Google+

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures--Arabian Snow White

Although it has been hard to find different versions of Snow White, I found one called More Beautiful Than the Moon from Algeria. I found an English version of this story in Tales Arab Women Tell by Hasan M. El-Shamy. Now this is more of a resource book than a story book, and this story did not lend itself as well to reading to Hazel. First I will give you a small amount of information on Algeria.
From Google
Algeria is officially The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria. It is in Northern Africa. It consists of 48 provinces and 1541 communes. It is the 34th most populated country in the world. It is the tenth largest country in the world and the largest in Africa and the Mediterranean. The capital is Algiers which is also the most populated city in Algeria. 
From Google

Algeria has a long history. There were hominid remains found from 200,000 BC. For several centuries Algeria was under Roman rule. In the mid 7th century the Muslim Arabs conquered Algeria and many of the locals converted to the new faith. Algeria also has a history of pirates who attacked Christian and non-Muslim ships. Then the French took over Algeria in 1830. In 1962 Algeria gained its independence.

Algeria's economy is dependent on petroleum. They have struggled to find other forms of income. With its long history of various groups ruling it, Algeria has a variety of Ethnic groups. The major one is the Berbers. The Berbers are the indigenous ethnic group of Algeria and are believed to be the ancestral stock on which elements from the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks as well as other ethnic groups have contributed to the ethnic makeup of Algeria. Berbers are divided into many groups based upon languages. (Source) Now onto our story.



The story is about a beautiful woman who was very vain. She would talk to the moon each night and ask, "Oh, moon is there someone prettier than me?" The moon would answer, "I am pretty but you are prettier than everyone." Then the woman became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter who was named Lalla Ayshah el-Khdrah. The daughter was very beautiful and grew more so every day.

The mother went to the top of her house and asked the moon her question. This time the moon answered, "I am pretty and you are pretty, but Lalla Ayshah el-Khdrah is prettier than everyone. The mother was filled with jealousy and asked the moon if she should kill her. The moon told her to wait until she was weaned from breast milk. When this happened, the mother again asked the moon her questions getting the same answer. The moon told her to wait for another milestone and this continued until Lalla Ayshah el-Khdrah knew how to cook, clean and sew and was old enough to get married and have children. The moon then told the mother to kill her or the moon would kill the mother.

The mother paid the butcher in jewelry to kill her daughter. The butcher took the jewelry but could not kill the innocent girl. He left her in the woods to let God decide what would happen to her. Then he killed an ewe and filled a flask with its blood for the mother. She drank the blood.  Meanwhile, Lalla found a cave to hide in away from all the animals. When the mother asked the moon, it replied, "I am pretty and you are pretty, but no one is prettier than you." The moon answered this way since Lalla was sleeping in the cave--underground.

When Lalla woke up, she heard seven ogres eating meat from a carcass of an animal. She remained hiding. One of the ogres said he smelled human blood. They searched but could not find anyone. When they were all asleep, Lalla snuck out for a little food and drink and then went back into her hiding space.

When the ogres awoke the brother again said he smelled human blood and noticed some of his food and drink was gone. They searched again, but could not find anyone. Then they yelled that if someone was there, they would not harm the person. When Lalla came out they were stunned by her beauty and said she was their sister. She would cook and clean for them and they would give her whatever her heart desired. She cleaned them up and discovered they became human again. They moved into the forest and she was very dear to them all. In fact they all began to fall in love with her.

Meanwhile, her mother asked the moon again her questions. She was in shock to learn Lalla was still alive.  She was so angry and jealous the mother dropped dead.

The brothers had all fell in love with Lalla and each wanted to marry her. She found a trick to not marry any of them. Then the cat and Lalla got into a fight and the cat put the fire out. She had to go to an ogress house to get a flame. The ogress gave her a flame but also ashes that dropped so she could follow the girl home. While Lalla was sleeping and the brothers were not home, the ogress went in and put seven needles into Lalla's head. The brothers returned thinking she was dead. They put her body on a horse and let it carry her through the forest. A prince was out hunting and found her. He fell in love with her, but the king insisted she must be buried. The undertaker discovered the needles and removed them and Lalla woke up, but was unable to talk. The prince insisted on marrying her. Soon Lalla became pregnant and gave birth to a son.

Years passed and the boy grew up and was playing in the garden. Some of his friends teased him about his mother having no relations and he went to his mother and cried about it. For the first time she was able to speak and told her son to tell his father that he wants to see his seven maternal uncles. This happened and Lalla, her son and soldiers and servants went to look for her brothers. She glimpsed the seven walking in sorrow and sent the soldiers to get them. She invited the brothers to dinner. At dinner her son asked her tell him a story and she told him the story of her life. Her brothers realized who she was and embraced her. Then they went to the house of the ogress and killed her. In her house they found seven maidens whom they saved and married. They all lived with the prince and Lalla.

Since I did not read the story to Hazel, I did not do any crafts for this one. Sorry!

3 comments:

  1. Whoa, I can see why you skipped the story. A mother wanting to kill her daughter and needles in the head? Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing this story - I'm impressed that you found it :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. It is amazing the similarities between this and the European version of Snow White! One major difference, of course, is that it is the mother, not the stepmother, who tries to kill the girl! And I love adding the element of the brothers, so that she does have family in the end. Thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper!

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear your comments and ideas. Please share!