The Tale of the Khaan and the Badarcin
Once upon a time there lived a khaan, that is, the Mongolian equivalent to a king. On one very normal day, he suddenly announced: “I will leave my throne to the man telling a lie which makes a sitting man stand up and a sleeping man wake up.”
A tailor heard this and came before the khaan to become khaan in his stead. “Dear khaan, dear khaan! In the heavy rain of the day before last, the edges of heaven got torn and I went and sewed them up again using the tendons of a louse,” he lied. Happy with himself he thought: “Now I have surely told a lie which will make a sitting man stand up and wake up a sleeping one.”
But the khaan said: “Bah, you sewed it up badly. After all it rained again yesterday morning.” The tailor left the room without saying another word, his head hung in disappointment.
Then a herdsman stepped in front of the khaan and told him: “Dear khaan, dear khaan! My deceased father owned a whip with which he struck the stars from the sky.”
The khaan answered: “That’s nothing. My own deceased father, the former khaan, owned a pipe. When he lit it up, the smoke curled around the stars in the sky and tied them all together.” The herdsman did not know what to say and went away.
Just then a badarcin, a Mongolian itinerant monk, came into the room carrying a bucket. The khaan asked him: “Badarcin, what do you want?”
“What, don’t you recognise me?” asked the badarcin, “After all you have borrowed a bucket full of gold from me. I have come to get my gold back.”
The khaan jumped out of his seat and demanded to know: “And when should I have borrowed that gold from you? You are lying!” The noise woke up the khatan, the khaan’s wife, who had slept nearby. “You are lying when you claim to have borrowed me gold. Beat him, hit him!” the khaan yelled and gesticulated wildly at his guard.
The badarcin said: “If I am lying then leave me your throne, dear khaan.”
The khaan thought about that for a moment and then he replied: “Wait a moment! You are telling the truth. I did borrow the gold from you. I just remembered.”
Then give me my gold!” demanded the badarcin and the khaan did as he was told.
Thus the badarcin told a lie which made a sitting man stand up and woke up a sleeping woman. He gained a bucket of gold and taught the careless khaan a lesson.
Copyright for translation and narration: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: Rashid al-Din (14th century) @ Commons WikiMedia