Posts Tagged ‘mongolian legend’

I’ve been indeed telling you all kinds of tales from all kinds of cultures. But how do for example the Mongols believe that tales and stories first originated among them? Read the answer in todays tale.

The Legend of Blind Tarvaa

It is told, that many years ago the black plaque spread out among the Mongols killing hundreds, no thousands of people. Those who were still healthy ran away to save their own lives leaving behind their sick loved ones to let fate decide their futures.

telling a story

Among those left behind there was also a fifteen year old boy called Blind Tarvaa. When he lost consciousness, his soul left his body and came to the khaan of hell. The khaan of hell was astonished upon seeing the soul and said: “Why have you come here? You’re body isn’t dead yet.”

“They left me behind because they thought my body was already dead,” the soul answered, “And so I didn’t wait any longer but came right here.”

The obedience and the patience of the soul pleased the khaan and he said: “Your time hasn’t come yet. You have to return to your master. But before you go, you shall make a wish.”

The khaan lead the soul through hell and there were all the things which humans can encounter in life: wealth, fortune and contentment, sorrow and grief, happiness and pleasure, songs and music, dance, tales and legends. The soul of the blind Tarvaa looked at everything and finally asked for the tales. The khaan gave them to him and sent him back to earth.

The soul went back to the body which was showing no signs of life. A crow had already picked out the body’s eyes. The soul was very sad to see the body he had been born in like that but he did not dare disobeying the khaan’s order. And so the soul had to slip back into the body.

After that Blind Tarvaa lead a very long life and knew all the magic and tales in the world. Although he was blind, he could still see what would happen in the future. He went throughout Mongolia, told his tales and with them he taught people. And since that time, it is told, there are tales being told by the Mongols.

Copyright for translation and narration: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: “Jeon (telling a story)” painted by Jang Seungeop


I love, love, love this tale. It’s so sad and yet hopeful and beautiful.

And from a folkloristic perspective, I find the evidence of the special time continuum in folklore interesting. Tarvaa is introduced as Blind Tarvaa even though he only becomes blind in the course of this tale. One has to remember that in the old days, you were rarely told a story you genuinely did not know already. Telling and listening, all was done just for the joy of language and story. So it’s not exactly a spoiler to introduce him as Blind Tarvaa. 🙂

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Today I bring you a Mongolian legend/animal tale. Again this obviously came to Mongolia via India. In this case, via buddhism. But read for yourselves!

Why the Camel Rolls in the Ashes

sore loser?

A long time ago the names of the animals representing the twelve years of the Mongolian calendar, that is the buddhist calendar, were being chosen and eleven names were called at once. But then there was the question which animal should begin the circle of the twelve years. The camel and the mouse both proposed their names and quarreled about who should be included in the circle. Not wanting to offend either of them, Buddha said: “Settle this between yourselves!”

And so the two animals made a bet to decide who would have the honour to start the calendar: Whoever saw the first rays of the rising sun the next morning, would start the twelve years. (more…)

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In this Mongolian animal legend we learn how the chipmunk got its stripes and what the bear has got to do with it. It might not be the tale you expect from this short intro.

How the Chipmunk Got Its Stripes

A long, long time ago, when the seasons had just turned spring, a bear crawled out of his cave. The winter had been hard and the bear had lost a lot of weight so he was really hungry now. But there were no berries yet and since the ground was still frozen, he also could not dig for roots.

“Oh, I will surely starve!” the bear thought to himself, pondering his situation. “What am I going to do?” But just then he remembered the chipmunk. (more…)

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Mongolian Musician Purevjav Sambuu playing the morin khuur

Today I bring you another Mongolian folktale, this time the legend of the horse-headed violin of the Mongols. It’s a beautiful, sad, otherworldly tale…

The Legend of Khokhoo Namjil

In times long past, a handsome man called Khokhoo Namjil – that is: Namjil, the Cuckoo – lived in the far Eastern part of Mongolia. He was very famous in his district because of his extraordinary, beautiful voice. But then came the day when young Khokhoo Namjil had to join the army and he had to go to the far Western borderlands. (more…)

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