Legends are oral stories of a mythical or religious nature about the origin of astral objects, the earth, animals, plants, holidays, clans, people, etc. The foundation of any legend rests upon the idea of a miracle or miraculous occurrence believed to have happened in the past.
Kalmyk legends, or domog, can be divided into a variety of themes, including cosmogonic, genealogical, historical, etiological, theological and other legends. The spread of Buddhism among the Kalmyks (16th-17th centuries) has had a longlasting influence on Kalmyk legends by offering explanations from the Buddhist point of view. One can see this especially in many cosmogonic legends, such as those about the origin of the Polar star, and the solar and lunar eclipses.
Pre-Buddhist ideas can be found in many clan legends about totemic animals and birds. For example, according to a legend, the clan Chons (derived from the Kalmyk word chons 'wolves') had a canine ancestor. According to yet another legend, the clan’s ancestor was a human who was brought up by a female wolf.
Many historical legends tell of events that are believed to have happened in the history of the Kalmyks. These legends often include the names of historical people and heroes, such as Chingis Khan, Mazan Batr, Amursanan and others.
Because many Kalmyks are interested in their genealogies, genealogical legends and stories have always been popular in Kalmykia.
Kalmyk legends are also abundant with accounts of various local malign spirits and beings, such as almas, mus, shulmus, chyotker and others.
A Legend About the Iron Bird
Once upon a time there lived a powerful khan. In order to defeat his arch- enemy, the khan ordered his subjects to create a bloodthirsty, giant bird out of metal and the blood of innocent boys and girls. After destroying the enemy’s land, the bird that fed on human flesh set its sights on the land and the people who created it.