Different Dolls - The Importance of Musing

The Sultan of Persia was very clever man. He loved solving problems, puzzles and riddles. One day, he received a parcel. He unwrapped it and inside was a box. Inside the box were three beautifully carved wooden dolls.  He picked them up one by one saw that there was a note: “What’s the difference between these 3 dolls?”


He clapped his hands together in glee. “Haha! A riddle! Marvellous!” he cried.  He couldn’t wait to solve it. What is the difference between these three dolls? he repeated. 


He picked up the first doll and examined it. Its face was well carved and its clothes were well made. Then he picked up the second. It looked exactly the same - nothing was different! Then he picked up the third. As hard as he stared at it he couldn’t see a single difference. 


“Aha!” he laughed! Clearly, the difference was not in how the dolls LOOKED. “Perhaps its about how they SMELL!” He smiled, pleased at how bright he was being today.  He picked up the first doll and gave it a sniff, and then the other two. One after the other, all he could smell was the beautiful scent of the beautiful sandalwood that the dolls were made from.


The Sultan kept thinking. If it wasn’t look or smell, perhaps the difference was in their WEIGHT! He took the first doll and shook it - perhaps it was hollow inside?! No, it was solid. And the second doll too, and the third. They were alike in everything, even their weight.


All the Sultan’s courtiers had gathered round. Surely there was not a riddle that could get the better of the great Sultan! The Sultan look at everyone crowded around him and smiled- of course! He was the Sultan - he had a whole country to help him! So he called for the wisest person he knew: the Professor. 


The Professor almost lived in the library. He spent all his time with books instead of people: surely HE would know the answer to this riddle! The Professor looked at the dolls one after the other: looks, smell, weight - no! He walked away silently, shaking his head. He didn’t say a single word. 


So the Sultan called for his Fool, his jester. He was the funny man who made everyone laugh- of course he could find the answer to the riddle! He played with the dolls and made everyone laugh, with noises and jumping, but he could not find a single difference between them.


The Sultan couldn’t do it. The Scholar couldn’t do it. The Fool couldn’t do it.  The Sultan was getting frustrated and angry.  “This is a RUBBISH puzzle!” he whinged.  “It doesn’t work! They’re ALL the same! I don’t want to play with these any more at all! Throw them in the fire! They’re no good at all!”


But then, the Storyteller stepped forward. The Storyteller was a wise young person with a small mouth, big eyes and even bigger ears.   They picked up the first doll and looked at it carefully and then plucked a straight, white hair from the Sultan’s beard. 


Everyone watched as the Storyteller carefully threaded the hair into the ear of the first doll. In it went, further and further, until it completely vanished. 


“Ah,” said the Storyteller. “This doll is like our Scholar: everything it hears goes inside and then it stays inside!” Everyone in the court nodded wisely.


The Storyteller plucked a second hair from the Sultan’s beard and threaded it into the second doll’s ear. Again, the hair went inside but this time it came out the other ear on the other side really, really quickly! 


‘Ah,’ said the Storyteller, ‘this doll is like the Fool. Everything it hears goes in one ear and out the other!’ Everyone laughed. 


Then the Storyteller plucked a third hair from the Sultan’s beard and inserted it into the third doll’s ear. It went further and further in. Everyone leaned forwards to see what would happen. To everyone’s great surprise, very very slowly, the hair came out through the doll’s lips! And it was different: it was no longer straight - it had gone curly! 


Everyone looked at the Storyteller for an explanation - now they knew how the dolls were all different, but what did this one teach them all?


“This doll is a Storyteller Doll”, said the Storyteller. 


“Something goes in the doll’s ear, but it doesn’t stay there. And it doesn’t come straight out the other side too quickly. It curls through its head, and after a while, comes out through its mouth, but changed, with a twist. 


“Because when a good storyteller hears something, they think for a bit, and MUSE on what goes in; on what they see and on what they hear.  And all that musing means that by the time it comes out of their mouth, they have made it very specially their own.” 


And everyone in the court agreed, and went away to think, to ponder and to muse on what they had learnt. Then they all became excellent story-tellers, the Sultan included- and all because the Story Teller had encouraged them to muse on what was in front of them…


The End