Category Archives: Armenian Legends and Tales

Legend of Moush

There was a city on the Aratsani River where people used to quarrel among themselves. They were arrogant and remained enslaved by their morose vanity. Pride prevented them from forming impartial opinions, even about themselves.

All they did from dawn until dusk was argue and lecture one another, finding faults without reason. When disputes flared up to the point of a full fledged fight, the Armenian goddess of wisdom, Nane, came to the people’s aid. She would send such a thick blanket of fog over the entire city, so that the people caught in it could not see anything around them. In the end, they were forced to stop shouting their threats and insults into the white nothingness.

“You just wait!” they would cry. “As soon as the fog lifts we’ll continue our discussion!”

But the fog floated over the city like a cloud, thick and slow. The fog lasted until the irreconcilable wranglers forgot their grievances and a peacefully tranquil life returned to the city. The wise Nane did that quite frequently. She would cover the city in mist as if calling people to righteousness. And eventually she succeeded! The people of the city became quiet, polite and attentive to each other. They even learned to enjoy the frequent fogs.

Because of these fogs the city became known as Mshoush and a few centuries later it was shortened to Moush.

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Bread and Salt


Armenians, like many other peoples, have worshipped tillage and bread since time immemorial. When important guests came to their house they were greeted with bread and salt, the simplest gifts without which human life was impossible.

 

Armenians believed bread to be the main decoration of any table and called it “the king of any feast”. Therefore, the work of a baker in Armenia has always been one of the most honoured and respected professions. Bread was revered almost as a living creature: it could not be turned over upside down; it could not be dropped or be left lying on the ground. Those truths, unwritten in any law, were indisputable. Here is why…

 

One ancient Armenian legend tells us that when a piece of bread falls to the ground, an angel comes down from heaven. He sets one foot on top of that piece, so it is not stepped on and thus defiled. The angel keeps that piece of bread under his foot for as long as that piece stays on the ground. Therefore, every piece of bread, every tiny breadcrumb that lies on the ground has an angel guarding it. That is why people should come to the aid of those angels, pick up the piece of bread, and place it well above ground.

 

The explanation for such reverence is simple. It is a sin to drop bread to the ground, as that bread was born in the flames of a bakery, and by those flames, it was cleansed and thus sanctified. Bread only has one purpose – to satiate a person and make that person steadier, stronger and kinder.

 

Legend of the First King of Armenia

The first Armenian who put the royal crown on his head was King Aram. On this occasion, his kingdom welcomed all the kings, princes and prominent visitors from neighbouring principalities and kingdoms. All were nobles and famous warriors.

After the coronation, the planned festivities began. Finally, when all the dishes, wines, and fruits had been consumed, the new king announced a competition in agility, strength and courage. The guests positioned themselves on the adjacent hill so they could enjoy the competition from an elevated point.

On the vast plain in front of them, they saw a herd of unbroken horses – forty wild stallions. The drover hit his whip and the herd rushed to the gorge. A group of noble riders rushed in to intercept the herd. Their horses cut the tall grass like lightning. Their lassoes shot up into the air and thirty-three out of forty horses were caught. But seven of the most spirited ones escaped the hunters.

Then brave Aram walked into the arena with a lasso in his hand. In two quick jumps, he reached the galloping horses and in one broad stroke of the lasso, he reined in all seven horses at once. One of his wise old friends, an expert on equestrian matters himself, was full of admiration for his skill, but still bent over to the king’s ear and asked: “Why, O King, have you lassoed all seven? After all, it was enough to catch one horse and it would become clear who the most skilled and powerful man is.”

The king without so much as turning his head replied: “Had I lassoed one or two, it might have looked like a coincidence. But if I got all seven, that’s a whole other matter. And there is yet another meaning to this. I am more than sure that after this event, none of our neighbours would dare to violate the borders of Armenia. And if they do, they will meet the same fate as these horses.”

“He is not only physically strong, but also wise,” thought the grey sage looking at his king proudly.

Armenian Legends: The Legend of Dzaghgatsor

Asdghig, the goddess of beauty and water, whose eyes shone like the brightest stars in the sky and whose hair flowed like the waves of the sea, was so stunningly beautiful that she frightened herself with her own allure, as it inspired passion, lust and love in all those who laid eyes on her.

One particular day, she found herself the focus of this desire as she unwittingly captured the heart of a hardened giant. Once he had seen her, he could no longer sleep at night. He would wait longingly for morning to come, at which time he could once again see the goddess Asdghig in the garden in the Moush valley, where she had a habit of walking through with her many maids. Then one day, it so happened that Asdghig, wrapped in a floral mantle, was enjoying the morning dew in solitude. Suddenly she noticed the giant hiding in the bushes. Their eyes met and the startled goddess jumped to her feet and tried to flee, fearing the passion reflected in his eyes. The enormous warrior ran after her. He was just about to sweep her into his arms when her friend Nanеh, the goddess of chastity, came to the rescue. “Throw off your mantle!” she whispered to Asdghig and the beautiful goddess instantly disrobed. The chaste Nanе wrapped the fallen mantle in a thick blanket of fog thus obscuring the love-struck giant’s view. Thus, she saved the terrified goddess of beauty from his unwelcome advances.

When the fog cleared, there was a valley of a thousand flowers and herbs in the exact place where Asdghig had thrown her floral cape off her shoulders and onto the grass. To this day, it blossoms with an incredible variety of beautiful flowers and people call it Dzaghgatsor.

Armenian Werewolf Part 2

The first post was made months ago, here!

Stolen from PeopleofAr 😀

 

Armenian Werewolves Mardagayl

 

In old Armenian folklore there are many creatures into which humans and evil spirits can transform by free will or curse. Often such tales involve Werewolves, roaming at night, snatching children and causing fear. These creatures are known as“Mardagayl” in Armenian. Some tales speak of women who, in consequence of deadly sins, are condemned to spend seven years in wolf form. In a typical account, a condemned woman is visited by a wolfskin-toting spirit, who orders her to wear the skin, which causes her to acquire frightful cravings for human flesh soon after. With her better nature overcome, the she-wolf devours each of her own children, then her relatives’ children in order of relationship, and finally the children of strangers. She wanders only at night, with doors and locks springing open at her approach. When morning arrives, she reverts to human form and removes her wolfskin. The transformation is generally said to be involuntary, but there are alternate versions involving voluntary metamorphosis, where the women can transform at will. These werewolves run like the wind and are able to make a journey of many days in just one hour—such that no one can detect their absence from home. A werewolf cannot be killed by a knife or weapon. The only way to save oneself from them is to take and burn the pelt. However, during the day mardagayl hides the skin and it is difficult to find. After seven years, the wolfskin ascends to Heaven on its own accord, and the person returns to being a normal human being. Sometimes, only one trace remains of the prior condition, usually a tail.

Other tales related to werewolves have a mythical character, such as the creation of the Milky Way. A young newly married woman, one Armenian folk story says, had been transformed into a werewolf. Once when washing a guest’s feet, she observed that the feet were very white and tender. She liked this a lot. At night, when everyone was asleep, she put on the wolf’s pelt and came to devour the guest. However, the brave guest stabbed her in the breast with his dagger. Milk squirted from her breast into the sky, and traces of this milk are till now visible as the Milky Way.

The Wolf and Wolf-binding Spells

The wolf occupies a prominent position in Armenian folklore and, in spells, it figures higher than all the various night evils embodied by snakes, scorpions, frogs, etc. The wolf often appears as a dev (evil spirit) and is equated with evil spirits which take human form. One tale says that “The wolf eats evil beings, otherwise those evil ones would destroy the world. But each year every evil spirit devours a wolf and thereby reduces the number of wolves in the world. Otherwise they could not save themselves from all the wolves”

Sometimes the wolf-demon has a bipedal form. Therefore spells against wolves will them to be bound by their two big toes and eight other toes. Resembling humanlike devs, the wolf’s toes point backwards and its heels are forward. Lightning which can destroy all devs also can destroy wolves. Therefore symbols of lightning such as flint and steel, especially when they produce sparks, are a defense against wolves. Flint itself is also called “kaylxaz” (that which tears up or burns a wolf). Prayer charms against wolves are called wolf-binding (kaylakap) prayers.

sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werewolf

http://rbedrosian.com/abegh11.htm