Aarne–Thompson–Uther Index  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Morphology (folkloristics)

The Aarne–Thompson tale type index is a multivolume listing designed to help folklorists identify recurring plot patterns in the narrative structures of traditional folktales, so that folklorists can organize, classify, and analyze the folktales they research. First developed by Antti Aarne (1867–1925) and published as Verzeichnis der Märchentypen in 1910, the tale type index was later translated, revised, and enlarged by Stith Thompson (1885–1976) in 1928 and again in 1961 (Dundes, 195).

The Aarne-Thompson tale type index is an essential tool for folklorists because, as Dundes explains, “the identification of folk narratives through motif and/or tale type numbers has become an international sine qua non among bona fide folklorists” (195). Since the tale type index concerns the motif structures of folktales, it focuses more on the morphology of folktales than on the details of their characters' actions.

The Aarne-Thompson tale type index organizes folktales into broad categories like Animal Tales, Fairy Tales, Religious Tales, etc. Within each category, folktale types are further subdivided by motif patterns until individual types are listed.



Antti Aarne was the student of Julius Krohn and his son Kaarle Krohn. He further developed their historic-geographic method of comparative folkloristics, and developed the initial version of what became the Aarne-Thompson classification system of classifying folktales, first published in 1910. The American folklorist Stith Thompson, in translating Aarne's motif-based classification system in 1928, enlarged its scope, and with his second addition to Aarne's catalogue in 1961 created the AT-number system (also referred to as AaTh system) often used today. The AT classification system has only recently (2004) been expanded by Hans-Jörg Uther to the Aarne-Thompson-Uther or ATU system.

The Aarne-Thompson system catalogues some 2500 basic plots from which, for countless generations, European and Near Eastern storytellers have built their tales. As Europeans and Near-Easterners travelled to the New World, the Far East, Africa, and other distant places, their tales migrated as well, often flourishing in their new environments. Hence, the Aarne-Thompson system encompasses tales found around the world.
—Ashliman, p. ix

The classification was criticized by Vladimir Propp of the Formalist school of the 1920s, for ignoring the functions of the motifs by which they are classified. Furthermore, the "macro-level" analysis means that the stories that repeat motifs may not be classified together, while stories with wide divergences may be, because the classification must select some features as salient.

Hans-Jörg Uther

The AaTh system was updated and expanded in 2004 with the publication of The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography by Hans-Jörg Uther. Uther noted that many of the earlier descriptions were cursory, and that the existing system did not allow for expansion. To remedy these shortcomings Uther developed the Aarne-Thompson-Uther classification (ATU number) system, and includes international folktales in the expanded listing.

This list on this page (below) employs the 1961 AaTh index as released by Thompson.


The Aarne-Thompson catalogue divides the following tales into sections with their "AT" number entries. The names given are typical, but usage varies; the same type number may be referred to by its central motif, or by one variant folk tale of that type, which can itself vary, especially when used in different countries where different variants are well known. It does not have to be accurate for all tales; The Cat as Helper (545B) includes tales where a fox helps the hero.

Closely related types are often grouped within a type: 510, Persecuted Heroine, has 510A, such as Cinderella and 510B such as Catskin, and 400, The Quest for a Lost Bride, has the subtype 401*, the Swan Maiden.

Animal tales

Wild Animals 1-99

The Clever Fox or other animal 1-69
The theft of fish 1
How the bear lost his tail 2 (Norwegian)
Biting the foot 5
The calling of three tree names 7
The unjust partner 9
Stealing the Partner's Butter 15 (German)
The fox as shepherd 37
The bear and the honey 49
Mrs. Fox's Suitors 65 (German)
Greed 68A (Aesop)

Other Wild Animals 70-99

More cowardly than the hare 70
Too cold for hare to build house in winter 81
The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage 85
The Heart of a Monkey 91
When the hare was married 96*

Wild Animals and Domestic Animals 100-149

The old dog rescues the child 101 (German)
Town Mouse and Country Mouse 112
Eat Me When I'm Fatter 122E (Norwegian)
The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids 123
The Three Little Pigs 124
Outcast Animals Find a New Home 130 (German, Irish)

Wild Animals and Humans 150-199

Music lessons for wild animals 151 (German)
Ingratitude Is the World's Reward 155 (Indian)
Androcles and the Lion 156
The Three Bears 171
The Brahmin and the Mongoose 178A

Domestic Animals 200-219

Sheep, duck and cock in peril at sea 204
The Traveling Animals and the Wicked Man 210 (German, German)
The hog who was so tired of his daily food 211*

Other Animals and Objects 220-299

The Geese's Eternal Prayer 227 (German)
Imitating Bird Sounds, 236* (German)
The Child and the Snake 285
The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean 295
Wind and Sun 298(Greek)

Fairy Tales

Supernatural Opponents 300 - 399

The Dragon-Slayer 300
The Three Kidnapped Princesses 301 (German)
The Giant Without A Heart, 302
The Twin Brothers, 303 (German, Another German variant)
Seven Sisters, Seven Brothers 303A
The Trained Hunter 304
The Twelve Dancing Princesses 306
The Princess in the Coffin 307 (French)
Rapunzel 310 (Italian, Italian, Greek, Italian)
Killed by a Giant 311 (Italian, German)
The Bluebeard 312 (French)
The Magic Flight 313 (Norwegian, French, German, German, English, German )
The Golden-Haired 314
The Treacherous Sister 315
The Mermaid in the Pond 316 (German)
The Princess and the Sky-tree 317
The Batamärchen 318
The Magician and his Apprentice, 325 (German, Norwegian, Danish, Italian)
The Youth Who Wanted to Learn What Fear Is 326
The Children With the Witch 327A (French, Scottish, German, Danish, Norwegian, French)
The Small Boy Defeats the Ogre 327B (French, French, Norwegian)
The Treasures of the Giant 328 (Italian, Greek, English)
Miss the Magic Mirror 329
The Spirit in the Bottle 331
Godfather Death 332
Little Red Riding Hood 333
In the Household of the Witch 334 German
The Three Apprentices and the Devil 360 (German)
Bearskin 361
Specter Bridegrooms 365 (English)

Supernatural or Enchanted Relatives 400-459

Wife 400-424
The Quest for a Lost Bride 400 (Norwegian )
Swan Maiden 400* (Serbian)
The enchanted princess in her castle 401A (German)
The Mouse Bride 402 (Norwegian)
The White and the Black Bride 403 (German, Greek, Norwegian, Scandinavian )
Jorinde and Joringel 405
The Flower Girl 407 (German)
The Three Lemons 408
The Goat Girls 409A
The Sleeping Beauty 410 (Italian, German)
Husband 425-449
search for the lost husband 425A (Scottish, Romanian, Scottish, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Norwegian, Scottish, Italian, Scottish, Italian, Greek, Mexican)
Beauty and the Beast 425C ( English, German)
Vanished Husband learned of by keeping inn 425D (Greek)
recognition when heroine tells her story 425G (Greek)
the bird husband 425N (Danish)
Snow White and Rose Red 426
Prince Donkey 430 (German)
The Waldhaus 431
The Bird Lover 432 (Russian, French, Mexican)
King Dragon 433b
The Frog King 440 (Scottish, Scottish)
In Enchanted Skin 441 (Romanian, Italian)
The Old Woman in the Wood 442
Brother or Sister 450-459
Brother and Sister 450 (German)
The Nurse looking for her Brothers, 451 (German, German, German, Northern African, Norwegian, Russian)

Supernatural Tasks 460-499

Three Hairs of the Devil 461 (German, German)
The Towering Tree 468
The Bridge to Another World 471
Midwife (or Godparent, or Nurse) for the Elves 476* (English)
The Kind and the Unkind Girls 480 (Russian, Scandinavian, Italian, Danish, Greek, German, French, English, English, Scandinavian, Italian, Japanese, German)

Supernatural Helpers 500-559

Rumpelstiltskin 500 (Scottish)
The Three Spinners 501
The Wild Man 502 (Italian, German, French)
Helpful Elves 503* (German)
Grateful dead 505
The Mistress of the Monster 507
Persecuted Heroine 510A (Irish, French, Russian, Norwegian, Scottish, Scottish, Vietnamese, Finnish, Chinese, French)
Unnatural Love 510B (American, English, French, Scottish, Italian, English, English, American, Italian, German )
One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes 511
The Wonderful Helpers 513A
The Shepherd 515
The Petrified Friend 516 (German, Italian, French)
The Boy and the Bird-language 517
Big Fight over Magic Things 518 (German)
Brunhilde 519
The Glass Mountain 530 (Norwegian)
Faithful Ferdinand 531 (French, Italian, Russian, French, Lapp)
Repressed Bride 533 (German, American)
The Flight with the Eagle 537
The Cat as Helper 545B (Italian, Italian, French, Norwegian)
The Golden Bird 550 (Russian, English, Swedish, Swahili)
The Water of Life 551 (German (1823), Russian (1862), Spanish (1885))
Animals and In-laws 552 (German)
The Bird as a Helper 553
The Grateful Animals 554 (German, German)
The Fisherman and his Wife, 555 (Japanese, German)
The Princess’ Laugh 559

Magic Items 560-649

The Magic Ring 560 (German)
Aladdin 561
The Spirit in the Blue Light 562 (German, Danish, German)
The Two Marvelous Pitchers 564
The Magic Mill 565 (Norwegian, Chinese, German)
Fortunatus 566
The Magic Bird Heart 567 (German)
Bunnies Beware of the King 570 (French)
The Golden Goose 571 (European)
The Wings of the Prince 575
The Order of the King 577
Favor of Women 580
Spindle, Shuttle, and Needle 585
The Prince and the Bracelets 590 (Norwegian)
The Healing Fruit 610 (German, French)
True Love 611
The Three Snake-Leaves 612
The Two Travelers: Truth and Falsehood 613 (Norwegian)
Sister and Brother healing the King 613C

Supernatural Power or Knowledge 650-699

The Sharp Hans 650A
The Boy Whose Wishes Always Come True 652 (German)
The Skillful Brothers 653 (German)
The Man in Three Animal Forms 665
The Boy in Animal Form 667
The Language of Animals 670
The Three Languages 671
The Schlangenkrönlein 672B
The White Snake 673
The Wish-Fish 675 (Italian, French, French)
Open Sesame! 676

Other stories of the supernatural 700-749

Tom Thumb 700 (German)
Snow Maiden 703*
The Princess and the Pea 704
Born of a Fish 705
The Girl Without Hands 706 (Russian, Swahili, Italian, Italian)
The Bird of Truth 707 (Russian, Italian, German, French, Italian)
The Miraculous Child 708
Snow White 709 (Italian, Armenian, Scottish, Greek)
The Black Madonna 710 (German, Norwegian)
The Twin Sisters 711 (Norwegian, English)
Crescentia 712
From the Juniper Tree 720 (German, English)
The Brother Married the Sister 722
The Dream 725
Floating Stone 746

Religious Tales

God Rewards and Punishes 750-779

Foolish Wishes 750A (French)
The Revived Mortem 750B
The peasant woman is changed into a woodpecker 751A
Christ and the smith 753
Sin and grace 755 (Scandinavian)
Deal with the Devil 756B
The various children of Eve 758
Woman with three hundred and sixty-five children 762
The seven sleepers 766
St Christopher and the Christ child 768
A Child Returns from the Dead 769 (German)
The legend of the horseshoe 774C
The wandering Jew 777
Divine rewards and punishments 779 (German), German)

The Truth Comes to Light 780-791

The Singing Bone 780
The Saviour and Peter in night-lodgings 791

Heaven 800-809

The Tailor in Heaven 800
The Peasant in Heaven 802

The Devil 810-826

The devil loses a soul that was promised him 810 (German)
The man promised to the devil becomes a priest 811
The Mystery of the Devil 812 (German)
The thief rescued by the devil 821A
The lazy boy and the industrious girl 822
Devil writes down names of men on hide in church 826

Other Religious Tales 827-849

Men, Animals, and the Span of Life 828 (German)

Realistic Tales, or Novelles

The Man Marries the Princess 850-869

The Moles of the Princess 850 (German)
The Riddle of the Suitor 851 (German)
That is a lie! 852 (Norwegian)
Contest in Repartee 853
The golden ram 854
The Golden Goat 854A

The Woman Marries the Prince 870-879

The Princess in the Underground Cave 870 (German)
The Goose girl 870A
Brother, Sister and Sister-in-law 872
The Clever Peasant girl 875 (Greek, German, Russian)

Proofs of Fidelity and Innocence 880-899

The wager on the wife's chastity 882
The seducer punished 883B
The forgotten fiancée 884 (German, German)
Griselda 887
The Faithful Wife 888 (Russian)
The Pound of Flesh 890 (cf. Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice)
The Serpent in the Bosom 890A
The children of the king 892
The Daughter of the Sun 898 (Greek)

The Obstinate Wife Learns to Obey 900-909

King Thrushbeard 900

Good Precepts 910-919

Wise through experience 910A
The servant's good counsels 910B

Clever Acts and Words 920-929

The king and the abbot 922
Loving the Salt 923 (German, Italian, French, see also King Lear)
Like wind in the hot sun 923A
Dicussion by sign language 924
Judgment of Solomon 926
Out-riddling the judge 927

Tales of Fate 930-949

The Prediction 930 (German, English, Indian, Serbian/Russian)
Oedipus 931
Death on the Wedding 934B
The Unhappy Princess 938A (Greek)
The magic ball of thread 934E

Robbers and Murderers 950-969

Rhampsinitus 950
The King and the Soldier 952 (German)
The Robber Bridegroom 955
The Sun Brings All to Light 960 (German)
The girl who played with the bread 962**

Other Realistic Tales 970-999

The Wooden Bowl 980B (German)
The Killing of Old Men 981 (Serbian)
Ungrateful Heirs 982 (Sri Lankan)
False Magician Exposed by Clever Girl 987 (German)
Revived from Apparent Death by a Grave-Robber 990

Tales of the Stupid Ogre, Giant, or Devil

Labor Contract 1000-1029

Bargain not to become angry 1000
Dissipation of the ogre's property 1002
Plowing 1003
Hogs in the mud; sheep in the air 1004
Building a bridge . . . 1005
Casting eyes 1006
Cleaning the child 1012
The woman as cuckoo in the tree 1029

Partnership between Man and Ogre 1030-1059

Man and ogre share the harvest 1030 (German)
Granary roof used as threshing flail 1031
The heavy axe 1049
Felling trees 1050
Springing with a Bent Tree 1051 (German)
A Contest in Carrying a Tree 1052 (German)

Contest between Man and Ogre 1060-1114

Squeezing Water from a Stone 1060 (German)
A Contest in Throwing Stones 1062 (German)
Throwing contest with the golden club 1063
Contest in shrieking or whistling 1084
Pushing a hole into a tree 1085
Rowing contest 1087
Eating contest 1088
Contest in words 1093
The tailor and the ogre in a sewing contest 1096 (Mexican)

Man Kills (Injures) Ogre 1115-1144

Attempting to Kill the Hero in His Bed 1115 (German)
Attempt at burning 1116
The ogre's pitfall 1117
Ogres Kill Their Own Children 1119 (German)
Ogre's wife killed through other tricks 1122
The hot porridge in the ogre's throat 1131
Making the ogre strong (by castration) 1133
Eye-remedy 1135
Self Did It 1137 (English)

Ogre Frightened by Man 1145-1154

Wages: as much as he can carry 1153

Man Outwits the Devil 1155-1169

The gun as tobacco pipe 1157
The ogre wants to look through the gun barrel in the smithy 1158
The ogre in the haunted castle. Beard caught fast 1160
The Bear Trainer and His Cat 1161 (Norwegian)
The evil woman thrown into the pit 1164
The troll and the christening 1165

Souls Saved from the Devil 1170-1199

The ogre on the ship 1179
With his whole heart 1186
Devil's Bridge 1191

Anecdotes and Jokes

Stories about a Fool 1200-1349

The plowing 1201
The man without a head in the bear's den 1225
One woman to catch the squirrel; the other to get the cooking pot 1227
Man sitting on branch of tree cuts it off 1240
The tree is to be pulled down 1241
Loading the wood 1242
Carrying part of the load 1242A
The wood is carried down the hill 1243
Sunlight carried in a bag into the windowless house 1245
A hole to throw the earth in 1255
The porridge in the ice hole 1260
Jumping into the sea for fish 1260**
Numskull strikes all the matches in order to try them 1260B*
Rowing without going forward 1276
Marking the place on the boat 1278
Burning the Barn to Destroy an Unknown Animal 1281 (German)
Pulling on the shirt 1285
Numskull unable to count their own number 1287
'These are not my feet' 1288*
Sending One Cheese After Another 1291 (German)
A Fool Greases the Cracked Earth with Butter 1291B (German)
Drowning the crayfish as punishment 1310
The man takes seriously the prediction of death 1313A
Other mistaken identities 1319*
Fools frightened 1321
Moving the church 1326

Stories about Married Couples 1350-1439

The loving wife 1350
The silence wager 1351
The old woman as troublemakar 1353
Flight of the woman and her lover from the stable 1360B
Old Hildebrand 1360C
The Snow-child 1362
The obstinate wife 1365
The wife insults the husband as a lousy-head 1365C
The Foolish Wife and Her Husband 1380-1404
The faithless wife 1380
The talkative wife and the discovered treasure 1381
A Woman Does Not Know Herself 1383 (German)
The husband hunts for three persons as stupid as his wife 1384
A Woman Loses Her Husband's Money 1385* (German)
Meat as food for cabbage 1386
A Woman Draws Beer in the Cellar 1387 (German)
Every hole to tell the truth 1391
The Foolish Husband and His Wife 1405-1429
The Lazy Spinner 1405
The merry wives wager . . . 1406
The man who does his wife's work 1408 (Norwegian)
Trading Away One's Fortune 1415 (German)
The mouse in the silver jug. The new Eve 1416
The Foolish Couple 1430-1439
Air Castles 1430 (German, Aesop)
The contagious yawns 1431

Stories about a Woman 1440-1524

The tenant promises his daughter to his master against her will 1440
Looking for a Wife 1450-1474
Clever Elsie 1450
A suitor chooses the thrifty girl 1451 (German)
Choosing a Bride by How She Cuts Cheese 1452 (German)
Bride test: key in flax reveals laziness 1453
The fast weaver 1453A
The greedy fiancee 1454*
The blind fiancée 1456
The lisping maiden 1457
The girl who ate so little 1458
Keeping up appearances 1459**
The girl with the ugly name 1461
The unwilling suitor advised from the tree 1462
Clean and tidy 1462*
Good housekeeping 1464 C*
Nothing to cook 1464 D*
Marrying a stranger 1468*
Jokes about Old Maids 1475-1499
Praying to the Statue's Mother 1476A (German)
The wolf steals the old maid 1477
Other Stories about Women 1500-1524
The daughter-in-law and the real daughter 1503*

Stories about a Man 1525-1724

The Clever Man 1525-1639
The master thief 1525
Stealing the Count's Horse, Sheet, and Parson 1525A (Norwegian)
The robber brothers 1525 R
The wise carving of the fowl 1533
The Rich Peasant and the Poor Peasant 1535 (German)
The woman in the chest 1536A
The corpse killed five times 1537
The youth cheated in selling oxen 1538
Cleverness and gullibility 1539
The student from Paradise (Paris) 1540
For the long winter 1541
The clever boy 1542
The man without a member 1543*
The man who got a night's lodging 1544
The boy with many names 1545
Stone Soup 1548
The sailor's promise 1553A*
Make-believe eating; make-believe work 1560
The boy 'loses his sight' 1561*
Wife follows written instructions 1562B
'Both' 1563
The master and the servant at the table 1568*
Inspecting the daughter 1573**
The flattering foreman 1574*
The Pot that Died 1592B (Uighur)
The fool as murderer 1600
The Emperor's New Clothes 1620
The conversation of the one-eyed man and the hunchback 1620*
The learned son and the forgotten language 1628
Eulenspiegel's tricks 1635*
Lucky Accidents 1640-1674
The Valiant Little Tailor 1640
Doctor Know-all 1641 (Norwegian, Italian)
Whittington's cat 1651
The Robbers under the Tree 1653 (German)
Securing the Door 1653A (German)
The profitable exchange 1655
The Stupid Man 1675-1724
Two presents for the king 1689A (German)
The ox (ass) as mayor 1675
The boy who had never seen a woman 1678
Foolish man builds aircastles 1681*
The groom teaches his horse to live without food 1682
The forgotten word 1687
Two match-makers 1688B*
Thank God They Weren't Peaches 1689 (Mexican)
Misunderstood words lead to comic results 1698G
'Good day,' - 'a woodshopper' 1968J
The buyer and the deaf seller 1698K
Echo answers 1701
God can't take a joke 1718*

Jokes about Clergymen and Religious Figures 1725-1849

The Clergyman is Tricked 1725-1774
The foolish parson in the trunk 1725
The entrapped suitors 1730
'Who gives his own goods shall receive it back tenfold' 1735 (Mexican)
The stingy parson 1736
Trading Places with the Trickster in a Sack 1737 (German, German)
What does God do? 1738A*
The parson and the calf 1739
Three words at the grave 1745
Clergyman and Sexton 1775-1799
The hungry parson 1775
The sexton falls into the brewing-vat 1776
The sexton carries the parson 1791 (German)
The stingy parson and the slaughtered pig 1792
Other Jokes about Religious Figures 1800-1849
Imagined penance for imagined sin 1804
The eel filled with sand 1804*
Jokes about catechism 1810
How many gods are there? 1810A*
The patience of Job 1811B
Parody sermon 1824
The parson drunk 1825A
The sawed pulpit 1825C
You shall see me a little while longer 1827
Cards (liquor bottle) fall from the sleeve of the preacher 1827A
In trial sermon the parson promises the laymen the kind of weather they want 1830
The sermon about the rich man 1832
Boy answers the priest 1832*
How many sacraments are there? 1832*D
Application of the sermon 1833
God died for you 1833E
Other anecdotes of sermons 1833**
The clergyman with the fine voice 1834
Not to turn round 1835*
The drunken parson: 'Do not live as I live, but as I preach' 1836A
The hog in church 1838
At the blessing of the grave the parson's ox breaks loose 1840
Grace before meat 1841
Parson visits the dying 1843
No time for sickness 1844A
The student as healer 1845

Anecdotes about Other Groups of People 1850-1874

Tall Tales 1875-1999

Hunter turns animal inside out 1889B
Man swallowed by fish 1889G
The lucky shot 1890 (English)
Ramrod shot plus series of lucky accidents 1890D
The man shoots a ramrod full of ducks 1894
A man wading in water catching many fish in his boots 1895
Hunting the wolves with rod and line 1896*
Contest in lying 1920
Wishing contests 1925
The woman who asked for news from home 1931
Too much talk 1948
The three lazy ones 1950
The great ox 1960A
The great fish 1960B
The great catch of fish 1960C
The Giant Vegetable 1960D (German)
The great farmhouse 1960E
The great tree 1960G
The great ship 1960H
The great loaf of bread 1960K
The great insect 1960M
Other stories of great objects and the like 1960Z
The big wedding 1961
Lying tales 1965 (English)

Formula Tales

Cumulative Tales 2000-2100

Chains Based on Numbers, Objects, Animals, or Names 2000-2020
How the rich man paid his servant 2010I
The house is burned down 2014A
The goat that would not go home 2015
Fair Katrinelje and Pif-Paf-Poltrie 2019
Chains Involving Death 2021-2024
The cock and the hen 2021
An Animal Mourns the Death of a Spouse 2022 (German)
Chains Involving Eating 2025-2028
The Fleeing Pancake 2025 (American)
The fat cat 2027
Chains Involving Other Events 2029-2075
The Old Woman and Her Pig 2030
The Sky Is Falling 2033
This Is the House That Jack Built 2035
The Mouse Who Was to Marry the Sun 2031C (Japanese, Indian)
Pulling up the turnip 2044
Tales in which animals talk 2075

Catch Tales 2200-2299

Unfinished tales 2250 (German)

Other Formula Tales 2300-2399

Rounds 2320

See also

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