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al-Bassa - البصة : The snake of Al Bassa
Posted by Eid Haddad on June 3, 2004
This very old myth tells about a snake, which lived in one of the caves in Jabal Al Moshaqah near Al Bassa. Old Bassawis pass this story on to their children and grandchildren, according to what a bassawi hakawati (story teller) told them.

The snake was black and very huge. It was about 15 meters long, and it even had two horns on its head. It was believed that the snake was more than 1000 years old. According to that believe, a snake gets a horn on the head for every 1000 years it lives. That was why, that snake was called Um Qoroon (one with horns).

Um Qoroon used to feed on sheep and goats, which Al Bassa villagers had a lot of. They tell that a shepherd saw once Um Qoroon swallowing two of his sheep after each other. That shepherd was not the only one, who got some of his sheep eaten by Um Qoroon. Almost every one, who had sheep and goats, used to find one or two missing at one time or another. They tell that Um Qoroon used to sneak in during the night and snatch one of the animals to feed on it. This made lots of the bassawi villagers sleepless, because they had to stay awake all the night to guard their animals.

One day one bassawi villager told his young daughter to take the sheep to the fields to vegetate. He told her to come back with the sheep in the afternoon, and to gather the sheep in the hadira (place for the animals). He told her to lock the gate to it, so the sheep can not escape. His daughter did as she was told, but she did not lock the gate to the hadira very well. The result was that the sheep escaped to the fields. Some bassawis saw them, and then they ran to the owner and told him. The owner ran after his sheep to gather them again. He managed to gather them all except one. It was already dark, but he did not want to give up the search. He was gone the whole night, and he did not come back the next morning. His wife got very worried, because it was not one of his habits to stay away that long. Therefore she went to the mokhtar for help (village administrator/adviser). The mokhtar told the villagers to go and search for that man. They searched for many days with no luck. After many months as his wife gave up hope of his return, the mokhtar came to her, and he told her that a shepherd found some human bones and an old watch under a tree. When she saw the watch, she said that the watch was the one, which her husband bought in Akka (Acre) some years ago. Later the bones were gathered and buried.

Few years later one bassawi woman gave birth to a little girl. The woman´s house was on the edge of the village. Her new born baby used to cry a lot almost every night. One night she could not make the baby fall asleep. The woman and her husband were very tired that night, because of the hard work in the fields. Therefore they fell asleep as the baby continued crying. The next morning when the family woke up, they could not find their baby. The man saw a track on the soil which started at their house and continued towards the nearby mountain. The track was very wide and resembled the track of a snake. The man got furious, because he realized, that his baby was snatched by Um Qoroon.

The man went to the mokhtar and told him about what happened and swore that he will kill Um Qoroon. The mokhtar told him about an old Bassawi, who was professional in tracing snakes and hunting them. The man went to get advice from that old Bassawi. The old Bassawi told him to slaughter a sheep, and fill its belly with gips powder, and to put the sheep under a tree near the mountain. The old Bassawi told him also to spill the blood of the sheep on it and around it, to attract Um Qoroon by the smell of the blood. The old Bassawi told him too to put some water by the side of the sheep, so the snake will drink it after swallowing the sheep. The meaning of that was to turn the powder into gips inside the stomach of the snake.

The man did as the old Bassawi told him to do. Early next day that man went to check if the snake has eaten the sheep. He did not find the sheep, even the water was gone. Then he ran to the old Bassawi and told him about what happened. The old Bassawi said to him, that the snake was surely dead now, and they could trace it and bring it to Al Bassa to show it to all the villagers. These two men followed the tracks of Um Qoroon, and found it dead in its cave. The two men dragged the snake all the way from the cave to Al Bassa. All the bassawis cheered and celebrated the death of their fearful enemy until the evening.

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