Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shadow Beasts

Following on with my Hungarian Folktales illustration project, these shadow puppies are going to be part of a triptych – the central panel of which will be the girl I previewed in one of my last posts.

In the story twelve royal brothers find themselves in an abandoned castle. During the night a girl comes to the oldest brother in his dreams and tells how she is the oldest of twelve girls who have been imprisoned in the castle. To set them free he and his brothers must not leave the castle for twelve years, twelve months, twelve weeks, twelve days and twelve hours. When the prince tells his brothers this in the morning they all scoff and get ready to leave. At the edge of the woods the eleven brothers are set upon by eleven wolves and driven back. When they next attempt to leave they are turned to stone. The oldest brother spends the duration of the curse in a lonely exile, occasionally visited in his dreams by the oldest of the sisters.

I like that in the tale the wolves that attack the brothers could be the ghostly sisters, but they could also symbolize the shadows lurking within their own souls, within all of us.


  1. What an interesting story. So did the brother break the curse and meet the oldest sister in person in the end?

    The story reminds me of 'The Three Ravens' where a girl's brothers were turned into ravens and to break the curse, she had to stay silent for three years, three months, three weeks and three days.

  2. Hi Eiko - yes, he is given three gruelling tasks at the very end of the curse but he fulfills them all. The last task is so torturous that he dies, but the eldest sister brings him back to life in the morning with her tears. The younger brothers all turn back into humans and can barely believe twelve years have passed, they each marry one of the sisters too -as usual in folkstories, heehee


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