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Character Code of Cumulative Tales: A Bear

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The authors of the publication:
Trebyk Olha
Bibliographic description:
Trebyk, O. (2019) Character Code of Cumulative Tales: A Bear. Folk Art and Ethnology, 2 (378), 82–91.


Trebyk Olha

a senior lecturer at the State University of Telecommunications; a lecturer of Faculty of Informational Systems and Technologies (State Higher Educational Institution Vadym Hetman Kyiv National Economic University)


Character Code of Cumulative Tales: A Bear



A bear is one of the main characters of folk zoology, imparted with anthropomorphic features, the symbolism of fertility, health, strength. He acts often as a head of forest animals. A bear is the most similar to a wolf, united with alike demonological and other beliefs. It has also a symbolic parallel with a cat. A bear image is presented in the brightest and diverse way in the Eastern and Southern Slavs.

A bear image is a personification of wealth, prosperity, fertility and fruitfulness. Marriage symbolism is inherent to it. A mummed bear (a man in a turned out pelt) at the wedding, Shrovetide, during the Easter feasts is an original wish of health, prosperity, fruitfulness, fecundity to its participants.

The bear image, its connection with the other characters of the tale are investigated. Cumulative structures, their types, functions of cumulation are analysed. The comparative characteristics of the structure of various variants of fairy tales of the same type are presented. They gives an idea of the similarity and difference of each variant.

It is concluded according to the analysis of fairy tale variants:

  1. A bear character is often a clumsy, terrible, improvident one, that’s why he gets into the troubles.
  2. A fox, domestic animals, a person are bear enemies.
  3. A bear often hasn’t leading parts in the fairy tale. Even if he is the main character, he hasn’t many cues and volitional decisions.
  4. A bear as a leading character often finishes the culmination of the events and a fairy tale plot with his actions – just crushes animals or they gain a victory over him.
  5. Though a bear is a symbol of strength in notions and beliefs, he loses to weaker, but sly and wise forest inmates and also domestic animals.

A bear is a popular character in Ukrainian fairy tale tradition, in cumulative stories first and foremost. A bear image symbolizes strength in many cultures, however these ideas are not depicted in the fairy tales texts and a bear is described the most often as a stupid and clumsy animal.



a bear, cumulative fairy tale, nomination, functions of fairy tale character.



  1. Berezovskyi, I. (1979) Ukrainian Folk Tales on Animals. Tales on animals. Kyiv: Naukova dumka.
  2. Hura, A. (2004) Bear. The Slavonic Antiquities. An Ethno-Linguistic Dictionary: in Five Volumes (ed. by N. Tolstoy). Moscow, Vol. 3, pp. 211–215.
  3. Rudchenko, I. (1870) South-Russian Folk Tales. Kiev, Iss. 2.
  4. Shalak, O. (2002) Bear. The 100 Most Famous Characters of Ukrainian Mythology. Kyiv: Orfey, pp. 267–274.
  5. Shapirova, N. (2001) The Concise Encyclopedia of Slavonic Mythology. Moscow: Astrel «Russkie slovari», p. 353.

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