The Tale of the Bearded Turtle

Works in Translation


Azhari Aiyub, translated by Wikan Satriati
Published as a part of Dalang Publishing’s Your Stories, Sep 03, 2014

Originally published in Koran Tempo, Mar 04, 2007 as Hikayat Kura-Kura Berjanggut.

A long time ago, when time was still determined by many people and ships relied on shining stars and ancient astronomy, and pirates were the Sultan’s main enemy, there lived a storyteller who relied on lies. When crosswinds controlled the sea, the harbor was crowded with sailors who waited for the sea to calm. At such boisterous time, the storyteller came down from the mountain. He always came to the harbor after asr, the afternoon pray time, for he relied on the generosity of the sailors he mesmerized with his stories.

The sailors gave him Coromandel cloths, ceramics from Campa, Persian carpets, Javanese batik, Barus incense, opium from Magrib, and their voyage stories. After they left, the storyteller sold the gifts and the sailor’s tales became fodder for his new stories. He mixed them with such skill that the original stories were barely recognizeable. His mouth reshaped the stories the same as a sharp knife whittled a piece of wood. The poor sailors never realized that his stories were the same as the ones they had told him.

Read the full story here.
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