Abkhazian Fairy Tales About a Wonderful Assistant

Скачать pdf
Key words
Abkhazian fairy tales, rituals, grateful dead, wonderful helper, snakes.
Madonna F. Piliya
About the Author
E-mail: madonna1990.piliya@mail.ru Tel.: + 7 (940) 916-99-44
1, Universitetskaya str., Sukhum, 384904, Abkhazia Republic Researcher, Center of Nart Studies and Field Folkloristics, Abkhazian State University
Date of publication

This article examines fairy tales involving wonderful assistants. After the hero buries a dead person, stands guard at his father’s grave, or saves a fish, miraculous helpers appear, who, help him marry a princess, save him from death, and so on, sometimes as a token of gratitude (e. g., for setting a fish free). In Abkhazian fairy tales, this plot appears in several versions. With the help of severed heads of snakes, the hero recognizes his helper, and thanks to a scarf and a mark the sovereign himself learns about the hero’s deeds. At the end, wonderful helpers (a dead person, a fish or specifically a salmon) propose that the hero “separate” a girl: they point their sabers in her direction, and when she screams in fright, snakes (or parts of them) come out of her mouth and they kill them. In this way they “cleanse” the girl from the snakes that had killed all of her suitors.

After someone’s death, Abkhazians from ancient times to the present have performed various rituals in order to placate the deceased, so that the soul does not fret and can find eternal peace. Traces of some of these rituals are reflected in the plots of Abkhazian fairy tales about wonderful helpers.


Dobrovolskaya V. E. (2009) Predmetnye realii russkoi volshebnoi skazki [Objects of Everyday Life in the Russian Fairy Tale]. Moscow: Rosselkhozakademiya. In Russian.

Dobrovolskaya V. E. (2018) Mnimaya i realnaya invalidnost’ v russkoi volschebnoi skazke v kontekste folklornoi traditsii [Imaginary and Real Disability in the Russian Fairy Tale in the Context of the Folkloric Tradition]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie [Ethnographic Review]. 2018. No. 1. Pp. 12– 27. In Russian.

Goryaeva B. B. (2016) Syuzhet AT 508 “Blagodarnyi mertvets” v kalmytskoi skazochnoi traditsii [The Plot AT 508 “The Grateful Dead” in the Kalmyk Fairy-Tale Tradition]. Izvestiya Dagestanskogo gosudarstvennogo pedagogicheskogo universiteta. Obshchestvennye gumanitarnye nauki [Proceedings of Dagestan State Pedagogical University. Social Humanities]. 2016. Vol. 10. No. 4. Pp. 78–83. In Dagestanian.

Levkievskaya E. E. (2014) Zmei [Snake]. In: Slavyanskaya mifologiya: Entsiklopedicheskii slovar [Slavic Mythology: Encyclopedic Dictionary]. Ed. by S. M. Tolstaya. Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya. Pp. 185–187. In Russian.

Propp V. Y. (2011) Istoricheskie korni volshebnoi skazki [The Historical Roots of the Fairy Tale]. Moscow: Labirint. In Russian.

For citation

Piliya M. F. Abkhazian Fairy Tales About a Wonderful Assistant. Traditional Culture. 2021. Vol. 22. No. 3. Pp. 79–85. In Russian.