International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

Le Petit Poucet et la Grande Ourse

Gaston Paris
Full reference

Paris, Gaston, 1875. Le Petit Poucet et la Grande Ourse, Paris, Librairie A. Franck.

In this work, Gaston Paris makes a new reading of the folktale of the Petit Poucet (Little Thumb) by drawing from an etymological dictionary of the Walloon language which identifies the word “Chaur-pôcè” with the Plough (or Big Dipper), while specifying that, according to the farmers, it was a chariot driven by three horses, the smallest star of which represented the driver of the chariot. Paris’s work dates back to 1868 and, by his own admission, represents his first steps into a completely new field for him. He shows that this tale corresponds to a transposition of certain folk astronomical conceptions and thus identifies Poucet with the myth of the little celestial cowherd.

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