Monday, November 25, 2013

The Fairy Serpent: A Chinese Beauty and the Beast Tale

Today is another serpent beast in an ATU 425C Beauty and the Beast tale. This time the tale is from China and is titled, "The Fairy Serpent." I think this is the last of the snakes in ATU 425C found in Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World, unless I have forgotten to post about one. I will have to double check, but as you can see, if the beast is not a beast/monster, it is most often a snake/serpent in these tales.

ONCE there was a man who had three daughters, of whom he was devotedly fond. They were skillful in embroidery, and every day on his way home from work he gathered some flowers for them to use as patterns. One day when he found no flowers along his route homeward he went into the woods to look for wild blossoms, and he unwittingly invaded the domain of a fairy serpent that coiled around him, held him tightly, and railed at him for having entered his garden. The man excused himself, saying that he came merely to get a few flowers for his daughters, who would be sorely disappointed were he to go home without his usual gift to them. The snake asked him the number, the names, and the ages of his daughters and then refused to let him go unless he promised one of them in marriage to him. The poor man tried every argument he could think of to induce the snake to release him upon easier terms, but the reptile would accept no other ransom. At last the father, dreading greater evil for his daughters should they be deprived of his protection, gave the required promise and went home. He could eat no supper, however, for he knew the power of fairies to afflict those who offend them, and he was full of anxiety concerning the misfortunes that would overwhelm his whole family should the contract be disregarded.

The tale is an obviously ATU 425C tale although it has some interesting variations. The one I find most intriguing are the wasps that come to press the girl into leaving her home after she has made the promise to marry the fairy serpent.

The tale can be read on the SurLaLune site and it also appears as one of the very many tales in Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World

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