Cor Hendriks – The Macaws | Myth and Folktale (4): The Jewel Mountain

In the third part of the Bororo tale the hero is tricked by his father onto a high cliff from whence he can’t come down. This is a well known situation in fairytales. To be on a mountain from where there is no way down is what happened to the hero in the tales of the Mountain of Jewels. In a Russian (Turkmenian) version the hero Mirali lives with his mother till she tells him to find work because she is getting too old. Everywhere he is turned down till he comes to a rich Bey (a nobleman), who hires him, and the first few days Mirali doesn’t have to do anything. But then the Bey takes him with him after slaughtering an ox and loading the skin on a camel. They ride far into the desert and stop at the foot of a very high mountain. There the Bey orders Mirali to go and lay on the ox-skin, and ties it around him. After a while two enormous birds of prey come swooping down and take the skin with the boy to the top of the mountain, where they tear the skin open, but frightened by the boy fly away. He looks down and sees the Bey, who shouts to him to throw down the jewels, and when he looks around he sees that the mountaintop is covered with jewels. He throws a few handful of them down and the Bey collects them, but then Mirali shouts how he can come down. The Bey shall tell him, but first he has to throw more jewels. The boy does so, but when the Bey has filled his bags he calls to the boy to take a good look around and he will see his former colleagues; and laughing loud the Bey rides away. Mirali sees the bones of his predecessors but then is attacked by an eagle and manages to grab hold of its claws. The bird tries to shake him off by flying away, but the boy holds on and by his weight pulls the bird down to the ground, where he lets go of the bird and escapes the cruel fate that his predecessors have met. Mirali goes again to the Bey, is hired again, because the Bey doesn’t recognize him and is after a few days taken again to the mountain. This time he acts as if he doesn’t understand what the Bey means [see above ATU 327] and the Bey has to show it by crawling into the ox-skin. As soon as he is in the skin, the boy ties him up and leaves him for the birds, who take the ox up the mountain. This time Mirali shouts to throw down the jewels and the Bey obeys but is then left behind. [Werner 1969, 103-106. In the tale ‘Donkey Cabbages’ (KHM 122: Der Krautesel) the daughter of the witch tells the huntsman about the Garnet Mountain, where the precious stones grow, and complains: ‘Who can get them? Only the birds; they can fly and can reach them, but a man never.’ Thereupon the huntsman takes her under his mantle, wishes himself on the Garnet Mountain, and in the twinkling of an eye they are sitting on it together. Precious stones are glistening on every side… While he sleeps the maiden steals the mantle and wishes herself back home, and leaves the huntsman on the wild mountain. He is found by three giants, who spare him with the words that if he climbs higher the clouds will lay hold of him and bear him away (Grimm 1972, 553f).]

Thompson has this story catalogued as ATU 936*: ‘The Golden Mountain’. A hero hires himself out to a rich man as a worker. The merchant takes him to a golden mountain, drugs him with sleeping herbs and sews him up in the skin of an animal. Ravens carry him up on the mountain. The worker digs gold and throws it down to the merchant. The merchant leaves the worker on the mountain. The worker escapes and later tricks the merchant. [Thompson 1961, 331 based on 2 Finnish and 7 Russian version. See also Dawkins nº19 for Greek versions.] This schedule fits the Russian version from the collection of Afanassiev, called ‘The Golden Mountain’. The son of a rich merchant squanders his whole inheritance and goes to hire out himself on the market. There he is hired by the 700th merchant, who can get nobody else, despite the reward of 100 rubles a day, and goes with him on a boat to an island in the middle of the sea, where the golden castle of the merchant shines faraway as a forest fire. The wife and wonderfully beautiful daughter of the merchant come to greet them, and they go to the palace where they eat, drink and have fun. The boy is handsome and the girl likes him and calls her secretively to her and gives him a bake stone and a fire stone that he is going to need. The next day they go to a high mountain, where the merchant gives the boy a sleeping draught, slaughters his horse, and sows the boy into the carcass that he leaves there. Then come crows with iron beaks, that carry the carcass to the summit of the golden mountain. There the boy awakes from the crows tearing at the carcass, crawls out (scaring the crows away), and sees deep down the merchant who shouts at him to throw down the gold. He does this and the merchant fills nine carts and says then that it is enough. ‘How do I get down?’ ‘Look around you; before you there have been 99 who died on the mountain; you will be the 100th!’ The son of the merchant is left behind, desperate and sad, a prey for the crows, but then he remembers the gift from the daughter of the merchant, and he strikes the two stones together; immediately two ‘chaps’ appear [cf. ATU 562: Andersen’s Fire-Steel], who ask him what he wants. ‘Bring me off this mountain near the sea.’ They take him down in a flash, and at the shore he sees a boat sailing, calls to it; it sails on, but is blown back by a storm. They bring him to his birth-town, where he lets himself be hired again by the same merchant in his golden coach. The story becomes a bit incredible, because the boy cannot be recognized by the merchant nor his daughter and at the mountain he is the one who gives the sleeping draught to the merchant, who becomes the 100th that dies on the mountain, after the boy makes himself known promising him a way down to make him throw down gold. [Bozoki 1978, 333-335 nº85: Le montagne d’or (Afan. 243/136).]

In a Persian version the theme of the Jewel Mountain is combined with ATU 552A: ‘Three Animals as Brothers-in-Law’. A king on his deathbed charged his sons to marry their three sisters with [the first one that comes for their hand:] a wolf, a lion and a falcon[; only the youngest prince obeys the command of his father]. After the marriage of his sisters the youngest has to flee for the wrath of his brothers and meets a merchant, who promises him much money for a relatively easy job. The merchant [takes him to the Mountain of Jewels,] sows him in an animal skin and lets him be carried up by a bird to the mountaintop, from where he throws the jewels down to the merchant. When he wants to go down, the merchant says that there is no way and that he will die there. But he finds there a castle, where he becomes the adopted brother of the seven Divs. He liberates a king of the fairies and receives his daughter as wife and returns with her. Later she gets her fairy-dress back and flies to the mount Qaf. He goes again in the service of the merchant (unrecognized) and is carried again by the bird to the top of the Mountain of Jewels. He kills the merchant by throwing a big rock on him. An old bird, servant of the Falcon, brings the prince to the mount Qaf, on the way fed with meat and water. He gains back his wife but later on she is abducted by a Div, but he gets her back with the help of his Animal Brothers-in-Law (ATU 552, combined with 302: ‘The Ogre’s (Devil’s) Heart in the Egg)’. [Marzolph 1984, 117, 174f (= Angavi, Q II 153-160), from Azarbaidjan. The themes of the flight on the old bird and the life in the egg will come back in detail further on.]

In a Greek version, called ‘The Lazy Hans’, the story serves as an introduction to the tale of the Swan Maiden (ATU 400: ‘The Man on a Quest for his Lost Wife’). Hans is such a lazy boy, that even his mother grows tired of him, whereupon Lazy-Hans sets out to find his fortune. But pretty soon he is tired and sits down to rest. A man comes by and takes him in his service where he can rest for 11 months and only has to work in the 12th month. Hans goes with him and has a wonderful life. Then in the 12th month the man takes Hans to the mountains, where he sows him in an ox-skin and puts him down for the vultures, who carry the fake ox to the summit of the mountain, where Hans with his knife cuts open the skin and chases away the vultures. The top of the mountain is full of treasures that he throws down, after which the man leaves with the treasures, leaving Hans behind. The third day, being rather starved, he sees a hare and tries to catch it, but it dives in a hole that Hans digs out till he fits through and comes in a ‘tower’ (castle), in a kitchen, where food is cooking, and he digs in right away. Then he hides himself in a niche. Soon after, the dragon who owns the castle comes and notices that the food is gone and calls that the person who ate the food doesn’t have to be afraid; he will become his brother, whereupon Hans comes out of his hiding. The dragon turns out to be very old, with his beard till his knees, and he is very glad to have company and gives Lazy Hans the keys of 11 cellars full of treasures, but not the 12th, because he had to suffer a lot there and he doesn’t want this to happen to Hans. This secret keeps eating at Hans and one night he tries to steal the little key that the dragon carries under his beard. The dragon wakes up and tells Hans that in that room there is nothing but three windows, a cistern in the middle and three little rooms at the end. He has to hide in a corner and at dusk he will see three doves coming through the three windows, dive in the cistern and turn into girls. They will take off their clothes and jump into the water, because they are Nereids. Of one of them he has to take the clothes. Hans does this and then hides again with the shirt. At daybreak the Nereids want to fly away, but the youngest and most beautiful one misses her shirt and stays alone behind. Then Hans comes out with her shirt and brings her to the dragon, who locks away the shirt and hides the key under his beard, so that the Nereid cannot fly away, and the three of them have a very good life there. Then the king hears about the wonderfully beautiful Nereid in the Tower of the dragon [cf. ATU 516B, infra] and organizes a party for all the women of the country. But the Nereid doesn’t come and he lets her ask for the reason. She tells that she is not allowed to go by her husband who has taken away her shirt. The king lets Hans be summoned and orders him to give back the shirt to his wife. Hans has to comply and his wife putting on the shirt becomes a dove and says before she flies away, that he has to come to ‘Giungiormes ovasi’ (the field where the sun never sets) when he loves her. Hans arrives there in the usual manner: V. The Search. (h) He meets people who are fighting over magic objects (an inheritance) and gets the objects in a trick trade (a foot-race); e.g. hat, carpet (cf. mantle), sword. VI. (b) By means of his magic objects (carpet) he reaches the castle where his wife is. [Megas 1978, 179-184 nº43: Der Faulpelz; from Pergamon, coll. Kyriaki Salvara 1957. Thompson 1961, 128f.]

In a shorter Greek version, the hero, the young Yannis, looking for work, is taken along by a sea-captain on a sea-journey of 40 days and nights, till they arrive at a steep mountain of which the summit radiates like gold. Then the captain tells Yannis his plan: ‘I’m going to put you in this leather bag and leave you behind on the shore. The birds of prey will come to take you in their claws and carry you up to the top, that you see up there, where never a man has set foot. When you’re up there, you have to cut the leather bag with this knife, I give you, you will jump out, you will start to cut out the gold from the mountain and you will throw it down.’ That is what is done. He is carried up by the birds to the top of the golden mountain and starts chopping off pieces of gold and several hours later the ship is fully loaded and sails away, leaving Yannis behind, who realizes that he has been tricked and for a moment considers to throw himself off the mountain into the sea as to not fall prey to the birds, but then he thinks about his poor mother he has left behind (and who lights every day a candle for him). He goes down a narrow path and then discovers a marble slab with an inscription: ‘When you lift this slab, you will regret it; but if you don’t lift it, you will also regret it.’ As he is doomed anyway he lifts up the slab and sees innumerable steps leading down. At the end of the stairs are rooms and hallways decorated with carpets, nice furniture and other stuff. He can’t believe his eyes. Nearby is a garden with beautiful trees, crystal waters and many-colored flowers. A little further on is a big lake with ducks and other birds. Leaving these paradisiacal places behind he enters a dark room, where a blind old man sits mumbling. He tells Yannis about the 12 fairies that come to the lake. ‘You must dig a hole there and hide yourself in it. Then, when the fairies come, they will put off their veils and start to dance. You must jump up and take the veil of one of them. The fairy will beg you to give it back. But before you give it back, you must force her to take us back home.’ The boy acts accordingly and forces the fairy to go with them, the old man and him. When they arrive home, the mother of Yannis is very happy, and Yannis doesn’t want to let the fairy go; he decides to marry her. During the wedding the bride pretends to be sad. The mother of Yannis asks why she doesn’t dance and have a good time, while she is so beautiful. The fairy replies that she wants her veil. Yannis has gone to a side-room and his mother is tricked; she gives her the veil and the fairy takes off. Yannis’s great love forces him to return to the same place. He follows the same route, on the same ship without telling it the captain and the same way he comes to that unknown spot. He finds on the same spot the old man that he met the first time. He uses the same ruse of stealing the veil and this time he takes her and the old man back to his village. [Papachristophorou 2002, 301-303 nº20: ‘Les Fées’ (LF 376: 22-26), collected by student S.N. Ergolavos in 1958 at Thesprotia (Epirus). The story of the return home has been ‘conveniently’ left out.]

A Turkish version was collected by Kunos in Adakale. A 15/16-year-old son of a wealthy merchant squanders his whole inheritance and leaves the country. After a long time he comes somewhere, where a merchant offers 1000 gold-pieces and a girl for a job, goes with the herald and receives 100 gold-pieces and a slave-girl to have fun with. The next day the merchant takes him on a 7-days journey to an inaccessible mountain, where the merchant slaughters a horse, gives the boy 500 gold-pieces and has him go into the carcass of the horse. A big bird will come and carry him up the mountain, from where he has to throw down the pebbles. Up the mountain the boy comes out of the carcass, the bird flies away and the mountain is full of jewels, that he throws down. The merchant fills his bags and departs. 7 days and nights the boy weeps, then climbs up higher [like the Bororo-hero], for 40 days, arrives at the top and sees a meadow with a seraj (‘palace’), but can’t get the door open. In the evening an old man on a horse comes, the door opens, and the boy slips inside behind the old man, who goes to a girl looking like the moon on the 14th, his foster-child, who complains about her loneliness. The old man wants a certain grass, called eyes-open-grass, to cure his blindness. Our hero happens to have this grass, is found in the morning at the door by the old man, whom he tells his history and that in a dream a dervish told him to bring this grass to his friend, who will reward him very good. He cures the eyes of the old man and receives the girl as wife. They sleep. Then the old man gives them 2 magic horses, a knapsack full of jewels and a ring that he has to put in his mouth, then an Arab will appear, who performs all orders in a flash. On the horses they are quickly in their land, where they rent a beautiful seraj and live from the sale of the jewels. But courtiers of the Padishah find it suspicious, arrest him and bring him before the Padishah, who wants the jewels, has the boy locked up, his seraj torn down and everything in it confiscated. But the boy has the Arab tear the prison down and bring the Padishah to the Mount Kaf and thrown between the Eğinnis. When the viziers see the Arab [= Jinn], they have no objection when the boy proclaims himself as Padishah and holds a wedding feast of 40 days and nights. [Kunos 1907, 74-80: ‘Märchen vom Kaufmannssohn (Turkish: I, 52-56).]

Eberhard and Boratav have catalogued this as Type 198: ‘The Diamond Mountain’. 1. A man loses all his possessions. 2. He goes in the service of a merchant, who has him crawl into an [slaughtered] ass. 3. This is carried by a big bird up the mountain, where it is full of diamonds; the man throws the diamonds down. 4. He manages to climb down the inaccessible mountain. 5. He comes in a foreign land where he gains a princess. 6. The princess succeeds in escaping after the wedding. 7. He searches and finds her after big troubles again. From the notes we learn that in one version the merchant lives in the land of the Jews. The mountain is the land of the Bird-Padishah. There he sees swan-maidens and falls in love; he gains the youngest only after a wait of 1 year, as they come only once a year. The healing of the blind old man is only in the version from Adakale. The swan-maiden finds her feather-dress back and flies off. He goes again via the diamond-mountain to the castle; all birds he questions about her abode; only the oldest bird knows it. He walks until he comes to her. Or: He finds out under difficulties her place of residence by the Bird-Padishah and comes in ‘Relais-system’ [this is: 3 brothers/sisters who refer to one another] on the back of an eagle to her. [Eberhard & Boratav 1953, 233f.]

A long version of the story combined with the swan-woman motif (ATU 400) can be found in the collections of the ‘Arabian Nights’, entitled ‘Janshah’ or ‘Gânesâh’. At his birth astrologers predicted that Janshah, son of the Afghan king Teghmús (married to the daughter of the Persian king Bahrewâne), would be powerful if he managed to escape the mortal danger he would be in at the age of fifteen. One day the well educated prince was hunting a gazelle, that plunged into the sea; he went on a boat with six men and took it. On the way back his curiosity led him to visit an island, where a man talked to him with the voice of a bird and divided himself in two [cf. Phoenix; Chauvin’s note 1. Burton V, 333 n. 1: Arab. Sifr: whistling is held by the Badawi to be the speech of devils. ID., n. 2: The Arabs call Shikk (split man) and the Persians Nimchahrah (half-face) a kind of demon like a man divided longitudinally: this gruesome creature runs with amazing speed and is very cruel and dangerous]; other men of this kind came running and devoured three of the slaves. They quickly went in the boat and came to another island, where they found a pavilion where a throne was standing surrounded with seats; they sat there. This island Solomon visited to relax and there live monkeys. The monkeys destroyed the boat and came running in, but treated Janshah with respect and made him their king. With their cavalry, made up of dogs, he fights against their enemies, the Ghuls [Cf. helping the pygmies in their battle against the cranes; Herzog Ernst; Brendan’s Walscherands, etc.]. During this expedition he discovers on a marble table a counsel from Solomon, saying that one can only leave that country by the eastern valley, which takes three months to travel through, or the western valley which takes four months. On the first one, that leads to the ocean there one has to fight with spirits and wild beasts, on the other one comes first in the valley of ants [Alexander-story], then to a mountain of fire, and finally to a river that doesn’t flow on Sabbath and past that there is a village with only Jews. [Burton V, 337 n. 2: This is the old, old fable of the River Sabbation which Pliny (xxxi. 18) reports as “drying up every Sabbath-day” (Saturday): and which Josephus reports as breaking the Sabbath by flowing only on the Day of Rest.] After a stay of 1½ years Janshah goes to fight against the ants and makes use of the night to escape with his companions. The monkeys catch up with them, but the ants come rushing and during the fight in which two slaves die Janshah crosses a river, where the last slave is caught by the current and is smashed against the rocks. All alone he passes the mountain of fire, comes to the river, awaits the Sabbath and comes in the Jewish town, where he is received in silence [because of the Sabbath (See Burton V, 339 n. 1)]. The next day he hears that he is two years and three months from Yemen from where caravans come; he has to wait till next year and may stay there till he can go back to his country with it. One day walking through the town he hears a crier offer 1000 dinars and a young girl to who wants do work a morning. Tempted by this offer, although it must hide some danger, he follows the crier to a merchant. After two days of feasting they leave on two mules. They come to a high mountain, where Janshah lets himself wrap in the carcass of one of the mules. A bird carries him to the top of the mountain, where, surrounded by corpses dried by the sun, he collects precious stones and throws them down to the merchant. This one leaves without further ado [Chauvin refers to nº19: Aladdin, left underground by the magician]. Janshah wanders two months and comes in a beautiful valley by following the bed of a mountain stream. An old man, Nasr, by Solomon appointed over the birds, receives him well and persuades him to wait for the yearly return of the birds, of whom one will take him home. On the day he is going to meet them he receives from his host permission to visit all the rooms but one. But Janshah succumbs to the temptation: he sees a lake, a palace, a magnificent garden; golden birds and animals, animated by the wind, cry like they are alive. Three doves come, who taking off their plumage change into girls; he talks with them and falls in love with the youngest. [Burton V, 346 n. 1 takes a too easy way out: ‘These are the “Swan-maidens” of whom Europe in late days has heard more than enough. It appears to me that we go much too far for an explanation of the legend; a high-bred girl is so like a swan in many points that the idea readily suggests itself.’ The absence of Nasr is explained by the fact that not only the 3 doves but all the birds gather there to hold the ‘Parliament of the Fowls’.] Their leaving overwhelms him with chagrin; he faints and Nasr, finding him in this state, advises him to await their return the following year. Then he must grab the clothes of the one he loves and give them back under no circumstance. This he does next year. Shamsah (the Sun-maiden), as the girl is called, promises to marry him; on the advice of Nasr he gives her plumage back and, making a journey of two months in two days she carries him back home on her back. The king and queen come to greet them. After the festivities a palace is built in a garden on the advice of Shamsah, to reward her for what she had done for Janshah. He lets hollow out a column of white marble, puts there the dress and buries him beneath the foundation of the palace. Shamsah perceives the smell and, when night has come, digs in the ground and takes her dress back. She flies on the roof and proclaims that she loves Janshah, and if he loves her, he can find her in Takní, the Castle of Jewels. Janshah under a pretext leaves at night his knights and goes to Baghdad to accompany a caravan that goes to the Jewish town. No one knows the Castle of Jewels, but one day he finds a caravan that goes to the place where he had seen the ants. He arrives at the river, waits till Sabbath and goes back to his Jewish host, who receives him with joy. When he hears the crier again, he presents himself, gives the received salary to his host, accompanies the merchant, is carried likes the first time by a bird to the top of the mountain. There he makes reproaches to the merchant and, living on herbs and water, goes to Nasr, the king of the birds. But the birds don’t know where the Castle is. Next Janshah comes to Shah Badri, the king of the Beasts, but they also don’t know, and he is sent to the oldest brother Shimakh, the king of the genies (who once revolted against king Solomon). He sends him on a bird with four wings of thirty cubits to the ascetic wizard Yaghmus, who had subjected himself to Solomon, and who, from the time of Noah until that of Solomon had been the king of birds, animals and genies. Even he doesn’t know just as his subjects but the last bird that comes remembers that his parents, settled on the mountain of crystal behind the Mount Kaf, were once absent a week because the king of the Castle of Jewels had taken them and had spared them only because of their young. The bird guides Janshah to where they have their nest; then flying from there a week in the direction his parents had taken, to a high mountain. When he awakes the next morning, he sees a sparkling light: it is the castle, which is another two months away. When Shamsah has returned home, her father has blamed her and has ordered his subjects to bring him every man they find. A genie finds Janshah and brings him. He is received with much joy; the king asks him not to punish his daughter and celebrates his marriage with pomp. [Chauvin, BOA, VII, 39-43 nº153; Burton V, 329-381.]

A version of this story, entitled ‘Zyhanza’, has been collected by Radloff from Tartars in South Siberia. The story also begins with the prediction about the son of King Mustafa of (the city) Misir (= Egypt) that something will happen when the boy is nine years and nine months. When the boy Zyhanza has reached that age, he becomes ill and wants to pass time on a boat. The father instructs the sailors not to go too far, but suddenly a black cloud comes, takes the boat away, throws it over, breaks it to pieces, and everybody drowns except the prince who floats around on a plank, washes up on some shore and falls pray to an old man, who uses him as carrier by sitting on his shoulders. He finally gets rid of him by feeding him drunk with liquor made from berries and killing him. He travels on and comes to a city where they speak a language he doesn’t understand and where he is not understood [which is a bit nonsense]. He steps into the house of an old woman and asks: ‘Hey, crone, do you have a son?’, and lives there several years [to learn the language or just to get older?]. Then there is a buzz in the town, and he hears that a rich man gives a feast-meal, and wonders if he will go; the old woman says he should go. The meal at the rich man’s house is copious and afterwards the rich man piles one table on another and another on it, climbs upon this table and says: ‘Is there a man who wants to climb this mountain to dig for gold and jewels? The reward will be a black ambler, a girl and 1000 pieces of gold.’ Zyhanza says: ‘I want to go.’ Thereupon the rich man lets the girl and Zyhanza spend the night together and takes him the next morning each on a black ambler to the foot of a very high mountain. The rich man kills his horse, cuts it open, takes out the entrails, puts a sword, a pickaxe, and a shovel inside and tells Zyhanza to get inside. Then he stitches up the carcass. After a while a bird comes diving down from the sky, takes the carcass to the top of the mountain and throws it down there. Zyhanza hews his way out, takes pickaxe and shovel and starts chopping off the gold and shoveling it down. After a while the rich man shouts that it is enough. Zyhanza asks how he comes down, whereupon the rich man replies: ‘The heads of many youths have already rotted there,’ and goes homewards. Zyhanza sits on top of the mountain, walks round and sees the heads of many a youth that has died there, and weeps. ‘I am a very unlucky human,’ he says and commands himself to God. After many days going round there he comes to a mountain peak and sees there a door, all of steel. From the door a voice says: ‘There is no God accept Allah and David is his prophet.’ [The door opens.] The youth steps inside and sees a girl there, that makes a sign with her hand to a second door. He enters, and an old woman asks if he is a peri or a jinni (good or evil spirit). ‘I am a human,’ he says, ‘for who has no son I want to be a son.’ She adopts him and he lives there a long time. One day the old woman goes away for a month and allows him to enter all the rooms except one. So he looks in all the rooms (one with gold, one with silver, one with coral) and finally decides to open the forbidden door, a gate-way leading to another world: there is a plain with a lake. He is standing at the foot of a poplar when three swans come down out of the sky, land on the shore, and two of them go into the water, become girls [of course the other way around], and tell the other one to join them, but she says that it smells like human. The others say: ‘Where is the land of humans and where is this land?’ [A rhetorical question, meaning that they are far removed from the human world.] The girl has no answer, takes off her bird-clothing and goes into the water. Then Zyhanza comes out of hiding, takes the clothes of the girls [only the last one] and seats himself on it. The girl says: ‘Didn’t I tell you…’, while the other ones take off. Zyhanza takes the dress of the one girl back home, and is followed by the girl. The daughter of the old woman says: ‘Hey, little brother, you’ve done well! The murdar have since long spoiled the water of my mother; now when my mother comes, then she may give you this girl.’ When the mother comes, she is content and gives this murdar-girl to the youth as wife. Zyhanza lives there many years, but thinks about his father’s city. He tells the old woman that he is the son of the king of Misir and wants to return to his father’s city. The old woman consents and has him brought by one of her birds, whom she orders to bring him to his parents and bring back a letter. The bird puts Zyhanza and his wife in the palace-garden, and the viziers see the bird, big as hay-stack, and tell it the king; when he hears that it is his son, he faints and then gives a great feast that lasts many days. [Radloff 1872, 4, 318-322 nº4, from the village Sala of the Tobol-Tartars.]

A version was also collected by Munkácsi from the Wotjak, but the storyteller seems to have misunderstood some of the features. This already starts at the beginning of the tale where a man comes to the hero and says: ‘I make money.’ He makes a gold coin for Kasan and orders him to go to a shop and buy things. The next time he meets the money-making man and says to him: ‘Make money,’ the man wants to take him with him, but Kasan doesn’t want to go and takes the man to his house, and gives him to eat, but the man puts Kasan in a chest, and takes him with him, giving him only so much to eat that he doesn’t die. When they come to a great water the man whistles and a camel comes out [of the water]. After leaving the water the man takes Kasan out of the chest, and putting him on the camel, they continue their journey. Finally they come to a house standing on the top of a very high pillar. On Kasan’s question the ‘wealth-finding’ man (he is also called ‘wealth-creating man’ or ‘wealth-finder’) says it is the house of his enemy. Then they arrive at the foot of a high mountain at a place for the slaughter of cattle, where the man slaughters his camel and taking out the entrails puts Kasan in these entrails [instead of the carcass]. Kasan is carried up [by birds] and comes out of the entrails at the summit. He sees that it is impossible to descend the mountain. He shouts to the man what he must do. He has to throw down the human bones [instead of the gold!], which he does, whereupon the man goes away [of course on the 2nd camel], leaving a weeping Kasan behind. He goes to one side, goes and goes and comes at a great water. A sailboat just passes by and brings him to the other side, where the house is (on top of the pillar). He enters the house [which is as the house of Snow-White’s dwarfs]. Suddenly three girls come, who adopt him as their ‘brother’, feed him and take care of him. He remains there 3 years; then they are ‘recalled’ by their father and give Kasan the keys to the 12 barns, but forbid him to open one specific barn. As soon as they are gone Kasan opens that barn and behind him a water arises [?]. Doves come flying and turn on the shore into girls. They undress and bath, then redress and fly away. Then a white dove comes all alone, becomes a very beautiful girl, takes a bath, redresses, turns into a dove and flies away, stared after by Kasan. The doves don’t come back and everyday he waits in vain. When his ‘sisters’ come back, they see that he has withered, but he says it was their absence. But as he still grows meagre he has to confess, and the youngest sister tells him when his dove will come and how he can get her by grabbing her by the hair and bringing her to them without saying a word. So on that day Kasan waits for the doves to come. When they have undressed and are in the water, he hides the cloth [of the white dove] and when she comes out of the water and searches for her cloth, he grabs her by the hair and drags her to the house. The girl reproaches the girls for teaching him how to catch her, but the girls say it is the destiny of women to marry. And so she becomes Kasan’s wife. After two years they have two sons. Then Kasan dreams of his old mother, and again he withers away, till the sisters ask what is wrong. They give him permission, but tell him to come back in three months. Then he goes and says to his mother not to give the dove-dress to his wife. But a Bojar falls in love, and the girl tells him that she is even more beautiful in the dove-dress. The Bojar forces the mother to give the dress to the girl, who takes her two sons under her arm and flies away, saying that Kasan must seek her in foreign countries. When Kasan returns home, his mother tells him what has happened, and he goes [back] to his sister[s], who tells him to go to a certain house. He goes there and the man sends him with a letter to his older brother. This man sends him to a place where the ‘fair of the Albaste-witches’ will be, where he has to hide in a hollow tree. Kasan hides in the tree and when the cock crows, the witches disperse. One of them goes in the tree, and Kasan asks her if she knows his wife. She does; his wife is her godmother, and she will take him to her. While they are going, they meet a company of woman-soldiers. Kasan thinks he sees his wife, because she has her face, whereupon the woman scolds the witch, but then Kazan’s sons come, recognize their father and embrace him. The sister [of his wife] strikes Kasan’s wife and locks her up in a dungeon. Then Kasan meets two Albaste-witches that are quarrelling over 3 magic objects: a sword that can kill a man on a distance of 40 verst, a bottle from which soldiers come, and an invisibility-cap. He sends them running, puts on the cap, and steals the other things. He goes into the dungeon, takes out his wife, sends the soldiers from the bottle against the pursuing woman-soldiers, and they are all killed. He grabs the sister of his wife, beats her to get his sons back, and she brings them straightaway. Then Kazan seats himself on the camel-devil [?], puts his wife and sons on it, and returns home. [Munkácsi 1952, 203-215 nº86: ‘Kasan und seine Frau, die Taube’ (orig. title: ‘Kasan, the wealth-finder, the bojar and the spirit’). Fair of the Albaste-witches: witches’ gathering, Sabbath.]

The story in the combination with the theme of the swan-maiden (ATU 400) is also known in Yemen, where it is preceded by a quite unrelated tale, wherein the hero kills an afrit and liberates 14 king’s daughters, one of whom marries with his younger brother, who has by accident become king. Anyway, the king is too busy playing king and being married, so that the hero gets bored and hangs out in the coffee-shop, where he meets an Indian who wants to take him to India to make his fortune. They depart on horses, and ride on till they reach a very high mountain (the highest in the world). The youth asks the Indian what they are doing here. ‘Do you want to get rich or not?’ ‘Yes, but how?’ ‘Climb to the top of that mountain, there you will find what will make us rich.’ ‘How do I get up there?’ ‘Simple. See that camel? We will slaughter it, take off the skin and put you in it. Eagles will come and carry you in the camel-skin onto the top. There you must throw down the wood.’ So said, so done. The birds come and carry the skin onto the top of the mountain, where ‘the son of the concubine’ (as the hero is called) crawls out of the bag. He sees 3 men, 2 already dead, and the other nearly. This one tells him that they have come there brought by the same Indian, and then expires. [This is of course a bit nonsense because he doesn’t act different from other versions.] As commanded he starts throwing down the ‘wood’ which is in fact pure gold [cf. infra: ‘Juan and the gold ring’, where the hero is to get ‘source-sand’]. When he has thrown down all the wood, he shouts how he can come down. The Indian just says: ‘Stay and die,’ and leaves with the gold. Two days the son of the concubine is on that mountain, which on one side has the sea. Finally he has made up his mind, says ‘Bismillah’ (in the name of Allah) and jumps from the height of the mountain into the sea, floats around for two days, when he comes upon a barrel, with which he reaches an island, where there is an enormous palace (the biggest in the world), where the 7 daughters of the Jinni of the West live, who adopt him as their brother. After a while the girls go on a journey and forbid him to enter the garden. Of course he does this and sees there 7 white doves, the daughters of the Jinni of the East, who come there to swim and play. The hero steals the feather-dress of the youngest and she cannot fly away with her sisters and becomes the wife of the hero, who after a while takes her home, where they have two children, with whom the wife when she has tricked the mother of the hero into giving back her feather-dress, flies away to the faraway islands Wāq Al Wāq, where the hero can only follow her with magic help (he is brought by jinni). [Daum 1983, 130-145 nº13: ‘Die vierzehn Königstöchter’, told by Hādj Hamūd al Baydaħi.]

Meer informatie:
http://robscholtemuseum.nl/cor-hendriks-the-macaws-myth-and-folktale-1-introduction/
http://robscholtemuseum.nl/cor-hendriks-the-macaws-myth-and-folktale-2-b-the-dangerous-assignments/
http://robscholtemuseum.nl/cor-hendriks-the-macaws-myth-and-folktale-3-excursus-the-retrieval-of-the-disappeared-musical-instruments-by-gilgamesh/

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