|Irtysh is the 4th longest river in Russia. Its length is 4248 kilometers. The apartments with views onto Irtysh are supposed to be very popular among the citizens of Omsk as the river is extremely picturesque in city area. The Chinese have a saying: “A wise man likes rivers, a dreamer likes mountains”. In Omsk there are no mountains so all its citizens are probably wise as they all like their river and its embankment is a favorite place for walks in summer and watching firework displays on Victory Day and on City Day. Sometimes you can see wonderful theatre and sporting performances here and the numerous cafes and restaurants are always ready to receive customers.
You would love now to hear a beautiful legend about Irtysh origin. Here you are!
Translation by Omsk interpreter Tatyana Pirozhkova
The Tale of the Irtysh-river.
Immeasurable are treasures of Old Man Altai. Day and night formidable sharp-toothed rocks are guarding his riches. Day and night spruces and cedars are watching tirelessly everywhere around, lest a thief should approach Altai’s secret bins and treasuries. Old Man Altai couldn’t help grieving, that someone might find out where his treasure is hidden. And he complained to his good neighbour Tien Shan: “I wish I had a son. With his help I would save my treasure from the man’s eye”.
And at last Old Man’s wish came true. His wife – The Ice Maiden – gave birth to their son. As a small drop emerged he from a stone chink in a hollow and began to grow as fast as you only can imagine.
So strong and good he became that it was pleasure to look at him. He felt great power surge through his body.
Soon young Irtysh grew so lively and strong that his father’s home became too small for him. The entire hollow he churned up, no unsullied place left. And for that they called him The Land-Digger – Irtysh (in Turkic “ir” means “land” and “tysh” – “to dig”).
“Quieten your son! No peace with him! - complained the rocks, - Not a single day passes calmly – he twines us with his water meanders or sweeps away stones or carves furrows. He will soon wear all of us away”.
Old Man Altai shook his snow head, frowned his brow and began to reproach his son:
“Why are you rioting? You’d better think of a good way to save your father’s treasures”. “Let me go free, father. Here, among the rocks, I feel restricted, like in prison. I can’t be a good watchman for your riches. What’s the use of them when they’re buried in stone depths ”, - Irtysh replied.
And it happened so that an old golden eagle was flying by. He heard their wrangle and couldn’t help going down. He clung to Irtysh chill wave and whispered: “Right you are, young Irtysh. It’s high time for you to leave mountains and try your power. For a long, long time The Mighty Ob, a beauty, is waiting for you, longing for your meeting”.
And Irtysh decided to run away down the mountains. One darksome night, when the stars kept under cover from a wicked wind and the moon wrapped herself up in a cloud and was hunching there with chill, Irtysh took his run, jumped and get away from the hollow, scattered heaps of stones, lying on his way, and began to force his way.
Old Man Altai awoke at dawn, washed himself with fog and only he wanted to say “Good morning!” to his son, when saw that Irtysh had vanished into thin air. Old Man got violent, started lashing out, rumpled his grey locks and let them go to the wind, made a snow-storm start and began to throw rocks and stones after the fugitive. But he could not overtake his son. And Irtysh did not even look back, ran, ran and at last broke away from the mountains. Wherever one looks – only a boundless counterpane of smooth land. Go where you please, the way is free.
Irtysh was lost in thought – which way he should choose, where he could find The Ob-Beauty. So he stopped, grew sad and let his scalding tear drop on the ground.
It happened so that three seagulls-sisters were flying over the steppe by. They saw young Irtysh in sorrow, snuggled up to his mighty breast and asked him: “Why are you so sad, why are you spreading your lake-like tears over the steppe?” “But how can I be in joy, not spilling my tears? There are so many ways, running in all directions! How should I know which way to choose, where can I find The Mighty Ob?” The seagulls waved their wings, shook their little heads and said: “Undoubtedly, your sorrow is great. But it can be helped! We saw your Ob-Beauty. She is heading for the midnight, for the Great Arctic Ocean”. Irtysh felt happy and ran to the midnight, to the Great Ocean. And where his scalding tears fell, appeared a lake. Even now it is there. People called it Zaisan.
And just Irtysh took his run to go forward and find his Ob-Beauty, he saw a stone crawling at him. It’s Old Man Altai sent pursuers. Irtysh hurried and hurried to run away from the stone. Suddenly a tiny river – Bukhtarma – began to bother him: “Take me with you, brother Irtysh!” – she asked him. “I have no time for you! – he brushed her aside – Can’t you see that my father’s rocks are catching up with me!” But Bukhtarma started whimpering. Irtysh felt sorry for her and said: “All right, let you be my sister” – and took her with him. Meanwhile Altai’s pursuers were coming nearer and nearer. They squeezed young Irtysh, choked him as hard as they only could, but did not stop the fugitive. Irtysh rallied all his strength, screwed up all his courage, braced himself and broke away from the stone clutches. And still those rocks are staying there and marveling at Irtysh’s power. They can’t go back, they are afraid to appear in front of Old Man Altai.
And Irtysh went again to the steppe. There wasn’t any edge of it to be seen. The hot sun scorched its grass, dried its soil, sweated it with salty moisture.
“Well, taste my water now!” – Irtysh said and spread himself freely and widely. The steppe was pleased and clung to Irtysh’s waters with its every dry and hot limb.
And Irtysh was going further and further northwards. Wherever he brought his waters, the land revived.
“I don’t want to have my treasure for myself alone, like Old Man Altai!” – he kept saying.
At last there came the day when Irtysh met The Mighty Ob. From afar he saw her, curving to be closer to him. “She is right for me – beautiful and mighty!” – Irtysh said, squeezed and hugged her.
The two rivers joined to flow in one channel and headed for the Arctic Ocean. And since that time they can’t agree – who of them whose tributary is, if Irtysh is a tributary of Ob or if she is his one. For young Irtysh did make The Mighty Ob to flow his way.
This was a tale of a strong mountain river breaking its way through Altai’s spurs.