Russian Folktales of Karelia About Otherworldly Helpers: The Plot Type 502 (SUS 502 “Copper Forehead”)

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Key words
Scholarly Archives of the Karelian Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, plot type 502, Copper Forehead, Republic of Karelia.
Anastasia S. Lyzlova
About the Author
E-mail: Tel.: +7 (8142) 78-18-86
11, Pushkinskaya str., Petrozavodsk, 185910, Russian Federation
PhD in Philology, Researcher, Institute of Linguistics, Literature and History, Karelian Research Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

The article was prepared as a part of a state undertaking by the Karelian Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


This article considers folktales of the plot type 502 “Copper Forehead” (according to the Comparative Plot Index, SUS and ATU 502) from the Scholarly Archives of the Karelian Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences (KarRC RAS). The texts were recorded by the staff of the Institute of Linguistics, Literature and History of the KarRC RAS during the twentieth century from two areas with a primarily ethnic Russian population — ​in the Karelian Pomor area (Belomorsk, Loukhsk, and Kemsk Districts) and in the Pudozh District. They were told by well-known storytellers (M. M. Korguev, F. N. Svinyin, and the Dmitrievs, father and son) and by ordinary performers. No folktales of this sort from Zaonezhye have been recorded. These folktales about otherworldly helpers from Karelia vary in the degree of plot detail and in how much they have retained key elements of the plot (these include the introduction of the main character into the narrative; his or her imprisonment and liberation; the role of the tsarevich liberator and the time he has to spend dressed in lower-class clothes, working as a stableman or shepherd; his overcoming challenges and performing heroic deeds). Folktales of the SUS plot type 502 “Copper Forehead” recorded from Karelia sometimes are contaminated by elements from SUS plot types 300 “The Dragon Slayer” and 513А “Six Wondrous Helpers.” Names associated with the lubok tradition are not uncommon in these texts. The traits of the otherworldly helper in the folktales vary: they can be zoomorphic, ornithomorphic or anthropomorphic, but the character always has power over birds and animals, and is colored golden, due to the connection with the other world.


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For citation

Lyzlova A. S. Russian Folktales of Karelia About Otherworldly Helpers: The Plot Type 502 (SUS 502 “Copper Forehead”). Traditional Culture. 2021. Vol. 22. No. 3. Pp. 41–52. In Russian