A few weeks ago I listened to a professional fairy storyteller. This experience inspired me to write this blog article. In the first part I tell one of the stories I heard. In the second part I invite you to join me on a visit to the fairy tale country of the master craftsmen.
The Fairy Tale of the two Craftsmen
Once upon a time there was a goldsmith and a shoemaker who wanted to know which one of them was the better craftsman. Since they were widely known for their excellence the king invited them for a competition. When they set out on the journey to meet the king they were looking forward to finally knowing which one of them was better.
When they arrived at the castle they were ushered into the great hall to meet the king and his entourage. The king asked them what they needed to manufacture an object during the next 2 weeks. The goldsmith wanted a big chunk of gold and the shoemaker asked for a cowhide of the finest quality. They both got what they requested and went their separate ways.
After two weeks the two men met in front of the castle. The goldsmith carried a heavy bag. The shoemaker did not carry anything. He only wore a fine new leather coat. Again they were led to the big hall. There the king asked them what they needed to present their objects.
The demonstration of the objects
The goldsmith asked for a basin filled with water. The basin was brought and the goldsmith opened his bag. He took out a beautifully crafted golden fish. It looked so real! He set the fish into the water and it started swimming around in circles! Everybody looked on in awe.
The king was flabbergasted. He had never seen anything so wondrous. He was secretly sure that the shoemaker would not be able to top this. But he nonetheless gave him the opportunity to show his object.
He asked the shoemaker, what he needed for this. The shoemaker answered that he only needed the big hall with an open window. A window was duly opened. Everybody looked at the shoemaker curiously. The shoemaker said: ”I manufactured this magnificent coat.”
Then he spread his arms and started to fly! He did three circles over the heads of the people in the great hall flying higher and higher. Then he flew out of the window and continued to fly up until he was so high that he looked tiny. Everybody ran to the windows to catch a glimpse of the flying man. He came back down and flew twists and turns and did summersaults in the air. After a while he returned the great hall and landed in front of the king.
“Well”, the king thought, “this coat is as special as the beautiful golden fish. What shall I do?” Finally he told the two craftsmen: “You both created wondrous beautiful objects and therefore you both shall receive the same reward. The only condition is that you leave your objects with me and promise never to recreate them.” Since the reward was so big that neither of them had to work ever again they promised not to duplicate their objects and took their leave.
The two left. But they still did not know, who as the better of the two. The king put the two objects in his vaults for safekeeping and forgot about them.
Some objects come with side effects
One of the many people who had watched the two showing their objects was the king´s son. He was about 10 years old at the time. For years he dreamt about flying with the coat.
One day he managed to steal the key to the vault. He saw many wondrous treasures in the vault but he was only interested in the coat. He got it and went to the empty hall. He put it on and spread his arms like he had seen the shoemaker do it. And up he went! He was really flying, how happy he was! He went up to the ceiling and out of the one window that was open. Oh, he did not mean to fly outside. But he did not know how to handle the coat properly and it just happened. Outside he flew, on and on, higher and higher. He cried for help, but nobody could hear him and what could anybody have done? He flew right over the dark forest and over the next kingdom. He became hungry and thirsty and still he did not know how to stop.
Finally he was so desperate that he tried everything he could think of to stop his flight. When he crossed his arms in front of the coat it stopped charging ahead and he plummeted towards the ground. He managed to break his fall a bit and ended up bruised and exhausted, but alive, in front of the house of a sheep farmer. He had no idea where he was. Will he ever find his way home?
Visiting the fairy tale country of the master craftsmen
Let us explore together the home of the master craftsmen. Imagine us strolling into this fairy tale country.
The sun is shining. We are walking on a wide path made of light brown earth. About 20 meters to the side a small stream is gurgling peacefully. We get a glimpse of the first house. It is white washed with red shutters and a thatched roof. We can smell the wonderful aroma of the roses in the garden. But wait, there is something else. Mmmh, there is the smell of freshly baked bread and cake. Delicious! Let´s go and take a closer look.
We see a man working in the garden. We introduce ourselves as travellers from far away. Two women are coming out of the house. They are arguing loudly. “My cake is better than your bread!” “No, I am the better baker!” Their faces light up when they see us. “Strangers! Great, you are sent by heaven. Please come in, taste our baked goods and tell us who is the better baker!” They promise us coffee, so we decide to accept the invitation. They make us take a seat on a cosy bench on the veranda in the back of the house. Then they go to the kitchen to fetch everything for our meal.
We try the bread first. Nice! It is moist inside and has a wonderful crust. It tastes of countryside and spices. When chewing we get impressions of the ingredients and where they come from. We see wheat undulating in the wind, salt being harvested from the sea and rosemary plucked from its bed right in this garden. Wow, this is a multi-facetted experience!
The cake is one of these many-layered affairs with buttercream frosting. We take a tentative bite. Oh my, it is so fluffy that you hardly feel you have anything in your mouth. It tastes very light compared to the more earthy taste of the bread. When we chew we have impressions of a garden full of people, of laughter, love and affection. This is great!
Both of these creations are wonderful. We are lucky that we don´t have to arbiter between two kinds of bread or two kinds of cake! We tell the two expectant bakers that they both receive the first prize for their creations. They are okay with our verdict and we take our leave.
We continue on our way and pass more and more houses as we are nearing a city. We see lots of different workshops. All of them have unique objects on display. We are asked to arbiter again, this time by two goldsmiths.
One shows us a beautiful pendant made with many red rubies. When we take it in our hand and look at the sparkling stones we can see our loved ones and what they are doing at the moment. How cool is that!
“Why can we see our loved ones who are far away in another dimension?” we ask. The creator explains that the magic in the object connects with us. And we are connected with the ones we love no matter where they are at the moment.
The other goldsmith also has a pendant for us to look at. It is formed like a crescent moon. It is made out of gold and it features a mask. We take a closer look and the mask is starting to talk to us! We hold it closer to our ears and we can tune in to every conversation around us and listen! With some practise we could listen to people who are much further away, the second goldsmith assures us.
Again we have to declare a tie. The two goldsmiths listen to our verdict calmly, smile and send us on our way.
We walk on until we meet an official looking person in a uniform. We ask him whether everybody was as skilled as the people we have met. He nods and says: “You must have been good arbiters, because you look unharmed and well.” We are astonished: “Why do you say that?” He answers: “Well, had you preferred one of the two rivals a mob of people would have attacked you and either run you out of the country or did you serious harm.”
After this we don´t stop and talk to people any more. We have no intention of being the arbiter again. This could turn out to be a very uncomfortable journey! Still everything seems so harmless and peaceful.
The results of our look behind the scenes
Everybody in this fairy tale has unique talents and puts their whole being into their art. Interestingly we have not seen a full time magician there. They seem to be busy manufacturing artful objects. The inhabitants of this fairy tale have honed their crafting skills to a point where they cannot be compared with each other any more. Each object is exceptional in its own way. Even the king in this fairy tale is not able to decide which one of the two is the better craftsman.
The peace in this country of master craftsmen is achieved by using neutral people to acknowledge equal talent. When they find somebody who makes a decision in favour of one of the rivals the carefully maintained equilibrium is destroyed.
Then violence and aggression erupt and make life really exciting, both for the inhabitants and the visitors! Lucky that we did not experience this.
Since there is no sign at the entrance of this country saying it could be potentially harmful to be an arbiter here, I advise everybody to be careful. Since you were with me on this journey you know that it is better for your health to call ties in a very diplomatic fashion when you are asked to arbiter.
How did you like this behind the scenes look? Is there a fairy tale country you would like us to visit together? Please write down the story of the fairy tale you want to visit and send it to me via email: Ingeschuma@online.de or share it in the facebook group. If you like you can invent a new fairy tale. There are so many that are still unknown!
© Inge Schumacher