The Ambiguous Dragon: Considerations on Abduction and Marriage in Legends about the Fair of the Two Lands

Jiga Iliescu, Laura (Articol)

“For the Romanian inhabitants of the mountains, the fair of two or three lands refers to the annual meeting of people coming from different valleys and sides of the mountain (even if this means to cross the political borders of the neighboring states), who gathered in certain places located on the high plateau of the Carpathians, on the occasion of specific religious feasts in the summer. It was an opportunity to re-assume and negotiate the neighboring proprieties and also to establish further exogamous marriages. Related to these events, a corpus of legends recorded in the Southerner Carpathians area asserts that, in the times when the mentioned fair was hold on the high altitude, a beautiful and unmarried girl was kidnapped by a zmeu (anthropomorphic dragon), while she was dancing. Since that very moment, the fair place was moved down to the foot of the mountain, closer to a village, in order to defend the other girls by such possible further damages. Starting from the legendary level of these events, one goal of my paper is to suggest factual reasons of moving the fair down the mountain. In the frame of its marital function, the fair of two lands equally fulfills the needs of exogamous kinship and grants the control of the communities over the marriage with a stranger. In this regard, could the legends and the abductor dragon (which represents the stranger par excellence), express the decline or the reorientation of the marital function of the fair and, implicitly, of the relations between communities? The study also brings into attentions variants of the legends where the role of the abductor is played by a lion or by St. Elijah, inquiring over the meanings of such substitutions. As sources, this analysis includes both documents stored in archives or edited in printed version, and author’s records made during fieldwork campaigns conducted in 2011 and 2012.”

Cuvinte cheie: Carpathian Mountains, dragon, lion, marriage, oral legends, shepherds, and St. Elijah

Revista de etnografie și folclor / Journal of Ethnography and Folklore

2013, nr. 1-2