The Legend of Matatash

There are legends about a cave located in the mountains of Badakhshan in the east of Tajikistan. It is called Matatash (also known as Putnikov cave). The cave is near the lake Rangkul- “the rainbow lake”. According to one of the legends many years ago a caravan was crossing by Rangkul. There was a strong snowstorm, so the caravan needed to stop. However, people feared that the caravan might be attacked and robbed, as they had a lot of treasures and goods. It was impossible to move with that heavy cargo, so they decided to hide the treasures somewhere. The only place, which seemed more or less reliable was a cave that noticed up in the steep rock. The cave very high, so it was even inaccessible for them. (The actual entrance to the cave is at 400 meters height). They came with an unusual and “creative” solution. The way to the cave was icy and slippery, so they couldn’t climb it. They killed some horses to have fresh meat and placed them on the rock to climb into the cave. When the meat froze it created some kind of ladder that helped them to lift up the treasures to the cave. When the weather started to get warmer, the frozen meat also started to melt and fall on the ground. The cave again became inaccessible.

How the story ended is not known, but one thing is for sure- myths and legends started to be spread about a lot of treasures hidden in the cave. Some of them tell that the shaitan (the devil) lives in the cave. Some people say that they have seen a black beast there. There are also many stories about how Tajik and Kyrgyz people tried to enter the cave and were lost, killed or afraid of the human bones and skulls on the way.


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