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  • 11/30/2010

Simorgh, an ancient Persian fairy tale

Part 2

simorgh

The man had brought food but no water. He explained: "There is no water in the city because a dragon is sleeping in front of the spring.

 Every Saturday a girl is taken to the spring so that, when the dragon moves to devour her, some water runs through the city"s streams and people can collect enough for the following week. This Saturday the king"s daughter is to be offered to the dragon."

Prince Khorshid had the peasant take him to the king: "What will be my reward if I kill the dragon and save your daughters life?" The king replied: "Whatever you wish within my power."

Saturday came and the prince went with the girl to the spring. The moment the dragon moved aside to devour her, Prince Khorshid called the name of God and slew the monster. There was joy and celebration in the city. When Prince Khorshid, asked to name his reward, announced that his one wish was to return to his homeland, the king said: "The only one who could take you up seven floors is Simorgh (In New Persian literature Simorgh and in Pahlavi or Middle-Persian: Sen-Murv), who has many manifestations; besides divine wisdom, it may symbolize the perfected human being. According to some Pahlavi texts, Simorgh is a bird whose abode is in the middle of a sea in a tree which contains all the seeds of the vegetable world. Whenever Simorgh flies up from the tree one thousand branches grow, and whenever she sits on it, one thousand branches break and the seeds fall into the water.

In Ferdowsi"s Shah Nameh (Book of Kings) -- originally called Khoday Nameh (Book of God) -- Simorghs abode is on top of the mountain Ghaph, by which is meant Alborz mountain.). She lives nearby in a jungle. Every year she lays three eggs and each year her chicks are eaten by a serpent. If you could kill the serpent, she surely would take you home."

Prince Khorshid went to the jungle and found the tree in which Simorgh had her nest. While he was watching, he saw a serpent climbing up the tree to eat the frightened chicks. In the name of God he cut the serpent into small pieces and fed some to the hungry chicks who were waiting for their mother to bring them food. He saved the rest for later and went to sleep under the tree. When Simorgh flew over the nest and saw Prince Khorshid, she thought he was the one who each year ate up all her chicks. She was ready to kill him, when her chicks shouted that he was the one who had saved them from the enemy. Realizing that he had killed the serpent, she stretched her wings over Prince Khorshid"s head to make shade for him while he slept.

When he awoke, the prince told Simorgh his story and asked whether she could help him. Simorgh urged him to go back to the king and ask him for the meat of seven bulls. "Make seven leather bags out of their hides and fill them with water. These will be my provisions for the journey; I need them to be able to take you home. Whenever I say I am hungry you must give me a bag of water, and when I say I am thirsty you must give me the carcass of a bull." On their way up to the ground Prince Khorshid did exactly as Simorgh had instructed him until only one bag of water was left. When, instead of saying she was hungry Simorgh said she was thirsty, Prince Khorshid cut off some flesh from his thigh and put it in Simorgh"s beak. Simorgh immediately realized it was human flesh. She held it gently until they reached their destination. As soon as he dismounted, the prince urged Simorgh to fly back at once but, knowing he could not walk without limping, she refused and with her saliva restored the piece of his flesh to his thigh. Having learned how brave and unselfish the prince was, she gave him three of her feathers, saying that if he were ever in need of her he should burn one of them, and she would instantly come to his aid. With that she flew away.

simorgh

Entering the town, Prince Khorshid learned that three royal weddings were about to take place: for Prince Jamshid, and Prince Q-mars, and the third for the Vizier"s son, because the youngest son of the king, Prince Khorshid, had never returned. One day some men came to the shop where Prince Khorshid was apprenticed, saying they had been to all the jewelry stores in town but no one would undertake to make what the king had ordered. Prince Khorshid asked them what it was and was told: "The girl who is to marry the Viziers son has put forward one condition to the marriage! She will only marry one who can bring her a golden cock from whose bill gems will pour when it sings; she also wants a golden lantern which is self-illuminated and burns for ever. But so far no jeweler can build such things."

Prince Khorshid, recognizing the signs, spoke up: "With my master"s permission I can build you a chest with such a golden cock and also the golden lantern by tomorrow. The men gave him the jewels needed to build those items and left. Prince Khorshid gave them all to his master for, he said, he did not need them.

That night Prince Khorshid left the town and burned one of the feathers. When Simorgh came, he asked her to bring him what the girl had demanded, and she did so. In the morning, the astounded men took the precious items to the king, who at once summoned the young man to the court and was overjoyed to discover it was none other than his favorite son. Prince Khorshid told his story but he begged the king not to punish his brothers for the wrong they had done him.

The whole town celebrated his return and there were three weddings indeed. The king made Prince Khorshid his successor to the throne and all lived happily every after.

 

Notes:

(1) The duality of light and darkness has always existed in the fundamental belief of Iranians; light representing the essence of life which is consciousness, and darkness representing non life which is form. All Persian fairy tales begin with the sentence "There was being and nonbeing, there was none but God."). In the old, old times there was a king (The guardian of the throne of wisdom.

(2) The treasure of secret knowledge.

(3) Giant: tyranny of human ignorance and weakness.

(4) This represents Saroush (Sarousha in Pahlavi). Sarousha is a godlike bird who is the most powerful of the gods, since he is the manifestation of righteousness, honesty, and striving. He fights the diev of frailty and weakness. In some versions of this story, the golden cock in a chest is a golden nightingale in a golden cage.

(5) The light of wisdom. In some versions, Prince Khorshid must bring back a golden lantern, in others a golden hand-mill which represents the wheel of destiny (or civilization and culture).

(6) Terrestrial life leading to darkness.

(7) Terrestrial life leading to light.

Source: iranchamber.com

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