A Journey in Southern Siberia, by Jeremiah Curtin, , at sacred-texts.com
AFTER Gesir Bogdo had been saved and cured by the Iron Hero, and Ashir had gone westward to take as bride Nalhan Taiji, the daughter of Gasir Baiyin, Gesir Bogdo began to live with his old wife, and lived in peace for a while, then eleven Mangathais came at one time. They were strong and terrible. The eleven had four hundred and seven heads.
"Why have ye come?" asked Gesir Bogdo.
"We have come to find work. Give us tasks to do, if not we will kill thee."
"I have work enough, why not give it," said Gesir.
He sent his thirty-three strong champions, mighty heroes, to dig a very deep ditch. When the ditch was finished Gesir said to the Mangathais, "Come, Mangathais, I will show you where the work is." He started, and with him went the Mangathais, followed by the thirty-three strong heroes. When the Mangathais came to the edge of the ditch, and stood in a row looking into it, the thirty-three strong heroes pushed them from behind into the ditch, and then threw down one great long stone and covered them.
The Mangathais struggled, were lifting the stone by main force, but the thirty-three kept it down. The eleven Mangathais died in that ditch; the great stone settled on them, and then other stones were piled up on that one. Gesir built a splendid yurta above the ditch. On a wall of the yurta Gesir had his image in full armor sitting on horseback, with his bow drawn. Then he went back to his own yurta and found that the Iron Hero had come with his bride and many attendants. All the guests had not arrived, but when all were there Gesir Bogdo assembled his own people, and made a feast which lasted nine days and nights. After that the Iron Hero went to live in the Iron and Silver Square as he had intended.
Ashir Bogdo, who had gone to get Gasir Baiyin Khan's daughter, reached at last the boundary. of that khan's dominion.
[paragraph continues] When he came the time was autumn; the leaves had turned yellow, and were falling on his side, but beyond the boundary, in the khan's country, it was springtime,—the leaves were just opening and grass was beginning to grow.
Ashir sat there on the boundary between the two countries. "I have traveled all summer," said he to himself, "and have reached the boundary, what will happen to me now?" And he began to weep. He wept for a time, then smoked, and rode forward.
On the road he met a youth riding a horse as red as blood. In the ears of this youth were rings as big as a cart-wheel; his eyes were as large as plates, his face red, and his teeth were each the size of a spade. They greeted, and each said to the other that he was going to seek a bride.
Ashir rode farther till he met a Mangathai with seventy-seven heads.
"Where art thou going?" asked the Mangathai.
"How does that concern thee? I am traveling on my own affair," replied Ashir. "Thy road is open before thee. I am Ashir Bogdo; what is thy name?"
"I am Huhshin Ahai; I live in the southwest. I heard of thy birth, but did not think that thou hadst grown to such size." "Hast thou killed many like me?" inquired Ashir.
"I have met many stronger men, and have killed every one of them."
"Would it take thee long to kill me?"
The Mangathai sprang from his saddle; Ashir slipped down from his horse and looked at the Mangathai. They approached each other cautiously, and closed in struggle. Three days and nights they fought furiously. Each bit away all the flesh from the front of the other's body, and with his ten fingers tore off all that was behind.
On the third evening Ashir killed the Mangathai. He tore his body into two parts. The first part he put under a hill on the west of the road, and the second under a hill on the east of the road; then he killed the horse and buried him under a third hill.
Now Ashir rode farther, rode on till he came to a meadow
so broad that he could see neither side nor end to it. Far off in front of him on the horizon was a black house a verst and a half long, and so high that the sky seemed to touch it. It was roofed with brass. On each of fifty-seven stakes before this house was a horse skull and on fifty-seven other stakes outfits of arms and armor.
"My father told me," thought Ashir, "that he had killed all the Mangathais. I have killed one and still I find more of them." When he reached the yurta he turned himself into a woodchuck and dug a hole under the floor; but the floor was iron, and he could not cut through it. On the west side of the yurta was a small hole, left by accident. Ashir crept through that hole. Inside the yurta was a Mangathai with seven hundred heads, the father of a great many Mangathais. His wife was there also. It was dangerous to attack both, so Ashir crept out very quietly. He made his horse one hundred and ninety fathoms long, and himself so large that his head and the sky seemed to touch each other. His neck was immense; he was terrible to look at.
When Ashir was thus changed he shouted to the Mangathai to come out and meet him.
"Who has dared to rouse me? Who has dared to call me?" cried the Mangathai, going out. When he saw Ashir he asked: "Who is this, who can it be? Is this a Burkan?"
"What kind of person art thou with fifty-seven skulls impaled here before thy dark house?" asked Ashir. "I am here to give thee battle; I have come on purpose to fight thee."
"Thou art Ashir Bogdo. I know thy father and mother; I will not fight with thee; thy father has never harmed me."
"If thou wilt not fight, dig a deep pit for me," said Ashir. And he made the Mangathai dig a pit. He dug for seventeen days, then he wished to come out, to be drawn up with a rope. "I do not think," said Ashir, "that the pit is deep enough." He called the wife of the Mangathai and said: "Go down and see if thy husband has done the work well."
"Why should I go down, my husband is there; he can do the work alone."
"He is not able to dig fast enough," said Ashir; "he cannot
dig the pit alone and fill buckets fast enough. Let him dig and do thou fill the buckets."
She hesitated. "Get into the bucket," ordered Ashir. "Get in I tell thee!" She stepped in reluctantly. "The pit must be sixty feet in depth," said Ashir, as he let her down. She measured as the bucket was lowered. "Sixty-one feet deep!" cried the Mangathai. "I have measured carefully." "That is enough," replied Ashir, "send up all the tools down there." They sent up the tools. Ashir let the bucket down to them. The Mangathai got in first. Ashir drew him up to the top almost; then cut the rope quickly and the bucket fell. The Mangathai was crushed and killed.
"Oh," cried the wife of the Mangathai, "I knew that thou hadst such a plan. Thou art cunning; thou wert wheedling and kind to me. Thou hast killed my husband. I yielded to thy persuasive words and am ruined. I might have fought with thee. I could have conquered if I had stayed up there."
Ashir Bogdo filled the hole with immense stones, then he turned the iron yurta bottom upward, took all of the Mangathai's property and sent it to his father's yurta.
Ashir traveled farther; traveled till he met a Mangathai with three hundred heads and thirty horns in them, who called out, "Thou thinkest thyself a hero! thou hast killed my father and brother, but I will repay thee! Thou wilt not deceive or overcome or trick me!"
They sprang down from their horses and rushed at each other. The struggle was long and dreadful. They wrestled twelve days and nights. All the flesh was torn from their bones; ravens flew in from the east and the north and the south, crying: "Fight on, fight on! Give us flesh forever!"
"Let us try arrows," said the Mangathai. They went to the tops of opposite mountains. In the evening Ashir saw two wild goats; he killed both at one shot, spitted the two, put them in front of the fire to roast, then lay down and slept. The next morning he was eating the goats when the Mangathai called to him.
"Thou hast killed my father, mother, and brother; do not dare to shoot thy arrow before I shoot mine!"
The Mangathai had no arrow, he wanted to deceive Ashir. His only weapon was an axe eighty fathoms broad. Ile threw the axe. It went but halfway. Ashir's magic power stopped it. "What is this!" thought the Mangathai. "Am I tired? Have I grown weak after fighting twelve days? This is the first time I ever failed to hit. What has happened?" He started for his axe.
"Stop! I will shoot!" cried Ashir.
"Wait till to-morrow," said the Mangathai; "why art thou in such a hurry?"
"Very well," replied Ashir, "my arrow might not reach thee. Let us see which of us has most magic."
"Agreed," said the Mangathai.
Ashir read in his book and discovered that the Mangathai had been made by Galta Ulan Tengeri. That far away in the southeastern sky the Mangathai had an aunt, and that aunt kept his life. Ashir made his horse into a flint, put the flint in his pocket, turned himself into a falcon, and flew away toward the southeast. He flew nine days and nine nights, flew till at last he came to the aunt's house.
Ashir now made himself exactly like the Mangathai, and as he went along he began to cry bitterly. The aunt lived in a white yurta; she had only one tooth and one eye. She heard her nephew crying, and came out of the yurta. "Why cry?" asked she. "Come here." And she gave him her breast to draw.
"Ashir Bogdo has appeared on earth," said the false Mangathai. "My strength is not enough to overcome him. Give me strength enough, give me power."
"How strangely you draw my breast," said she. "You took only a little milk in the old time, now you take much."
"I told you that I had lost strength in fighting so long with Ashir Bogdo." He drew fiercely, drew all the life from her and she fell senseless to the earth. Ashir trampled and killed her; then he found a golden box. He kicked the box till it broke. Inside were thirteen woodcocks. He caught them all, put them in his pockets and hurried away. In nine days he was back to the place of combat. The Mangathai was not there; he had
gone for Ashir's life. He made himself just like Ashir, went up to Esege Malan and said:
"Why didst thou make me? The Mangathai is fighting, and I cannot conquer him. Give me more power; give me strength enough; give me my life."
Esege Malan did not recognize the Mangathai, thought him Ashir and gave Ashir's life to him. Just then Ehé Ureng Ibi came to Esege and said:
"Thou wert deceived. That is a Mangathai."
"Deceived. Those were not Ashir's eyes, his eyes are quite different. Take thy spy glass and look at the Mangathai."
Esege took the rosy glass and saw the Mangathai flying as a raven. He watched him long. Saw the raven reach the earth and turn into a Mangathai. That moment Esege summoned Hohodai. "I have been deceived by a Mangathai," said he, "I want your help."
"I will help you," answered Hohodai. And that instant he sent bloody rain and hail and hurled jagged lightning at the Mangathai, tore him and his horse into fragments, smashed them into small bits.
Ashir's life was on earth, and Esege Malan sent two Shalmos (Invisible Spirits) to bring it back. The two turned into ravens, went down, found the life, brought it with them, and gave it back to Esege Malan.
After waiting some days on the mountain, Ashir would wait no longer; he crushed the thirteen woodcocks and went farther. Soon he met another Mangathai, the largest he had ever seen. He had a thousand heads. The lower jaw of the main head reached the earth when the Mangathai was standing and the upper jaw touched the sky. He moved forward with open jaws and began by his breath to draw Ashir into his mouth.
Horse and rider went racing toward that immense mouth, they had no power to resist the current of breath.
All at once Ashir made his horse into a flint chip and himself into a black stone as big as a large stallion. The stone rolled along, swifter and swifter, rolled into the Mangathai's mouth,
straight on to his tongue. Ashir's hands and arms were stone; they stuck in the Mangathai's throat, and resisted swallowing. The Mangathai could not get the huge stone down, could not spit it out. He struggled, groaned, ran around in great agony; ran seven days and seven nights.
"This is Ashir Bogdo, surely," thought he. "He is the only one who can beat me. Kill me if thou wilt," cried he to the stone, "if not let me go!"
No prayer could move the stone; on the tenth day it had worn through the tongue. Ashir now asked Esege Malan for weapons; they appeared and he cut up the lungs of the Mangathai. The Mangathai fell dead on the earth. Ashir came out, took the Mangathai's axe, which was fifty feet wide, and cut off all his heads, cut out his ribs. Something was moving through his interior. A terrible serpent came out. Ashir cut the serpent open and found three hundred and seventy-five people alive in the body. They had fires and were cooking food. "What is thy name?" asked those people of Ashir Bogdo. "We have lived here a long time. There is no change of season in this place, no spring, no summer, no autumn, no winter. What a good hero thou art to rescue us. May thou accomplish all thy wishes and all that thou hast set out to do."
"Go all of you people to the places whence ye came," said Ashir. "Go to the lands where ye lived before. I have fought many years with this Mangathai and his father and brother. I set out to find my bride, now I will go to her."
He killed the Mangathai's horse, mounted his own steed and rode till at last he reached the house of his father-in-law, one of the great Tengeri.
"Why hast thou come hither, earth creature?" asked the Tengeri.
"I have come for thy daughter."
"Wait, I will read thy book," said the Tengeri. Ashir gave his book. The Tengeri read and discovered how Ashir had warred with the Mangathais; read all of his exploits. He read for three days and finished. "Read thou my book," said the Tengeri. Ashir read for fifteen days, read all. "Thou art a master at reading," said the Tengeri, "I can hardly read it
myself in fifteen days. Now thou mayst see thy bride." And he opened the door to Ashir with respect.
"Be greeted! Whence hast thou come?" asked the bride.
"I have come for thee. There are many maidens down on the earth," said Ashir, "but I heard of thy wonderful beauty, and came."
"There is a bad odor on earth," said the maiden. "Such a bad odor that I could not live there."
"There are houses down there just as good as those here," answered Ashir. "If the air were bad all the people would die, but they live and are well. Burkans come down to visit us and eat in our houses."
"Let me see thy book," said the maiden. She read Ashir's book and embraced him. "Forgive me," said she, "I was not sure that it was thee."
"We must have the wedding to-morrow," said Ashir. "How much time have I spent in struggling? How many terrible journeys have I made in coming?"
"I knew of thy journey and thy struggles," said she. "I knew that thou wert coming."
Next day the Tengeri assembled all the people of the sky, and they feasted nine days and nights in great splendor. When ready to start the bride received from her father a gray steed ninety fathoms long, and a silver goblet of such kind that it would neither sink nor move with the current when thrown into a river.
Before starting Ashir and his bride turned their horses into pieces of flint, made the presents small and put everything in their pockets. They became ravens then and flew down to Gesir Bogdo's yurta, where they took their own shapes again and restored their horses and presents. Gesir Bogdo then assembled all his people, and they feasted for nine days and nine nights as they had never feasted before.