THE RAINBOW IN BULGARIAN FOLKLORE AND SOME GENDER ISSUES


Author: Miroslav Izdimirski

Abstract

Based on the overview of evidence concerning beliefs on sex transformation under the influence of the rainbow, there are several conclusions to be drawn. First, in the Bulgarian lands, this notion and belief can be dated before the 18th century, while in the French lands – around the 16th century. The notion can be linked mostly with the Slavs, but it is also present among other Indo-Europeans in the Old Continent. Beliefs about the rainbow’s sexual dimorphism, as well as about its ability to change one’s sex, are present in different continents and cultures.

There is only one ethnographic evidence from an ethnic Bulgarian territory where this idea is presented as the deed of the Christian God, and in the other cases, there is no explanation of the sex-changing force and its source with its origin in the celestial rainbow, which – in my opinion – means that this notion might be rooted in the pre-Christian past of our ethnicity and its composing elements. Here it is noteworthy that the rainbow is ascribed the ability to change the biological sex, while in folk culture the symbolic change of gender is possible through the ritual and in a ritual context.

Keywords: Rainbow, folklore, beliefs, gender