Italian Popular Tales | Annotated Tale

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Giufà and the Plaster Statue

The first story told of him in Pitrè's collection (No. 190) is:


ONCE upon a time there was a very poor woman who had a son called Giufà, who was stupid, lazy, and cunning. His mother had a piece of cloth, and said one day to Giufà: "Take this cloth, and go and sell it in a distant town, and take care to sell it to those who talk little." So Giufà set out, with the cloth on his shoulder.

               When he came to a town, he began to cry: "Who wants cloth?" The people called him, and began to talk a great deal; one thought it coarse, another dear. Giufà thought they talked too much, and would not sell it to them. After walking a long way, he entered a court-yard where he found nothing but a plaster image. Giufà said to it: "Do you want to buy the cloth?" The statue said not a word, and Giufà, seeing that it spoke little, said: "Now I must sell you the cloth, for you speak little;" and he took the cloth and hung it on the statue, and went away, saying: "To-morrow I will come for the money."

               The next day he went after the money, and found the cloth gone. "Give me the money for the cloth." The statue said nothing. "Since you will not give me the money, I will show you who I am;" and he borrowed a mattock, and struck the statue until he overthrew it, and inside of it he found a jar of money. He put the money in a bag, and went home to his mother, and told her that he had sold the cloth to a person who did not speak, and gave him no money; that he had killed him with a mattock, and thrown him down, and he had given him the money which he had brought home. His mother, who was wise, said to him: "Say nothing about it, and we will eat this money up little by little." [1]

               Another time his mother said to him: "Giufà, I have this piece of cloth to be dyed; take it and leave it with the dyer, the one who dyes green and black." Giufà put it on his shoulder, and went off. On his way he saw a large, beautiful snake, and because it was green he said to it: "My mother has sent me with this cloth which she wants dyed. To-morrow I will come for it." And there he left it.

               He went home and told his mother, who began to tear her hair. "Ah! shameless fellow! how you ruin me! Hasten and see whether it is there still!" Giufà went back, but the cloth had disappeared. [2]


[1] The same story is told by Miss Busk, "The Booby," p. 371, and is in the Pent. I. 4. It is probably founded on the well-known fable of Aesop, "Homo fractor simulacri" (ed. Furia, No. 21), which seems very widely spread. A Russian version, from Afanasieff, is in De Gub., Zoöl. Myth. I. p. 176. See also Benfey, Pant. I. p. 478; and Köhler to Gonz., No. 37.

[2] In Gonz., No. 37, Giufà takes the cloth, and on his way to the dyer's sits down to rest on a heap of stones in a field. A lizard creeps out from the stones, and Giufà, taking it for the dyer, leaves the cloth on the stones and returns home. His mother, of course, sends him immediately back for the cloth, but it has disappeared, as well as the lizard. Giufà cries: "Dyer, if you don't give me back my cloth I will tear down your house." Then he begins to pull down the heap of stones, and finds a pot of money which had been hidden there. He takes it home to his mother, who gives him his supper and sends him to bed, and then buries the money under the stairs. Then she fills her apron with figs and raisins, climbs upon the roof, and throws figs and raisins down the chimney into Giufà's mouth as he lies in his bed. Giufà is well pleased with this, and eats his fill. The next morning he tells his mother that the Christ child has thrown him figs and raisins from heaven the night before. Giufà cannot keep the pot of money a secret, but tells every one about it, and finally is accused before the judge. The officers of justice go to Giufà's mother and say: "Your son has everywhere told that you have kept a pot of money which he found. Do you not know that money that is found must be delivered up to the court?" The mother protests that she knows nothing about the money, and that Giufà is always telling stupid stories. "But mother," said Giufà, "don't you remember when I brought you home the pot, and in the night the Christ child rained figs and raisins from heaven into my mouth?" "There, you see how stupid he is," says the mother, "and that he does not know what he says." The officers of justice go away thinking, "Giufà is too stupid!"

                Köhler, in his Notes to Gonz., No. 37, cites as parallels to the above, Pent. I. 4, and Thousand and One Nights, Breslau trans. XI.

                144. For the rain of figs and raisins he refers to Jahrb. VIII. 266 and 268; and to Campbell, II. 385, for a shower of milk porridge. See Note 16 of this chapter, and Indian Fairy Tales, p. 257.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Giufà and the Plaster Statue
Tale Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas
Book Title: Italian Popular Tales
Book Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas Frederick
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin and Company
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1885
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: ATU 1643: Money Inside the Statue

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