TWO BROTHERS: OF OLD SOCOTRA AND ANCIENT EGYPT (4)


ILL.: Nikolaj Kochergin (1967)

The Soqotri “Geschichte zweier Brüder” text of Mueller is a folktale that – in its initial part where the conflict starts – is absolutely different from the Ancient Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers. Here we find a man married two women: an Arabian and an African*. From each of them he had a son, but his African wife soon died, and his son from her (the son of “habshiyye”) gets a stepmother. The stepmother loves her own son and hates the hero of the tale – her stepson – trying to kill him several times by several different ways. The two stepbrothers’ father is alive, his position in the story is rather neutral. The hero all the way is receiving help from his stepbrother and from his horse (“kheyl” Arab.).**

However, this tale of Mueller has a second part which actually looks like a variation of the second part of the Ancient Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers. The brother who is a son of the African woman goes to another land where he gets the most beautiful woman as a wife – her name is “bint maṭla‛ ’aš-šams” – “Daughter (Girl) of Sunrise” (in the Soqotri text of the tale the name of this character is also in Arabic). One long hair (a tangle of one(!) hair) which she leaves after her bath adjudged to the Sultan – like a beautiful curl of Bata’s wife hair brought to Pharaoh.

And just like the learned scribes of Pharaoh who told him for the braid of hear: “It belongs to a daughter of Pre-Harakhti in whom there is a seed of every god”***, the men of the Sultan say the hair found is a hair of Daughter (Girl) of Sunrise (“Und es verwunderten sich [waren verschiedener Meinung] darüber die Menschen und sprachen: Es ist das Haar vom Haupte der Tochter des Sonnenaufganges.”)**** The daughter of Ra-Horakhty – “Ra (who is) Horus of the Horizons” – is Daughter (Girl) of Sunrise (the daughter (girl) of the rising sun over the horizons?!) in Mueller’s Soqotri tale.
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* “habshiye” (Sqt.) < Arab. Habashiyya (f.) – “an Ethiopian woman” – however, in Soqotri it is simply a synonym of “Howre” (Sqt.) – “black” (f.). In the text she is also called “mib‛elo” (m-b‛l) – “a female slave”; in this text it also means an African woman.
** There are no horses on Socotra.
*** Ibid., p. 102
**** Ibid., S. 84

The Sultan just like the Pharaoh orders his troops to bring him this woman. And just like mighty Bata, the brother from the African woman kills them all but a single man (!) In the Egyptian tale: “After many days following this, the men who had gone to a foreign country returned to render report to His Majesty,l.p.h., whereas those who had gone to the Valley of the Pine failed to return, for Bata had killed them leaving (only) one of them to render report to His Majesty, l.p.h.”* And in the Mueller’s tale: “72. Und es rüstete der Sultan 15000 Mann ans, zog zehn Monate lang und kam zum Palaste der Tochter des Sonnenaufganges… 73. …Und er zückte das Schwert und rief ihnen allah akbar zu und tödtete sie, bis nur ein einziger Mann übrig blieb.”** On the example of this passage we can even say that the Egyptian Papyrus demonstrates “a broken and fractured version” of the folklore motif loosing the important logical argument explaining the reason for the Bata’s victory over the soldiers of Pharaoh: Bata had to have a marvelous weapon. In Mueller’s tale the brother has the marvelous sword.


ILL.: Nikolaj Kochergin (1967)

Moreover, when the military power of the ruler fails, the ancient Milady*** performs the task instead. In the Egyptian tale, “there being a woman among them through whom all (sorts of) feminine adornments were presented to her. The woman returned to Egypt with her.”**** In the tale of Mueller the old woman coming with the Sultans troops makes poisoned coffee, and the brother drinks it and dies. After this the woman urges his wife, Daughter (Girl) of the Sunrise, to go to the Sultan’s fortress (“…die Alte brachte den Kaffe; und es trank (schlürfte) ihn der Sohn der Abessinierin und starb. 86. Es sprach die Alte zu der Tochter des Sonnenaufgangs: Geh’ hinaus ans der Burg.”)*****

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* Ibid., 102
** Ibid., 84
*** Dumas’ Milady de Winter
**** Ibid., 102
***** Ibid., 87


ILL.: Nikolaj Kochergin (1967)

Then the brother from the Arabian woman (he calls the other brother “qaqa” – “a younger brother” – in Soqotri) – looks at a tree, which his brother, before he left, urged him to look at every Friday. It is dead.* He goes to his brother’s land, finds him dead and helps him to return to life. Just like in the Ancient Egyptian tale, but the indicator is different – it is not “woody” but “liquid”: “13,1 After dawn and the next day had come about and after the pine tree had been cut down, Anubis, the elder brother of  Bata. entered his house and sat down and washed his hand(s). He was handed a beaker of beer, and it produced froth. Another of wine was handed him, and it turned bad.”**

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* Ibid., 78: “43. Er sprach zu ihm: O mein Bruder, wenn du mich liebst, wirst du diesen Baum beaufsichtigen von Woche zu Woche. Wenn du ihn verdorrt (abgestorben) findest, so wisse, dass ich gestorben bin, wenn du ihn aber blühend tindest, so wisse, dass ich wohl bin.” The right translation is “from Friday to Friday” (“von Freitag zu Freitag”).
** Ibid., p. 102-103

To be continued >>>

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