Today we are going back to Cinderella tales. The one for today is from Argentina. I found a copy of it translated in English in Latin American Folktales: Stories from Hispanic and Indian Traditions edited by John Bierhorst. Before we get into the tale, let's look a bit at Argentina.
Argentina is located in the Southeast of South America. It is officially called Argentine Republic. It is the eighth largest country in the world and the second in Latin America. It claims sovereignty over part of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
Europeans first arrived in the area in 1502. Pedro de Mendez established a settlement in the area that is now Buenos Aires in 1536 but it was abandoned in 1541 when it was destroyed by natives. Unlike the rest of Latin America the colonization of Río de la Plata estuary was not influenced by the gold rush since there were no precious metals in the area. However, the name Argentina comes from the Latin word for silver since they explorers heard rumors of silver mountains located there. Buenos Aires was established again in 1580. After much war, Argentina claimed its independence from the Spanish rule.
The climate of Argentina varies from subtropical in the north to subpolar in the south. The animals also vary greatly depending on the climate. The north has the pumas, flamingos, hummingbirds, and more and the south has seals, sea lions and penguins. The west has the Andes Mountains, so it also has llamas and mountain animals.
Now onto our tale. This tale is called Rice from Ashes. Again I found it translated in Latin American Folktales: Stories from Hispanic and Indian Traditions edited by John Bierhorst. It has many similarities to Cinderella tales we have looked at from around the world.
The story begins with a girl who has lost her mother and her father remarries a woman with two daughters of her own. From the start the stepmother and stepsisters are cruel to the girl, and she only has a lamb to keep her company.
One day the stepmother tells her to kill her lamb. The girl starts to cry. The stepmother takes a plate of rice and spills it into the ashes in the hearth. She tells the girl that if she does not separate each grain of rice from the ashes by the time the stepmother wakes from her nap the lamb will have to die. The stepmother goes to nap and the girl cries. A dove comes and talks to the girl. The dove tells the girl to take a nap and it will clean the rice from the ashes. The dove has a flock of doves come to help and the task is taken care of. The stepmother is angry when she awakens from her nap.
|By Keven Law, Los Angeles, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons|
The next day the stepmother pours sand into lentils for the task. The birds came back to do the task. The following day the stepmother throws sugar onto the hearth and an ant comes to help the girl. The next day the stepmother gives the girl two large bags of wool to spin. The lamb helps the girl and gets it done, however the stepmother finds one stray piece of wool on the lamb and orders her to kill the lamb. The lamb tells the girl to calm down and butcher and she will find a cup in the bowels. The lamb tells her to keep the cup forever. She does this and while at the stream, a little man comes and asks her for a drink. She gives him one with her cup.
The girl misses her lamb now that she has no one to talk to. The stepsisters decide to punish her more by asking their mother to buy them lambs. The stepsisters' lambs ate all the grass and the mother insisted on butchering them. The lambs told each sister in turn not to be sad and to find the cup and to be good to others. Each one found the cup inside the lambs' bowels. The little man comes to each of them and each stepsister in turn refuses to serve the little man, who happens to be God.
Now there was a prince in town whose mother told him on her deathbed that he would marry a girl with a gold cup since it had been predicted by his godmother who was a fairy at his birth. He made an announcement in town for all the young women with gold cups to be presented to him. The stepmother ran to the king to have the prince come meet her daughters with their gold cups from the lambs.
When the prince arrived the two stepsisters shoved one another to be the first to present the cup to the prince. The stepmother told the older girl to show the cup. The prince saw the gold cup and assumed this was who he was to marry. The prince put her on his horse and started for the palace. Along the way a bird sang out of a tree in the cemetery that he had the wrong girl. He asked to see the cup again and it was now iron. He turned back and got the other stepsister. Again the bird told him he had the wrong girl. He looked at her cup again and it had become iron. He took her home and insisted that their had to be another girl. He searched the house and found the orphan girl in the kitchen. He asked to see her gold cup. He put her on the horse to go the palace and as they went by the cemetery the bird told him he had the right one, however he asked to see her cup again and it was still gold.
The girl and the prince were married and she became a very good queen who especially was kind to orphans.