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The Jászság #4 – Legends

May 16, 2018

Each region in Hungary has its own legends and tales. These legends are one of the major parts of the local folklore and the Jászság has two ancient tales which tell the origin of their people (or rather, their believed story). The first one is the legend of Lehel, an ancient Hungarian warchief and his horn.

 

It happened during the reign of Otto I in 955 that the Hungarians pillaged through Germany, but upon reaching the city of Augsburg, they faced a powerful resistance. The Germans cornered the Hungarian troops near the city on the field called Lech, mercilessly killing off one part of them and taking hostage the other. The great generals Lehel and Bulcsú became hostages and brought before the emperor. When the emperor asked them why they are so merciless towards Christians, they said: ”We are the wrath of the highest God, sent by him as his whips. You will only catch and kill us when we cease to hunt you.” The emperor replied: “Choose the kind of death you wish for yourselves.” Lehel said: “Bring me my horn, which I will blow into first and then answer you.” His horn was brought to him, and as he was getting ready to blow into it, he crept closer and closer to the emperor, and suddenly blew a deadly strike to his forehead with it, killing him right on the spot. He told him: “You will go before me and serve me in the world beyond.” – as Scythians believed that a person killed by them must serve them after their death. They were captured immediately and hanged on the gallows in Regensburg.

 

Miniature of the story of Lehel's Horn (1360) - Wikimedia Commons

 

Jassic people have a very unique bond with this legend as the district’s famous artifact is a thousand-year-old broken horn, the Jászkürt which is believed to have been the horn of Lehel. Even though Lehel was not Jassic, his tale became a huge part of the local folklore.

 

The second most famous local legend is that of Csörsz and his trench. There’s a 783-mile-long ancient trench running through Hungary called Csörsz árka – Csörsz’s trench. This monumental project was a rampart designed by the Roman army during the 300’s CE, however, the later local population came up with a colorful tale about how it was constructed. The town of Jászárokszállás’s name loosely translates to “Jassic Trench Settlement” as it was built along the rampart a thousand years after the original building was finished. The legend goes like this:

 

One day, king Csörsz decided that he wanted to marry the neighboring king Rád’s daughter. The princess’ father did not want his daughter to marry him, and thus came up with a task he believed was impossible to complete. Csörsz’s kingdom was flat with no rivers flowing through it – Rád told him he would give him his daughter’s hand if he could take her home on a boat. Csörsz ordered his people to start digging a trench which would later be filled with water. His poor servants worked all day and night through a decade to fulfill his request, and when they reached the area known today as Jászapáti, the king took a visit to see the works. A young musician accompanying him recognized a familiar face among the workers. It was his father whom he hadn’t seen since he was a toddler, and who had worked on the trench tirelessly for the previous decade, never having the chance to go home. The boy became furious and let out his anger on the king, killing him with a deadly blow to his head by his violin. King Csörsz was buried at the exact same place and a hill was built on top of his tomb which is still visible today near Jászárokszállás.

 

Glossary:

jász – n. a Jász (Jassic) person; adj. Jassic

jászok – n. plural form of jász

Jászság – n. the Jász area

Jász kerület – n. the Jász district

 

Sources:

 

http://mult-kor.hu/cikk.php?id=18364&pIdx=2

 

http://epa.oszk.hu/02200/02295/00016/pdf/EPA-02295_Jaszsagi_Evkv_2008_foldi.pdf

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