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Stories

  1. Seven Suns
  2. The First Shamans
  3. Creation of the Middle World
  4. The Tree, the Silver Girl, and the Sun and Moon
  5. The Swan People of Lake Baikal
  6. Story of Morin-Khuur


Seven Suns

Long ago, when the earth was new there was not one sun, but seven suns, and it was daylight all the time. Sometimes it got too warm, and animals had to run into their burrows to protect themselves. At that time there was a great archer, his name was Erhii Mergen (Wise Thumb). The animals came to him and complained that they were suffering, that because there were so many suns it was too hot all the time. Would he please kill a few of the suns so that the earth would not be so hot?

Erhii Mergen agreed to help and so he mounted his horse with his bow and a full quiver of arrows. Very quickly he shot down one, two, three suns, and kept on going until there was only one left. The last sun was frightened, and ran away across the sky, and Erhii Mergen chased it and chased it but could never get close enough to shoot it down. For this reason the sun got into the habit of traveling across the sky and then disappearing during the night, for even to this day Erhii Mergen continues to chase it. However, after so many years of chasing the sun he and his horse have become very tiny, and have turned into the kangaroo rat, which hops around like a horse and rider.

*A tale of the Halh Mongols*
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The First Shamans

Long ago, when Ulgen Tenger created mankind people were very happy and lived without any trouble or disease. His brother, Erleg Khan, chief of the spirits of the eastern direction, was unhappy with this situation, and sent disease and unhappiness to human beings. Suddenly people started becoming ill and dying, and Ulgen and the spirits of the western direction were troubled and met together in the Pleiades to discuss how to correct this problem. They decided to send Eagle to be a shaman to mankind.

When Eagle came down to earth from the upper world, he tried to communicate with humans and tell them that he had come to be a shaman for them. But because he had originally been created by the spirits of the eastern direction he did not know the human language, and, discouraged, he returned to the upper world and told the western sky spirits he could not help humankind. They told him to return, but this time to find a woman, mate with her, and the child would be the first shaman. So Eagle, flying back to earth, saw a beautiful woman sleeping under a tree, mated with her, and then her son became the first shaman. Even today shamans remember the flight of the eagle in their dances and fly up to heaven when they shamanize.

In those days, shamans were very powerful, and could travel about the earth with the speed of lightning, and perform the most amazing tasks. One of the most famous shamans was Hara-Gyrgen, and Ulgen Tenger, seeing the arrogance of this shaman, decided to test him. Tenger took away the soul of the daughter from Hara-Gyrgen's clan, and the girl became like dead. When the shaman arrived he saw at once that the girl's soul was lost, and he shamanized and flew up to the upper world. He came to the dwelling place of Tenger and saw that the girl's soul was in a bottle and Tenger was holding it closed with his thumb. Hara-Gyrgen turned himself into a bee, stung Tenger on the cheek, and when Tenger dropped the bottle to slap the bee, the shaman grabbed the girl's soul and flew back to the earth. Ulgen Tenger was angry and punished the shaman for being too powerful. He made Hara-Gyrgen jump up and down on a mountain forever, and when the mountain has worn down shamans will no longer have their powers. After hundreds of years of jumping on the mountain, Hara-Gyrgen is becoming tired, so now shamans are not as strong as they used to be, and people no longer understand many of the shaman songs.

*A Buryat Mongolian Tale*
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Creation of the Middle World

Long ago Father Heaven had two sons, Ulgen Tenger and Erleg Khan, Ulgen became the lord of the upper world and Erleg Khan became the lord of the lower world. At that time the earth was covered with water, there was no land. Ulgen Tenger asked the loon to bring up mud from below the water to create land, he was not able to do so, and he was punished by having his legs broken so he could not walk, and the goldeneye duck was called next to bring up land. The duck created a small piece of land that Ulgen was able to lay on. Erleg Khan seeing that his brother had fallen asleep on the new land, tried to pull the land out from under him, but instead the land stretched out in all directions as he pulled it.

Next, Ulgen Tenger created animals and humans out of mud and he spread them out to dry. He created the dog to keep watch over the bodies of the new humans while he was gone. Erleg Khan, unhappy to see that his brother was creating humans, came to see the new bodies. The dog would not let him come close, at that time the dog could talk but had no fur. It was cold, and snowing, so Erleg Khan tempted him, saying that if the dog allowed him to see the humans' bodies he would give him a beautiful fur coat. The dog agreed, and was given a shiny beautiful coat. Erleg Khan then spat on the bodies so that humans would have diseases and not be immortal. When Ulgen returned he saw that the dog had fur and that the humans had been damaged, so he punished the dog by making his coat smelly, taking away his voice, and by making the dog follow humans in order to get its food.

*An Evenk Tale Tale*
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The Tree, the Silver Girl, and the Sun and Moon

Long ago, the sun, moon, and the silver girl were three women living together on the new earth, and the tree was their servant. One man fell in love with the silver girl and wanted to marry her. One day, however, when he came, the silver girl was gone, and the tree put on the silver girl's clothing and went away with the man and married him. When the silver girl returned and found out what happened, she was very angry and chased after the man and the tree until she found them. She made the man catch a deer and tie the tree-girl to the deer. The deer ran back and forth across the earth, and the seeds which fell from the tree-girl fell on the ground and the forests sprang up from them.

The silver girl then married the man, but after a while the man became tired of her. The sun and moon girls had gone to live in a different place, and the man's wife forbade him to go see her two sisters. However, the man went to the dwelling of the sun and moon, fell in love with the moon and took her as his wife. The silver girl flew into a rage, turned herself into a hawk, and attacked her sisters. The man tried to defend the sisters, and they ran about trying to avoid the attacks. The man's arrows struck the talons of the hawk, for this reason there is a red spot on the hawk's foot. The ruler of the upper world intervened and took the two sisters to the upper world and made them lights for the day and the night and they never met their sister or brother in law again.

*An Evenk Tale*
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The Swan People of Lake Baikal

Long ago, a hunter was walking through the woods near Lake Baikal when he saw a swan fly down and land on the lake. The swan swam to shore, and walked up on the beach. Suddenly, the swan took off its skin, and underneath was a beautiful woman. She set the skin aside, and then went into the lake to bathe. The hunter immediately desired to make the woman his wife so he stole her swan-clothing and hid it. When the woman came out of the water he took her home and married her and they had many, many children. Even though they loved each other, as time went by the wife longed more and more to return to her own people. Finally, after 20 years had passed, she begged her husband to let her return to the swan nation, and so he reluctantly returned her swan clothing. After putting her swan-skin back on, she flew up through the smoke hole of their dwelling and went back to the swan people, never to be seen in human form again. Her children, and all of her descendants among the Buryats who live on Lake Baikal, continue to remember their swan heritage, and for this reason greet the return of the swans every year with songs, offerings, and shamanist ceremonies.

*A Buryat Mongolian Tale*
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Story of Morin-Khuur
Long time ago, a young man named Sükhe was living in the steppes far far away. One winter night, he was awakened by a awful whining of a horse and he found a dying white mare with a snow-white newborn foal on her side in the pale light of the winter moon. He raised the white foal with great care and the foal also had become very fond of him.

A few years later, the white foal became a handsome white racing horse by Sükhe's excellent taming skills.

One day, he heard there would be a Naadam (traditional sport game of the Mongols, including horse racing, wrestling and archery) in the Khushuu (administrative unit, equal to a County) and he went to the Naadam to try his luck.

At the same time, the governor of the Khushuu was a very bad man at the time and had many nice racing horses to win in the Naadam.

Miracle happened, Sükhe's white horse defeated all the nice racing horses of the governor and won the Naadam. However, this was also the beginning of the sad story.

In the very next night, Sükhe was awakened by a heartbreaking whining sound In the very next night, Sükhe was awakened by a heartbreaking whining sound of a horse.

He rushed out of his Ger (yurt of the Mongols) and found out his dearly loved white horse was lying on the ground with arrows all over his body in the pale light of the full moon.

Sükhe burst into tears and with his great grief, he suddenly lost his consciousness.

However, in his dream, he was able to meet his horse again. the horse said to Sükhe: " Don't feel sorry, my master, I know you are going to miss me very much, so I give you a instrument, please use my tail hair as the string and when you are missing me, play it."

Sükhe woke up and made the instrument, known as the Morin-Khuur [Image] later, according to what the white horse had told him.

You can still feel the heart-touching tone of this wonderful instrument which have accompanied the Mongols for many hundred years.