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Perina



Origin: Italian

Meaning: a variant spelling of Pierina, a feminine form of Pietro, the Italian form of Peter from Greek Petros meaning "stone".

Perina is also an elaborate feminine form of pero, the Italian word for "pear" or "pear tree". It was used by Italo Calvino for his version of the Italian folktale The Little Girl Sold with the Pears instead of the original name, Margheritina, because of its resemblence to pears (and because they play a part in the story).

Perina is also the name of a genus of moth.

Every year a famer sends four baskets of pears to the king as tribute but one year, he only had 3 and a half baskets of pears. He puts his youngest daughter into the bottom of the basket, covers it with pears, and sends them along to the king. The little girl survived on the pears for some time before the kitchen staff discovered the pears were disappearing and cores left behind, suspecting rats. Instead they discover the little girl; she is given work in the kitchen and given the name Perina (presumably after the pears she was discovered in). She was a cheerful and lovely girl and became good friends with the prince of the palace. Years passed. The other servants were jealous of Perina and began to spread rumors about her, specifically that she had boasted that she could steal the witches treasure. When the king heard the rumor, he sent for Perina and and asked her if it was true she could steal the witches' treasure. Even when she denied it, the king didn't believe her and so he sent her to get the treasure.

Perina walked and walked until nightfall when she reached an apple tree but kept walking past it; she came across a peach tree but walked past that as well; finally, when she reached a pear tree she stopped and spent the night there. When she woke up in the morning, there was an old woman there and when she asked her what she was doing there, Perina told her of what the king had tasked her to do. In response, the old woman gives Perina 3 gifts: 3 pounds of grease, 3 pounds of millet, and 3 pounds of bread and sent her on her way. Eventually, Perina comes across a bakery where 3 women were trying to clean the oven out. They had no brooms so they used their own hair to try and clean it out. Perina gave them the millet to clean the oven and they thanked her. Then Perina came across 3 hungry dogs who kept barking at her so she gave them the bread and they ate it. Then she came across a river with red water, but the old woman had given her a chant to say to the river, at which the waters parted and let her through.

Just across the river was a fine palace. The door kept slamming open and shut very fast, too fast for Perina to pass through, so she uses the grease on the hinges and now it opened and closed slowly and gently. Inside, Perina found the treasure chest however as she approached it the treasure chest spoke and said to the door "Kill her", but the door refused since she had greased its hinges. When Perina got to the river, the treasure chest said to the river "Drown her" but the river refused since she had said nice things about it (in the chant). When she got to the dogs, the treasure chest told them "Eat her" but the dogs refused because she had fed them, and when they went past the bakery the oven refused to burn her because she had given the women millet to clean.

However, at this point, Perina's curiosity gets the better of her and she opens the chest to see what's inside. A hen and its golden chicks jump out and run away. She chases after them. She goes past the apple tree and the peach tree and finally, at the pear tree, she finds the old woman with the hen and golden chicks, and helps her shoo them back in the chest. Just then the prince shows up and he tells her that when the king asks her what she wanted as a reward to ask for the box of coal in the celler. So Perina does as she's told and when the box is brought in, out pops the prince who'd been hiding inside. After that, the king is more than happy to let Perina marry his son and they lived happily after.

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