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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures--an Armenian Snow White


Today we are sharing an Armenian Snow White called "Nourie Hadig". I found the English translation in 100 Armenian Tales collected and edited by Susie Hoogasian Villa. It has similarities to the Algerian and Moroccan versions, but also has differences. This is a version I would share with Hazel, but it was due at the library before I did.
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Before sharing the story, a little about Armenia. Officially the Republic of Armenia, it is a mountainous country straddling Europe and Asia. It is a democratic nation-state with an ancient history. It is a former republic of the Soviet Union and is an emerging democracy. It was the first state to adapt Christianity as its religion. The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest church and the country's primary religious establishment. It did so in 301 A.D. According to tradition the Armenian Church was founded by Thaddeus and Bartholomew, two of Jesus' apostles.
Source

Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the biblical mountains of Ararat. This is where the mountain Noah's Ark is said to have landed after the flood. Its climate is hot and dry summers and cold (very cold) winters. (Source)

Now onto our story. The story is "Nourie Hadig" and I found it in 100 Armenian Tales collected and edited by Susie Hoogasian Villa. This story like the past two (Moroccan and Algerian) has the mother talking to the moon. A difference being that the mother involves the father in getting rid of their daughter. In this story you also learn a bit about Turkish culture. I found it very interesting.


In this version there is a rich man who has a beautiful wife. They have a daughter named Nourie Hadig. The beautiful wife asks the new moon each month if she is the most beautiful. She is until Nourie Hadig turns fourteen, then Nourie Hadig is more beautiful than the mother. The mother becomes ill with jealousy and tells her husband he must kill their daughter or she will die. The father takes Nourie Hadig into the woods and leaves her there. She wanders and wanders until night falls and she sees a light in a house. She hopes they will take her in and she goes to the door. When she goes to knock the door opens by itself and she walks in and the door immediately closes behind her and will not open again. She goes searching the house and finds a room filled with gold, and rooms filled with many treasures. Then she finds a room with a boy who is sleeping. She hears a voice that she must care for the boy for seven years by leaving food for him and then coming back for the dishes. He is under a curse for seven years.

Meanwhile, at the next new moon the mother finds out that Nourie Hadig is alive since she is still the most beautiful. She goes and asks her husband about it saying that she is going to report him to the authorities for killing their daughter since she was mad with illness and he should not have listened to her. He tells her how he did not kill her, but left her in the woods. The mother begins to search for her, but has no luck finding her.

After four years, a group of gypsies camp outside her window and she asks them for a girl her age to keep her company. She gives them some of the gold. They send her a girl up a rope. The girl and she decide to take turns taking care of the sleeping boy. The boy wakes up while the gypsy girl is fanning him. Thinking she has taken care of him all this time, he asks her to marry him and announces he is a prince. She agrees not telling him that she was only there for three of the seven years. When he goes off to buy his bride a wedding dress, he asks Nourie Hadig what she would like. She replies a saber dashee (which is a Turkish word meaning stone of patience).

He gets the dress and then goes to the stonecutter to get the saber dashee. The stonecutter warns the prince about the powers of the saber dashee. The saber dashee will hear a story and if it can fix them, it will explode, but if it cannot the person will explode unless saved by someone else. He suggested he listen outside his servant's room to hear so he can save her if need be.

The prince did this and heard the whole story about how it was Nourie Hadig who cared for him from the start. He ran into save her and told her he wanted to marry her instead of the gypsy. After some discussion it was decided he would marry Nourie Hadig and the gypsy would be the servant.

At the next new moon the mother asked the moon and it replied the Princess of Adana (storyteller picked a town). Now the mother knew where her daughter was. She sent her a beautiful ring as a gift.  Nourie Hadig feared the gift but the gypsy said what harm could a ring do, so Nourie Hadig put it on and instantly she went into a coma. The prince promised to take care of her as she had taken care of him. He brought in many healers. The final one did not know what to do, but admired the ring and thought with all the jewelry she has on, no one will miss that one ring. He slipped it off and instantly she woke up. He put it back on and went to negotiate his fees if he was able to wake her.

The next day he took off all of her jewelry except the ring. When he went to take it off, the gypsy said not to take it off since it was a gift from her mother. The prince asked when she received it and the healer took it off and Nourie Hadig woke up and everyone was happy.

Some interesting facts about the story. Nourie Hadig means a small piece of pomegranate, which is of course similar to the Egyptian version. The story was told to Susie Hoogasian Villa by an Armenian living in Detroit named Mrs. Akabi Mooradian. (Source)