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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/337

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Székely Tales.

nationalities, I mention the Wallachians, who were afterwards reduced to serfs.

The Székelyek were therefore recognised as totally differing from the Hungarians, forming a nationality apart. They must have had a language of their own, as they had a distinct separate administration and organization.

Various theories have been advanced in order to solve the problem of the origin of the Székelyek. According to one theory they are identical with the Hungarians, and belong to the Finno-Altaic group; according to another they belong to the Turko-Tartar tribes of families. It is this latter which seems to be the more probable. I am inclined to see in them the remnants, not of the Avars (Huns is too collective a name to designate a special family), but of the Cumans and of the Hazars, both undoubtedly Turko-Tartar tribes. The Cumans had occupied Wallachia of to-day for many centuries, until the wave of new-comers swept them across the Carpathians. Cuman districts were known to exist in Hungary for a very long time, and only in the last century died the last man who spoke Cumanian. The Hazars were the next to follow, and these, as can be shown by documentary evidence, held very high positions among the Hungarians, whom they preceded in the invasion of Pannonia. Other minor elements, driven thither by the fury of the succeeding invasions, may have been absorbed into that new community that arose in the fastness of Transylvania. Out of these grew the Székelyek, who held their own for centuries, often waging war with the Saxons, Wallachians, and Turks. Nowadays they also have succumbed to the influence of the dominant race, and have become almost entirely Hungarians, considering themselves, and being considered too by others, as the aristocratic and racially pure representatives of the ancient Hungarians. Their folk-lore is, therefore, of the highest interest to the student of ethnopsychology. If the boast of the Székelyek be true, one