marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

serendipity and decision

So the writer is working on a world with plentiful bird-maidens (swan, dove, peahen, etc.) who can turn from woman to bird and back as long as they have their feather cloak.

And she reads -- for utterly unrelated reasons, because it's about the exotic wonders brought to China during the T'ang dynasty -- a book that makes mention of the Chinese "Roving Women Who Go By Night" also known as the "Daughters of the God-King of Heaven" or the "Star Anglers" who can take off feathers and put them to shift from woman to bird.

They also have no children and steal other people's. This is why you should not give children candy in exposed places.  Also, do not expose the children's clothes to sunlight; if a feather from these women's plumage falls on it, there's danger of a bird-demon. The women fly about by night rather than day. Some people claim they are the ghosts of women who died in childbirth. . . hmm, one suspects a degree of propitiation in the second name.

So in this world of innocuous and imperiled bird-women -- is this just a silly story? Are there actually malicious bird-women like that? (There are, after all, malicious werewolves and wizards and dragons and many other evil types.) Or is it a warped view of families whose children escaped through a combination of being a descendant of a bird-woman, being miserable in their lives and suited to be a bird-woman (or sometimes bird-man), and finding a feathered-cloak? It's easy to regard your children as stolen even when the flight was wholly voluntary.

(And thus showing the advantages of reading widely even in history books that do not appear to be related to the subject you are interesting -- now, where did this soapbox come from?  and why am I standing on it?)
Tags: research, world-building: enchantment, world-building: non-human characters
Subscribe

  • The Arabian Nights

    The Arabian Nights translated by Husain Haddawy Based on one of the older and more unified Syrian manuscripts. It has only two hundred and…

  • Latin American Folktales

    Latin American Folktales by John Bierhorst A large variety. On top of tales, also riddles and prayers, and the tales come in all sorts of forms.…

  • Leaves from the Garden of Eden

    Leaves from the Garden of Eden: One Hundred Classic Jewish Tales by Howard Schwartz A collection of tales. A number from his earlier collections.…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 2 comments