of Matiene-the forefather of kurds
Reviewed by ibrahim surchy
A story does not come from nowhere. Behind every individual or nation there are stories to be told. A long, long time ago, the Eurasian land was an open space for the Airyanem Vaejah people to wander around. They would leave one region to go to another in search of food and peace from one another.
The story of our forefather, Matiene, and his heroism has been told orally from generation to generation within his descendant families. From birth he was a leader, his family moved from farther north and settled around a salt lake region. The lake later became known as Lake Matianus, named after Matiene. In his early age he hunted and gathered around the lake region. The people were afraid because a few young females had disappeared in the area recently without traces. One day a hunter saw a strange creature with a large white body, colorful spots and two horns carrying a young girl under his armpit and running very fast toward the inner jungles and caves. The hunter came back to the village and told the story of what he saw. The people did not believe him, but the story made sense because they had lost a few young girls before and one girl had disappeared that day.
Matiene was known among his people for being strong; he beat the other children in every game they played, especially wrestling games. He was stronger than steal, which is what his name means in the first place. His bicep muscle had seven twists; such was the extent of his strength. He would carry both small and large weapons for hunting and self defense every time he went out of the village.
According to the legend, one day he went hunting with a group of people but became separated from them. He was alone when he saw a large herd of deer with one white deer among them. He had never seen a white deer like that before. He hid and snuck up on the deer. While he was preparing to shoot his Arrow, the white deer alerted the herd to run from him. The white deer kept looking at and monitoring Matiene’s movements. It stayed at the rear of the herd at all times, just far enough to avoid the reach of Matiene’s arrow. Matiene got very angry and decided to follow the herd and kill the white deer. The chase took a few days and led him further from the village and his hunting group, way high up on the mountain. The weather was nice during the summer time. Many springs were running with clean and clear water everywhere and he ate the natural dry fruit on the ground.
After a few days he got very close to the white deer and got ready to shoot his arrow. Suddenly, the white deer transformed into a large white creature with colorful spots and two horns before his very eyes. It roared with a voice he had never heard before. Just the sound of the voice sent chills into Matiene’s body. He was shaking from what he saw, but the creature was very fast just as the hunter had described it before. It roared loudly while attacking Matiene and tried to grab him, but Matiene regained his courage quickly and swiftly ran under the creature’s legs. The creature circled around looking for Matiene, but by then Matiene was ready with his arrow and shot it in its eye. The creature was hurt and bleeding, trying to pull the arrow out. Matiene did not waste any time. He hit him with a few more arrows very quickly then ran away and hid from the creature. The creature continued to try to pull the arrow out from its eye, all the while bleeding and screaming from the pain. It looked around wildly but could not find Matiene. Finally, it moved toward the caves, mumbling and slowing down while trying to pull out the other arrows. The arrows Matiene had used were defense arrows, dipped in poison. They were not used for hunting because the poison would not enter the animal’s blood stream. The creature reached the cave door and asked for help. The voice of a female could be heard, asking the creature to open the gate so she could help her master. Weakened by the arrows and the poison the creature was powerless to open the gate and fell down in front of the gate without another sound.
Matiene followed him at a distance but was close enough to hear the voice of the female calling out to the creature, asking what has happened. The creature could no longer speak. Matiene inched closer to the creature; he watched as it wiggled for a few moments until it finally lay motionless. The creature looked like it was dead, but Matiene was not sure and he did not want to get too close to him. After a few more moments Matiene got close to the cave door. He stood near the creature and yelled for the creature to wake up and fight him. He screamed at the top of his lungs, “I am Matiene, from the Airyanem Vaejah nation, I am not afraid of death. Wake up and fight me, oh coward creature!”
The creature lay in the front of the cave, with no movement or sound. Matiene could hear female voices coming from inside the cave asking for help. A rock so large that the entire village would be unable to move blocked the cave door. Apparently only the creature was capable of moving the rock and opening the door. Matiene stayed for a few hours. He did not see any sign of life from the creature so he decided to go back to the village and let the people to know about what happened.
He got home safely, his parents and the village people were very happy to see him alive. They were afraid he had been kidnapped by the creature like the girls who had disappeared before. Matiene told them what had happened to him and asked the people to go with him to rescue the girls. The village people gathered their weapons and headed for the cave. When they got there they saw the huge creature, just as Matiene had described it, lying on the ground motionless. Matiene approached the body first and kicked it, saying “I am Matiene, I have come back to fight you.” The creature still did not move. Satisfied that it was dead, the people got closer and looked at the creature for themselves. They thanked Matiene for what he did. From that day on the people called the creature Daevas or Deaw the Evil Spirit.
The gate was so large; they tried but could not make it budge. Finally, an old man suggested they dig a hole under and around one corner of the rock so that they could reach the girls and rescue them. The girls were rescued and the strongest and most beautiful one fell in love with Matiene and married him. The people were so happy they held a big festival and celebrated the liberation of the girls ever year on that day.
Matiene and his bride went on to have many children. Two of them were known by the names of Madayu and Parsu. Matiene asked that when he dies, the people would bury him in the place where he had slain the creature. Matiene lived a long life and continued to defend the people, the village multiplied in population while the people enjoyed the protection and guidance of Matiene. They named the lake and mountains after him. As every life has to come to an end, so did the life of Matiene. He lived a long time and saw the death of his parents, his wife, a few of his children and even a few of his grandchildren. Even so, one day he too got sick and passed away. As promised, the people took his body and placed it at the location of the creature’s body which had disappeared a long time ago. The people asked his older son, Madayu to take his father’s place and protect the people and guide them in the future.