Those fairly tales, the mysterious creatures; some heroics, some villainy!
A peep into the past-the wild animals in the grandma stories!
By: Tahir Gazanfar
The earliest I knew about the wildlife of the Kashmir was from the grandmas stories where a ‘Seah’ probably a leopard but with a description of a tiger would be heard visiting a nearby shrine every Friday midnight. The other was a ‘Yeach’ probably a Lynx (a wild cat) popping in human habitations during freezing winter nights. The faint pug marks on the snow of any domestic cat and the next morning could hear a roar about Yeach. The animal was also a gold mine if analyzed from the grannies folklore- Gold mine for the reason as the animal was believed to have a golden cap on its head. Anyone who could manage to grab the booty will surely ensure a life of prosperity but I don’t know! I wonder how many people could have spend sleepless nights in the pursuit of the gold cap. Even the voice ‘Waaiywouph’, literally never heard gave goose bumps to the people of all ages.
Most of these animals existing in the granny stories were nocturnal including ‘Daen/Rantass’ though considered to be a phantom in the shape of a female whose long untidy hair and feet directed backwards were the identifying features. Daen/ Rantass was more of a non –animal entity, supernatural, generally in the shape of a female but still many haughty masses considered them wild. ‘Brambram Chook’ is another spooky entity who often misled a person passing its way exists with a little or lesser resemblance to the wild.
The other animals that were heard of were ‘Troonch’ probably an animal with a long neck, a chimera of egret bird and giraffe both of which have long neck and resemblance towards porcupine to some extent. ‘Agarpacchin’- a large bird capable of lifting humans would generally be very friendly in the folklores as it would often lend its feathers to the persons entailing abet. The bird would show a dramatic appearance anywhere when the two feathers would be directed towards the sun. Agarpacchin could be compared with any Jurassic era bird. The other wild animal that probably existed in the folklore was ‘Wan mohniv’ a Yeti or a large ape shaped entity dwelling in the forests. Folklores mostly suggest this creature to be villainous lifting people, generally women, and captivating them in its den in higher reaches.
“Shah-maar” a king snake, of extreme huge size would kill people by constrictions making it to resemble more to a tropical snake like anaconda. Most of the victims would be hunters harming the animal or the habitats.
There are many similar anecdotes from other places where many other imaginative characters are heard of. The above narration has obvious mythical and fictional characters of the past embedded in the folklore and all the so called wild animals that exist in folklore are as true as the folklore itself. But the mystery remains unanswered how much one knows about the wild. Most of the wild animals in the folklore have some semblance to the mystical characters from various ‘Dastaan’ (traditional stories) the oldest known literal form from the subcontinent and the validation of the characters remains as authentic as the work.
Interestingly, many of such creatures have found a mention in the poetic expression of this land and also in other literary works and represent as well as symbolize exactly that which we have been told by our grandparents. Though this was far down the lane when realization and conceptualization of different things was mostly abstract as no source of reliable data transference and original staging was possible except the oral dropped and ear-heard messages. How about the same query today when ample literature is available in the form of writings, researches, books, papers etc apart from pictures and videos?