Totan batyr (knight) Kazakh fairy tale

Ali Bekov November 12, 2022
Action/Adventure, Magic
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In ancient times, there lived a khan (king) named Kubakhan. He had countless cattle. His kingdom extended so far that messengers rode from end to end for seven months. He was given the only son by fate, and he named him Totan. On the day when the Khan’s wife gave birth, a gray mare foaled in the Khan’s herds. The foal, who was born with the heir, the khan read under the saddle to his son.
Years passed, and one day Khan Kubakhan had a prophetic dream. In a dream, someone says to him: “Get up, the time has come for your son to go for his bride. Gather the people, arrange a feast. Take Totan on the road. If there are hunters, send your son with a retinue, no, let him go alone. His future father-in-law is Khan Shintemir, and his bride is Kunkei. She is the only daughter of Khan Shintemir. The road is long, give your son the best tulpar (horse), equip it properly.
Khan got up early, called his subjects, told them his dream. It was immediately decided to celebrate a feast and send Totan to the kingdom of Khan Shintemir. No sooner said than done. But there were no daredevils to accompany Totan to such a distance. Totan was forced to ride alone. His father gave him a gray stallion, who was groomed and protected for him from birth. Before the road, as custom requires, a sacrifice was made, and with the blessing of his parents, Totan set off. For several days he was accompanied by his comrades, who then returned home.
Khanzada (Prince) did not know the way to the kingdom of Khan Shintemir, but, as his father’s dream predicted, he had to go west all the time. Totan strictly followed the instructions sent down from above.
After a many-day march across the deserted steppe, a lonely yurt (house) appeared ahead. The young man decided to ask for directions, drove up to the house and, without dismounting, called out to its inhabitants. A terrible old woman, Zhalmauz-Kempir (witch-old woman), came out of the house. To the question of Totan, does she know how to get to the kingdom of Khan Shintemir, the witch replies: “Get off your horse, I will eat you. On this road none of the mortals dares to travel.” The young man asks: “I am young, let me get married, learn the joys of life. On the way back, I will give you Kunkei, let me go.” Zhalmauz relented, showed the khanzada the way and let him go.
Totan continued on his way. One fine day, a dense impenetrable forest stood in front of him like a wall. Making his way through the forest thicket, the young man saw an eccentric in the clearing, who amused himself by lying in wait for magpies, plucking off their tails and letting them go, and did it in such a way that the birds did not notice anything. Totan greeted the stranger and marveled at his dexterity. They asked each other who, where and why they should, what they are doing. The bird catcher, who turned out to be a wizard and was now pinching off the tails of magpies from idleness, complained about being bored. Having learned about the purpose of Totan’s journey, he asked: “If you allow me, I will go with you, unwind, look at the wide world.” Khanzada gladly agreed, and together they set off further.
Day and night the travelers rode through dense forest thickets and finally got out into the expanse of the steppe. In the steppe they met a man chasing deer. A huge stone was tied to each his feet. They drove up, talked to him and found out that he was a famous runner named «Zhelayak» (Windfoot). If he did not tie stones to his feets, he could not stand still. Zhelayak also volunteered to accompany the khanzada. Now there are three of them.
After some days, the wanderers came to the lake, on the shore of which an unknown hunter with a gun was sitting. He was a skilled shooter, famous for his vigilance and accuracy. The hunter was eager to join the travelers. The four of them were on their way.
Finally, they arrive on land covered entirely with salt marshes. Going around a dangerous place, travelers see a man with his ear pressed to the ground. They asked who he was. “I am a Sensitive Ear,” the guy answered them. “There is nothing in the world that I would not know about. I know what is happening on the ground and underground. Now there is a war between the seven nations. Sensitive Ear invites Totan to be his friend on a long journey. The heir takes it with him. The five of them continue on.
The sun rises and sets more than once, and the travelers go on and on. The spurs of the Great Mountains – Ulytau – have already appeared. These mountains were so great that they rose like giants to the very sky and constantly moved. But the most restless of the others was the youngest and relatively small mountain. The view that opened up to the travelers confused them and even frightened them. Everyone was afraid to drive up to the mountains. Totan, leaving his friends in the valley, went there alone. The companions assured the young man that they would come to his aid if there was a danger to his life.
A huge giant lived in these places. He had three sons who had been competing for their father’s inheritance for many years. The giant decided this: “If you quarrel over an inheritance, I will allocate to each a share according to his strength and zeal. The strongest and most indefatigable will receive his father’s allotment! He gave his sons the task of lifting and moving mountains. The mountains were not equal in size. The older sons got bigger hills, the younger son got smaller ones, and it was he who moved his mountain more often than others. All this they explained to Totan, who came to them.
Today, the division time has just come, and everyone has received their share. The younger son of the giant, having arranged his affairs, expressed a desire to go on a journey with Totan. The young man willingly took a strong man with him. There were already five people in his retinue, and each had a special gift.
They did not notice how the rest of the way flashed in fun and friendly conversations. Jokes were replaced by entertaining stories and fairy tales, hunting. Having reached the limits of the kingdom of Khan Shintemir, the friends found out where the Khan’s headquarter was. They were escorted to the palace reserved for receiving honored guests. The palace was full of singers and musicians to amuse the guests, secluded chambers for relaxation, excellent food and drink to quench thirst and hunger. Friends enjoyed the rest and indulged in the joys of youth, until the khan was informed of the arrival of a distinguished guest with his comrades. At the end of the period allotted for the guests to rest, the khan invited them to his palace. He listened to Totan and agreed to give his daughter Kunkei for him if he fulfills his desire.
– The Kalmyk Khan Sakhyn lives on the banks of the Yedil. You must raid his lands so that I can become the ruler of his people, own their pastures and cattle, rivers and lakes. I will give you warriors and a warhorse, I will supply you with weapons. If you don’t, you won’t see Kunkei.
“I agree,” answered Totan. “But I don’t need warriors, and I don’t take my comrades with me. I will not refuse a war horse, because I would like to leave my horse here so that it can rest.
The Khan put Totan on a black tulpar. Totan himself chose his weapon, said goodbye to his comrades and went on a campaign. There was no news from him for several days. On the land of the Kalmyks, in seven days he destroyed the entire Kalmyk army, killed Khan Sakhyn, conquered the people and forced them to recognize citizenship to Khan Shintemir. Totan returned back, bringing victory as a gift to Khan Shintemir. The grateful Khan immediately began preparations for the wedding feast. However, there was a strong man, batyr Barak, who loved Kunkei for a long time, among those close to the khan. In an effort to upset her marriage with Totan, he began to persuade Khan Shintemir: “Come to your senses, my khan. To whom do you give your only daughter? The boy who arrived alone on a bare horse, urging him on with a twig. Gotta try it again. If he comes out victorious in wrestling, horse racing, shooting and running, he can marry Kunkei.
Batyr Barak managed to convince the khan, and he announced to Totan about his decision to put him to the test again. Totan expressed neither displeasure nor surprise. “All right, let the khan do as he pleases. I am ready for any challenge,” he said.
The games began with a fight. Strongman Barak spoke from the side of Khan Shintemir. Khanzada exposed the youngest son of the giant. A hard fight lasted half a day, but the wrestler from Totan still laid the opponent on his shoulder blades. The next was a gold coin shooting contest. Khan put three hundred shooters to the line. Totan was represented by a hunter who knocked the coin off the pole. And this battle was won by Totan.
Horse racing has begun. Horses were allowed from the Yellow Plain, a distance of a three-day journey. The Khan selected from his herds three hundred thoroughbred, long-necked, handsome horses, and put nimble riding boys on them. Totan himself participated in the race on his gray tulpar. Here the horses, huddled together in a dense heap, rush through the yellow valley, the faithful servants of Shintemir overwrite the lonely stranger. Then Totan prayed fervently:
O spirits of the ancestors, do not let me down,
Support me in a distant foreign land.
The spirits of the ancestors heeded the prayer of the young man, and the gray tulpar carried his rider forward with an arrow. The rivals were far behind, and Totan kept urging his horse on. Seeing the gray tulpar walking first, Khan Shintemir was upset and confused.
Totan came out victorious in equestrian competitions. We moved on to the last type of struggle. To participate in the run, the khan appointed a mystan-kempir (treacherous old woman), whose demonic agility is not afraid of any opponent. Totan’s honor was defended by his swift friend.
The runners had to run with the same one the Yellow Plain, from where the race of horses began. The insidious mystan deceived the gullible Zhelayak, gave him strong wine instead of a drink to quench his thirst. The intoxicated Zhelayak fell asleep, while the Mystan, wasting no time in vain, rushed to the appointed place. Windfoot slept serenely, sleeping for two days. On the third he woke up, looked – the old woman and the trace caught a cold. He realized that the old swindler had tricked him, and rushed after him. In the afternoon, a dot appeared in front of him, and he accelerated his run even more. Overtaking the old woman, Zhelayak saw that she had very little to run to the crowd waiting for them. He picked up a handful of sand on the run and shouted: “Hey, old woman!” Mystan looked around, he threw sand in her face and, while she was rubbing her eyes, ran first.
Khan lost and had to give Kunkei to the victorious Totan. Encouraged by the victory, the friends rested carelessly in anticipation of the wedding. Meanwhile, the batyr Barak did not give up hope of capturing the beautiful Kunkei. He prepared a wagon covered with forty reels, put two girls in it, hired a driver, and one night, having kidnapped Kunkei, he disappeared. Already in the morning this became known to the Sensitive Ear, who told Totan about everything. Batyr flew into a rage, mounted a horse, intending to sweep the city of Khan Shintemir off the face of the earth. But then his friend, a skilled Wizard, came running and began to tearfully ask: “Spare the innocent people, I myself will find and bring Kunkei.”
He caught up with the fugitives and, with the help of a spell, stole Kunkei from a tightly closed wagon, and her fellow travelers, suspecting nothing, fled on.
After the arrival of Kunkei with the Miracle, friends, together with the girl, left the kingdom of Khan Shintemir, hurrying home. Their campaign was crowned with success, and the way back was full of joy and fun for them.
The time has come to part with friends who wished to remain in their native lands. Totan is sad. He confessed to his comrades that Zhalmauz-Kempir was waiting for him on the way, to whom he gave his word to give Kunkei. Faithful friends were saddened and began to think how to save him from this misfortune. They thought and thought and thought. Zhelayak possessed extraordinary beauty, was thin and gentle, like a girl. When they arrived at the house of Zhalmauz-Kempir, they wove him braids from a ponytail, dressed him in Kunkei clothes and brought him to the witch. Kunkei was temporarily hidden near the road. Leaving Windfoot in disguise at Zhalmauz, Totan hurried out. Zhelayak calculated the time for Totan and Kunkei to leave these terrible places as far as possible, and in an innocent voice says: “Grandma, I need to go out into the yard.” “Go, my little light,” the old woman allowed. Just outside the threshold, Zhelayak took off headlong to run. Zhalmauz-Kempir rushed after him.
Windfoot flies faster than a bird, but the witch does not lag behind him, steps on his heels, is about to grab him. Guy feels her fiery breath, but happenstance helps him: the old woman in a hurry did not tuck her long hem and, stepping on it, stretched out in the dust. Twice more she overtook Zhelayak, and both times, tangled in her own hem, she fell. A miraculously surviving Windfoot rushes like lightning. Zhalmauz-Kempir, angry, tears her dress to shreds, throws it on the road and starts chasing again.
Windfoot, realizing that it is not so easy for him to get rid of Zhalmauz-Kempir, rushes to seek salvation from friends left behind – in his native lands. The Wizard’s magic had no effect on the witch. The giant’s son threw a whole mountain at her, but she, as if nothing had happened, continued the pursuit. Meanwhile, Sensitive Ear managed to warn the hunter of mortal danger looming over Windfoot. They set up an ambush on the road, and the well-aimed shooter laid down Zhalmauz-Kempir with one shot, saved Zhelayak from imminent death.
Totan with Kunkei returned home. Khan Kubakhan, in joy, arranged a feast for the whole world and handed over the government to his son.

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