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  • 11/30/2010

Simorgh, an ancient Persian fairy tale

Part 1

simorgh

By: Homa A. Ghahremani

Abstract: There are several different versions of this tale in Persian and as they have been orally transmitted from one generation to another, the originality of any of them cannot be proven. A few years ago an Iranian writer collected them from people of different provinces in Iran. What follows is a compilation from six versions.

There was being and nonbeing, there was none but God, who had three sons: Prince Jamshid (King of the golden age of Iranian epics), Prince Q-mars, and the youngest, Prince Khorshid (Sun, light, divine wisdom., who was self-born -- an initiate), who had no mother. He was the king's favorite because he was the bravest of all.

In the garden of the palace there grew a pomegranate tree with only three pomegranates; their seeds were fabulous gems that shone like lamps by night. When ripe, the pomegranates would turn into three beautiful girls who were to become the wives of the three princes. Every night, by the king's order, one of his sons guarded the tree lest anyone should steal the pomegranates.

One night when Prince Jamshid was guarding the tree he fell asleep and, in the morning, one pomegranate was missing. The next night Prince Q-mars was on guard, but he also fell asleep and the next morning another pomegranate was missing. When it came Prince Khorshid's turn, he cut one of his fingers and rubbed salt on it so the burning would keep him awake. Shortly after midnight a cloud appeared above the tree and a hand, coming out of it, picked the last pomegranate. Prince Khorshid drew his sword and cut off one of the fingers. The hand and the cloud hurriedly disappeared.

In the morning when the king saw drops of blood on the ground he ordered his sons to track them, find the thief, and bring back the stolen pomegranates. The three princes followed the blood drops over mountains and deserts until they reached a deep well where the trail ended. Prince Jamshid offered to be lowered down the well with a rope to investigate. Less than halfway down he screamed: "Pull me up, pull me up, I am burning." His brothers pulled him up. Next, Prince Q-mars went down and soon he also cried out that he was burning. When Prince Khorshid decided to go down he told his brothers that no matter how loudly he shouted, they should not pull him up but let the rope down farther; and they were then to wait for him only until dark. If there was no sign of him, they could go home.

Prince Khorshid entered the well and, in spite of unbearable heat, went all the way down to the bottom where he found a young girl, beautiful as a full moon.

 On her lap lay the head of a sleeping deav/div, whose thunderous snores filled the air with heat and smoke. "Prince Khorshid," she whispered, "what are you doing here? If this deav wakes up, he will surely kill you as he has killed many others. Go back while there is still time."

Prince Khorshid, who loved her at first glance, refused. He asked her who she was and what she was doing there.

simorgh

"My two sisters and I are captives of this deav and his two brothers. My sisters are imprisoned in two separate wells where the deavs have hidden the stolen wealth of almost all the world."

Prince Khorshid said: "I am going to kill the deav and free you and your sisters. But I will wake him first; I do not wish to kill him in his sleep." The prince scratched the soles of the deav's feet until he opened his eyes and stood up. Roaring, the deav picked up a millstone and threw it at the prince, who quickly stepped aside, drew his sword, and in the name of God cut the deav in half. Thereafter he went to the other two wells, finished off the deavs and rescued the sisters of his beloved. He also collected the treasure.

As it was not yet dark, his brothers were still waiting for him and when he called them they started to pull up the rope. The girl whom Prince Khorshid loved wanted him to go up before her, because she knew that when his brothers saw the jewels they would be jealous and would not pull him up. But the prince insisted she go up first. When she saw that she could not change his mind she said: "If your brothers do not pull you up and leave you here, there are two things you should know: first, there are in this land a golden cock and a golden lantern that can lead you to me. The cock is in a chest and when you open it, he will sing for you. And when he sings, all kinds of gems will pour from his beak. The golden lantern is self-illuminated, and it burns forever. The second thing you should know is this: later in the night there will come two oxen that will fight with each other. One is black, the other white. If you jump on the white ox it will take you out of the well, but if, by mistake, you jump on the black one, it will take you seven floors farther down."

As she had predicted, when the princes Jamshid and Q-mars saw the girls and the boxes of gold and silver, they became jealous of their brother's achievements. Knowing that their father would surely give him the kingdom, they cut the rope and let him fall to the bottom of the well. Then they went home and told their father that they were the ones who had rescued the girls, killed the deavs, and brought all the treasure, and that Prince Khorshid had not come back.

simorgh

Prince Khorshid was heartbroken. He saw two oxen approaching and stood up as they started to fight. In his excitement he jumped on the back of the black ox and dropped with it seven floors down. When he opened his eyes, he found himself in a green pasture with a view of a city in the distance. He started walking toward it when he saw a peasant plowing. Being hungry and thirsty he asked him for bread and water. The man told him to be very careful and not to talk out loud because there were two lions nearby; if they heard him they would come out and eat the oxen. Then he said: "You take over the plowing and I will get you something to eat."

Prince Khorshid started to plow, commanding the oxen in a loud voice. Two roaring lions came charging toward him, but the prince captured the lions, turned the oxen loose and hitched the lions to the plow. When the peasant returned, he was very much taken aback. Prince Khorshid said: "Don't be afraid. The lions are harmless now and will not hurt you or your oxen. But if you are not comfortable with them, I will let them go." When he saw that the farmer was still reluctant to approach the lions, he unfastened them and they went back where they had come from.

To be continued ...

Source: iranchamber.com

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