Iele/ Nymphs

Original version
It is not known exactly how the Iele appeared. Some say they are daughters of the Moon. Others say daughters are Alexandru Macedon's daughters who drank the living water that he kept for old age. Girls have become fairies, immortal factions that have flown in the desert and in places where the foot of man has never fallen. The Iele are feminine mythical creatures in Romanian mythology. There are several different descriptions of their characteristics. Often they are described as virgin fairies, with great seductive power over men, with magical skills and attributes similar to Nymphs, Naiads and Dryads found in Greek mythology. They are similar to the Samodivas in Bulgaria. They mostly appear at night by moonlight, as dancing shindys (called horă in local language), in secluded areas such as glades, the tops of certain trees (maples, walnut trees), ponds, river sides, crossroads or abandoned fireplaces, dancing naked, with their breasts almost covered by their disheveled hair, with bells on their ankles and carrying candles. In almost all of these instances, the Iele appear to be aery. In the village of Plopeni, in Constanta County, there are countless legends about them. Most often they walked around the village by night and stopped at the gates of the courtyards and call out those who lived there. The Iele are too beautiful to be looked at. Their diaphanous presence and their dazzling play should never enjoy the human eye. But if the happening makes a mortal nose in their nose, the beauty is to punish the one who dared to look. Legend says that whoever answers to the Iele’s song, remains speechless. In this village the Iele look like some huge brides, with ankle bells and very seductive. At Bârbuleţu, in Dâmboviţa, there is an area called “La Omul Mort”, where the Iele are said to gather and dance on the night of St. Andrew. A curious man, a shepherd, wished to surprise them during a dance, but he returned from there hideous and mute, which convinced people that the legend of the place is, in fact, a reality. The Iele are attracted especially by the young ladies who suffer from love. Legend says that on a summer night, while a young lady was working in the yard with their parents, the Iele came and called out her by her name, but she did not answer. The whole family locked itself in the house but for many minutes the Iele continued to sing and dance on the roof. The Iele or nymphs are supernatural feminine creatures that belong to the Romanian folklore, being considered some of the most feared fantastic creatures on our territory. At the same time, there are some of the most fascinating creatures in Romanian mythology.
Main characters
Iele, Nymphs, shepherd
Connected artistic / architectonic / historical heritage
Bărbulețu (România) Coordinates: 45°8′36″N 25°17′41″E45°8′36″N 25°17′41″E Architectonic heritage: The village of Plopeni, Constanta County, where the Iele/ Nymphs show themselves, is a classic Romanian village. The location of the houses was not made after a specific plan, with an irregular structure and intersecting streets. From the point of view of the traditional architecture, looking in broad aspects, the householder is composed of the house itself and the annexes placed either on the side of the house or towards the bottom of the courtyard. The annexes have a well-defined function, with a close connection to everyday occupations: summer kitchen, stables, oven etc. The foundation of the houses is made of stone and the walls are made of clay. The houses are generally with white or blue facades, sometimes with decorative elements that send to the glorious mythology, made of wood planks. Artistic-Folklore heritage: The Iele or nymphs are supernatural feminine creatures that belong to the Romanian folklore, being considered some of the most feared fantastic creatures on our territory. At the same time, there are some of the most fascinating creatures in Romanian mythology. Historical heritage: The iele are feminine mythical creatures in Romanian mythology. There are several differing descriptions of their characteristics. Often they are described as Faeries (zâne in Romanian), with great seductive power over men, with magic skills and attributes similar to Nymphs, Naiads and Dryads found in Greek mythology or with the Sirens. It would have been possible in the past to have been the priestesses of a Dacian goddess.
Local traditions or historical connections
Local traditions: In popular folklore, the Iele are closely related to the feast of Pentecost. It is said that this night comes out of the hide and hide a wild mountain in the moonlight. Therefore, no one should sleep outside this night, because he would risk being found by the yellows and severely punished. There are many stories about the sleeping shepherds outside and find the next day surrounded by a circle of paralyzed grass. Of course, they have never been the same. In the morning, have been found paralyzed, dumb or deaf. Also, those who work on the day of Pentecost are punished. Stories speak of mini-swirls that appear out of the blue and hit the household, raising air from fan-heads to animals and even humans. To please the iele, people dedicated festival days to them: the Rusaliile, the Stratul, the Sfredelul or Bulciul Rusaliilor, the nine days after the Easter, the Marina etc. Anyone not respecting these holidays was said to suffer the revenge of the Iele: men and women who work during these days would be lifted in spinning vertigo, people and cattle would suffer mysterious deaths or become paralyzed and crippled, hail would fall, rivers would flood, trees would wither, and houses would catch fire. People also invented cures against the iele, either preventive or exorcistic in nature: garlic and mugwort worn around the waist, in the bosom, or hung from the hat; or hanging the skull of a horse on a pole in front of the house.
Didactical Relevance
Mythology: Studying the mythological and folkloric terminology starting from the description of fundamental mythical and folkloric patterns. Developing the capacity to recognize, analyze and interpret the main mythological patterns, as well as their corresponding folk alterations. Comparison with other mythologies: The same common Indo-European mythological base is suggested by the close resemblance with the Nordic Elves, youthful feminine humanoid spirits of great beauty living in forests and other natural places, underground, or in wells and springs; having as a sacred tree the same maple tree; and with magical powers, such as having the ability to cast spells with their circle dances. The elves also leave a kind of circle where they had danced, the älvdanser ("elf dances") or älvringar ("elf circles"). Typically, this circle also consisted of a ring of small mushrooms. Arguably, Iele are the Romanian equivalent of the fairies of other cultures, like the nymphs of Greek and Roman mythology, the vili from Slavic mythology, and the Irish sídhe. History: Iele are considered the daughters of Alexander the Great (was a king (basileus) of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon), called Catrina, Zalina and Marina. Literature: Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723; Encyclopedist, ethnographer, geographer, philosopher, historian, linguist, musicologist, composer) describes the iele as ‘’Nymphs of the air, in love especially with young men". Camil Petrescu (Jocul Ielelor – lele's play) Petrescu lived between 1894-1957 and is a literary personality: novelist, poet, essayist theorist of the theater. Iele's play is the first piece written in 1910, and the title of the play is a metaphor, through which he understood the game of ideas. The author speak about four feelings: the political feeling, the feeling of honor, the erotic feeling and the feeling of absolute justice. The noun iele is phonetically close to the feminine plural form of the Romanian word for "they". Study of names meaning - Their real names are secret and inaccessible, and are commonly replaced with nicknames based on their characteristics. Arts – dance, music, TV One of the Iele characteristic activity is the dance. Iele hound their victims into the center of their dance, until they die in a furor of madness or torment. The most important cure against the Iele is the dance of Călușari. This custom was the subject of episode of the popular TV series, The X-Files.
Didactical Activity
Family tree: Students are asked, at the history discipline, to create the family tree of the Alexander III of Macedon (Alexander the Great) and establish if the Iele are his daughter or is just a myth. Essay: Students are asked, at the literature discipline, to study the folkloric terminology and the meaning of the names the Iele – Ielele have as many names as their characteristics. Debate: Mythical Creatures in Writing – Students are asked to debate the Comparison od Iele with other mythologies. Drawing: Students are asked to imagine their selves and draw some scenes using the given details from the text: “ mythical creatures”, are beautiful or they can draw the scene when the shepard surprises them during their dance. Dancing: Students are asked to pretend that they play the nymphs role and create a dance imagine the movements done by the nymphs. Role Play: Interview with a character. Students have to write a text that presents a dialog between the reporter and the nymphs trying to emphasize on their secrete existence. True or false sentences: Students are given some sentences which might be true or false. They have to correct them in order to get a true sentences according to the legend. Fill in the sentence: Students are given some sentences form the legend and their job is to find the appropriate word that fits in.

Video

Micropasta: "Sanzienele/Ielele"
The legend of the Iele

Images

Iele – dancing ritual
Iele – dancing ritual
Romanian Iele

External Sources

Elder Mountain Dreaming
Romanian Iele & Sânziană
Creation process of IELE
Inspired by the Romanian folklore, IELE Choreography: Davi Rodrigues Original music and story by Hal Beckett
In Romanian mythology, the Iele are mythical creatures
In Romanian mythology, the Iele are mythical creatures similar to the Nymphs and Dryads found in Greek mythology. Oftentimes people claim to see them at night, dancing Horas naked in the moonlight, with bells on their ankles and candles in their hands
Iele – the Ladies of the Woods
In Romanian mythology, the Iele are mythical creatures similar to the Nymphs and Dryads found in Greek mythology. Oftentimes people claim to see them at night, dancing Horas naked in the moonlight, with bells on their ankles and candles in their hands.

PDF version of the legend in national language

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