To pass the time while digging for gemstones deep within the Ural Mountains in Russia, the miners would share fairy tales about the origin of the gemstones they were hunting for. Pavel Bazhov learned of these stories as a young boy while working in the mines and, a few years later, wrote them all down in his book “Malachite Casket: Tales from the Urals.” One of the fairy tales is known as “Silver Hoof.”
Silver Hoof was a mysterious goat (or in some translations a deer) who had a silver hoof on his right front leg. Whenever the goat stomped his leg, sparks would fly and gemstones would be made. If he would paw the ground, a multitude of sparks would fly and cover the ground in precious stones.
The fairy tale involves a young orphan girl named Daryonka and her cat Muryonka who are adopted by an old hunter named Kokovanya. Kokovanya had been searching for Silver Hoof for many, many years when one night, conveniently while the hunter was away, Silver Hoof arrives, talks secretly with Muryonka (the cat) and then plays around excitedly, running and stomping wildly around the hunters lodge showering the floor with beautifully colored gemstones. Kokovanya returned just in time to see Silver Hoof and couldn’t believe his eyes. He started collecting the gemstones in his hat while Silver Hoof ran off with Daryonka’s beloved cat on his back.
The price to pay for all these riches was the loss of the only friend the poor orphan girl had ever had, her cat Muryonka. Even though the hunter and his adopted orphan daughter were now rich, they still felt the deep loss of their missing beloved cat. They never saw Muryonka or Silver Hoof again.
It is very significant that the miners of the Ural Mountains saw the gemstones in this fable as precious gifts and rewards, but they came at a cost. Life for these storytellers was very difficult.
While we don’t have a magical goat with a silver hoof, we do have a beautiful selection of colored gemstones for you to enjoy! Watch the Russian cartoon of this story below.