Swan maiden

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In the Völundarkviða, Wayland Smith and his brothers marry valkyries who dress in swan skins.

The swan maiden is a mythical creature who shapeshifts from human form to swan form.[1] The key to the transformation is usually a swan skin, or a garment with swan feathers attached. In folktales of this type, the male character spies the maiden, typically by some body of water (usually bathing), then snatches away the feather garment (or some other article of clothing), which prevents her from flying away (or swimming away, or renders her helpless in some other manner), forcing her to become his wife.[2]

There are parallels around the world, notably the Völundarkviða[3] and Grimms' Fairy Tales KHM 193 "The Drummer".[2] There are also many parallels involving creatures other than swans.

Legend[edit]

Typical legend[edit]

The hunter recognizes his bride amongst the parade of identical maidens. Illustration from Jacobs's Europa's Fairy Book by John D. Batten

The folktales usually adhere to the following basic plot. A young, unmarried man steals a magic robe made of swan feathers from a swan maiden so that she will not fly away, and marries her. Usually she bears his children. When the children are older they sing a song about where their father has hidden their mother's robe, or one asks why the mother always weeps, and finds the cloak for her, or they otherwise betray the secret. The swan maiden immediately gets her robe and disappears to where she came from. Although the children may grieve her, she does not take them with her.[4]

If the husband is able to find her again, it is an arduous quest, and often the impossibility is clear enough so that he does not even try.

In many versions, although the man is unmarried (or, very rarely, a widower), he is aided by his mother, who hides the maiden's magical garment (or feather cloak). At some point later in the story, the mother is convinced or forced to give back the hidden clothing and, as soon as the swan maiden puts it, she glides towards the skies – which prompts the quest.

Germanic legend[edit]

In Germanic mythology, the character of the swan maiden is associated with "multiple Valkyries".[5]

In Germanic heroic legend, the stories of Wayland the Smith describe him as falling in love with Swanhilde, a Swan Maiden, who is the daughter of a marriage between a mortal woman and a fairy king, who forbids his wife to ask about his origins; on her asking him he vanishes. Swanhilde and her sisters are however able to fly as swans. But wounded by a spear, Swanhilde falls to earth and is rescued by the master-craftsman Wieland, and marries him, putting aside her wings and her magic ring of power. Wieland's enemies, the Neidings, under Princess Bathilde, steal the ring, kidnap Swanhilde and destroy Wieland's home. When Wieland searches for Swanhilde, they entrap and cripple him. However he fashions wings for himself and escapes with Swanhilde as the house of the Neidings is destroyed.

Another occurrence in Germanic legend of the maiden with the magic swan-shirt that allows her avian transformation involves the legendary Valkyries. The first tale concerns valkyrie[6] Brynhild.[7] In the Völsunga saga, King Agnar withholds Brynhild's magical swan shirt, thus forcing her into his service as his enforcer.[8]

A second tale with a valkyrie is the story of Kára and Helgi Haddingjaskati, attested in the Kara-lied.[9][10]

Swan maiden as daughter or servant to an antagonist[edit]

The King of Ireland's oldest son returns the swanskin to Fedelma, the Enchanter's Daughter. Illustration by Willy Pogány for Padraic Colum's The King of Ireland's Son (1916).

The second type of tale involves the swan maiden helping the hero against an antagonist. It can be the maiden's mistress, e. g., a witch, as in a tale published by illustrator Howard Pyle in The Wonder Clock,[11] or the maiden's father, e. g., the character of Morskoi Tsar in Russian fairy tales.[12][13] In this second format, the hero of the tale spies on the bird (swan) maidens bathing and hides the garment (featherskin) of the youngest one, for her to help him reach the kingdom of the villain of the tale (usually the swan-maiden's father).[14]

In a Gaelic story, a prince plays a round of shinty with an old man named Bodach Glas. In the third round, the old man commands the youth to find him. Not knowing of the Bodach's dwelling place, the prince's stepmother suggests he requests the help of her sons. His oldest stepbrother informs him that in a nearby lake three swans come to bathe, but in reality they are the daughters of Bodach Glas, who take off their garments to bathe. The stepbrother suggests the prince seizes the opportunity to steal the youngest maiden's clothing and force her to take the prince to her father's abode.[15] The rest of the tale follows The Master Maid, or Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index ATU 313, "The Magical Flight".

Folklorist Katharine Mary Briggs reported a similar story from Scotland, titled Green Sleeves. In it, the prince loves to gamble and one day gambles with a man named Green Sleeves, who wins the bet and in return asks for the youth as an apprentice/slave/servant. To find Green Sleeves's house, the prince fetches the swan garments of a bathing maiden, named Blue Wing, who was one of the daughters of Green Sleeves.[16] Katharine Mary Briggs, in the same book, cited The Green Man of Knowledge as another tale containing the character of the swan maiden as the daughter of the tale's nemesis (ogre, giant, wizard, fairy king, etc.).[17]

In the Celtic story "The Tale of the Son of the King of Ireland and the Daughter of the King of the Red Cap" (Gaelic: Sgeulachd air Mac Righ Éirionn agus Nighean Rígh a' Churraichd Ruaidh), the prince of Ireland falls in love with the White Swan of the Smooth Neck, also called Sunshine, the young daughter of the King of the Red Cap, as he saw her coming to bathe in a lake.[18]

In an Irish tale, The Story of Grey Norris from Warland, John, a king's son, plays ball three times with "an old man with a long grey beard" named Grey Norris from Warland, who wins the third round and sets the prince a task: the youth must find Grey Norris's castle by the end of the year. After some time, he rescues an eagle that informs him that three maidens will come to bathe in the water in the form of swans; he should hide the youngest's garment, because she is Grey Norris's daughter.[19]

In a Flemish fairy tale, Het zwanenmeisje van den glazen berg ("The Swan Maiden of the Glass Mountain"), a young hunter fetches the swan garment of a bathing maiden, who asks for it in return. When she wears it, she tells the hunter to find her in the Glass Mountain. After he succeeds in climbing the mountain, the youth recognizes his beloved swan maiden and asks her mother for her daughter's hand in marriage. The mother assures the human he will be able to marry her daughter, after doing three difficult chores.[20]

In an Evenk tale titled The Grateful Eagle, the hero is promised to an old man after he helped the hero's father close a magica casket. Years later, the hero finds three swan maidens bathing in the river and fetches the robe of one of then. She insists the boy returns it and tells him to pay a visit to her village, where the old man also lives. Soon after arriving, he goes to the old man's house and is attended by "a pretty maid", later revealed to be the old man's granddaughter.[21]

Other fiction[edit]

The swan maiden has appeared in numerous items of fiction.

In legend[edit]

In a Tatar poem, there appears the character of The Swan-Women, Tjektschäkäi, who develops an inimical relationship with hero Kartaga Mergän.[22][23][24]

19th century folkloristic publications mentioned a tale about Grace's Well, a well whose caretaker's carelessness led her to be turned into a swan by the fairies. The well was reported to be near Glasfryn lake, somewhere in Wales.[25][26]

In a Russian byliny or heroic poem, a character named White Swan (Byelaya Lebed'), whose real name may be Avdotya or Marya, appears as the traitorous love interest of the hero.[27]

In Irish Sagas[edit]

In the Irish Mythological Cycle of stories, in the tale of The Wooing of Étaine, a similar test involving the recognition of the wife among lookalikes happens to Eochu Airem, when he has to find his beloved Étaine, who flew away in the shape of a swan.[28]

A second Irish tale of a maiden changing into a swan is the story of hero Óengus, who falls in love with Caer Ibormeith, in a dream.

In another tale, relating to the birth of hero Cu Cuchlainn, a flock of birds, "joined in pairs by silver chains", appear and guide the Ulstermen to a house, where a woman was about to give birth. In one account, the birds were Cu Chulainn's mother, Deichtire, and her maidens.[29]

In folklore[edit]

British folklorist Katharine Mary Briggs, while acknowledging the universality of the tale, suggested the character seemed more prevalent in the Celtic fairy tale tradition of the British Islands.[30] In the same vein, William Bernard McCarthy reported that in Irish tradition the tale type ATU 400 ("Swan Maiden") is frequently merged with ATU 313 ("The Master Maid", "The Magical Flight", "The Devil's Daughter").[31] On the other hand, researcher Maria Tatar points out that the "Swan Maiden" tale is "widespread in Nordic regions".[32]

Irish foklore[edit]

In a Celtic tale (Gaelic: Mac an Tuathanaich a Thàinig a Raineach; English: "The Farmer's son who came from Rannoch"), the farmer's son sees three swan maidens bathing in water and hides their clothing, in exchange for the youngest of them (sisters, in all) to marry him.[33]

In the Irish fairy tale The Three Daughters of the King of the East and the Son of a King in Erin, three swan maidens come to bathe in a lake (Loch Erne) and converse with a king's elder son, who was fishing at the lake. His evil stepmother convinces a young cowherd to stick a magic pin to the prince's clothes to make him fall asleep. The spell works twice, and in both occasions the swan maidens try to help the prince come to.[34] A similar narrative is the Irish tale The Nine-Legged Steed.[35]

In another Irish tale, The House in the Lake, a man named Enda helps Princess Mave, turned into a swan, to break the curse her evil stepmother cast upon her.[36]

In another tale, goddess Áine, metamorphosed into a swan, was bathing in the lake and was seen by a human duke, Gerald Fitzgerald (Gearóid Iarla) who felt a passionate yearning towards her. Aware of the only way to make her his wife, the duke seized Áine's fairy cloak. Once subdued and deprived of her magic cloak, she resigned to being the human's wife, and bore him a son.[37]

Western Europe[edit]

Flemish fairy tale collections also contain two tales with the presence of the Swan Maiden: De Koning van Zevenbergen ("The King of Sevenmountains")[38] and Het Zwanenmeisje van den glazen Berg ("The Swan Maiden from the Glass Mountain").[39] Johannes Bolte, in a book review of Pol de Mont and Alfons de Cock's publication, noted that their tale was parallel to Grimms' KHM 193, The Drummer.[40]

In an Iberian tale (The Seven Pigeons), a fisherman spots a black-haired girl combing her hair in the rocks. Upon the approach of two pigeons, she finishes her grooming activity and turns into a swan wearing a crown on her head. When the three birds land on a nearby ship, they regain their human forms of maidens.[41]

In a Belgian fairy tale, reminiscent of the legend of the Knight of the Swan, The Swan Maidens and the Silver Knight, seven swans – actually seven princesses cursed into that form – plot to help the imprisoned princess Elsje with the help of the Silver Knight. Princess Elsje, of her own accord, wants to help the seven swan sisters regain her human form by knitting seven coats and staying silent all the while for the enchantment to work.[42]

Germany[edit]

A version of the plot of the Swan Maiden happens in Swabian tale The Three Swans (Von drei Schwänen): a widowed hunter, guided by an old man of the woods, secures the magical garment of the swan-maiden and marries her. Fifteen years pass, and his second wife finds her swan-coat and flies away. The hunter trails after her and reaches a castle, where his wife and her sisters live. The swan-maiden tells him that he must pass through arduous trials in the castle for three nights, to break the curse cast upon the women.[43] The motif of staying overnight in an enchanted castle echoes the tale of The Youth who wanted to learn what Fear was (ATU 326).

In the German tale collected by Johann Wilhelm Wolf (German: Von der schönen Schwanenjungfer; English: The tale of the beautiful swan maiden), a hunter in France sights a swan in a lake who pleads not to shoot her. The swan also reveals she is a princess and, to break her curse, he must suffer dangerous trials in a castle.[44]

In a tale collected in Wimpfen, near the river Neckar (Die drei Schwäne), a youth was resting by the edge of a lake when he sighted three snow-white swans. He fell asleep and, whan he woke up, noticed he was transported to a great palace. He then was greeted by three fairy women (implied to be the swans).[45]

Eastern Europe[edit]

The character of the swan-maiden also appears in an etiological tale from Romania about the origin of the swan,[46] and a ballad with the same theme.[47]

Russia[edit]

The character of the "White Swan" appears in Russian oral poetry and fuctions similarly to the vila of South Slavic folklore. Scholarship suggests the term may refer to a foreign princess, most likely of Polish origin.[48]

Another occurrence of the motif exists in Russian folktale Sweet Mikáilo Ivánovich the Rover: Mikailo Ivanovich goes hunting and, when he sets his aim on a white swan, it pleads for its life. Then, the swan transforms into a lovely maiden, Princess Márya, whom Mikail falls in love with.[49][50]

In a tale featuring heroic bogatyr Alyosha Popovich, Danilo the Luckless, the titular Danilo the Luckless, a nobleman, meets a "Granny" (an old and wise woman), who points him to the blue ocean. When the water swells, a creature named Chudo-Yudo shall appear, and Danilo must seize it and use it to summon the beautiful Swan Maiden.[51]

Northern Europe[edit]

In a Danish tale (Jomfru Lene af Søndervand), three sons, Poul, Peder and Esben stand guard in their father's field to discover who has been dancing and trampling the crop in the past nights. The two elder brothers fail, but Esben Askefis finds out it was a group of swan-princesses. Esben fetches the thin, web-like veils of the maidens.[52] The tale was translated as The Lass of Söndervand, in Danish Fairy Tales, and the characters were renamed as Peter, Paul, Esbeen Ashfiest and Lena. Lena and her sisters were princesses, cursed by a witch, and used to live in castle where the field is now located.[53] A second translation of the Danish tale named it Maid Lena.[54][55]

In a Swedish fairy tale, The Swan-Maiden, the king announces a great hunting contest. A young hunter sights a swan swimming in a lake and aims at it, but the swan pleads not to shoot it. The swan transforms into a maiden and explains she is enchanted into that form, but the hunter may help her to break the spell.[56]

In a Sámi folktale, Baeive-Kongens Datter[57] or Die Tochter des Beivekönigs[58] ("The Daughter of the Beive-King"), youth Gudnavirus (Askeladden) is tasked with watching his father's fields for some nights. He soon discovers the theft of their grains is due to the coming of three swan-maidens. The youth hides the clothing of the youngest, but returns it to her and both are married. His king sends him on difficult tasks, which he accomplishes with the help from his wife. But the last task, to get a golden lasso from the Kingdom of Darkness, causes her to leave him and he is forced to seek her out, in her father's kingdom (the titular Beive-King).

Finnish folklore[edit]

The usual plot involves a magical bird-maiden that descends from heavens to bathe in a lake. However, there are variants where the maiden and/or her sisters are princesses under a curse, such as in Finnish story Vaino and the Swan Princess.[59]

Other example of multiple swan princesses can be found in the Finnish tale of prince Tuhkimo (a male Cinderella; from Finnish tuhka, "ashes") who marries a shapeshifting frog (ATU 402, "The Animal Bride" tale), but, when he burns her enchanted skin, his wife, now human, metamorphoses into a swan and flies away with her eight swan sisters (ATU 400, "The Quest for the Lost Wife").[60]

Asia[edit]

In a Kalmyk tale, Tsarkin Khan and the Archer, an Archer steals the robe of a "golden-crowned" swan maiden when she was in human form and marries her. Later, the titular Tsarkin Khan wants to marry the Archer's swan maiden wife and plans to get rid of him by setting dangerous tasks.[61]

America[edit]

A Native American tale has the character of the Red Swan, a bird of reddened plumage. The bird attracts the attention of a young warrior, who goes on a quest to find her.[62]

Literary fairy tales (Kunstmärchen) and other works[edit]

The Swan maiden story is believed to have been the basis for the ballet Swan Lake, in which a young princess, Odette and her maidens are under the spell of an evil sorcerer, Von Rothbart, transforming them into swans by day. By night, they regain their human forms and can only be rescued if a young man swears eternal love and faithfulness to the Princess. When Prince Siegfried swears his love for Odette, the spell can be broken, but Siegfried is tricked into declaring his love for Von Rothbart's daughter, Odile, disguised by magic as Odette, and all seems lost. But the spell is finally broken when Siegfried and Odette drown themselves in a lake of tears, uniting them in death for all eternity. While the ballet's revival of 1895 depicted the swan-maidens as mortal women cursed to turn into swans, the original libretto of 1877 depicted them as true swan-maidens: fairies who could transform into swans at will.[63] Several animated movies based on the ballet, including The Swan Princess and Barbie of Swan Lake depict the lead heroines as being under a spell and both are eventually rescued by their Princes.

The Swan Princess rides upon the waves of Buyan. Illustration by Boris Zvorykin.

The magical swan also appears in Russian poem The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1831), by Alexander Pushkin. The son of the titular Tsar Saltan, Prince Gvidon and his mother are cast in the sea in a barrel and wash ashore in a mystical island. There, the princeling grows up in days and becomes a fine hunter. Prince Gvidon and his mother begin to settle in the island thanks to the help of a magical swan called Princess Swan, and in the end of the tale she transforms into a princess and marries Prince Gvidon.[64]

A variant of the swan maiden narrative is present in the work of Johann Karl August Musäus,[65][66] a predecessor to the Brothers Grimm's endeavor in the early 1800s. His Volksmärchen der Deutschen contains the story of Der geraubte Schleier ("The Stolen Veil").[67] Musäus's tale was translated into English as The Stealing of the Veil, or Tale À La Montgolfier (1791)[68] and into French as Voile envolé, in Contes de Museäus (1826).[69] In a short summary: an old hermit, who lives near a lake of pristine water, rescues a young Swabian soldier; during a calm evening, the hermit reminisces about an episode of his adventurous youth when he met in Greece a swan-maiden, descended from Leda and Zeus themselves – in the setting of the story, the Greco-Roman deities were "genies" and "fairies". The hermit explains the secret of their magical garment and how to trap one of the ladies. History repeats itself as the young soldier sets his sights on a trio of swan maidens who descend from heavens to bathe in the lake.

Swan princess crying. Art by John Bauer (1908) for Helena Nyblom's tale Svanhammen.

Swedish writer Helena Nyblom explored the theme of a swan maiden who loses her feathery cloak in Svanhammen (The Swan Suit), published in 1908, in Bland tomtar och troll (Among Gnomes and Trolls), an annual anthology of literary fairy tales and stories.

In a literary work by Adrienne Roucolle, The Kingdom of the Good Fairies, in the chapter The Enchanted Swan, princess Lilian is turned into a swan by evil Fairy Hemlock.[70]

Irish novelist and author Padraic Colum reworked a series of Irish legends in his book The King of Ireland's Son, among them the tale of the swan maiden as a wizard's daughter. In this book, the oldest son of the King of Ireland loses a wager against his father's enemy and should find him in a year and a day's time. He is advised by a talking eagle to spy on three swans that will descend on a lake. They are the daughters of the Enchanter of the Black Back-Lands, the wizard the prince is looking for. The prince is instructed to hide the swanskin of the swan with a green ribbon, who is Fedelma, the Enchanter's youngest daughter.[71]

Male versions[edit]

The fairytale The Six Swans could be considered a male version of the swan maiden, where the swan skin isn't stolen but a curse, similar to The Swan Princess. An evil step-mother cursed her 6 stepsons with swan skin shirts that transform them into swans, which can only be cured by six nettle shirts made by their younger sister. Similar tales of a parent or a step-parent cursing their (step)children are the Irish legend of The Children of Lir, and The Wild Swans, a literary fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

An inversion of the story (humans turning into swans) can be found in the Dolopathos: a hunter sights a (magical) maiden bathing in a lake and, after a few years, she gives birth to septuplets (six boys and a girl), born with gold chains around their necks. After being expelled by their grandmother, the children bathe in a lake in their swan forms, and return to human form thanks to their magical chains.

Another story of a male swan is Prince Swan (Prinz Schwan), an obscure tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in the very first edition of their Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1812), but removed from subsequent editions.[72]

Czech author Božena Němcová included in the first volume of her collection National Tales and Legends, published in 1845, a tale she titled The Swan (O Labuti), about a prince who's turned into a swan by a witch because his evil stepmother wanted to get rid of him.[73]

Brazilian tale Os três cisnes ("The Three Swans"), collected by Lindolfo Gomes, tells the story of a princess who marries an enchanted prince. After his wife breaks a taboo (he could never see himself in a mirror), he turns into a swan, which prompts his wife on a quest for his whereabouts, with the help of an old woodcutter.[74]

Folklore motif and tale types[edit]

Established folkloristics does not formally recognize "Swan Maidens" as a single Aarne-Thompson tale type. Rather, one must speak of tales that exhibit Stith Thompson motif index "D361.1 Swan Maiden",[75] which may be classed AT 400, 313,[76] or 465A.[2] Compounded by the fact that these tale types have "no fewer than ten other motifs" assigned to them, the AT system becomes a cumbersome tool for keeping track of parallels for this motif.[77] Seeking an alternate scheme, one investigator has developed a system of five Swan Maiden paradigms, four of them groupable as a Grimm tale cognate (KHM 193, 92, 93, and 113) and the remainder classed as the "AT 400" paradigm.[77] Thus for a comprehensive list of the most starkly-resembling cognates of Swan Maiden tales, one need only consult Bolte and Polívka's Anmerkungen to Grimm's Tale KHM 193[78] the most important paradigm of the group.[79]

Each of them using different methods, i.e. observation of the distribution area of the Swan Maiden type or use of phylogenetic methods to reconstruct the evolution of the tale, Gudmund Hatt, Yuri Berezkin and Julien d'Huy independently showed that this folktale would have appeared during the Paleolithic period, in the Pacific Asia, before spreading in two successive waves in America. In addition, Yuri Berezkin and Julien d'Huy showed that there was no mention of migratory birds in the early versions of this tale (this motif seems to appear very late).[80][81]

Animal wife motif[edit]

Antiquity and origin[edit]

It has been suggested the romance of apsara Urvasi and king Pururavas, of ancient Sanskrit literature, may be one of the oldest forms (or origin) of the Swan-Maiden tale.[82][83]

The antiquity of the swan-maiden tale was suggested in the 19th century by Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, postulating an origin of the motif before the separation of the Proto-Indo-European language, and, due to the presence of the tale in diverse and distant traditions (such as Samoyedic and Native Americans), there was a possibility that the tale may be even older.[84] Another theory was supported by Charles Henry Tawney, in his translation of Somadeva's Kathasaritsagara: he suggests the source of the motif to be old Sanskrit literature; the tale then migrated to Middle East, and from there as an intermediate point, spread to Europe.[85]

According to Julien d'Huy, such a motif would also have existed in European prehistory and would have a buffalo maiden as a heroine. Indeed, this author finds the motif with four-legged animals in North America and Europe, in an area coinciding with the area of haplogroup X.[86]

Swan maiden as ancestress[edit]

Since the mythical character of the swan maiden is found "in the whole of northern Eurasia, from Scandinavia to Manchuria", "a great number of populations" in these regions claim her as their totemic ancestress,[87] such as the peoples and tribes of Siberia[88] and Central Asia,[89] as attested in ethnogenetic myths of the Buryat,[90][91][92] Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Na-Dené, Bashkir and Amerindian peoples.[93] Further study suggests that this form of totemic mythology goes back to a pre-Indo-European Nostratic or even Boreal past.[93]

Among the Buryat, the swan maiden ancestress marries a human man and gives birth to eleven sons, the founders of the future clans of the Khori: Galzuud, Khargana, Khuasai, Khubduud, Baganai, Sharait, Bodonguud, Gushad, Sagan, Khuudai and Khalbin.[94]

Professor Hazel Wigglesworth, who worked with the many languages of the Philippines archipelago, stated that the character of the mortal male is sometimes named Itung or Beletamey, and he represents a cultural hero or ancestor of the Manobo people.[95][96]

English folklorist Edwin Sidney Hartland mentioned a tale about a divine ancestress of the Bantik people (of the Celebes Island, modern Sulawesi) who comes down to Earth with her seven companions to bathe in a lake. A human male sees them coming to earth and steals the clothing of one of the maidens, thus forcing her to marry him.[97]

According to scholarship, "in Kazakh and Siberian variants" of the heroic tale of Edige, his mother is described as a Swan Maiden.[98] Edige (Edigu) is known as the historical founder of the Nogai Horde.[99]

Swan maiden in shamanism[edit]

Professor Alan Miller suggested a relation of the swan maiden tale with narratives of Siberian shamanism, which contain stories about male shamans being born of a human father and a divine wife in bird form.[100] Likewise, scholar Manabu Waida transcribed a tale collected in Trans-Baikal Mongolia among the Buryat, wherein the human hunter marries one of three swan maidens, daughters of Esege Malan. In another account, the children born of this union become great shaman and shamanesses.[101] A similar story occurs in the Ryukyu Islands, wherein the swan maiden, stranded on Earth, gives birth to a son that becomes a toki and two daughters that become a noro and a yuta.[102]

Distribution and variants[edit]

The swan maiden's child finds her mother's hidden featherskin. Illustration from Jacobs's Europa's Fairy Book by John D. Batten

The motif of the wife of supernatural origin (in most cases, a swan maiden) shows universal appeal, being present in the oral and folkloric traditions of every continent.[103][104] The swan is the typical species, but they can transform into "geese, ducks, spoonbills, or aquatic birds of some other species".[105] Other animals include "peahens, hornbills, wild chickens, parakeets and cassowaries".[106]

ATU 402 ("The Animal Bride") group of folktales are found across the world, though the animals vary.[107] The Italian fairy tale "The Dove Girl" features a dove. There are the Orcadian and Shetland selkies, that alternate between seal and human shape. A Croatian tale features a she-wolf.[108] The wolf also appears in the folklore of Estonia and Finland as the "animal bride", under the tale type ATU 409 "The Girl as Wolf".[109][110]

In Africa, the same motif is shown through buffalo maidens.[111] In East Asia, it is also known featuring maidens who transform into various bird species. In Russian fairy-tales there are also several characters, connected with the Swan-maiden, as in The Sea King and Vasilisa the Wise, where the maiden is a dove. In the Japanese legend of Hagoromo, it is a heavenly spirit, or Tennin, whose robe is stolen.[112]

Professor Sir James George Frazer mentioned a tale of the Pelew Islands, in the Pacific, about a man who married a shapeshifting maiden by hiding her fish tail. She bore him a daughter, and, in one occasion, happened to find her fish tail and returned to the ocean soon after.[113]

A tale from Northeastern Asia, collected among the Chukchi people, also attests the motif of the bird-wife.[114] Russian professor Valdemar Bogoras collected a tale from a Yukaghir woman in Kolyma, in which three Tungus sisters change into "female geese" to pick berries. On one occasion, the character of "One-Side" hides the skin of the youngest, who cannot return to goose form. She eventually consents to marry "One-Side".[115]

In many tales from the Inuit, the animal bride is a goose,[116] who, at the end of the tale, departs with her child.[117][118][119] The character of the Goose Wife also appears in tales from the Haida and the Tlingit.[120] Similar bird-wife tales[121] have been attested from Kodiak Island.[122]

Some tales from the Algonquins also tell of a young, unmarried hunter who approaches a lake where otherworldly women come to bathe to acquire the supernatural spouse.[123][124]

In a tale from the Tewa, collected by Elsie Clews Parsons, the youth Powitsire hunts a deer, which suggests the boy find a wife and reveals that three duck girls come to bathe in a nearby lake.[125] In a second Tewa story (a retelling, in fact), the son of the cacique wishes to travel to the Land of Parrots to obtain a parrot. His mission is successful and he returns home with a "Parrot Girl" that helps him on the homeward journey. When he arrives at his parents house, the Parrot Girl becomes a beautiful human girl and marries him.[126]

In a tale from Oceania (New Hebrides), a man named Tagaro spies on women with bat-like wings (Banewonowono or Vinmara) who descend to bathe in a lake. The man takes the wings of one of them.[127][128] In a similar story from Aurora Island, in Vanuatu (The Winged Wife), the hero's name is Qat.[129]

In a tale attributed to the Toraja people of Indonesia, a woman gives birth to seven crabs that she throws in the water. As time passes, the seven crabs find a place to live and take their disguises to assume human form. In one occasion, seven males steal the crab disguises of the seven crab maidens and marry them.[130] A second one is close to the Swan maiden narrative, only with parakeets instead of swans; the hero is called Magoenggoelota and the maiden Kapapitoe.[131]

In mythology[edit]

One notably similar Japanese story, "The crane wife" (Tsuru Nyobo), is about a man who marries a woman who is in fact a crane (Tsuru no Ongaeshi) disguised as a human. To make money the crane-woman plucks her own feathers to weave silk brocade which the man sells, but she became increasingly ill as she does so. When the man discovers his wife's true identity and the nature of her illness, she leaves him. There are also a number of Japanese stories about men who married kitsune, or fox spirits in human form (as women in these cases), though in these tales the wife's true identity is a secret even from her husband. She stays willingly until her husband discovers the truth, at which point she must abandon him.[132]

The motif of the swan maiden or swan wife also appears in Southeast Asia, with the tales of Kinnari or Kinnaree (of Thailand) and the love story of Manohara and Prince Sudhana.[133]

Professor and folklorist James George Frazer, in his translation of The Libraries, by Pseudo-Apollodorus, suggested that the myth of Peleus and Thetis seemed related to the swan maiden cycle of stories.[134]

In folklore[edit]

Europe[edit]

In a XIIIth century romance about Friedrich von Schwaben (English: "Friedrich of Suabia"),[135] the knight Friedrich hides the clothing of Princess Angelburge, who came to bathe in a lake in dove form.[136][137]

Western Europe[edit]

In a tale from Britanny, collected by François-Marie Luzel with the title Pipi Menou et Les Femmes Volants ("Pipi Menou and the Flying Women"), Pipi Menou, a shepherd boy, sees three large white birds descending near a étang (a pond). When the birds approach the pond, they transform into nude maidens and begins to play in the water. Pipi Menou sees the whole scene from the hilltop and tells his mother, who explains they are the daughters of a powerful magician who lives elsewhere, in a castle filled with jewels and precious stones. The next day, he steals the clothing of one of them, but she convinces him to give it back. He goes to the castle, the flying maiden recognizes him and they both escape with jewels in their pouches.[138]

Southern Europe[edit]

In a Basque tale collected by Wentworth Webster (The Lady Pigeon and her Comb), the destitute hero is instructed by a "Tartaro" to collect the pigeon garment of the middle maiden, instead of the youngest.[139]

In the Andalusian variant, El Marqués del Sol ("The Marquis of the Sun"), a player loses his bet against the Marqués and must wear out seven pairs or iron shoes. In his wanderings, he pays the debt of a dead man and his soul, in gratitude, informs him that three white doves, the daughters of the Marqués in avian form, will come to bathe in a lake.[140]

Waldemar Kaden collected a tale from South Italy (German: Der geraubte Schleier; English: "The Stolen Veil"), although he does not credit the source. It tells of a man who climbs a mountain and, aided by an old woman, fetches the garment of one of twelve dove-maidens who were bathing in the lake.[141] Kaden also compared it to Musäus's version in his notes.[142]

Portuguese writer Theophilo Braga collected a Portuguese tale named O Príncipe que foi correr a sua Ventura ("The Prince Who Wanted to See the World"), in which a prince loses his bet against a stranger, a king in disguise, and must become the stranger's servant. The prince is informed by a beggar woman with child that in a garden there is tank, where three doves come to bathe. He should take the feathery robe of the last one and withhold it until the maiden gives him three objects.[143]

A tale from Tirol tells of prince Eligio and the Dove-Maidens, which bathe in a lake.[144] Doves also appear as the form three princesses are cursed under by an evil magician, who also transformed a prince into a giant, in a Portuguese folktale.[145]

In another tale, from Tirol, collected by Christian Schneller (German: Die drei Tauben; Italian: Le tre colombe; English: "The Three Doves"), a youth loses his soul in a gamble to a wizard. A saint helps him and gives the information about three doves that perch themselves on a bridge and change themselves to human form. The youth steals the clothing of the youngest, daughter of the wizard, and promises to take him to her father. She wants to help the hero in order to convert herself to Christianity and abandon her pagan magic.[146]

Northern Europe[edit]

In the Swedish tale[147] The Beautiful Palace East of the Sun and North of the Earth, from Smaland, three sons stand guard in a meadow that is being treaded in the past nights, and the youngest discovers the culprits are three dove-maidens.[148]

In a Norwegian tale, Farther South Than South, and Farther North Than North, and in the Great Hill of Gold, youth John of the Ashes is tasked with standing vigil on his father's wheat field, to discover who is responsible for trampling the field every night. He sees three doves who change their feathers and become maidens who trample and dance on the wheat field. He falls in love with the middle one, instead of the youngest – a scenario that occurs in almost every variant.[149]

In the Danish tale The White Dove, the youngest prince, unborn at the time, is "sold" by his elder brothers in exchange for a witch's help in dissipating a sea storm. Years later, the witch upholds her end of the bargain and takes the prince under her tutelage. As part of his everyday chores, the witch sets him with difficult tasks, which he accomplishes with the help of a princess, enchanted by the witch to become a dove.[150][151]

Central Europe[edit]

A compilation of Central European (Austrian and Bohemian) folktales lists four variants of the Swan Maiden narrative: "The Three White Doves";[152] "The Maiden on the Crystal Mountain";[153] "How Hans finds his Wife"[154] and "The Drummer".[155] Theodor Vernaleken, in the German version of the compilation, narrated in his notes two other variants, one from St. Pölten and other from Moldautein (modern day Týn nad Vltavou, in the Czech Republic).[156]

Eastern Europe[edit]

In Slavic fairy tale King Kojata or Prince Unexpected, the twelve royal daughters of King Kostei take off their geese disguises to bathe in the lake, but the prince hides the clothing of the youngest.[157][158]

In a Masurian (Poland) tale, Die goldenen Tauben ("The golden doves"), the youngest son of a farmer hold a vigil at midnight and sees three golden doves arriving to trample his father's field. The birds are enchanted princesses, and one of them gives the man a ring.[159]

In Czech tale The Three Doves, the hero hides the three golden feathers of the dove maiden to keep her in her human state. Later on, when she disappears, he embarks on an epic quest to find her.[160]

Russia[edit]

In the Russian fairy tale The Sea Tsar and Vasilisa the Wise, or Vassilissa the Cunning, and The Tsar of the Sea,[161] Ivan, the merchant's son, was informed by an old hag (possibly Baba Yaga, in some versions[162]) about the daughters of the Sea Tsar who come to bathe in a lake in the form of doves. In another translation, The King of the Sea and Melania, the Clever,[163] and The Water King and Vasilissa the Wise,[164] there are twelve maidens in the form of spoonbills. In another transcription of the same tale, the maidens are pigeons.[165]

In another Russian variant, "Мужик и Настасья Адовна" ("The Man and Nastasya, Princess of the Underworld"), collected by Ivan Khudyakov (ru), a creature jumps out of a well and tells a man to give him the thing he does not know he has at home (his newly-born son). Years later, his son learns about his father's dealing and decides to travel to "Hell" ("Аду" or "Adu", in Russian). He visits three old women who give him directions to reach "Hell". The third old woman also informs him that in a lake, thirty-three maidens, the daughters of "Adu", come to bathe, and he should steal the clothing of Nastasya Adovna.[166]

Ukraine[edit]

In a "Cossack" (Ukrainian) tale, The Story of Ivan and the Daughter of the Sun, the peasant Ivan obtains a wife in the form of a dove maiden whose robe he stole when she was bathing. Some time later, a nobleman lusts after Ivan's dove maiden wife and plans to get rid of the peasant.[167]

In another Ukrainian variant that begins as tale type ATU 402, "The Animal Bride", akin to Russian The Frog Princess, the human prince marries the frog maiden Maria and both are invited to the tsar's grand ball. Maria takes off her frog skin and enters the ballroom as human, while her husband hurries back home and burns her frog skin. When she comes home, she reveals the prince her cursed state would soon be over, says he needs to find Baba Yaga in a remote kingdom, and vanishes from sight in the form of a cuckoo. He meets Baba Yaga and she points to a lake where 30 swans will alight, his wife among them. He hides Maria's feather garment, they meet again and Maria tells him to follow her into the undersea kingdom to meet her father, the Sea Tsar. The tale ends like tale type ATU 313, with the three tasks.[168]

Hungary[edit]

A Hungarian tale ("Fisher Joe") tells about an orphan who catches a magical fish that reveals itself as a lovely maiden.[169] A second Magyar tale, "Fairy Elizabeth", is close to the general swan maiden story, only dealing with pidgeon-maidens instead.[170] In a third tale, Az örökbefogadott testvérek ("The adoptive brothers"), the main protagonist, Miklós, dreams that the Queen of the Fairies and her handmaidens come to his side in the form of swans and transform into beautiful women.[171]

In the Hungarian tale Ráró Rózsa, the king promises his only son to a devil-like character that rescues him from danger. Eighteen years pass, and it is time for the prince to fulfill his father's promise. The youth bides his time in a stream and awaits the arrival of three black cranes, the devil's three daughters in disguise, to fetch the garments of the youngest.[172]

In another tale, Tündér Ilona és Argyilus ("Fairy Ilona and Argyilus"), Prince Argyilus (hu) is tasked by his father, the king, with discovering what has been stealing the precious apples from his prized apple tree. One night, the prince sees thirteen black ravens flying to the tree. As soon as he captures the thirteenth one, it transforms into the beautiful golden-haired Fairy Ilona.[173] A variant of the event also happens in Tündér Ilona és a királyfi ("Fairy Ilona and the Prince").[174]

In the tale A zöldszakállú király ("The Green-Bearded King"), the king is forced to surrender his son to the devil king after it spares the man's life. Years later, the prince comes across a lake where seven wild ducks with golden plumage left their skins on the shores to bathe in the form of maidens.[175]

In the tale A tizenhárom hattyú ("The Thirteen Swans"), collected by Hungarian journalist Elek Benedek, after his sister was kidnapped, Miklós finds work as a cowherd. On one occasion, when he leads the cows to graze, he sees thirteen swans flying about an apple tree. The swans, then, change their shapes into twelve beautiful maidens and the Queen of the Fairies.[176]

Caucasus Region[edit]

In an Azerbaijani variant, a prince travels to an island where birds of cooper, silver and gold wings bathe, and marries the golden-winged maiden.[177]

In an Armenian variant collected from an Armenian-American source (The Country of the Beautiful Gardens), a prince, after his father's death, decided to stay silent. A neighbouring king, who wants to marry him to his daughter, places him in his garden. There, he sees three colorful birds bathing in a pool, and they reveal themselves as beautiful maidens.[178]

Northern Eurasia[edit]

In a tale from the Samoyed people of Northern Eurasia, an old woman informs a youth of seven maidens who are bathing in a lake in a dark forest.[179] English folklorist Edwin Sidney Hartland cited a variant where the seven maidens arrive at the lake in their reindeer chariot.[180]

In a tale attributed to the Tungus of Siberia, titled Ivan the Mare's Son (related to both Fehérlófia and Jean de l'Ours), a mare gives birth to a human son, Ivan. When he grows up, he meets two companions also named Ivan: Ivan the Sun's Son and Ivan the Moon's Son. The three decide to live together in a hut made of wooden poles and animal skins. For two nights, after they hunt in the forest, they come home and see the place in perfect order. On the third night, Ivan, the Mare's Son, decides to stay awake and discovers that three herons descending to the ground and taking off their feathers and wings to become maidens. Ivan, the Mare's Son, hides their bird garments until they reveal themselves. Marfida, the heron maiden, and her sisters marry the three Ivans and live together. The rest of the story follows tale type ATU 301, "The Three Stolen Princesses": descent into underworld by hero, rescue of maidens, betrayal by companions and return to the upper world on eagle.[181]

Middle East[edit]

The swans take flight from the ornate pavillion, leaving their sister behind. Illustration from Hassan of Bassorah by John Batten.

The tale of the swan maiden also appears in the Arab collection of folktales The Arabian Nights,[182] in "The Story of Janshah",[183] a tale inserted in the narrative of The Queen of the Serpents. In a second tale, the story of Hasan of Basrah (Hassan of Bassorah),[184][185] the titular character arrives at a oasis and sees the bird maidens (birds of paradise) undressing their plumages to play in the water.[186]

A third narrative is the tale of Mazin of Khorassan (or Mazin of Khorassaun),[187] supposedly not included in Antoine Galland's translation of the collection: an orphaned dyer, Mazin is invited to a castle where there is a magnificent garden. One afternoon, he rests in the garden and sees the arrival, through the air, of seven maidens wearing "light green silk" robes. He is later informed the seven are sisters to a queen of a race of female genii who live in a distant kingdom.[188] The story of Mazin was noted to be quite similar to Hassan of Bassorah, albeit with differences during the quest.[189]

An Arab tale (Histoire d'Ours de cuisine) begins akin to the swan maiden story: a king owns a fountain in his garden where a maiden with a feathery robe likes to bathe. One night, the king, taken with passion for the girl, fetches her garments from a nearby tree and intends to make her his bride. She consents, on the condition that the king blinds his forty queens.[190]

In another Middle Eastern tale, a king's son finds work with a giant in another region and receives a set of keys to the giant's abode, being told not to open a specific door. He disobeys his master and opens the door; he soon sees three pigeon maidens take off their garments to bathe in a basin.[191]

South Asia[edit]

In a Persian story, The Merchant's Son and the Peries, the peris of lore take off their garments and assume human form to bath in the water, until a young man gets their clothes to force one of them to be his wife. The peris try to convince him not to, as they are "creatures of fire" and he, a human, is "made of water and clay".[192]

A story from South Asia also narrates the motif of the swan maiden or bird-princess: Story of Prince Bairâm and the Fairy Bride, when the titular prince hides the clothing of Ghûlab Bânu, the dove-maiden.[193][194]

East Asia[edit]

According to professor Alan Miller, the swan maiden tale is "one of the most popular of all Japanese folktales".[195] Likewise, scholar Manabu Waida asserted the popularity of the tale "in Korea, Manchuria and China", as well as among "the Buryat, Ainu and Annamese".[196]

China[edit]

In ancient Chinese literature, one story from the Dunhuang manuscripts veers close to the general Swan Maiden tale: a poor man named T'ien K'un-lun approaches a lake where three crane maidens are bathing.[197][198]

A tale from Southeastern China and near regions narrates the adventures of a prince who meets a Peacock Maiden, in a tale attributed to the Tai people.[199] The tale is celebrated amongst the Dai people of China and was recorded as a poem and folk story, being known under several names, such as "Shaoshutun", "The Peacock Princess" or "Zhao Shutun and Lanwuluona".[200][201][202]

Africa[edit]

According to scholar Denise Paulme, in African tales, the animal spouse (a buffalo or an antelope) marries a human male already married to a previous human wife. The man hides the skin of the supernatural spouse and she asks him never to reveal her true name. When the husband betrays the supernatural wife's trust, the animal wife takes her skin back and returns to the wilderness with her children.[203]

A tale collected from the Swahili (Kisa Cha Hassibu Karim ad Dini na Sultani wa Nyoka, or "The Story of Haseebu Kareem ed Deen and the King of the Snakes") also falls under the widespread tale of the Bird Maiden.[204]

Variants collected in Cape Verde by Elsie Clews Parsons (under the title White-Flower) show the hero plucking the feather from the duck maiden to travel to her father's house.[205]

Oceania[edit]

There have been collected at least thirty-three variants from Papua New Guinea, published in local newspaper Wantok Niuspepa, in a section about traditional tales.[206] Sometimes the swan garment is replaced by a cassowary skin or a bird-of-paradise.[207] For instance, the tale of The Cassowary Wife was stated by anthropologist Margaret Mead to be the local version of the Swan maiden.[208]

The character of the swan maiden (and her variants) is spread among the many traditions of Oceania, such as in Micronesia.[209]

America[edit]

In a tale of the Cochiti people, a coyote (possibly the Coyote of legend) helps a youth in getting a wife: one of three pigeon girls who bathe in a lake.[210] In a variant, the coyote leads the youth to three dove maidens.[211]

In a tale of the Musquakie people, some male youths bathe and play in the water while some beautiful girls approach them. One of the male youths gets one of the girls and the others, frightened, turn into black-headed ducks and fly away.[212]

In a tale collected by Silvio Romero in Rio de Janeiro (Cova da Linda Flôr), a king gambles with another monarch. He loses everything and consults with a hermit on how to proceed. The hermit advises to kill a special kind of bird from which a piece of paper will drop with instructions: three princesses, daughters of the monarch, in the form of ducks bathe in a lake, and the king should take the duck skin of the youngest (whose name is Cova da Linda Flôr).[213]

In a Mexican tale, Blanca Flor ("White Flower"), youth Juan loves to gamble and wins the devil's favor to grant him unbeatable luck for the period of five years. When the date is due, the youth must find the devil "in the Plains of Berlín at the Hacienda of Qui-quiri-qui". He goes on a pilgrimage and asks three hermits (the king of fishes, the king of animals of the earth and the king of birds of the air) its location. The eagle, answering its sire's question, knows where it is. The eagle carries Juan to the Plains of Berlín and informes that three doves, the devil's three daughters, will come to bathe.[214]

In a tale from Guyana, The man with a vulture wife, a young hunter comes across a large house where people were playing sports and dancing to music. In reality, they were vultures that shed their skins to decorate the place. The youth becomes entranced by one of the maidens and captures her. Their marriage is not a happy one, and the tale ends on a darker note.[215]

In two Argentinian variants, Las tres palomas hijas del diablo ("The three pigeon daughters of the devil") and Blanca Flor, the prince is a gambler who bets and loses against a devil antagonist. To find the devil's house, a donor tells him he should steal the garments of the three daughters of the devil, who come to bathe in the form of doves.[216]

Non-swan maidens[edit]

Despite the near universality of the tale of the swan maiden (or maiden who transforms into any other kind of bird), there are tales where the human male still holds the maiden's garments, but the narrative does not mention whether she transforms or not.

In a tale titled The Iron Eagle, a young hunter reaches the sandy shores on the edge of a forest. He then sees three maidens arriving in a flash of light to take a bath "in the golden sunrise". The hunter steals their clothing, unaware that one of the maidens is "The Daughter of the Sun". In exchange for her garment back, she will grant one out of four wishes.[217]

Western Europe[edit]

The tale of the swan maiden is believed to be attested in Lady Featherflight, a tale obtained from an English storyteller (an old aunt).[218] Lady Featherflight helps the hero against her giant father and both escape (ATU 313 The Magical Flight).

Emmanuel Cosquin collected a French tale titled Chatte Blanche (English: "White Cat"), where the hero Jean is informed that "Plume Verte", "Plume Jaune" and "Plume Noir" come to bathe in the lake in the Black Forest, and is tasked with getting the robes of "Plume Verte".[219]

On his comments on English fairy tale Lady Featherflight,[220] W. W. Newell commented that in the French counterpart of the story, La Plume Verte (English: "The Green Feather"), the name is an indication of her status as bird-maiden.[221] However, it has been noted that, as it happened in both versions, the swan maiden's feathery cloak was replaced by the garment, yet a reminiscence of it is retained in their names.[222]

A similar occurrence appear in a fairy tale from Brittany, La Demoiselle en Blanc ("The Lady in White"), collected by Paul Sébillot: the young man sees three human maidens bathing, and nearby there are three dresses, a white one, a gray one and a blue one.[223] It has been noted that the tale contains a nearly identical episode of the maidens bathing, instead of the bird-maidens.[224]

In another Brittany tale, collected by François-Marie Luzel, Barbauvert, ou Le Prince qui Joua la Tête et la Perdit ("Green Beard, or The Prince that gambled his head and lost it"), prince Charles, son of the king of France, gambles and loses a bet against Barbauvert. The man asks the prince to find his castle. Charles meets a hermit that tells him that three maidens will come in three golden chairs and will descend near a lake. One of them is Koantic, the youngest daughter of the Green Beard and who will help the prince with her father's tasks.[225]

In Irish tale Yellow Lily, the son of the king of Erin gambles his head against the cruel Giant of Loch Lein, and must travel to the giant's castle after losing the bet. During his travels, he meets an old woman in a hut who informs that the three daughters of the giant, Blue Lily, White Lily and Yellow Lily, will come to bathe in a near lake, and the he should steal the garments of the youngest, Yellow Lily.[226][227]

Southern Europe[edit]

In a Galician tale, Brancafrol, a gambling youth bets and loses his soul, and receives a deadline to surrender his soul to the winner. After giving alms to an old lady, she informs him of three magical maidens bathing in the sea: two Moorish women, and a Christian woman, who have set their dresses on the shore (the Moorish women's green ones and the Christian woman's white one).[228]

Francisco Maspons y Labrós collected a Catalan variant titled Lo castell del Sol ("The Castle of the Sun"), where a young count bets and loses his wealthy and must find his way to "The Castle of the Sun". Not knowing of its location, he is helped by an old lady and her sons, who tell of a lake where three maidens come to bathe. When escaping from her family, the count calls his wife "Rosa florida".[229]

Central Europe[edit]

In an Austrian (Tirol) tale collected by Joseph and Ignaz Zingerle, Der gläserne Berg ("The Glass Mountain"), a forester's son, while hiding in the bushes, sees three maidens bathing, and fetches their cloaks. Later, the maidens arrive at his house and ask for their garments back. He returns to two of the maidens, retaining the youngest's and marrying her. The couple live quite happily until, one day, the husband forgets to lock the cabinet where he hid her cloak garment, and she finds it. The maiden writes him a note that, if he loves her, he should seek her in "The Glass Mountain".[230]

Eastern Europe[edit]

In a Polish tale by A. J. Glinski, O nahajce wykonajce, butachsamoskokach, czapce niewidce, i ogórze miedzianej[231] ("The Princess of The Brazen Mountain"),[232] the hero is a prince who steals the pair of wings of the titular princess and proposes to her. On their wedding day, she is given back the wings and flies back to the Brazen Mountain.[233]

In a tale collected by Francis Hindes Groome (The Witch) from a Polish-Gypsy source, the prince dreams of a place where lovely maidens were bathing. He decides to travel the world to find this place. He does so and hides the wings of the youngest maiden. After his wife escapes, he follows her to her family's home, and must work for her sorcerous mother.[234]

In Russian folktale Yelena The Wise, the titular princess and her maid, both possessing wings, were made prisoners by a six-headed serpent, until they were accidentally released by Ivan, the soldier. Ivan informs the six-headed serpent of her escape and the monster says the princess is cunning. Hot on her trail, he uses a flying carpet to reach a beautiful garden with a pond. Soon after, Yelena and her maid arrive and take off their wings to bathe.[235]

In a Wallachian tale collected by Arthur and Albert Schott, Der verstoßene Sohn, a youth shoots a raven, which falls in the snow. The striking image makes the boy long for a bride "of white skin, red cheeks and hair black as a raven's feathers". An old man tells him of such beauty: three "Waldjungfrauen" ("forest-maidens") will come to bathe in the lake, and he must secure the crown of one of them. He fails twice, but succeeds in his third attempt. The youth and the forest maiden live together for many years, she bears him two sons, but, during a village celebration, she asks for her crown back. When she puts on her head, she begins to ascend in flight with their two children and asks her husband to come find them.[236]

Greece[edit]

In a Greek fairy tale from Epiros, first collected by Johann Georg von Hahn (Von dem Prinzen und der Schwanenjungfrau)[237] and translated by Reverend Edmund Martin Geldart (The Prince and the Fairy), a king's son opens a trapdoor in the mountain and arrives at another realm. He sees a palace in the distance, where an old man is trapped. He releases the old man who gives him the keys to the apartments. Behind a closed door, three fairies come to bathe in "a hollow place filled with water".[238] Von Hahn also collected similar stories from Ioannina and Zagori, and called the swan maiden-like character "Elfin".[239]

Armenia[edit]

In an Armenian folktale ("Kush-Pari"), a prince seeks the titular Kush-Pari, a Houri-Pari or "Fairy-Bird" ("a nymph of paradise in the shape of a bird", "a golden human-headed bird ... radiant as the sun"), as a present to the king he serves. After being captured, the Kush-Pari reveals to the king she transforms into a maiden after undonning her feather cloak and proposes she becomes his queen after his servant rescues her maid and brings back the fiery mares. Kush-Pari intends to use the fiery mares' milk for a special ritual: the king dies, but the prince survives, who she marries. At the end of the story, her new husband tells his wife that his father is blinded, but she reveals she was the cause for his blindness.[240][241]

Asia[edit]

In a tale collected from a Dagur source, in China, a man tells his three sons of a dream he had: a white horse that appeared, circled the sun and vanished into the sea. His sons decide to find this horse. The youngest succeeds in capturing the horse, but it says it will feel lonely away from its home, so the horse decides to bring one of his sisters with him. The youth and the horse await at the beach for the arrival of ten fairies, who take off their clothes to play in the sea. Soon enough, the youth seizes the clothing of the youngest.[242]

In a tale collected in the Konkani language, The Bird Princess and the Boy, a king with seven sons asks them a question: who are they most afraid of? The older six boys answer: "the king", which pleases him. When the youngest says he most fears God, the king whips him eight times and abandons him in the forest. The boy wanders about and reaches an old lady's cottage. He works as a goatherd and is warned about not going beyond the garden. He disobeys and sees a lake where two princesses are bathing, their dresses that allow them to fly cast off nearby. He steals the dress of one of them but the maiden regains it. On the second day, he manages to steal the clothing of the second one and hide beneath the house floor. A king dies and three elephants carry the crown to the boy. He marries the flying princess. When the old lady dies, the princess finds the magical clothing and flies back to her kingdom. On his way there, the boy rescues frogs, mongooses and flies, whose help he uses to fulfill three tasks before winning back his wife.[243]

Africa[edit]

In an Algerian tale, La Djnoun et le Taleb, the taleb Ahmed ben Abdallah arrives at the edge of a lake and sees a beautiful Djnoun bathing in the water. He soon notices the "dove-skin" of the maiden and hides it. They marry and raise a family with several children. One day, one of their children finds their mother's magical garment and delivers it to her.[244]

America[edit]

In a tale collected from the Sahaptin, a boy becomes poor. Later, he plays cards with a Black storekeeper. The boy wins the Black man's store and livestock. He then bets himself: if he loses, he becomes the boy's servant. The Black man wins back the store and the livestock, and the boy as his servant, but the Black man dismisses him and tells the by to go to a place across the river. An old woman stops him from crossing the river and tries to help the boy by "ask[ing] different things": the dishes, the spoons, the cat, the rooster and the geese. The woman translates what the geese informed: the boy must seek some bathing maidens and he must secure the "blue-green garters" of the last bathing girl.[245]

In a Jamaican tale, Jack and the Devil Errant, protagonist Jack loses a bet against the titular Devil Errant and is ordered to find him in three months. An old man helps him by informing that the Devil Errant's three daughters will come to bathe in a lake, but he should only steal the clothing of the youngest.[246]

In another Jamaican tale, with a heavy etiological bent and possibly starring legendary trickster hero Anansi, the protagonist, a young man, wins against a "headman" (an African king) and the youth's nurse warns him that the king may be planning some trap. The nurse, then, advises the youth that he should take "the river-road" and reach a stream where the king's youngest daughter will be bathing. He steals the clothing twice: the first time, the youth lies that a thief was nearby; the second time, that a gust of wind blew them away.[247]

A tale was collected in 1997, from a 65-year-old Belizean storyteller, Ms. Violet Wade, that focuses on the backstory of the maiden's father. In this story, Green Seal, an orphaned prince becomes a king, rescues a princess and marries her. Years later, they have three daughters (one of which Green Seal), to whom the king, a wizard, teaches magic. The three maidens fly to a river to bathe and a poor boy, Jack, steals Green Seal's clothes. They agree to marry, but first Jack must perform tasks for her father.[248]

The celestial maiden or heavenly bride[edit]

A second format of the supernatural wife motif pertains to tales where the maiden isn't a shapeshifting animal, but instead a creature or inhabitant of Heaven, a Celestial Realm, or hails from the place where the gods live.[a] Japanese folklorist Seki Keigo names this story "The Wife from the Upper World", in his index of "Types of Japanese Folktales".[250] Professor Alan L. Miller calls it "The Divine Wife", which can also refer to the Swan Maiden tales.[251]

Western works commonly translate the characters in question as "fairies" or "nymphs".

India and South Asia[edit]

According to scholarship, the motif of the celestial bride whose clothes are stolen by a mortal warrior is popular in Indian literary and oral tradition.[252]

The motif of the swan maiden is also associated with the Apsaras, of Hinduism, who descend from Heaven or a Celestial Realm to bathe in an earthly lake.[253][254] One example is the ancient tale of apsara Urvasi and king Pururavas.[255][256] In another tale, cited by folklorist Edwin Sidney Hartland, five apsaras, "celestial dancers", are transported by an enchanted car to take a bath in the forest.[257]

A folk song collected from the state of Chhattisgarh, The Ballad of flower-maid Bakaoli, contains the episode where a male (Lakhiya) is informed by a sadhu about the seven daughters of Indra Rajá (one of which is Bakaoli) who bathe in a lake.[258]

A tale of Dravidian origin tells the story of Prince Jagatalapratapa, who has an encounter with the daughter of Indra and her maids in a grove in forest.[259] A second story of The Dravidian Nights Entertainment, by Natesa Sastri, shows the episode of the prince stealing clothes from a celestial maiden, as part of the prince's search for a special flower.[260]

A story obtained from Santal sources (Toria the Goatherd and the Daughter of the Sun) tells of goatheard Toria. After the Daughters of the Sun descend to earth on a spider's thread, the maidens invite Toria to join them in their leisure in water. The goatherd, then, convinces the girls to see who can stay underwater for so long. While they are distracted, Toria hides the clothing of one of them – the one he found most lovely – and flees home with it.[261][262]

In a Bengali tale, from Dinajpur (The Finding of the Dream), prince Siva Das receives a premonitory dream about a maiden. Some time later, he is informed by a sage that, on a night of full moon, five nymphs descend from the sky to play in a pond, and one of them is the maiden he saw in a dream, named Tillottama.[263]

In a tale from the Karbi people, Harata Kunwar, the youngest of seven brothers, flees for his life from home, after his brothers and father threaten to take his life, and takes refuge with an old lady. After doing his chores, he plans to take a bath in the river, but was told not to go upstream. He does so and sees the six daughters of the King of the Great Palace descending fom the heavens and undressing their clothings to bathe and frolic in the water.[264]

In an Indian tale of unknown source, The Perfumer's Daughter, the prince's wife asks for her ring and flies off to unknown parts. Burdened with grief, the prince wanders the world until he finds an old ascetic master. The ascetic tells the prince that, on the full moon night, his wife and her handmaidens will descend from the heavens to bathe in the lake, and the youth must acquire his wife's shawl.[265]

The Indian folktale collection Kathasaritsagara contains at least two similar tales involving Apsaras: the tale of Marubhúti who, instructed by a hermit, steals the clothing of one of some heavenly nymphs who came to bathe in the river, and the hermit becomes the mortal husband of the Vidyadhara.[266] In a second story, deity Bhairava commands Thinthákarála to steal the garments of the Apsaras that were bathing in "the holy pool of Mahákála". After the deed is done, the Apsaras protest and beg for their garments to be returned, but the youth sets a condition: he will return them in exchange for the youngest Apsara, Kalávatí, daughter of Alambushá, to become his wife.[267]

In another Indian tale, The Wood-seller and the Seven Fairies, the wood-seller takes a moment to rest in the forest, and soon sees seven fairies bathing a well. He soon steals their garments and asks for their help in order to impress a visiting queen he wishes to marry.[268]

Southeast Asia[edit]

A tale from Laos (The Faithful Husband) is also parallel to the widespread narrative of the Swan-Maiden.[269][270]

In a Vietnamese tale, a woodcutter finds the spring where the fairies (Nàng tiên) come to bathe. He hides the clothes of the youngest fairy and marries her. The youth hides the garment in the rice shed, but his wife finds it and goes back to the upper world. However, she leaves her child with her comb, as a memento.[271][272]

Malaysia[edit]

In the story (hikayat) of Hikayat Inderaputera, prince Inderaputera (Indraputra) travels the world in other to find a cure for a king's childlessness. He obtains information from a peri that Princess Gemala Ratna Suri and her seven nymph attendants will come in seven days to bathe in the lake, and he should steal the flying jackets of the maidens to advance in his quest.[273][274][275]

In another Malay hikayat, Prince Malim Deman has a vision in a dream about a holy man pointing to a place upstream where he can find a wife. There he will find seven heavely maidens who descended to the mortal realm to play in the pond of the fairy woman Ninek Kebayan. The prince meets Ninek Kebayan, who helps him steal the clothing of the most beautiful of the heavenly maidens, Puteri Bongsu (Poeteri Boengsoe), and make her his wife.[276] A similar plot can be found in another hikayat, named Hikayat Malim Dewa, where prince Malim Dewa marries the heavenly nymph (princess) Poetroë Boengthoe, whose magical garments he stole to prevent her return to the celestial abode.[277]

Philippines[edit]

The narrative of the swan maiden or heavenly wife was noted to be found "all across the Philippines",[278] being told in the following ethnic groups, according to professors Hazel Wriggleswrorth and Richard Dorson: Tinguian, Amganad Ifugao, Kallahan Keley-i, Casiguran Dumagat, Mamanwa, Binukid, Ata of Davao, Dibabawon, Sindangan Subanon, Siocon Subanon, Ilianen Manobo, Livunganen Manobo, Sarangani Manobo, Maguindanao, and Tausug.[279]

Some variants from Filipino folklore include:[280] The Seven Young Sky Women, a tale from the Philippines;[281] Kimod and the Swan Maiden ("Pitong Maylong"), a tale from the Mansaka (Philippines);[282][283][284] Magbolotó, a tale from the Visayan.[285] A version of the tale was also found in the oral narratives of the Agta people of the Philippines (How Juan got his Wife from Above).[286]

Indonesia[edit]

The plot of a male character spying on seven celestial maidens (Apsaras) bathing in an earthly lake also happens in a tale from Indonesian history, titled Jaka Tarub and Seven Apsaras (id), from the island of Java,[287][288] starring legendary Javanese hero Jaka Tarub[289][290] who marries the heavenly nymph (Bidadari) Dewi Nawang Wulan.[291][292]

Similar tales were collected from North Sulawesi and Minahasa Peninsula (formerly known as Celebes Islands). One is the tale of Kasimbaha and Utahagi:[293] Kasimbaha fetches the garments of Utahagi, who was bathing in a lake, and, later, after his wife returns to her celestial abode, he climbs a special tree to ascend to the heavens and find her again.[294][295][296] A second tale is interesting in that it differs: instead of bathing in a lake, the heavenly maidens descend to Earth and steal the yams of a human farmer named Walasindouw.[297]

In Bengkulu, in the island of Sumatra, the legend of Malin Deman is quite close to the motif of the "Celestial Wife": hero Malin Deman steals the wings and the clothes of the youngest of "Seven Angels" who have come to the terrestrial plane to bathe. They soon marry and have a child, but, years later, she returns to her celestial realm.[298] Another Sumatran tale is the story of Lidah Pahit and Puyang Bidodari (Putri Bungsu).[299]

Amongst the Karo people of Indonesia, the tale of hero Si Mandupa tells of his marriage with one of seven anak dibata ("children of divinity") by stealing her clothing. Some time later, her husband gives back her clothes and she flies back to heaven, which prompts an arduous quest to bring her back home.[300]

Other tales are attested in the many traditions of the archipelago:[301][302] from the Island of Halmahera, the episode of "stealing maiden's clothing while in a bath" occurs as part of the quest of the youngest of seven brothers for a remedy for his father;[303] from the Island of Bali, the story of Rajapala and vidyadhari Ken Sulasih, parents of hero Durma;[304] the heroic poem Ajar Pikatan, narrating the quest for celestial maiden Suprabha.[305]

East Asia[edit]

East Asian folkloric traditions also attest the occurrence of similar tales about celestial maidens, such as the Korean folktale of The Fairy and the Woodcutter.[306][307]

A tale from Lew Chew sources tells of a farmer, Ming-Ling-Tzu, who owns a pristine fountain of the purest water, when he sights a maiden fair bathing in the water source and possibly soiling it.[308]

China[edit]

Another related tale is the Chinese myth of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl,[309][310] in which one of seven fairy sisters is taken as a wife by a cowherd who hid the seven sisters' robes; she becomes his wife because he sees her naked, and not so much due to his taking her robe.[311][312] Chinese literature and mythology attest at least two similar stories: Tian Xian Pei[313][314] ("The Fairy Couple"; "The Marriage of the Fairy Princess" or "Dong Yong, the Filial Son"),[315] and a untitled version in Soushen Ji, as the fifteenth tale in Volume 14.[316][317]

Japan[edit]

James Danandjaja relates the Japanese tale of Amafuri Otome ("The Woman who came from the Sky"), as a similar tale of the unmarried mortal man who withholds the kimono from a bathing lady in exchange for her becoming his wife. He also compares it to the Swan Maiden and to the myth of The Cowherd and the Weaver.[318]

Professor Hazel Wigglesworth wrote that there were 46 versions of the tale collected in Japanese oral sources, and the oldest register of the tale is present in the Fudoki, an ancient book on provincial and oral accounts.[319] Tales collected from Ōmi Province (Ika no Woumi) and Suruga Province (Miho Matsubara) are close to the human husband/swan spouse narrative, whereas in a story from Tango Province (Taniha no Kori) it is an elderly couple who strand the celestial maiden on Earth and she becomes their adopted daughter to keep them company.[320]

Northeast Asia[edit]

The Northeast Asia region (more specifically, Manchuria) also records the tale of the swan maiden, but in the form of the "Heavenly Maiden". In a published tale, the heavenly maiden descends to earth to bathe in a lake, marries a human man and becomes "the primeval ancestress of the Manchu".[321]

Africa[edit]

Southeast Africa[edit]

The narrative of the Sky-Maiden was collected in song form from the Ndau people, titled Legend and Song of the Sky-Maiden: the daughter of a powerful chief who lived in the sky and her attendants go down to Earth to bathe, and it becomes a dare amongst the royal princes to see who can fetch her plume/feather – the symbol of her otherwordliness. The victor is a poor man who, as a subversion of the common narrative, gets to live with his sky-wife in her abode.[322] A version of the tale in narrative form was given as The Sky-People (Vasagole) by Frans Boas and C. Kamba Simango in the Journal of American Folk-Lore.[323]

In Tshinyama's Heavenly Maidens, two winged maidens descend from the heavens to an earthly watering hole – an event witnessed by a mortal man.[324]

Madagascar[edit]

In a Malagasy tale, obtained from Vàkin-Ankarãtra (The way in which Adrianòro obtained a wife from Heaven), the hero Adrianoro is informed that three maidens bathe in a lake, and tries to set a snare (trap) for them by shapeshifting into fruits or seeds.[325]

Europe[edit]

Greece[edit]

In a tale from Greece, a human goatherd named Demetros dances with ten fairies three nights, and in the third night, on a full moon, he dances with them and accidentally touches the handkerchief of Katena. Her companions abandon her to the mortal world and she becomes Demetros's wife, bearing him a daughter. For seven years, Demetros has hidden the handkerchief, until his wife Katena asks him for it. She takes the handkerchief and dances with it in a festival, taking the opportunity to return home and leave her mortal husband. Years later, their daughter follows her mother when she turns fifteen years old.[326]

Bulgaria[edit]

A Bulgarian folk song (The Samodiva married against her will) features a Samodiva: three girls, not related to each other, doff their magical garments to bathe, but are seen by a shepherd that takes their clothing. Each girl separately try to plead and convince the youth to return the clothing. He does so – but only to the first two; the third maiden he chose to wed after she revealed she was an only child. After the wedding, the village insists she dances for the amusement of everyone else, but the samodiva says she cannot dance without her garment. Once her husband delivers her the clothing, she flies away.[327]

Eastern Europe[edit]

In The Youth and the Vila, the youngest son, who is considered a fool by his two elder brothers, manages to pluck the golden hairs of a vila who has been eating the silver pears of his father's garden.[328] In a second tale, The Vila in the Golden Castle, a father asks his three sons to guard his flower garden at night, because swans have been eating the flowers (in reality, the vilas were).[329]

North America[edit]

In a Yuchi tale, A Hunter Who Captured a Woman from the Sky, collected in 1931, a man was hunting when he saw something descending from heavens carrying people with it, some pretty woman among them. He captured and married one of the women.[330]

In a Creek tale from Alabama, The Celestial Skiff, recorded in 1929, a group of people descend from the sky in a canoe. At one time, a man manages to capture one woman of that group and has many children with her. Years later, the woman tries to climb onto the canoe to return to the sky.[331]

The Star Wife or Star Women[edit]

A third occurrence of the supernatural spouse from above is the Star Women. Scholars see a possible relation of this character with the Swan Maiden legend.[332]

Native American[edit]

The motif of the Star Maiden can be found in Native American folklore and mythology,[333] as the character of the Star Wife:[334] she usually descends from heaven in a basket along with her sisters to play in a prairie or to bathe in a lake, and a mortal male, entranced by her figure, plans to make her his own. It is later discovered that she is a maiden from the stars or a star herself who came down to Earth.[335][336][337]

In a Sioux legend, the human hunter marries the Star Wife and fathers a son. Mother and child escape to the Star-realm, but begin to miss the human father. Her father suggests they bring him there to reunite the family, and they do so.[338]

In a third variation, an inversion occurs: the hunter is taken in a basket to the Star-country in order to live with his Star Wife. However, he begins to miss his human mother. So, with the aid of a pair of red swan's wings for him and his wife, they return to the human world.[339]

In a tale attributed to the Wyandot people, seven Star Sisters (the Pleiades) descend to Earth in a basket. One day, a human hunter captures the youngest by her girdle while their sisters escape in the basket. The maiden promises to become the hunter's wife, but before that he must accompany her to the sky ("the Sun's lodge").[340]

In a tale from Canada, The Daughters of the Star, hunter Waupee, the White Hawk, manages to capture a maiden who descended from the sky in a wicker basket along with eleven other maidens.[341]

Philippines[edit]

In a tale collected from the "Nabaloi" (Ibaloi people), The star wives, an indigenous ethnic group in the Philippines, the stars themselves descend from heaven and bathe in a lake in Batan. The local males hide the stars' clothing, which allow the stars to fly, and marry them. Eventually the men grow old, but the stars retain their youth, regain their clothings and return to the skies.[342]

In another tale, from the Tinguian (Itneg people), in the Philippines, the star maiden Gaygayoma descends from the sky with other stars in a sugar-cane field to eat the produce. The plantation belong to a human named Aponitolau, who had a mortal wife, Aponibolinayen. One night, he goes to the fields to check on the bamboo fence and sees many stars, "dazzling lights" falling from the sky, and one that "looked like a flame of fire" who left her garment near the fence. The human farmer Aponitolau frightens the many stars, which return to the skies, and sits on the maiden's garment. She introduces herself as the daughter of Bagbagak and Sinag, two celestial beings, and reveals she wishes to take him as her husband.[343]

In a similar tale, among the Bontoc Igorot ("The Stars"), the stars descend to eat a sugar-cane plantation that belongs to a human farmer. The human captures the star maiden and marries her. After bearing him five sons, she spends her time sewing back her wings to wear them and return to the sky.[344]

Popular culture[edit]

Literature and fantasy novels[edit]

Russian Romantic writer Vasily Zhukovsky developed the theme of the bird maiden in his poem "Сказка о царе Берендее" ("The Tale of Tsar Berendey" (ru)), published in 1833. The tale tells the epic story of mythical Tsar Berendey who is forced to promise his son, Ivan Tsarevich, to evil sorcerer Koschei. Years later, Ivan Tsarevich reaches the shores of a lake and sees thirty grey ducks diving in the lake. In fact, they are the daughters of Koschei, and one of them is Marya Tsarevna.[345]

Modern writer Rosamund Marriott Watson, under the nom-de-plume Graham R. Tomson, wrote a ballad from the point of view of an Inuit hunter who marries the grey gull maiden and laments her departure.[346][347]

Victorian novelist and translator William Morris wrote his poetic ouvre The Earthly Paradise, in which there is a narration by a bard of the romance between a human and a swan maiden, comprising an episode of the poem The Land East of the Sun and West of the Moon.[348][349][350]

Folklorist Lafcadio Hearn adapted the Inuit legend of the bird wife (gull maiden) for his book Stray leaves from strange literature.[351]

Pop culture appearances include modern novels of the fantasy genre such as Three Hearts and Three Lions. Recently, swan-men in the Anita Blake series, including Kaspar Gunderson. They are also called swan mays or swanmays in fantasy fiction and Dungeons and Dragons. In the Mercedes Lackey book Fortune's Fool, one swan maiden (named Yulya) from a flock of six is kidnapped by a Jinn.

Film and animation[edit]

The animal bride theme is explored in an animated film called The Red Turtle (2016).

Princess Pari Banu from the 1926 German silhouette animation film The Adventures of Prince Achmed appears very similar to a swan maiden, having a peacock skin that transforms her and her handmaids, though she is referred to as a fairy or genie, in the original 1001 Nights.

Modern appearances of the swan maiden include television such as Astroboy Episode 5.

An episode of children's television programming Super Why adapted the tale of the Swan Maiden.

The second movie of Inuyasha features the celestial robe/hagoromo coveted by a beautiful woman who claims to be an immortal heavenly being named Kaguya, who is based on the Princess of the Moon in The Tale of the Bamboo Cuter.

Eastern media[edit]

The anime/manga Ceres, Celestial Legend (Ayashi no Ceres) by Yu Watase is a similar story about an angel whose magic source is stolen as she bathes and she becomes wife to the man who stole it. The story follows one of her descendants, sixteen-year-old Aya Mikage, now carrying the angel's vengeful spirit who has been reborn inside her. The Progenitor of the Mikage family and Ceres' human husband and the one who had stolen and hidden her celestial robe (hagoromo), thus stranding her on Earth, has been reborn within Aki Mikage, Aya's twin brother.

The manhwa Faeries' Landing translates the Korean folktale of The Fairy and the Woodcutter to a modern setting.

Video games[edit]

The theme is also explored in modern fantasy video game Heroine's Quest.

The eleventh installment of hidden object game series Dark Parables (The Swan Princess and the Dire Tree), published by Eipix mixes the motif of the swan maidens and the medieval tale of The Knight of the Swan. The sixteenth installment, Portrait of the Stained Princess, introduces the Knight of Swan himself, enchanted to never reveal his true name to his beloved.

In the videogame LOOM by Lucasfilm the main character belongs to a tribe of spellcrafters (the weavers) able to switch between human and swan form. The spell to become a swan achieved later in the game.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "The origin of the "Swan-maiden" is closely connected with the "heavenly nymph", but it is not exactly the same (...)"[249]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Leavy, Barbara Fass (1994). "Urvaśī and the Swan Maidens". In Search of the Swan Maiden. NYU Press. pp. 33–63. JSTOR j.ctt9qg995.5.
  • Leavy, Barbara Fass (1994). "Swan Maiden and Incubus". In Search of the Swan Maiden. NYU Press. pp. 156–195. JSTOR j.ctt9qg995.8.
  • Leavy, Barbara Fass (1994). "The Animal Bride". In Search of the Swan Maiden. NYU Press. pp. 196–244. JSTOR j.ctt9qg995.9.
  • Burson, Anne (1983). "Swan Maidens and Smiths: A Structural Study of "Völundarkviða"". Scandinavian Studies. 55 (1): 1–19. JSTOR 40918267.
  • Grange, Isabelle (1983). "Métamorphoses chrétiennes des femmes-cygnes: Du folklore à l'hagiographie". Ethnologie Française. 13 (2): 139–150. JSTOR 40988761.
  • Hartland, E. Sidney. The science of fairy tales: An inquiry into fairy mythology. London: W. Scott. pp. 255–332.
  • Hatto, A. T. (1961). "The Swan Maiden: A Folk-Tale of North Eurasian Origin?". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 24 (2): 326–352. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00091461. JSTOR 610171.
  • Holmström, H. (1919). Studier över svanjungfrumotivet i Volundarkvida och annorstädes (A study on the motif of the swan maiden in Volundarkvida, with annotations). Malmö: Maiander.
  • Kleivan, Inge. The Swan Maiden Myth Among the Eskimo. København: Ejnar Munksgaard. 1962.
  • Kobayashi, Fumihiko (2007). "The Forbidden Love in Nature. Analysis of the "Animal Wife" Folktale in Terms of Content Level, Structural Level, and Semantic Level". Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore. 36: 141–152. doi:10.7592/FEJF2007.36.kobayashi.
  • Kovalchuk, Lidia (2018). "Conceptual Integration of Swan Maiden Image in Russian and English Fairytales". The European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences: 68–74. doi:10.15405/epsbs.2018.04.02.10. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Mänchen-Helfen, Otto (1936). "Das Märchen von der Schwanenjungfrau in Japan". T'oung Pao. 32 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1163/156853236X00010. JSTOR 4527075.
  • Newell, W. W. (1893). "Lady Featherflight. An English Folk-Tale". The Journal of American Folklore. 6 (20): 54–62. doi:10.2307/534281. JSTOR 534281.
  • Newell, W. W. (1903). "Sources of Shakespeare's Tempest". The Journal of American Folklore. 16 (63): 234–257. doi:10.2307/533373. JSTOR 533373.
  • Peterson, Martin Severin (1930). "Some Scandinavian Elements in a Micmac Swan Maiden Story". Scandinavian Studies and Notes. 11 (4): 135–138. JSTOR 40915312.
  • Petkova, G. (2009). "Propp and the Japanese folklore: Applying morphological parsing to answer questions concerning the specifics of the Japanese fairy tale". doi:10.5167/uzh-23802. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Tawney, Charles Henry. The ocean of story, being C.H. Tawney's translation of Somadeva's Katha sarit sagara (or Ocean of streams of story). Book 8. London, Priv. print. for subscribers only by C.J. Sawyer. 1924–1928. Appendix I. pp. 213–234.
  • Thomson, Stith. Tales of the North American Indians. 1929. pp. 150–174.
  • Tuzin, Donald F. The Cassowary's Revenge: The life and death of masculinity in a New Guinea society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1997. pp. 68–89.
  • Utley, Francis Lee; Austerlitz, Robert; Bauman, Richard; Bolton, Ralph; Count, Earl W.; Dundes, Alan; Erickson, Vincent; Farmer, Malcolm F.; Fischer, J. L.; Hultkrantz, Åke; Kelley, David H.; Peek, Philip M.; Pretty, Graeme; Rachlin, C. K.; Tepper, J. (1974). "The Migration of Folktales: Four Channels to the Americas [and Comments and Reply]". Current Anthropology. 15 (1): 5–27. doi:10.1086/201428. JSTOR 2740874. S2CID 144105176.
  • Wrigglesworth, Hazel J. The Maiden of Many Nations: the Skymaiden Who Married a Man From Earth. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines, 1991.
  • Young, Serinity. Women who fly: goddesses, witches, mystics, and other airborne females. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2018. ISBN 978-0195307887
  • Agundes Garcia, J. Luis. "Cuentos de tradición oral (Parte I)". In: Revista Folklore, nº 212, pp. 39–47, 1998.

External links[edit]