для читателей старше 18 лет
A Tatar folk tale
However, the Tatar khans continued to consider the grand princes of Moscow to be their vassals, and from time to time they still raided the territory of Moscow and indeed the city itself. Moreover, the Kazan Tatars controlled the middle Volga, frustrating the ambitions of Russia’s rulers to extend their trading activities to the east.
A History of the Peoples of Siberia, by James Forsyth
A very long time ago there lived a rich peasant in a village. He had a homestead and a good house. There was a pen in his yard and there lived a brave cockerel and several hens. The cockerel was used to walking around the yard, looking to the left and looking to the right: he kept order, putting on airs and graces.
One early morning the cockerel jumped up, sat on the fence and began to yell:
“Cock-a-doodle-doo! Ku-ka-re-ku! Dear girls and ladies, you have received a great honour! Now I am not just a cock — I am Cock-The-Khan! I am Cock-The-Shah, I am Cock-The-Padishah, I am Cock-The-Sultan! My winsome chickens, my dear babies, — blackish and whitish, greyish, reddish and goldish: tell me, who is the most handsome in the world? Who is the greatest man of courage?”
Having heard him, there gathered all the chickens, — blackish and whitish, greyish, reddish and goldish. They surrounded their master — the magnificent Khan, the great Shah, the mighty Padishah, the powerful Sultan, — and began to sing:
“Cock-a-doodle-doo, oh, Magnificent Khan! Kud-ku-da, oh, Great Shah! Cock-a-doodle-doo, oh, Mighty Padishah! Kud-ku-da, oh, Powerful Sultan! No one in the world is so brave, as you are. No one in the world is so smart, as you are. There is nobody in the world as handsome as you are!”
“Cock-a-doodle-doo!” The Cock was singing louder. “Who has a colourful dress? Who has strong legs? Who has a loud voice?”
“Oh, Great Shah, you have a colourful dress. Oh, Magnificent Padishah, you have strong legs. You, the Great of the Greatest, have a voice louder than a lion!” were clucking the chickens.
The Cock inflated with pride, raised his high crest and cackled his best:
“Ku-ka-re-ku! Come to me closer and tell me loudly: who has the highest Crown on his head?”
The chickens came to the fence, bowing down before the Very Important Cock and singing:
“You have the highest Crown on your head, which is glittering like a blaze. You are our Only Shah. You are our Only Padishah!”
At that time, a fat cook had crept up to the cockerel, like a bolt out of a clear sky, and grabbed him by the neck.
“Ku-ka-re-ku! What a horrid nightmare!” cried Cock-The-Shah.
“Kud-ku-da! Where are you going?” shouted the chickens.
The cook caught the Mighty Khan by his right leg, and he killed the Great Shah with a sharp knife! The cook plucked all the variegated dress off the Powerful Padishah, and he cooked chicken soup, — that despicable cook, — from the King of Glory!
The kind folks gathered around the table, where there was a big pot of soup. They were eating and praising:
“Oh yeah, what a delicious cockerel! Quite so, what a fatty rooster!”
Kookylin the Dodger
An Eskimo folk tale
The shamans of the American Eskimo of the nearest shore of Alaska also enjoy the respect of their Asiatic neighbors, both Maritime Chukchee and Asiatic Eskimo. In one tale a contest between two shamans — one an American, one an Asiatic — ends with a full victory for the American, although the shaman from the Asiatic shore resorts even to treachery, and is severely punished for it.
The Chukchee, by Waldemar Bogoras
There lived a man in his hut — yaranga. His name was Kookylin. He had a wife and three children. His kids had not let him lie around — they were used to eating up everything very quickly. Almost each day Kookylin went out to hunt for food, but there were few game birds at that place, and often he returned home empty-handed. In the long run, he got tired of such a life, and one day he thought:
“Well, now I might pretend to be dead, like I have already died. When they bury me, I will live alone, I will have my fill!”
One day he pretended to be ill: he fell to the ground and was lying motionless on his back. Then he said to his wife:
“When I do grow old (pass away), don’t cut my clothes. Simply take them off and put beside me. Put my weapon, a bola (a sort of sling) and a knife-cleaver, by my side. And send a pan, a pot and some meat with me. Maybe in the next world, if revive, I will need something.”
Really he had seen life not so long and then died. His wife and children shed a few tears, and then began to bury him according to the ancient custom. They brought him to a remote place. His sons put him on the ground and covered his body with stones. They put his clothes in the grave, as he had instructed, without cutting. They left him some food, the pan, the bola, the knife and the pot. They left him alone and then went home.
When the mourners vanished over the horizon, Kookylin got up, dressed himself and began to build a cabin — nynloo. For a few days he had built the nynloo and began hunting. The man felt free and used to catch a lot of ptarmigans. Indeed, he ate his fill every day. He lived a happy life, forgetting about his old home.
And his wife would go out of the yaranga in the morning and sit on a stone in sorrow — her husband died! A little later, she would take her knife and snares and go hunting…
With the lapse of time, Kookylin stopped thinking about his family. He enjoyed in the morning, cutting meat off the ptarmigan’s legs, pounding it with fat and eating to satiety. He sat by the fire in his dugout, stirring the fat with the meat in the pan and singing:
“Kookyl, Kookyl, Kookylin — I eat the fat of the land!” He was stirring and singing:
“Kookyl, Kookyl, Kookylin — oh, yea!”
Once an arctic fox saw him hunting in the tundra, and ran off down the road. At that time the wife of Kookylin was sitting at her yaranga. Suddenly she saw the arctic fox running around the corner. The woman thought:
“Why is she walking just here? It’s cool!” The woman looked then: it was already not the fox but a young woman. And the fox-woman asked the wife of Kookylin:
“What are you thinking about?”
“Oh, my husband has recently died — about him and my poor children I’m thinking!”
“He didn’t die — your husband! There he lives, up the road. He is alive and kicking! Not long ago I saw him hunting ptarmigans thereabout. Come on, dear, put my skin on, run and look!”
The wife of Kookylin took the skin of the fox and put it on. At the same moment she turned into a fox, and went then running up the road.
“Hey, when you take a look at your husband and be running back, pull your tail out — you’ll be able to run as fast as the wind!” shouted the fox-woman.
The wife of Kookylin came to the pointed place and saw: the curling smoke was rising over a hillock. She came nearer and looked inside: her husband was in the nynloo, sitting by the fire. He had put the pan between his legs and was mixing fat with meat.
“Kookyl, Kookyl, Kookylin — oh, yea!” The man kept singing and pounding the fat with the meat.
“Hey, you there, it seems that Kookylin is dead!” shouted the woman inside the nynloo.
“Oh, no, no! I’m not dead, I am alive! Is that you, honey? Come in, dear, wait for me! I’m filled with ptarmigans, I can’t run quickly. Come on, help me to drag the game birds home,” answered the man.
He looked out — there was nobody around. Only an arctic fox was running away. Kookylin took some ptarmigans and went home down the road. When he came there, his wife glanced at him, sitting in the yaranga and said:
“Hey, man, a little bird told me that Kookylin is dead!”
“No, no, dear, I’m not dead. I have caught many ptarmigans. I myself couldn’t even bring them here. Help me please, we have to bring them home.”
And they began to drag over his ptarmigans. The man moved back to their yaranga and they continued to live as before. But Kookylin had not lived long; he soon became really ill and then died shortly afterwards.
Thus Kookylin the Dodger departed to that country, from which no one has ever returned.
Pugey the Trader
A Nanay folk tale
The Nanais revered the same “master” spirits of forest, fire, river, mountains, etc. as the other Amur peoples, and the cult of the bear was an element in their religion. Living as they did within the territory of another even more formidable predator — the tiger — the Nanais, like the Udeghes and Oroches, treated it with even greater respect than the bear, and avoided killing the sacred animal if at all possible.
A History of the Peoples of Siberia, by James Forsyth
A long time ago there lived a man, Veliney, in the Nanay village of Buriken. Many years later this village gave birth to the city of Khabarovsk. Veliney was a bold and successful hunter from the tribe of Oninka. A lot of girls wanted to marry him, but he married Sedekey, the most beautiful girl from all over the neighbourhood. The largest bride price paid Veliney! Having become a wife, Sedekey used to keep their house all day long, fetching water and cooking food, sewing and mending clothes, chopping firewood and stoking a fire. Some time passed and they got a son, Surgii. When the son was growing, Veliney loved to play with him, and then little by little he began to teach him how to find tracks of wild animals in the forest, how to recognize birds by their voices, how to find the way home by the sun or the stars. Surgii was a good boy and easily adopted all the skills from his father.
Then Veliney got a younger son, Pugey. The son was growing slowly and was often sick while a child. His mother was very sorry for the kid that had been with her all the time. She did not want him to be a hunter. When Pugey grew up a little, he was sent to a parish school where he learned the Russian language and got a good understanding of reading, writing and counting.
When the elder son Surgii grew up, he became a hotshot like his father. In the vast taiga he hunted for wild boars, red and roe deers. From time to time he met a bear or a tiger and none of them was able to avoid his bullet. His fishing rods also were not lying in vain. Surgii was the best hunter and fisherman, and their home became the richest in the village. He married a nice girl and his wife then gave birth to a lovely daughter.
Thus they lived. A long time elapsed, and Veliney became old and sick. Sedekey attended her sick husband for a long time, but eventually Veliney became very ill and died. After that Sedekey lived with her children, but she did not like the daughter-in-law; she often scolded her and finally decided to find a husband for herself.
One day it happened that Sedekey befriended a Chinese. She once caroused noisily with the Chinese, and all the people learnt that they became husband and wife. The name of the Chinese was Dyfenty. He had a rank of the big banana — gasanda. With a heavy hand, he ruled the great area from Khabarovsk to Bikin.
They began to live together. The elder son Surgii would go hunting and fishing. When the younger son Pugey grew up, his stepfather Dyfenty used to take him on trips to the edge of the Amur country. On those trips, they often had to deal with different merchants. With the lapse of time, Dyfenty started a trading business together with his stepson. At the mother’s instigation, Pugey gradually took all the trade in his own hands.
Then Pugey bought a big boat and began to trade in fish and furs, sailing from one village to another, from one river to the next. In ten years Pugey turned into a “big man”, thick and important. The whole neighbourhood knew him, calling “Pugey the trader”.
One day, Pugey set off down the river in his boat. In a secluded spot he saw a woman, one man’s wife. He began talking to her, lured her into his boat and stole the woman. Then he sold her to an Udegey, that lived in the village of Chora and who was his friend.
Pugey came back home, hoping that no one could find out what happened, but his stepfather learned about his trick from a distant relative and decided to abandon Pugey and his mother. However, the woman showed her husband a magical thing that she got some time ago from a local shaman. According to his words, this thing was made from a bird and could cause a black disease and death. When Dyfenty learnt about this, he was frightened and did not dare to leave the woman. And his wife became so brave that laughed at him. They began living together again.
Time was creeping on and one day the wife of Surgii delivered a baby boy. The father was beside himself with joy when he heard the good news!
Meanwhile Pugey became “too big for his boots”, that he could afford such tricks as follows. He gathered furs of all hunters and went to a Manchurian city. There he exchanged the furs for all that he needed. Having returned home from there, he took half of the gain for himself and the rest he distributed among the people. In such a way, he would cheat the illiterate Nanay hunters. Pugey became the biggest liar among the Nanay merchants!
One day, when Pugey went by boat to trade, he took three women with him. On that day he earned a very large income. On the way back, he was drunk and began to stick to one of the women.
“I saw in a dream that you were my wife,” said Pugey.
“I do not want to be your wife — you are greedy,” replied the woman.
“Well then, let’s just sleep together — I’ll give you new beads!”
“Don’t want your beads!”
When she refused him, Pugey got angry, then attacked her treacherously and raped her. The next morning he got sober and realized what he had done! He was afraid of retaliation — he thought that relatives of the woman would kill him. Then he decided not to wait for revenge and stabbed all three women with a long dagger — he killed them all! When he returned home, he told everyone that the women stayed with their relatives in a remote village.
Once on the return from his trip, Pugey got drunk and went wandering around the village, — having the heebie-jeebies. From time to time he stopped in the middle of the road, telling someone that he was a smart and rich trader, but no one wanted to listen to him. In the evening he returned home, when all the people had gone to bed. Pugey sat alone drunk, shouting and showing off. As he was sitting there, a boy, son of the elder brother, woke up and started to weep. The man yelled:
“Why are you crying? I just got tired! I have no children and don’t want to have!”
Cursing like this he rushed to the boy. The boy began to cry in fear even harder. The man took the boy’s cradle and threw it on the floor. The cradle, falling to the floor, knocked down the boy. Pugey went to sleep then, as if nothing had happened. The next morning the boy was found dead. Thus Pugey killed the kid of his brother and then escaped.
The villagers did not want to believe what happened… After a while they caught Pugey. He was not able to cheat his brother and told him everything. The folks were sure that the evil spirit Orkii had possessed his soul. The old men gathered in Pugey’s house and put him on trial. In the old days, the Nanay folks conducted the trial in such a manner: many people clustered together and discussed what to do with an offender. At that meeting they decided to execute Pugey — his brother Surgii should kill him with his own hands.
The folks pointed to a small lake, which was like a swamp. It was the worst of the lakes, lonely lake, which lived for its own sake. Having got to that little lake, Surgii bound his younger brother, then killed him, and drowned him in the lake. The lake became hectic. There was blood everywhere. Surgii burst out crying — he lost his brother!
Thus died Pugey the trader.
Sin in Good Company
A Jewish folk tale
The Russian government, though it has not attempted total abolition, or banishment in six weeks, has yet attempted to curb, restrain, and put down the poor Jews, in various ways. At one time all Jews were to confine themselves to agriculture; at another time all Jews without property were to be transported to Siberia, where the government would provide them with property.
An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire, by Robert Sears
Once upon a time there lived two wealthy Jews in a city. One of them — Elisha — was a young man with a beautiful black beard. The name of another man was Reuven — he was older, with grey hair on his head. Elisha was still naive, like many young men, but Reuven was prudent and experienced in business. These friends were merchants; they conducted their affairs together and were the complementary halves.
One day they went to a landlady, for new goods. She was a middle-aged woman, widowed some years ago. She lived alone in her estate in the countryside. For many years, Reuven and Elisha had been doing business with her, although the local people were whispering that she was a witch. This time the friends bought a lot of high-quality goods from the woman: sheepskin and wool, dried mushrooms and berries, butter and cheese, and so on. They fully paid for the commodity, packed their goods, and were ready to return home. Reuven went out to find and hire a cart, but Elisha lingered in the house to bargain about the next deal.
Elisha, a young and handsome man, had long attracted attention of the well-off widow. They were alone and the hostess invited the guest to stay in her house for a night, promising to show him new shawls of the finest silk, which she expected to get in the morning. But Elisha rejected her offer, referring to their urgent liabilities. Then the lady ordered her servants to dish up a delicious dinner. She dressed herself in a black silk dress with a plunging neckline and asked Elisha to stay for dinner. However, Elisha did not give in to this temptation.
But at that instant, the woman’s passion of love burst into flame, and she asked him to just stay a little longer and then started to change her apparels. She put on a transparent dress with delicate lace on her naked body. Then she dressed in mermaid costume with golden scales. Then she adorned her neck with a pearl necklace and put two bracelets of gold on her hands. Each time, having attired in a new dress, she spun around Elisha in a charming dance. She begged him, caressed and kissed him, burning with passion like a red-hot coal.
Elisha had nearly faltered, he was almost lost before the charms of the insidious temptress, but overcame himself and survived. However, the witch continued to force him. She sat down on his laps, opened a casket and counted half of the money, having received from the companions, and put it into his pocket. At last the woman slowly took her dress off, and only a veil still covered her sleek body! She embraced the young man, whispering burning words of love. And he couldn’t remain indifferent to charms of the woman, his resistance was broken, and he threw himself at her mercy…
Two hours later the merchants were returning home. Reuven was very happy with the delicate deal: he chatted and smiled, remembering a warm reception of the welcoming lady. But he had not noticed that his companion was sitting in sorrow, staring at one point. He did not see that Elisha scarcely heard the words of his friend. Eventually, Reuven understood that his fellow was really out of it. He pestered Elisha with questions, asking him to tell what had happened, but Elisha was silent. Reuven finally felt that the case was serious and became more insistent. In the long run Elisha decided to make a clean breast of everything:
“Reuven, I must confess to you in a great sin that I have committed today.”
“Dear, you committed a sin? Enough of this, we almost never have been apart today!” replied Reuven.
“Nevertheless, I managed to make the unforgivable sin, prohibited by the seventh commandment — do not commit adultery,” said Elisha and then he told his companion all that happened to him, when Reuven was hiring the cart.
At the beginning of the conversation, Reuven could not believe his friend and was teasing him. However, when the young man took out of his pocket the money, which was exactly half of the money that they had paid to the landlady, Reuven became convinced that Elisha was telling the truth. But instead of lamenting about the companion’s Fall, Reuven envied him. He burst out laughing and said that he would not mind to be in his “shoes”. However, having seen that Elisha remained gloomy, Reuven said to him:
“Listen, mate, I agree to take your sin on my soul in exchange for money, which the lady gave you back. I’ll take your sin upon myself, with all the consequences!”
“Is that true? You’re not kidding? I agree!” exclaimed Elisha. He handed over the money, and as a sign of agreeing on the deal, the companions affixed a ceremonial handshake…
The friends then parted their ways and had not met for a while. But a year later Elisha learned that his companion had recently died. Elisha was horrified and then he completely lost his rest and sleep. One night Elisha had a dream, where his late companion said that he ended up in Hell for the sin committed by Elisha. He demanded to cancel the deal. Two days later Elisha had another dream: he saw his companion, who again demanded to cancel their contract! After that, a soul of Reuven was coming every night to his former partner. Elisha had been quite exhausted and decided to visit a rabbi.
The rabbi called two dayans — Jewish religious judges. They gathered in the synagogue and built a curtain in the corner for a soul of the dead. In such a way, they began the trial between the living and the dead. Elisha told the court how it all happened: why Reuven persuaded him to sell the sin, and how much he paid for it. Then the rabbi turned to the side of the curtain and said:
“You, who was called Reuven! Do you accept the fact, which described your former partner? If so, what can you add to this?”
“Yes, I do,” boomed a voice from behind the curtain. “But I had not known, that I would have been punished for this!”
“You were a merchant,” continued the rabbi. “Tell me, please, did you buy this sin from your companion? You got the money for it?”
“Yes, I had bought the sin and got the money.”
“Well then, if that is so,” said the rabbi, “your case has been done with it!”
At the very moment, they heard a terrible moan from behind the curtain:
“Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!” sighed the soul of the dead…
Since then, things calmed down and Elisha forgot about his companion.
A Turkmen folk tale
But when we in reality perceived a body of Turcomans coming down upon us, the scene instantly changed. Some ran away; others, and among them my master, losing all their energies, yielded to intense fear, and began to exclaim, “Oh Allah! — Oh Imams! — Oh Mohammed the prophet; we are gone! We are dying! we are dead!”
The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan, by James Morier
One day, having returned from hunting, Padishah (king of kings) Sultansoyun and his vizier Mirali met a young woman in a village. The king stopped dead, struck by her breathtaking beauty, and only his eyes long followed her.
“You are my supreme vizier,” he said confidentially. “So, you have to understand my feelings and help me. How could I get this beauty?”
“It’s impossible, — she has a husband!” Mirali replied firmly (Mirali was born in a poor family and had never forgotten about it).
“She stole my heart, and my life will be nothing without her!”
“Anyway, My Lord, dismiss this whim from your mind. What does Sharia say? Don’t you know, that it is prohibited to mess about with married women? All the faithful will despise you!”
“Well, if so, I can reach my goal without you, by hook or by crook!” replied the sovereign heatedly. “And you, the mortal, go to her husband and offer him your service as an adviser!”
Sultansoyun was in a severe outbreak of passion. He did not go further to his palace, but stayed in the house of a rich Bai (landowner) and sent him for the husband of that beautiful woman.
Mirali went the same way at a rapid pace, having said Padishah that he wanted to visit a friend who lived in that village. He first came to the husband of the woman, who was just a poor peasant, and warned him, that Padishah will probably summon him and give him a tricky assignment. He also said that it is impossible to refuse the order and that he, Mirali, would help him to carry out this mandate.
The supreme vizier had well known his Master! Everything happened as he had predicted. After him, there came a breathless landowner. He stopped in front of the husband and gave him the order to appear before Padishah. With great respect, the man hastened to execute orders of the almighty Padishah…
“What is your name?” Sultansoyun asked the peasant.
“Karakuduke,” replied the man.
“Karakuduke? Excellent! So, Karakuduke, I used to be curious about people wherever I go, and to give them some unusual assignments. If a man carried out my task, then I would reward him; if he couldn’t or not very keen on it, — I would punish him. You are the most extraordinary man in this village. You have a strange name, uncommon face, and maybe there is something else, that is not the same as everyone has, eh?”
“I am an ordinary dehkaneen (peasant), but this is a rare thing and great happiness — to serve Almighty Padishah,” replied the poor man respectfully. “I will do everything that you are pleased to suggest!”
“It’s wonderful! I’ll give you a stallion, a couple of bulls, and a dozen of rams. Exactly six months later, you should get a litter from each of them!”
Karakuduke bent into a bow in consent. But someone shouted from the crowd of spectators:
“Wai, you have lost your head, a miserable! Is it possible to obtain an offspring from a male?”
“Padishah is a Vicar of God on Earth. If he believes that males can give an offspring, then let it be!” replied the peasant.
…Six months passed there, and Padishah and his vizier paid a visit to that village again. Padishah stayed in the house of the same Bai, and Mirali, having asked for permission to visit his friend, went to Karakuduke and introduced the spouses into his plan, because nothing had happened with the presented livestock.
Mirali barely had time to get away from that house, as Padishah sent a man for Karakuduke. The messenger returned then to Padishah and reported him that the peasant could not appear before the eyes of the sovereign, because he was ill.
“Let his wife come here,” said the Father of the Faithful.
The poor woman came to the house of Bai and confirmed that her husband fell ill.
“What has happened to him?” asked Padishah.
“He is giving birth to a child, — there started contractions,” said the woman.
“How could it happen that a man bears children?”
“Oh, Gracious Padishah,” the woman said innocently, “If a bull is able to calve, a stallion — to foal, a ram — to lamb, why can’t my husband give birth to a child?”
Padishah was surprised and annoyed, but he had nothing to argue. He smiled at the beautiful woman and let her go in peace. Then he shook his finger at Mirali:
“I see, — it couldn’t happen without you!”
“I just fulfilled a desire of Your Majesty,” said Mirali with downcast eyes.
“If you remember, you had said, “Whereas you are not able to help me, go to the husband of the beauty and offer him your service as an adviser!”
The Angry Landlord
A Vologda region folk tale
The main routes for their ships being the great rivers of the north, such as the Sukhona, which flows 300 miles to the north-east before joining the Vychegda to form the Northern Dvina. Because the low watershed at White Lake (Beloye ozero) was the door to the whole north-western region, the Novgoroders” name for these lands was Zavolochye — “beyond the portage”, from the Russian word volok (portage).
A History of the Peoples of Siberia, by James Forsyth