Thursday, 14 July 2016

Olaus Martens Nicolaissen

Olaus Martens Nicolaissen (1846–1924) was a North-Norwegian teacher and auto-didact archeologist who, among other duties, spent his career looking after the antiquities at the Museum of Tromsø. In 1879, he published Sagn og eventyr fra Nordland, a volume of folklore from around the area he grew up. These three texts are taken from that collection, and have never previously been translated.

The Sea Draug

The draug, according to the folklore of Nordland, appears as a fisherman, complete with oilskin and white woollen mittens; but the draug always appears headless. It travels about in a broken boat, and wails terribly when someone or other is going to perish at sea. It often comes aboard the boat with the fishermen, without their being able to see it. Then the boat grows heavy to row; and the draug can only be cast out by throwing some turf from the churchyard into the bows; but this must only take place close to land, for the draug will often break the keel as it rushes out of the boat, and it takes with it the bows, which it uses itself, while the folk in the boat perish.

The Marmæl

Another kind of creature with which the the Nordlander populates the deep, is the marmæl. This is supposed to be a small humanoid, so small that, with its feet, it may stand in the part of the fish hook that is below the lure. When you pull one up, you should always give it a piece of clothing, ask it something or other that you want to know—but not how long long you have left to live—and then, if it so wishes, take it ashore and set it in the boathouse or tackle shed, where fish are hung to dry. It remains then ashore until it wants to go off again. You should then hurry with it to where you met it—and you hurry not in vain, for you will always have good fishing afterwards.

The Mermaid

A bachelor in Andenes had the habit of always saying, whether he was drinking water or strong drink, “Good health, mermaid!” One time, when he was out fishing a good way from the coast, when the weather was very fine, he heard beautiful tones coming across the sea. A gentle wind blew in towards the coast, and carried the tones with it towards the boat in which the bachelor sat together with two other men. Out towards the horizon, they saw a boat which, with a light sail, steered in towards them; when the boat came closer, they saw that there only sat therein a woman, young and beautiful, with glossy, flowing hair. She steered towards the boat with the three men in it, drew alongside them, and said to the bachelor, who so often had mentioned the mermaid, and drunk her good health: “You have so often drunk to my good health; now will I also drink to yours, for once.” Whereupon she drew him into her boat, and straightway disappeared with him.

No comments:

Post a Comment