عنوان مقاله [English]
Folklore is an important aspect of cultural memory of human societies that play a crucial role in defining and re-defining collective identity of a nation, a community, or even a group of people. It consists of know-how, indigenous knowledge, customs, rituals, feast and festivals, performing arts and of course oral literature. After, UNESCO convention on 2003, all manifestation of folklore is declared as intangible cultural heritage (ICH) that should be safeguarded and preserved for future generation. The significance of ICH is not just being linked with past and our traditions, but it has been transmitted by generation to generation, either by apprenticeship or orally. In this respect, we have responsibility in safeguarding and preserving them for next generation in sake of our cultural memory and as a source for incoming creative works. However, safeguarding different aspects of folklore can not be possible if we do not attempt to understand them deeply.
Fairytales, as part of folk tales, are always fascinating for both kids and adults because of their supernatural creatures and promising massage of hope and prosperity, especially for those who value justice and good deeds. Iranian fairies (Pari in Persian) are one of the most mysterious and contradictional creatures in Persian literature. During pre-Zoroastrianism, they were considered as the goddess of fertility (Sarkarati,2007,p. 6), but in Avestan corpus as well as some Pahlavie texts they were mentioned as female demons who prevent rain and deceiving heros and kings (Mazdapour,1999, pp. 124-125). However, after Sassanid collapse, they appeared in classical Iranian poetry as beautiful and beloved creatures (Sarkarati, 2007, p. 7).
Notebly in fairytales, they are neither the goddess nor female demons, but can show both faces in different situations. However, so many details about their lives have been mentioned in fairytales, in terms of modes and appearance. These details help us to have a better understanding of these imaginary creatures.
In this regard, the main question of this research would be what is the characteristics’ of Iranian fairies in terms of their habits, appearance, superpower abilities, deeds, relationships (with human being and themselves), etc. These characteristics are attributed to them during centuries by storytellers in whole Iran.
To answer mentioned question, Murzloph’s research on typology of Iranian tales would be very beneficial and is a good source to explore Iranian fairy. Based on this typology there are sixteen types that fairies are appeared in some of their variants, either as a central figure such as a hero/heroin, villain, supporting character, minor character, etc. The mentioned types are as following:
403: Laughing flower; 425: The groom is an animal: Wicked witch; *425A: The dumb husband; *425L: A lock around the fairy-groom;
*432: The fairy-groom; 459: The prince who falls in love with a doll;
513C: The hunter boy; 516B: Falling in love by seeing the strand of an unknown lady in water; 530: The guardian of tomb;
552A: The helper animals in role of husband: 706: Accusation: The mother who kills her kids; 707: The innocent woman; *737C*: Wealth as destiny; *832A: Losing a fairy- wife because of disobedience;
*923B: The girl who determined her destiny; *936: The mountain of gems.
Every type may have so many variants, some has been recorded and some still not the chance. It has been tried to find out at least four variants for every type and recording fairy’s characteristic in each variant. However, to respect the permitted word count of the article, the outstanding variants will be mentioned in discussion section.
3-1. Fairies Habitat
Fairies’ territories are remote and unfamiliar, somewhere like Netherland. Sometimes they are referred by legendary name such as the mountain of Qaf or the mountain of Abar- referring to an unreachable place- (Darvishiyan & Khandan, 2004,Vol. 2, pp. 253& Hosseini, 2002, pp. 180-179). In some variants, rivers, lakes, oceans, seas marks the borders of their territories. In this case, water is a barrier that they can not pass over it. Therefore, it happens a human invade their territory without their permission. Their attempt in arresting him, can not be succsful, because the invader can pass over the water and they fail (Enjavi Shirazi, 1975, Vol. 2 , pp. 14-8).
However, in some variants, there are fairies that live in vicinity of a fountain, a well or a river (Darvishiyan & Khandan, 2004, Vol. 2, pp. 79-65& Ibid, Vol. 3, pp. 393-412& Darvishiyan & Khandan, 2005, Vol. , pp. 13-33). The most extraordinary and fasinating places as their habitants are underground gardens (Mihan Doust, 2000, pp. 11-19), and the most common inhabitats are abundant castles (Darvishiyan & Khandan, 2004, pp. 263-247).
3-2. Physical Characteristics
Nothing is mentioned in details about their physical characteristics. They are just referred as creatures with celestial beauty, both for female-fairies and male-fairies (Darvishiyan & Khandan, 2009, pp. 385-387).
3. Animal Fairies
It seems animals can be fairies too. There are variants with horse-fairy, cat-fairy, lizard-fairy, and fish-fairy. They have superpowers like other fairies; horse-fairy can be so faithful to the owner to sacrifice her/his life to save the owner (Mihan Doush, 2000, pp. 160-168). The cat-fairy is mentioned as clairvoyance and warns her/his owner from incoming danger from time to time (Pezeshkian, 2005, pp. 54-59). The fairy-lizard can give decent human the most precious magical ring because of a favor done to the family (Enjavi Shirazi, 1975: Vol. 2, pp. 43-61). Generally they appear mostly as supporter characters.
4. Moods and Dispositions
From a human point of view, they could be maleficent or benignant, on a given situation. Their habits, law, and orders differ from human beings. They used to conceal their secrets even when they marry human beings. If the couple is a human being as husband and a fairy as a wife, most of the time their marriage did not last. The reason lies in husband's violation of her wife's orders. Fairie’s deeds and their odd behaviours should never be questioned by her human-husband, otherwise, after an explanation she leaves her husband forever (Enjavi Shirazi, 1975, Vol. 1, p. 10& Darvishiyan & Khandan, 2004,Vol. 12, pp. 255-265, Mihan Doust, 2000, pp. 11-19& Ibid, pp. 24-20).
5. The Supernatural Powers
Faireis’ metamorphosis as different species such as pigeon, serpent, dragon, frog, monkey and even human appeared in Iranian Fairytales. Based on situation, they may help and reward human or harm them. The most common fairy’s metamorphosis is turning into a pigeon to reveal secrets. On the other hand, the rarest fairy’s metamorphosis is turning into a human. The latter case implies but not explains clearly different aspects of human beings and fairies in terms of their appearance (Mihan Doust, 2000, pp. 43-49& Darvishiyan & Khandan, 2005, Vol. 12, pp. 254-251& Ibid, pp. 51-43& Behrangi, Dehani, 2000, Vol. 2, pp. 27-31& Mirkazemi, 1999, p. 33).
6. Transforming part of their bodies into gold or gem
In some fairy tales, there are fairies whose blood droplets transform into gem (& Darvishiyan & Khandan, 2011, Vol. 12, pp. 254-251& Ibid, pp. 405-520). In rare cases the ashes of a fairy transforms into gold (Marzlof, 1993, p. 97).
7. The fairies and plants
Some fairies are destined to be born from plants. Usually they live in the middle of magical trees’ fruits such as apple, pomegranate, sour orange, etc. These trees, that are abile to talk; are guarded by demons. The hero should have found a solution to pick the fruits without any confrontation with the demon-gaurds (Enjavi Shirazi, 1974:Vol. 1, pp. 339-340-199& Ibid, 1977, Vol. 3, pp. 67-45). Because of the function of these fairies, they may symbolize an Iranian Goddess of vegetation whose presence triggers blooming flowers, reviving trees or even appearing decidedly rare flowers (Barfar, 2009, p. 131& Nemat Tavousi B, 2016, pp. 221-214).
8. The concept of death and fairies
Death is accompanied with uncertainty when the subject is a fairy. Sometimes it means she/he comes back to his/her territory, sometimes they are burn to ashes and disappear forever. In some variants they come back to life, because they beloved partner fixes the damage (Darvishiyan & Khandan Mahabadi, 2012, 263-247&Ibid, pp. 81-82& Ibid, pp. 125-122)
According to the typology of Iranian tales done by Ulrich Marzolph, fairy tales were surveyed in details of different aspects of Iranian fairies. This study has paied more attention on fairies' characteristics such as: their living habitant, physical characteristics, moods and dispositions, abilities and powers, vegetation existence, the concept of death, etc. In a holistic portrait it can be concluded that while fairies have their own territory, they live among us, in abundant castles, near or in fountains, underground gardens, etc. They are both men and women. Even some animals can be fairy too. Although they get married to humans, just the marriage between woman and male-fair would last. They may behave kindly and maliciously. The most precious thing for them is their secrets that should be respected. They change their appearances as animals and some of female-fairies grew on a tree (in the middle of a fruit). Seemingly, there is no boundary between the animal, plants and fairy worlds.