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Fairy Tales of the Ket, Nanai, and Even Peoples
Fairy Tales of the Ket people
Woman and the devil
Once long ago when our land was inhabited by spirits there lived to families on the banks of a deep fast moving river in the heart of a thick, dark forest.
Early in the morning before the dawn sun rose the men of the families got up to go hunting with their bows and arrows.
As they went out hunting their wives prepared the firewood and built bonfires over which they cooked the meals, crushed and prepared reindeer skins as they waited for their husbands to return.
One evening when the men had to stay out late in the woods in a tent a she-devil found their homes where their wives and children were waiting for them. The she-devil sat silently in the doorway of the house watching the women work for a time before the women noticed her watching their children her eyes flaming and mouth filling with saliva as she grew hungry.
The she-devil grew so hungry watching the children that her stomach rumbled as if cracking. At which point the younger of the women asked the she-devil, “Grandmother are you making a cracking sound.”
“Yes, I tore a rabbit fur,” the she-devil answered.
The older women knew what the sound had been however and so she got up and walked to the door.
Where are you going the witch asked her?
I’m going to get yukola to feed you the women explained.
Once she was outside the women looked around hoping that the men would be returning soon, but she saw nothing, and after searching briefly for the men she started to return home when she saw the witch’s yurt on the other side of the river. So the women cast hot coals on it to make it glow like it was on fire.
“Why did you take so long,” the witch asked.
“Grandmother your Yurt is on fire” the women told the witch.
Choking with rage the witch ran out as fast as she could, not bothering to cross the river at its shallow point she ran out into the deep water, up to her knees, then her waist, then her breasts, and finally her mouth and eyes. Still the witch swam on but she didn’t make it and soon she vanished under the water.
So the women deceived the witch and saved her children.
Fairy Tales of the Nanai people
The poor and the rich old men
A poor old man and his wife lived near a wealthy old man and his wife.
One day the poor old man went out hunting with flint, and axe and a tinder box. He went out to a wild cherry orchard and picked his fill and then placed berries in his eyes, mouth, and nose and laid down as if he were dead.
After a while a hare came along and saw the old man and wondered how it was he had died. At first he thought perhaps the old man had died of hunger but he noticed the berries in the old man’s mouth and decided that perhaps it had been cold but then the hare saw the flint and the tinder box and realized the old man could have made a fire if he’d wanted. To.
Taiga animals, the hare called, come and help me get rid of the old man.
So the rabbits, squirrels, ferrets, foxes and other taiga animals came rushing from all sides.
The old man’s wife came then and begged the animals to help her get her husband home.
So the animals drug the old man to his house and the moment they got his wife closed the door and the old man got up and started to beat the animals with a stick so that only one hare escaped.
They then skinned all the animals and hung their valuable furs out to dry.
Seeing all the furs the wealthy man came along and asked the poor man how he’d gotten so many furs.
So they told him.
So the rich old man went out with his flint, ax and tinder to the orchard of wild cherries which he put in his mouth, nose and eyes before laying down.
Once more a hare came along and saw the old rich man and wondered how he had died, and once again the hare called to his friends. But along with all the other taiga animals the hare which had escaped the poor old man came.
“Wait,” the hare cried, “people deceive us, let’s just throw the rich old man into the water.
So the animal threw the old man into the water and ran off. Spluttering the rich old man came rushing out of the water and threw his axe, but only managed to catch one small rabbit.
The Magic Cap
There was a lonely poor boy who made his living from hunting. One day as he was resting five wealthy men rode up to him on horseback making him very nervous.
The men explained that they had traveled for fifteen days on their way to the village of Tung, as the head of the village beautiful daughter was going to choose a husband, and asked if they could stay the night.
The next morning the men set out once more, as did the poor boy who had to travel on skis. He traveled for many hours until at last he came to the village Tung.
All the people of the village were gathered back behind the village looking up at a huge barn on top of which sat the beautiful daughter of the cities ruler.
The girl untied a bundle she had with her and held up a fur hat.
“It took me three years to sew this hat from the best skins of sables and many other animals. I will throw it and whoever it falls to will get it.”
So she threw the hat and everyone clamored to get it, but the hat swooped around over people’s heads so that no one could catch it. At last the hat began to circle the head of the poor young man until it fell straight onto his head.
Everyone was surprised that the magical hat would select such a poor young man, but it was decided that since he was chosen he must be worthy so he and the beautiful daughter of the head of the village were soon married. And they lived together from then on a hunter and his wife who soon became rich and prosperous.
Even fairy tales
The Bear and the Chipmunk
Bear awoke as the snow began to melt under the warm spring sun after sleeping the whole winter without eating so he emerged from his den feeling extremely hungry.
He looked and looked everywhere for food but couldn’t find any, so he grabbed a tree stump and began to twist it in frustration and anger.
A chipmunk popped up out of the tree stump and asked the bear, “Grandpa, why are you so angry?”
So the bear explained that he had gone the entire winter without eating anything.
The chipmunk which was a clever animal had slept the whole winter as well but had gathered lots of food the previous fall. So he brought out sweet roots and nuts.
“Eat my grandfather, the chipmunk told the bear.
“Although you are such a tiny creature you are very clever,” the bear told the chipmunk as he stroked his back with a clawed paw giving the chipmunk his black stripes. And from that day to this all chipmunks have those black stripes on their back.