Manual The Kingdom of Folklore: The Complete Saga

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If the natives do not explicitly express their belief, they are often reluctant to express disbelief. Gunnell stated: "Icelanders seem much more open to phenomena like dreaming the future, forebodings, ghosts and elves than other nations.


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An elven king occasionally appears among the predominantly female elves as in Denmark and Sweden. In the German middle-age epic the Nibelungenlied , a dwarf named Alberich play an important role.


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Alberich literally translates as "elf-sovereign", further contributing to the elf—dwarf confusion observed already in the Younger Edda. His form and expression also tell the person what sort of death they will have: a pained expression means a painful death, a peaceful expression means a peaceful death.

When he rewards their work with little clothes, they are so delighted, that they run away and are never seen again. Rowling 's Harry Potter stories see House-elf. Variations of the German elf in folklore include the moss people [19 ] and the weisse frauen "white women". On the latter Jacob Grimm does not make a direct association to the elves, but other researchers see a possible connection to the shining light elves of Old Norse. The elf is occasionally portrayed in a positive light, such as the Queen of Elphame in the ballad Thomas the Rhymer , but many examples exist of elves of sinister character, frequently bent on rape [ citation needed ] and murder, as in the Tale of Childe Rowland , or the ballad Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight , in which the Elf-Knight bears away Isabel to murder her.

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Most instances of elves in ballads are male; the only commonly encountered female elf is the Queen of Elfland, who appears in Thomas the Rhymer and The Queen of Elfland's Nourice , in which a woman is abducted to be a wet-nurse to the queen's baby, but promised that she may return home once the child is weaned. In none of these cases is the elf a spritely character with pixie -like qualities. English folktales of the early modern period commonly portray elves as small, elusive people with mischievous personalities.

They are often portrayed as children with Williams syndrome which was not recognised as a medical condition but some specialist believe that people were enchanted with their character and appearance that they believed to be magical , [21 ] usually with fair hair. They are not evil but might annoy humans or interfere in their affairs.

They are sometimes said to be invisible.

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In this tradition, elves became similar to the concept of fairies. As people from the English countryside immigrated to America, they brought elements of English folklore with them, and this particular depiction of elves then evolved in America into the Christmas elves of pop culture. Successively, the word elf , as well as literary term fairy , evolved to a general denotation of various nature spirits like Puck , hobgoblins , Robin Goodfellow , the English and Scots brownie , the Northumbrian English hob and so forth.

These terms, like their relatives in other European languages , are no longer clearly distinguished in popular folklore. Significant for the distancing of the concept of elves from its mythological origins was the influence from literature. In Elizabethan England , William Shakespeare imagined elves as little people. He apparently considered elves and fairies to be the same race.

The influence of Shakespeare and Michael Drayton made the use of elf and fairy for very small beings the norm. In Victorian literature, elves usually appeared in illustrations as tiny men and women with pointed ears and stocking caps.

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An example is Andrew Lang 's fairy tale Princess Nobody , illustrated by Richard Doyle , where fairies are tiny people with butterfly wings, whereas elves are tiny people with red stocking caps. There were exceptions to this rule however, such as the full-sized elves who appear in Lord Dunsany 's The King of Elfland's Daughter as well as Northern English and Scottish Lowlands folklore as seen in such tales as The Queen of Elfan's Nourice and other local variants.

Main article: Christmas elf In the United States , Canada , the United Kingdom , and Ireland the modern children's folklore of Santa Claus typically includes elves at Christmas; green-clad elves with pointy ears, long noses, and pointy hats as Santa's helpers or hired workers. They make the toys in a workshop located in the North Pole. In this portrayal, elves slightly resemble nimble and delicate versions of the dwarves of Norse mythology as well as the elves in English folktakes in the Victorian period from which they could have derived.

The vision of the small but crafty Christmas elf possibly derived from the elves of English fairytales of the Victorian period has come to influence modern popular conception of elves, and sits side by side with the fantasy elves following Tolkien's work see below. The American cookie company Keebler has long advertised that its cookies are made by elves in a hollow tree, and Kellogg's , who happens to now be the owner of Keebler, uses the elves of Snap, Crackle, and Pop as mascots of Rice Krispies cereal, and the role of elves as Santa's helpers has continued to be popular, as evidenced by the success of the popular Christmas movie Elf.

It should be noted that these elves are referred to as elfish or elfin as opposed to elven [ citation needed ]. Main article: Elves in fantasy fiction and games [15] [16] A recent interpretation of a high fantasy elf, from WTactics card game. The fantasy genre in the 20th century grows out of 19th century Romanticism.

A pioneering work of the genre that would come to be known as "fantasy" was The King of Elfland's Daughter , a novel by Lord Dunsany. The Hobbit by J. Tolkien is seminal, predating the lecture On Fairy-Stories by the same author by a few years. In the lecture, Tolkien introduced the term "Fantasy" in a sense of "higher form of Art, indeed the most nearly pure form, and so when achieved the most potent".

Elves played a central role in Tolkien's legendarium , notably The Silmarillion. Tolkien's writing has such popularity that in the s and afterwards, Elves speaking an Elvish language similar to those in Tolkien's novels like Quenya , and Sindarin became staple non-human characters in high fantasy works and in fantasy role-playing games.

They are said to be gifted in magic and mentally sharp and are characterized as lovers of nature, art, and song.

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Often, they are skilled archers. A hallmark of fantasy elves is their long and pointed ears a convention begun with a note of Tolkien's that the ears of elves were "leaf-shaped". Sign In Don't have an account? Start a Wiki. Contents [ show ]. Categories :. Cancel Save. Example of the style of music used to introduce elves in electronic media. Composer: Aleksi Aubry-Carlson Her several attempts at seeking a home created the landmark volcanoes of each island she visited. In the saga, she frequently restores the dead to life and performs other magic feats. Her companions on the journey are Pau-o-palai, the goddess of ferns and a sort of faithful family retainer, and the mortal woman Wahine-omao.

Wahine-omao joins the quest out of a sense of adventure, and she has her own role to play in the story, as a close friend who can speak freely and frankly to Hiiaka. Hopoe and Hiiaka were beloved friends, aikane a term for intense same-sex friendship, with sexual connotations. Director Carmen Casillas R.

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The saga is long and there are many versions, still shared today in hula and song. It begins when Pele takes a dream-journey to Kauai, where her spirit, in the form of a beautiful young woman, takes the handsome chief Lohiau as her lover. After several nights dalliance, she disappears, promising to send a messenger to fetch him.

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Pele agrees to this condition, and lays down her own: that Hiiaka will complete the quest in forty days, and that she will take no lovers — especially not Lohiau — while on the journey. These adventures form a large part of the saga. When Hiiaka and Wahine-omao finally reach Kauai Pau-o-palai left the quest, but rejoined them on the return , they discover that Lohiau is dead. Hiiaka prevents anything from happening — with anyone. But the forty days have run out. When Hiiaka sends Wahine-omao and Pau-o-palai ahead to explain the delay, Pele kills them in a rage before they can speak.


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Jealous, Pele sends her sisters, and then her brothers, to kill Lohiau. They refuse, and Pele kills him herself, encasing him in lava, which cools to stone. She digs so deep that she almost lets water into the volcano — which would kill her sister. Wahine-omoa stops her just in time. Eventually, the god Kane brings Lohiau back to life, and he reunites with Hiiaka, staying with her until his death. I encourage you to discover it for yourself, and enjoy the adventures of these fascinating women and the wonders of the beautiful land that they live in.

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Hawaiian Mythology , Yale University Press, Charlot, John. Colum, Padraic. Emerson, Nathaniel B.