Monday, January 25, 2010

from The Secret History of the Mongols (c. 1250 A.D.)

I've skipped the part where the two eldest sons wonder how the other three sons came from their widowed mother, and deleted her explanation in the middle. But it deserves a mention, because in many endeavors, we come from different places but must work from what basis we have. This is from the first section of the Secret History--The Origins of Chinghis Khan.

Then one day in the spring
after boiling a soup of dried mutton,
Alan the Fair assembled her five sons together.
She seated them all in a row,
gave them each the shaft of an arrow
and said to them, "Break it!"
A single arrow shaft,
It took no strength to break it,
and each of them broke it and tossed it away.
Then she bound five shafts together in a bundle,
and giving the bundle to each one in turn,
said to each of them: "Break it!"
Each of the brothers held the five bound together
and no one could break them.
. . . .
Then Alan the Fair said to each of her five sons
"You five were all born from one womb.
If, like the five single arrows you held
you separate yourself, each going alone
then each of you can be broken by anyone.
If you are drawn together by a singular purpose
bound like the five shafts in a bundle
how can anyone break you?"

The Secret History of the Mongols, pp. 6-7.  An Adaptation by Paul Kahn of the Yuan Ch'ao Pi Shih, based upon the English Translation by Francis Woodman Cleves. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1984.


Unknown said...

A timely post considering whats going on in the world today...

Ann T. said...

Dear peedee,
It is!
And I love how the mom knew the score and set her sons up to create a dynasty! This was not a woman who whimpered on the side of a tent!
Ann T.

Gia's Spot said...

Amazingly that was my Mom's creed for her five children, although in a
different format! Sadly brothers chose the stand alone method and have been broken time after time unlike the three sisters who RAWK!!!! (I got a bit excited for a moment! ) Very perfect post, Ann T. I love that you share tidbits from so many different venues!!

Christopher said...

And of course, the Biblical version of this story pre-dates the Mongols, though I think I like this version better for the visual setting and texture. Thanks for sharing it.

Ann T. said...

Dear Gia, Good for Mom and your sisters! That's proof it works.

Dear Christopher,
I don't remember where this is in the Bible. But I did remember it seemed to span cultures. Wow, if you can remember the reference someday, (when you're not overloaded) shout it out.

You guys are great to write in. Thanks a bunch!

Ann T.

Ann T. said...

oh! it's gotta be the last words of Jacob/Israel. I'll go check.

Slamdunk said...

Great message Ann T. With your recent posts on great literature, art, and sculpting, I may actually develop a trace of culture.

I am afraid that if I show this new side of me though, it will be easier for others to explain it in terms of alien abduction as opposed to the truth.

Bob G. said...

Okay, you (andf those Mongols) convinced me.
I'm off to get me a "few more arrows"...LOL.
Very good post.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
They've been saying that alien abduction thing about me for a long time. Just a lot of college years!

Tell 'em it's the Ann T. Random Academy.

Dear Bob G.
This sounds Good! I was afraid you were going to war without enough arrows. LOL right back!

Ann T.

Anonymous said...

Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

Ann T. said...

Dear Warrior Poet,
And I know you have been busy, so double thanks for this.

"Better two than one by himself; since thus their work is really profitable.
If one should fall, the other helps him up; but woe to the man by himself with no one to help him when he falls down.
Again, they keep warm together; but how can a man keep warm alone? Where one alone would be overcome, two will put up resistance, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

Many, many thanks!

Ann T.

The Observer said...

Ann T

The theme is picked up in the New Testament, although maybe not as clear. The four friends who carried their friend's litter to the house where Jesus was teaching, lifting it up to the roof, and then, after removing the roof,down to where Jesus was. Jesus looked at the man on the litter and said to his friends: "Your faith has made him well." It's in Luke. The pastor of the church I attend calls it, "being each other's stretcher bearers." It's one of the things that can go missing in today's American society.

The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Thanks for this too! The other side of the team--not just to win, but to take care of others.

Ann T.