Have you heard of these legends?

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Keenir
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Have you heard of these legends?

Post by Keenir » Sun 18 Oct 2015, 08:54

Once, several years ago, I spent hours reading lots and lots of books on Arthurian lore, and Chinese & Welsh legends...three have stuck with me ever since, but I've never been able to find them again, nor even able to learn their names. Hoping that someone else here has heard of them, here is what I recall:

Does anyone know the names?

* a sword that can cut through anything. left in a block of ice. {Welsh?}

* a traveler stops at a house in the woods, and the lady of the house is a perfect hostess - but never turns her back on the traveler. at one point, he forces her to turn around, at which point he learns she has no back. {Arthurian?}

* a man works long hard hours in the fields, and when he comes to his home where he lives alone, there is always fresh food ready for him to eat. he's happy, but he's also curious, and one day, comes home early - and finds a woman cooking the food, and when she's done, she returns to where she came from: a picture he had hanging up. {Chinese?}
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Thrice Xandvii
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by Thrice Xandvii » Sun 18 Oct 2015, 08:58

I have no basis in fact to believe this, but I feel like you switched the Arthurian and Welsh legends. But, I've never heard of any of those before. (However they are certainly cool ideas for stories!)
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by Lambuzhao » Sun 18 Oct 2015, 12:57

Keenir wrote:* a sword that can cut through anything. left in a block of ice. {Welsh?}
It could save others, but not itself. Ha ha ha, I like it. Apart from a veiled reference to Excalibur, I wish I knew its fromwhenceabouts.
* a traveler stops at a house in the woods, and the lady of the house is a perfect hostess - but never turns her back on the traveler. at one point, he forces her to turn around, at which point he learns she has no back. {Arthurian?}
This sounds a like the Medieval/Goliardic concept of Fortuna. She is depicted as beautiful and youthful woman from behind, but a wizened old crone in the front, or vice-versa. I think I have heard of one version where she is beautiful in the front, but missing a back....? I might be confusing this with a legend of Stregga Nonna/Baba Yaga ??

* a man works long hard hours in the fields, and when he comes to his home where he lives alone, there is always fresh food ready for him to eat. he's happy, but he's also curious, and one day, comes home early - and finds a woman cooking the food, and when she's done, she returns to where she came from: a picture he had hanging up. {Chinese?}
This sounds eerie and rather fun, yet I do not know where it comes from.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by cntrational » Sun 18 Oct 2015, 15:59

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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by qwed117 » Sun 18 Oct 2015, 16:00

cntrational wrote:Image
That seems like an awful lot of hassle when all I wanted was a cool sword.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by Egerius » Sun 18 Oct 2015, 16:04

cntrational wrote:Image
I'd move to Winchester in no time.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by Keenir » Sun 18 Oct 2015, 16:20

cntrational wrote:Image
that's also true...
wiki wrote:
wiki wrote:
wiki wrote:Lejends,a local rock band in Dungol, Alaska.
May be incomplete
Citation required]
EDIT:
also, if you don't know what you're searching for, you can spend hours on the wiki, clicking one unknown name after another (even within a single genre like "chinese literature" or "arthurian lore"), and if i don't know the name & if I'm not remembering the right description...
Last edited by Keenir on Sun 18 Oct 2015, 16:31, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by shimobaatar » Mon 19 Oct 2015, 04:22

Keenir wrote: * a sword that can cut through anything. left in a block of ice. {Welsh?}
As others have said, I feel like this one could be Arthurian, but only because of the similarities with the story of Excalibur.

Actually, in all honesty, I thought Arthurian mythology was a subset of Welsh mythology?
Keenir wrote: * a traveler stops at a house in the woods, and the lady of the house is a perfect hostess - but never turns her back on the traveler. at one point, he forces her to turn around, at which point he learns she has no back. {Arthurian?}
I'd probably guess that this was the Welsh one, but I don't have much to go on other than the fact that there are other stories in European folklore that involve a traveler finding a house in the woods inhabited by someone who's weird in some way.

For whatever reason, I'd have guessed the backless woman was some kind of yōkai if those three types of legends hadn't been specified.
Keenir wrote: * a man works long hard hours in the fields, and when he comes to his home where he lives alone, there is always fresh food ready for him to eat. he's happy, but he's also curious, and one day, comes home early - and finds a woman cooking the food, and when she's done, she returns to where she came from: a picture he had hanging up. {Chinese?}
I feel I've read a story like this before, or at least one very similar to it, either from China or West Africa. The picture part doesn't sound familiar, but the rest definitely does.

Sorry I wasn't able to pinpoint the exact origins/names of any of these legends. I'm going to look into them further when I get the chance to.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by Keenir » Mon 19 Oct 2015, 05:15

shimobaatar wrote: Actually, in all honesty, I thought Arthurian mythology was a subset of Welsh mythology?
it probably is, under normal circumstances. my library, sadly, is a little odd...it has books about "English legends" beside "Welsh legends" beside "British legends" beside "Celtic stories and legends" , then the Grimms (and a few books about the Grimms), then "Arthurian legends".

and no need to apologize; the yokai gives me something to search in the meantime; thank you.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by cntrational » Mon 19 Oct 2015, 11:27

The Arthurian legend originates in Wales, but the modern "canon" was created by the English and French centuries later.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by Salmoneus » Mon 26 Oct 2015, 03:49

Keenir wrote:Once, several years ago, I spent hours reading lots and lots of books on Arthurian lore, and Chinese & Welsh legends...three have stuck with me ever since, but I've never been able to find them again, nor even able to learn their names. Hoping that someone else here has heard of them, here is what I recall:

Does anyone know the names?

* a sword that can cut through anything. left in a block of ice. {Welsh?}
Other than excalibur-on-ice?
* a traveler stops at a house in the woods, and the lady of the house is a perfect hostess - but never turns her back on the traveler. at one point, he forces her to turn around, at which point he learns she has no back. {Arthurian?}
Has no back?
I've heard that story with "has a tail", and with "has a different face behind her" (isn't there one with a man who marries a beautiful young woman who never turns round, and eventually he finds out that from the other side she's an evil old crone?). But 'has no back' seems rather... Dali?


Regarding classification: Arthur isn't really 'mythology' in this sense at all, but 'literature' - in that it's not ancient oral tradition, it's recognisable works of fiction by specific authors. The mythos borrows some elements and names and tropes from Welsh mythology, as well as from other old stories, but it was largely the invention of Geoffrey of Monmouth, expanded by Chretien of Troy, and then retold in the 15th century by Thomas Malory and in the 19th century by Alfred Tennyson and in the 20th by TH White. The popular mythology and folk tales actually grew up around these works of literature, rather than inspiring them.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by shimobaatar » Thu 29 Oct 2015, 01:05

Salmoneus wrote: Regarding classification: Arthur isn't really 'mythology' in this sense at all, but 'literature' - in that it's not ancient oral tradition, it's recognisable works of fiction by specific authors. The mythos borrows some elements and names and tropes from Welsh mythology, as well as from other old stories, but it was largely the invention of Geoffrey of Monmouth, expanded by Chretien of Troy, and then retold in the 15th century by Thomas Malory and in the 19th century by Alfred Tennyson and in the 20th by TH White. The popular mythology and folk tales actually grew up around these works of literature, rather than inspiring them.
Ahh, thank you. That's very interesting, and certainly good to know.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by elemtilas » Wed 19 Oct 2016, 23:26

Lambuzhao wrote:
Keenir wrote:* a man works long hard hours in the fields, and when he comes to his home where he lives alone, there is always fresh food ready for him to eat. he's happy, but he's also curious, and one day, comes home early - and finds a woman cooking the food, and when she's done, she returns to where she came from: a picture he had hanging up. {Chinese?}
This sounds eerie and rather fun, yet I do not know where it comes from.
Certain themes remind of The Maiden in the Mirror, only all the other details are rather different. Here a young would-be scholar meets the girl of his dreams, but she eventually sends him packing because he's wasting his time with friends and not studying. She gives him a mirror and says he'll be able to see her in it; but that they'll never meet again until he passes the civil service exams.

He goes home and is able to see her in the mirror, but her back is turned towards him, which he takes as a sign of displeasure in his lagkadaisical study habits. So he hits the books and is soon able to see her facing him in the mirror. Eventually he falls into bad habits again and forgets about the mirror. When he does notice it again, the girl is walking away from him.

Determined not to let her get away again, he strives at his studying, only now he's placed the mirror up on the wall where he can always see her smiling face shine down on him.

Of course, he eventually passes the exams and the richest man in the city decides to marry off his daughter to the young scholar. This he rejects, because he's hoping still to meet the maiden in the mirror. She comes to him one last time, telling him to accept the offer. Then she turns and goes away, and he never sees her in the mirror again.

Naturally, he's frustrated that the girl of his dreams has basically told him to marry some other girl, but he dutifully does as she asks. All things being properly folkloric, a sedan arrives with the would-be bride (and presumably her father and loads of rich presents); and who should it be, but the maiden in the mirror!

Since the story rests upon the imperial civil service exams, I'd hazard the guess that it is likely Chinese in origin.

Though could be Talarian, or even Auntimoanian...
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by Sumelic » Thu 27 Oct 2016, 02:25

Some things I've read say the huldra has a hollow back, like a rotten tree--maybe this is related to the second story you mentioned?
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by elemtilas » Wed 23 Nov 2016, 05:40

Sumelic wrote:Some things I've read say the huldra has a hollow back, like a rotten tree--maybe this is related to the second story you mentioned?
I think so --- here are some Norwegian/Swedish elves. Holes in their backs, rotten insides. Could indeed be related to the second story.

And here your Huldra.
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Re: Have you heard of these legends?

Post by Ànradh » Tue 28 Mar 2017, 21:11

The hollow back also immediately put me in mind of the huldra. A Danish comic artist going by the handle humon has written about them a few times, but she's never mentioned that tale specifically.
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