Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bluebeards of Different Hues: Greenbeard

Bluebeard Tales From Around the World

I've already discussed Barbe Rouge and Knight Goldbeard in Bluebeard Tales From Around the World, so today I will end this arc by discussing Greenbeard, a tale from Lithuania.

Greenbeard best falls into the ATU 955 classification. While the previous beard colors--red, gold (blonde), and even blue (so black it's blue)--are more natural hair colors, green isn't. (Especially in the days before chlorinated pools!) This tale is self-aware and even humorous enough to admit this. There is a tongue-in-cheek quality to it as if the teller is quite aware of several Bluebeard type tales and is getting creative with them.

In Greenbeard, our heroine, in the way of many fairy tale heroines, announces her interest  in being wooed by someone with a greenbeard.

IN A town there lived a very rich merchant who had a beautiful daughter who was determined to marry no other than a man with a green beard.

Large forests surrounded the town and in these forests lived together twenty-four robbers. The captain of the robbers, who had heard that this girl would only marry a man with a green beard, asked his people if anyone knew by what means he could dye his beard green. They immediately gave him such a color.

So he dyed his beard green—he was also a handsome man—and he traveled to the town to visit the merchant and woo the daughter.
So, no, it is not a naturally green beard. The tale continues on into a fairly standard Robber Bridegroom formula of the maiden witnessing the murder and ingesting of another woman. This one includes a bird helper and the evidence is a beringed finger. The tale ends with the line: "As for the girl, she henceforth had no preference for green beards." One wonders if she decided to never marry as the arbitrary search for a green bearded man could have originally been a ploy to avoid marriage although she succombed to the robber's charms despite herself.

And, no, beard colors are not often referenced in ATU 955 tales, so this one is rather unique in that respect.

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