Did the Khan have a Head?
Long, long ago there lived a strict, harsh Khan. Everybody trembled before him and feared to look him in the face.
One day the Khan went off hunting and, feeling tired,he got down from his horse to rest near a solitary tree on the steppe.
But he did not wish to sit on the ground like an ordinary person. „I am the Khan and so should be above all you,” commanded
the wicked old man. “Bend over this tree to provide me with a seat so that i can enthrone myself like Buddha on his lotus.“
The Khan´s servants bent the tree over but, springing away, it straightened itself and the Khan fell to the ground.
When they looked, he had no head – either it was torn off by the bough or the Khan had never had a head at all.
The people were full of wonder and asked one another:
„ Did the Khan have a head on his shoulders?“ This was not so surprising – you see, the people had been afraid to
raise their eyes. Finally an old servant said: „Let´s go to the Khan´s counsellor. Surely he ought to know whether the Khan
had a head on his shoulders“ They galloped off to the counsellor and told him: “The whole thing was as follows. We wanted
to carry out the Khan´s order to enthrone him on the tree, but the Khan fell off and died. He didn´t appear to have a head.
Where could he have lost it? Had he a head on his shoulders?” „ I don´t know, servants.“ said the counsellor shaking
his grey locks. „ I was afraid to raise my eyes to him. I only know that he did have a hat with the Khan´s round ruby the top.”
” What shall we do now?” said the servants. “Go to the Khan´s wife. Surely she ought to know whether her husband had
a head.“ advised the counsellor. The servants went to the Khan´s wife and told her about everything that had happened.
Finally they asked: “Did the Khan have a head on his shoulders?”
„Well, I really don´t know“ said the Khan´s wife, somewhat embarrassed, „But I do know that he had a mustache.
It prickled when he kissed me. But you see, being afraid, i screwed up my eyes and i don´t know if the Khan had a head.“
So the servants could not find out whether, the Khan did actually have a head on his shoulder. What do you think?
State Publishing House Ulanbaatar 1988: “How did the great bear originate? Folktales from Mongolia”