Hatatitla and Iltshi (cont’d part 3)

Hatatitla and Iltshi – Cont’d

Black Comanche steed – black Sioux horse.

At the beginning of Winnetou III, during the story that makes up the first half of the third volume, Old Shatterhand rides a nameless mustang; at the end of chapter three, he leaves it behind with the Comanche, and in its stead receives a black Comanche steed:

“My white brother may choose his horses!”

So that’s what it was! I mounted the second horse and we raced along the alley out into the prairie where we found a large number of hobbled horses. The young Indian led me straight to a black stallion and said:

“The best horse of the Racurroh! Ma-Ram received it from his father; he makes a gift of it to Old Shatterhand for the scalp he didn’t take!”

I was surprised about the valuable and almost magnanimous present, because I couldn’t be caught on a horse like that. Naturally, I accepted[…].

At the beginning of the second half of volume III of the Winnetou trilogy, Old Shatterhand receives a black horse from Winnetou:

“Let me hear your adventures since I left, my brother Winnetou, and what took you so far away from your wigwam and into the hunting grounds of the Sioux!”

He took a long, pensive draw from his calumet and then responded:

“The weather pours the water from the clouds and the sun carries it back up. That’s how it is in the lives of the people. The days come and go. What should Winnetou say about the suns that have gone? A chief of the Dakota Sioux insulted me; I followed him and took his scalp; his people chased me; I wiped my tracks, returned to their wigwams, took my trophies and loaded them onto the chief’s horse. There it stands!”

The man reported a heroic deed with a few, unassuming words, which would have taken anyone else several hours to recount. But that’s how he was. From the banks of the Rio Grande in the south, to the Milk River in the far north of the United States he had pursued an enemy for many months through forests and over prairies, and in the end defeated him in a manly, open duel. He then boldly entered the enemy camp and collected his trophies. That was a feat no one else could have accomplished, and how modestly he spoke of it! He continued:

“My brothers want to pursue the Ogallala and the white men you call railtroublers. You need good horses for that. Will me friend Sharlih ride the horse of the Sioux? It has the best Indian training and you know how to ride a horse such as this better than any other paleface.”

I attempted to refuse the gift because he had already once given me a magnificent mustang, and replied:

“I ask my brother to allow me to catch my own horse. The horse of the Dakota has to carry the booty.”

He shook his head and made the point:
“Why is my brother forgetting that everything of mine is his? Why do you wish to waste a lot of time with catching a horse? Won’t the chase reveal us to the Ogallala? Do you think that Winnetou will carry his booty around if he follows a Sioux trail? I will bury it and the horse will be available. Howgh!”

There was nothing to object; I had to take his gift. Besides, I had admired the horse the whole time. He was as black as the ace of spades, of short build with delicate yet powerful limbs and a sight to behold. The full mane extended below the neck; the tail nearly touched the ground; the flared nostrils showed the tell-tale redness that Indians valued so much; his eyes revealed a calm poise and, despite their fiery expressions, he promised to be a reliable horse for a good rider.

In The Rose of Shiraz, the originally intended ending to the Winnetou trilogy, and after the intermezzo at the creek, meeting The Snuffles, Old Shatterhand’s black mustang receives attention:

“We’ve rested enough and will get going. Go fetch your horse, sir!”

“Not necessary, he’ll come of his own accord.”

I whistled; he trotted around the shrubs. When the two Snuffles saw the beautiful black mustang they were quiet from astonishment for quite a while, and then Jim exclaimed, “Blimey, that’s a horse! How did you come by such an animal?”

“He was a present.”

“From whom?”

“From Winnetou.”

“Shut up, already! Winnetou gave you such a horse! You’re taking your role a bit far! I must tell you openly that this seems suspicious to me! A man such as yourself and this valuable animal! Let’s hope that we won’t come across his real owner, who might just convene a jury to lynch us!”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Snuffle! I’m not a horse thief. You can deduce that it belongs to me from the fact that it obeys me so swiftly and willingly. It used to belong to a Sioux chief, then Winnetou snatched it from him as his booty.”

“If this were true, then I’m getting confused. Anyone who rides such a horse cannot be a common prairie runner; but a genuine frontiersman doesn’t clothe himself with linen bags, such as you have hanging on your limbs! You’re a conundrum.”

The first mention of the names Iltshi and Hatatitla for Winnetou and Old Shatterhand’s famous black stallions occurs in The Travels of Winnetou & Shatterhand (Satan und Jsharioth), written between 1891/2, therefore before May wrote the first volume of the Winnetou trilogy; it was published between 1893/6—after the Winnetou novel. Because volumes II and III of the latter are compiled from early stories, and May had not enough time to make major changes to those texts, he could not include Iltshi and Hatatitla in the Winnetou novel—hence, in May’s own version of 1893, there are references to a number of different horses.

Old Shatterhand and Winnetou meet, again, on the wide prairies of the Wild West, in chapter 3 ‘Winnetou’—Old Shatterhand had been riding an ordinary nag up to that point:

[Winnetou] came speeding along like a demigod. Proud and upright, he sat on the flying black stallion as if he and the horse were one body, and held the silver rifle propped up on his knee. His noble face with the bronzed, almost Roman features beamed with joy; his eyes shone. I was already out of the saddle. He didn’t even attempt to stop the horse in its run; he let the rifle glide from his hand onto the ground, and while the animal shot past me he leapt from it and into my open arms, to embrace me and kiss me repeatedly.

We were friends, indeed, friends in the most perfect, and best sense of the word, yet we had once been mortal enemies! His life belonged to me, and mine to him; that says it all. We hadn’t seen each other for such a long time; but at last he stood in front of me, dressed in the familiar semi-Indian outfit, which suited him so extraordinarily well. When the embraces ended, we could not otherwise but continue to extend handshakes. In the meantime, his horse had run a short arc and returned to him like a loyal dog. It heard my voice, whinnied joyfully and rubbed its small, finely built head on my shoulder, and even nuzzled my cheek.

“See, it still recognizes you, and kisses you as well!” Winnetou smiled. “Old Shatterhand is a friend of human beings and animals, and that’s why they won’t forget him.”

His gaze fell upon my horse as he spoke, and a merry twitch went across his otherwise so serious face.

“Poor Sharlih!” he remarked. “Where have you been for there to be nothing better available for you! From today you’ll be riding a horse worthy of you.”

“What?” I quickly asked. “Have you taken Hatatitla along?” Hatatitla, Lightning, was the name of the black stallion I used to ride, while Winnetou’s was called Iltshi, Wind.

“I took care of him for you,” he replied. “He’s still young, and fiery like always, and I took him along because I was expecting you.”

“This is splendid! On horses such as these, we will have an advantage over any enemy. But what made you come to the Sonora, although we planned to meet further up north along the river?”

Then, Karl May wrote Old Surehand (with Old Surehand I written and published in 1894), which was the first Wild West adventure in which Hatatitla and Iltshi were included from the beginning.

In my translation of Old Surehand, I gave ‘Flash’ as the literal translation of Karl May’s explanation for ‘Hatatitla’, the name of his black stallion. The German word is ‘Blitz’. Blitz (singular; plural Blitze) means ‘flash’ (of lightning, or even the flash on a camera, or the flash caused by the discharge of a gun). ‘Quick as a flash’ is a common expression with the same meaning as ‘quick as greased lightning’. At the beginning of the Old Surehand novel, Karl May has the men tell stories around the campfire; in one such story, an Indian calls out: ‘Hatatitla aguan, hatatitla aguan…‘shoot him, shoot him’!’ By inference, ‘hatatitla’ in this sense would mean ‘flash of the discharging gun’; ‘lightning’ would, in this case, not make sense. Readers have questioned ‘Flash’ as the translation of ‘Hatatitla’; in my view, ‘flash’ and ‘lightning’ are to a great degree interchangeable when referring to electrostatic discharges in the atmosphere, and ‘Flash’ was personal choice. In TheTravels of Winnetou & Shatterhand, I have given ‘Lightning’ as Karl May’s translation for ‘Hatatitla’ (Blitz), although lightning may mean a single ‘flash of lightning’, or the electrical discharge in general, the phenomenon of an electrostatics display that accompanies a thunderstorm.

Having said that, Karl May’s native American expressions have to be taken with a grain of salt; many Germans travelling to the ‘Wild West’ after reading Karl May were sorely disappointed when they practised their ‘Indian patois’ with the indigenous inhabitants of the New World, and received puzzled looks, because their utterings made no sense.

Returning to the Hatatitla of Winnetou I one last time: The following is an excerpt from Winnetou A Novel by Karl May, Translated by Michael Shaw, Continuum, New York, ed. 1998, ISBN 0-8264-1092-9. The quoted English excerpt, as translated by Shaw, does not originate from Karl May’s text, it is a later addition, to include Hatatitla and Iltshi in the Winnetou trilogy; all subsequent horses Old Shatterhand rides in the stories that make up the trilogy (of which two, the story with the scout, Old Death, the first half of Winnetou II, and the story with the lonely trapper, Sans-Ear, the first half of Winnetou III, are omitted in the Continuum translation), were thus turned into Hatatitla, and the horses Winnetou is riding into Iltshi.

(The scene: Departure from the Apache Pueblo, including Inshu-Chuna and Nsho-Chi. It is written by someone else, to read as if though Old Shatterhand/Karl May is narrating.)

I was looking for my roan but could not see it. Instead, my attention was attracted by two young, magnificent black stallions. They had red nostrils and that twirl in their long manes that the Indians take to be an infallible sign of outstanding qualities. Both the saddle and the straps were of Indian workmanship.

Winnetou had followed my glance and led me to them.

“Old Shatterhand has become Winnetou’s blood brother. This should also find visible expression in the fact that we ride two horses of the same color, the sons of one mother. I asked Intshu-tshuna, my father, and he agreed that I give you this black horse. Because of his most important quality, speed, he is called Hatatitla, [footnote: Lightning.] and has had the best Indian training. He is still young, and will quickly get used to you. He will love you and not abandon you in danger.”

At first, I was speechless, for this was an almost princely gift. It was obvious at first glance that this black horse was worth five times my roan. But I did not have the chance to thank Winnetou, for Intshu-tshuna gave the signal for our departure.’


It soon became clear that my black horse was far superior to the roan. It was extremely fast, trotted quietly, was tireless, and had excellent lungs. Winnetou’s animal was of the same quality and called “Iltshi.” [footnote: Wind.] The Mescaleros raised thoroughbreds, and these two horses had been chosen from among them. In spite of my fairly long stay among the Apaches, I had never seen them before.


Winnetou I

Winnetou II

Winnetou III

Old Shatterhand – Genesis

The Travels of Winnetou &Shatterhand

Old Surehand (hc)