(8/11/02 5:52:18 pm)
| the handless maiden|
It has been a long time since I have visited the discussion board, mired as I have been in rebuilding my work life, so affected by 9/11. I am interested in finding out about full versions of the Handless Maiden. I have read about it being considered a seminal initiation tale for women, much as The Fisher King is considered a major initiation tale for men. I am particularly interested in the ways the young woman grows back her hands, and also in the silver hands she is given and what those may symbolize.
(8/13/02 5:31:23 am)
| armless maiden|
Judith--there are many versions of the Armless Maiden tale out there. it is a remarkable tale because it has a complicated structure--a sort of hiccup in the middle--and that structure seems fairly consistent in the narrative whether it is told by a Japanese farm woman or a Xhosa storyteller in South Africa. I have been collecting variants of it most of adult life. I did write a brief essay, "The Hero's Journey" on the tale that accompanied my version of the tale--both of which origanally appeared in Terri Windling's wonderful anthology "The Armless Maiden, Childhood's Survivors" (Terri is that right? I don't have the book but at my office and now I am not exactly sure of the title!)
A quick look at A-T tale type, or motif index will net you a good twenty variants, from Basque to Japanese. I believe my favorite South African version (from a superb story teller, Mazitatu Zenani) appears in Harold Scheub's"The African Story Teller."
We have had some lively discussions of this group of narratives in times past and I suspect you will be able to find those in the archive. It's a great story though and should probably be discussed again.
As to your specific question about the return of the young woman's arms--it differs in many narratives, but for the most part it is almost a deus ex-machina. The girl's journey is at an end--and the fantastic recognizing that moment in the woods returns the arms, or the hands. It signifies the moment of return, as a newly formed adult (no longer the girl caught in an unfinished rite of passage.) Sometimes her child has arm of gold from the elbow down--also to signifiy perhaps the alliance of the fantastic to the girl's journey, the promise of future return.
sorry this is brief--I have to run
(8/13/02 5:11:35 pm)
| handless (armless) maiden|
Thanks Midori. That gives me alot to work with. I know very little when it comes to fairy tale terms. What is an A-T type tale?
(8/13/02 7:59:56 pm)
| A-T Motif index|
My apologies...I never know who is familiar with Stith Thompson and Anti Arne's work in folklore. Thompson and Arne devised a methodology for catagorizing and classifying folktales as a way of making it easier to do comparative studies (among other things). They took the narratives apart either by motifs (singing teapots, or shapshifting fox etc) or by tale type (girl marries murderous husband). The idea was that other scholars would add to the body of knowledge and expand the tale type and motif index to include many cultures.
It's a bit cumbersome and some people argue that their choices of tale types or motifs are not always precise. But it still is a remarkable tool for a quick handy reference. A good university library will have Arne-Thompson's motif or tale type index (they are two separate collections) In the front of the volumes is a list of all the collections they used to gather their data--as you thumb through the motif index for example, it will list different tales and give the abreviation for the collection in which the story can be found--then you can go and hunt down the specific anthology for that story. So it's a bit of grunt work--Of the twenty or so "Armless maiden" variants...I then hunted down the twenty or so anthologies in which they appeared--a good day in the library! There are newer collections, using the system and you might find an A-T motif index for a new anthology of Korean folktales--using the A-T catagories, but the references will be to newer collections. I hope this makes sense.
(8/13/02 8:18:14 pm)
| found a few|
I went hunting through my files and found a few..."The woman with her hands cut off" from "Folktales of France", ed. Genevieve Mussignon, "The giirl without arms" from "Folktales of Japan" ed. by K. Seki, "The Girl Without Hands: Latin American Variants" by J. Knedler from "Hispanic Review: Vol. X !942 (this is a listing of a whole bunch of other versions of this tale and where they can be found) There is a Type and Motif index for Japanese Literature by Ikeda that appears FFCommunications, Volume 209, pg. 164 (Tale type 706: The Maiden without Hands") In Katherine Briggs "A Dictionary of British Folk-tales in the English Language" gives a tale "The Cruel Stepmother" in Volume I, Part A that is a variant of Armless Maiden. There is an Arabian nights version "the Tale of the Woman Whose Hands Were Cut Off For GIving Alms to the Poor" (348th night). In "Folktales of the Magyars" ed. by Rev. Henry Jones and Lewis Kropf the is "The Girl Without Hands" and there is a lovely weird variant called "The Falcon's Daughter" from Egypt in richard Dorson's "Folktales Told around the World."
I can't find my favorite basque version...maybe I"ve misfiled it. Do have a look at Scheub's version in Afican Story Teller "A Father Cuts Off His Daughter's Arms."
hope that gets you started...it's really a fascinating tale.
(8/17/02 11:14:31 am)
| armless maiden|
Thanks Midori-that certainly does get me started!
(8/31/02 11:08:13 am)
| handless maiden|
I looked through the archives and found a reference to what turned out to be a wonderful book called Here All Dwell Free-Stories that Heal the Wounded Feminine, by Gertrud Mueller Nelson. It goes into such great detail of the meaning of each phase of the handless maiden's journey that I felt given a psychological map. Thanks again.
(8/31/02 11:57:09 pm)
| Re: handless maiden|
The Gertude Mueller Nelson book is indeed a good one. Marie-Louise von Franz also has some interesting thoughts on the tale, from a Jungian perspective, in one of her books -- I think it's The Feminine in Fairy Tales.
Have you read Midori's lovely version of the story, in the anthology
The Armless Maiden? And Margaret Atwood wrote a poem based on the
German variant, The Girl With No Hands, which she kindly allowed
us to post on the Endicott Studio web site: www.endicott-studio.com/cofgwoh.html.
Edited by: Terri at: 8/31/02 11:58:16 pm
(9/2/02 8:55:50 pm)
| The Handless Maiden|
I'm new to this forum and only discovered it with delight this morning. I'm an Australian psychologist and writer, with a deep interest in folklore.
I've been trying to seek out variants of the Handless Maiden/Girl with
the Silver Hands. I know there are some basic
variations in the Grimms-type story - in one the old Queen (mother-in-law) is good and caring,
while in another, she is envious and wicked, and that in some, the hands
grow back slowly and in others, all at once - but I'm wondering which is
the oldest? Although my last book, a memoir, had
fairytales interwoven throughout and featured a character who was a
folklorist, in real-life, as a folklorist, I'm a good psychologist!
Also, I was trying to access the archives to find further material on the Handless Maiden, but couldn't work out how to do it. Any instructions suitable for electronically-challenged individuals (I'm an Internet moron) would be most appreciated!
work out which Aarne-Thompson type it comes under! Any advice you could
offer would be much appreciated.
(9/3/02 3:51:07 am)
| AT 706...|
The Handless Maiden is listed as A-T type 706. We've had a couple of really good discussions about this topic... It was discussed a bit here, in a discussion on mother/daughter themes in fairy tales:
You might also try sifting through these (the results of a search of Surlalune under "armless maiden"):
Generally, to search the archives, I think that you just go to the
opening ez-board page, find the Search tab (to the right, small
letters, in the same line as "Login," "Register Your
Free Account," and "Help"), and type in your keywords.
Or, to search the archives, go to the main page of Surlalune, click
on the archived discussions, and type in your keywords in the box
on the upper left-hand side. If I'm giving painfully obvious advice,
I heartily apologize - sometimes I have trouble with the board myself,
and it helps when people start with the basics. If the problem is
more complex, Heidi or one of our other resident techo-geniuses
should be able to help.
P.S. - Speaking of board problems ... for some reason, when I hit the Login icon on the main page, I get sent to a page that just says "login" with nothing to click on. Thus, I can't "formally" log in - just to post - and have no way to ever edit anything. Anyone know what I can do to fix it?
(9/3/02 5:31:00 pm)
| armless maiden|
Thanks for the further references, Terri- Somehow I think that reading and reading different versions of the story, letting what the tales tell sink in, creates (or finds) a map of the tale in my consciousness and create some shifts, helps the unrevealed next phase come under my feet (at least I hope!!). Do you find this, with fairy tales in general?
(9/3/02 5:43:38 pm)
| Re: AT 706...|
Thanks very much - what a treasure trove! And no computer-guidance is ever too 'painfully obvious' for me!
Edited by: Heidi Anne Heiner at: 9/3/02 6:41:33 pm
(9/3/02 6:31:53 pm)
| Neo-Luddites ...|
My pleasure! As for the computer stuff ... ditto. I'm the kind of person who *could,* under the right circumstances, be brought to believe that there was, in fact, qa little tiny mouse on a wheel powering the damned thing, thus granting the mobile doohickey its name ...
Urban Legends in the Making Taking Firm Root in My Mind,
(9/8/02 9:40:13 pm)
| new book on handless maiden symbology|
I learned when working with a T. A.M editor recently that the press will publish Sunoco Toyota's book on the handless maiden material very soon. You might want to contact Texas A and M University Press, and ask when it will come out. I think in the next few months. The book will cover the usual tale, as well as other motifs from Fenris to "the withered hand" motifs. Sunoco is a Jungian analyst from Japan, and her book in Japan is being seen by many as a ground-breaker for psych. of Japanese women there.