Special Symbols Trolls - Strange creatures from Norwegian fairy tales

Special Symbols Trolls - Strange creatures from Norwegian fairy tales

Trolls, or ogres, are not humans, not animals, just Trolls. They appear quite frequently in Norwegian fairy tales, and maybe even more often as tourist souvenirs.

According to the superstitions from the medieval times, and therefore also to the fairy tales and folk tales, Trolls live in the deep forests or in caves in the mountains, far away from the people. They are fierce, mossy creatures which you really don’t want to meet when you’re walking alone in the woods. Trolls don’t like people. Some Trolls eat them, some capture them and keep them prisoners in the mountain (this happens a lot to princesses in the fairy tales!). The Trolls also tend to be a bit stupid, so the hero of the story can easily outsmart them (and save the princess, the kingdom, or just himself). One way of getting rid of a Troll is exposing it to sunlight. Daylight will make the Troll explode, BANG, and gone is the problem. Alternatively, the sun rays will turn the Troll into stone. Trolls often guard a dazzling treasure which the hero can bring back to his family after defeating the Trolls.
troll statue
A girl in the arms of a large Troll statue on Mt. Fløyen in Bergen.
Well, that was the fairy tale description of Trolls. Modern tourism has turned many Trolls into sweet, loveable creatures with red cheeks and a big smile. The more traditional Troll is incredibly strong, moss-greenish, hairy and much larger than humans, a fairly ugly giant, much bigger than a tree. It has a long nose, a tail, and possibly several heads. Sometimes there are trees and plants growing from its head. Theodor Kittelsen is the name of a Norwegian man who is famous for his drawings of traditional Trolls.
Modern trolls
Modern trolls are literate creatures!
There is a word in Norwegian called “trolsk”. It’s an adjective which comes from the word “troll”. “Trolsk”, or “Troll-ish” as that would be in English, is used to describe spooky, supernatural atmospheres in nature, such as a forest at dawn, with thick fog around the mossy trees.

The term “Trollunge” or “Troll kid” is used to describe little rascals; waggish (human) children.

Trolls have inspired many artists and composers. The previously mentioned Theodor Kittelsen is only one of them. Edvard Grieg, for instance, composed a piece of music, which symbolized Trolls out marching just before dawn, and when the sun rises, the Trolls explode, something which is marked with a gigantic BAM! in the music. Trolls also play a part in Henrik Ibsen’s play “Peer Gynt”, and therefore also in the music to the play, the music which Grieg wrote. “Dovregubbenshall” (“In the hall of the mountain king”), where Peer Gynt meets the trolls, is probably the most famous piece of music from Ibsen’s play.

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