The Riddle of the Ox
A long, long time ago there was an enormous ox. In his head, in his kidneys and in his rear end lived three rich men. The rich man living in the ox’s head had a winter and a spring place. The man living in the kidneys had a winter and a spring place and a summer place, too. The rich man in the head said to the one in the middle: “For days this ox hasn’t eaten any grass.”
The rich man in the middle delivered the message to the man in the ox’s rear end: “His empty and hollow belly is starting to fall inwards.”
“Well, I’m living in this place for years. Yet the ox has not taken a crap once. How can that be?” the rich man living in the rear asked. He used to gather the ox’s droppings using them to make fire as is the Mongol way, living in the mostly forest-less steppes.
But now the ox was dying. And once he was dead, a fox ate his fill for three years until there was nothing left of the ox’s cadaver.
Only the shoulder-blade remained laying in the steppe. Seventy warriors camped on the shoulder-blade and pitched their tents there. Once the warriors had left again, a bird flew by, took the bone in his beak and flew away with it.
Somewhere else an old man sought shelter from the rain in the beard of a fat, white he-goat when the bird took a seat on the goat’s horns. But when he made to eat the shoulder-blade, it fell down and got caught in the old man’s eye. And because it hurt the old man very much, his neighbours came and used shovels and pickaxes to dig the bone out again but it did not work. So the old man went back home and his wife used her tongue to lick the bone of the ox out of her husband’s eye.
So, which one was the biggest?
Only a fool would believe that the shoulder-blade was the biggest. Only an idiot would think that the bird was the biggest. Who thinks that the man was the biggest has thought long and hard. Who claims that the woman was the biggest didn’t spent much thought on this. A wise person would say that the he-goat was the biggest. And an imaginative person would think that the seventy warriors were the biggest of them all.
Copyright for translation and narration: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: Brockhaus Konversations-Lexikon, 1895 @ Commons WikiMedia