Armenian Folk Story: The Wandering Wizard

This piece was told to me by one of my neighbors of Armenian descent. I came home one night to find my neighbors having a celebration to honor those who had died during the Armenian genocide from 1914 to 1923. Around the last few weeks of April, it is apparently a tradition to celebrate Armenian pride in honor of those who were killed. I was curious to hear more about the culture and took the opportunity to ask about some stories of Armenian folklore. I found myself talking to one of the older gentleman at the party, who was the uncle of my neighbor who lived at the house. He was very happy to indulge my curiosity about Armenian folklore and told one a second tale that he remembers hearing from an early age.

This story is about a traveling wizard who goes on a vacation around the countryside. My informant stated that “he was old, and bored, and wanted an adventure…so one day he got up and just left!” The old wizard met a number of people of his journey who he helped for their kindness. There was a woman who shared water with him and invited him to spend the night in her home for shelter. The wizard repaid them “with food plenty!” They woke up the next morning with full cabinets. He met a shepherd that was having a hard time making a living and magically made his flock larger. Then, a farmer, whose vines were not producing. The wizard magically made his vines full of grapes. “A year had gone by and the wizard wanted home again,” my informant said. On the way back, he met each person he had helped along the way, but in the time he was gone they had forgotten that his kindness was the reason for their success. The shepherd said he had to pay for meat and the farmer refused to spare him any produce because he hadn’t worked for it. Only the kind woman who had given him water welcomed him back into her home. “For that, she was repaid with a full bag of gold under her cabinet every day!”

Clearly, the folk tale is one to teach about the moral obligations of charity, kindness, and respecting those who help one out. To me, it was interesting that the wizard in the story needed so much help all of the time, which when I asked my informant he laughed and shrugged the question off. I am assuming it was because the folk tale wants to present the wizard as a humble person who is grateful for the kindness of others. The woman who is the kindest to him is rewarded the most, bot with food and money at the end of the story. This also demonstrates how gifts are not always monetary, as they can be food and help with one’s business. Still, the gift of the gold is the highest prized within the story, as it is only the woman who acts out of kindness twice that receives that.

Source: Garen Bedrossian