On the surface, Kaepora Gaebora’s character is a guidepost, a small well of basic information that will assist you in finding the right direction. This feathery friend takes Link under his wing in Ocarina Of Time and Majora’s Mask and encourages him with clues and directions. There is more to this character than is let on, he isn’t merely a helper. He has his own intentions, and his own identity, which can be revealed by more intricate details.
Kaepora Gaebora, who could he be?
Of course, I am plainly going to reference the famous Gossip Stones. These have stimulated their own small share of conversation and dispute throughout the Zelda community, mostly down to interpretation of their meaning.
They say that the owl named Kaepora Gaebora is the reincarnation of an ancient Sage.
They say that strange owl, Kaepora Gaebora, may look big and heavy, but its character is rather lighthearted.
The first quote, is plain and clear. It references the mysterious Owl directly, stating that it is a reincarnation of an ancient sage. The word ‘sage’ could be referenced as being a sage as described within the Zelda realm, or it could also have the generic usage for the word – “One distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment”. There is also dispute over the translation of ‘Reincarnation’.
The second Gossip Stone quote is the one that has many convinced that Kaepora Gaebora is in fact Rauru, The Sage of Light from Ocarina Of Time, and that Kaepora Gaebora is his form while outside of the Sacred Realm. However, if the first Gossip Stone is taken totally literally, it negates the concept that Rauru and Kaepora Gaebora are one, unless of course Rauru is no longer alive.
A Quote from the latter part of Ocarina Of Time shook my previous opinion that Rauru and Kaepora Gaebora were one. Upon completion of the first half of the Spirit temple, before you obtain the Silver Gauntlets, you meet Kaepora Gaebora for the last time (although he is seen during the credits and when Link memorizes the Requiem of Spirit, which is of course seven years afterwards). The quote is as follows:
Even I thought that the tales of a boy who could travel back and forth through time was merely a legend.
Surely, the Sage of the Light Temple, and the only known entity that existed within the Sacred Realm, would know of its workings and thus believe the Legend. If Rauru was indeed Kaepora Gaebora, He would also know of Link’s quest to attain the Keys to the Sacred realm, and thus Link opening the Door Of Time would be a very likely possibility from Rauru’s perspective.
In other words – Rauru (if he were Kaepora Gaebora) would have the upmost knowledge of Link’s quest and the sacred realm itself, and therefore, would be one of the most likely to believe the legend of the Hero Of Time. Yet he doesn’t, and that, whatever way I look at it, undermines the idea that Rauru and Kaepora Gaebora are the same entity.
Therefore, I propose that the only piece of evidence that points towards Kaepora Gaebora being a ‘reincarnation’ of Rauru is the use of the word ‘Lighthearted’ in the second quote. And this can be taken both literally and figuratively, and to treat it either way without sufficient reason could be fruitless. On top of the problems mentioned above, I feel that the case is open for other characters to be considered and fairly judged for the role as the ‘Ancient Sage Reincarnate’ (assuming of course, that this character has been introduced in an existing Zelda).
From this point onwards, I am going to assume that Kaepora Gaebora in Majora’s Mask and Kaepora Gaebora in Ocarina Of Time are the same, that they are not parallels of each other. Even though I know this is a huge assumption to make. Bear with me. I will justify this, I hope.
From the moment you encounter Kaepora Gaebora, he seems to have integral knowledge of your quest. Immediately after you leave the forest, Kaepora Gaebora is already aware that you are seeking the Princess of Hyrule, and interestingly, he knows that you will meet her.
Go straight this way and you will see Hyrule Castle. You will meet a princess there…
He also seems to know of your quest to find the spiritual stones, and that you have learnt Zelda’s Lullaby:
Just ahead lies Zora’s Domain. The Zoras serve Hyrule’s Royal Family by protecting this water source. Their door will not open for anyone except those who have some connection with the Royal Family. Let them hear the melody of the Royal Family!
When you learn Epona’s Song, he can be seen flying overhead. This made it clear from my perspective that Kaepora Gaebora was following you while you were a child in Ocarina Of Time.
I now propose that The Happy Mask Salesman and Kaepora Gaebora are the same entity. I will now attempt to establish it as best I can.
At the beginning of Majora’s Mask, after you have been transformed into a Deku Scrub, you meet the Happy Mask Salesman for the first time. He claims that he has been following you. I always wondered why. How could he possibly know that in order to find the one who can retrieve Majora’s Mask, he had to be there in that specific place and time? From that I came to the conclusion that he had been following you prior to your merry meeting with Skull Kid. If this is so, it fits in so nicely with the last thing Kaepora Gaebora says to you in Ocarina Of Time.
I will continue to watch you…
Notice how it also fits with one of the earliest Happy Mask Salesman quotes:
Now don’t think me rude, but I have been following you…
Of course, the similarities between these two characters go far beyond that. When you first meet Kaepora Gaebora in Majora’s Mask, he recognizes you regardless of what mask form you are in.
Ho-ho-ho-ho-hoot! This is a rare sight. You are a fairy child, correct?
Strangely, the characters also convey the same message. The Mask Salesman has total confidence in you (perhaps hinting that he knows of your past deeds). He always tells you to have faith in your own abilities:
You’ll be fine. Surely, you should be able to recover Majora’s Mask. I believe in you.
But yes…You’ll be fine. I see you are young and have tremendous courage.
I’m sure you’ll find it right away.
What? Is it not a simple task? Why, to someone like you, it should by no means be a difficult task.
Surely you should be able to do something.
Believe in your strengths… Believe…
You must do it! Really? You’ll do it for me?I was certain you would tell me that.
You’ll be fine! Surely, you can do it.
Those quotes above all show that he has absolute faith in you, and the fourth quote in the list definitely seems to indicate that he may know more about your previous adventures.
Kaepora Gaebora tests your faith. The Happy Mask salesman conveys the moral of the story, that you need to believe in yourself to save Termina, while Kaepora Gaebora tests that same conviction. I believe this is a very strong case for them being the same entity. Here are some quotes from Kaepora Gaebora that show how he tests you.
But the road ahead is even more challenging. Many trials await you. Please watch over these Gorons around you. Their land is doomed to be smothered in snow and ice forever. It will become a land where no living thing can survive.
He tells you the destiny of the land, how fate is against you. It is a test of faith. Kaepora Gaebora does the same in the southern swamp. But if you follow the Mask Salesman’s advice, you will be fine.
If you have the courage and determination to proceed in the face of destiny, then I shall teach you something useful.
Believing you can proceed in the face of destiny is the key to success.
But the most important test of faith is totally literal. You have to jump into what looks like an abyss, but actually is a hidden row of invisible platforms, suspended over a great drop. You have to have the faith to jump. You have to believe in yourself. These are the quotes that correspond to this event:
I shall take to the air now, flying toward that shrine across the way, so follow behind me. Do not be daunted by appearances. Instead, let your feelings guide you, and the true path shall open before you.
But I find that the following quote has a lot of importance:
This swamp you are in has lost its guardian deity. But it was destined to fade anyway. Hoo-hoot…And that destiny is not solely limited to this swamp…
This is very important to my theory that The Happy Mask Salesman and Kaepora Gaebora are the same entity. Kaepora Gaebora and the mask salesman alone seem to be the only ones who know the fate of Termina due to Majora’s Mask, apart from Link and Skull Kid.
The Happy Mask Salesman is the only character that doesn’t have a three day cycle attached to him, apart from Kaepora Gaebora, who can transcend the cycle, and therefore doesn’t have one either. The Happy Mask Salesman is also the most likely to have the power to transform into different shapes, reinforcing the idea that Kaepora Gaebora could easily be the Happy Mask Salesman in disguise. This is on top of the extremely high amount of coherency in what both the Happy Mask Salesman and Kaepora Gaebora say, both with their reoccurring theme of having faith in yourself.
There are only a few characters that recognize you when you are wearing the transformation masks. Kaepora Gaebora, The Happy Mask Salesman and The Turtle that takes you to Great bay temple. Curiously, that turtle also knows your name, but that’s for another time, I think.
Both the Happy Mask Salesman and Kaepora Gaebora have knowledge of your quest. Especially important is the Happy Mask Salesman’s hint, that indicates he knows things about you…
Why, to someone like you, it should by no means be a difficult task.
Both have knowledge of Termina’s fate.
Both are unaffected by the three day cycle.
They both know that you own an instrument (Happy Mask Salesman – before you got it back from skull kid, and Kaepora Gaebora – his song on the headstone before you came. Also worth noting – you need hands to carve a song on a headstone, and it was his song, so how did it get there?)
Both convey the same message of having faith in yourself, and very much convey the main storyline morals of Majora’s Mask.
Both have a history for following you, and it seems both have, without being detected (The Happy Mask Salesman at the beginning of Majora’s Mask and Kaepora Gaebora throughout Ocarina Of Time while you are a child)
The Happy Mask Salesman seems like an ideal candidate for Kaepora Gaebora’s ‘sage’, because the Salesman is bound to have transformation masks. Unlike Rauru or other candidates for Kaepora Gaebora’s ‘sage’, in this case there is also a conceivable transformation method.
And, most beautifully, the theory fits in with the ‘Reincarnation’ gossip stone mentioned at the beginning of this article. Because all transformation masks seen in Majora’s Mask are created at the point of death, wearing a mask is really the dead, coming back to life with a new ‘self’.
Well, lets just hope I can live up to one of Kaepora Gaebora’s best quotes:
Hoooo. You’re a smart kid. Good luck, then. Hoo hoo.