From Myth to Ballad: The ‘Feminine Version’ of Plot Type AaTh 485А*

Key words
mythological legend, ballad, wild man, demon, kidnapping, forced marriage
Sergey Yu. Neklyudov
About the Author
E-mail: Tel.: +7 (499) 973-43-54
15–7, Chayanov str., Moscow, 125047, Russian Federation
DSc in Philology, Full Professor, Scientific Curator, Center for Typological and Semiotic Folklore Studies, Russian State University for Humanities Tel.: +7 (499) 956-96-47
84, Vernadskii av., Moscow, 119571, Russian Federation
Chief Researcher, Laboratory of Theoretical Folkloristics, Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration
Date of publication

This article was written as part of the project of the Russian State University for Humanities, “Song Folklore: Texts, Tradition, Modernity” (“RSUH Student Project Research Teams” competition).


This article analyzes the folkloric plot that includes the following parts: the abduction of a girl/woman by a demonic figure (or ‘wild man’); forced marriage with him and the flight from the kidnapper after the birth of a child (~ children). This plot is the ‘female version’ of the more common type AaTh 485A*; in the ‘male version’ a man is abducted by a demonic woman / wild female.

The ‘female version’ exists in several regional varieties: East and Central Asian (Yakut, Mongolian, Chinese, Tibetan, Himalayan, Pamir — Kyrgyz, Tajik); Slavic (northern and western Russian, Slovenian, Sorbian); Germanic (North German, Scandinavian — Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Faroese); and Anglo-Scottish. Unlike the ‘male version,’ the ‘female version’ is developed not only in the mythological tradition (in the Asian and Russian variants), but also in the ballad (the Germanic and Scottish variants).

Asian and European legends can be considered as a single narrative corpus; most of them are located in the mountainous regions of Central Asia and adjacent territories. In the northern Russian versions, the role of the kidnapper is taken by a demon, but in the Bryansk version he remains a ‘wild man.’ The most likely place where this Eurasian plot met the European ballad is northern Germany where Slavs lived. The demon abductor in the German ballad is a transformed ‘wild man’ of Eurasian legend, and the change of the abductor from ‘wild man’ to a demon apparently occurred in Slavic folklore, which retained both forms, and reached final shape under the influence of German myths about water spirit-hosts.


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For citation

Neklyudov S. Yu. From Myth to Ballad: ‘Feminine Version’ of the Plot Type AaTh 485А*. Traditional Culture. 2022. Vol. 23. No. 2. Pp. 71–85. In Russian.