Seven ravens

This is not among the best known fairy tales, yet is is present in many different cultures in different versions. It's a story about a curse by the impatient father who transforms all his sons into birds. The number seven is not fixed and mostly varies from three to twelve. Instead of ravens we are sometimes dealing with doves, swans, ducks, geese, ... H. c. Andersen, for instance, wrote similar tale titled Wild swans.

Here is a short summary, accompanied with illustrations from the postcards signed by Oskar Herrfurth:

There's a family with seven sons. Finally a girl is born, but she looks so weak, they decided to baptize her immediately. Boys who run to the veil to get the water broke the jug and being afraid of father's anger hesitate to return home. Father, in the meantime, believes they are fooling around and wishes they were all turned into ravens.

His wish is fulfilled. Their sister grows up not knowing she has brother, but one day she finds out and decides to leave home. She must find them.

She goes to the end of the world and nothing. The sun tries to burn her.

The moon tries to eat her.

Finally, a morning star tells her she must go to the glass mountain. She needs a chicken bone to open it and then she can save her brothers.

She finds the glass mountain but she loses the chicken bone. So she cuts off her little finger and opens the doors with it. A dwarf tells her this is home of her brothers.

There is a table inside and food and drink waiting for seven eaters to return. She eats from every plate and drinks from every cup. Then she drops a ring in the last cup and hides.

Seven ravens enter. They notice there was an intruder. The last one of them finds a ring and thinks it could belong to their sister. In this very moment she shows and they transform into human beings again.

This is one of many fairy tales with incompetent fathers bringing a simple message: a day will come when your father won't help you anymore. Even worse, he can become your enemy. You will have to leave your home and find a way to survive on your own. This may be a long journey, literally a travel to the end of the world. It could be dangerous, because you may get burnt or even eaten. And you may be forced to sacrifice something irreplaceable, like your pinky.

Yet the reward may be worth!

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