05 March 2010

Mokshan tale

The basis for this short is a Mokshan tale from Mordovia, Russia: What To Do? aka Kuygorož. The short animated film was directed by Sergei Merinov (2007). You can skip the introductory part and begin at 1:38.
The heroes of the story are Pyatan and Akulya, whose bodies never work and whose minds are envious even when sleeping. They are even too lazy to reproduce, or so the story goes.
While laziness certainly has its perks, hunger is not one of them. Pyatan, after finding no food, wakes up Akulya. “Eh, Akulya, what shall we do? The very room shall collapse in hunger. The house is empty and the shed is not thick. We’ll starve to death!”
“Pheew, you old devil, you scared me!” says Akulya in response.
“Old devil, you say? Oh, you are right, he is the one to call…”
Now Akulya gets an idea and tells Pyatan, with as much excitement as a lazy babushka can muster, that an old tree in the forest is hiding a snake’s egg that goes by the name of Kuygorož (originally in Russian: Куйгорож). That egg would make them rich, with no effort of theirs at all.
Pyatan, being the man (if an unusually obedient one) is the one to take up the quest.
When he finds the tree with the blackest of black trunks, Pyatan crosses himself virtuously and calls to god. At that, the tree shakes and dissapears underground.
Eggless, Pyatan returns. Akulya is not happy. She immediately guesses that Pyatan must have been calling to god.
She helps Pyatan to overcome such urges, entrusts him with a shaggy horse and sends them both on their quest.
As it turns out, the tree is now standing again, larger and blacker than before. This time, Pyatan gets the egg. At home, Pyatan and Akulya are face to face to Kuygorož:
“Kik-kik! I am Kuygorož! Kik-kik! What shall I do? Give me work! If not, I will destroy and break everything!”
Pyatan and Akulya put him to work immediately. Their wishes, in short, are threefold:
The first wish is for food. Not much is needed to satisfy this wish.
The second wish is for beautiful and rich clothes that befit the very boyars. It takes some time before they find the right attire.
The third wish is: to be envied! A palace with a courtyard appears and pushes against the neighbouring houses so as not to be missed. And as they further wish that a party takes place in a palace with guests of noble origin, Kuygorož transforms forest creatures into noble guests for the night. The guests appear weird to Pyatan and Akulya. “Beware of your vulgarity, old man, and don’t show it in front of our noble guests!” says an impressed Akulya. They both bow low to the guests and greet them.
“Bonžur, dear guests.”
“Salaam aleikum!”
A wild party ensues. At the sound of the first cock, the weird guests all change back and disappear. Kuygorož finds Petyan and Akulya, exhausted, asleep behind the table.
“Kik-kik! I’m Kuygorož! What shall I do?” Akulya responds that there is nothing that they need any longer.
“Kik-kik! I’m Kuygorož…”
“Enough! Get out! Don’t you see – the mistress is resting!
As soon as Akulya utters these words, Kuygorož does what was announced. Just like there is nothing left to wish for Petyan and Akulya, there is also nothing left to destroy and break for Kuygorož.

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