The story went into the forest, the thoughts into one’s own mind.
Jan Knappert, Mythology and Folklore in South-East Asia, Oxford University Press, 1999 p. 195
Drawing inspired by a rock art painting of Kakadu, Australia
From our encampment near the shore of this famous lake [Lake Urmia] to the city or Mârâgâ [Maragheh] is eighteen miles: we made this march at night. Moollâh Adeenah, the story-teller of his majesty, was one of our party. The Elchee [ambassador] asked him to beguile the weariness of our road with a tale.
‘How many farsekhs* long do you wish it?’ was his reply.
‘At least five,’ was the answer.
‘I can exactly suit you,’ said the Moollâh; ‘you shall have Ahmed the cobbler.’
I could not help laughing at this mode of measuring a tale; but I was assured it was a common custom, arising out of the calculation professed story-tellers were compelled to make of the leisure of their hearers. All further remarks upon this usage were put an end to, by Moollâh Adeenah desiring us to be silent and attentive; his wish being complied with, he commenced as follows:
‘In the great city of Isfahan lived Ahmed the cobbler, an honest and industrious man…’ [the retelling of the story takes 19 pages ]”.
* 1 farsekh = c. 3 miles = 5 kilometres
Two things are necessary in winter, fire and folktale: fire, to warm the body, folktale, to warm the heart.
Before Keldibek began a performance of Manas he told the herdsmen that they might come to the camp without fear because their cattle would go home by themselves, and no one –neither man nor wild beast– could steal even the last sheep whilst he was singing Manas. But when he began to sing, the yurt trembled, a mighty hurricane arose amid whose murk and din supernatural horsemen, Companions of Manas, flew down so that the earth shuddered beneath their horses’s hooves.