The Sultans of two neighbouring lands were not at war with each other but did disturb each other at every opportunity that presented itself. Birthdays and national feasts, for example, were the opportunities to send intriguing presents, thus show their intelligence and superiority. One of these Sultans one day summonsed the most prominent sculptors of his lands to his presence. What he wished sculpted was three human figures; each one had to be exactly the same height, about the same length as a corn cob.. But there had to be one slight difference between these three works; and that would have to be kept secret between the sculptor and the Sultan. The sculptures were carved and delivered to the Ruler of the neighbouring country on his birthday. A letter accompanied the present.
The Sultan who had the sculptures carved said this:” I wish to wish you a happy birthday with these three sculptures. These sculptures may look identical in their appearance.
However, one of these is more valuable than the other two. Let me know when you discover which one it is." The receiver of the presents first had the sculptures weighed. The three golden sculptures were precisely the same weight. He summonsed all the artists and artisans of his country, all those who knew of arts attended. They examined the sculptures scrupulously to no avail; they were not able to detect any differences. Days passed. Every citizen in his reign had heard of the stress of the Sultan and absolutely no one was able to relieve this stress. At last,a young man, who had been placed in the dungeons for having rebelled against the reign, sent him a message. This well read, intelligent and talented young man was thrown in custody because of his rebellion against the decisions of the Sultan and the Sultan had no other choice but to hear him. The young man first examined the sculptures in detail, asked for an extremely thin wire to be brought. He inserted the wire through the ear of the first of the sculptures, the end of the wire appeared through the mouth of this first sculpture. He did the same thing with the second sculpture. This time, the end of the wire appeared through the other ear. The wire went through the ear of the third sculpture too but, kept going, did not come through anywhere, and couldn’t proceed any further than where the heart could be. The Sultan wrote an answering letter to the other Sultan: “The person who makes known of what his ears have heard of is not esteemed. Those who let words go from one ear out the other are not acceptable either. The most valuable human being is that who lay to rest in their heart what they heard. I thank you very much for this precious present.
Translated on 23 July 2004 by Dogan Sahin from an anonymous proverb heard
often in Turkey (UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND VANGUARD MAGAZINE)