Moral Tales, Satirical Stories and Anecdotes

Kalmyk moral tales are short stories of an educational nature that draw on traditional moral values and beliefs. As a rule, these tales are an elaboration of the allegorical meanings of certain portrayals, events or observations. The characters and events in these moral tales are not factual, but are invented. Often such tales do not have a single unified theme, as they may begin with one story line but finish with a completely different one. Although considered to be in danger of becoming extinct, this particular genre, has neither been researched nor documented by Kalmykologists.

In Kalmyk studies there is a convention not to identify satirical stories as a separate genre. As a general rule, such stories are frequently presented in the form of fairy tales and anecdotes.

Kalmyk anecdotes are short stories with unexpected and cleverly thought out endings. Anecdotes usually recount humorous or extraordinary events, either fictitious or actual. Among the themes covered by these stories, Kalmyk anecdotes often caricature Kalmyk ethnic groupings, such as the Buzava, the Derbet, the Torgut, and the Hoshud. Such anecdotes also frequently poke fun at common human weaknesses, such as laziness, stupidity, greed, etc.

Bembya Fedorov, Anecdotes

Anecdote One. Three groups of people are in Hell, namely Russians, Caucasians, and Kalmyks. To boil the sinners, the devils prepare three large cooking pots. Buddha gives the devils advice, ‘You do not need to put a lid on the pot with the Kalmyks. You do not even need to start fire underneath. The Kalmyks will drown each other themselves’.

Anecdote Two. Two men, a Kalmyk and a Russian, are walking in the steppe. As it was getting dark they decide to have a rest and eat. But between them they have only one egg. When the egg boils, the Russian grabs it and runs away. While chasing the thief, the Kalmyk thinks to himself, ‘Why am I running after him? The pot is full of some sort of soup (a favourite dish for Kalmyks) anyway. What an idiot I am!’ Then he stops and goes back to drink the egg soup.

Anecdote Three. France, Paris, in a pub. A German officer enters and orders a glass of schnapps. To measure his sobriety, he asks a bartender to hang a bag with sand to shoot it with a pistol. After two glasses and a decreasing ability to hit the sag precisely, the German says that he has had enough to drink and leaves the pub. Then an Englishman enters the pub and orders a shot of whisky and a dartboard to measure his sobriety. After three shots and a missed dart, the Englishman understands he is getting drunk and leaves. The last comes a Kalmyk man who orders a bottle of vodka and Kalmyk biscuits. After three bottles, the bartender asks the Kalmyk, ‘Why, after each bottle, are you going to the mirror and open your mouth?’ to which the Kalmyk replies, ‘Don’t you understand? I do this to see if the Kalmyk biscuits are floating inside my mouth. If they are, this means I had enough vodka’.


Bembya Fedorov, Anecdotes


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, An Anecdote