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Legend about Tuvan Grandfather Frost

The legend "About the Creation of the World" was first put into a written format by aspirant of Tuvan State University Aibek Soskal at the request of the director of ensemble "Edegei", Kima Chozarovna Dongak. For the next production, it was necessary to find out its origins: how did Sook-Irey get into traditional Tuvan culture? Designer and ballet-master Vyacheslav Dongak created Sook-Irey's costume on the basis of this legend.

Adyg-Tulush: When Mother -Earth was being created, Sun and Moon called the creator-chayakchi Father-Heaven. The Sun shone during the day, and the Moon at night. At that time the earth was flat, and the heaven was bluer than blue, and nothing happened.  Mother-Earth was lonely and angry, and mountains with flat lands, wrinkles and salt lakes showed up.

Father-Heaven  - Deer-Tengri, when he saw Mother-Earth's sufferings, breathed his tyn-spirit, and nourishing clouds flew to the earth.  One whole cloud-tyn was cut into four parts on the high sharp mountaintops - khayalar. These four parts came to life, turning into four Ulu-dragons. The heaviest of them was the oldest brother-Ulu, cold, white, silvery like the milk of Mother-Earth, and they named him Kysh. The younger sister was named Chas - Spring, and she brings life to plants and animals. The third Ulu was named Chai - Summer, and he is very hot, fast, cheerful, carefree green in color.  The youngest Ulu - Kus - Autumn, is a beauty, but she cries a lot, is capricious, and has a little bit of each of her older  brothers.

They flew all over the world without a care, but the oldest brother laid down on the ground to rest and fell asleep. He slept deeply, and while his siblings were looking for him, he became all overgrown with stones, forests and animals. That is how the Tandy-taiga mountain was formed.

During the coldest days of winter, magic happens with the Ulu spirit. He turns into a human being - Sook-Irey. His body, arms and legs consist of tosh - ice. He has a cold appearance, with a tired, sad look. His hair, eyebrows and beard are covered with frost, just like all the trees and bushes. So that the sun would not melt him and people would not see him, he gets dressed. His clothing is of white-light bluish color, looks like ice and icicles. But on his hat, there are colors of the sun and moon, and the signs remind us of his unearthly origins.

When he travels around the kozhuuns, everything around becomes cold - birds fall down in flight, the horns of the livestock break off, rivers freeze over, and the while land is covered in a white coat. even the gray hare - toolay turns white, so that Sook-Irey walking alone would not freeze him.

Sook-Irey flies all over Tuva  to visit all the people in their homes and yurts, wherever it is warm and cheerful. When he is enjoying the company of others, everything gets warmer, both inside the yurt and outside. He can turn into a cold old man, young man, or even a beautiful young girl among us, but you can always recognize him: he is always cold, tired and sad. He does not warm people up.

When people begin to say:  I wish spring was here, Sook-Irey becomes warmer. He evaporates from the warmth of human wishes, an his spirit returns to the depths of Tandy-Uula taiga.

-  Grandfather, and why does he evaporate?

-  Because only people have the warmth of spirit, and they can melt even the coldest tyn- Ulu with their thoughts about the future and about good things.

-  Grandfather, and why not build a house for him, so that he would not wander around freezing?

-  Tuvan people have already built a yurt for him - og, which stands in the place Aldyn-Bulak, surrounded by cliffs, so that there would be more shade. And people go there from all the corners of the country to cheer him up, warm him, so that he would not freeze.

-  Grandfather, and why did he become Ulu?

-   They wanted to have their own image for a long time. But in the world, Heaven-Father had already created all the animals, and birds. So they could not become one of those. And they picked a little bit of everything : horns from a bull, head from a camel, body from a snake, shin from a fish, and wings from birds. And they got everything that other animals and birds had, that is why they can crawl, and fly, and swim, and dive.

-  Grandfather, and why does the Dragon Spirit come to visit people?

-  Only people remember their parents.  So only because of people, Dragons have memory, and always remember Father-Heaven and Mother-Earth.

At the end of winter, we grow tired and hold the Shagaa holiday in every house in honor of the Dragon of Tandy-Uula. Plants and animals also grow tired of the white color and constant cold. (Gagaa - get tired; shag chok, shaam chok). That is why when the older brother Ulu gets tired, he loses his memory, and people begin to cheer him, and please him, as they prepare for the spring, when everything is born on earth.  Summer is called chailyg, chailag. And the autumn is kus - kuzeldik. When everybody recovers their strength, and are well fed and comfortable, people and animals are ready to meet winter again.

That is why when it is very cold and guests come, one has to talk only about good and joyful things, about the spring, summer and autumn. The year is called chyl in Tuvan language (chylar - to alternate), from wither to spring, from summer to autumn, as the wheel of life on earth turns, and worthy animals took the 12 places in it; they are all mortal. Only the sun, moon, heaven and earth are eternal.

The Spirit-Tyn rests in the depth of Tandy-Uula, he is the protector of the Tuvan nation. All of us Turks worship Heaven and Earth in gratitude, and perform algysh-yoreel blessings. We always say "Orshee, Khaiyrakan" so that it would carry all the way to all nine heavens.

-  Grandfather, and why are shamans called Adyg Eeren (Bear Spirit)?

-  Because animals, plants and people all have a part of the creator Tyn, they, just like the Ulu, are relatives. The true name of a shaman, Kam-Kizhi, translates as 'protector of  clan-tribe'.  There are also albys-shulbus spirits who make trouble for people, because they have not found their body on earth. It makes them nasty and harmful. Since the ancient times, the way it works is that Kam-Kizhi gets a little bit more of the Tyn-spirit of heaven at birth. He can travel in other worlds, with his memory and consciousness, by using his sun drum.

-  Grandfather, and from whom did we originate?

-  We are from the Bear family, we are descendants of the Bear. Once he wanted to attack  Heaven-Father, and got to the top of the Tey mountain and touched heaven. Then the morning sun burned him, and he came down from the cliffs without his skin, and the rocks also remained without forests and grass; that is how the Adyg-Tulush tribe showed up. And those cliffs are now called Khaiyrakan, the village has the same name; it is in the Ulug-Khem kozhuun. Here you see - myy hair is white  in this spot - that is the sign of the creator, we are chosen by heaven.

That is why we worship Father-heaven - Tengri. Every year people have to ascend Bai-Taiga mountain. They put on hats with pointed tops - that is a sign of heaven and sun, reminding us that we came down from the cliffs and became people.

That is all, even legends have an end. Somebody is coming to visit, prepare tea, sweets, we will  be joyful, but what if it is Sook-Irey? If we are not joyful, he will turn us to ice.

Aibek Soskal, translated by Heda Jindrak
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