Skip to main content

ATU-AT-Motif: ATU -- AT -- Thompson Motifs

An Explanation of these pages

These pages bring the ATU and AT Type Classifications together with the Thompson Motifs. 

THERE ARE NO LINKS TO THE FOLK TALES themselves.

Look here if you are trying to locate online folk tales by ATU Type.


The AT Classification

The core of the list comes from the AT classification numbers and headings used by D.L. Ashlimann in his book:
A Guide to Folktales in the English Language. Because that book is a guide to folktales in English, he does not
use every type found in the AT classification.  

  Because I used Ashlimann's AT numbers as my base, the ATU numbers sometimes appear out of order. For example:

ATU 1096 Sewing Contest AT 1096 Contest in Sewing K47.1. Sewing contest won by deception: the long thread.
ATU 43 Bear Builds a House of Wood, the Fox of Ice AT 1097 House of Stone and House of Ice (now ATU 43) J741.1. Bear builds house of wood; fox of ice.
ATU 1115 Attempted Murder with a Hatchet AT 1115 Attempting to Kill the Hero in His Bed K525.1. Substituted object left in bed while intended victim escapes.

This looks odd in the ATU column, but makes sense if you look at the AT column.

 

ATU Classification is not complete


The ATU classification presented in these pages is not complete nor
comprehensive, but it does cover a significant portion of the classification.

The left column gives the ATU number and heading, the center column the AT number and Ashlimann's headings,
and the right column the Thompson Motifs found in the folktale.  See the example below.

ATU 303 The Twins or Blood-Brothers AT 303 The Blood Brothers T511.5.1.5.1. Conception from eating fish.
    T589.7.1.7.1. Simultaneous birth of (domestic) animal and child.
    E761. Life token.
    R111.1.3.1.3. Rescue of princess (maiden) from dragon.
    D231. Transformation: man to stone.
    K1311.1.1. Husband's twin brother mistaken by woman for her husband.
    T351. Sword of chastity
    N342.3.3. Jealous and overhasty man kills his rescuing twin brother. *
    B512. Medicine shown by animal.

As you can see, one folk tale type can have many motifs.  The occasional  NA  in the motif column stands for "not available."  Either there is no motif associated with the tale or I could not find one.

The motifs assigned to the folk tale type are not exhaustive and some motifs may not be listed, Also, 
not every motif assigned to a folk tale type is used in every story. Two stories assigned to the same folk tale
type might use different motifs and tell similar yet different stories.

 

Where is the plot of the tale?

 

These pages do not link to the tale nor summarize the plot. The Ashlimann and Uther books mentioned below do provide summaries. Sometimes you can compare the ATU and AT headings to get an idea of the plot. Other times you can use the Thompson Motif to locate a summary. For example, this entry is not very helpful.

ATU 2019 Pif-Paf-Poltrie AT 2019 Pif-Paf-Poltrie Z31.1. Pif Paf Poltrie.

But if you look up Z31.1 in the online  Thompson Motif Index, you get the gist of the tale and also that it is AT type 2019.

Z31.1. †Z31.1. Pif Paf Poltrie. The suitor sent from one relation to the other for consent to the wedding. *Type 2019

 

Books for finding folk tales by ATU or AT story type.

 

For finding folk tales by ATU story type.

The types of international folktales : a classification and bibliography, 
based on the system of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson / by Hans-Jörg Uther.  
Published    Helsinki : Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2004.

This was published in a series of books called 

FF communications.   and is volumes no. 284, 285, and 286.

For finding folk tales by AT story type.

A guide to folktales in the English language : based on the Aarne-Thompson classification system / D.L. Ashliman.
    New York : Greenwood Press, 1987.

Neither of these books is available online. You will have to try to locate them in a large library.