Swan maiden

Swan maiden

from human form to swan form. [cite web |url=http://www.geocities.com/rgfdfaq/sources.html |title=Literary Sources of D&D |accessdate=2007-02-23] [cite web |url=http://www.community3e.com/dn/pclass/swanmay.pdf |title=The Swan Maiden |accessdate=2007-02-23] Despite the name, males are found in a small number of legends. The key to the transformation is usually a swan skin, or a garment with swan feathers attached.

Typical legend

The folktales usually adhere to the following basic plot. A young, unmarried man steals a magic robe made of swan feathers from a swan maiden so that she will not fly away, and winds up marrying her. Usually she bears his children. When the children are older they sing a song about where their father has hidden their mother's robe, or one asks why the mother always weeps, and finds the cloak for her, or they otherwise betray the secret. The swan maiden immediately gets her robe and disappears to where she came from. Although leaving the children may grieve her, she does not take them with her.

If the husband is able to find her again, it is an arduous quest, and often the impossibility is clear enough that he does not even try.

Animal wife motif

This is a common motif in folk tales across the world, though the animals vary. The Italian fairy tale "The Dove Girl" features a dove. There are the Orcadian and Shetlandic selkies, that alternate between seal and human shape. A Croatian tale features a she-wolf. In Africa, the same motif is shown through buffalo maidens. In East Asia, it is also known featuring maidens who transform into various bird species. In Russian fairy-tales there are also several characters, connected with the Swan-maiden. In the Japanese legend of Hagoromo, it is a heavenly spirit, or Tennin, whose robe is stolen.

Another related tale is the Chinese myth of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl, in which one of seven fairy sisters is taken as a wife by a cowherd who hid the seven sisters' robes; she becomes his wife because he sees her naked, and not so much due to his taking her robe.

One notablly similar Japanese story, "The crane wife" is about a man who marries a woman who is in fact a crane disguised as a human. To make money the crane-woman plucks her own feathers to weave silk brocade which the man sells, but she become increasingly ill as she does so. When the man discovers his wife's true identity and the nature of her illness she leaves him. There are also a number of Japanese stories about men who married kitsune, or fox spirits in human form (as women in these cases), though in these tales the wife's true identity is a secret even from her husband. She stays willingly until her husband discovers the truth, at which point she abandons him.


The swan maiden has appeared in numerous items of fiction, starting with the ballet Swan Lake and continuing in modern novels of the fantasy genre such as "Three Hearts and Three Lions" and television such as Astroboy Episode 5. A notable recent appearance is of the swan-men in the Anita Blake series, including . They are also called swan mays or swanmays in fantasy fiction and Dungeons and Dragons.


ee also

*Swan Lake

External links

* [http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/swan.html Various swan maiden tales.]
* [http://www.primitivism.com/swan-maidens.htm Icelandic tale.]
* [http://www.advancedpoetx.com/STUDIO/maidene.html Various tales.]
* [http://www.maerchenlexikon.de/etexte/400/te400-006.htm A Swedish swan maiden tale translated into English.]
* [http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/sfs/sfs72.htm "The She-Wolf"] , Croatian tale
* [http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/jacobs/european/swanmaidens.html "The Swan Maidens"] as collected by Joseph Jacobs

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См. также в других словарях:

  • swan-maiden — swanˈ maiden noun (in Germanic folklore) a maiden who can become a swan by putting on her feather garment • • • Main Entry: ↑swan …   Useful english dictionary

  • swan maiden — noun Etymology: translation of German schwanenjungfrau : a maiden of Germanic mythology held to be able to transform herself into a swan by the use of a magical object (as a ring or a cloak of swan feathers) * * * any of a class of folkloric… …   Useful english dictionary

  • swan maiden — any of a class of folkloric maidens, in many Indo European and Asian tales, capable of being transformed into swans, as by magic or sorcery. [1865 70] * * * …   Universalium

  • swan shift — swan shift, a garment made of swan s feathers which the swan maiden put on to assume her guise as a swan …   Useful english dictionary

  • Swan Lake — This article is about the ballet. For other uses, see Swan Lake (disambiguation). Ballets by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Swan Lake (1876) Sleeping Beauty (1889) The Nutcracker (1892) List of all compositions …   Wikipedia

  • Swan (disambiguation) — A swan is a large water bird.Swan may also refer to: Places Australia * City of Swan, a municipality in Perth, Western Australia **Division of Swan, an electoral district in the Australian House of Representatives, in Western Australia, based on… …   Wikipedia

  • Swan Song Records — Swan Song Владелец Led Zeppelin Основан 1974 Основатели Питер Грант Led Zeppelin …   Википедия

  • Swan Song — Владелец Led Zeppelin Основан 1974 Основатели Питер Грант Led Zeppelin Дистрибьютор Atlantic Records Жанр хард рок блюз рок …   Википедия

  • Swan Song Records — Logo officiel de Swan Song Records. Swan Song Records était un label indépendant lancé par Led Zeppelin le 10 mai 1974. Il était dirigé par le manager de Led Zeppelin, Peter Grant, et était un moyen pour le groupe de faire la promotion de ses… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Swan Song Records — infobox record label founded = 1974 closed = 1983 founder = Led Zeppelin Peter Grant distributor = Atlantic Records genre = Rock country = UKSwan Song Records was a record label launched by English rock group Led Zeppelin on May 10, 1974. It was… …   Wikipedia

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