Enchanted Moura

Last updated

The Enchanted moura or, moura encantada is a supernatural being from the fairy tales of Portuguese and Galician [1] folklore. Very beautiful and seductive, she lives under an imposed occult spell. Shapeshifters, the mouras encantadas occupy liminal spaces and are builders with stone of formidable strength.

Contents

Appearance

The enchanted Moura often appears singing and combing her beautiful long hair, golden as gold or black as the night with a golden comb, and promises to give treasures to whom sets her free by breaking her spell. (In Galicia, though, they are more commonly redheads.)

Enchantment

According to José Leite de Vasconcelos, mouras encantadas are “beings compelled by an occult power to live on a certain state of siege as if they were numb or asleep, insofar as a particular circumstance does not break their spell”. [2] According to ancient lore, they are the souls of young maidens who were left guarding the treasures that the males, mouros encantados (enchanted mouros) hid before heading to Mourama.[ clarification needed ]

In legend

The legends describe mouras encantadas as young maidens of great beauty or as charming princesses who are "dangerously seductive". [3] [4]

They are shapeshifters and there are a number of legends, and versions of the same legend, as a result of centuries of oral tradition. They appear as guardians of the pathways into the earth and of the "limit" frontiers where it was believed that the supernatural could manifest itself. Mouras encantadas are magical maidens who guard castles, caves, bridges, wells, rivers, and treasures.

José Leite de Vasconcelos considered as a possibility that the mouras encantadas may have had assimilated the characteristics of local deities, such as nymphs and spirits of nature. Consiglieri Pedroso also referred to the mouras encantadas as "feminine water genies". [5] The tales of the mouras are part of a wider lore of the "mouros encantados", who some times appear as giants or warriors, which also include the mourinhos or maruxinhos, a very small elf like people who live under the ground. [6] [7] [8]

Origins

"poisamoira" or mariposa 045Aricia cramera.jpg
"poisámoira" or mariposa

The fairy tales featuring mouras encantadas are thought to be of pre-Roman, Indo-European Celtic origin. They are related to other Indo-European, and especially Celtic, female divinities of the water. Almost every Portuguese or Galician town has a tale of a Moura Encantada. [10] The lore of the mouros encantados is used to find prehistoric monuments and was for some time used in the 19th century as the main method to locate Lusitanian archaeological "monuments", as Martins Sarmento viewed these as a kind of folk memory that was erased with Christianization. [11] [12]

Like the Mairu of Basque mythology built dolmens or harrespil, the mouras are builders of ancient monuments.

Etymology

Moura is a homonym word with two distinct roots and meanings; one from Celtic *MRVOS, the other from Latin maurus. The word "moura", (moira, maura) (medieval: mora) feminine of "mouro", is thought to originate from the Celtic *MRVOS and the Indo-European mr-tuos that originated in Latin the word mortuus and in Portuguese/Galician the word morto (dead). Some authors think that the mouras are the deceased.

But the word mouro is also a synonym of Muslim. Since the Iberian peninsula was occupied by Muslims for many centuries, it might also refer to young Muslims deceased in battle. [13] [14]

Variants

The votive ara is called "alminha dos mouros" (wayside shrine of the mouros) Inscription in D. Diogo de Sousa Museum (16).JPG
The votive ara is called "alminha dos mouros" (wayside shrine of the mouros)
A moura-fiandeira carried Pedra Formosa on her head while she was spinning Pedra Formosa Briteiros.jpg
A moura-fiandeira carried Pedra Formosa on her head while she was spinning

Princesa moura

Princesa moura appears as a snake with long blond hair. In some fairy tales, the beings are beautiful Muslim princesses (princesa moura) who live in castles at the time of the Reconquista or, Reconquest, and fall in love with a Portuguese Christian knight. In other fairy tales, a moura encantada lives in a castle under the earth and falls in love with a Moor instead of the Christian knight. These two variations are found only in Portugal. [16] Many of these legends try to explain the origins of a city or invoke historical characters, other legends present a religious context. In the historical context, these places, people and events are situated in the real world and in a specific time frame. It is believed that real historic facts have merged with old legend narrations. [17]

Moura-fiandeira

In other variants, the moura encantada is a spinning maiden moura (moura-fiandeira), who carries stones on her head to build the hill forts while she spins the yarns with a distaff that she carries at her waist. Mouras encantadas were believed to be the builders of the Paleolithic hill forts, the dolmens, and the megaliths. They are believed to still live there. The ancient coins found on the hill forts were called "medals of the mouros". The Pedra Formosa found on Citânia de Briteiros was, according to folklore, brought to this place by a moura who carried it on her head while she was spinning with a spindle. [18] [19] They are also night weavers, but only the sound of weaving can be heard in the night.

Pedra-Moura

Pedra-moura are mouras encantadas named for living inside stones. [20] It was believed that who ever sat on one of these stones would become enchanted, or, that if any enchanted stone was taken to a house, all the animals in the house could die. It was also believed that pedras mouras had enchanted treasures inside them. There are several legends where the moura instead of being a stone lives inside the stone. In Portuguese lore it is said that you can walk into or walk out of certain rocks, possibly related to the moura legends. The moura is also described as traveling to Mourama (an enchanted place) while sitting on a stone that can float in the air or water. Inside caves, under rocks and under the earth many legends say there exist palaces with treasures. According to Thurnwald (cited in McKenna, 1938), it was not uncommon among the people of pre-Roman Iberian Peninsula to believe that the souls of the dead dwell in certain rocks. [21]

The almas dos mouros or alminhas dos mouros (souls or little souls of the mouros) was the name given to the votive aras, being alminhas the common name for the wayside shrine. [22]

Moura-serpente

In some tales, the enchanted moura is a shapeshifter who takes the form of a snake or cobra (Moura-cobra); sometimes of a dog (cão), goat (cabra) or horse (cavalo). These moura snake may have wings and can appear as half woman and half animal and like to be offered milk.

Moura-Mãe

In some tales she is called Moura-mae or mother-moura, and takes the form of a charming young lady who is pregnant, and the narrative focuses on the search for a midwife to help at the birth and the reward that is given to the person willing to help.

Moura-Velha

The moura-velha is an old woman; the legends where she appears with the shape of an old woman are now infrequent.

Moura-lavadeira

Moura-lavadeira is a washerwoman but she is only seen putting white clothes out in the sun, contrary to the Lavandières who wash blood-stained clothes, the mouras are more like the lavadeiras. [23] [24] [25]

Frades

Frades (lit: friars) are mouras encantadas who appear like friars dressed in white. Frades are white stone pillars.

Legend elements

casa da moura (house of the moura) Anta Cerqueira em Couto Esteves 06.JPG
casa da moura (house of the moura)
Rock-cut tombs called Masseira, is the place where the mouras knead bread Forcadas 2.jpg
Rock-cut tombs called Masseira, is the place where the mouras knead bread

Gold

The gold of the mouras may appear in various forms: figs, coal, skirts, hank of yarn, animals or tools. There are several ways to obtain this gold: it may be offered by the moura encantada as a reward, it can be stolen or found. Frequently the gold is inside a vase, hidden inside buried pans, or other receptacles, which has raised the question that this could be related to funerary urns. When there is a pot of gold there may also be together a pot of silver and a pot of plague.

St. John's Day

St. John's Day - midsummer - is the day that it is believed that the mouras appear with their treasures and you may break their enchantment. In some legends it is on Saint John’s day that the moura encantada spreads figs or a hank of yarn on a large rock, in the moonlight. In other variations the moura spreads the figs or the golden hank of yarn in the sun on large rocks. These legends are possibly related with the popular tradition of, in some regions, of harvesting the “figo lampo” (a type of white fig that were offered as a gift in Saint John’s day). This day marks the date of the summer solstice, its reference is perhaps reminiscent of some pagan sun-worship or spring time deity referenced as "São João o verde" (St.John, the green one).

Fountain

The fountain is one of the places where mouras encantadas appear frequently as serpents and magical properties are attributed to their waters as the Fonte da Moura Encantada. It is also a popular custom to say to those that marry in foreign lands that he “drank from the fountain” and fell in love, as an allusion to the legends where young men fall in love and are enchanted by the mouras.

Enchantment

The state of occult enchantment of the moura herself is generally caused by a male figure, her father or some other enchanted Moor that left her to guard his treasures. Usually it is mouros that have the power to enchant the mouras. In legends, the mouras may appear alone, accompanied by other mouras or by a male being, a mouro, that may be her father, a beloved person or a brother.

Disenchantment

To break the spell of the moura she may ask for a kiss, a cake or bread with no salt, milk, the pronunciation of a certain word, or realization of some chore like not looking at something hidden. To fail means not to free the moura and dobrar o encanto (double the spell), lose the treasure or lose the beloved moura. The legends where bread is asked may be related to the old traditions of offering food to the dead. In the same way the offering of milk may be related with the offerings made to the waters and snakes. The old popular tradition mentions that snakes like milk. One moura legend of Formigais referred to the preference mouras had for milk.

The mouras, when disenchanted may become human and marry her savior or disappear. In the legends of the cinto da moura, after the disenchantment the Moor tries to enchant the moura again and make the moura return to the mourama.

Mourama

Mourama is a magic place where the mouros encantados live under the earth in Portugal and Galicia. It is also believed that "In Galicia there are two overlapped people: a part lives on the surface of land; they are the Galician people, and the other in the subsoil, the Mouros." Mourama is the otherworld, the world of the dead from where everything comes back. [27] [28] In the legends with a historical context it is the place where Muslims live. The Mourama can be compared to the fairyland. [29]

Tempo da mouraria

In the legends it is an uncertain time in the past, the same kind of time reference as “once upon a time” of fairy tales.

Funerary monuments

Funerary monuments are often associated with the mouras encantadas. In some regions, dolmens are popularly called mouras or Casa da Moura, (house of the maiden moura) and it is commonly believed that the mouras encantadas lived in those constructions. Normally, these supernatural beings are associated with the idea of the deceased. These can be compared to the legends of the Domus de Janas in Sardinia or the "Maison des Korrigans" in Brittany. [30] Rock-cut graves are often called "Cova da Moura" or "Masseira" the latter term meaning the place where the "mouras kneaded the bread, [31] they are also called "cama da moura" (bed of the moura).

Cadeira da moura

Moura's chair is a monolith with the shape of a chair thought to be a royal throne. The moura sits on the chair at night and every time the moura is going to get water she carries the chair under her arm. [32] [33]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sebastian of Portugal King of Portugal

Sebastian was King of Portugal from 11 June 1557 to 4 August 1578 and the penultimate Portuguese monarch of the House of Aviz.

Galician-Portuguese West Iberian Romance language spoken in the Middle Ages

Galician-Portuguese, also known as Old Portuguese or as Medieval Galician when referring to the history of each modern language, was a West Iberian Romance language spoken in the Middle Ages, in the northwest area of the Iberian Peninsula. Alternatively, it can be considered a historical period of the Galician and Portuguese languages.

Coco (folklore) mythical ghost-monster found in many Hispanic and Lusophone countries

The Coco is a mythical ghost-monster, equivalent to the bogeyman, found in many Hispanophone and Lusophone countries. It can also be considered an Iberian version of a bugbear, as it is a commonly used figure of speech representing an irrational or exaggerated fear. The Coco is a male being while Cuca is a female version of the mythical monster.

Xana character in Asturian mythology

The xana is a character found in Asturian mythology. Always female, she is a creature of extraordinary beauty believed to live in fountains, rivers, waterfalls or forested regions with pure water. She is usually described as small or slender with long blonde or light brown hair, which she tends to with gold or silver combs woven from sun or moonbeams. The origin of the Asturian word xana is unclear, though some scholars see it as a derivation from the Latin name for the goddess Diana. References to where the mythological xanas lived are still common in Asturian toponyms. They also appear in Eastern Galician and Cantabrian mythology (Anjanas).

Boticas Municipality in Norte, Portugal

Boticas is a municipality in northern Portugal. The population in 2011 was 5,750, in an area of 321.96 km2.

Brazilian mythology is the subset of Brazilian folklore with cultural elements of diverse origin found in Brazil, comprising folk tales, traditions, characters and beliefs regarding places, peoples, and entities. The category was originally restricted to indigenous elements, but has been extended to include:

Ana Moura Portuguese fado singer (b.1979)

Ana Moura is an internationally recognized Portuguese fado singer, and the youngest fadista to be nominated for a Dutch Edison Award.

Culture of Póvoa de Varzim

Póvoa de Varzim, in Portugal is an ethno-cultural entity stemming from its working classes and with influences arriving from the maritime route from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean. The most charismatic of its communities, formerly overwhelmingly dominant, is the fisher community. It has significant similarities with those of the Danish fjords and it is one of Portugal's oldest ports. Póvoa de Varzim has distinct cultural traits and a strong local identity.

According to Galician, Asturian and Portuguese mythology, the Mouros are a race of supernatural beings which inhabited the lands of Galicia, Asturias and Portugal since the beginning of time. For unknown reasons they were forced to take refuge under the earth, and now they are usually seen by people in the surroundings of castros and long barrows. The Mouros work with gold, silver and gem stones with which they make up enormous treasures that are protected by cuélebres.

National Archaeology Museum, Portugal building in Lisbon, Lisbon District, Portugal

The National Museum of Archaeology is the largest Archaeological museum in Portugal and one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient art found in the Iberian Peninsula. Located in Lisbon, the museum was founded in 1893 by the archaeologist José Leite de Vasconcelos. The museum is located in the western wing of the Jeronimos Monastery where the monks had their dormitory. The museum is built in the neo-manueline style and was officially opened in 1906.

Galician-Portuguese lyric lyric and poetic movement

In the Middle Ages, the Galician-Portuguese lyric, also known as trovadorismo in Portugal and trobadorismo in Galicia, was a lyric poetic school or movement. All told, there are around 1680 texts in the so-called secular lyric or lírica profana. At the time Galician-Portuguese was the language used in nearly all of Iberia for lyric poetry. From this language derives both modern Galician and Portuguese. The school, which was influenced to some extent by the Occitan troubadours, is first documented at the end of the twelfth century and lasted until the middle of the fourteenth, with its zenith coming in the middle of the thirteenth century, centered on the person of Alfonso X, The Wise King. It is the earliest known poetic movement in Galicia or Portugal and represents not only the beginnings of but one of the high points of poetic history in both countries and in Medieval Europe. Modern Galicia has seen a revival movement called Neotrobadorismo.

Galician language Language of the Western Ibero-Romance

Galician is an Indo-European language of the Western Ibero-Romance branch. It is spoken by some 2.4 million people, mainly in Galicia, an autonomous community located in northwestern Spain, where it is official along with Spanish. The language is also spoken in some border zones of the neighboring Spanish regions of Asturias and Castile and León, as well as by Galician migrant communities in the rest of Spain, in Latin America including Puerto Rico, the United States, Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe.

Dolmen of Cunha Baixa dolmen in Cunha Baixa, Portugal

The Dolmen of Cunha Baixa is a dolmen in the civil parish of Cunha Baixa, in the municipality of Mangualde. It is located in a valley area of the Rio Castelo, between the villages of Cunha Baixa and Espinho.

Augusto Carlos Teixeira de AragãoComACavCCavACavTE was a Portuguese Army officer, doctor, numismatist, archaeologist and historian. As an officer of the Portuguese Army, he retired with the rank of general. Teixeira de Aragão is considered one of the "fathers" of Portuguese numismatics.

Castle of the Moors cultural heritage monument in Sintra, Portugal

The Castle of the Moors is a hilltop medieval castle located in the central Portuguese civil parish of Santa Maria e São Miguel, in the municipality of Sintra, about 25km northwest of Lisbon. Built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries, it was an important strategic point during the Reconquista, and was taken by Christian forces after the fall of Lisbon in 1147. It is classified as a National Monument, part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Quinta dos Lagares dEl-Rei building in Lisbon, Lisbon District, Portugal

The Quinta dos Lagares d'El-Rei, is a quinta and manor house on the Portuguese estate of Quinta dos Lagares d'El-Rei, part of the Senhorio dos Lagares d'El-Rei, a feudal fiefdom, seated in the civil parish of Alvalade, in the municipality of Lisbon.

The Castro of Castelo Velho is a Chalcolithic settlement in the civil parish of Terena, municipality of Alandroal in the Alentejo Central area of the Portuguese Alentejo.

Anta da Estria megalithic site near Queluz, Portugal

The Anta da Estria is a megalithic dolmen situated between Belas and Queluz in the Lisbon District of Portugal. Based on datings of human remains, it is believed to date back to the late-Neolithic and early-Chalcolithic eras. The Anta da Estria, the Anta do Monte Abraão and the Anta da Pedra dos Mouros are collectively known as the Antas de Belas, and were first identified in the 1870s by Carlos Ribeiro (1813-1882), who is regarded as the "father" of Portuguese prehistoric archaeology.

Anta da Pedra dos Mouros megalithic site near Belas, Portugal

The Anta da Pedra dos Mouros, also known as the Anta do Senhor da Serra, is a megalithic dolmen situated near Belas and Queluz in the Lisbon District of Portugal. It is believed to date back to the late-Neolithic and early-Chalcolithic eras. The Anta da Pedra dos Mouros, the Anta da Estria, and the Anta do Monte Abraão are a short distance from each other and are collectively known as the Antas de Belas. The Anta da Pedra dos Mouros was first identified in the 1850s by Carlos Ribeiro. Despite being registered and protected as a national monument in 1910, the dolmen has recently suffered significant damage.

Anta de Agualva megalithic site near Agualva, Portugal

The Anta de Agualva, also known as the Anta do Carrascal, is a megalithic dolmen situated in an urban area of Agualva-Cacém in the municipality of Sintra, in the Lisbon District of Portugal. First identified by Carlos Ribeiro in 1875, the dolmen has recently been restored and can be easily visited.

References

  1. Diccionario dos seres míticos galegos. X.R. Cuba, A. Reigosa, X.Miranda ISBN   84-8302-363-6
  2. Vasconcelos, José Leite. (1938). Opusculos (Ed), Volume V, Etnologia (Parte I), Lisboa Imprensa Nacional, p. 496 PDF Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Filipa. (10 April 2006), Que mouros são esses?, in PJ, Diário de Trás-os-Montes". Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  4. Parafita, Alexandre. A Mitologia dos Mouros, Porto, Gailivro, 2006.
  5. Medicina na Beira interior da Pré-História ao século XX,nº13 1999, Cadernos de cultura, Ediraia
  6. ""O Tesouro dos Maruxinhos" lançado na Biblioteca Municipal de Chaves". Archived from the original on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
  7. "Portugal, mundo dos mortos e das mouras encantadas, vol. I, Lisboa, Apenas Livros, 2009" (PDF).
  8. "Autores da Região "O Tesouro dos Maruxinhos"" (PDF).[ permanent dead link ]
  9. author. "Dicionário de Regionalismos e Arcaísmos" (PDF). alfclul.clul.ul.pt.
  10. Brandão, Abílio. "Lendas de Mouras encantadas" Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine , in Revista Lusitana, Volume XIV Lisboa: Livraria Clássica Editora, 1911
  11. ETNOGRAFIAS PORTUGUESAS (1870-1970):Cultura Popular e Identidade Nacional
  12. "LUGAR E MEMORIA" (PDF).
  13. Casado, Buenaventura Aparicio (29 April 2018). A sociedade campesiña na mitoloxía popular galega. Univ Santiago de Compostela. ISBN   9788497501224 via Google Books.
  14. "A Genética e a Teoria da Continuidade Paleolítica Aplicadas à Lenda da Fundação de Portugal, Irlanda e Escócia, Apenas Livros, Lisboa, 2008" (PDF).
  15. AEIOU. "AEIOU.pt".
  16. C. Noia, Contos galegos de tradición oral (Galician Tales of the Oral Tradition), ISBN   84-95364-16-6
  17. "Mouros Míticos em Trás-os-Montes – contributos para um estudo dos mouros no imaginário rural a partir de textos da literatura popular de tradição oral" (PDF).
  18. "Las mouras constructoras de megalitos: Estudio comparativo del folklore gallego con el de otras comunidades europeas" (PDF).
  19. "ARQUEOLOXÍA E FOLCLORE: CONCELLOS DE ARES E MUGARDOS*" (PDF).
  20. Robin Gallop, PORTUGAL: A BOOK OF FOLK-WAYS, Cambridge University Press, 1936; reprint 1961
  21. "As hagiografias como instrumentos de difusão do cristianismo católico nos meios rurais da Espanha visigótica" (PDF).
  22. TOPONIMIA ARQUEOLÓGICA DE ENTREDOURO E VOUGA (DISTRITO DE AVEIRO)
  23. Leite de Vasconcellos Pereira de Mello, José (29 April 1882). "Tradições populares de Portugal". Porto, Livraria portuense de Clavel & c.a via Internet Archive.
  24. "Portugal, mundo dos mortos e das mouras encantadas, vol. III, Lisboa, Apenas Livros, 2010" (PDF).
  25. "Lavandaie notturne nel folklore europeo: per una stratigrafia preistorica, in S.M. Barillari (ed.), Dark Tales. Fiabe di paura e racconti del terrore. Atti del Convegno di Studi sul Folklore e il Fantastico (Genova, 21-22 novembre 2009), Alessandria, Edizioni dell'Orso" (PDF).
  26. http://www.igespar.pt/pt/patrimonio/pesquisa/geral/patrimonioimovel/detail/74385/
  27. Myths, legends and beliefs on granite caves
  28. "Portugal Mundo dos Mortos e das Mouras Encantadas VolumeII" (PDF).
  29. "A Mourama" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  30. Spence, Lewis. Legends and Romances of Brittany. Forgotten Books. ISBN   9781605061801 via Google Books.
  31. "Tente, Catarina; Lourenço, Sandra.(1998) Sepulturas Medievais escavadas nas rochas dos Conselhos de Carregal do Sal e Gouveia: estudo comparativo, Revista Portuguesa de Arqueologia" (PDF).
  32. "DOCUMENTOS MEDIEVAIS SOBRE MONTE REDONDO" (PDF).[ permanent dead link ]
  33. "Território, povoamento e sociedade:estudo monográfico de Monte Redondo". Archived from the original on 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2011-08-15.