In the west it is commonly said that if you look at the moon you can see the face of the «Man in the Moon». The Kyrgyz know, however, that this is a mistake – it is really the face of the «Girl in the Moon».
Once upon a time there was a little orphan girl. Her parents had died and left her nothing but a camel. She sold the camel to buy some food and some clothes, but the food all went and the clothes wore out. So she went to a distant relative – a bai – and asked for his help. Now the bai was a cruel man and his wife was worse, and the let girl stay with them as long as she worked for them. So she stayed with them and worked hard. Her only reward was being beaten.
One cold winter « at night the bai and his wife told the girl to fetch water and gave her an axe to break a hole in the ice. She went to the river and made a hole in the ice, filled two buckets with water and started to make her way home. She slipped and fell and spilt the water into the snow. She was too weak to go back to the river and fetch more water, and too afraid to go home lest the bai and his wife beat her to death. She stood there for a long time crying – her tears falling from her eyes and turning to ice before they hit the ground.
She wanted to tell someone how unhappy she was – but there was no-one around. The only thing she could see was the moon making its way slowly across the night sky. So, she spoke to the moon: «At least you can feel sorry for me», she said. «I haven’t heard a kind word since my parents died. I am always being beaten and nobody on earth takes pity on me.»
She had hardly finished speaking when the moon came down and stood by her side. But the Sun had also heard her and he too came down and stood next to her. The sun and the moon began to fight over the girl, but as the sun was stronger he was getting the better of the moon and as he was about to win the fight the moon begged: «Mighty Sun, you give life to all the living things on Earth. As you go around in daytime you always see life and movement. I travel at night, silent and lonely, when all living things are asleep. Let me at least have this girl as a companion.».
The sun took pity on the moon and agreed to let her have the girl as a companion. The moon kissed the little girl, picked her up with her buckets and yoke, and flew back into the sky.
If you look clearly at the moon on a clear, frosty night you will see the girl sitting on the moon, with her yoke on her shoulder and two buckets hanging from it. And as long as the moon lives in the sky the girl will always stay with her.