Posts Tagged ‘wolf’

Sorry. Could thing I warned you that the posts might be not as regular. Between the world cup and apartment hunting and a presentation at university… Gah.

But today, let’s have another one of the most famous fables by Aesop. And beware of the very political contemplations at the end of this post.

The Lamb and the Wolf
by Aesop

wolf, lamb and the - ghost of its father?

A little lamb was quenching its thirst at a small stream. Further up the stream and thus closer to its well, a wolf was also drinking his fill. As soon as he caught sight of the little lamb, he cried:

“Why are you muddying the water that I want to drink?”

“How could that be possible?” replied the little lamb timidly. “I am standing down here and you so high up the stream. The water is flowing from you to me. Please believe me that it never crossed my mind to do something evil to you!”

“See! You are doing exactly what your father did six months ago. I remember very well that you were with him, too, but could make a lucky escape as I had his hide for his abuse!”

“Oh, mister!” begged the trembling little lamb, “I am but four weeks old and never even knew my father because he has been dead for so long. How could I atone for him?” (more…)


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This Mongolian animal tale one is actually representing a particular type of the genre: three friends, one gets trapped, another one wants to eat him, the last one comes to the rescue. Sounds kind of like the tale about the lame magpie? Yeah, no. Not really. But read for yourselves. Especially since you can never read too many Mongolian animal tales.

The Khulan, the Crow and the Wolf

In times long ago, a khulan – that is a Mongolian wild ass –, a crow and a wolf lived together as brothers. One day they went in search of a new place to live and the crow said: “There is this place where every one of us would find plenty to eat. But there lives a skilled hunter with his bow and his traps. The traps would be a danger for us.”

little khulan all relaxed

The wolf thought: “If the khulan would happen to get caught in one of the hunter’s traps, I could eat as much as I want.” So he said out loud: “Let’s move to this beautiful place and live there. Or are you afraid of one hunter?”

Therefore the three friends moved to that place and for a while they lived there in peace. But one day the khulan got caught in a trap. As soon as the wolf heard about it, he hurried to get to the trapped animal before the crow would find him. When he arrived there, the wolf asked the khulan: “How did this happen?” (more…)

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As this is the 42nd tale and we all know the special meaning of the number “42” – after all it is the not yet fully understood answer to life, the universe and everything 🙂 – let me celebrate this occasion by telling you another one of my favourite Mongolian animal tales.

The Two Good Horses

In times long past, two horses that had been sold to a place far away longed for home. But while they were on their way home, one of the horses had grown old and then one day it stayed behind as it could not go any further.

...and so the young horse walked on alone

“Now, little brother, be good and always follow the road. Your aged, older brother is going to die. Little brother, do not wander off the road. Do not approach things that you can only dimly see. Do not untie a bundle’s opening.” In this way the old horse instructed his brother and then it fell behind.

The young horse slowly and hesitantly continued on its way. But then it saw the shape of something it could only dimly see, it is told. The horse wanted to explore the mysterious thing and ran impatiently towards the shape. It turned out to be a bundle and whatever was inside it, made it move about. “Whatever that may be,” thought the young horse. It could not wait any longer and untied the opening at once. Immediately, a big, hungry, brown wolf jumped out. (more…)

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The brilliance of this fairy tale, which was “told in Picardy by Narcisso Dufaux, aged 48 years, a cap-maker at Warloy-Baillon (Somme)”, lays in the punch line. Read for yourselves!

Skilful John

One day a poor man sent.his son, Skilful John, to carry some buttered rolls to his parents, who lived three miles off, telling him not to stop by the way. John sauntered along the road and lost his way. Seeing a light, he followed it and came to a little hut. He knocked at the door.

Skilful John a few years later...

“Tap! tap!
Open to a poor lost boy.
Tap! tap!
God therefor will have great joy.” (more…)

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For the 25th tale that I’m telling you – and wow, time flies! – I feel it’s time for a Mongolian animal tale again. I believe this one was the first Mongolian animal tale I ever read when we had to translate it in class. Or at least one of the first few. In any case – enjoy!

The Dumb Wolf

Once upon a time a wolf was wandering about when he saw a black pudding lying right in his path. The wolf wanted to eat it at once but the black pudding asked: “Mister Wolf, do not eat me! A little further ahead a three-year old mare is stuck in the mud. Why don’t you go there and eat her instead?”

hunting a wolf the early modern European way

The wolf followed the black pudding’s advice and there really was a mare stuck in the mud. When the wolf saw her, he wanted to eat her but the mare said: “Mister Wolf, if you want to eat me, you’d better pull me from the mud first.” So that was what the wolf did. (more…)

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it does look a little drunk...

I love the title of this really tiny Mongolian animal tale. As I do love the content – it’s clever and hilarious. The usual celebration of wit and humor. What more do we want?

A Tiny Tale

In earlier times, a wolf, a fox and a hedgehog, these three, lived together.

Then one day, they found a single plum and when they discussed who should eat the tiny thing, the wolf said: “Whichever one of us gets drunk the easiest on arkhij, our schnaps made from milk, should ear it.” The other two agreed.

And so the wolf continued: “As soon as I taste arkhij, I’m drunk.”

And the fox said: “If I even smell it, I’m already drunk.”

The hedgehog meanwhile sat between them, swaying back and forth as if drunk, so people say. When the other two realized his state, they asked: “What is with you?”

“Oh, I’m drunk just from listening to you talk about arkhij. What have you been saying?” the hedgehog said swaying ever more dangerously from side to side. The hedgehog seemed the clear winner but just as he was about to eat the plum, the wolf interrupted by saying: “Let us make a race. Whichever one of us wins it, shall eat the plum.” Again the other two agreed.

When the started racing, the hedgehog hold onto the fox’s tail and when they approached the finish line, he swung himself over and – most unexpectedly won the race.

Copyright for translation and narration: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: Albertus Seba’s illustration of a European hedgehog


This one not only strongly reminds of the tale of The Fox and the Wolf I have told you before, but also of the German (European?) tale of the race between hare and hedgehog.

But instead of musings about motifs and origins at length, today I’d like to share with you a peculiarity of the Mongolian language and my attempt to ‘transcreate’ it. In Mongolian you don’t say “fox and wolf” but “fox wolf two”. Or in this case, “wolf fox hedgehog three”. Now, how to translate this phrase without making it sound weird but still hinting at the special ways of the Mongolian language? I tried it with “a wolf, a fox and a hedgehog, these three”. What do you think? Useful translation without too much ‘transcreation’?

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Fox against Wolf the European Way

Now that I got the rambling introduction out-of-the-way, let’s start this blog for real – with my favourite Mongolian animal tale about a fox, a wolf and a lump of butter.

The Fox and the Wolf

Once upon a time – or as the Mongols put it – in times long, long past, a fox and a wolf lived together as close and peacefully as brothers. One day, they had just gone out to find something to eat, when they suddenly came upon a lump of butter that lay right in the middle of the road. A fat, shiny lump of butter. (more…)

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