creative works of art of the labor class and of the tribal peoples. They are the
manifestation of the social struggles of the people as well as the instrument for their
struggles. All these are evident in the struggles against the natural disasters,
social struggles, and ways of life, which have been lively, colorfully, and perfectly
presented in the tales. Besides, these folktales reflect the people's thoughts and
ambitions." Than Kidaeng Phonkasemsuk1
To the Lao people whose country has
been through many political changes, the folktales become more important to them than to
others as they become a mutual bond for people from various political factions. To
Than Kidaeng Phonkasemsuk, folktales become instrumental to the people of lower status in
the society, as he reveals in the above quotation. To scholars from Vannasin
Magazine, the Lao government publication under the Ministry of Information and
Culture, "a folk tale provides not only entertainment for the reader but also informs
him or her about the culture, customs, history, and everyday life of a people."2 Doungdeuane (Viravongs) Bounyavong
states the significance of folktales to the children. "Listening to the telling
of folktales, the children will be cheerful and happy as well as imaginative. Ideas
from the tales such as compassion, love, caring for other humans and environments will be
implanted into the children's minds. . . . Children will learn the concepts of
sacrifice and heroism from these tales."3
The scholars from The National Research of Art and Culture, the Ministry of Education
explain that "oral tales, told from generation to generation, are as significant to
us as any acheological object, ritual, and custom. These folktales help us to have
insight into our own past. We may find information from all kinds of sciences hidden
in the folktales such as history, sociology, tribal studies, cultural studies or literary
studies."4 All of the
above scholars share the feeling that Lao folktales, even though they have been part
of Lao people's lives and even though some of these tales were told in social
gatherings, merit making, and other ceremonies, have been neglected and put down for
various reasons for a long time. Thus, it is the
responsibility of all the people, particularly those working at the National Research of
Art and Culture, to "search and collect these oral folktales from tribal peoples and
the elderly people from all around the country to prevent these tales from distinction.
Otherwise, Laos may be confronted with a cultural disaster. As one of
our elders once said, "the passing of an old person is like the destruction of a
As the folktales are so important to
the Lao people, it is necessary to devote a chapter of the Lao folklore course to the
folktales. As mentioned elsewhere, a folktale may belong to more than one
type. A legend, explaining why the cicada's stomach is hollow can be an illustration
of an animal tale as well. "Turtle and Swans" could be an animal tale as
well as a moral tale. A trickster tale could be quite humorous and didactic at the
This chapter will present a series of
folktales. The readers may put them in their appropriate categories such as: animal
tales, moral tales, the Buddhist Jataka tales, humourous tales, trickster tales,
tales of the fools, tall tales or tales with lies, riddle stories, endless stories, ghost
stories, tales of helpful gods and spirits, and elaborate tales or tales of magic.
Some of the folktales presented in the earlier chapters will not be included
Monkey and Crocodile 6
The monkeys lived in the
trees near the river bank. In the river there lived a mama crocodile and her son.
The crocodile had been watching the monkeys every day.
One day she called her son to her,
"Son, what do you want to eat for lunch today?"
"Oh, mama I want to eat shrimps for
lunch today," said the baby crocodile.
"Come on son, you don't want to eat
shrimps today. Aren't you tired of shrimps?"
"What do you want to eat then,
mama?" asked the baby crocodile.
"Oh, look at those monkeys in the
trees. Their hearts must taste so good."
"That sounds good, mama, but how can
we catch a monkey? They live in the trees, and we can't climb trees," said Baby
"You will think of something. Now
swim along and get a monkey's heart for me," commanded Mama Crocodile.
So, the baby crocodile thought and
thought. Then, he came up with a good idea. He swam near the river bank. As he was closer
to the trees, he looked up and saw . . .
a baby monkey, eating ripe fruit.
"Hi, Baby Monkey, how are you
doing?" asked the crocodile.
"Hi, Baby Crocodile, I am fine and
you?" asked the baby monkey.
"I am fine. What are you
"I am eating ripe fruit. Would you
"No, thanks. But do you know I
saw lots of ripe fruit on the other side of the river bank! They looked more delicious
than those in your tree."
"Oh, really?" The monkey always
loved ripe fruit.
"Yes, do you want some? They looked
"Yes, I would like some, but how can
I get to the other side of the river? I don't swim."
"Oh, there is no problem. I can help
you swim. Just jump on my back and I will take you there."
"Yes, come. We can go now."
"All right." So the baby monkey
jumped on the crocodile's back.
The crocodile began swimming to the other
side of the river.
"Oh, Crocodile, this is fun. It's a
really great ride."
"Really? How do you like this?"
Then the crocodile dove under water. The monkey was choaking.
"Baby Crocodile, why are you doing
that? You are killing me!"
"Killing you? That's the idea. My
mama wants to eat a monkey's heart for lunch. Your heart is going to be her lunch."
"Ha, ha, ha," the monkey
laughed and laughed.
"Why are you laughing?"
"Well, you could have told me that
you wanted my heart. You are a fool, crocodile; I left my heart on the top of the tree
"Oh, you mean you don't have your
heart with you?"
"No, I didn't bring it today."
"Then we will go back to get your
"Baby Crocodile, why don't we go to
get the ripe fruit first?"
"No, I am going back to get your
The crocodile turned around and swam
closer to the tree near the river bank where monkeys lived. Once, he got close enough,
Baby Monkey jumped onto the tree and climb to the highest branch.
"Crocodile, climb up to get my heart
"Oh, no, I can't climb trees. Can
Monkey thought for awhile and said,
"All right, I will help."
Monkey grabbed a sturdy vine and called
his friends to help. His friends held onto one end of the vine while he climbed down to
tie the crocodile's waist with the other end. Then, he climbed back up to his friends.
"Crocodile, are you ready?"
Monkey gave his friend a signal to pull,
"One, two, three, pull" and
they pulled. The crocodile's body was lifted above water.
"Am I near your heart?"
"No, one more time. One, two, three,
pull," and they pulled. The crocodile's body was lifted in midair.
"Am I near your heart?"
"No, one more time. One, two, three,
pull," and they pulled. The crocodile's body was lifted to a branch of the tree.
"Now, can I get your heart?"
"Yes, get it now."
"Oh Yes," Crocodile opened his
mouth, but he looked down.
"Oh, no. Monkey, let me down. I
forgot to tell you I am afraid of height."
"Don't you want my heart?"
"No, I don't want your heart
anymore. Please let me down. I am scared."
"Well, if I let you down, you will
come back to get my heart again."
"No, I promise I won't come near
your tree again."
"If you promise, we will let you
"Yes, I promise I won't want to eat
monkey heart any more."
So, the monkey gave a signal to his
friends. "One, two, three, let go at once."
Crocodile's body splashed down on the
surface of the water. "Oh, that hurts."
But he swam away from the river bank
quickly to see his mama.
"Son, where is a monkey's
"Oh, Mama, I don't want to eat
monkey hearts any more. Let's not go near those monkeys again. Let's eat something
Mama Crocodile said,
"Yes." But she wondered why.
If It Belongs to Us, It Will Come to Us
There was once an old man and an old
woman who lived in a hut near a rice field.
This was a hardworking couple. But, even
though they worked hard all day long, they were
very poor. They worked hard in their
field. They foraged in the forest for plants, herbs, and
firewood to sell. Still they remained
poor. One day, while the couple were clearing away a
termite mound in the rice field, the old
man struck something hard with his hoe. He dug the
object up and found it to be a huge
jar. How strange. Inside the jar was a great quantity of
The jar was filled with gold. The old man
called to his wife.
"Old Woman, come quickly! Someone
has hidden a jar of gold in our rice field."
His wife hurried over and helped clear
the dirt from around the jar. It was filled to the brim
with gold. The wife was delighted.
"Old Man, find something to carry
this gold home!"
The old man shook his head.
"Dear Old Woman, I do not think that
is a good idea. This gold does not belong to us.
We should leave it here."
The old woman argued with the old man.
But he spoke calmly to her.
"Old Woman, if it belongs to us, it
will come to us. We cannot take what is not clearly
Reluctantly the old woman agreed. She
tried to convince the old man to change his mind on
this matter, but he remained firm.
When they arrived home, the old woman
told her neighbors about their find.
They just laughed at her. Nobody believed
her words. But one day some passing
buffalo traders heard the story. They
found the termite mound and dug up the jar.
Gingerly they opened it, then jumped back
in alarm. "What a lie!" In the huge jar
they found, not gold, but a huge snake,
lying coiled inside, filling the jar with its
"They can't get away with telling us
such a lie. Let's teach that old couple a lesson."
Finding a strong liana vine from the
forest, they tied it around the jar and pulled it into their
wagon. Late that night, they dropped the
jar right in front of the old couple's hut. They turned
the jar onto its side, removed the cover,
and nudged open the old couple's door. They they
hurried away into the night, certain that
the snake would enter the house and strike the old
The next morning, the old woman got up
before dawn as usual to prepare their breakfast. It
was still dark when she pushed open the
door and stepped outside. She stumbled over the
huge jar and gave a cry of fright.
Her husband jumped from his sleeping mat and ran to see
what had happened.
There was the huge jar from the field,
lying on its side right in front of their door.
"Who could have brought this to our
door? Who would have done such a thing?"
The old man was puzzled. He brought a
candle and they inspected the jar.
It was filled with gold.
"Is this really gold?" gasped
the old woman.
"Husband, does this mean the gold is
"Yes," the old man agreed.
"It is as I said. "If it belongs to us, it will come to us."
It has come. So it must be ours."
The old woman nodded solemnly.
"Yes, dear. I see now that it is
just as you have said. 'If it belongs to us, it will come to us.'"
The Magic White Swan 8
Click here to view the video in Lao.
The farmer went fishing one day. He had a
long fishing net. Like other farmers, he wore a piece of cloth around his
head. He cast his net, but he got nothing. He did it again and again, but he
got nothing. There was not a single fish. He cast his net once, twice, thrice,
but he got nothing. He cast his net for the last time and pulled up the net.
He pulled and he pulled. "Oh, it is so heavy."
Then, he found a white pebble in his net. It
was the most beautiful pebble that he had ever seen. So, he took the pebble home and
placed it on the altar above his head. After dinner, he went to sleep. The
next day, the white pebble had turned into a white swan. The swan approached the
farmer and said, "I will take you to a place, a beautiful place, full of
flowers. You can take whatever you like."
So the swan began flapping its wings and flew off
to the garden with the farmer sitting on its back.
Once there the farmer enjoyed the garden. He
picked one flower and felt that it was heavy. He picked the second one and it got
heavier. He picked the third one and it was even heavier.
"Oh, I don't think I should pick any more
flowers. It will be too heavy for the swan to fly and take me home."
So, the swan took the farmer back home and
disappeared. The flowers were turned into gold! So, the farmer became a rich
The news of his wealth reached the ears of his
friend, who came to ask the farmer right away about how he had acquired his wealth.
The farmer told his friend everything.
The next day, his friend went to fish in the river
with his long net.
He cast his net, but he got nothing.
He cast his net once, twice, thrice, but he got nothing. He cast his net for the
last time and pulled up the net. Then, he found a white pebble in his net. He
took the pebble home and placed it in his room.
The pebble became the beautiful white swan who
said to the second farmer:
"I will take you somewhere today, to a flower
So, the man jumped on the swan's back and the swan
took off to the flower garden. Once there the man picked the flowers, one, two,
"Oh, I have to pick a lot since I have come
here already," he said.
So he picked two arms' full of flowers and went to
"Take me home now. I will put these
away and I will come back for more."
So he jumped on the swan's back. It was so
heavy. The swan almost could not fly. He flew, swaying left and right
with weight. But he was able to take the man to his house with difficulty.
The man jumped off the swan's back and said,
"Now, wait here. Don't go away. I will go back to the garden to pick
Then he took the flowers into his room. When
he came back, the swan disappeared. He returned to his room, but he found . . .
only ordinary flowers, no gold. And that's
The King Who Makes Dreams Come True
King Phrommathat of Pharanasi was
once known for his greatness. His kingdom became the most prosperous and his people
the most contented. The king could give his people everything. . .
"Did I give my people
everything?" wondered King Phrommathat.
"Yes, everything. . . except for . . . their
dreams," he thought.
"But as I am the greatest king, I should be
able to give them everything, even their dreams."
So, the next day, the king made a proclamation to
"From now on, tell me your dream. I will make
everyones dream come true."
The people of Pharanasi then went to have audience
with their king daily, to recount their dreams from the previous night whereby the king
fulfilled their every dream.
One day, an old man walked into the palace to have
an audience with the king.
"Your Highness, last night I dreamed that I
was married to the daughter of the richest man in the kingdom."
"Your dream will come true tomorrow,"
promised the king, "I will order the rich man to have an audience with me
The old man was so overwhelmed with joy.
"I will be the happiest man on earth. The
rich man's daughter is so young and beautiful."
He was so overjoyed that he could not help
himself. On his way home, he walked by the rich man's house to see the rich man's
daughter. Once there, he said to the rich man,
"I dreamed that I married your daughter last
night and I have informed the king about it. He will arrange the wedding for me
The rich man was alarmed but he called his
daughter to let her know about it. The rich mans daughter was a very smart
girl. She said to the old man,
"Oh, dear Grandfather, if the king orders us,
we must follow his command. But we must wait for his order. Today, you must return
to wait at your house first. When I receive the order from the king, I will be your
The old man returned home happily; he could
hardly wait to have such a young and beautiful girl for his wife.
The rich man asked his daughter, "Do you
think you can really follow the king's command, my daughter?"
"Oh, no Father, the old man is old enough to
be my grandfather. I cannot marry him, but we have to think of how to get out of
this situation," she answered.
They continued discussing the matter until late
that night. Finally, the girl came up with a brilliant plan. They asked their
gardener to help to execute the plan.
Early the next morning, the rich mans
gardener went to have an audience with the king. He was the first one on that day.
So, he asked,
"Your Majesty, is it true, as I was told,
that you would grant your people their dreams?"
"Yes, what is your dream?" the king
"Then, I am the happiest man on earth."
The gardener continued, "I dreamed that I married the queen last night."
The king was infuriated,
"How dare you dream that you married my
"I am not giving you my wife. This is not
right. You are just a gardener; how can you marry a queen? Now off with your
Before the guards arrived, the gardener said,
"Please have mercy on me. You already gave me your word that you would give me my
dream. I am following your command. You cannot talk about right or wrong now.
Even the old man who was old enough to be the girl's grandfather was allowed to be married
to a young woman of fourteen."
The king was speechless.
After awhile, he said, "All right, then, I
will stop this command from now on. You are not going to marry my wife. The old man is not
going to marry the rich man's daughter."
So ended the vain command of King Phrommathat of
And so ends the tale of The King Who Makes
Dreams Come True.
|For the Jataka tales
such as Turtle and Swans, Pious-Son-In-Law, Turtle of Yamuna, The Golden
Geese and others, please click here. 10
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The Mango Tree 11
upon a time a fine mango tree grew in the jungle near the village. Every year when the
fruit was ripe the village children ran into the jungle and picked the fruit.
day, however, when the children went to the tree, they found a fence all around it. At the
side of the fence there were two huge, fierce dogs. A stranger came out of the jungle.
"Go away!" he shouted loudly. " This is my tree now."
"No, it is not," the children cried. "You don't own the jungle. The
tree is everybody's tree. Anyone can have the fruit."
children were telling the truth but the stranger did not listen to them. He made his dogs
chase the children back to the village. The children went to the village headman and told
him what had happened. The village headman was very wise and, after some thought, he
worked out a clever trick to play on the nasty stranger.
next day one of the girls of the village went to the tree again. She threw two pieces
of meat to the dogs and climbed over the fence. Then she took a mango from the
tree and began to eat it. Again, the stranger ran out of the jungle and he shouted at her
: "Stop! You cannot take my mangoes. Go away."
girl took another bite from the mango. Suddenly she screamed out loud and fell to the
ground. At that moment, the headman came by and asked : "What have you done to that
"Nothing!" the man answered. "She took one of my mangoes and
fell to the ground."
"The headman looked sadly at the little girl. "She has mango sickness," he
said. "Once every ten years, this mango tree has poisonous fruit. This must be
the tenth year for this tree. You must not eat the mangoes on it this year."
Then he picked up the girl and carried her back to the village.
next morning, the village headman took the children into the jungle to the mango tree.
stranger had gone, and he had taken his fence and his huge dogs with him. Once again, the
children picked up the fruit, and carried them back to the village, laughing and singing
because the tree was everybody's tree once more.
The Daydreamer 12
long ago, a man lived alone in a village not far from a city. He was not yet
married. He often spent his time dreaming.
owned a beautiful pot, very old, which he kept locked away in a big box near his bed.
Every morning and every night he would open the box and took the pot out. He touched it
with his hands, stroking it again and again, saying quietly to
himself, "Oh my beautiful pot! You are my heart and I
love you. You are very valuable and without you I couldn't be happy." And he would
lose himself in his dreams.
morning he had just come from outside, and so he was holding his walking stick in his hand
as he went to the box and took the pot out as usual. He held it, looking at it. Finally he
put it on a table, quietly saying to himself, "Oh, my beautiful pot! You are the most
beautiful pot in the world. You are very valuable and if I sold you I would have a
lot of money."
Suddenly a new idea came to him. He cried out involuntarily, " Oh yes, now I
know what to do! What a wonderful thought!" . . .
I will sell my beautiful pot and become a millionaire! " He thought proudly.
I shall have enough money to divide into two parts. One part shall be for my living
expenses. What shall I do with the other part?
know ! I'll buy a cow, big and strong. I'll look after her very well and she'll have a
calf for me every year.
think, if I have her for ten years, how many cows will I have then? And this is not
counting their calves as well; their numbers will increase every year!"
"But supposing I now have ten cows! That's too many for me.Who will help me to
look after them?
have to get married. Yes, that's it! I can see my wife, beautiful, and helpful to me. I'm
not any common man; I'm a rich man and we live a loving and happy life."
"My beloved wife has given me a child--a son of course, and very handsome too.
my son very much and he is very clever. I love my wife and child as much as I love
after them well, providing them with food and clothing. They love me in return and we are
a happy family ... "
"Now my son has grown to be five years old. Next year he'll go to school. I've
prepared everything for him, his books, pens and pencils all in a beautiful school
bag. He is a very good boy, intelligent and quick to learn. He is never naughty and
always obeys me."
"The day my family has been waiting for has arrived: my son goes to school. We are
very pleased when I take him to the school, with his new school bag. He enjoys his time at
take him to school every day. One day I am so busy that I have no time to take him to
school. But the school is not far from my home so I let him go to school
alone. I feel restless while he is away to school."
"In the afternoon of that day I wait for him at the door of my house. There he is!
Coming now, alone. Suddenly there is a dog running after him. It bites him! I am
angry with the dog and cry out, "You, good for nothing dog, how dare you bite my son!
" I turn quickly to hit it with my walking stick, like this! . . . like this!"
there were no cows, no wife, no son and lastly, no dog at all where he stood. There was
only the beautiful pot in front of him and the walking stick in his hands. Thinking about
the dog, he hit the pot with all his might, and it broke into many pieces!
Suddenly he woke up, frightened from the day dream. What could he do? His pot had been
broken. He wept with sadness, whispering to himself, "Oh dear, I have lost all hope.
My beautiful pot is broken. What shall I do? Oh God, look upon me now, and please help me.
I have ruined everything in my life!"
could help him, because we know God will only help someone who can help himself? His pot
was broken because he spent his time day dreaming, "building castles in the
The Crescent-Moon Comb 13
Once a man from a very remote village
told his wife that he was going to go to town. He had to buy tools for fishing. He asked
his wife what she wanted.
"Perhaps, you could buy some candies
for our five-year old." She said.
"By the way would you buy a
crescent-moon comb for me?"
"Oh, what a difficult name. I won't
be able to remember it. I am quite forgetful, you know."
"Yes, I know. Now if you happen to
forget, just look at the moon. It looks like that."
That day the moon was crescent. So, the
husband left. At that time, there was no public transportation. He had to walk many nights
before he reached town.
Once there, he went ahead buying what he
needed for fishing. By the time he finished, he had forgotten what his wife asked him to
buy. So, he went to a shop.
He looked at this and that and nothing
reminded him of what his wife told him to buy.
The shopkeeper came and asked what he
needed. He told the shopkeeper that he forgot. The shopkeeper pulled out various things to
"Is it this lipstick?"
"Is it this purse?"
"Is it this spoon?"
"Spoon? Oh, I remember she told me
to look at the moon."
The shopkeeper looked at the full moon.
By the time the villager reached the town, the crescent moon became full. The shopkeeper's
eyes sparkled. He picked up a round object.
"Here you are. I 'd bet this is what
The shopkeeper wrapped the round object
in brown paper and handed it to the villager. The villager paid and returned home
Once home, his wife, his boy, his mother,
and father were there waiting for him.
"Here, have a candy." He gave
his son a candy. The son tore off the wrapping and put the candy in his mouth.
"Have you got what I asked
for?" The wife came to ask timidly.
"Oh, yes." The man put down his
bag and rushed to the drinking water jar.
"It is in my shoulder bag. Get it
The wife reached inside the bag, her
heart beating fast, but stopped to say to her husband,
"I don't find any crescent
The husband came to the bag and reached
inside. He pulled out the round thing wrapped in brown paper and gave it to her.
"Here you are."
The wife ripped the wrapping paper apart
and looked into that mirror with dismay.
"What, old man, you are bad. You
brought home a minor wife. This is bad." She screamed.
"What?" said his mother.
"Let me see."
His wife handed the mirror to her
"What? You are bad. You really
brought home a minor wife. She is so old and wrinkled. How can you do that?"
The young boy sitting near his
grandmother grabbed the mirror from his mother's hand and began throwing a fit.
"Grandpa, look he is taking my
The grandfather grabbed the mirror from
"Let me see who this wicked person
"What? This is an old man. How can
he try to take my grandson's candy?"
"He is making faces at me. This is
bad. I will hit him with the handle of my knife here." The old man set the mirror on
the ground and grabbed his knife.
"What" He is grabbing a knife
to hit me too."
With that the old man was so angry that
he brought down the knife on the mirror until it was all broken.
"Now, you cannot bother anybody any
And that's the story of the people who
had never seen neither a crescent comb or a mirror in their lives.
Thao Mon Kew, The Ignorant Boy Named Mon Kew 14 14
Once there was a boy who was so
lazy. All day he would do nothing but eat and sleep, eat and sleep, eat and sleep
from boyhood until youth. He slept so much that he made a dent in his pillow.
So his parents called him "Thao Mon Kew (The Dented Pillow Boy--thao=title
for male equivalent to mister; mon=pillow; kew=dented).
When Thao Mon Kew became a young man,
all his brothers and sisters got married. He had a fancy that he could be married
too. So he went to his parents one day and said to them, "Father, Mother, I
would like to have a wife like my brothers."
His mother smiled and said, "To
have a wife, you must go into the village to find and court a girl first. Then you
can let me know and I will help you."
That night after dinner, Thao Mon Kew
stepped down from his house for the first time and walked toward the village. He
said to himself, "what would I say to court a girl?" He was trying to
think hard of what he heard from his own family, but nothing came. Then he had
an idea, "Oh, I know. I can listen to what people say and remember those words
to say to a girl."
He walked past a house and heard loud
voices of a man and a woman talking back and forth in a house. "Aha, that must
be a boy courting a girl. I will listen and memorize the boy's words."
He went near the house to listen in
As Thao Mon Kew had never left his
house, he did not know that the voices were of the husband and the wife yelling and
cursing each other in a fight with rude swear words.
Thao Mon Kew continued his search for
That night was the night of full
moon. Sounds of courting poetry, folk singing, and folk music of boys serenading girls
permeated through the entire village. In some houses, there were boys sitting and
talking to young girls, spinning cotton and silk in their verandas. Thao Mon Kew
knew that they must be courting each other.
When he came across a girl spinning
on her veranda alone, he stopped by to admire her. The girl was delighted to have an
admirer so she said timidly, "I had never met you before. But since you are
here, please step up to my veranda to sit and visit."
Thao Mon Kew blushed and trembled
nervously. He did not know what to say but he knew he must say something in response
to the invitation. Then, he remembered sentences that he heard from the man earlier
that night. So, he yelled back, "You stupid girl, be quiet."
The girl was startled to hear such
angry words, but she was polite and patient. So she said, "Oh, dear stranger,
how can you say that to me?"
Now Thao Mon Kew had to think of the
second sentence he had memorized to respond to the girl. Then, he shouted,
"Curses upon you. Get out of here."
This time the girl could control
herself no longer. No one had ever spoken such indecent language to her. She
was so upset that she got up and left Thao Mon Kew there by himself.
Thao Mon Kew did not undertand that
the girl was upset so he sat there and waited for the girl to come back. He sat
there and he sat there, but there was no sign of the girl. Finally, he returned
Once home, his mother asked happily,
"How did you do? Did you find a girl you would like to marry?"
"Yes, Mother, I have found the
girl that I like, but I don't think she likes me," he answered his mother hopelessly.
"Why? What did you do or
say? Tell me what happened," said his mother.
"Oh, I only spoke two sentences
and she left me at once without returning to talk to me."
"What are those sentences?"
asked his mother.
"I only said, 'You stupid girl,
be quiet,' and 'Curses upon you. Get out of here.' She let me sit alone, feeling very sad
for a long time."
Upon hearing those words, tears
flowed down on his mother's cheeks. She said to him, "Oh dear, I am so sorry,
Son. I did not bring you up well. You are almost twenty, but you know
When other villagers heard this
story, they only laughed and remembered to tell the story to their children to teach them
what to do and what to say as well as how to bring up their own children in the future.
Luang Pho Khi Kai Po
(The Abbot and the Chicken Droppings)15
In the old days, parents sent their
sons to live in the temple so that they could learn to read and write. Some of them
were ordained novices; they would be serving the older monks or the abbot of a
temple. Early in the morning, they would be walking with the abbot or the monk
through the village carrying alms or offerings from villagers. If they could not
go, they would be sweeping or cleaning the temple ground and the kuti or the
living quarters of the monks or the abbot.
One day the abbot was going out to
receive alms from the villagers and the novice was not ready, so he said to the
novice. "Well, if you are not coming with me, you must sweep the temple ground
very well. Make sure that you don't let any chicken come near my living
"Yes, I will do my best,"
said the novice.
"Now, run along and get the
broom and begin sweeping. Remember, if there is any chicken dropping near my kuti,
you will have to lick it clear," the abbot said firmly.
"Yes, sire," said the
novice, feeling a little annoyed at the abbot's final comment.
Once the abbot was gone, the novice
swept the temple ground and the kuti clean. Then he thought of a trick to
play on the nagging abbot. He boiled brown sugar until it was very thick and dropped
it on various spots near the abbot's kuti. After awhile the brown sugar
got hardened and looked exactly like chicken droppings. Then he sat and waited for
Later that morning, when the abbot
arrived at his kuti, he saw the little drops all over the place, he became so
"Novice, come here. Look
at all these droppings. Remember what I told you? Come and lick all of the
droppings clear now," commanded the abbot.
The novice ran quickly to the abbot
and pretended to be upset. "Oh, no, that bad multi-colored rooster did it
again. I will lick these droppings clear now."
So he stooped down and began licking
the first drop. "Oh, wow, this is sweet." Then, he continued licking
with zest. While licking he kept saying "Oh, this is good. So sweet, so
The abbot looked at him
puzzled. When the novice was about to lick the last dropping, the abbot could no
longer control his curiosity. He said, "stop, wait, novice. Is it really
"Yes, sire. It's really
sweet, like brown sugar. I must say," said the novice.
The abbot was quite old and he always
liked to eat sweet things after meals. That day, no one offered dessert in his alm
bowl. So, he said, "well, if it is so sweet. Let me try that last
"Sure," said the boy.
So the abbot stooped down and licked that drop until it was all gone.
"Wow, it was really sweet.
Now, Novice, tomorrow, get that multi-colored rooster here and make him drop more
deliciously sweet droppings here," commanded the abbot.
So, the next day, the abbot went to
take alm in the village as usual, but he could not wait to get back to his kuti
and to have more of the delicious chicken droppings for dessert. The novice happily
followed the abbot's command.
When the abbot got back to his kuti,
he said, "now don't you touch those droppings. I will have them after my
After his meal, the abbot came to
begin licking the first drop. "Gaggg, this smells and tastes bad. It's
not like the drop I had yesterday."
wrong?" he asked.
"Oh, that must not be the
multi-colored rooster's dropping. Another chicken must have come round to drop
without my knowledge. Please try the next one," suggested the novice.
And so the abbot tried almost every
dropping, before he realized that he was fooled.
Xiangmiang Outwits the King 16
Xiangmiang is a notorious trickster who
was so clever that the king had to hire him to work in court. But the king did not really
So he tried to find occasions to outwit
One day the king thought of a plan.
He called a meeting and he made an
"Today, I have a game to play.
If anyone could make me jump in the pond, . . .
I would give a reward to him."
Everyone in the meeting was silent, for
the king was the most powerful man in the kingdom.
They did not dare to accept the king's
So the king turned to Xiangmiang.
"How about you Xiangmiang? You
are so clever; don't you want to try?"
Xiangmiang spoke politely and humbly,
"OH, Your Majesty, I am your humble
I would not dare to make you jump in the
pond at all."
The king was delighted; he laughed
loudly, slapping his hand on his knee.
But, then Xiangmiang's voice stopped him
"Your Majesty, I would not dare to
make you jump in the pond. But if you were already in the pond, I am sure I could
make Your Majesty come out of it."
The king then said, "All
right," and jumped in the pond.
"Now, make me get out of the pond,
Xiangmiang smiled and said, "Your
Majesty, I have just made you jump in the pond."
The king was dumbfounded, but he
kept silent, waiting for another chance
to outwit this court trickster.
Xiangmiang and the Snail 17 17
Once Xiangmiang walked to a swamp near
He saw a snail moving slowly along the
edge of the pond.
"Aha, ha, ha, ha, Snail, you walk so
slowly. Where are you going?" asked Xiangmiang.
"I am going to that edge of the
swamp," answered the snail.
"Ha, ha, ha . . . I figure it must
take you one month to reach the other edge of the swamp," said Xiangmiang.
With that Xiangmiang laughed at the
The snail looked up, feeling quite
"Well, if you think you walk so
fast, do you want a race?"
The snail's proposal tickled Xiangmiang
so much that he laughed even louder.
"Of course. When do you want to have
a race? Now?" Xiangmiang challenged the snail.
The snail became quite nervous, but
maintained his cool. "Oh, no, not now. I want you to have time to get in shape
for the race," said the snail.
"What?" exclaimed Xiangmiang
loudly in dismay.
"Why don't we have a race tomorrow,
this time, here?" said the snail.
"Sure," said Xiangmiang.
The snail became a little worried about
the race. So, he went to his snail relatives for help. Other snails were more
than happy to help because they would like to see the day that Xiangmiang was outwitted.
The next day came. The snail was
waiting at the edge of the swamp for Xiangmiang. When Xiangmiang arrived, the snail
"Xiangmiang, since I am so small, it
might be difficult for you to see where I am in the race.
Why don't you call my name after you have
run for awhile and I will answer your call?
You can call, 'Snail!' And I can
"All right, let's rehearse,"
agreed Xiangmiang. "Snail!"
"Kuuk!" answered the
Then, the race began. The snail
began to move slowly and Xiangmiang ran off as fast as he could. Then, he looked
back and could not see the snail. So, he called, "Snail!"
"Kuuk!" came the
snail's answer from way ahead of Xiangmiang.
"How can that snail go so
fast? He is ahead of me. I have to run faster. I am sure I can catch up
with him easily," said Xiangmiang confidently to himself.
He ran and ran and ran as fast as he
could. After awhile, he looked back and could not see the snail. So, he
"Kuuk!" came the
snail's answer from way ahead of Xiangmiang.
Xiangmiang began to feel a little
concerned. "Oh, no! he is ahead of me again. I have to run
faster. I think I can still catch up with him," said Xiangmiang with some
So, he ran and ran and ran as fast as he
could. Then, he called, "Snail!"
"Kuuk!" came the
snail's answer from way ahead of Xiangmiang.
Xiangmiang became so exhausted and
worried. "Oh, no! Not again! He is ahead. I have to run even faster
now," said Xiangmiang.
So, he ran and ran and ran until legs
could no longer carry him. As he was about to lose consciousness, he called weakly,
"Snail!" And he heard faintly, "Kuuk!" ahead of
him. As he passed out, he still wondered how the slow moving snail could defeat him
in that race.
But we all know that the snail made a
plan for every snail in that swamp to stay at every interval from the beginning line to
the finishing line, waiting for Xiangmiang's call. And all snails look and sound
just alike. And the this is the first time that the trickster was outwitted.
The Sick Deer18
Click to view the video in Lao.
There were two brothers, Hong Huat and
Hong Hooy, going out to pick mushrooms in the forest. As they were picking
mushrooms, there were round fruit called "maak khing" falling on
their heads. The two brothers became angry so they asked the maak khing.
"Maak Khing, why did you
fall on our heads?"
The maak khing answered,
"Oh, it is not my fault. The squirrel bit my vine so my friut fell on your
The two brothers went to ask the squirrel,
"Squirrel, why did you bite maak khing's vine? That made the maak khing
fall on our heads."
The squirrel answered, "Oh, it is not my
fault. The snake coiled his body around my neck. I couldn't breath, so I bit
whatever was near."
The two brothers went to ask the snake,
"Snake, why did you coil your body around the squirrel's neck? That suffocated the
squirrel so he bit the vine of maak khing. That made maak khing
fall on our heads.
The snake answered, "Oh, it is not my
fault. The ant bit my naval and made it swell up. I was hurt so I bit whatever
The two brothers went to ask the ant, "Ant,
why did you bite the snake's navel? That hurt the snake. That made the snake suffocate the
squirrel so he bit the vine of maak khing. That made maak khing
fall on our heads.
The ant answered, "Oh, it is not my
fault. The wild pheasant scratched my nest so I bit whatever was near."
The two brothers went to ask the wild pheasant,
"Wild Pheasant, why did you scratch the ant's nest? That made the ant bite the
snake's navel. That made the snake suffocate the squirrel so he bit the vine of maak
khing. That made maak khing fall on our heads.
The wild pheasant answered, "Oh, it is not my
fault. The squash fell on the sesame seed? That made the sesame seed blind my
vision. That made me scratch the ant's nest. That made the ant bite the
snake's navel. That made the snake suffocate the squirrel so he bit the vine of maak
khing. That made maak khing fall on your heads." The sesame seed
blinded my vision. I couldn't see so I scratched all around."
The two brothers went to ask the sesame seed,
"Sesame Seed, why did you blind the hen's vision? That made the hen scratch the
ant's nest. That made the ant bite the snake's navel. That made the snake suffocate
the squirrel so he bit the vine of maak khing. That made maak khing
fall on our heads."
The sesame seed answered, "Oh, it is not my
fault. The squash fell on my vine. That made me blind the hen's vision."
The two brothers went to ask the squash,
"Squash, why did you fall on the sesame seed? That made the sesame seed blind
the hen's vision. That made the hen scratch the ant's nest. That made the ant
bite the snake's navel. That made the snake suffocate the squirrel so he bit the vine of maak
khing. That made maak khing fall on our heads."
The squash answered, "Oh, it is not my
fault. The deer kicked my vine and that's why I fell on the sesame seed. That
made the sesame seed blind the hen's vision. That made the hen scratch the ant's
nest. That made the ant bite the snake's navel. That made the snake suffocate the
squirrel so he bit the vine of maak khing. That made maak khing
fall on your heads."
The two brothers went to ask the deer, "Deer,
why did you kick the squash vine? That made the squash fall on the sesame
seed. That made the sesame seed blind the hen's vision. That made the hen
scratched the ant's nest. That made the ant bite the snake's navel. That made the
snake suffocate the squirrel so he bit the vine of maak khing. That made maak
khing fall on our heads."
The deer answered, "Oh, it is not my
fault. I was sick and wanted to eat the sour olive. So, I cried
repeatedly, "yaak kin som kok de (Oh dear, I want to eat the sour
olive.)" The owl heard my cry and told me, "when I see the sour olive, I
will call you." One day the owl saw the sour olive tree, so he called, "keb
kok, keb kok (Come quick to pick the sour olive, come quick to pick the sour
olive.)" So I followed the sounds of the owl, but then I heard his sound, "hok
suk hok sak hok pak hok thaeng (Push the lance, throw the lance, strike him with the
lance, stab him with the lance)." I became frightened so I kicked the squash
Every one went to ask the owl. The owl
answered, "Oh, it is not my fault." But he could not say anything
else. Finally, he admitted that he did frighten the deer and that he was guilty.
So the owl was punished. His head was
squeezed. He must paint around his eyes with tumeric. So to this day, the owl
has a flat head and yellow eyes. He has no friend. He must find food only at
Phi Ya Wom
(Grandma Wom, the Ghost)19
Once long ago, when the earth and sky
were so close, anyone could stretch up and reach the sky from earth easily and the
mountains were only as tall as the rice plants, a grandma ghost called Phi Ya Wom lived in
the forest near a town called MuangtaiMuangtang. Her foods were animals and people
who happened to wander in the forest.
One day two orphan sisters wandered
into the forest in Grandma Wom's territory. Grandma Wom haunted them in various
ghostly forms, laughing and saying: "Who sent you to invade my forest? Ha, ha,
ha!" Then she recited this verse:
|yuu taam yuu sin laen maa haa
||I live here; by and by my meat speeds to me
|paa laen maa suu
||and hurriedly comes my fish.
|yuu taam yuu bun paak haak mii
||I live here; by and by my mouth will be blessed with food
|khong kin dii maen song oey nong
||and my tasty food is this good pair of sisters.
Ha, ha, ha! I
will preserve you two to feed my children.
The older sister kept very calm,
holding her little sister in her arms, speaking sweetly to Grandma Wom: "We are
orphans. Each day, we wander into hills and forests to dig up roots for our food as
we have no good rice to eat. Grandma Wom, the queen of this forest who is blessed
with meat, fish, rice, please have mercy on us and let us go alive."
Grandma Wom, hearing this, pretended
to be kind. She saw that she could use these two sisters as her bait to get more
people to eat.
"Oh, dear children, I don't know
that you are orphans. I feel sorry for you; I will let you go. Before you go, I will
give you some food. Since I don't have fish and meat, I can give you some
sugarcane. Eat this and remember:
|mue laan yaang
||hen thaang piik
hai cao mai
|yam khii oy khaai
||yam thaang pen
|yam laan com lue
||yaa ca pai yaam
|mii yang dae yaak
||yaam nan haak si
ao mue ton de
|When you walk
||if you see a
merging road, you must make a mark;
|When you chew
on the sugarcane,
spit out the residue;
||step on the
path repeatedly to leave a trace
|When you are
down or sick
would wish to have
collect them for you later
The two sisters did as they were
told. Grandma Wom followed girls' tracks of sugarcane residue and the worn and
trodden paths they took. Then, she attacked the people until no one else was left,
except for the two sisters who tried to escape the best they could. The two sisters
ran to their house and pulled up the ladder as the Grandma approached the house.
Grandma arrived at the house, finding
that there was no ladder to climb, she called, "Dear Grand- children, how can I get
to the house, there is no ladder."
The younger sister said, "Oh,
Grandma, we never had a ladder."
"How did you go up the house
without a ladder?" she asked the girls.
"We climbed up backwards.
If you want to come up, please climb backwards."
So, Grandma did. The two
sisters pushed her back down with whatever was near, the firewood, the spade, and so
Then, Grandma Wom had to go to the
toilet; she called the two sisters, "Please help; I have to go badly."
The two sisters said, "We have
no toilet here. You must run to the outhouse near the water hole. So Grandma
did. While Grandma was gone, the two sisters ran to the tallest tree of bael fruit
and climbed to the top. (Bael fruit (Aegle marmelos Corr.): Its fruit is
yellow, edible and contains a gum used for glue.)
Grandma Wom came back to the house
and found no one. So, she followed their smell until she came under the tree. She
looked up and asked the two sisters to drop a ladder for her to follow them. The two
sisters said, "We have no ladder here."
"How did you climb the tree
"We climbed up
backwards. If you want to come up, you have to climb up backwards too,"
replied the sisters.
So she did. As she was climbing
backward, the girls pushed her down with twigs, bale fruit, and whatever was near.
Then, Grandma Wom had to go to the
toilet; she called the two sisters, "Please help; I have to go badly."
The two sisters said, "we have
no toilet up here. You must run to the forest near the mountains."
So Grandma did. While Grandma
was gone, the two sisters ran to the tree with more bale fruit and climbed to the top.
Then, Grandma Wom returned to the
fruit tree and did not see the sisters. So, she followed them to the right
tree. And the exchange went on the same way and the same sequence. Many days
passed and the sisters almost used up the bale fruit. But the little sister looked
up in the sky and saw her parents washing dishes in heaven.
"Mama, Papa, please drop a robe
for us to climb up to you by," she begged her parents again and again.
The first time, they said, "we
are preparing our knives and tools to clear our fields."
The second time, they said,"we
are busy clearing our fields."
The third time, they said, "we
are busy burning weeds in our fields."
The fourth time, they said, "we
are busy planting our cotton plants now."
Then the older sister desperately
begged their parents, "please drop the robe to us quickly. The Grandma Ghost is
tearing us into pieces and will eat us for her food."
This time the parents replied,
"planting cotton plants, we get cotton; spinning cotton, we get thread; braiding the
thread, we get a robe. Then we can drop the robe down."
After a long time, the robe was
slowly dropped down. The little sister went up first. Then the robe was
dropped down again for the older sister. As she was grabbing the robe, Grandma
Ghost came and jumped up to try to grasp the robe, but she was too late. The robe
was pulled up. All Grandma Ghost could grab was the soles of the older sister's
The two sisters were safe, but not
really. Grandma Ghost tried to trick the girls' parents by transforming herself into
a human, crying and moaning, begging the girls' parents to drop the robe down for
her. The father thought she was a human, so he dropped down the robe, not listening
to his daughters.
"Father, please do not pull up
the Grandma Ghost. She will come and eat all of us and all of the celestial beings
The older sister, feeling certain
that her father would not stop pulling up the robe, cut the robe before Grandma Ghost
Grandma Ghost's body fell down hard
on the mountains that bore a great crater filled with water that became "Wang Ya Wom
(the Grandma Wom's Whirlpool). The redwood trees and their kind, the white
gooseberries, and palm trees were crushed to extinction. Grandma Ghost's body was
broken into millions pieces all over the place; these pieces of Grandma Ghost became
mosquitoes, bed bugs, wasps, bees, hornets, centapedes, snakes, and dangerous creatures
with sharp claws and teeth. To this day, these creatures still follow human beings,
trying to bite them. The soles of the feet of the older sister that was grabbed by
Grandma Ghost gave all human beings the arches of the feet from that day until now.
Kongkoi (The Ghost Named Kongkoi)20
Once there was a man named Thid Kaew
who lived with his old mother. Thid Kaew was a grateful son who took a very good
care of his mother. He earned a living by fishing. At first, he could get a
lot of fish, but later there was no fish, not a single fish. So he went to tell his
mother about this.
"There must be someone stealing
our fish," said his mother. "Why don't you go and watch the
trap?" suggested his mother.
So, Thid Kaew went to hide near his
fish trap. Later that night, he saw a dark shadow emerging from a bush, shrieking, "kok
kok kok koi koi koi." It was Phi Kongkoi (the female
ghost named Kongkoi).
Thid Kaew jumped on the shadow and it
cried, "kok kok kok koi koi koi, which means hungry, I am
hungry." Thid Kaew wrestled the shadow down and they struggled for a long
time. Finally, he became the husband of the Phi Kongkoi. He was very
As the golden rays of the sun
appeared in the sky at dawn, the rooster crowed, "egg-i-en-egg
(cock-a-doodle-doo)." Thid Kaew woke up. He stretched, but . . .
whoops! he almost fell off the high branch of a tree. "Oh, no. How did I get up
here?" he asked himself.
"Help! Help! Thid Kaew can climb
up the tree, but not down. Help! Help! Thid Kaew can climb up the tree, but not
It was cool in the morning but Thid
Kaew was drenched with sweat. Nobody came to help. Thid Kaew tried to climb
down with difficulty, but finally he could manage to climb down from the tree. Once
his feet touched the ground, he began running, running, running.
He was running around and around in
the forest until dark. He came across a little hut in the field. There he saw
the Phi Kongkoi, crying saying, "Oh, dear husband, we can't live
together. I have to go my way. But before I go away, I will give you some
treasures that I have." After handing the treasures to Thid Kaew, Phi
Thid Kaew grabbed the treasures and
ran back home to his mother. And they lived happily ever after.
Once an old man went out to work in his ricefield
preparing for harvest. He saw a flock of birds swarming in his ricefield.
"Oh, those birds are eating my rice grains
again. I will catch them." He thought and quickly went home to get his net to
catch the birds.
Once he was back to his ricefield, he cast his net
over the flock of birds.
"Ha, ha," he laughed triumphantly.
But when he pulled up his net, all but one bird
escaped. The old man was dismayed but thought, "Aha, a bird. A bird in the net
is better than nothing."
He put the bird in his bamboo trap, tied the trap
onto his waist, and began walking home, thinking, "A good lunch tomorrow."
As he was walking, he heard from his trap. . . .
"Khi thi Khi thi Khi thi (which
means stingy, stingy, stingy)!"
The old man looked around to see where the sounds
were coming from. "Khi thi, khi thi, khi thi," came the sounds again
from the trap.
"What? This bird is calling me a stingy man.
I will pluck his feathers and roast him for dinner tonight."
So he did when he arrived at his house.
"Hows that, Bird? You will never call me stingy again."
As he was roasting the bird over the fire, he
heard, "Khi thi, khi thi, khi thi," from the bird.
The old man was angry. "Even when I put it
over the fire, this bird is still calling me stingy. I will eat it now."
The old man put the bird in his mouth and
swollowed it whole.
"Aha, now you will never call me stingy
But after awhile . . . he heard from his stomach, "Khi
thi, khi thi, khi thi."
The old man was furious this time. "Even
after I have swollowed you in my stomach, you still called me stingy. I will thow up
So, he vomitted. "Now, you will stop calling
But . . . he heard from his vomit, "Khi
thi, khi thi, khi thi."
The old man was outraged. "Even after all
this, this bird still called me stingy. I will beat it with this huge stick."
So he did, . . .
But the vomit splashed and one piece went to stick
on his head without his knowledge.
"Now you will not call me stingy again."
But, after awhile he heard from his head, "Khi
thi khi thi, khi thi."
The old man could control his temper no longer.
"Now, I will get rid of this bird once and
for all with this stick."
So he waited. Once he heard the sounds, "Khi
thi khi thi, khi thi," he downed the huge stick at the sounds with all his
But he forgot that the bird was on his head. The
heavy blow sent the old man to the ground unconscious.
In his deep slumber, the old man heard, "Khi
thi, khi thi, khi thi." He opened his eyes for the last time and saw the
bird flying away in the air.
Seven Friends 22
Once long ago, the King of Phanarasii
had seven daughters; he ruled the city peacebly. But one day a wild ox came to
attack the city, harming people daily. The king made a proclamation:
"If anyone can defeat this wild
ox, I would give my seven daughters as rewards."
At that time, there were seven
friends who came to volunteer to fight the wild ox.
The seven friends grabbed their
lances and sabers, intending to destroy the wild ox. Then they went out to confront
the ox. But when the ox appeared, they became so frightened that they all ran to
hide in a hollow log.
The wild ox charged at the seven men
at great speed with his mouth open. When he got to the log, he swallowed the entire
log with the seven men carrying their lances and sabers inside as easily as if he was
swallowing a banana tree trunk.
The seven men inside the wild ox
stomach discussed how they could survive and agreed that they would chop the inside of the
log and build a fire. So they did.
Now the wild ox stomach became
unbearably hot because kong fai mai phai nai sum chuud there was a burning fire
inside his stomach. So he ran to the swamp, writhing with pain and
suffering. Not long after that he died.
Now there was a very little carp
called pa siew who came across this wild ox. So he swallowed the wild
ox. Now the wild ox, the log, the seven men, and the burning fire were inside the
little carp stomach. And again, kong fai mai phai nai sum chuud--the
burning fire were inside the carp's stomach. So that little carp writhed with pain
and suffering. Not long after that he died.
Now there was a small kingfisher, nok
ten, flying to light at the ogress's fish trap. He sighted the little fish
floating in the water. So, he swallowed the little carp. Now the little carp,
the wild ox, the log, the seven men, and the burning fire were inside the small
kingfisher's stomach. And again, kong fai mai phai nai sum chuud--the
burning fire were inside the kingfisher's stomach. So the little kingfisher began to
writhe in great pain and suffering.
Now the ogress came to collect her
find in her trap and saw the kingfisher writhing in great pain and suffering. She
grabbed a small stick which was as small as a tall palm tree trunk. She hit the bird
and took it home to her family.
She cut open the bird and found the
She cut open the fish and found the
She cut open the wild ox and found a
She cut open the log and found the
seven men carrying their lances and sabers.
She began eating the bird, and then
the fish, and then the wild ox. When she was about to finish the ox, she felt quite
So she said, "After dinner there
is always breakfast. These seven men will be my fine breakfast tomorrow."
So, she put the seven in a cage.
That night, the men knew that they
would definitely die if they could not find a way to escape. So they discussed how
they could get out of this dire danger and came up with a plan. Hoa maa phaaloo
wao nee tai hai suang (Let's all tell tall tales to escape from death and to comfort
So they began speaking very loudly,
loud enough for the ogress to hear:
The first man said: "Oh, I
missed my father."
The second man said: "Yes,
me too. Khoi yaak dai naa noi noi pho khoi maa ying phi sua nam de (I wish
I had my father's little bow now so I could shoot this ogress.)"
The third man asked: "naa
pho cao noi yai paan dai (How big or small is your father's bow?)"
The second man answered: "Oh, it
is not that big. saen khon khuen ma ngoi ka bo kong pho khoi khuen kha sai
kong maa (One hundred thousand people could not bend my father's bow. But it is
easily bent when my father merely lifts his left foot.)"
The fourth man said: "ying
laew khoi yaak dai mo noi noi pho khoi maa kaeng de (After shooting the ogress, I
wish I could have my father's little pot in which to cook her.)"
The fifth man asked: "mo pho
cao noi yai paan dai (How big or small is your father's little pot?)"
The fourth man answered: "Oh, it
is not that big. beuang nueng fod fiang fiang, beuang nueng fod fai fai, khon
thang lai khii saphao pai khaa, dek noi len sabaa nai nawaa" (Fiang, fiang
are the bubbling sounds from one side of the pot and fai fai are the
bubbling sounds from other side. Merchant ships full of goods and merchants are
travelling to do some trading. Children are playing games with sabaa (round
vine seeds) in a boat. All of this is taking place in my father's pot.)"
The sixth man said: "kaeng
suk laew khoi yaak dai jong noi noi pho khoi maa tak boeng de (After it is cooked, I
wish I could have my father's tiny ladle to scoop up the ogress soup.)"
The seventh man asked: "jong
noi noi pho cao ni noi yai paan dai (How big or small is your father's ladle?)"
The sixth man answered: "jong
noi noi pho khoi ni tak baad nueng dai baan, taan baad nueng dai muang, tak khiang khiang
dai phi huo sua, jum dai nua phi sua taek nii, phi hong phi haa phi bin bon faa ka taek
nii. (Oh, my father's tiny ladle could scoop up many things. Scoop up once, we
can get a village; scoop up twice, we could get a city; scoop up on one side, we could get
the ghost; scoop up on the other side, we could get meat. What is neat is that all
the ogres and ogresses flee for their lives; fleeing for their lives also are other kinds
of ghosts such as the ghosts that died from accidents, the ghosts that died of contagious
diseases, and the flying ghosts from the skies also fly away.)"
The ogress heard the entire
conversation and shuddered with nervousness and great fear.
"Oh, no, these men's fathers
sound powerfully frightening. If I killed them, their fathers would come after
So the ogress opened the cage and let
the seven men go.
Thao Chet Hai 23
In a village in Thotsaraj city, there
was a poor couple who had been married for a long time, but they never had a child to help
them work. Many years went by and they grew older and older. When they
became very old, the wife became pregnant. She was big with child for three years
without any sign of labor. The husband could not go anywhere for fear that his wife
would be in labor. But after three years, he could no longer wait as they became
poorer and poorer. So one day, he told his wife that he would like to make a boat
and go to do some trading. His wife told him not to worry about her; she was sure
that the baby would not come while her husband was gone. Or, if the baby came, she
would be able to manage. So, the husband prepared his tools and went out to make a
boat for himself in the forest.
Not long after the husband was gone,
the wife went into labor. All her relatives came to lend a helping hand. After
a long time, the baby came out. He fell down, broke the floor, fell right on a
buffalo, and broke its neck. When the wind touched the baby's body, he grew
huge. Then, he ran to the river to clean himself up and ran home. The entire
village became frightened of the boy who became a full-grown man in one day.
Some young girls seeing the new born baby-man being naked were so embarrassed. The
boy-man went home and frightened away all relatives who came to help with child
labor. The boy stepped up to the house and he was as tall as the ceiling. His
mother found the largest piece of cloth for him to wear. Then, the boy said he was
hungry. So, she gave him the entire pot of sticky rice and a jar full of meat.
He ate one set but was not full; he kept asking for more and more. So, his mother
called him Thao Chet Hai (The Seven Jars). After he was satisfied, he asked for his
father. His mother pointed the way to the forest where the old man was cutting trees
to make a boat.
Once the boy got to the forest he
could see an old man cutting down a huge tree. He knew that the old man was his
father. So, he told the man to fell the tree, he would carry it home. The old
man was tired and perturbed thinking that someone challenged him. So, he cut down
the huge tree, whereupon the boy caught in mid air. After that they returned
home. The parents as well as the villagers were so afraid of the boy-man that they
suggested the old couple send the boy away from the village.
One day, the father said to Thao Chet
Hai: "Chet Hai, my son, you must go to collect debts from a giant couple in the
faraway land in the south. The male giant called Ii puu laa nam and his
wife borrowed our money and treasures from us long ago and never returned to pay their
debts." The boy was more than delighted to take this
responsibility. So he set off to find the giants. The father and mother
became so sad because they sent their own son to meet his peril. It was believed
that nobody could return from the giant land once he got there. There were many
monsters and demons in that land.
Thao Chet Hai went on his way with no
problems. All animals and demons became so scared of him that they all fled from his
path. On his way, Thao Chet Hai met seven strong friends: fisher man; squirrel
catcher, wind catcher, ox catcher, elephant catcher, water drinker, and coral tree
puller. The eight friends came across a wide river and there was no boat to
cross. So each friend decided to jump over the river, but all seven fell and a great
fish swallowed them all. Thao Chet Hai was the last to jump, the fish opened its
mouth and caught one of his feet, but Thao Chet Hai landed with the fish stuck on his
foot. He opened up the fish and found his seven friends all dead inside.
As he was feeling hopelessly sad, a
Grandma Ghost Ya Wom could smell the dead so she appeared at the scene of Thao Chet Hai
watching his seven friends' bodies. She thought she would eat the one that is alive
first as the dead ones would be there for her after she finished the living man. But
Thao Chet Hai put up a great fight and could defeat her. He was about to take her
life, when she begged for mercy. She promised to bring back Thao Chet Hai's friends
if he would let her go. So, Thao Chet Hai agreed. And the eight friends
continued their journey to see the giants.
Once there at the giants' home, the
eight friends were challenged: first to drink whiskey and stay sober; second to fell the
male giant. In both cases, Thao Chet Hai won. After the male giant died, the
eight friends cut his stomach opened and found silver, gold, and other treasures.
They asked the wife why silver, gold, and treasure were in her husband's stomach.
She said her husband wanted to defeat the eight men. So he swallowed all treasures
that they were guarding to make his body stand still and so that no one could fell
him. But, Thao Chet Hai was so strong that he could fell her husband.
The giant's wife was so angry because her husband did not do anything wrong. So she
put a curse on all eight men to die like her husband. The eight men then built
a ship in which they carried the treasures home.
Once home they went to Thao Chet
Hai's parents and gave treasures to them and to other people in the village.
Everybody but the eight strong men lived happily. Each felt lonely and would like to
have a wife. But they realized that they could not marry human beings because they
were too strong for any human beings. They decided to go to heaven to ask for the
daughters of the head of the celestial beings, Thaen . After they built a bridge
from earth to heaven, they began climbing up. But the bridge collapsed. The
female giant's curse came true. All of them died from broken necks.
The villagers organized a cremation
for the eight men, but their bodies would not burn. So, the villagers built manikins
of eight daughters of Thaen and held a wedding ceremony for them. Then their bodies
could be cremated and their spirits were satisfied. And that ends the story of Thao
Thao Kamphra Kaikaew25
Unlike the previous orphan stories, Thao
Kamphrakaikaew was not a complete orphan. He was fatherless. His father died when he was
one year old. His mother took him to live in another city, earning a living by begging
until the son grew up. One day, a man carrying a rooster walked past their hut. He offered
to take the orphan to catch wild chickens in the forest. So, the orphan went and
when they came back the man would give half of their catch to the orphan and his mother.
That was how the orphan provided for his family.
Now in the naga city, there was
a naga princess who could recall her past life. She knew that her husband was
born as the orphan and she missed him very much. So, she changed into a white rooster and
went to see the orphan. He tried to catch her, but he could only get one of her feathers.
He took it home. The feather became fragrant and its fragrance permeated the entire city,
which made the king desire to have the source of the beautiful smell. Once he found out,
he sent for the orphan to come with his feather. He ordered the orphan to go and bring him
the fragrant rooster. If he could, the king would give him half of his city to rule. He
promised to take care of the orphan's mother, giving her clothes and rice.
The king ordered his subject to dig a
huge hole, put the orphan in a basket, and let the basket fall to the bottom. They
promised to wait for one year. They would pull the basket up when they felt someone in the
basket. It took fifteen days to reach the bottom. After the orphan was gone the king
ordered his men to take back what he gave to the orphan's mother as he was sure that the
orphan would never return.
The orphan reached the naga city
where the naga princess, Nang Sida, was waiting for him. She asked her
father to welcome her husband-to-be and to arrange a wedding for them. So, they were
married and lived happily in the underworld for one year. The orphan decided to return
home, for he missed his mother. His wife decided to go home with him. So, they went to the
basket. On the way, Nang Sida kept forgetting things and the orphan had to return to the
city to bring her those things. The orphan told her not to get in the basket until he came
back. While waiting, Nang Sida became tired and would like to sit down. She climbed in the
basket and it was pulled up instantly.
The people waiting on earth were
overwhelmed by her extraordinary beauty. They took her to the king who was more than happy
to capture her in his palace. He ordered his men to kill the orphan upon his arrival
because the king wanted to marry the orphan's wife. So, he arranged the wedding ceremony,
inspite of her protest. On the wedding night he went into her room, but he could not go
near her because her body became hot like fire. Even though he could not touch her, the
king kept her in his palace.
When the orphan returned and found that
his wife and the basket were gone, he was hopeless. So he returned to the Naga King who
told him to take a rest. Once the orphan was asleep the Naga King carried him up
to earth and left him in a forest.
When he woke up, finding himself in the
forest, he began walking until he reached the city of an ogre. There, Amkha, the beautiful
daughter of the ogre king was bathing in the pond. They met and fell in love. He told her
that he was in search of his wife. She told him that she was human and that she was raised
by the ogre king, Thao Kandan. She then took him to hide in the palace.
When her father returned, he fell asleep.
Amkha stole his magic shoes and sword and together they escaped from the city. When they
reached Ketsandon city, they took a rest. The towns- people saw them and couldn't help
admiring them. Their praise reached the king who was eager to see them. So, they went to
have an audience with the king. They told the king about themselves and about their magic
shoes and sword. The king wished to have them so he asked to trade them for his magic
betel and a flying raft. They could chew betel and tell the raft to fly wherever they
would like to go. They could even tell people to live or to die with their magic betel in
their mouths. They agreed. So, the couple chewed the betel and flew away.
They landed in the middle of the forest
for a rest. There they met an old pig who instantly fell in love with the orphan's
wife. He tried to seize her, but they told him to die. So he did. But they could not tell
the raft to fly again because their betel became less potent. They returned to the city
again and told the king about what happened.
The king said that if the orphan had the
tip of the king's tongue, the betel would remain forever potent. The orphan suggested that
they exchange the tips of their tongues. So, they did and the orphan and Amkha continued
In Phachuang city, the king had a
beautiful daughter, Chanta. One day, while she was bathing in the pond, she was bitten by
a poisonous snake. She became unconscious. The king ordered medicine men to cure her, but
nobody could help. However, the city astrologer predicted that she would come back to life
one day, but they must keep her body in the city. The king would give treasures to anyone
who could bring his daughter back to life again.
Not long after that, the orphan and his
wife flew over the city and became interested in what was happening. So they landed and
found out about the incident. The orphan decided to try his magic. So he went to volunteer
to cure her. He succeeded and was married to the princess and became king of the city.
After eight months, he decided to continue his journey home. So all three went home in
their magic raft.
Once they neared his home, the orphan
created his own city. He then went to his hut alone, hoping to bring his mother to live
with his wives. There he found his mother dead, so he went to tell his wives that he would
return to bring his mother and father back to them. So he did.
The last task for the orphan was to take
his wife back from the king. So he left his parents in the palace and went with his wives
to live in the same hut. The villagers saw what beautiful wives the orphan had and went to
visit. The orphan told them to go tell the king to bring his wife back to him. The
king was infuriated and sent his army to seize the orphan's wives, but the orphan told all
but one in the army to stand still. The soldier went to the king to tell what happened.
So, the king sent the entire city army to fight with the orphan, but they were ordered to
stand still. He himself flew into the palace to see Nang Sida. However, he refused to take
her back with him, as he was not sure of the relationship between the king and Nang Sida.
Finally, the orphan ordered the city to be under the flood; only the palace was spared.
The king and his advisors agreed to send Nang Sida back. Later, the orphan returned to the
city and ordered the city to dry up and the people to become alive as before.
The king brought Nang Sida to the orphan
and renounced his kingship. He asked the orphan to take over the city, but the orphan
wished the king to reform and rule the city justly. The orphan then accepted Nang Sida to
be his queen to the right and Nang Amkha and Chanta his queens to the left.
The ogre king, Thao Kandan woke up and
came to take his daughter back home. After a while the orphan missed Nang Amkha, so he
went to take her back while the ogre went in his long sleep again. There were a few
battles between the orphan and the ogre before he gave in to the orphan. And so everybody
lived happily until the end of their lifetime.
The orphan and his first wife had a son
who grew up to be a powerful king. Later, his son wished to visit all cities that his
father had been to. So they went and helped each city. At the end they returned to their
city and lived peacefully until the end of their lifetime. As in the two other
orphan stories, every character was born and reborn many thousand years before he/she was
born in the historical Buddha's life time.
Ma, Horse-faced Kaew, the Woman Warrior26
King Phuwadon and Queen
Nantha of Mithila City had a handsome son named Pinthong. At about the same time, an old
couple who lived outside of the capital city had a daughter who looked like a horse. She
was called Kaew Na Ma or Horse-faced Kaew. When this girl grew up, she was able
to forecast the weather. Her parents and her neighbors loved her in spite of her
One day Prince Pinthong
and his ministers went to fly a kite and it was blown away by the wind. Prince Pinthong
sent his ministers to recover the kite, which fell right at Kaew's feet. The ministers
arrived at Kaew's house and asked for the kite back, Kaew refused to return it. When she
knew that the kite belonged to Prince Pinthong, she told the ministers to tell the prince
to come claim the kite himself. Prince Pinthong came to Kaew's house, but she still
refused to return the kite. She told him that she had fallen in love with him and he had
to promise to marry her, before she returned the kite. The prince gave his promise, out of
his desire to have the kite back. Then he returned to his palace, and completely forgot
about his promise. Kaew was waiting fruitlessly for his return. After a long time, she
became so love-sick that she begged her mother to go to the palace to tell the prince
about what was happening to her.
When the king heard that
the old commoner was demanding his son to marry her horse-faced daughter, he became so
furious that he ordered her executed. But the queen stopped the command and asked the king
to investigate the prince first. The prince admitted that he did give such a promise, but
that he was not serious about it. He merely wanted his kite back. Thus the king had to
send his ministers to bring Kaew to the palace. But Kaew would not go the first time
because there was no gold palanquin for her. Finally, she was carried into the palace in a
gold palanquin, but the prince refused to share a bed with her.
The king disliked Kaew so
much that he devised a plan to get rid of her. He sent her to go search for Mount Sumeru
and bring it back to the city, and then she would have a royal wedding ceremony.
Otherwise, she would be dead. So she went into the jungle aimlessly, but she met with a
holy man or the rishi, who taught her magical knowledge and gave her magical
articles such as a magical flying boat and a magic knife. After that she was ready to
carry the mountain to the city. The king and the prince were dismayed, but they had
to hold a royal wedding for her. But the king still did not give up. He arranged a
marriage for Prince Pinthong and Thatsamalee in Romwithi City.
Before he left for this
trip, the prince ordered Kaew to have a baby sired by him upon his return. Kaew changed
herself into a beautiful woman and went to stay with a court gardener in Romwithi and
waited for him there. Prince Pinthong did see her and fell in love with her. He came to
stay with her at the court gardener's hut until she became pregnant. He wished to bring
her back to Mithila with him, but Kaew told him that she wanted to deliver the baby first,
before she returned to the city. He gave her his royal ring before taking a journey in his
boat. When he reached an island, he was ambushed by a giant called Palaraj. At that time,
Kaew took her baby boy to the rishi to be blessed. After the rishi told
Kaew about her husband, she left the baby with the rishi, transformed herself
into a man, and went to rescue her husband. She killed Palaraj and some of his subjects.
The rest surrendered and presented the city and the three daughters of Palaraj to
Kaew in a male disguise. But she relinquished them to Pinthong and left. After awhile
Pinthong missed his home, so he took his three wives back to Mithila with him. Upon his
arrival, Kaew resumed her horse-faced form and presented him with his son and a ring.
Pinthong had to accept the son.
Thatsamalee of Romwithi
came to visit Pinthong and was angry to find that he had four wives. After a serious
argument, she left for her home city. Prakaimat of Kraijak, a demon king and a
friend of Palaraj, attacked Mithila after learning that his friend was killed. Kaew had to
go in battle in her horse-faced form to defend the city. She defeated the demon army and
killed the demon king Prakaimat. It was after this battle that Pinthong accepted Kaew, as
she was to be his wife. But the city was not safe, because Prakaimat's friend, the demon
king Prakaikrot, invaded the city again. This time Kaew was nine months pregnant, but she
went to battle and defeated the entire demonic army. Then she delivered triplets in
battle. That ended Kaew's own adventure. The next episodes are about the adventures of
Her three daughters later
were taken away by a giant bird. The rishi rescued them, raised them, and taught
them magical knowledge until they grew up. He also arranged to find suitable matches for
them. They were married to three princes from Rommachak.
Thatsamalee ordered a
shaman to bring Pinthong to her city by magic. Kaew went to take him back, but was caught
by Thatsamalee's trick. Her son Pinkaew went to help. On his way he met his sisters and
brothers-in-law. So, they all went to fight for their parents back. Then all the children
returned to Mithila, including Pinsinchai, Thatsamalee's son.
Later, Pinsinchai wished
to return home to visit his mother. Pinkaew decided to go with him, borrowing his mother's
horse-faced mask and the magical flying boat. Pinsinchai was taken away by a female demon
or yakkha. She changed herself into a beautiful woman and became Pinsinchai's
wife. Later, Pinsinchai changed himself into an old man and the yakkha could not
recognize him so she left him. Pinsinchai then traveled alone.
Pinkaew woke up, not
finding Pinsinchai so he continued his journey into Karaket City. There he was married to
the king's two daughters. Later, the two wives quarreled, so he left the city with one of
them. In the jungle, a female ghost changed herself into Pinkaew's wife and traveled with
him while his wife flew off in the magical flying boat until she met Pinsinchai and
traveled with him. The yakkha caught up with them and thought Pinkaew was
Pinsinchai. So, she fought with the ghost. While fighting, they changed themselves into
the demon and the ghost. Pinkaew then put on a horse-face mask and managed to free himself
from the two creatures.
Pinsinchai continued his
journey until he reached Chakarat City. He erected the city post and was able to marry
Thipphawan the only daughter of the king and queen of Chakarat. However, the king did not
like him so he sent Pinsinchai on a search for a white elephant. The king of Kraiyaraj
asked for Thipphawan's hand for his son, Prince Chinda. But the ghost disguised herself as
Thipphawan and kicked Thipphawan off the elephant's back. Thipphawan walked in the jungle
until she met Pinkaew. Later, when Prince Chinda and King Kraiyaraj found out that the
King Chakarat sent a ghost to them, they attacked Chakarat. Pinkaew and Thipphawan came to
help defend the city successfully.
King Kaiyaraj's wife,
Chinda, and his uncle Chitnuraj again invaded Chakarat and this time Pinkaew was captured
and was about to be executed when Pinsinchai came to help. But they could not kill
Chitnuraj. So they had to go to ask for a magic diamond from Nonthasun to kill Jitnuraj.
After that they returned to the city and lived there happily for awhile.
In Karaket, Ratchanee,
one of Pinkaew's wives, missed him so much that she traveled through the jungle looking
for him. She was caught in a fiber net trap belonging to Winan Yakkha. Later, the
ghost was also trapped. They found out that they shared the same husband. When Winan
Yakkha came, the ghost used her magic to free both of them and continued their journey to
look for their husband. On the way, they met a Witthayathon, a wizard endowed with musical
talents and magical knowledge. They managed to obtain the wizard's magical item that
enabled them to fly. The ghost then flew up to the sun and was killed and
Ratchanee's head was cut off, but she did not die. Her head fell in Panjanakhonraj City
and a bandit found it. He gave it to the demon, Ronnaphak. Ratchanee's body fell on the
property of an old woman in Pinsinchai's city. Pinkaew found it and tried to locate her
head. Once he heard that her head was in Panjanakhonraj, he, Dara, his first wife, and
Pinsinchai went to ask for it back, but they ended up fighting with Ronnaphak. Dara
was killed. Pinsinchai was also killed but Indra came to bring him back to life again.
Indra also put Ratchanee's body back together and brought her back to life. Kaew's three
daughters and their husbands decided to return to Rommajak. On the way, the wives were
taken away by three strange creatures, but the giant bird distracted them. So, the three
princesses were dropped at the rishi's abode where they were taught magical knowledge and
were turned into three Brahmins. Then they continued traveling and looking for their
Their husbands continued
traveling until they reached Hatsadong City and worked there as the king's
assistants. Near Hatsadong was India where King Kawin and Queen Sari ruled. They had
one son named Kawee. They organized a singing contest. Thinnakon, the oldest prince of the
three, entered the contest and won. He was married to Princess Suwanratsamee as a reward.
King Kawin was so humiliated that he used a giant pipe to draw in the three brothers and
the king. Suwanratsamee ran away. She met the three Brahmins and asked them to help. So
they did. They killed King Kawin.
After that Queen Sari
organized another army to attack Hatsadong again, but she was defeated and ran away into
the jungle. There she met the three strange creatures in the jungle and asked them to
help. Together four of them attacked Hatsadong, but Sari and one of the creatures were
killed and the two escaped. After this battle, the first Brahmin or the princess Jaemjan
went to stay with the rishi because she was angry that her husband had a new
wife. The two strange creatures went to ask Winan Yakkha to help. He cast his fiber net
over the city. The two Brahmins went to ask her sister to help, but she refused to join
the battle. She only sent her magical weapon to help. The two Brahmins fought against
Winan Yakkha and the two creatures and won. Then, they told the secret to their husbands
that they were not actually the Brahmins. So the three princes and the two sisters went to
bring Jaemjan back. They all went back to Rommajak, the three princes' home.
Pinsinchai and Thipphawan
traveled to Mithila, but a ngo (a tribal person with dark complexion and curly
hair, normally living in the present day southern part of Thailand and some part of Laos)
named Wason changed herself into Thipphawan and went with Pinsinchai. Thipphawan was
changed into a ngo by Wason. Trijak, the son of Wason, took her home to the
ngo village. Only after Thipphawan delivered a baby that did not look like a ngo
did Trichak realize that Thipphawan was not his mother. He went to Mithila to bring his
real mother back, but nobody believed him. He had to bring a rishi to identify
the real Thipphawan. So, Pinsinchai went to bring Thipphawan and her son back to the city.
Wason had to return to the ngo village. At this point, King Pinthong renounced
the throne to become a rishi in the jungle. Pinsinchai and Thipphawan became king
and queen. When Pinsinchai went to bring Thipphawan back, he met Sisam-ang, Wason's
daughter, and fell in love with her. Later he went to bring her to live with him in the
city along with his son with Wason, Pinjutha. This ended the adventures of Kaew's
children. Yet, the storyteller continued the adventures of Kaew's grandchildren.
Pinsinchai had three
sons, Pinnara, Nopphamat, and Pinchutha. Kaew's first daughter had one daughter, Rotsukhon
and one son named Wichian. Kaew's second daughter had one daughter named Wimonnat. Kaew's
third daughter had one son named Siwichai. Kaew's grandchildren traveled into the jungle
and underwent similar adventures in and out of many cities. At some points, they came to
know each other and some fell in love and married each other. Some met their spouses in
other cities. Wichian met a girl from another city named Dusida and married her. Rotsukhon
was married to Pinnara. Pinnikon (perhaps Pinkaew's son) was married to Wimonnat.
Pinchutha married Phakakeson from Sinnaraj's city. Siwichai's marriage to Manichai from
Siphiphat City concluded the story.