Mr Simigdáli

Mr Simigdáli is a Greek fairy tale, collected by Irene Naumann-Mavrogordato in Es war einmal: Neugriechische Volksmärchen.[1] Georgios A. Megas collected a variant Master Semolina in Folktales of Greece.[2] There are about forty known Greek variants on the fairy tale of baking a figure and having it brought to life.[3] It is Aarne-Thompson type 425, the search for the lost bridegroom, in an unusual variation, involving motifs similar to Pygmalion and Galatea.[4]


A king's daughter refuses all her suitors. She takes almonds, sugar, and groats—or semolina—and makes the figure of a man from them. Then she prays for forty days, and God brings the figure to life. He is called Mr Simigdáli (Mr Groats) -- or Master Semolina if made from that—and is very handsome. An evil queen hears of him and sends a golden ship to kidnap him. Everyone comes out to see it, and the sailors captures Mr Simigdáli. The princess learns how he had been carried off, has three pairs of iron shoes made for herself, and sets out.

She comes to the mother of the Moon, who had her wait until the Moon came, but the Moon can not tell her where Mr Simigdáli had been taken, and sends her on to the Sun, having given her an almond. The Sun and its mother give her a walnut and send her on to the Stars. One star has seen him, and the Stars and their mother give her a hazelnut. She goes on to the castle where Mr Simigdáli is prisoner. She looks like a beggar and he does not recognize her, so she begs a place with the geese.

Then she breaks the almond and it holds a golden spindle, reel and wheel. The servants tell the queen, who asks what she wants for her; the princess will trade it only for Mr Simigdáli to come to spend a night with her. The queen agrees but gives Mr Simigdáli a sleeping potion. The princess can not wake him. The walnut contains a golden hen and chicks, and she tries and fails again. The hazelnut contains golden carnations, but that day, a tailor asks Mr Simigdáli how he can sleep with the princess's talk. Mr Simigdáli readies his horse and does not drink the potion; when the princess begins to talk to him, he rises and takes her with him on his horse.

In the morning, the queen sends for him, but he is not there. She tries to make her own man, but when the figure is done, she curses instead of praying, and the figure rots. The princess and Mr Simigdáli return home and live happily.


Pintosmalto is a literary variant of this tale. The Armenian Nature's Ways follows part of it, ending with the princess's marriage to the newly created man. Other variants of the search for the lost bridegroom usually involve an enchanted man rather than a newly created one, as in The Enchanted Pig, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and Black Bull of Norroway. The Two Kings' Children includes a similar series of exchanges for the true bride to reach the bridegroom.


  1. Max Lüthi, Once Upon A Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales, p 165, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., New York, 1970
  2. Georgios A. Megas, Folktales of Greece, p 60, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1970
  3. Anthony L. Manna and Christodoula Mitakidou, Mr. Semolina-Semonlinus, ISBN 0-689-81093-8
  4. Max Lüthi, Once Upon A Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales, note by Francis Lee Utley, p 166, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., New York, 1970
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