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PhD Candidate, Folklore Division, A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature, Russian Academy of Sciences
This article deals with the narratives about the childhood of Mazan-Batyr, a popular hero of Kalmyk folklore. These are analyzed in light of the concept of “heroic child-hood”, a relatively restricted set of plot elements from which narratives about the early life of an epic hero are taken. The circumstances of Mazan’s family, the events surrounding his birth and his main traits are assessed. Mazan-Batyr is oft en depicted as an orphan raised by a paternal uncle and is marked by greatness even before his birth. Still, Mazan manifests numerous negative traits such as gluttony, ugliness, and ungainliness, which cause him to be ostracized by society. These indicate that his early life belongs to the so-called “lower” type of epic childhood, associated with tricksters and magicians. The article also considers the connection between Mazan’s childhood and his fi rst heroic deed. Several points of correspondence to heroic poetry are demonstrated, and the article concludes that accounts of Mazan-Batyr’s early life are based on the same models as those utilized in epic traditions.
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