Angels, thieves and narratives: A case of latvian thief binding charms

Pp. 59-76

  • Toms Ķencis
Keywords: textual authority, intertextuality, encounter charms, Latvian, narratives, 'Thieves and The Holy Child' charm type


The article explores benefits of a semantic group analysis of nearly 800 Latvian verbal charms against thieves. In order to map the intertextual relationships between charms and other texts, a conceptual model of three levels is provided, defining a broader cultural context, the level of narrative reference, and the level of text. The corpus of Latvian charms against thieves consists of both non-narrative and narrative charms, the latter dominated by “Thieves and The Holy Child” charm type. Few geographical and temporal outlines are suggested concerning the material in question, and a semi-quantitative analysis is applied regarding actors of encounter charms, locations in historiolas, and magic devices preferred by charmers.

Author Biography

Toms Ķencis

ORCID: 0000-0001-8127-5249
Toms Ķencis is a researcher at the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia. He is currently leading the disciplinary history project “Latvian folkloristics (1945-1985)”, funded by Latvian Council of Sciences Angels, thieves and narratives.
Program of Fundamental and Applied Research. Main research areas : charms, mythology, history of folkloristics, and cultural nationalism.
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