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What is an Oral Tradition? An Oral Tradition is a story or group of stories passed down orally from one generation to the next in a civilization without a system of writing, in order to pass on cultural information that would otherwise be lost. Key Points: The repetition of certain words and phrases gives the audience clues about what to expect in the story, and also help the storyteller remember the story. More than just entertainment, oral traditions can preserve important cultural values, traditions, or even laws.
Majorca: The Place “Majorca is the central and largest of the Balearic Islands off of the east coast of Spain. A mountain range along the northwest side protects is from harsh Mediterranean winds, thus giving Majorca a warm temperate climate all year round, ideal for agriculture.” Click Here For Pictures of Majorca Click Here For More Info!
Quick Facts Size: Approximately 1400 square miles. Population: 638,874 Languages Spoken: Mallorquin, Spanish, English, and French. Economy: Tourism is the main revenue for the island of Majorca. Agriculture comes second. The island produces almonds, oranges and lemons. Melons and potatoes are also grown here as well as many vegetables, olives and excellent cheeses.
Pictures of Majorca Click on Image For More Pictures
About Majorcan Tales In the Mallorquin language the tales they tell are called rondaies, or “rounds,” because they were told around the fireplace in the evenings after the day’s work in the fields. In the late 19 th century, a man who called himself En Jordi Des Reco (George of the Corner) collected a great number of rondaies. Shepherds, pigherds, and young farmhands were the source of his tales. Another source of these stories are the glossadors, troubadours who spoke in rhyme, sometimes accompanied by the strumming of a guitar, and who told stories about extraordinary happenings in fields or towns. In fairy tales the traditional beginnings & endings are “Once upon a time” and “They lived happily ever after.” The rondaies begin: “Long before snow fell on the rock” (the island is often referred to as Sa Roca, the Rock), and they end saying: “and they are all still alive if they’re not dead.”
The Princess With The Golden Hair Long before snow fell on the Rock, there lived a little boy called Jordi. When he was thirteen years old a group of bandits attacked his home and kidnapped Jordi and took him with them to their cave. The bandits put a heavy chain around his ankles and forced him to cook for them and guard the cave. They gave him only scraps of food to eat and they whipped him and laughed at him when he couldn’t do the work fast enough. And so several years passed, and Jordi managed to keep alive.
The Princess With The Golden Hair One day the king was out on a hunt. Two of his hunters stumbled on the hidden cave and the thieves ran into the forest leaving Jordi behind. As the hunters neared him, they said, “Young man, what are you doing here?” “I am the slave of a group of bandits who live in this cave,” answered Jordi. “The kidnapped me from my home and I have been forced to serve them ever since.” At that moment the king rode up and saw the thin young man in chains. The king asked him, “Do you want to come with us? I am the king and these are my hunters.” “Yes, I would like to come with you,” said Jordi. When they arrived at the palace, Jordi washed and ate a big meal. The king saw how fine a boy Jordi was, and he said, “Do you want to become my page?” “Yes, sir,” answered Jordi. And so he became the king’s page.
The Princess With The Golden Hair Several years later, the king decided he wished to marry. He assembled all of the nobles of his court and said to them, “The woman I must marry is called the Princess with the Golden Hair.” “And where is she?” the nobles asked him. “Search for her and you will find her,” answered the king. “All I know is that she was kidnapped by two giants from her home at night and they put strange curses on her. You’ll recognize her for she is the most beautiful girl your eyes will ever have seen.” The nobles showered the king with questions, but he knew no more about the Princess with the Golden Hair than he had already told them.
The Princess With The Golden Hair “I do not wish to spend twenty or thirty years of my life,” said one noble, “looking for a girl with beautiful hair.” “How can I look if I don’t know where?” said another. “What if she is already dead?” said a third. And so, one by one they all found an excuse for not going out and searching for the princess. “If only I could go myself,” said the king to himself, “but who would rule the country?” When Jordi heard what had happened, he said, “Senor King, you always have me.” “You mean,” said the king, “that you would go and try to bring back the Princess with the Golden Hair?” “Yes,” said Jordi.
The Princess With The Golden Hair And so, before the first rays of the sun came up the next morning, Jordi took a horse, a sword, a bow-and-arrows, and galloped away. He rode, trit-trot, trit-trot, and after seven leagues he came to a river. In a little puddle on the bank of the river he saw a little shiny fish that was flipping and flapping about, trying to get back to the river. There was so little water that the fish was dying slowly.
The Princess With The Golden Hair Jordi felt sorry for the little fish; he dismounted his horse and picked up the tiny fish by its tail and threw it into the river. The fish regained its strength and stuck out its head and said, “Oh Jordi, Jordi, I hope one day I can repay you this kind deed.” And with a flip of its tail it disappeared down the river. He rode and rode, trit-trot, trit-trot, and after seven leagues he passed by an olive tree and saw a nightingale’s nest. There was a huge serpent slowly twining its way up the tree trunk to eat the three baby nightingales in the nest. Jordi felt so sorry for the baby birds that he took out an arrow and shot the serpent through the head. The serpent curled up and fell like a piece of rope, and before it touched the ground it was dead. The mother nightingale exclaimed, “Oh Jordi, Jordi, I hope one day I can repay you for this kind deed.”
The Princess With The Golden Hair Jordi rode and rode, trit-trot, trit-trot, and after seven more leagues he spied a falcon high in the air fighting a small crow which was just about to flap its wings for the last time. Feeling sorry for the crow, Jordi shot his arrow at the falcon, and it fell to the ground as lifeless as its feathers. The little crow flew down and said, “Oh, Jordi, Jordi, I hope one day I can repay you for this kind deed.”
The Princess With The Golden Hair And so Jordi went on his way. He asked everyone he met for news about the Princess with the Golden Hair, but no one could answer him. After seven leagues he met an old shepherd. “Brother,” said Jordi, “can you give me any news of the Princess with the Golden Hair?” “I know where she is,” answered the shepherd, “but….” “Tell me,” said Jordi, “for I have come to take her to the palace as the king wants to marry her.” “Oh, don’t continue your search,” said the shepherd. “Whole armies have gone to get her, but they have never returned and no one has ever seen them again. Unless you want to stop breathing, do not go.” “I must,” said Jordi. “If you are so stubborn,” said the old shepherd, “head for the rising sun and you will find a deep ravine. Follow the ravine till you come to two tall cypress trees. If you dare go beyond them you will come to two large piles of bones in front of a cave.”
The Princess With The Golden Hair “In that cave lives the Princess with the Golden Hair. Two giants guard the entrance and they can smell anyone approaching, even if he were no bigger than a mosquito. The bones are the bones of those who have tried to rescue the Princess with the Golden Hair!” “Thank you, kind shepherd,” said Jordi, “for what you have told me. And now I must go and rescue her, come what may, for I owe my life to the king and shall gladly risk it for his happiness.” So Jordi turned his horse’s head towards the rising sun and soon he came to the ravine. He followed the ravine till he came to the two cypress trees, and in the distance he could see two piles of white bones. Jordi shuddered but he did not put one foot behind the other in retreat.
The Princess With The Golden Hair All of a sudden there appeared a small crow. “I am the crow you saved from the falcon. I’ve come to repay your good deed. You must advance towards the cave, and do not fear the two giants for I shall help you.” Jordi took out his sword and advanced. The giants were already licking their chops for they had smelled him from a long way off. Step by step Jordi went nearer. When the two giants were about to rush at him, the crow suddenly flew down like a streak of lightning, and with four pecks the giant’s eyes were gone. Jordi pierced the two giants with his sword and they fell dead, one on each pile of bones. The Princess with the Golden Hair came out of the depths of the cave and, when she saw the two giants dead, she cried and trembled with happiness.
The Princess With The Golden Hair Jordi was taken aback by the sight of this beautiful girl. How gentle she looked. The king had been right. She was the most beautiful girl the sun had ever warmed. “Young man, do not leave,” cried the Princess. “How could I leave?” said Jordi, “for I come to take you to the king who wishes to marry you. He who dares to touch a thread of your clothing will have to step over my body first. Let us start our trip home.” “Oh, young man,” said the Princess with the Golden Hair, “I cannot go with you.” “Why not?” said Jordi. “Those two giants never allowed me to leave this cave. They put a spell on me. If I leave I will turn to dust the moment I pass the two cypress trees. But the spell can be broken if I wash my hair in water as clear as dew.”
The Princess With The Golden Hair “Well, I will go to the river and bring you some water,” said Jordi. “But river water is not pure enough. I must have water from the Fountain of Dew,” said the Princess. “Do you need much of this water?” “Oh, a thimbleful is plenty, for then I can mix it with any water and wash my hair.” “I shall go to the Fountain of Dew,” said Jordi. “But I do not know where this fountain is,” said the Princess with the Golden Hair. “As I have found you, I will find this fountain.” And so Jordi rode and rode, trit-trot, trit-trot, and asked everyone he met for news of the Fountain of Dew, but he met no one who could enlighten him.
The Princess With The Golden Hair Finally he met an old shepherd. “Do you know where the Fountain of Dew is?” said Jordi. “Yes, I know,” said the old shepherd. “Tell me! I must go there right away,” said Jordi. “Oh, don’t go. Don’t go,” said the shepherd. “There are many monstrous snakes around the Fountain of Dew who can eat a man and his horse without chewing. Everyone who has ever gone there has never been seen again.” “Don’t bid me stay,” said Jordi. “Tell me where this fountain is.” “If you are so stubborn and bored with life,” said the shepherd, “just turn your horse to the rising sunand it won’t be long before you will find the Fountain of Dew.” Jordi thanked the shepherd and went on his way. Soon he saw in the distance the heads of many snakes guarding a fountain. Jordi froze in his steps.
The Princess With The Golden Hair To Be Continued….
Questions for Review Did you notice any words or phrases that were repeated through out the story? Based on what you know so far, what do you think will happen when Jordi goes to get water from the Fountain of Dew? What morals or ideals do you think are represented in the story so far?
Bibliography Mehdevi, Alexander. Bungling Pedro and Other Majorcan Tales. Knopf, Inc. New York: 1970. Mehdevi, Alexander. Bungling Pedro and Other Majorcan Tales. Knopf, Inc. New York: 1970.