Type 700 TomFebruary 20, 2023
The Thumbling project focuses on global variants of the Tom Thumb and Thumbelina tale. There are literally hundreds of variants of this popular story that features a character of extremely tiny size. This character may be referred to as thumbling, inchling, fingerling, dwarf, homunculus, manikin, or other size-inspired nicknames.
The Thumbling project follows the Aarne–Thompson–Uther Index, a catalogue of folktale types that catalogues some 2500 basic plots from which, for countless generations, European and Near Eastern storytellers have built their tales. Each type is numbered. The Tom Thumb story is a Type 700. It was first published in 1621 but very similar stories go as far back as Greek mythology. The Type 700 Tom is described as being no bigger than his father’s thumb. His adventures include being swallowed by a cow, tangling with giants, and becoming a court dwarf of King Arthur. The Incredible Shrinking Man is interested because many of the prejudices (both good and bad) towards small people were, and still are, represented by and shaped through these folkloric tales. A list of numbered motifs that may appear in thumbling tales include ‘unusual animal as a riding-horse‘ (B557), ‘thumbling swallowed by animals‘ (F5220.127.116.11), ‘thumbling sold as freak‘ (F518.104.22.168), ‘birth from a flower‘ (T543.2), ‘the helpful frog‘ (B493.1), and ‘monster child helps mother‘ (T550.1).