Azerbaijan International

Spring 2005 (13.1)
Pages 65-66

Legends from Azerbaijan

The Dove Bird of Peace
by Sadnik Pirsultanli

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Left: Chirag Castle is believed to date back to the 5th century. Although in serious disrepair, it is one of the bet preserved of Azerbaijan's ancient fortresses.The castle commands a spectacular view of the entire region. Often legends are created to explain some aspect of a castle's construction or history. The castle is located north of Baku on the way to Guba, not far from Siyazan and Davachi.
Photo: John Connor.

Long, long ago, there were two Shahs (kings) who lived in kingdoms in the East and who held grudges against one another. Over the years, they became angrier and angrier and were constantly threatening each other.

Finally, one of them announced, "I'm going to wage war!" Everybody prepare for war!"

Now, the other Shah had not been to war for 15 years. Therefore, he had nearly forgotten where his armor and battle clothes were stored. The day before the war was to begin, the Shah told his mother: "Bring me my helmet."

His mother went away but soon returned empty-handed.

"Why didn't you bring my helmet?" he complained.

"I couldn't lift it. It was too heavy for me," she replied.

The Shah was surprised and decided to go and get the helmet himself.

But his mother stood in front of him, blocking his path. "Please, please, don't touch the helmet," she begged him.

"But mother, I am a Shah. How can a Shah go to battle without his helmet?"

So his mother revealed her secret. "A dove has built a nest inside your helmet. And inside the nest there are three tiny baby doves lying so safe and secure. Don't touch them. Please don't touch them. Doves are the most peace-loving birds of all. They never harm anyone. Every day the mother leaves the nest and brings back food. She tries so hard to keep the babies safe. How could I dare destroy their home? If I as much as laid a finger on your helmet, the mother dove would become frightened and fly away, and then the tears and sighs of the innocent baby doves might bring misfortune and disaster to our country. This time, son, why don't you go to war without your helmet?"

The Shah listened and decided he could not argue with his mother, and so he decided to go to battle, bareheaded.
A Shah at war without his helmet? The thought amazed the other Shah so much that he asked, "Where's your helmet? Why aren't you wearing your helmet? How can you go to war without your helmet?"
"A dove has built a nest for her three little chicks in my helmet. My mother didn't want me to destroy the dove's nest so I came to battle without my helmet."

The warring Shah could not believe his ears, so he sent his advisor to check if it were really true. After a while, the advisor returned and said, "Yes, it's true. There really are little doves nesting in his helmet."
The warring Shah was so astonished that after pausing for a moment, he extended his hand to the Shah who had no helmet.

"Let's make peace together. Let's make peace forever. Your mother didn't want you to destroy even the tiny nest of the three baby doves and their mother. How then can we destroy the homes of thousands of people?"
And so the two Shahs signed an agreement to keep the peace forever. And from that day onwards, the dove has become known as the symbol of peace.

From Adabiyyat (Literature Textbook for Level 5). Baku, 1994.

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