Sacred Texts  Legends/Sagas  Roma  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, [1899], at

Dr. F. Müller.

In Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Rom-Sprache (Vienna, 1869), Dr. Friedrich Müller, the 'leading representative of linguistic ethnology,' published five Hungarian-Gypsy stories in the original Rómani, with an interlinear German translation.

p. xlviii

[paragraph continues] Taken down by Herr Fialowski from the recitation of a Hungarian-Gypsy soldier, Šipoš Janoš, quartered at Vienna, these stories are wholly void of literary merit. They are rambling and disconnected, sometimes all but unintelligible, and often excessively gross. At the same time they are genuine folk-tales; the soldier was trying to remember stories he had heard, not weaving them out of his own imagination. Four of them offer variants of Gypsy stories in other collections; and of these four I give summaries on pp. 19, 34, 48, 174, and 208. The fifth, The Wallachian Gypsy,' after six most Rabelaisian pages, passes on to a Tannhaüser episode. For the Gypsy, having murdered his father, plants on his grave the stick he killed him with. And that stick began to blossom. That son went about on his knees for four-and-twenty years, and carried water in his mouth. And every evening the tree blossomed, and every evening grew a red apple. . . . And once the king came that way, . . . and as he went to pluck an apple, "Stay," said the Gypsy, "don't seize it so, but shake the tree, and then they will all turn into doves." The king shook the tree, and all the apples then turned into doves. Up they flew, and the poor son's father arose.' The Gypsy then goes in quest of the Otter King (Vídrisko Kírāli). A king gives him a filly that can speak. On the way he is fed by a swineherd (one pail of wine and a whole swine) and a neatherd (an ox and two pails); he then meets a shepherd, overcomes a wether, and stabs the shepherd at his own request. Come to the Otter King, he eats his grapes, empties the biggest barrel of wine, wrestles with the Otter King on the Golden Bridge, and turns him into stone. He inquires of the king's daughter, 'Where is thy father's strength?' 'My father's strength is underneath the bridge. There is a besom; draw out a twig; and if thou with this, if thou with this wilt strike all the stones, then they will all turn into men.' After trying once vainly to destroy him, the maiden pushes him into a fountain. But he ups with the fountain, and puts it and a tree under the window of a king, to whom he becomes turkey-keeper. A lady falls with child by him. He is caught, and there is a trial. She has had other lovers, and she is adjudged to him to whom she shall throw a red apple. She throws it to the Gypsy. So they marry and have children.--A nightmare kind of story this, which I can match from no other collection; still it offers numerous analogies, e.g. for the apple-tree, to Hahn, i. 70 and my No. 17; for turning men into stone, to Hahn, i. 172 and ii. 47; for the besom, to Hahn, ii. 294; and for throwing the apple, to Hahn, i. 94, 104, and ii. 56; also Bernhard Schmidt's Griechische Märchen, pp. 85, 228, and Reinhold Köhler in Orient and Occident, ii. 304-6.

Next: Dr. Paspati