The old man Kedya and his bay bald ram

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The old man Kedya and his bay bald ram (Kalmyk fairytales)

Once upon a time there lived an old man whose name was Kedya; he had a bay bald ram * and rode him, patting on his blades and thighs. He found a bare dried sheep’s blade *, lying on the ground. “Times change; it could be useful” - he put it into his pocket and went farther. Evening came after twilight; the old man came to the rich village, tied up his ram and as he entered the house, he saw rich men having tea.

Nobody gave tea to the hungry old man. Then their cattle came to the village and the rich men boiled some meat.

Having thought: “They will not share this meat with me, either”, he said:

- I have got a small piece of meat; please, give me a boiler so I can boil it.

- Boil it with our meat - the rich man said.

- What will I do if your meat eats up my meat? - the old man said.

- If our meat eats up your meat, I will give you all my meat - the rich man said.

Then the old man stood up and put the bare blade into the boiler without showing it to anybody. When the meat was boiled and taken out, the blade of the old man was bare.

- Look, your meat has eaten up my meat - the old man complained.

The rich man had no way out for he was bound by the words that he had said and gave all his meat to the old man. Having eaten the meat, he asked for a rope to tie up his ram.

- Can a ram be tied up? Drive him into the shed with the sheep - the rich man said.

- What will I do if your sheep eat up my ram? - the old man said.

- If my sheep eat up your ram, I will give you all my sheep - the rich man said.

The old man drove his ram into the shed.

The family fell asleep. The old man got up at night, slaughtered his bay ram, spread the blood on mouths of all the sheep, gave the meat to dogs, entered and went quietly to bed.

The next morning the old man’s ram was not there; the mouths of all the sheep were covered with blood,

- Well, your sheep have eaten up my ram. I did tell you; give me all your sheep - he said.

The rich man had no way out; he laughed in his face and wept behind his back * and gave his sheep to the old man. So the old man got many sheep and lived happily.


A bay bald ram * - a colour of the ram’s coat, which has a reddish-brown body coat with a black mane, tail, lower legs and ear edges, and a white head or with a white spot or a star on his forehead that is a colour of a horse coat or a cow coat. It indicates the singularity of the ram and fairytale genre.

A bare sheep's blade – practice of divination through a bare sheep’s blade was popular among Kalmyks.

To laugh in somebody’s face and weep behind somebody’s back * - the expression indicates the character of Kalmyk people: keeping in their feelings, not showing their despair, fear or other bad feelings because to express them was an unseemly and undignified manner of behaviour.



Translated from Kalmyk into English by Danara Balayeva-Kokayeva
Перевод с калмыцкого на английский Данары Балаевой-Кокаевой

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