Framework stories with several stories incorporated into the main story are to be found, above all, in traditional Oriental fairy tales. The story cycle of One Thousand and One Nights is a well-known example in which numerous narratives by the Sultan’s beloved, who is threatened with death, are embedded into the framework plot. The fairy tale ‘O drugari’ [The Companion] – which was recorded in a similar version by the philologist Alexandre G. Paspati in the Romani dialect from Rumelia (Turkey) as early as 1870 – follows this tradition. The sound recording with the storyteller Fatima Džaferoska was made in Vienna in 1971.
The story combines free motives and narrative strands from various types of fairy tale. The framework plot corresponds to a very popular type of fairy tale (ATU 505). Embedded into this, a tale interlocked in multiple ways develops with several stories within the story, combined with the theme of another tale in which a silent princess must be made to speak. One of the stories within the story told to tempt the girl speak is the one about the day-time thief and the night-time thief, both of whom have the same wife. In this story within the story, one thief tells another story. The subject of a girl who must be made to speak is also known to storytellers among the Turkish Romani group of basket weavers, the Sepečides, from Izmir and its environs.
In many fairy tales, clichés and stereotypes can be found; they are used as a basis for farcical elements and modes of behaviour. A know-all attitude is stereotypically depicted as a female trait. Girls or women – but never men – who cannot be made to speak are unable in the end to refrain from butting into a dispute and thereby break their silence. Thus they may be outwitted through provocation – usually by a cunning suitor who, in most Romani versions, is himself a Rom. In other versions, it is an old, wise Romni who knows about this ‘typical’ trait and thus outwits the young girl. The fact that people who refuse to speak may be provoked to speak through absurd actions is also historically documented in some forms of popular belief, including from Hungary (Dömötör 1981: 125f).
References and further reading
Dömötör, Tekla. 1981. Volksglaube und Aberglaube der Ungarn. Budapest: Corvina Kiadó.
Fennesz-Juhasz, Christiane; Cech, Petra; Halwachs, Dieter W.; Heinschink, Mozes F. (ed.). 2003. Die schlaue Romni. Märchen und Lieder der Roma / E bengali Romni. So Roma phenen taj gilaben. Klagenfurt: Drava Verlag (transcript and German translation of another version by the same storyteller: pp. 26–43).
Paspati, Alexandre G. 1870. Études sur les Tchinghianés ou Bohémiens de l’Empire Ottoman. Constantinople: Antoine Koromélia.
Uther, Hans-Jörg. 2004. The Types of International Folktales. A Classification and Bibliography (= FF Communications 85–87), 3 Bände. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fenica.