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Tales of Mongolian Love and Vanity

Morin Khur:

The legend of the Morin Khur tells of a man called Cuckoo Namjil. Cuckoo Namjil left his native Gobi to join the army in the Altai mountains. There he fell in love and upon leaving back to his homeland was gifted a magical winged horse ‘Jonon Har’.

With the winged horse, Cuckoo Namjil was able to meet his love every night despite the huge distance between them. However, Cuckoo could not keep his winged horse a secret; the whole community knew about his amazing horse and very quickly they learned about the reason behind his nightly excursions. Many people became jealous of his horse and some became jealous of his romance in the Altai. One such woman could not control her jealousy, it drove her mad; until one night, she violently killed the magical horse.

Cuckoo Namjil was devastated that he could no longer visit his love in the Altai and also devastated with the loss of his faithful steed. Cuckoo then began to make an instrument with the remains of the horse. The instrument became a two stringed horse fiddle and when he started playing the instrument the soul of the horse was said to gallop his messages of love across to the Altai mountains.

Morin Khur

The Golden Pitcher:

In Mongolia there once lived a Khan who was extremely vain. He loved nothing more than to stare at his reflection in mirrors. However, one day he noticed a grey hair sprouting from his head. Alarmed by this discovery, he sent for his advisor. His advisor told him that he was growing older and that this was perfectly normal and expected.

The Khan however did not like this, at first he decided to stop looking in mirrors but quickly decreed that all mirrors must be broken; and so the sound of smashing mirrors echoed across the grassland steppe.

The Khan was happy for a time, until he saw an old man hobbling around with a stick. The man had gray hair, a long beard and a bent back; straight away the Khan was reminded of his impending old age and immediately decreed that all old people be banished from the Khanate.

Soon after this there came a huge storm which reaped havoc across the steppe, it destroyed Ger’s, killed livestock and blew all manner of items out of the Khan’s palace. Well, after the storm, all the precious items were recovered except one, the Khan’s most prized possession, a ‘golden pitcher’.

The Khan was furious and searched for the golden pitcher himself. Eventually he found it; it could be seen twinkling at the bottom of a large lake. His strongest soldier swam down to the bottom of the lake but upon surfacing said he could not find it. Everybody swam to the bottom of the lake including the Khan himself but nobody could recover the golden pitcher.

Irritated by this the Khan decreed that whoever recovers the golden pitcher may have whatever they so wish.

Hearing this a young woman smiled and approached the Khan, she then climbed a nearby tree from which at the top lay the golden pitcher. Only the young woman had seen the pitcher, the rest had only seen its reflection.

The Khan then demanded to know what her wish was. “I wish for all the old, grey haired people to be allowed to return to the Khanate” she said. The Khan sighed and agreed. The young woman and so many in the Khanate were reunited with their families and the Khan learned an important lesson. He learned to see things as they really are instead of focusing on appearances.

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