Cor Hendriks – The Macaws (12): The Eagle and the Snake in ATU 301

The scene of the hero in the bird’s nest is also a feature of versions of ATU 301. In the versions we saw above, the eagle suddenly pops up, just when the hero is in need. But there are also versions, where the hero has several adventures in the underworld after which he is sent to a tree, where the eagle has his nest. Panzer mentions two short versions (172, 198): Hans falls there (betrayed by his ‘brothers’), drops near two poplars and finds within their branches the nest of a bird that takes him up (Panzer 1910, 178 n. 2).

A lot of times the hero discovers the nest of the bird by accident. In 167 this happens because he throws his club up high and it knocks the dragon-young out of the nest. The old dragon comes, is at first furious, but then carries him up. In 134 a magician wants to carry him up when he protects his young that have fled into a tree against the other magician who has the form of a snake. Often there is an Andromeda-adventure (Panzer means a dragon-killers-scene as in ATU 300) and instead of marrying the princess he asks for a way up and the king refers him to a bird, in 166 the King of the Animals, who calls the eagles, but none of them wants to carry up the hero until finally a 300 years old eagle arrives with wings as big as ship’s sails. In 70 the gnome has called the birds, they all refuse, he sees that an old eagle is missing, calls and abuses him, he has to bring the hero up. In several versions the gnome or the old woman delivers the bird, in 34 the gnome changes himself into an eagle, in 137 into a he-goat that brings him up. Panzer states: ‘Den Helden hinaufzutragen wird der Riesenvogel in vielen Fassungen, und es scheint das wohl das Ursprüngliche, dadurch geneigt gemacht, daß Hans seinen Jungen in einer Fährlichkeit beisteht.’ He protects them from a snake, that threatens them in the nest on the tree and is killed by the hero, or a dragon, that every year has killed the young. Sometimes he protects the young in the nest against a thunder or hail storm, that until now has regularly killed the offspring of the bird. In several versions the bird that comes back after the rescue of his young, thinks he is the (yearly) attacker and wants to eat him, but is withheld by the young; and in some versions the bird really eats the hero, but vomits him back at the request of the young birds (Panzer 1910, 187-189).

In the Turkish version, cataloged by Eberhard and Boratav as type 72: Der Phönix, the hero, left behind by his brothers in the underworld, has taken against the advice of the youngest princess the black sheep and is dropped in an even deeper underworld, where he lives with an old woman, [who gives him terrible dirty water to drink,] and hears that every year a girl has to be sacrificed to a dragon to get a little bit of water. He kills the dragon, saves the girl, the daughter of the Padishah. Then he kills a snake that each year eats the young of the Phoenix. The Padishah cannot help him, but the Phoenix carries him up to the earth. He has to take forty sheep and forty bags of water with him and feed the animal. When the meat is finished, he cuts a piece of himself as the bird’s last meal (nothing about a cure). [EB 72 I.8-14 (1953, 78-82). They note that the phoenix is called Zümrüd-ü Anka (= emerald[-green] Anka; the name Anka is also used in modern tales). Many texts speak of an eagle or just a bird. The phoenix reminds of the Indian Garuda, who is also battling with a dragon.] In the Turkish version Kúnos collected in Adakale, the motif is more complete. The three sons of the Padishah guard in turn at the tree that each year has three apples. The two eldest run away when they hear the monster approaching, but the youngest shoots the two-headed dragon a head off with an arrow. With his brothers he follows the [blood-]trail of the dragon to a pit. They make a rope from their belts, the oldest wants first, calls halfway: ‘I’m burning!’, the second idem. The youngest they have to lower despite calling and he reaches the bottom, goes through a gate, arrives at the dragon, cuts off his other head also. He searches the place, comes to three girls, who have a self-spinning golden spindle, a self-embroidering golden embroidery-frame, and a golden pan with a golden chicken with chicks eating pearls, which he puts in his knapsack, and has the girls one by one pulled up (the first for the first, etc.). The youngest girl says that his brothers will cut the rope and he will fall down: he has to take care to fall on the white buck, because the black buck will take him seven layers deep in the earth. She gives him three hairs in case of need and promises that they won’t marry before he is back on earth. The brothers are indeed very pleased with the third girl and cut halfway the rope and the shehzade (prince) plummets down, on the black buck, and is taken to the seventh earth-layer, where he regains his senses, arrives at a house, and forces himself onto an old woman as foster-son. She has no water because of a dragon, who once a year gives water in exchange for a girl. The next day the daughter of the Padishah is given, the shehzade goes to take a look, sees her being left behind by the dragon-hole, chops off the seven heads of the dragon with one stroke of his saber, whereupon the girl dips her hand in the dragon-blood and makes a sign on his back. On her request the Padishah summons all the men, the shehzade is recognized and wishes as reward to go up to the earth’s surface. The Padishah doesn’t have a clue and the shehzade leaves, lays himself down to rest somewhere under a tree, sees the nest of a Sumur-Anka-bird, whose young are each year devoured by a dragon, sees this dragon climbing the tree towards the young, kills him with his sword, and lays down to sleep. The Sumur-Anka arrives, wants to devour the shehzade, is withheld by its young, spreads its wing above the sleeper. To get up the bird needs 40 bucks and 40 bags of water, that the shehzade gets from the Padishah and stacks on the bird, and feeds at ‘gak’ a buck, at ‘gyk’ a bag of water. Just before the arrival he loses his last buck and cuts a piece out of his thigh. The bird notices it, keeps the piece under his tongue, and puts it, when the prince above ground cannot stand up, back with spittle. The boy buys a paunch, puts it over his head, goes as baldhead [cf. Odysseus] in the service of a the chief-goldsmith (etc. cracking nuts; episode of Unknown Knight on white, red, and green horse [Kunos 1907, 25-35 nº5: ‘Die Mär vom Söhne des Padischahs’ (= I, 18-25: Padišah oÿlynyn masaly)].

This motif appears in the tale Dumézil collected in Constantinople in 1930/31 from 20-year old Niazi Ban, a cultivated young Laze from Batum, raised in Arhavi and speaking the dialect of that region, who was much interested in everything, especially folklore, and had at his disposal a remarkable collection of tales and songs. In his tale, called ‘The prince in the underworld’, the prince also jumps on the black sheep instead of the white one, and comes in a lower store in the underworld. He is sent by some wounded men to an old woman living in a cabin nearby who serves him strange smelling food and no water. On his question she asks from which country he comes that he does not know they have no water, because a Div who controls the water-supply gives only once a year water in exchange for a young girl that he eats. So they cook with horse-pee. He doesn’t eat the food and the next day he goes to the spot where the Div comes to eat the girl. All the men and women of the country are waiting there with kettles, bags and pots to collect the water. Also the daughter of the Padisjah is waiting for the div with on her head a tray of baklavas. They talk and meanwhile the div comes, flashing his teeth, considering himself lucky to have even two victims. He tries to suck them in but the prince stands strong, holding the girl behind him. Then the div opens his mouth as big as a hamper and wants to gobble them up, but then a big dust cloud prevents the people from seeing what is happening and when the dust has settled the div is dead and the prince is gone. The padisjah offers as reward his daughter, throne and treasures and the next morning 500 men are gathered before the palace, claiming to have killed the div. They all parade before the princess, but the man who saved her is not there. The next day every man has to come, but still the savior is absent, and the Padishah has asked who is absent; this is a young man who works in the mill and who is certainly not the savior. The next morning the meal-covered prince is brought and recognized by the princess, who also has made a sign with the blood of the div on his back. On his back are the five bloody fingers and he is sent to the hamam and dressed in new clothes. He is offered whatever he wants by the Padishah but he wants nothing, being a prince from the upper world; he only wants to return there. The Padishah promises to help him, but three years go by, and he gets bored and says goodbye to the luxury life at the court. After a month of two, three, on a warm day, he goes to sleep under a charme-tree, but is awakened by the frightened screams of young birds above him and he sees a big snake climbing the tree. With his dagger he kills the snake pinning him to the tree and continues sleeping. The mother-bird comes, sees hem lying there and opens her beak to swallow him, but the young shout not to kill him, because he has killed the snake. She sees the snake and spreads her wings above the boy to shield him from the sun. The young man is frightened when he awakens but the bird tells him to have no fear and asks which reward he wants for the saving of her young that until now have each year been eaten by the snake. He wants back to the upper world. The bird says: ‘I am 90 years old. In my youth I climbed up and came down twice a day. But for many years I haven’t climbed up. But I will try; prepare for me a batman meat and two batman water.’ The young man gets the meat and water and climbs on the bird who says: ‘When I say “ga!” give me meat; when I say “gi!” give me water.’ And they fly up. Halfway the young man runs out of meat. When the bird screams ‘ga!’ he cuts a piece of his calf and puts it in the beak of the bird. Soon after they land in the upper world. The bird takes from his beak a handful of meat, that she hasn’t swallowed and puts it back on the calf (that is why the meat of our calf is soft and like glued on). At the parting the bird gives the prince one of his wings [i.e. feathers] and says: ‘When you have an enemy, take out this wing and rub the feathers together. A Negro will appear, one lip to heaven, one lip to earth. Whatever you command him, he will perform immediately’ [Dumézil 1937, 78-106. He refers to ATU 300: The Dragon-Slayer and 301: The Three Stolen Princesses, and lists the motifs H1471: watch for devastating monster, youngest alone successful, cf. L10: victorious youngest son; F92: pit entrance to lower world; B11.2.3.1: seven headed dragon; G 94: fee-fi-fo-fum; G83.1: ogre(ss) whets teeth to kill captive; K736: snapping door traps victim; cf. D1425.2: magic hairs summon husband; K1935: impostors steal rescued princess; K1931.2: impostors abandon hero in lower world; F67: white sheep carries to upper world, black to lower; S262: periodic sacrifices to a monster; K1932: impostor claims reward earned by hero; B365: animal grateful for rescue of its young; F101.3: return from lower world on eagle; B322.1: hero feeds own flesh to helpful animal; D1021: magic feather, cf. B501: animal gives part of body as talisman for summoning its aid; H1022: task: construction of impossible amount of material; N681: husband, lover, arrives home just as wife, mistress, is to marry another].

In Persian tales the hero climbs by accident on the white ram, that takes him to the seventh underworld, where he has several adventures. The grateful Simorg brings him back to the upper world. Marzolph has taken up this theme as *301E*: Der Jüngling rettet die Jungen des Simorg. A young man kills the snake, that each year ate the young of the Simorg. Sometimes (a) the Simorg gives him a feather, with which he can call at a later time the Simorg to fly on, or (b) the Simorg carries the boy to the upper world. The boy has to feed him on turns meat and water. When there is no more meat, he cuts a piece from his calf. The Simorg notices this, doesn’t eat the piece of flesh and heals the boy later on [Marzolph 1984, 60-62].

The Simorg is also present in the Kurdish version ‘Herzem with the Long Ears’. Herzem has liberated in the underground three princesses, one for each of his companions, as well as the ‘Beauty of the World’. But when she is pulled, the companions want to have her and leave Herzem behind. But the ‘Beauty of the World’ had already foreseen this, but Herzem didn’t want to be pulled up first, so she gave him a picture of a gazelle chased by a greyhound, and the advice to go to the room where he had found her and to open the little door at the north side to the courtyard, where a reed-overgrown well is, where Friday afternoon two rams come, one black, one white, and fight with each other. He has to jump on the white one, but jumps, when the friends cut the rope and he after smashing down finally has recovered and dragged himself down the stairs, by accident on the black one and is taken miles deep under the earth. When he opens his eyes, he sees himself in a black town with shadow-like inhabitants. He asks an old woman for shelter, but when he asks for water, he is refused, because a dragon holds the water-supply in check and every Friday a girl is offered in exchange for water. Coming Friday it is the turn of the king’s daughter. On that day Herzem joins the escort of the princess, offers her his help, seats himself next to her at the entrance of the hole and shouts to the dragon, when he comes out of his hole, that he is Herzem with the Long Ears, who has killed the span-sized and the Red Agha, whereupon the dragon wants to flee, but Herzem strikes, praying to God, through seven veins, and, when the dragon bites at him, chops of its head. The water flows and Herzem goes back to the old woman. The king promises his daughter and half of his kingdom to the dragon-slayer, all men buy a sword and present themselves. The king has them parade in front of the princess, but she doesn’t see Herzem; he is the only one who has stayed behind and is fetched. In the evening, during the meal, the king asks what he wants as reward. He wants to return to the upper-world. The king directs him to the simorg on the top of a tree in the mountains, whose young are each year eaten by the snake. When he saves the young, the bird will carry him up. He is brought to the mountain, lies in wait for two weeks when alarm-sounds of the young birds awake him, and he sees the snake in the tree and challenges it with flapping his ears and shouting. He kills the snake with two strokes, feeds its flesh to the young simorgs, goes back to sleep and is protected by the grateful bird against the sun and thereafter brought to the upper-world [Wentzel, L.-C., Kurdische Märchen, 1978, 25-49 nº3].

Nowak has in her Beiträge zur Typologie des arabischen Volksmärchens several 301-variants, but only one of them has the flight on the eagle. It is called ‘The Jealous Princes’ and comes from Algeria. After being left behind the youngest prince by accident takes the black he-goat which brings him to the end of the world. He stays there with an old woman and tends her herd. He saves the young of a bird for a snake. The grateful bird brings him to his country [Nowak 1969, 196-198, type 195 (10-13) after Filleul de Pétigny, Contes algériens, 39-63].

In the catalog of Mongolian fairytale types of Lörincz there are several versions of ATU 301 with the flight on a bird. In the part ‘Adventure in the underworld’ it is said that the hero rescues himself with the help of a flying heavenly god. In Panzer’s nº130 he heals [after the fall when his brothers cut the rope] his broken limbs with a magic remedy he got from the mice, then he saves the young of the underworld-eagle from the snake and by way of thanks the eagle brings him back to the world above, on the way fed with his own flesh. In 129 he escapes with the help of a kite whose young he saved from a snake. Also in Panzer’s nº132 (‘The Son of the Mare’) the hero descends into the underworld and liberates the women of the companions, abducted by a demon; when he wants to climb up again the companions cut the rope and he tumbles down. Healed by a leaf from a healing tree he received from the mice (cf. the snake-leaves), he saves from a snake the young of the underworld-eagle, who brings him to the surface [Lörincz 1979, 72. A short and cryptic version of this AT 301 episode can be seen in a Tamil-story, called ‘Rescuing a princess from the underworld’]. The princess has already been abducted and saved before, so it looks as ATU 400, where sometimes a traitor thwarts the hero. Here this is an Asari (a goldsmith), who accompanies the hero on his journey back with the rescued princess and brings them under a banyan-tree. He gives the prince a sword, tells him to sit down and close his eyes, as a yogi. While the prince sits there, a snake comes and takes the princess; and when he opens his eyes he only sees the Asari, who says that she has been taken by a snake. The hero grabs some climbers [makes a rope], ties one end to a root near the hole, ties a rock to the other end, [drops it] and lowers himself down into the snake-pit. When he comes down there, he sees that the snake has abducted many women just like the princess. He kills the snake, saves the princess and sends her up with the rope; but when he climbs up, the princess and the Asari pull the rope. Scraped hither and thither the rope suddenly breaks! The prince falls back in the hole and his body breaks into 16 pieces. The Asari takes the princess with him but not before she has succeeded in putting the bones of the prince together and bringing him back to life. Revived he starts looking for her [he is also miraculously out of the hole] (Blackburn 2001, 148-150 nº46; an almost identical version can be found in the Matanakâmarjan Katai, Zvelebil 1987, 10th day). Also in Mongolian epic tales this saving and curing can be seen. In the Khalkha epos Ödi mergen the hero falls through a ruse of the people of the foreign Khan in a concealed hole and dies. His talking horse escapes and discovers that the blond daughter of the heavenly Khan, who has a braid of 60 fathoms, can bring dead people back to life. The horse abducts her, persuades her to help, brings her to the hole, where she lets her braid down and wishes that the bone-pieces come out along it. She washes the pieces, wishes them whole and after some more actions Ödi mergen becomes alive. A comparable revival can be seen in the epos Zaludai mergen, in 1904 recorded in Yeke küriye by C. Žamcarano. The hero falls by a ruse of his six brothers-in-law who hate him in a 99 fathom deep hole. His two horses escape. One stands guard over the corpse of his lord, the other one, Ežen šarga, flies up to heaven to get the princess Altan šara dagini. The princess is abducted and persuaded by the horse to pull up and revive the hero. She sends a grey lark by magic for water of the Source of Eternity in heaven. Then she wants to pull the body of the hero with her 99 fathom long braid from the hole, but it is too short; combing and washing make it long enough, and Zaludai’s corpse is pulled up. She sprinkles the water of immortality on the body and steps over him with the wish that his body will be cured; she steps again, wishing that he wakes up. A third time she sprinkles, steps over him with the wish that the hero may become more beautiful than before, and the hero awakens, asking how long he has slept (Heissig, in: Fragen II, 85f). In the South-Burjatic epic tale ‘The Hero Čono Galdan, the Son of Bajan Dorži’, a girl is abducted by a horse and frees with her long hair the hero out of a baleful hole (Nekljudov, in: Fragen 4, 262: a well-known motif in Central-Asiatic epos). Also the hero Aral Mergen is (by his evil sister: ATU 315) treacherously dumped into a deep hole, killed and covered over with a big rock, but saved by his good sister, who on the advice of an old man has the rock removed by a giant bull, whereupon she has the horse of the hero hang its long tail into the hole to pull up the brother; smeared on nose and mouth with some red earth from the foot of the white rock the hero revives (Heissig 2003, 41f). Also in the tale of ‘The Red-Jade-Khan’ (Qas-un ulaγan qaγan) the hero is treacherously (this time by his brother in cahoots with his wife) dumped in a 99 fathoms deep pit and covered over with stones. But his horse escapes, flies to heaven to the seven Burqan (the Great Bear), who descend to earth with the horse, who digs away the stones (the great and the small mountain) in seven days and nights, whereupon the seven Burqan sprinkle the body of Qas-un ulaγan with Bumba-yin rasiyan (Water of Life) until he awakens, asking how long he has slept (ID., 72). In the tale Xögsiŋ Lü Mergeŋ the hero is stung by two big yellow [demonic] bees and falls down dead. His horse changes itself in a five-colored rainbow and appears at the entrance to the seven Dākinīs of Xurmasta [the fairy-daughters of the Supreme god Ahura Mazda] up in heaven, whom it requests to cure his lord, with success (Veit, in: Fragen 3, 80). In the tale Doluγan nasutai doluγatai mergen, the hero Doluγatai mergen is dumped by his treacherous brothers-in-law in a 99 fathoms deep hole. His horse flees, returns and asks his lord how to get him out. The hero shouts that it is difficult but possible: In the direction of the rising sun lives the Son of Heaven Ulayiĵi mergen with his younger sister Ulaγan qačar with 99 fathoms long hair. The horse abducts her, brings her to the hole and she hangs her hair in the hole and pulls the hero up. Also in the Evenki-fairytale ‘The son of Sabqaldai Khan with the White Sea-Homeland’ the hero falls through neglect in a deep hole and wonders how he will get out. But then his horse, the mare Ambara, comes flying on a cloud and brings a magic ladder (Erdeni satu), with which the hero can climb out of the hole (Heissig 2003, 87-89). In the Tartar Epic Südei Mergen and Joltai Mergen the hero Südei Mergen is made to fall into a 100 fathom deep pit, dug by his treacherous brothers-in-law, who return home taking all the hero’s possessions with them, which raises the suspicion of the wife of the hero, who follows the trail of the brothers-in-law to the secret hide-out of the hero. In the house she discovers the pit and sees Südei Mergen lying at the bottom, lamenting. She takes the hero’s horse and lowers its tail, but it is three fathoms short; then she lowers her own hair (after combing it), which is 1 fathom short. So she weeps, as well as the horse, and they confer: ‘How shall we get him out? At the edge of the heaven lives Törömön Mökö; the hair of his sister is 100 fathom long, she must be brought here.’ The gold-haired stone-black horse [of the hero] runs to the top of a till the heaven grown up Altai-mountain, sees the land on the other side, where there is in the middle of a village a white stone-house reaching up to the heaven and further on a golden house where the wonderful girl lives. The horse joins the herd, is noticed, brought to Törömön Mökö, who thinks it is a fine horse for his sister, who makes a test-drive on the easy-going horse. But then it elopes, abducting the girl and bringing her to the wife of Südei Mergen. The girl with 50 braids hanging to her shoulders, 60 braids at the neck, laments, but then agrees to help, combs her hair, lets it down in the pit and it reaches Südei Mergen. Also the wife of the hero lets her hair down to help pulling up, but they have not enough strength, so also the tail of the horse is let down and joins the others in helping pull the hero out of the pit (Radloff 1868, 2, 607-657 nº19). In the epic story ‘The young Dsang, the best of men’, the hero is fed drunk, loses consciousness and is pushed in a hole of ten fathom, dug out beneath the cushions, and covered with a round and then a flat stone. Then the murderers run outside to grab the horse and bow, but the lightly attached horse breaks free, runs to the cabin of his master, from which the fairy-like fire-snake of the ruler of the Black Dragons comes. They go together, the horse crushes with its hoof the stones, she says: ‘O, may breath and consciousness in skin and flesh come to life!’ and strokes thrice with her sleeve over him; he stands up and says: ‘Oh, how deep I have slept!’ (Heissig 1963, 158-174 nº38)].

The healing by the mice is a very beloved motif in Mongolian versions. An elaborated version of ATU 301 from the collection of Ramstedt (Panzer’s version 130) is called ‘The Black Kettle and the large Tripod, or The 3-year-old Näichal, the son of the mother Nälichan-Tsagân and the seven jealous-minded uncles’. Somewhere in the story our hero (called as in the title with the name of his mother, a standard formula in Mongolian epic tales) falls down in the underworld. A male and a female mouse come to eat from him. The mouse-man says: ‘Ah, this one is not a gratis creature. This one we may not eat.’ The mouse-wife speaks: ‘When we run away from such a large storage of meat, there will be later for us no meat to find. Therefore I will have my fill on this one!’ The mouse-wife comes to him and takes a bite. He (the hero) strikes in the direction and breaks all her legs. The mouse is lying on the ground on her back, shaking her broken legs. The mouse-man speaks: ‘I told you so, that this one is not a gratis creature. “Don’t eat from it,” I said, you child of misfortune!’ This saying he goes to get something white and gives it her. After she has eaten it, she becomes healthy again. ‘That cursed child of misfortune, that unlucky bird, that has caused me my suffering, I will bite again,’ says the mouse-woman and she takes another bite of him. Again he strikes at her and throws her with all her legs broken on the ground. ‘Alright, you creature of misfortune, didn’t I tell you? Let it be so, you unlucky bird, let it be so! You didn’t follow the words that are told to you; so die!’ says the mouse-man. The mouse-woman says: ‘My death is already at hand! Get me so more of what I just ate!’ ‘Well, will you in the future obey my words? If you will be obedient, I will get some for you,’ he asks and gets some and gives it to her. ‘I also will go there,’ thinks the three-year-old Näichal, the son of the mother Nälichan-Tsagân, and rolls over there. So he comes to that of which the mouse has eaten. He eats a handful and gets little better. He eats two handfuls and is already like he has been before. Even a third time he eats from it and he becomes such a young man against no one dares to battle. After having filled his two pockets with it, he sets out. After this funny incident with the mice follows the dragon-fight episode against the 25-headed Chotchor Chara [= Black] Mus [= ‘dragon’] that he finally kills and cuts open, liberating all the sucked-up people who want to make him their Khan. Our hero reclines this generous offer and says: ‘If you want to reward me, then bring me to upper-world up there.’ ‘To bring you up there we have no means,’ they say. But from their midst a young man comes forward and says: ‘You men, you who couldn’t reward a good deed, what do you think to do? There on the lonely tree on the top of the mountain the king’s eagle has its eggs, isn’t it. His children and offspring though the poisonous yellow-headed snake uses to catch them. When one would be able to withhold the snake from this, that bird would be able to perform that journey.’ The people praise him for this advice, and our hero set out to the lonely tree on the mountaintop where the eggs of the bird are. The poisonous yellow-headed snake rushes towards them and also our hero rushes towards them. The snake is on the brink of coming there sooner than the hero! ‘What do I do about that?’ he thinks and throws to her (the snake) the seven-fold soled golden shoe and conquers her that way. The snake dies. The eggs of the king’s eagle burst open [and the young come out]. He climbs up in the lonely tree on the mountaintop. They take him under their wings and lie like that. Their mother comes flying. The mother speaks, when she comes: ‘My dear children, what kind of creature has lengthened your lifespan?’ ‘Ah, who can know it? Something came here and killed the poisonous yellow-headed snake. We stretched ourselves and wanted to gobble it up, but we couldn’t manage it. It slipped into that rock,’ they say. The mother smites and smites the rocks with her wings and crushes the whole rock. ‘It was not there,’ she says, coming back to her young. ‘How is it? When you were beating the rock, it crawled into the sea,’ they say. She begins to beat on the sea and changes it by beating into a mud-pool, and comes back to the young. ‘No, it wasn’t there,’ she says. ‘How can that be? Maybe it has gone out of fear for you on the way back, at least it looks that way,’ they say. ‘Ha, it hasn’t gone at all on the way back, it is surely with you!’ she says. ‘Well, do you promise not to kill it?’ they say. ‘Yes, bring it out!’ she replies. They bring him out. ‘Fie, disgusting!’ she says and eats him up. ‘Mother, give here, what you took from us! When you don’t do it, we will throw ourselves down from here and die,’ they say. ‘Take it, here it is!’ she says and brings him back up. The bird-young speak: ‘A good deed art thou to us, a fatherly protector, what kind of reward do you want?’ ‘I don’t want no reward. When you want to reward me, then bring me up to the upper-world up there,’ he replied. ‘Alright, we know an answer to that. Prepare the meat of 70 fat three-year-old mares and kumis in 70 leather bags. Then I will bring you up,’ says the mother-bird [he gets this from the liberated people]. The flesh he packs on one wing, the bags of kumis on the other wing, in the middle he makes a sleeping-place for himself, and this way they start their journey [when they are almost at the top]: The meat of the 70 fat three-year-old mares is eaten up, the kumis of the 70 leather bags is drunk up, the sinking down grows greater than the rising up. That is the way things are going now. ‘Alright, there is no other solution,’ he thinks, and out of his thigh he cuts a piece the size of a drinking nap; when he does this, it becomes a piece the size of a sheep and he gives it to the bird. Once more the bird gets hungry; he again throws to him a piece of meat the size of a sheep. Flying upwards they arrive up there. ‘The meat that you gave me at the end, that was perfectly tasting. When I return now down, I will be able to find my own food, But give me a little bit of that meat!’ says the bird. ‘O woe, my dear! The sinking down became greater than the rising up. Thinking that, I cut from the flesh of my thigh a piece of meat the size of a drinking nap, and that I threw to you!’ ‘O woe, my dearest! If it was like that, I will make your thigh healthy again!’ says the bird, swallows him up, puts the meat of the thigh back on its place and brings him up. By vomiting the bird brings him back out again. Then they take leave of each other. [Ramstedt, Kalmückische Märchen, 184-211 nº21.]

In Bulgarian versions of ATU 301 the hero, left under the earth by his treacherous brothers, jumps by mistake on the black ram and comes in the underworld. There he kills the snake (dragon, Lamia, monster), that every year eats the young of a bird, most of the times an eagle. The bird brings him to the upper world and during the flight the hero feeds the bird also with flesh from his legs (feet, thighs, calves) [Daskalova a.o. 1995, 63f. The same scene in type 301B (ID., 64f), *301* (ID., 66)].

In the Albanian version ‘The Three Hunters’, the youngest hunter is left behind in the hole, but the third girl had told him, when two sheep come, to jump on the white sheep that will bring him up, but he lands on the black sheep that takes him down to another world, where he arrives in a meadow, where he takes a nap [under a tree], and is awakened by a voice ‘Ziriwiu, ziriwiu’ up in the tree. He sees a snake climbing up and shoots, and the snake drops down dead. He goes on napping, the mother of the birds, a big raven comes and wants to kill him, but the young say that he has killed the snake and saved them. The raven provides him with shadow until he awakes, and asks what kind of gift he wants. Nothing; he just wants to go up. That can be done, when he takes nine roasted wethers and nine jars of water with him. He goes to the king’s city, where a kulshedra (‘demon’) holds back the water when she doesn’t get every day a child to eat. It is right now the turn of the king’s daughter. The lad sees her weeping and offers his protection. Then, thundering and lightning, the kulshedra comes, who is glad: ‘Hey, each day I receive one, today two!’ But when she opens wide her mouth then lad shoots her dead, makes a cut in her and smears himself a sign on the back [! Usually this is done by the princess to mark her savior] and leaves. The princess comes back home, and the king is furious, but she explains that the kulshedra is dead, whereupon he has all the citizens assembled, but the hero is not among them. Then all the guests (strangers) are summoned. The princess has the lad remove his shirt and point to the mark. As his reward the lad only wants 9 roasted wethers and 9 jars of water, takes these to the raven, climbs on its back and throws, when it calls ‘krek’ to the right, a wether in its beak, to the left a jar of water. But before they are up the meat is finished and he tears off a piece of his leg. The raven notices it and keeps it in its mouth. Above ground he is not able to walk, the raven [spits the saved piece back,] licks and heals the leg [Camaj, Martin & Uta Schier-Oberdorffer, Albanische Märchen, Düsseldorf-Köln 1974, 16-22 nº3: ‘Die drei Jäger’. The Kulshedra resembles the South-Slav Lubia and the Greek Lamia].

In a Greek version from Thracia the hero tries to jump the white sheep, misses and grabs the black sheep and is taken to the World Below and put on a tree, wherein birds nest, that ask him to kill the approaching snake. The mother-bird comes and is prevented by the young from eating their rescuer. She spreads her wings above him to provide shadow and asks what she can do for the destroyer of her archenemy, who every year ate her young. He wants to go up, which will take forty sheep and forty bags of water. He loads this on the wings and gives meat each time the bird says: ‘Kra!’, water when it calls: ‘Kru!’, and almost at the top the meat is finished and he cuts a piece from his hip, but the bird saves it under his tongue and puts it after arriving on the wound, that is immediately healed. [Dawkins, MGF, 141-144 nº26 from Thrakika 17, 103.] In his notes Dawkins says that usually the hero after the ride on the black sheep is dropped in the underworld, where he rescues a princess from a water-hoarding dragon and asks as reward to be brought up, which is done by eagles, that he feeds during the flight with meat and water and at the end a piece of his own leg [Dawkins, MGF, 140f].

In a Greek Asian version from Ulaghátsh the hero is taken down by the black ram. There he continues his journey, comes at a plane-tree, sees a snake threatening the young of a bird and kills it. Rather vaguely it is told, that while he sleeps he is swallowed up by the mother-bird and vomited up again at the request of her young; then she protects him with her wings. As reward he wants up; therefore are needed seventy measures of meat and seventy measures of water, that he gets from the king [whose daughter he released from the dragon: not told] and packs on the bird, that he gives water when the bird says: ‘Lak!’ and meat when it says: ‘Lyk!’ Nearly above it is finished and he cuts a piece from his leg, that the bird keeps under his tongue and after arrival puts on the wound. He is cured (and the story is finished). In a version from Silata the hero takes the black sheep and comes in the underworld. There he asks a woman for water and is referred to a dev, that that day will be fed with the daughter of the king, and kills him. The princess marks him with the blood of the dev, so he will be recognized as her rescuer, and as reward he wants 40 hides filled with water and forty filled with meat. Only then is told about the eagle, whose young he saves from the snake. The bird brings him up, on the way shouting: ‘Ka! Water! Ka! Meat!’ Almost at the top the meat is finished and the hero cuts a piece out of his thigh, but the eagle saves it and puts it after arrival back on his thigh (and the story finishes) [Dawkins, MGAM, 274-276].

Very interesting but deviating is the episode of the ram in a Chuwas version of ATU 551, collected by Paasonen. After having acquired the water of life on his way back home the hero, Valish, meets at Lake Kuras his brothers. He has not had much sleep during his journey and now he has to sleep for twelve days and he requires his brothers to stand guard. The brothers stand there for a couple of days and then decide to kill him and claim the reward. They want to use his own sword, but they cannot lift it [cf. ATU 301: Strong John] and tie it behind the horse, that they send into a ‘pit’. The description of the action is very vague. Valish wakes up after a long time in the ‘pit’ with his sword and horse next to him. The Other World is very different from the world above; there hangs a yellow fog. He hears a dog barking and goes in that direction, comes to a village and enters the first house, and greets the woman sitting there, but she replies: ‘May I tear you apart and bite you with my teeth!’ Valish responds: ‘I am a son to the sonless, a daughter to the daughterless. Give me quickly something to eat; I’m starved.’ She lets him sit and gives him to eat. Then a sad tolling of bells sounds and Valish asks his ‘aunt’ what that means. She says that a dragon comes to eat the oldest daughter of the emperor, otherwise he will eat everyone. ‘Can I go watch?’ ‘Who wants to go can’t be held back.’ He takes his sword and goes to the emperor’s daughter, crying in her chariot. ‘Don’t come here,’ she says, ‘rather then that two die, only I will die.’ ‘When he eats us both, we might get stuck in his throat,’ and he commands her to comb him. And while she combs, he falls asleep. A dragon with five heads comes, says: ‘The good emperor has given his daughter to eat as well as a man from the light-world.’ The girl screams but Valish doesn’t awake, and she cries hot tears that stream down on Valish’s cheeks, burning them and awakening him. Before the dragon could grab them he chops off the five heads with his sword. The girl gives him a gold-ring that fits only on his little finger [after he has gone], a swineherd comes to the emperor’s daughter and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t say that he has saved her from the dragon, and she consents. The same thing happens a while later with a dragon with seven heads and with a twelve-headed one that spews fire for seven werst, and takes some more effort. He puts the heads under a big rock and falls asleep. The swineherd comes again and drags Valish with a cart to the lake and kills him. Then he goes to the emperor telling him that he has saved his three daughters. The emperor is willing to give him one of them, but the daughters are not willing. The youngest dreams that Valish speaks to her, telling her how he can be revived with the water of life he has hidden in his armpit. She tells her sisters her dream and together they go to the lake and find him on the other side, but can’t lift him. They call soldiers, who pull him out of the water. He is swollen and smells, but with the two phials he is quickly his old self again, and they bring him to their father as their savior. The emperor orders the swineherd and Valish to show him the dragon’s heads, but only Valish knows where they are and can lift the rock (mountain). The swineherd is hanged and Valish is offered a daughter, but he says he has a wife and wants to know a way to get back. The girls say that their father has a ram, who has the habit of roaming in the light world. He only wants this ram and the people thinks he is crazy. As soon as he is out of the town he mounts the ram, and the ram takes one jump and comes with him out of the ‘pit’ in the light world. An explanation of the ram is given: This ram was the devil (sjuttan). The emperor had raised him enclosed to have him go into the light world and roam there around. Close by walks Valish’s brown mare that has become fat. He mounts his horse and drives home, leaving his horse in the field. He himself goes to the old worn down cabin where he used to live. Nobody knows that he has come back (as usual in ATU 301, 551, etc. Odysseus, the Bororo myth). [Paasonen, Gebräuche und Volksdichtung der Tschuwassen, nº5: The sons of Vanucha and Aljona Krazavitsa].

In a Russian version of ATU 551 from the province Tambov, entitled ‘The Bold Knight, the Apples of Youth, and the Water of Life’, our Bold Knight after completing his mission has returned to his own land and finds there his vagabond brothers sleeping in a field. Despite the fact that he has been warned by the witch from whom he stole the apples and water of life that his brothers will be his doom, he lays down next to them and falls asleep. When the brothers wake up and see him, they steal the apples and throw him over a precipice. He falls for three days, till he reaches the dark kingdom, where people do everything by firelight. Everywhere he comes the people are sad, and he asks for the cause and is told that every week (month) a maiden is given to a seven-headed dragon (that is the law) to eat her. And now it is the turn of their king’s only daughter Paliusha. The knight goes to the king, offers to liberate the princess, if the king will do later whatever he will ask. The king accepts, promising him his daughter. The next day the princess is led to a three-walled fortress on the edge of the sea and the knight goes with her, taking with him a rod of about 200 pounds (5 puds). He tells her his story, have her louse him, and falls asleep in her lap. The dragon flies ashore, but the princess cannot shake our hero awake, don’t want to hit him with the rod as he had asked her, and a tear drops on his face, that burns him, and he wakes up, jumps up, chops the seven heads off in two strokes, buries the heads under the wall, and casts the trunk in the sea. An envious fellow sees it all, sneaks up on them, cuts off the knight’s head, throws it in the sea and forces Paliusha to tell that he has saved her. The king has the wedding prepared and guests arrive, but the princess is sad. Then she has her father’s fishermen catch fish, and they finally fish up the head, that she puts on the body and revives him with the water of life, hidden in his breast pocket [this is not logical, because the brothers took the apples from his breast pocket, and must have searched for the water]. She complains about the loathed suitor; he tells her to go home, he will come later to set things right. He entertains the guests with songs and then challenges the suitor to bring the dragon’s heads. They all go to the fortress and the fellow is not able to bring out even one head, but the knight pulls them all out. Then the princess tells the truth and the fellow is tied to the tail of a horse and dragged till he is dead. The king wants to marry the knight to his daughter, but he only wants to go back to his bright world. The king has no idea but his daughter wants to go with the knight and tells her father that there is a spoon-billed bird that can take them there, provided she has enough to feed it on the way. So she has an ox killed, and they fly up on the bird’s back, feeding it on the way, but then it is used up. Then Paliusha cuts off a piece of her thigh and gives it to the spoonbill; the bird brings them straightway up in this world and says: ‘Never have I taste anything sweeter than that last morsel!’ Paliusha shows her thigh and the bird spits out the piece; the knight puts it on Paliusha’s leg, wets it with water of life and heals the princess. Then follows the ending of ATU 551 with the curing of the blind king, the jumping in the river of the exposed brothers, and the marriage of the Bold Knight with the Princess Paliusha [Guterman 1975, 314-320 = Bozoki 1978, 200-205 nº53 (Afan. 171/104a)].

An Arabian version of ATU 301 was told by the Maronite Hanna to Galland and a summary is given by Chauvin. Only the youngest of the three princes manages to wound the palace-destroying monster before it disappears into a pit. The two eldest let themselves be pulled up again, because it becomes too hot, but Badi has himself lowered to the bottom, where he comes in a gorgeous palace at the oldest daughter of the genie, who sends him to her sister, who sends him on to the youngest sister, with whose help he kills the genie (with the saber hanging above his head). The princesses roll their palaces in three balls and go to the pit, where the third asks Badi to have himself pulled up before her, which he refuses, and the brothers run off with the third girl, and the two eldest tell Badi, that in three days he will see six oxen pass by, three red and three black; when he mounts a black one, he will be brought to a seven times lower world. There he meets an old woman, who tells him about the well-occupying beast, that he kills with his saber. The rescued princess marks him with the blood and later throws an apple at him, but he only wants to the upper-world, and the king chases him away. Then he sees a serpent attacking the little ones of a rukh, kills it, and the grateful parents promise to bring him to the earth, when he takes ten quarters of sheep with him. At the end the meat is finished and he cuts a piece from the fat of his leg. Arrived on the earth the rukh gives back what he ate and cures him [Chauvin, BOA, VI, 1-4 nº181: ‘Les trois frères’. More examples of the motif of the self-mutilation are given on p. 3 n. 3].

Kúnos has recorded in Constantinople a creation myth in which mention is made of the white and black sheep. It is said that mountains stood in the way of reaching heaven and only the good spirits were able to reach the copper mountains, and from the tops of the copper mountains to the silver mountains, and from the silver hills to the gold-mountains. The evil spirits were blinded in the great radiance. Their abode is the depth of the earth and the entrance thereto the bung of a well: there waited for them the black and also the white sheep. In the wool of the black sheep they crawled and sank that way down in the bottom of the world, in their realm of the seven layers. On the white sheep they returned on the surface of the earth [Kúnos, Türkische Volksmärchen aus Stambul, 1 nº1: ‘Die Schöpfung’].

Meer informatie:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.