Perhaps the most renown fairy tale character is Bash-Chelik. What deeds the youngest king’s son had to perform! He fought with a dragon, slew the nine giants, saved an emperor’s daughter, winning her hand in marriage, survived meeting his brothers-in-law – the Dragon, the Falcon and the Eagle emperors! But it was all nothing when compared to his encounter with Bash-Chelik who took away his wife. To be honest, the young man first won some privileges before he slew him. Bash Chelik gave him three lives and in turn the young man, naively, breached a king’s ban and released a monster-man from his chains. Even his helpers could not do much – the Dragon, the Falcon and the Eagle armies were wiped out in a second, but they had their hand in “resurrecting” the dead hero, by sprinkling him with the Jordan river water. In the end, the “resurrected” hero had to resort to a cunning plan in order to beat the invincible power of Bash Chelik: The young man’s wife deceived Bash Chelik to tell her where his powers lie, which was, as customary in fairy tales, on some other place and could be hunted down. A fox was caught easily and the death of a bird hiding in the fox’s heart meant a certain death of the otherwise invincible brute. And only then the youngest king’s son could return home with his wife. What happened next … we never knew, but there had been so many events anyway. The point is that the demonic Bash Chelik was defeated.
Baš – Tur. head, čelik – iron
RELIGION AND TRADITION
All chained, cast with iron and closed up in a tower, Bash Chelik is a symbol of a demonic part of the created world, which must not and cannot be negotiated with.
Bash Chelik, the Serbian folk tale, was first published in Vienna in 1870, in a collection of folk tales edited by Vuk Karadzic as the Serbian Folk Tales (Srpske narodne pripovjetke)