Erotic Symbolism of Plant Fruits in South Slavic Oral Lyric Poetry

Folkloristics 7/1 (2022): 33–53
Author: Ana Vukmanović

This paper focuses on the erotic symbolism of plant fruits in oral lyric poetry. It is shown that the fruits could be signs of wish (giving apples or quinces as a gift), means in the erotic game (aiming an apple, quince, hawthorn, or blackthorn fruits to a maiden or a lad), and metaphors of bodily parts (apple, melon). The dynamism of erotic phenomenon is noticed in the variability of initiatives during the encounters, giving fruit as a gift in the motion of the sexual act. The sexual act itself is modelled by parallelisms between the human body and fruits (melon and vulva, apple/quince and breasts), or coitus that is metaphorically presented as picking (apples, quinces, lemons) or destroying (cutting a melon). The dynamism of erotic relations is also noticed in motives of rejecting a fruit (a wreath of beans), luring with fruit (apple) as a means to fulfil a desire, and to cross established boundaries. As liminal, erotic experience is connected with the wedding as a ritual of passage, since it can announce the wedding. Accordingly, the paper discusses the ways erotic symbolism of plant fruits intersects with their functions as a pre-wedding gift.

Keywords: plant fruits, oral lyric poetry, South Slavic cultural areal, erotic symbolism, human body, the Other.