For a change, today it’s not a Mongolian animal myth but a Buryat one. I know, the shocking extremes of this change… 😀
A poor cooper*was on a search for a tree fitting to make it into rings for a barrel. When he came to an island in the lake, he saw a red willow. This one, he wanted to make into rings. But when he approached the willow to cut it down, it said to him: “Don’t chop me down, please! I will give you everything that you want.”
And it kept its word – soon the cooper became wealthy. Even rich, people say. After a little while had passed, he went to the red willow again and said: “Please make me the khaan.” And so the willow made the cooper the khaan. But after he had thus become khaan, the cooper and his khatan – his wife, the queen – got into a box wagon, took a great number of soldiers with them and went to chop down the red willow.But as the soldiers raised their axes to fell the willow, as they had been ordered to, the willow spoke to them: “Look at the khaan and the khatan!”
When the soldiers turned around, they saw that the khaan and his khatan had become bears and were fleeing into the wood. All of the soldiers feared them very much and ran off without even touching the red willow.
This is the reason, so the Buryat people tell us, that the bear had been khaan in earlier time. And when you meet a bear in the steppes, you just tell him: “Dear khaan, please be kind-hearted!” and he will toddle off. Or so they say.
Copyright for translation and narration: TaleTellerin
Copyright for the image: Departure Herald (illustration from the Ming Dynasty) @ WikiMedia Commons
One of my lecturers in Mongolian studies shared two more ways to escape a bear should you ever meet one. If you’re up on a mountain, he said, you simply need to race down the mountain side in a zig zag. The greater mass of the bear means that he will just keep on racing down in a straight line. The other option is only something for the really courageous – play dead. The moral of this one is easy: Avoid bears like the plaque! 😀
* Since I had to look it up myself – a cooper is a barrel maker. One never stops learning…