King Phrommathat and Queen Phimpha ruled Pengjan City. They had a son named Suriwong. One day the royal family went on a hunting trip. Suriwong saw a yakkha demon who came in a deer disguise and wanted the deer. So, his father followed the deer, but came back with a beautiful woman. The king demoted Phimpha to a consort and promoted the new wife, Nang Khampaeng, his queen. Phimpha refused to became a consort so the king ordered her executed. Indra came down to save her. Suriwong missed his mother so much he left the city and went in the forest looking for Phimpha. Phimpha wandered in the jungle and was abducted by a yakkha, but he could not go near her because her body became too hot to be near. Suriwong wandered in the jungle until he reached a rishi's abode. He stayed with the rishi for awhile, learning magical knowledge. Suriwong also fell in love with the rishi 's adopted daughter, Buakaewkaison. Then, he went to the yakkha's city, defeated the yakkha, and took his mother and his wife back home. He convinced his father that Khampaeng was a demon and chase her out of the city. So, everybody lived happily.
Then, he heard that the rishi was ill so he took his wife to visit the rishi. On this trip, he was abducted by six kinnari, the half-bird-half-woman creatures. Buakaewkaison disguised herself as a Brahmin and went to search for her husband. Once she found him, he was not interested in her and ordered her executed. Indra came to help her and took her to Pengjan awaiting the return of her husband.
1. Suriwong (King Phrommathat) Performed by Po Samakkhee, Roi-et Group, 4 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Nok Ka Jok (Two Love Birds)
The two rice birds lived in a rishi's beard for a long time. Later, the birds quarreled and annoyed the rishi so much that he chased them away. The birds went to build a nest in a tree near a pond. They had a baby bird. Everyday the male bird would go to find food and the female bird would look after the baby. One day, he went to find food and was caught in a lotus flower and could not return in the evening. The mother bird was waiting all day and became very upset. That afternoon, forest fire raged through the forest. The mother bird tried to save the baby bird, but she could not. Finally, she vowed that she would not speak to any male at all. Then she was burnt to death. In the morning the lotus opened and the male bird flew back to find his wife and baby dead. So, he made a wish that he would follow and become her husband in every life to come. Then he flew into the pond and died. In many lives, they would be born but never had a chance to become married. In the last life, the mother bird was born as princess Janthajon who would not speak to any man, not even her own father. The king made an announcement that if any man could make her speak, the king would allow him to marry her. Almost all men had tried, but Prince Worakit from a far away city. He came and was successful because he retold a reverse story of the two birds. He concluded his story with the mother bird flew away and the father bird died in the nest with the baby. Princess Janthajon was so angry that she said, "That's not true." So, they were married and lived happily.
2. Nok Ka Jok (Two Love Birds) Performed by Phet Ubon Group (Actor Po Chaladnoi Songsoem and Actress Chomsawai Saenthaweesuk) 3 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Nang Taeng-on (Princess Taeng-on)
Taeng-on was an alligator princess who was transformed into a beautiful maiden. She was married to King Mahawong. When she was big with child, the king went hunting. While he was gone, she had child labor. The king's consorts were jealous of Taeng-on so they tied her eyes during the child labor. They ordered a court lady to take the baby to be killed out of town. The lady did not kill the baby, but brought him up in the country. They replaced the baby with a baby alligator and accused her of committing adultery with an alligator.
Upon the king's return, they presented the baby alligator to the king who became so infuriated that he ordered her executed. Indra came to help her and so she walked to her home. Once she arrived there, she found out that her parents died. However, one of her alligator friends took care of her. Together they lived in the forest. When her friend became a rishi she was carried away by a yakkha.
One day the king ordered the royal horse keeper to take the horse to feed in the forest out of the city. Taeng-on's son was grown up as a young man at the time. His name was Ketsuriyan. He came across the horse and liked it so he rode the horse home while the horse keeper ran after him and the horse. Once there they asked for the horse back, but Ketsuriyan refused to return it. He told them to tell the king to come claim the horse himself.
The king was so angry that he came to the boy's home. He shot an arrow at the boy, but the arrow became food for the boy. The boy himself was angry so he shot an arrow at the king, but the arrow became flowers and incent sticks. At that time, the lady who took care of him came and revealed the secret.
The king took the boy back to live in the palace. The young man decided to follow his mother in the jungle. He came across the rishi-alligator who told him about the yakkha. So he continued his journey to bring back his mother. On his way, he fell in love with a twin sister, Khanthamala and Khanthamali, and stayed with them for awhile before continuing his journey. He arrived at the yakkha's city. He sent his friend to steal the heart of the yakkha left with Vessuvan and began fighting. The yakkha came back to life every time he was killed.
Once, Ketsuriyon's friend returned with the yakkha's heart, Ketsuriyon was able to conquer the yakkha. He went in the yakkha's abode and met with his mother. After asking each other about their past, they became clear of what happened. So, Ketsuriyon took his mother back, stopping to pick up his wives on the way home. Once home everybody lived happily.
3. Nang Taeng-on (Princess Taeng-on) Performed by Rangsiman Group (Actor Thongkham Phengdee and Actress Chaweewan Damnoen), 5 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Nang Nokkayang Khao (The White Crane)
Once Indra was reborn on earth along with his thirty-two devata followers. He was named Makhamanob. All thirty-two friends had to make a great deal of merit before they could be reborn as Indra and devata in heaven again. Makhamanob had four wives, Suchada, Suthamma, Sunantha, and Sujitra.
One time Makhamanob and his friends planned to build a public pavilion. Three of his wives wanted to make merit with him so they asked Makhamanob, but he refused. However, Sunantha went ahead and set up a flower garden near the pavilion. Sujitra had a pond dug up near the pavilion. Suthamma ordered the carpenter to build the beautiful bird design for the roof of the pavilion. Makhamanob had to agree to put the bird design on the pavilion. Suchada was not interested in making merit at all.
When everybody died, Makhamanob and his friends became Indra and the thirty-two devata. The three wives became wives of Indra. Suchada was born as a white crane. Indra missed her so he came down and told her to refrain from killing. She had to eat only dead fish. It was hard but she consistently fast when there was no dead fish around. Finally, she died.
She was born as a daughter of the potter. She was a very pious woman until she died. Then she was born a daughter of a yakkha king, Isun, living near Mount Sumeru. She remained pious and was not interested in any man. Her parents wanted her to be married so they made an announcement for all men to gather for the princess to choose. Indra looked down from heaven and saw what was happening. So, he came in an old man disguise. She chose him and he took her to live in heaven happily ever after.
4. Nang Nokkayang Khao (The White Crane) Performed by Ubon Phatthana Group (Actor Po Chaladnoi Songsoem and Actress Angkhanang Khunchai) 5 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Prince Sithon and Princess Manora
Sithon was king of Pengjan City. One day a hunter presented him with a kinnari, a half-bird-half-woman creature named Manora. He fell in love with her and married her. She became a queen of the city.
One day, an enemy invaded the city border and Sithon had to go out to defend the city. While he was gone, Sithon's father had a nightmare. The court astrologer predicted that Sithon might be dead unless they held a sacrificial rite and sacrificed a half-bird-half-woman creature. The king and queen had to hold the ceremony. As they were going to throw her into the fire, she asked for her wings and tail back so that she could give a sacrificial dance around the fire. The queen gave them to her. She danced and then flew off and away.
On the way, she stopped at a rishi's abode and left her ring and her shawl for Sithon in case he followed her. She also left a message for her husband not to follow her because it would take a long time and the way was perilous. Then, she flew back to her city where she had to go through a cleansing ritual for seven years, seven months, and seven days before she could resume her kinnari life again.
During that time Sithon came back from battle, discovered his wife gone, he set out to follow her. He met the rishi and received the ring and her cloth a long with the message. He was determined to follow his wife regardless of her instruction for him to return to his home city. He traveled in the jungle for seven years, seven months, and seven days, confronting all kinds of perilous journey.
Once he reached her city, he sent in the ring and the cloth to let her know that he arrived. She informed her parents about her past. They were sympathetic, but they gave Sithon three tasks to complete before he could have Manora. He could undertake all tasks successfully and he was given permission to have his wife back.
5. Prince Sithon and Princess Manora Performed by Rangsiman Group (Actor Thongkham Phengdee and Actress Chaweewan Damnoen), 5 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Nang Malong was a beautiful woman. Her parents had a gathering on her birthday. They invited friends from various cities. Thao Bahong and Nang Ba-ong from Salawan sent their son, Bachiang. Phya Champa from Muang Cham sent Champasak, their son. Both of them fell in love with Nang Marong.
After the gathering they returned home to ask their parents to come ask for Nang Marong's hand in marriage. Bachiang came first so he got the permission from Nang Malong's parents. But Nang Malong was in love with Champasak who came later. She decided to elope with Champasak.
6. Nang Malong Performed by Actress Chaweewan Damnoen and others 2 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Thao Pachit was the prince of Nakhon Thom. His parents wanted him to get married, but he was not interested in any one. He went to ask the court astrologer to predict his future. He was informed that his bride was still in her mother's womb for fourteen years, waiting for him. He asked his parents to go search for his soul mate.
He did find an old couple working in the ricefield. The old woman was big with child and she had a halo over head. So, he stayed with them, waiting until the old woman delivered the baby. The old woman gave birth to Oraphim, a beautiful baby girl. Then, he stayed to help raising the girl. Once, she was fourteen, he told her about the prediction. They were married and he took her on a journey back to his city. (The tape ended here, but the story continues).
On their way home, they had to cross a river. A novice happened to row a boat past. He fell in love with Nang Oraphim. He told the couple that he could take both of them across the river, but one at a time. So, Nang Oraphim went in the boat with the novice first. But, the novice rowed the boat away far from the river bank.
Nang Oraphim realized that the novice was not taking her across the river. When they were in the middle of the river, Nang Oraphim happened to see a fig tree with ripe figs. She asked the novice to climb up and get her some. When the novice was in the tree, she rowed the boat away until she reached a rishi's abode. She took refuge there, waiting for Pachit. After waiting for a long time, the novice did not return for Pachit. So, Pachit decided to continue his journey.
Finally, he reached the rishi's abode and found his wife. Both of them returned to Nakhon Thom and lived happily there.
7. Nang Oraphim Performed by RangsimanGroup (Actor Thongkham Phengdee and Actress Chaweewan Damnoen), 2 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Champa Si Ton (Four Champa or Plumaria Trees)
King Chunlanee and Queen Akkhanee ruled Panjanakhon. One day the king went on a hunting trip and was misled by a deer (Indra in disguise) into Chakkhin City. It was deserted. He walked into the palace and found no one, except for a large drum. He beat the drum and heard a woman voice inside. So, he opened up the drum and found a frightened maiden, Nang Patthumma. He called her Khamgong which means a precious drum woman). He learned from her that a giant crested serpent-eagle came to eat everyone in the city. Before her parent died, they managed to put her in the drum with some food. King Chunlanee fell in love with her and took her home with him as his wife. Queen Akkhanee was quite upset about this, but kept silent. One day, the king asks Queen Akkhanee and all his consorts to beg for a son from Indra. Whoever could give him a son would become the queen and the son would inherit the kingdom. Nang Khamgong was the only who was pregnant. So, she became the queen and Akkhanee was demoted much against her will.
On the day Khamgong was to give birth, Akkhanee came to help. She tied up Khamgong's eyes and placed puppies in place of her four baby boys. Akkhanee put the infants in a jar and floated it down the river. When King Chunlanee found out what happened he was so angry that he ordered Khamgong executed. But Khamgong begged for her life, so he put her in the lowest job, to be the pig keeper.
The babies were picked up by an old couple who raised them like their own sons. Once Akkhanee found out about this, she came to poison the boys when the couple were not home one day. The couple were so broken hearted that they buried the boys near their house. The four plumaria trees grew where they buried the boys. When Akkhanee heard about that she came to pull the four trees and floated them down the river.
A temple boy found the trees and picked a flower from the smallest tree. He found human blood dropping from the tree. He was so alarmed that he took the trees to the rishi and told him about what happened. The rishi knew that the trees were not regular trees. So, he brought the boys back to life and named them Chittaraj, Chettaraj, Suwannaraj, and Phetcharaj. The youngest boy had only nine fingers. So, the rishi mold wax for his little finger and made it a magic finger. He could point any one to live or to die with his little finger.
Once they grew up, the boys asked the rishi about their parents. The rishi had to tell them he was not their father. He told the boy by using his divine vision where their mother was. So, the boy took a journey to search for their mother. On the way, they went to all kinds of adventures. The first three boys found their wives.
Finally, they found their mother. They sent a note to the king to give them back their mother. If not, they would take over the city. The king was indignant and refused to do so. So, the boys took over the city and explained their mother story to the king. He understood and took his wife and sons back into the city. He made Akkhanee the pig keeper instead.
The story ended with Nang Khamgong asking her youngest son to journey to her home city of Chakkhin to bring her parents and the people back to life again. So Phetcharaj did.
8. Champa Si Ton (Four Champa or Plumaria Trees) Performed by Rangsiman Group (Actor Thongkham Phengdee and Actress Chaweewan Damnoen), 5 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Thao Ka Dam (Prince Black Crow)
A couple had a son who had completely dark skin like a crow's feathers. So, the boy was called Thao Ka Dam (Prince Black Crow). The mother became so ashamed that she did not want to keep the boy. She floated the boy down the river against the father's will. Indra came in disguise as a crow to take care of the boy until he could take care of himself. Then he wandered into a city called Inthapat.
He met an old court gardener and asked if he could stay and help out with her work. She was kind enough to take him in as her own son. Ka Dam helped take care of the garden and it looked even more beautiful than ever. The king had seven daughters and youngest one was called Lunni. Every seven days, the seven daughters would come to enjoy picking the flowers. The old court gardener forbade Ka Dam to come out when the princesses came to the garden. Ka Dam secretly watched the princesses but he admired the youngest daughter most.
One time Lunni asked the court gardener to embroil flower garlands for her and to take them to her in the court. Ka Dam came to help. He wove his life story with those flowers. Lunni was very pleased and asked the gardener who embroiled the garlands, but the gardener did not tell the truth. Lunni came to the garden one day unannounced so she met with Ka Dam. They fell in love and she asked Ka Dam to ask the court gardener to go ask for her hand from the king.
So, the old gardener went in to ask for her hand, but the king was so insulted that he ordered the old woman whipped. Ka Dam had no hope so he asked the gardener to get him a khaen, an Isan wind musical instrument made of special kinds of bamboo pipes. He went around the city playing his khaen. His heavenly music was heard all over the city. The king himself was so fascinated by the music that he ordered his servant to find out who played the music and to bring the musician to him.
Once there, Ka Dam played his khaen for the king and his entire palace. The music was so heavenly that it put the king to deep slumber. Ka Dam then had a chance to see Lunni in her room. So, Ka Dam had chances to see more of his beloved Lunni. (The tapes end here, but the story actually goes on a little longer.)
Afterward, Ka Dam asked the court gardener to ask for Lunni's hands again. This time the king could not refuse so he asked for the highest gifts in exchange of the marriage. Indra came down to give Ka Dam what the king asked for. So, Lunni was married to Ka Dam and they lived happily.
9. Thao Ka Dam (Prince Black Crow) Performed by Rangsiman Group (Actor Thongkham Phengdee and Actress Chaweewan Damnoen), 4 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Sai Naen Na Kaen (Soulmates and the Dry Ricefield)
There was a married couple named Thao Songka and Nang Khamkhai. One day the husband, Songka, went out of town to take goods to sale in another city. Khamkhai stayed home alone waiting for her husband. She became quite lonely after her husband had gone for a long time.
One day, a rich man came to visit Khamkhai and asked her to marry him. He told her that her husband would never return. He told her also that he would give all his treasures to her after they were married. After a few visits, Khamkhai decided to marry the rich man.
Not long after that, her husband returned home. Khamkhai sent him away. At that point, the rich man told Khamkhai that he would go away from her. He told her that he did not really love her. He only wanted to test if she would be true to her husband. Khamkhai was broken-hearted.
She went to see Songka, her first husband and begged him to take her back. At first Songka did not want to take her back, but after thinking about how happy they were together in the past, he decided to take her back. And they lived happily until they had a child together. Songka had to work harder in the field because he did not want to go away from home. One day he did not feel so well, but he felt obligated to work. He died in the ricefield. Khamkhai was again broken-hearted to find her husband dead. Now she had to bring up her child on her own.
10. Sai Naen Na Kaen (Soulmates and the Dry Ricefield) Performed by Phet Ubon Group (Actor Po Chaladnoi Songsoem and Actress Chomsawai Saenthaweesuk) 2 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Khulu Nang Ua, Prince Khulu and Princess Ua
Thao Phrommasi and Nang Phimphakasi ruled Kasi City. Thao Puttalad and Nang Chantha ruled Nakhonkai. The kings and queens of the two cities were sworn friends. They had promised to let their children marry each other.
When Nang Phimphakasi was pregnant she went to visit Nang Chantha who was also pregnant. Nang Phimphakasi saw a pomelo tree in Nang Jantha's garden. She was craving a pamelo so she asked her friend for one, but for some reason Nang Chantha refused to give her friend any. Nang Phimphakasi was so angry that she swore she would not be friend with Nang Chantha and that she would never let her child marry Nang Chantha's child as promised. So, the two cities became enemies.
Later, Nang Phimphakasi had a boy named Thao Khulu and Nang Chantha had a girl named Nang Ua. The boy and girl met by chance and fell in love. They secretly met each other. One day the parents found out about this. They forbade their children to meet each other.
At that time Khun Lang, an aged king from a Khmer city saw Nang Ua and fell in love with her. So, he often visited and gave many presents to Nang Ua and her mother. Nang Ua was not interested in him, but her mother secretly agreed to give her to Khun Lang.
When she found out she was so upset that she decided to hang herself. Before she died she made a wish that she would be with her beloved, Khulu, in heaven forever. When Khulu heard about Nang Ua's death, he was also heart-broken. He also committed suicide. Before he died he made a wish to follow Nang Ua and be with her in every life to come. They became the rainbow in the sky. The parents of the two lovers now became friends again after the deaths of their children.
11. Prince Khulu and Princess Ua Performed by Actor Sawainoi Nokkhaokhan and actress Chabaphai Namwai, 2 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.
Prince Phadang and Princess Ai
Phya Khom of a Khmer city held a Bangfai Festival or a rocket festival to call for rain from the rain god, Phya Thaen. Kings and princes of many cities came in processions to bring their rockets to shoot in the contest. Phya Khom also sent his rocket to the contest.
The rocket that was shot straight up in the sky for the longest time would be the winner. The winner would be married to Nang Ai and would be king of the Khmer city.
King Phadaeng from Phaphong City came with the largest size bangfai or rocket. He met with Nang Ai and they fell in love. The festival began with processions of the rockets and dancing and singing. After that the rockets were ignited. Phadaeng's rocket did not go up. Phya Khom's rocket broke in the middle.
Phya Khom was so angry that he did not give prizes to those whose rockets went straight up high in the sky. These winners were those from Sikaew City and Chianghian City. They were upset and all returned to their cities. Phadaeng's procession also returned to his city. Prince Phangkhi from the naga City (the naga were mythical serpent endowed with magical powers. They could change themselves into any creatures they liked, including humans.) also came with his servants to see the festival. He also fell in love with Nang Ai.
After the festival, Phangkhi again came in disguise to see Nang Ai. Phangkhi changed himself into a white squirrel and his servants disguised themselves as various animals. They went to the fig tree near the palace to look at Nang Ai who became instantly intrigued by the squirrels, particularly the white one. She ordered a hunter to shoot the white squirrel for her. The hunter succeeded and the white squirrel was shot dead. Before he died he made a wish that his meat would become so aromatic, delicious, and plentiful. After he died, his servant went to tell his parents that the Khmer people killed Phangkhi. Nang Ai and Phya Khom divided the squirrel meat and shared it among their friends and people. Phadaeng heard about this and came to tell Nang Ai not to eat the squirrel meat, but it was too late. At that time Suttho naga, Phangkhi's father, came with his naga army to attack the Khmer city. The naga King foundered every one who had eaten his son's meat. Only the widows' homes were not foundered because they were not allowed to have any squirrel's meat. Phadaeng took Nang Ai on his horse back and rode off as the city was being foundered by the naga King and his subjects. The naga King followed Phadaeng and Nang Ai. He was able to drag Nang Ai from the horse back along with her regalia. Phadaeng became so agonized by his loss of love and his beloved. (The tape ended with Phadaeng lamented his loss of love and Nang Ai, but the story goes on. This set of tapes is a very brief and simplified version.)
The story continues with Phadaeng willed himself to die and to become a ghost king. He raised an army to fight for Nang Ai against the naga King and his subjects. The battle lasted a long time. Indra had to come to stop the battle and told everyone to wait until the next Buddha came to be born on earth in the year 5000 B.E. (now it the the year 2544 B.E.). As of now Nang Ai remains in the naga City with Phangkhi. Phadaeng returned to rule the city of the ghosts.
12. Prince Phadang and Princess Ai Performed by Actor Po Chaladnoi Songsoem and Actress Chomsawai Saenthaweesuk, 3 cassettes, Copyright by S.P. Ubonratchathani, Thailand. Link to an episode of lam muu (Thai/lao folk opera) performance.