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A confrontation between Talaspay mergen, Kobylandy batyr and Er-Kosai

29.03.2022 436

A confrontation between Talaspay mergen, Kobylandy batyr and Er-Kosai

Grigory Potanin recorded a rather lengthy fairy tale about the history of the relationship between three famous Kazakh batyrs – Talaspay mergen, Kobylandy batyr, and Er-Kosai – in reference to a certain person named Nur-Seit. In paraphrase, it sounds like this:

A long time ago, there was a rich man who had only one son, named Karaman. When this rich man was robbed by Kobylandy batyr, Karaman sent a man to tell him to change his mind and stop his army. By that time, Karaman had already gathered his people and required Kobylandy to go for a duel with him so as not to shed too much blood. In response to this, Kara-Kipchak Kobylandy fired an arrow from the bow. She hit a stone and bestowed two arshines on it (about 140 cm). Karaman's arrow entered the stone between the arshine and the peak (about 75 cm). Then, Karaman said, “You are an adult, and I am still a teenager”. I'm fifteen. Give me a reprieve for five years and then come to fight”. However, Kobylandy did not agree, arguing as follows: “However, you are young, you have been known for a long time”. Then, when the battle had started, both sabers and pikes were used, but no one could cause significant harm to the opponent. Thereafter, the opponents began to fight on horseback, but failed to overcome each other and knock them off the horse. In the end, the horses themselves lay down on the ground from the weight of the riders. Then, they wrestled seven days and seven nights with their hands. Eventually, Kobylandy batyr knocked down Karaman, beheaded him, took away all his people, and took off his property. But only one old man, who was hiding under a boiler, and a boy, hidden in the straw, managed to escape. When the enemies left, the old man gathered the remaining cattle, found the hidden boy under the straw, and built a yurt. Then, the two of them ate all their livestock, began to catch the fish, and ate it. In the steppe, the boy found Karaman's bow, which he had left in the steppe when he was hunting. Usually, this bow is worn by two baluans (strong men), but the boy brought it alone, without outside help from others. He began to shoot various animals, koulans and other animals. Once upon a time, the boy met a black two-year-old foal (cardinal sea bream), caught him, and brought him home. He told his father, “This foal will be my horse”. Give me and him the names! His father gave him the name “Talaspay”, and the foal, “Kozu-gar'at”. So, Talaspay started to go hunting on this horse.

Once upon a time, he returned home in the evening and could not find his father at home. After a while, the father came back, bloodstained. The son asked his father: “Where have you been?” The father said, “A tree fell on me”. However, the truth was that when the old man began to collect the chips on the steppe for the firewood, three swans came to him with the words:



An old man replied to the swans: Then, one swan said to another: “Drag the old man along the feather grass (kipets, festuca ovina), chop off his face, tear off the shell from the meadowsweet and teared off his fur coat!”. The swans dragged him across the steppe, tore his fur coat, tore off his face. That's why, he had a bloody face. The swans had been doing this to him for three days in a row. The son who noticed said this to his father: “Is something going on with you? You should speak the truth! Otherwise, I will leave you”. Then the old man told that swans dragged him. Talaspay changed into his father's clothes and went to collect the wood chips. The three swans came, they said the same words: “Is Talaspay mergen at home? Is the funnel Goat in the stern, standing in the stern, isn’t it worried? Isn’t the hair on the shin fluttering?” Talaspay mergen answered them in this way:
The swans wanted to take Talaspay and drag him, but he grabbed all three of them and put them under him. The three swans lifted it on themselves and flew away. He took off from them and shot an arrow at them. A golden ring (in Kazakh means, “Altyn zhuzik”) fell to the ground from them. So, Talaspay returned home, brought for his father a lot of game from hunting for the koulans and other animals, and then he mounted a horse and set off immediately. He traveled many days and nights, and also found many cows. He saw a large gray bull with a saddle among them. A lousy guy was sitting next to him, looking for the lice. Talaspay asked him:


— Whose cows are these?
The guy answered: “Kadyr khan”. Talaspay asked again:
— How did you get across this sea?
— “I only have to say: “Cross over, cows!” and they will make their way. I will say to the calves: “Tie down, the calves!” and they will bind by themselves. I will tell the cows: “Do milking!” and they will milk by themselves — the guy answered.
— Where do you sleep?
— Kadyr khan has three maidens; I lick the soles from the youngest.
— What talents do these girls have?
— They can turn into swans. These girls have not got married yet, because the youngest girl does not want to get out, and therefore, the older ones are not given out either.
Talaspay killed this guy, dressed in his dress, put his dress on his horse and let it go to the steppe. He sat on the gray saddled bull and said: “Get cross, the cows!”. The cows crossed the sea. “Get crossed, the calves!” – Talaspay said, and the calves became attached by themselves. “Get out, the cows!” he said, and the cows did milking by themselves. He cut off the tongue of one cow, put it in his bosom, and then went to the village of Kadyr khan. He laid down there and, pretending to be ill, forced people to carry him into the yurt in which the girl lived. When the girl, going to the bed, stretched out her legs to him and requested him to lick them, and he imperceptibly took out a cow's tongue from his bosom and began to rub the girl's soles with it. She jumped out of the yurt. “What happened to you? – she asked from Talaspay, – Is your tongue cracked (burst)?”. Talaspay motioned, and she gave him honey. Then he began to stroke her soles softer. After that she punished him: “Tomorrow you will go to the water. Look there, don't swim where the girls swim”. In the morning, he went and bathed in the water in which she forbade bathing. At that time, three girls flew there under the guise of swans. The youngest of them noticed the guy's golden crest (a tuft of hair left on the top of the shaved head) and found out that it was Talaspay mergen. In the evening, the girl dressed up, put on her hair, sprinkled herself with perfume. That evening, they recognized each other and slept together. Then she asked her friend: “How can I let my father and other girls know that I want to get married?” Talaspay told her: “Bake three breads. Let one burn, let the other half burn, and let the third one bake properly. Khan must guess!”. When these three loaves were brought to the khan, he immediately learned that the time of the maidens was running out, that they should be given in marriage. The next day, the khan gathered the people and announced that he wanted his daughters to get marry, that the bride`s price was not needed, as long as the suitors were good people. And, he requested from his daughters to tell them to choose the suitors. The older two sisters chose suitors for themselves, the younger sister did not choose anyone. Only in the evening she chose this lousy guy (tascha boy). Khan gave his daughter away and gave them a kosh (a small yurt with a simplified framework). They set up their kosh separately from the khan's village.


Khan became sad that his daughter married such a lousy man, and he started to lay aside. A healer came and said that in order to recover, he needed to eat a meat of saiga antelope. Then, the khan requested his elder sons-in-law to go hunting and bring back the saiga antelope. A lousy guy told me to tell the khan that he was going to go hunting. All three of them left. The two older brothers-in-law could not get anything. A lousy guy immediately killed the saiga antelope and dumped the entrails. Two sons-in-law said to the lousy guy: “Give us this saiga antelope, because the khan will not eat from your hands”. He gave them. Two sons-in-law came home and cooked a meat of saiga antelope. The lousy guy boiled the insides of the saiga. When the sons-in-law gave their meat to the khan, and he ate, his condition worsened dramatically. A detestable person also sent the intestines of saiga antelope to the khan, but the khan, seeing that they were intestines, requested them to be removed. Khansha said to him: “Take a little”. Khan picked up a little with his little finger, tried it, and he liked it too. He ate everything that was served by the lousy guy and recovered.


The khan had a black mare with wings. She brought a foal every year, but it was always carried away by the black bird, called “Alyp-qara-qus”. Now, the khan requested two older sons-in-law to guard the foal from the bird. The lousy guy encouraged to tell the khan that he was also going to guard the foal. All three sons-in-law sat down to watch. After midnight, the two of them said: “We will sleep a little while you sit down”. The lousy guy said, “Okay”. A bird appeared, grabbed the foal and flew away. The lousy guy shot an arrow and knocked off the tail of the foal and knocked out one silver feather from the bird. In the morning, the sons-in-law said: “Give us the tail of the foal and the feather of the bird, because it doesn’t matter if you say that you got it, the khan will not believe you”. They carried away the foal's tail, but they could not carry away the feather. Two more people were sent from the khan's headquarters, but they could not bring them either. Then, a detestable person brought a feather and placed it near the yurt. The khan ordered his sons-in-law to look for the eagle. The lousy guy told the khan to tell him what he was going to look for. Two of them went in one direction, and the third, lousy went in another direction. The horse Kozu-gar'at stuck to him. He sat on it and went. A year later, he reached one yurt. Approaching, they asked: “Who is in the yurt?” An old woman with seven heads came out of the yurt. She told him, “You will achieve your goal because I don't want to swallow you. I always swallowed all the others”. Then, she asked him: “What business did you go for?” He said: “I am looking for an eagle that carried away the foal of the black khan's mare. I shot off a feather from this bird, and a tail from the foal. Then, the old woman invited him to eat. He entered and saw that the old woman had only one prepared meat. She gave him this meat, but he did not eat it. She gave him vodka. He didn't drink either. Then Talaspay mergen gave her salt from his pocket. The old woman also gave him salt. Then they gave each other a word not to harm each other. The old woman told him: “On the way back, visit us if you reach the goal”.


He went down the road. Many years have passed, he reached one large herd of horses. All horses were spotted there. From there he saw a tree (called “Baiterek”). He laid down to sleep under it. In the evening, “Alyp-qara-qus” flew in and sat on the tree. From the weight of the bird, the tree leaned towards the ground. The bird began to sleep. Talaspay mergen shot her with a bow and killed her. He wanted to take her, but not a single horse in the herd could carry a bird. It could only be one of his horse Kozu-gar'at. When there was one day's distance to the old woman's yurt, he saw a girl running after him. The girl fired her bow and hit the spear of his arrow. He wanted to shoot at the girl, but his arrow turned out to be without an iron tip. Then, the girl just told him: “Let's fight. If you defeat me, I will marry you”. So, they began to fight. We had been fighting for three days and three nights. He won and she married him. The girls came to the house to leave the horses. Many good bound people were seen in the house, brought by a black bird. This girl was the daughter of this bird. All of these prisoners were released simultaneously. Having loaded with property eighty-one-humped camels (in Kazakh, it is called “Nar”), wandered further, came to the old bloofer-lady with seven heads. We spent one night, said goodbye in the morning and went on. Near one river they saw a fire. A snake was running from the fire. Talaspay held the mouth of his sleeve in front of her. The snake entered the sleeve. Then, the snake came out of the sleeve and remained near the river. When Talaspay went on, the snake asked him: “What is your name?”. “Talaspay mergen,” – he replied. “Open your mouth! I spit saliva and you after then you will know the languages ​​of animals, beasts, birds. When she spitted, he learned the languages. When Talaspay and his wife wandered further, they saw a lot of dust. Then, he adjusted the saddle on his horse and stopped in anticipation of the approach of dust. A bay horse emerged from the dust. She ran straight to Kozu-gar'at. The horses seemed to say hello, and both had tears in their eyes. The bay horse was the brother of Kozu-gar'at. When Kobylandy batyr robbed the herds and drove them away, the bay horse ran away, and no one could find it. Now she had found Goat-gar'ath. Talaspay mounted a bay horse and came to the khan, who is considered as his father-in-law. Then, he came home in his real dress, riding a Kozu-gar'at, and loosened his golden tuft. Khan went to him. Talaspay mergen expressed his greetings. Then, the khan said: “My daughter is smart, and I am a fool!”


Talaspay's wife had a son who was already four years old. Talaspay began to ask the khan to let him go. He wants to migrate to his father. The khan allowed him to go, gave him half of his cattle and said, let him do what he thinks would be best: either take all his household with him or leave it here with the khan. Talaspay Mergen loaded eighty camels and moved away. He went ahead by himself, and requested the rest of the caravan to follow the trail and, where he left the signs, he was supposed to stop for the night. Talaspay rode on the bay horse. When he came to his father, his father had only one tibia (called “Asykty zhіlik”) left from the reserve. The father was delighted, rejuvenated with joy, as if he had become again no more than a man of twenty-five years. Furthermore, they arranged a forty-day feast with the games.


After a while, Talaspay mergen's son grew up and matured enough. Once the old man said: “We should take revenge on the Kobylandy Kipchak for the robbery”. Then Talaspay mergen went with his son: he went to Kozu-gar'at, and his son went to the nest side (tor-at). When many months and even years passed by, they reached the people of Kara-Kipchak, which means the people of Kobylandy batyr. One rich man had a dream among the Kipchak people that one hungry wolf had exterminated all their livestock, and told Kobylandy about it. One old man interpreted this dream. He said: “Talaspay mergen, who remained a boy when we robbed his people, will come. Prepare for the meeting”. When Talaspay mergen arrived, Kobylandy sent to tell him to wait nine days until the gathering of Kipchak people. Talaspay mergen gave nine days of respite. Within the nine days, Talaspay mergen and his son slept well and was supposed to leave for the appointed place. Then, Talaspay mergen and Kobylandy left for the dueling process. Before starting to fight, they started to talk. It turned out that their mothers are sisters. Then, they became friends. Kobylandy batyr had a daughter, whom he married off as his son Talaspay. They gathered the people of the upper and lower (in Kazakh it means, “Zhogargy”, “Tomengі”), slaughtered the mares, arranged a forty-day feast (toy). At that time, a shepherd came with the news that a large army had arrived there. They sent an announcement to find out who it was that came with the army. It turned out that Er-Kosai, the son of the hero Er-Kokshe, who was killed by Kobylandy batyr, had arrived straight away. Talaspay and Kobylandy went out to meet them, climbed on Taitobe. Er-Kosai called Kobylandy to the duel and, taking a white saber, went out to meet the enemy. Kobylandy also went to the duel. First of all, they fought with pikes. Er-Kosai struck with a saber, broke Kobylandy's pike. Then Er-Kosai plunged a pike into the heart of Kobylandy, raised it up on a pike above his head and asked his opponent: “Have I avenged my father’s death?” Kobylandy said: “I still stand above you!” Then, he shook Kobylandy's body down. Kobylandy's comrades attacked Er-Kosai in order to take away his corpse. Talaspay mergen freed the corpse from the crowd. Then the son of Talaspay went out to fight. Er-Kosai killed the son of Talaspay. Talaspay came out to the fight by himself. However, they had been fighting for seven days and seven nights, they still couldn`t overcome each other. Then, the two armies entered into the negotiations of peace. The people of Talaspay said that Er-Kosai avenged the death of his father, now you can put up with it. And they reconciled. Talaspay decided to invite Er-Kosai to visit him. Everyone was given the gifts and they returned home. Talaspay mergen migrated to the people of Kobylandy, that means to the Kipchaks. Eventually, an old man Talaspay mergen became a khan.


Regarding the son of Er-Kokshe, the Kazakhs who roamed the Tokrau river claimed that his real name was Er-Manas, and not Er-Kosai. They also added that the horse of Kobylandy batyr was called Taiburyl, and the horse of Er-Kosai (Er-Manas) was called Kak-kulat. The Kazakhs who lived along the Tokrau river even knew the place where this horse stood, as if even a trace of his hooves was preserved as well. Potanin noted that this place is located under the sacred mountain, called “Begazy”, that is located on the top of which this horse fed. In general, Potanin noted about the general similarity of this tale`s plot about Talaspay mergen with the soyot tale about Er-Saru. There is a difference only in details. So, Er-Saru lives with his mother, not with his father. Instead of a triple flight of three swans – a triple flight of seven geese, who shout: “Is Er-Saru at home, is his horse laid up?”. Instead of the bloody face of the father, here the mother cuts off her own ear, nose and lip. Instead of a ring, Saru shoots off his finger, goes to look for his betrothed, meets the shepherd Tarakay-Buzykay, kills him and replaces him too. According to the Kazakh plot of this fairy tale, cows are going for milking by themselves. Instead of the three daughters of Kadyr khan, there are seven princesses in the soyot tale. You have to lick the soles not of the princess, but from the khan. Argali meat was obtained instead of saiga antelope. Instead of the “Alyp-qara-qus” bird, there was a bird, called the “Khan-Garide”. Saru, like Talaspay mergen, married a younger princess.


The closeness of the tale about Talaspay with another Kazakh tale about Kozy-Korpesh was noticed as well. In both tales, there is a similar episode about the shepherd. After this, Kozy-Korpesh met a shepherd, killed him and performed his duties by himself, and in the evening he drove the herds to the village and sleeps in the yurt of the girl, his betrothed. Also, there was a golden crest on his head to Kozy-Korpesh, like Talaspay mergen. The name of the goat in the parallel tale was transferred to the horse (Kozu-gar'at).


By the way, the soyot tale began with a story about a persecuted mother separated from her son, who was thrown into the lake. Another soyot tale about “Kherek-Kirves” has the same beginning (Essays from sz. Mong., IV). There is no such beginning in the Kazakh fairy tale, but there is in the Armenian fairy tale “Melik Shirin”. So, Shirin ran away with his brother from an evil creature in it, threw a jug of water, the forms of river, stopping the chase. The sorcerer chasing the children asked Shirin how he got across. Believing his story, he put a millstone around his neck, swam and drew. Then, Shirin married the youngest of the three princesses, like Talaspay, extracted deer milk, nightingale, living water and exchanged his prey for his two sons-in-law for their little fingers cut off.


The snake's saliva gave Talaspay the knowledge of the language of birds. In a Mongolian tale, the same knowledge was given by an old man who makes seventy incisions on a person's tongue. In Mongolian tradition, Tsongkawa's saliva endows the incapable Khara Baldan with the eloquence. In the Kazakh legend, Sultan- Epeius spat into the mouth of the stupid Khairulla, and he became wise, and in the Slavic legend, a dove gave Cyril knowledge of the Bulgarian language, throwing some kind of “Fight” at him. In addition, the bird “Alyp-qara-qus” also sat on a Baiterek tree in the fairy tale “Stone Adam Bilmes”. In addition, she even had a nest on this tree.


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