Ferid Muhić

From Aladag mountains, in which, after the Juruk legend, the lovers Halil and Dzeren live eternal, all the way to the mysterious lake Isik Kul, in a huge diapason covered with sharp ridges and lonely nomad tents, the story about the Czar of Birds is retold.

This favorite topic of conversations led beside bonfires, in the highest mountains of this planet, says that the master of all gifted with wings has a palace on an unknown peak, concealed in the vast Ocean of petrified surges. Actually, peaks are spires, towers, minarets, bells, verandas of mosques, churches, pagodas, cathedrals, temples, places of worship, with which the earth celebrates the heaven – say the nomads, of what we, the ordinary tourists and passers-by, superficially and wrongly understand under the term “mountains”.

Familiarised with that ancient tale, a certain Persian mystic and poet, 800 years ago, gave an ending to this story that amazed and until present days amazes all learned people among tourists and passers-by.

First and foremost, here is how the legend goes:

Resolute to find out the palace of their czar, the birds from all over the world met one day, and elected the flock consisting of the best of flyers, so they were given the task at all costs to reach where no other bird until then had arrived, and to find the palace, which not a single word had seen. And there to greet and bow to the one who has always commanded all birds and has ever since decided for the destiny of every bird.

The birds flew, and flew away! They passed over all mountains, discovered many new pastures and waters, and told them to the nomads. The latter, out of gratitude, gave them food, let them repose, and cured the wounds on their broken wings. They saw many peaks, until then unseen by an eye, and flew and flew over ridges not walked. These hardened heroes were flying and flying for long! But not a trace did they find from the palace of the Czar of Birds!

They already started suffering and dying, one after another! From efforts, injuries, cold, winds, or blizzards!

Eventually, only one big mountain of the great Caucasus remained unexplored! And there spread the precipitous rock vanishing in the sky! The foragers flew up bravely in the heights so as to find the home of their czar. After days and nights of flying without repose and sleep, without drink or food, they reached the end of the last, the highest rock. Beyond that, there was nothing but heavenly abyss, beaming with stars. And on the rock, there was nothing: neither the palace nor the Czar of Birds.

And of the great flock, only 30 more birds were still alive and reached the peak of all peaks. 

Here the legend of the nomads closes. Somewhere the peak is in the Himalayas, somewhere in Tian Shan, somewhere in Pamir, somewhere in Altai. But the rest is identical in all of them, and the same refers to the number of birds that reached the peak alive.

The great thinker, as a mystic, and as a romanticist and poet, finishes the Nomad tale in the following way:

“And then, once they saw that there is nothing even on the peak of all peaks, they looked at one another, each and every one of them with every other, they counted themselves again and again, exhausted and broken, but hardened and proud, and all of a sudden one of them said: If this is the Peak of all Peaks, and if the Czar of Birds lives here, then we are that Czar! We, thirty birds, are the Czar! Therefore the Czar of Birds’ name is Si Morgh. And Si Morgh means both ’30 birds’ and ‘Czar of Birds’!

Gently, excitingly, mystically, brightly – just as it suits a mystical and poetic soul. Yet, two things ought to be mentioned.

First, words are not the same with what they refer to. The exploration of words is both useful and important, but it does not divulge those things that the words are just signs of. Therefore the knowledge of things should not be derived from their names, but from the things themselves.

This allows the supposition that, thereby retaining the armature of the tale as a base, perhaps there was no Czar of the Birds whatsoever. It happens that both the strongest and the most tenacious ones achieve their greatest feat in life only to realise that it was in vain!

It is also likely that the Czar of Birds exists, but in another place, which even the bravest of flyers could not attain. 

His name, ‘Si Morgh’ or ’30 birds’, also may mean nothing, may mean something, but in the language that neither birds nor nomads know, and finally, it may mean right that, but only as a symbolic measure, as a metaphor for the strength of the Czar of Birds, who can alone do what from a huge flock of the most chosen and the strongest birds, will leave only 30 of them alive!

All this could have been what really happened there, on that Peak of the Peaks, which only 30 birds reached! We do not know whether we become the same with the goal in whose demand we invest all our strength, all our passion, and all our love. Mystics believe right in this. What you look for you will find if you look for it without suspicion and reserve. The one who looks for the Czar of Birds, will find him, at least within one’s self; The one looking for God, will find him, at least like birds found their Czar. Looking for what is the best and the most valuable. In the end, we ascertain that we have found him within ourselves! But not before we walk our way to the end, and not before we go through all we were capable of going through at all, and not before we fly over all ridges and step on all peaks that were told to us.

And second:

Those who live with birds, those to whom birds disclose the new pastures and waters, and they feed and cure them, who put up their tents on the roofs of those temples and places of worship with which the Earth celebrates the Heaven (and we, passers-by and tourists, wrongly call them “mountains” and, moreover, give them our names), let’s remember, do not complete the tale in this way. And this is still their legend! And they do not finish it because as such, as they retell it, it tell them more things and more valuable things – it tells them the things on which they set up their entire life.

The mystery of the Palace of Si Morgh, the Czar of Birds, and the secret of his name, remain unsolved. But they have no doubts about the existence of a riddle. The thirty heroic eagles, falcons, hawks, cranes, swans, wild geese and wild ducks (all of them the best of flyers) landed at the Peak of all Peaks, on which their might endured to take them. They did their best. There, they did not find anything. But they also saw that there was no one there except for them.

And that is all. It is the glory for arriving there where no one before them arrived that is their prize!

The Czar of Birds exists. But the most essential secrets are not solvable, in this life. What can be solved in this life, is not itself worth devoting all one’s life to it. A small part of life, for small secrets, the entire life, only for the insolvable one. The finding-out will be worse than punishment! It would be a jest with the man in birds that makes them search for the Czar “Si Morgh”, and with the bird in people that instigates them to aspire towards the ridges and heights.

And the name of the czar of Birds is “Si Morgh”.
The name really means both “the Czar of Birds”, and “30 birds”.

And that is all.

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