'Sosriqwe’s Horse and Sword' Translated & Annotated by

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic



  1.  Sosriqwe’s Horse and Sword

Kabardian text

Sosriqwe was developing in an unusual manner; in one day, he would grow what others develop in one month. Seteney reared him, the rock was his cradle, the sky was his fleece, and granite stone was his food.

When his contemporaries were still in the crib, he was participating in games with other children. The Nart children who fed on honey and ibexes’ marrow feared Sosriqwe, because when he became angry, sparks would flutter from his body as it flutters from granite stone.

Along the days, Sosriqwe became uninterested in playing with the other children, and became a frequent visitor at Lhepsch’s workplace, attentively watching how Lhepsch performed his work. Once, Lhepsch’s requested from Sosriqwe to blow into the bellows, and when he did the workplace’s ceiling flew while the metal pieces scattered.

Lhepsch became joyous when he perceived this, and said to himself, “I must discern the strength of this boy”

Lhepsch’s anvil was deeply rooted into the seventh ground, and the man who was able to lift the anvil was accepted to part of the Nart council and bestowed with the title “Nart.”

Sosriqwe seized the anvil and attempted to move it the first time, then the second time, and the third time but was unable to budge it.

Lhepsch told him:

- No Sosriqwe, you are still young and your strength has not yet developed. Return to Seteney, sit next to the fireside, and grind some granite stone.

Sosriqwe knew that whoever is able to move Lhepsch’s anvil was perceived as one who reached the age of manhood.

Hence, Sosriqwe returned to his home overwhelmed with sadness.

When Seteney noticed his anguish, she inquired:

- What happened?

Sosriqwe sat next to the hearth, gave no answer, and started to chew on granite stone while the blaze flickering from his teeth.

Early next morning, Sosriqwe rushed to the black smith workplace before Lhepsch’s arrival, seized the anvil, pulled it, and managed to move it from its place. That is enough for today, - he told himself – then he reached a nearby ice-covered river and lay to cool his body. His body was so hot it melted the ice to make the river flow with water.

The following morning, he rushed to the workplace before Lhepsch’s arrival; he managed to pull the anvil, dragged it, and tossed it in front of the door. When Lhepsch arrived, he was unable to enter his workplace and became astounded.

The mightiest of Narts was only able to move the anvil slightly. As he gazed upon the pulled anvil, he said, “Psathe” our god…make this person an advocate of goodwill, or else many will come to ruin, and his early life will be the end for many souls.

Amidst the occurrence, three brothers approached his workplace, greeted Lhepsch, and praised blessings upon his work.

The eldest said:

- The three of us were born on the same day. I was born in the morning, the middle was born in the afternoon, and the youngest was born in the evening. All three of us were cutting grass by the mountain slopes while competing in our work. The youngest always prevailed, If he stood afore us we could not cope with his work, and if he stood behind us he leaves no grass for us to cut because of his speed and skill.

- It is shameful for the young to prevail over the elder. – Said Lhepsch lightheartedly.

- By the afternoon, we pricked our sickles in the ground, and decided to rest and prepare something to eat. As we sat, we saw our younger brother’s sickle fall and started to run on its own cutting grass, stone, trees and anything that came its way.

- Now. – Said the youngest brother. – We agreed to transform this sickle into a sword. However, who shall have possession of this sword?

Without presenting an answer, Lhepsch grabbed the sickle and immediately realized that Debech, the forge master who taught Lhepsch the art of black smithy, made it. And when Lhepsch realized that the three brothers will clash over the sword made of the sickle he said:

- The sword that I shall make out of the sickle will cause conflict amongst you. The Narts conflict means battle, and battle amongst the Narts will cause their demise. Therefore I advice the following:

The anvil as you see prevents me from entering my workplace, I shall grant the sword to the one who is able to lift this anvil, and return it to its original place, agreed.

- Agreed, - answered the three Nart brothers.

The eldest approached the anvil and tried to lift it with no success. When the eldest was not capable to pull the anvil, the middle brother slightly moved it, and when the middle brother could not raise it, the younger brother slightly lifted the anvil off the ground.

- No, no. None of you was able to pull my anvil; hence, not one of you deserve it

- What do we do? We already pledged that  the sword would not belong to any of us. - said the three Narts brothers.

All along, Sosriqwe was watching them from afar.  After the three brothers failed in moving the anvil, he approached Lhepsch and requested:

- Do let me try pulling the anvil.

The eldest brother looked at him from the corner of his eye, laughed and said: “what can you possibly be able to do?”

The middle brother said:

- “Try what? Your mother’s milk is still dripping from your lips”

- What good would it do if you tried? It is better you return home and eat some corn bread.

Disregarding their words, Sosriqwe approached the anvil and firmly held it between his arms. Meanwhile the three brothers were mocking Sosriqwe, amidst their escalating laughter; Sosriqwe pulled the anvil and placed it where it was, and pierced it even deeper into the ground.

The three brothers were amazed by the scene, and swore that they would inform the Narts of what they saw. Satisfied by what the three brothers stance, Lhepsch said:

- Very well three brothers, I pray that you will always remain united as an undefeatable sword.  Commemorating the unusual incident that we witnessed today, I shall make for each one of you a sharp knife made of different kind of metal. As for this sickle made by Debech for Theghelej, I shall transform it into a sword and present it to the one who deserves it most. I can only make one knife per day, and whoever reaches my workplace first shall receive his knife.

Therefore, he presented the three brothers with three sharp knives. As for Theghelej’s sickle, it did not take Lhepsch much effort until he formed it into a sword and hung it on the wall, waiting to present to the one who is most worthy of it.

Sosriqwe was sadly sitting by the hearth playing with the ashes: when Seteney saw his anguish, she asked him:

- My son, what makes you so sad?

- If I weren’t sad, then who is? I have no friend or visitor, even our old dog occupies himself, at least he barks when a stranger enters into our house. However, I spend my time playing with ashes by this fireplace. I do not know what people do, nor have the means to create something.

- My son, my only son, you are still young, it is not appropriate for someone your age to have any enemies, and from where do you think you may have friends and visitors? I look among the Narts and cannot find your equal; they are all elderly men and their interests differ from yours, and I fail to recognize any lad in your age that is worthy of your friendship who may hoard your honor.

- My mother Seteney. – Said Sosriqwe – It is not the friend that you mention that I request. I want a companion who stands solid against danger, and who is gallant in the times of weakness. What I want is a sword and a horse.

Seteney was pleased by what Sosriqwe said, and left to Lhepsch’s workplace.

- My son hassles me, he says he wants to discover the world, and requested that I order him a sword and find him a steed. I believe he is still young to carry a sword and to ride a horse.

- No Lady Seteney, you are mistaken. – Said Lhepsch – Now is his time, he may seem young in appearance, but he is a whole man at heart, do not stand in his way.

Seteney returned to Sosriqwe and said:

- Go to Lhepsch he awaits your presence in his workplace.

Sosriqwe jumped running to Lhepsch, and as soon as he entered, Lhepsch lightheartedly asked:

- What sort of sword do you desire?

- I want a sword that is neither tall nor short, feared by the distant enemy, and hinders the close one, a sword that is fatal when it strikes and pierces when it stabs. -  Answered Sosriqwe.

- This sword is what you seek- said Lhepsch and presented him the sword made of Theghelej’s sickle.

- What else do you require?

 - I need nothing else except a horse to ride on. – said Sosriqwe.

- If you want a horse then go back to you mother Seteney – Said Lhepsch – she has a good horse, she will give it to you.

Sosriqwe returned home while the sword hanging on his side, when Seteney saw him she said:

- I know what you need my son, If Lhepsch thinks you are worthy of this sword, then it is possible that you shall bear a name to be esteemed among men. Come with me, I have reared a horse for you.

Seteney escorted Sosriqwe into a cave and told him:

- Here my son, if you are able to remove this rock and enter this cave you shall find a horse, and if you managed to ride the horse then is he yours.

Sosriqwe removed the rock from the cave’s entrance and entered to find a horse neighing and digging the earth and shaking the mountains with his thumping feet. Sosriqwe tried to draw near the horse from his right and left side but was unable to get anywhere near him, the horse would jump and stump the ground with his hooves.

Seteney felt sad when she saw this and said:

- My son, he is doing this because he still does not consider you a grown man. – Sosriqwe became angry by Seteney’s words. He then leapt on his horse back and flew from the underground.

- What a disastrous day, my only son will be killed. – Said Seteney

The horse disappeared into the clouds while Sosriqwe seated on his back. Seteney returned to her home whilst her heart breaking out of fear for her son.

The horse flew across the clouds attempting to throw Sosriqwe off his back without any success; he then landed on earth stood on his legs to throw Sosriqwe, but Sosriqwe remained on his back. The horse led Sosriqwe into the valley’s where even swallows may not soar, and traveled to the meeting point of the seven seas, jumped into the waters and swam back and forth, but still could not heave Sosriqwe off his back. The horse dashed for seven days and nights until he was completely worn out. Sosriqwe then told him:

- Thou whom the dogs ate you. If your pastime is over, then I have just started mine. The horse stood still not capable of moving, even when Sosriqwe knocked him with his heels.

Sosriqwe turned furious and bashed seven oak canes over the horse, until the horse finally spoke and said:

- By my God Amisch [2] , as of today I shall never disobey any of your orders. If you are a true man, then I shall be your faithful horse.

- Then let us return home. – As they approached Sosriqwe’s abode, Seteney rushed towards them and said:

- My son, I was weeping over you.

- No my mother, do not cry, prepare me some food, tasty and sufficient, for I am to journey, the time has come that I see the world. – Sosriqwe told his mother smilingly.


(Hedeghel’e, I968, Vol.I, p. 255)


*Sosriqwe’s atypical attributes are the focal point of this saga emphasizing on his “Iron-elemental” physique. It also implies glimpse of attributes connected to the sun i.e. The rock is his cradle, the sky is his fleece, demonstrating that the land is the cradle for the sun’s ray, whilst the sky is the cover revolving around the sun, drawing parallels between the sun’s flaming orbs with the method of smelting iron; the basic making of Sosriqwe.




Submitted: September 30, 2016

© Copyright 2021 Zaina El-Said. All rights reserved.

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