Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated UNDER CONSTRUCTION | Annotated Tale

68. Histoire de Con Tam et de Con Cam [NOTE 48]

Landes, A., Contes et Legendes Annamites. Saigon, 1886. No. XXII. (See Cosquin op. cit., ii, 359.)



Fishing competition to decide priority of heroine (Cam) and step-sister (Tam). Cam's fish stolen by Tam. Genie befriends heroine: bids her put remaining fish in well and feed it--(Slaying of helpful animal)--Step-mother cooks fish-- Helpful animal (cock) asks heroine for three grains of rice; gives her fishbones, which, placed at Genie's bidding at corners of bed, magically pro duce clothes and shoes. (Revivified bones)--Magic dresses-- Lost shoe, carried by crow to prince's palace--Shoe marriage test--Task, grain animals (pigeons) sent by Genie--Happy marriage--Villain Nemesis plunges into boiling water, hoping to become beautiful as heroine--Heroine salts flesh and gives it step-mother to eat. Animal witness, crow on tree, reveals cannibalism.


(1) Man has daughter called Cam: his wife has daughter called Tam. They are same height, and, to decide which shall be elder, parents send them fishing; whichever takes most fish shall have priority. Cam catches most, but Tam sends her to pick water-lilies on the other side of river, and, meanwhile, robs her of fish.-- (2) Genie, seeing Cam cry, tells her to take her one remaining fish, put it in well, and feed it. One day, stepmother catches fish, and has it cooked. Cam, missing it, weeps.-- (3) Cock says, "Give me three grains of rice, and I will show you its hones." Cam collects fish-hones: genie bids her put them in pots at four corners of her bed. She does so, and, at end of three months and ten days, finds there dresses and a pair of shoes.-- (4) Cam goes to fields to dress herself; shoes get wet, and she takes them off to dry. Crow carries one off to prince's palace. [2]-- (5) Prince proclaims that he will marry whomsoever shoe fits. Stepmother will not allow Cam to try, but takes Tam to palace without success. Cam begs to try shoe.-- (6) Stepmother mixes beans and sesame together, and says Cam may go to palace when she has sorted grain. Genie sends pigeons to perform task. Stepmother still won't let Cam go, complaining that pigeons have eaten grain. G makes pigeons return what they have eaten.-- (7) Cam goes to palace, puts on shoe, and marries prince.-- (8) Cam is fetched to see sick father. Beside him in bed some crisp cakes are put, which he breaks in turning. Mother says his bones make the noise, and persuades Cam to climb tree to pick areca for him. Tam cuts down tree, and Cam is killed. Tam dresses in her clothes, and goes to palace. Prince sorrows for Cam. Tam washes clothes, and Cam, transformed into a bird, says, "Wash my husband's clothes carefully," etc. Prince hears her…. (The continuation is the same, with slight variations, as that of No. 69, see inc. 14-19.) When Cam returns to palace with prince, Tam feigns joy, and asks where she has been, and what done to make herself so beautiful. Cam says, to become equally lovely, Tam must immerse herself in boiling water. Tam does so, and dies.-- (9) Cam salts her flesh and sends it to stepmother, who, taking it for pork, begins to eat it. Crow on tree cries, "Greedy crow devours the flesh of its child, and cracks its bones." Tam's mother, enraged, says it is meat which her daughter sent. But at close of the meal she finds Tam's head, and realises truth.


[1]: "Cam" is the husk, and "Tam" the broken pieces of the rice.

[2]: See Note 48.

Note 48

(P. 229.) The incident in the Annamite story of the crow carrying the shoe to the prince's palace, and of his search for the owner, has its prototype in the account given by Strabo (xvii, p. 808, Casaubon) of the myth of Rhodope. The passage, literally rendered, is as follows:-- " …. Others call her Rhodope, and fable that, while she was bathing, an eagle snatched one of her sandals from her handmaid, and took it to Memphis, where he dropped it in the lap of the king as he was administering justice…. Struck with the neatness of the sandal and the strangeness of the occurrence, the king sent round the country in quest of the wearer of the sandal. She was found in thc city of Naucratis, and being taken to the capital, became the king's wife." AElian's version of the story is precisely similar, except that he names the king Psammitichos, who "proclaimed that search should be made throughout Egypt for the owner of the sandal; whom, when he had discovered, he took to wife." (Var. Hist., xiii, 33.)

Somewhat analogous to this is the incident in the story of the Two Brothers (Maspero, Contes pop. de l'Egypte ancienne, pp. 5 ff.). The gods made a very beautiful woman to be Bitiu's wife. One day a perfumed lock of her hair fell into the river, floated down to the land of Egypt, and was taken by the chief washerman to Pharaoh, who, informed by his magicians that the hair belonged to a daughter of the Sun, sent messengers forth to all foreign lands to seek her. In the Tamil romance, "Madana Kámarája Kadai," translated by Natesa Sástri (see Clouston, Pop. Tales and Fictions, i, 377), is a story about a princess from whose head, after her bathing, there fell a hair ten bhágams long (a bhaga is equal to two yards). The dashing waves rolled the hair into a ball, which, as it lay on the shore, the King of Kochchi (i.e., Cochin) espied. Judging ex pede of the beauty of the woman from whose head the hair had fallen, he resolved to obtain her as his wife. In No. 4 of the Folk-tales of Bengal (Lal Behari Day) the Princess Keshavati loses a hair whilst bathing. It is seven cubits long, and she ties it to a shell, which floats down to where Sahasra Dal is bathing. "The owner of this hair must be a remarkable woman, and I must see her," quoth he. Mr. Lang, in his Perrault (lxxxix), quotes a Santal story about a hero whose cruel stepmother attempts to slay the helpful cow. After his flight and subsequent good fortune, a princess falls in love with a lock of his hair (Ind. Evangelical Review, Oct. 1886). One more parallel. In the story of "The Wicked Stepmother" (Knowles, Folk-tales of Kashmir) a woman drops her nose-ring. It is swallowed by a fish, which the king's cook buys. Search is made for the owner, whose beauty induces the king to marry her.

In the Indian story (No. 235) the heroine loses her shoe in the jungle, and it is sought in vain. A prince out hunting comes across it, and seeks the owner.

Jacob Grimm considers that the shoe incident in Marchen may be based upon the old German custom of using a shoe at betrothals. The bridegroom brings it to the bride, and as soon as he has placed it on her foot she is regarded as subject to his authority. The poem of King Rother may be referred to in this connection. The wooer has two shoes forged, a silver and a golden, and himself fits them on the bride, who places her foot onhis knee (see Deutsche Rechts Alterhumer, Gottingen, 1828, p. 155). At the present day it is customary in Turkey for the bridegroom to provide the bride's dress, down to a pair of satin slippers (I quote from the authority on Turkish Marriages referred to in note 12). In the Danish story (No. 60, p. 284, supra) we read that a beautiful small golden shoe is kept in the royal family, and when a queen is wanted a girl is sought who can wear it. In the Lithuanian story (No. 70, p. 306) the prince gives the little shoes to the heroine for her to wear on the wedding-day. Neither in the Breton story (No. 71, p. 307) is the heroine recognised by means of a lost shoe. She finds two little gold shoes near the heart of the helpful animal when it is slain, and the stepmother takes them, saying they will serve for her own daughter on her wedding-day. The girl mutilates her feet in order to wear them. In the Scotch story (No. 26) the prince gives the heroine a pair of golden shoes, one of which she afterwards loses. In the Portuguese tale (No. 89, p. 341) the shoe is inscribed that it will only fit the owner. In the Icelandic story (No. 9, p. 143) the heroine loses a shoe, and vows she will wed the man who finds it.

Deulin says (Contes de ma Mere l'Oye, p. 264) the lost shoe recalls Jason's lost sandal, by means of which, according to the oracle, he would recover his throne.

The lost shoe occurs in 157 stories, namely, Nos. 1 to 130, inclusive, and in Nos. 144, 151, 152, 153, 162, 163, 164, 166, 175, 181, 182, 197, 199, 203, 204, 206, 208, 211, 220, 222, 224, 235, 255, 256, 263, 307, 310, 311. In No. 41 a glove takes the place of the shoe.

Recognition by means of ring, jewel, etc., occurs in the following: Nos. 131-9, 141-3, 145-8, 150, 154, 155, 157-61, 167, 168, 170, 171 (the impression of the ring on wafer), 173, 174, 176, 178, 180,183, 185, 190-3, 195, 201, 202, 219, 223, 238, 247, 250, 257, 259, 260, 266, 268, 269, 272, 278, 279, 281, 288, 296, 304, 306, 309; and in the hero-tales, Nos. 321-3, 332 (trophies), 337, 340, 341(bandage). In No. 324 the princess puts pitch in the hero's hair, so as to know him again.

"As to the material of the slipper" (writes Mr. Ralston, in his paper on "Cinderella", Nineteenth Century, November 1879), "there has been much dispute. In the greater part of what are apparently the older forms of the story, it is made of gold. This may perhaps be merely a figure of speech, but there are instances on record of shoes, or at least sandals, being made of precious metals. Even in our own times, as well as in the days of the Caesars, a horse is said to have been shod with gold. And an Arab geographer, quoted by Mr. Lane, vouches for the fact that the islands of Wak-Wak are ruled by a queen who 'has shoes of gold'…. Glass is an all but unknown material for shoe-making in the genuine folk-tales of any country except France [Mr. Ralston refers to the Gaelic tale, Campbell, i, 225]…. The use of the word verre by Perrault has been accounted for in two ways. Some critics think that the material in question was a tissu en verre, fashionable in Perrault's time. But the more generally received idea is that the substance was originally a kind of fur called vair--a word now obsolete in France, except in heraldry, but locally preserved in England as the name of the weasel (Spectator, Jan. 4, 1879)--and that some reciter or transcriber, to whom the meaning of vair was unknown, substituted the more familiar but less probable verre…. In a Lesghian story from the Caucasus (Schiefner, Awarische Texte, p. 68), a supernatural female being drops a golden shoe, and the hero is sent in search of its fellow, becoming thereby exposed to many dangers." In a note at the end of his paper, Mr. Ralston refers to some interesting articles which have appeared in Notes and Queries on the subject of vair. In No. 286, D. P. quotes from La Colombiere's Science Heroique (Paris, 1699) a description of how vair was composed of patches "faites en forme de petits pots de verre". Balzac, in his Etudes philosophiques sur Catherine de Médicis, published in 1836, wrote as follows: "On distinguait le grand et le menu vair. Ce mot depuis cent ans, est si bien tombé en désuétude que, dans un nombre infini d'éditions des contes de Perrault, la célebre pantoufle de Cendrillon, sans doute de menu vair [or miniver] est présentée comme étant de verre."


In 74 instances out of 157, and probably in Nos. 66, 107, 166, 197, the shoe is golden. In 57 stories (Nos. 1, 5, 7, 9, 16, 18, 29, 32, 35, 36, 45, 46, 50-54, 57, 58, 68, 70, 76, 78, 82, 88, 89, 99, 100-106, 108, 109, 111, 118, 120, 123, 124, 126, 127, 129, 130, 144, 151,153, 175, 182, 199, 204, 206, 224, 256, 263, 310) it is not described. In No. 6 (and (?) No. 31) it is silver. In No. 17 it is the smallest of several shoes caught in the pitch. In Nos. 49, 73, 222, it is tiny. In No. 48 it is silk; No. 6, pearl-embroidered; Nos. 93 and 220, satin; No. 122, spangled with jewels; No. 125, gold-embroidered; No. 164, "matchless"; No. 211, red morocco; and in No. 311 they are "sun"shoes. In No. 67 it is a boot.

I have found only six instances of glass shoes being worn by the heroine. The stories in which they occur--Nos. 4, 21, 72, 91, 152, and note to 224 (crystal)--have evidently been subjected to a French influence, and that at a comparatively recent date. They are from Scotland (4, 152), the Netherlands (224, note), France (91, Perrault's), Catalonia (72), and Chili (21). There are diamond shoes in the Venetian story (20), and in the Danish story (44). There is an Irish story (from Tralee, Tipperary) in which the hero, who delivers a princess from the sea-serpent which comes every year to devour one of the king's daughters, wears a pair of blue glass shoes. The princess catches hold of one of them when he is riding away. It will fit no one but the owner, who in the end marries the princess (see Folk-lore Journal, i, 54-5). When, in the Kabyle story, "Les Deux Freres" (Rivière, pp. 193-9), Moh'amed slays the seven-headed serpent that guarded the fountain, thereby delivering the princess who had to supply it with food, she carries off one of his sandals. The king has it tried on all the inhabitants of the town, but it fits nobody. When the hero is found, the king gives him his daughter, yields the kingdom to him, and himself becomes his minister. Numerous instances of recognition being brought about by means of a shoe occur in stories not belonging to the Cinderella group. For example, cf. "La Princesse Enchantée", which story is about a youngest son who, after various adventures, enters magic castle, finds sleeping beauty, embraces her and wakes her. Afraid of his own boldness, he springs up, and, in his haste to get away, puts on one of her shoes and one of his own. Princess pursues him, but cannot catch him. She is very unhappy, builds herself beautiful castle, and inscribes on door that any traveller will be lodged free, on condition that he tells his name, whence he comes, whither he goes, and anything extraordinary that has ever befallen him. Hero comes to castle, is entertained by princess and made to recount his adventures. She asks whether he did not find a sleeping princess in the magic castle, and finally, whether he did not carry away something. Gold shoe is shown and compared with princess's. She embraces him, thanks him for having slain black cat which held her enchanted, and for having given the awakening kiss. They are married. (Luzel, Contes pop. de la Basse-Bretagne, Paris, 1887, vol. iii, pp. 203-15.) The following are variants of the same: Archiv fur slavische Philologie, ii, 1876. pp. 614-16; Busk, 167-8; Buchon, La Grèce continentale et la Morée, p. 267 (= Legrand, p. 145); Cosquin, ii, 69, "La Pantoufle de la Princesse"; Dozon, Contes albanais, No. 15; Gaal-Stier, No. 1; Grimm, No. 111, variant, ii, 412; Hahn, No. 52; Haltrich, No. 22; Jahrbuch fur romanische und englische Literatur, vii, p. 384; Zingerle, i, No. 33. Similarly, the recognition by means of a ring occurs in a number of stories which are not Cinderella stories (e.g., Grimm, Nos. 93, 101, etc.).

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: 68. Histoire de Con Tam et de Con Cam [NOTE 48]
Tale Author/Editor: Landes, A.
Book Title: Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Cox, Marian Roalfe
Publisher: David Nutt for the Folklore Society
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1893
Country of Origin: Vietnam
Classification: ATU 510A: Cinderella

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