Once Upon A Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales, note by Francis Lee Utley, p 166, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., New York, 1970
  5. ^ Angelopoulou, Anna. "Muscambre, fils de l'inceste". In: L'Homme, 1988, tome 28 n°105. La fabrication mythique des enfants. p. 50. [DOI:];
  6. ^ Cardigos, I. (2006). [Review of Sommeils et Veilles dans le Conte Merveilleux Grec. FF Communications 279, by M. Papachristophorou]. In: Marvels & Tales, 20(1): 110, 112-113.
  7. ^ Swahn, Jan Öjvind. The Tale of Cupid and Psyche. Lund, C.W.K. Gleerup. 1955. p. 295.
  8. ^ Merakles, Michales G. Studien zum griechischen Märchen. Eingeleitet, übers, und bearb. von Walter Puchner. (Raabser Märchen-Reihe, Bd. 9. Wien: Österr. Museum für Volkskunde, 1992. p. 146. ISBN 3-900359-52-0.
  9. ^ Angelopoulou, Anna. "Muscambre, fils de l'inceste". In: L'Homme, 1988, tome 28 n°105. La fabrication mythique des enfants. p. 50. [DOI:];
  10. ^ Dawkins, Richard McGillivray. Modern Greek folktales. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1953. p. 61.
  11. ^ Musick, Ruth Ann. Green Hills of Magic: West Virginia Folktales from Europe. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1970. pp. 149-151, 289. ISBN 978-0-8131-5421-3.