Monday, 8 June 2009

The moon boy - Cuoi - Vietnamese Tales

Long, long time ago there was a clever boy whose name was Cuoi. He did nothing with his cleverness but to play trick on people around him. He lived with his uncle and aunt who were usually suffered from his cheats.
Once day Cuoi came to the field and broke the bad new to the uncle that his wife had fell down from the ladder and bled. The man was so frighten that he ran to his home without saying a word. Cuoi at that time reached the house before his poor uncle by a short cut then broke another bad new to his aunt that her husband was collided by the buffalo and was going to died. The poor woman was scared and immediately ran out to the field. Suddenly she bumped to a man and recognized that it was her husband who was panting and sweating like her. The poor couple came back with anger and decided to imprison him into a bamboo cage then drifted him in the river.
In the afternoon when Cuoi was carried to the river's bank, he regretfully said sorry to them and asked them to come back home to bring him a book hidden behind the basket of rice that taught him telling lie as the last favour. They both agreed and returned home to satisfy their curiosity without saying a word.
After that Cuoi saw a blind man passed by. He then asked the man to untight the cage if he wanted to have his eyes cured. At last Cuoi was free and hid himself in a bamboo grave and luckily found a jar of gold. He came back and gave it to his uncle and his aunt to atone for faults while the poor blind man was waiting for his eyes treated.
Later Cuoi got married with a girl in the village and went on pulling people's leg.

Once morning he came into the forest and saw a tiger mother picking leaves from a kind of tree to cure her son's wound. Immediately the wound was recovered and the tiger baby could follow his mother to continue their trip.

Cuoi grasped the opportunity to uproot the tree and rose it in the garden behind his house. He called the tree Banyan and took good care to it. He always reminded his wife that the tree was magic one so it was impossible to pour dirty water or dump the garbage at its root otherwise it would fly to the heaven. His poor wife sometimes envied with the tree so she dumped garbage at the tree root once day.

When Cuoi came home he found the tree was shaking and flying higher and higher in the sky. He tried to hold its root to pull it back but he couldn't.

The tree actually pulled him farther and farther from the earth until it reached the moon.

It is said that there is still image of Cuoi sitting at the root of Banyan tree and looking down to see the world and there is also a Vietnamese saying " lie as Cuoi".

The Wait-For- Husband Stone - Vietnamese Tales


Once upon a time, there was a poor couple who had 2 children: an 11-year-old son and a 6- year-old daughter. They often leave their children at home when they worked in the field or go. One day, the mother gave the children one sugar cane and told the boy to cut it for his sister to eat and took her out for some fun. She often said:

- Don't make her cry or else our father will hit you hard.

The boy took his sister to the front yard and they broke branches off a tree to build a house with their neighbour's friends. After playing, he took his sister home and looked for a knife to cut the sugar cane. When he cut the sugar cane, the knife blade suddenly slipped from knife handle and hit his sister on the head. She fell down and fainted, blood was spilled on the ground.

He was very scared and ran away. He ran and ran and ran. He didn't know where he was running, how many houses he was there to have lunches and dinners for 15 years. Until the last one, a fisherman who lived in Binh Dinh seaside adopted him. Fishing kept him over there. The days went by. Then he married a girl.

His wife was good at knitting fish net. When his boat landed, she brought his fish to market to sell. After 2 years, they had a son and were very happy. One day, he was at home mending the net because of the stormy sea. After lunch, his wife flowed down her hair and had him caught louses. He was so surprised to see the big round scar on her right ear. He asked her about it. She told him happily:

- 20 years ago, my elder brother cut sugar cane and that harmful knife blade hit my head. I fainted at that time. Later, I just knew my brother went away because he was fearful. My parents looked for him everywhere but there wasn't any news about him. Since then, my parents were so upset that they passed away because of their sadness. As for me, nobody raised me and they sold me to a business boat. I hadn't settled down anywhere till I met you.

Behind her back, his face was paler and paler when he knew he married his own sister. His heart was broken by her words. But he tried to repress his feelings and didn't let her know about them. His boat set sail, furrowed the waves and headed for the high sea again but he never came back to her anymore. She was waiting for him at home. Every afternoon, she took her child to the mountain at sea mouth, watching the horizon for her husband coming back. Days passed by, she still climbed the mountain to look for her husband although her eyes were dry because of much crying. Later, she and her child turned into a stone, it becomes a symbol of wife's faith.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Truong Chi's Obsessive Love - Vietnamese Tales

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl who was named My Nuong. She was a daughter of a King's first minister. She lived in a mansion near the river. A young fisherman often cast his net at that part of the river. His name was Truong Chi, and he had a sweet voice. He often sang when he was rowing his small boat. The songs and the voice were so attractive that My Nuong was addicted to listening to them every day. One day the young fisherman did not come to cast his net and this made My Nuong feel sad. Then he appeared again. My Nuong was so happy to open her window, and to look down and listen to his sweet songs. Gradually, those songs and his magic voice entered her heart. It made her lovesick, and no medicine could cure her sickness. Her family was very worried because her sickness became ever more serious. Her father asked her about what was making her so ill and after learning about her feelings, he called Truong Chi to come in the mansion to meet her. Truong Chi extracted the essence of some herbs by simmering them and sang lovely songs for her. But sadly, when she saw his very ugly face, all of her sickness disappeared and she didn't want to see him again. But Truong Chi had fallen in love with her. He was so pained that his heart would no longer beat, and he died of lovesickness. Three years after his burial, his family exhumed his body to move his remains to another place. When they opened the coffin hey found a crystal ball – his obsessive love that it was impossible to dispel. The mandarin came to hear about the remarkable crystal ball, and Truong Chi's obsessive love. He bought the ball one day when he was passing by and he had a turner to make a teacup from it. When the cup was filled with tea, people could see in it that young man rowing his boat on the river, as he had done before. My Nuong took the cup, and remembering the old story, tears welled in her eyes. But as her tears splashed into the cup, it melted into water.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

The Golden Star Fruit Tree - Vietnamese Tales

Once upon a time, there was a very rich man who lived in a village. When he died, he left his two sons a huge fortune. But the two brothers were entirely different. The elder was greedy, but the younger was very kind. So after the parents' death, the elder claimed the fortune and left his younger brother only star fruit tree. (A very productive tree that gives sour fruit.) The younger brother took good care of his tree, watering it every day and hoping that it would give him a lot of fruit so that he could make a living by selling it. The elder brother, on the other hand, was so happy with his inheritance that he had nothing to worry about.

Unfortunately for the younger brother, when the fruit was ripe, a raven flew by and stopped in the tree to eat it. He was very sad to see this happen every day, but he did not know what to do. So one day, he decided to stand beneath the tree an speak to the raven: "Raven, please don't eat my fruit." he called. "This fruit tree is my only fortune. If you eat the fruit, my family will starve."

"Don't worry," the raven answered. "I'll pay you back in gold. Go and make yourself a bag 60 centimeters long to keep the gold."

Hearing those words, he was very excited and told his wife to make a bag of 60 centimeters. The next day, the raven came as he had promised. He landed by the gate, let the younger brother sit on his back, and took off for a place filled with gold. There the younger brother filled the bag with gold. Then he flew back home on the raven's back. And so he became very rich. But he still loved and respected his elder brother.

So one day he told his wife to prepare a good meal for his brother and his family. But when he invited his brother, the latter refused to come at first. The brother only accepted after he had begged him again and again. When the older brother arrived at his house, he was surprised to see it all changed. It was no longer the poor house that he had seen before. So he asked his younger brother the reason. The latter told him everything that happened. After he heard it all, he offered to trade all his fortune for the fruit-tree. The kind brother gladly accepted the offer.

The raven came as usual. The greedy brother spoke to the raven the same words as his brother and received the same answer from the raven. But he was so greedy that he made a much larger bag instead of a 60 centimeter bag. The next day, the raven came to take him to place of gold. After he had filled the bag, he filled all his pockets, too, before he climbed onto the raven's back to go home. But the load was so heavy that when they flew over the sea, the raven tilted his tired wings and dropped him off into the sea.

His wife and younger brother waited and waited but did not see him come back. So they decided to ask the raven and learn all the facts.

The story of Watermelon - Vietnamese Tales

Mai An Tiem was an adopted son of 17th King Hung. He was talented and that was why he was highly considered by people and received many favors from the king. Once he said " Present means worry, gift means dept" and that provoked his father's anger. In spite of many pieces of advice from the whole court officials, there was an order that An Tiem and his family had to be deported to an isolated island in the far, far ocean without any belongings.

Fade came to those unlucky people. An Tiem's family was left in the island with nothing but a blunt sword, a clay pot and food that was only enough for them in five days. The wife sunk in sorrows and sobbed while the husband were releasing her and manly declared that they could make everything by their hands.

Life in remove place was so hard that both young and adult in the unfortunate family had to catch fish, oyster and also wild greens to remain life. Later the fruit was out of the season, fish in the sea could not be caught without net, bird was watchful over the trap. What they owned at this time was just some wild greens cultivated by the husband.

One early morning, An Tiem heard the sounds of birds in a distance then he just walked out to see the scene but the birds were frighten and flew high above in confusion and left a small piece of melon with bright red pulp and black tiny seeds. " It was absolutely good for birds. It must be the same for Man" he thought " Why don't I do something with those tiny seeds?" Its fresh and sweet taste seemed to make him believe that his decision was right. With a blunt sword he ploughed a small piece of land and sowed it with the seeds.

Time passed by; the man now was look happy and hopeful when travelling his eyes over the verdant and luxuriant plants sprawling on the sand. All people in the family looked for the coming day that their lianas bear fruit and the fruit got bigger and bigger... One morning the family was woke by the sounds of bird. An Tiem came out into the sand and found one of the melon was half-eaten and showing the bright red color of its pulp. He brought it home then and cut a small piece to each person in the family. The melon taste was so good that everyone liked it but the rest of it was only consumed at noon when they felt that what they had eaten in the morning was unharmful to them.

Thank to this kind of fruit, life in the island now was much better. Melon was cultivated, harvested season by season. Every time An Tiem himself also dropped some fruits with his name curved over their skin into the ocean for the desire of sharing the happiness and looking for a way to the mainland.

Later there were some merchants who got into the island and asked for exchanging tools as well as food for the kind of fruit they had picked up in the sea.
Hung king somewhat felt regretful that he had put his son a death until the day he was offered a melon and broken the news that An Tiem and his family weren't only alive but also cultivated a precious melon in the island. After that a favor was granted to bring An Tiem and his family back to the court as an honor to the country.

From that time on this kind of fruit - Watermelon - was commonly planted but it was said that those melons from Nga Son Island where An Tiem first cultivated it were the best ones.

Luu Binh - Duong Le's friendship - Vietnamese Tales

From the childhood, Luu Binh and Duong Le were friends. This was a good friendship. Duong Le's family was poor. Duong Le lived with Luu Binh and they could study together. Duong Le was studious, had succeeded and passed his examination and named a mandarin.Luu Binh was confident in his fortune, played and failed in his examination. Later, Luu Binh's family was ruined because there was trouble in the country. He wanted to study again but he had no more money. He went and saw Duong Le in order to ask his assistance. Since Duong Le named a mandarin, he always thought much of his old friend. He was very happy when his friend came to see him. He thought that his friend has played, now he was unhappy. “If I help him, he will be lazy again, and do not know how he can earn money for a living”. Then he pretended to be angry and cried: "A mandarin has no friendship with a poor man". He ordered his soldiers to chase out Luu Binh. Luu Binh returned home very sadly. Duong Le said to Chau Long to help his friend and look after him. Obeying her husband’s orders, disguised herself as a trade woman, went to meet Luu Binh, took Luu Binh to her house to study. During 3 years, he tried to learn and succeeded in his examination. Luu Binh decided to go to Duong Le's house in order to reprimand him, At that time, Duong Le’s house in ordered Chau Long to present herself before Luu Binh. Now, Luu Binh recognised his friend's sacrifice. From that time, Luu Binh and Duong Le became more friendly.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

The Milky River - Vietnamese Tales

In the very old days, there was a clear fairy well which never dried up in a deep forest. Fairies were often there to take water to heaven or bathed and played together.In the same days, there was a man who worked hard and lived alone. One day he went to the forest to cut down wood and he got lost when he went into the deep forest.
He went by the fairy well when he tried to find the exit. There were three beautiful fairies playing and bathing in that well. He stood quietly to see them so passionately that he forgot to go home. Suddenly he saw three pairs of white wings lying on the grass; a bright idea went through his mind. He sneaked to take a pair of wing then hiding behind a tree. After bathing, three fairies were fording up to the bank. Two fairies that had swings were flying in the sky, only one was looking for her wings everywhere. Seeing that, the young man went out from the hide. She implored him:"Please give back my wings, strange man. I have to go home."
"No, I couldn't." He smiled and answered.

"This pair of wings belonged to me and you couldn't take them back. Be my wife and I would give you a happy life." He insisted not to give back those wings to her although she cried a lot. The afternoon sun was already slanting so he pretended to go home. She had to trail along behind him. When coming home, he hid secretly her wings right away, and then he prepared for dinner, clothes, blanket and mat for that poor fairy. Since then, she was his wife. After married they had a cute son soon. When their son was 3 years old, he had to go away for along time. He recommended his wife before leaving:
"Remember to eat these stacks of paddy. Don't eat that buddy stack or else wasps would bite both of mother and child."

But she didn't follow what he said. After eating a paddy stack, she took forbidden stack to eat. There was not any wasp in the stack so she doubted that he hid her wings over there. Of course she found them after searching for a while. She was eager to fly in the sky right away but she felt not to be familiar with her wings like before. She had to practice herself in flying everyday. She could fly back to heaven after a few days but she still lingered at home to take care of her son. One day, she decided to leave because her husband was going to come back. She made many cakes for her child and said to him:
"When you feel hungry, go to the room to take cakes, don't call me because I had to go away."
Then she pinned her comb on his shirt and recommended:
"Keep this comb for your father."

Then she was flapping her wings to fly in the sky. Her husband came back and didn't see her, and then he understood what happened when seeing her comb on his son's shirt. Since then, they were lonely, he was sombre and the child cried all days because of missing his mother. One day, he took the child to find the fairy well. He still remembered the way to that well but it was covered with luxuriant vegetation. He was looking for the way days by days and at last he found that well. He took the child to hide behind the well with hope they would meet his wife. They waited for her till the next day's afternoon, an old fairy flew down from the sky with a bucket in her hand. He took her bucket and implored:
"Please love and help me to do a thing.""What is it?" The old fairy asked.
"I am husband of a fairy who bathed here 3 years ago.

She was back to heaven without saying to us. Please help me to leave her a message so that she will meet us for a while. Here's her comb. You give it to her and she will understand this story right away.""I know her. Her name is Chuc Nu. Everyday she weaves thread into cloth and she misses you and this child so much. I promised to tell her about this."
The young man and his child were taken to her place the next day. They were so happy to meet again. But they had to be apart after 2 days living together. God didn't allow anyone from the earth to be in heaven. She wiped her tears and gave them a drum, a rice spathe and said:
"When your feet were on the ground, please hit the drum three times so that I can cut the rope."
He and the child went down. On the half way, his little son was hungry so his father put the rice spathe on the drum for the child eating. The child took rice into his mouth and he made rice scatter on the drum. A flock of crows swooped down on the drum and picked rice very quickly.

In the heaven, Chuc Nu thought they were on the ground so she cut the rope. The man and his son fell down to the sea. Crows knew their fault so they flew to the heaven and cried out a lot. God knew their situation so he ordered to take that man and his son to the heaven and assigned that man to breed a herd of buffaloes.

People called him Nguu Lang or Buffaloman later. This couple lived in the opposite banks. They could only meet together once a year, on July 7th (the seventh lunar month). The flock of crows had to put stones on their heads to form a bridge across the milky river so that the lovers could meet together. Since then, it often drizzles on July 7th (the seventh lunar month); people called it "Mua Ngau" or "Lasting rain."
There are tears of the lovers who meet in a day then they have to be apart till the next year. As for crows, they often are bald on that day because of putting stones on their heads.
Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

The Bamboo with 100 Joints - Vietnamese Tales

Once upon a time, there was a very poor peasant, who was employed as a servant for a rich man. The rich man was very stingy. He had many tricks to squeeze more work out of his servants without paying any more money. He had a single daughter. Knowing that the poor peasant was single although he was no longer young, the rich man pretended saying: - Try and work hard, my son. I will marry off my daughter to you. The poor peasant was truthful so he believed those sweet words from his boss. He hoped to be his boss's son-in-law. From then, he worked hard without feeling tired. He waded through the field to unhusk rice, pound rice, pull the stone cylinder, plait cord v.v. from dawn till late at night. How much work his boss gave, though it was hard or not, he never refused. The rich man was very happy to see his tricks were working. How could he marry his daughter to that kind of man? He decided to give his daughter in marriage to a son of another rich man in neighbourhood. They just brought areca nuts and betels for a plighting visit. However, in order to hide that poor peasant, he forced people to keep it secret. As for that poor peasant, he had no doubts at all, and still worked hard and pinned his hopes on his boss. Then the wedding day came. People laid the tables, killed pigs and chicken and the rich man's house was in a bustle. In order to avoid any problems from the poor man on that day, his boss called him and said: - You work well, I am satisfied with that. Today I prepare for your feast already. But you have to have wedding present. I don't demand money or a garden or field. Go into the forest and choose a bamboo with 100 joints, then cut it and bring it here. I will celebrate your wedding. If not, I will marry her to another man. The peasant stood stunned for a while then he took a cleaver and went to the forest. He tried to search for high bamboo groves then wormed into there to chop. But every time a bamboo fell down, he felt disappointed because it had only forty joints. But he wasn't discouraged. He wormed through rugged and inaccessible places to search for the bamboo with 100 joints. He chopped many high bamboos but he couldn't find one. He was so sad that he threw the cleaver and cried a lot. The forest resounded with his cry. Hearing his cry, a Buddha appeared and asked: - Who are you? Why do you cry? He wiped his tears and told Buddha about his problem. Buddha said: - Don't cry anymore. Cut one hundred bamboo’s sections and bring them to me. The peasant followed what the Buddha said. But he cried again when he brought enough bamboo sections. - Why do you cry? The Buddha asked again. He answered: - The rich man told me to cut a bamboo with 100 joints not cut one hundred bamboo sections. The Buddha comforted him and told him to lay 100 bamboo's sections into a line and called: "Join now", "Join now". He followed what the Buddha said. What a marvel! He saw all of sections joined together like the bamboo with 100 joints. He was very happy and hurried to carry the bamboo to home but he couldn't manage to put it on his shoulders. He slumped down on the ground and cried after failing to carry it to home. The Buddha asked: - Why do you cry again? - It's too long to carry home, the peasant answered. The Buddha told him to call "Separate now", "Separate now". Those bamboo sections separated right away. He was happy and thanked the Buddha very much then piling bamboo's sections into 2 bundles carried them with a shoulder pole through the forest. He went home when both families were feasting at the lavish wedding and the bride and bridegroom were going to officiate their wedding ceremony. He put the bamboo's load in the centre of the yard and called the rich man to receive his wedding present. Seeing those bamboo sections, the rich man shouted: - I told you to cut a bamboo with 100 joints, not 100 bamboo sections. Stupid! Without saying another word, he called continuously: "Join now", "Join now". The Bamboo's sections ran out from the bundles in turn and joined into the highest bamboo. The rich man was so upset. He shook the bamboo to make it separate. But he was stuck on the bamboo like another section. He shouted loudly. Both families ran toward him. The bridegroom was the first one to pull his father in law out of the bamboo, but the peasant's call "Join now", "Join now" made him stick to the bamboo and he put the rich man on his head. The bridegroom's father tried to pull his son out of the bamboo but he was stuck to the bamboo, too. Then both families were stuck to the bamboo. The peasant stood calmly in the corner of the yard, waiting for the answer from his boss. At last, his boss had to beg him to release the people from the bamboo and promised to marry his daughter to the peasant. He dared not to fail to keep his promise any more. The peasant called: " Separate now", "Separate now". All of people were released from the bamboo right away. Then the bridegroom and his family went home. The peasant had a nice wife from then.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

The mosquito - Vietnamese Tales

In Vietnam, mosquitoes are troublesome and even unbearable at certain times of the year.
Every one detests them, but very few know their history and the reasons why these cursed insects buzz unceasingly in our ears and attempt to such our blood. This legend will explain their origin.
Ngoc Tam, a modest farmer, had married Nhan Diep. The two young people were poor but in excellent health, and they seemed destined to enjoy the happiness of a simple rural life. The husband worked in the paddy and cultivated a small field of mulberry trees, and the wife engaged in raising silkworms.
But Nhan Diep was a coquette at heart. She was lazy, and dreamed of luxury and pleasures. She was also clever enough to hide her desires and ambitions from her husband, whose love for her was genuine. The husband supposed his wife to be content with her lot and happy in her daily chores.
Ngoc Tam toiled diligently, hoping to ease their poverty and improve their station in life.
Oneday, Nhan Diep was suddenly carried away by death. Ngoc Tam was plunged into such deep sorrow that he would not leave his wife's body and opposed her burial.
One day, after having sold his possessions, he embarked in a sampan with the coffin and sailed away.
One morning he found himself at the foot of a fragrant, green hill which perfumed the countryside.
He went ashore and discovered a thousand rare flowers and orchards of trees laden with the most varied kinds of fruit.
There he met an old man who supported himself with a bamboo cane. His hair white as cotton and his face wrinkled and sunburned, but under his blond eyelashes his eyes sparkled like those of a young boy. By this last trait, Ngoc Tam recognized the genie of medicine, who traveled throughout the world on his mountain, Thien Thai, to teach his science to the men of the earth, and to alleviate their ills.
Ngoc Tam threw himself at the genie's feet.
Then the genie spoke to him:
"Having learned of your virtues, Ngoc Tam, I have stopped my mountain on your route. If you wish, I will admit you to the company of my disciples"
Ngoc Tam thanked him profusely but said that he of any life other than the one he would lead with her, and he begged the genie to bring her back to life.
The genie looked at him with kindness mixed with pity and said:
"Why do you cling to this world of bitterness and gall? The rare joys of this life are only a snare. How foolish you were to entrust your destiny to a weak and inconstant being! I want to grant your wishes, but I fear that you will regret it later."

Then, on the genie's order, Ngoc Tam opened the coffin; he cut the tip of his finger and let three drops of blood fall on Nhan Diep's body. The latter opened her eyes slowly, as if awakening from a deep sleep. Then her faculties quickly returned.
"Do not forget your obligations," the genie said to her. "Remember your husband's devotion. May you both be happy."
On the voyage home Ngoc Tam rowed day and night, eager to reach his native land again. One evening he went ashore in a certain port to buy provisions. During his absence a large ship came alongside the wharf, and the owner, a rich merchant, was struck by Nhan Diep's beauty. He entered into conversation with her and invited her to have refreshments aboard his vessel. As soon as she was aboard, he gave the order to cast off and sailed away.
Ngoc Tam searched an entire month for his wife before locating her abroad the merchant's vessel. She answered his questions without the least hesitation, but had grown accustomed to her new life. It satisfied her completely and she refused to return home with him.
Then for the first time, Ngoc Tam saw her in her true light. Suddenly he felt all love for her vanished, and he no longer desired her return.
"You are free," he said to-her. "Only return to me the three drops of blood that I gave to bring you back to life. I do not want to leave the least trace of myself in you."
Happy to be set free so cheaply, Nhan Diep took a knife and cut the tip of her finger. But, as soon as the blood began to flow, she turned pale and sank to the ground. An instant later she was dead.
Even so, the light-hearted frivolous woman could not resign herself to leave this world forever. She returned in the form of a small insect and fol- lowed Ngoc Tam relentlessly, in order to steal the three drops of blood from him, which would restore her to human life. Day and night she worried her former husband, buzzing around him incessantly, protesting her innocence, and begging his pardon. Later, she received the name of "mosquito." Unfor- tunately for us, her race has multiplied many times.

Truong Ba's Soul - Butcher's skin - Vietnamese Tales

A long time ago, there was a Truong Ba, a young man who played Chinese Chess very well. His clever chess moves couldn't be snared up by anyone. He won all chess prizes available in spring festivals. The rumour about him spread everywhere, even in China. In the same days there was Ky Nhu, who also played Chinese chess very well in China. He went to Vietnam to find Truong Ba, and to challenge him in playing chess. They were playing a few moves when it became apparent that both were very good and that neither could recognise who would be the winner. But Ky Nhu was driven to a stalemate at the third move. Truong Ba was proud of his achievement and when he saw that his rival was at a loss, he said: -This chess move couldn't be cleared up even if the Chess fairy, De Thich, were to fly down to play. De Thich, the fairy, was in Heaven and heard that sneer of pride, and so he decided to challenge Truong Ba's pride. When they were playing, an old man appeared and took a moment time to show Ky Nhu some chess moves. After the old man imparted some ancient wisdom unto Ky Nhu, he changed the game from what appeared to be to his defeat into a victory. Truong Ba scowled the old man, who taught Ky Nhu to holdfast onto his Queen & turned the stalemate upon Truong Ba. But, then the old mans face transformed into the fairy's face of De Thich. When seeing this, Truong Ba was smitten with shame and knelt down to the old man and confessed: - You must be De Thich, the fairy? I am an earthman and cannot have guessed who you are. Please forgive me. De Thich laughed and said: - I heard that you were proud of playing chess well so I had to come here to see if it's true. Truong Ba kept De Thich to entertain him fully and carefully. De Thich was also fond of Truong Ba. Knowing that Truong Ba wanted to learn his chess moves, De Thich told him: - I see you have heartfelt feeling. I give you this joss stick. I will come down whenever you light it. De Thich flew away on a cloud to the heaven after that. From that time, Truong Ba sometimes prepared feasts and invited De Thich to come there for fun. They deeply understood each other. Then, Truong Ba suddenly died one day. One day, after Truong Ba had been buried, his wife cleaned the house. Seeing a joss stick at the roof, she took it down casually, burnt and put it on the altar of Truong Ba. In heaven, De Thich got this news through an aroma of the joss stick, so he went down right away. He was surprised to see Truong Ba wasn't there. He asked: - Where is Truong Ba? Truong Ba's wife wept and said: - My husband died about one month ago - Gracious me! Why didn't you call me at that time? - It's late so I can't help you anymore. After thinking for a while, De Thich asked more: - Is there anyone just died in your alley? Truong Ba’s wife said: - There’s a butcher who just died last night. De Thich asked her to take him to the butcher’s house and said: - I will find the best way to make your husband return to life. Then he flied back to the heaven. As for butcher’s family, people were around his coffin to moan and cry a lot. Suddenly they saw the body sat up. He threw out all of shrouds then no say with everybody; he went straight to Truong Ba‘s house. Truong Ba’s wife saw the butcher, knowing that De Thich made Truong Ba came to life again, she was happy to welcome him to the house. But the butcher’s family also came there to pull back him to them. But Truong Ba’s wife pulled back to her and the butcher also didn’t want to come back. Both of sides argued and it became a big argument at last. Their neighbours didn’t know how to justice so they had to report this to the mandarin. The mandarin asked their neighbours to law court to interrogate. All of them said that the reliving man was the butcher. But Truong Ba’s wife insisted that it was Truong Ba, her husband. The mandarin asked: - What did he often do every day? She said: - My husband was only good at playing chess. The mandarin asked the butcher’s wife: - What did he often do every day? She said: - My husband was only good at operating pigs. After hearing what they said, the mandarin ordered to bring a pig into law court so that the butcher could operate it. But he didn’t know how to do. The mandarin ordered to invite some famous chess players to play with the butcher. He couldn’t imagine that the butcher had well chess moves, nobody could defeat him. He ordered him to go back to Truong Ba’s house. Therefore, we have a saying: “Truong Ba’s soul, butcher’s skin”.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Betel leaf and Areca nut - Vietnamese Tales

There were two twin brothers of the Cao family. Their names were Tan for the eldest brother, and Lang for the youngest one.

They got schooling with a Taoist named Chu Chu who lived with his eighteen-year old daughter. He then married her to Tan, and the young couple lived their conjugal life happily.

But, Lang found out that his brother treated him less intimately since he got married. In fact, Lang left the house wandering around the country. He reached a larger river and couldn't cross it.

Not even a small boat was in the vicinity to transport him to the other side of the river. He was so sad that he kept on weeping till death and was transformed into a lime-stone lying by the river side.

Troubled by the long absence of his brother, Tan went out to look for him. When he reached the riverside he sat on the lime-stone and died by exhaustion and weariness. He was transformed into an areca tree.

The young woman in turn was upset by the long absence of her husband and got out for a search. She reached the same place where the areca tree had grown, leaned against the tree and died, transformed into a plant with large piquant leaves climbing on the areca tree. Hearing of this tragic love story, local inhabitants in the area set up a temple to their memory.

One day, King Hung went by the site and gained knowledge of this story from local people. He ordered his men to take and ground together a leaf of betel, an areca nut and a piece of lime. A juice as red as human blood was squeezed out from the melange. He tasted the juice and found it delicious. Then he recommended the use of betel chewed along with areca nut and lime at every marital ceremony. From this time on, chewing betel became a custom for Vietnamese, and very often they began their conversation with a quid of betel.

Lizard Story - Vietnamese Tales

Long, long ago, a poor man was called lizard. He and his fife were beggars. They saved amount of money then inter their money in a corner of their house. One day he saw 2 buffaloes wade from water and fight to death. He guessed it would have a big flood. So he used his money to buy rice. Of course, there was a big flood and he sold rice with an expensive price. He became rich and used their money to lend on interest. He became a billionaire and he would be arrogant so much. One day, he met another billionaire, they talked about their riches. Gradually they bet who would be the richest. First, he asked that man "Do you have coral?" That man gave a coral was a few meters long. That man asked him " Do you have rhino?" He gave a set tea cup which was made of horns of rhino. They showed many things. At last a man whispered that man and he asked "Do you have soil pot? Lizard man was trembled and told his servants to find it but he didn't have because that pot was often in poor family. He lost and all his property belonged to that man. He was sorry for him and died. He turned into house lizard and often made sound like his name.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Nam Xuong Lady - Vietnamese Tales


A long, long time ago, there lived in Nam Xuong village a girl called Vu Thi Thiet, she was not only beautiful but also well mannered. She got married to Truong Sinh who lived in the same village. Truong Sinh was a so jealous person. He often found her fault but she kept rule of behaviour and there was nothing happened.

They lived in happiness when the war happened at the frontier. He had to say goodbye to his mother and his wife to join the army as mandarin ordered. His wife was pregnant at that time. The goodbye was full of reluctance. The mother wished her son to have hard feet and soft stones, the husband advised his wife to try to take care of their old mother and bring up their child.

After he went to the frontier, she gave birth to a son; she named her child Dan. The child was light-hearted and healthy when his grandmother was sick because of her long fondly to see Truong Sinh.

His wife took care of his mother and invited good doctors to cure her but her sickness became more seriously and she passed away soon. Thanks to neighbourhood, organization her mother in law’s funeral was completed.

Some falls passed, the wife was waiting for the return of her husband. She saw to her household chores, took care of the child and to farm-work as well. There were some nights she had to light oil lamp to sew, mend clothes and played with her son. When the child cried, she often showed him her shadow on the wall and said:

"Don’t cry. Your father comes home, there, there."

The child looked at the shadow and didn’t cry anymore.

Since that, it became a habit. The child often asked to meet his father before going to bed. The black shadow on the wall was like the close person with both of mother and child.

Then the war ended, the frontier was peaceful. Soldiers returned to their home. Truong Sinh was one of them. Their reunion was both sad and happy. He was sad because his mother passed away but he was happy to have a cute son. The child was 3 years old and began to speak.

He let his father carry him but he was cold, The next day, Truong Sinh asked where his mother’ s grave was and carried his child to visit. When coming to the field, the child cried a lot, Truong Sinh soothed:

"Don’t cry, I love you. Then I will buy you presents and snacks."

The child answered right away:
"No, you’re not my father. My father was another one. He only comes home at night."

Truong Sinh felt his heart broken to hear that. He looked at his child and asked his child fast:
"How is your father like? Tell me about that."

The child said to his father:

"My father comes home every night…. My mother goes, he goes, my mother sits, he sits… He never holds me in his arms…."

The child’s unintentional sayings made Truong Sinh believed that his wife adulterous. There was no doubt anymore. Thinking of his wife was in other man’s arms, his jealousy was burst out. He mumbled:

"Everything is so clear. It can’t imagine when I was miserable so much…"

When coming home, he scolded his wife very badly:

"I don’t think you are faithful woman. The mother died, your husband was away, and you invited man to come home every night…"

He continued to scold her but he didn’t tell her about what the child said. His wife insisted to argue:
"Being cut off for 3 years, I have been faithful to you and never been spoilt as you said. Please don’t doubt me badly."

The more she argued, the more he was angry. He began to use brute ways to torture her.

Their neighbours heard about that so they came and tried to stop him not to torture her but they couldn’t stop him beating her at all. He assumed that she was well spoken so they defended her against him. In indignation at his bad behaviour, she held the child and sobbed hard then she ran straight to the Yellow River and jumped into the river when her husband went to the next-door neighbour.

When Truong Sinh came home, he didn’t see her anywhere. Feeling that there was an unlucky thing, he ran to the river but it was late. He couldn't find her anymore. When the night came, the child cried a lot. He lit an oil lamp to soothe him calm. Suddenly the child yelled happily:

"Oh, my father came here."

Truong Sinh was surprised and asked:

"Where was he?"

His son showed Truong Sinh's shadow appear on the wall and said:

"There, there…"

Truong Sinh remembered what the child said when they visited his mother’s grave. He knew his terrible fault and he understood that his wife had to suffer a terrible thing by his jealousy. How could he redeem his big offence anymore?

He only knew to hold his son in his arms, looking down to the river and cried every day. Since then, he was single to bring up his son. Later, people built a temple in Yellow River's bank to worship Vu Thi Thiet; it was called Truong’s wife temple.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Thach Sanh - Ly Thong - Vietnamese tales

Long time ago there was a kind and old but childless couple. They had to cut wood in the forest for rice. God felt moved then sent his crown prince to them so the old woman was pregnant for years. After the husband died, she gave birth a son.
The child was named Thach Sanh and became parentless some years later. He lived lonely in a shabby cottage under the old Banyan tree. He owned nothing except a hammer inherited from the father. When he was able to use the hammer, he was taught all kinds of kungfu and magic power by angles from heaven.
Once day there was an alcohol seller called Ly Thong passed by. He saw Thach Sanh carrying a heavy load of firewood. He knew there would be considerable benefits if he could persuade the young man to live under his roof. He did it. Thach Sanh was pleased and hoped that he would never be alone again.

At that time there was a man - eating ogress. No one could kill the evil so people had to make it a temple and offer it a man annually.
Unfortunately, once day it was Ly Thong's turn to come to the evil's temple. He and his mother thought that the only way to keep his destiny is to ask his adopted brother for help. This evening when Thach Sanh came home he was offered a big meal then asked for nothing but just simply guarding the temple for a night. The kind fellow accepted.
At mid-night when Thach Sanh was having half-closed eyes from sleepiness in the temple, the ogress appeared and was about to catch him with its sharp claws. Without huming and hawing he fought back bravely with the hammer handed down from his father and finally split the rival into parts and took its head and golden bow and arrows back. Hearing the voice of Thach Sanh in the front door Ly Thong and his mother were so afraid because they thought that it was only the soul of the victim coming back to revenge. Thach Sanh got into the house and told them what had happened and once again he was told that the ogress he had killed was the king's. The fellow was so frightened and was advised to return to the old cottage while Ly Thong brought the evil's head to the court for award and was conferred as a duke.

The king at that time had a graceful and nubile princess, many neighboring princes who wanted to ask for her hand. Once day when walking in the royal garden, she was caught by a huge eagle. Luckily Thach Sanh saw the eagle when it was flying by the Banyan tree with the claws carrying a young lady so he shot the eagle a golden arrow and traced to it's cave by the bloody mark on the surface.

At this time Ly Thong was in the charge to find the princess, he didn't know what to do but came to see Thach Sanh for another help. Thach Sanh was once again honestly told Ly Thong what he had done and then took him as well as his escorts to the eagle's cave. He crept into the cave by a string, had a drastic fight with the evil eagle and finally saved the princess. He tightened her with the string and made a signal for the escorts to pulled the princess out of the den.

After that the cave became darker and darker, he knew that its mouth was filled so he got deeper in the cave to find the exit. On the way to be out of the cave he saved the sea king's son who was captured by the eagle long ago. He was invited to visit his palace in the sea and offered treasures before he came back to the land but he only suggested for a guitar and a small pot.

Because of being defeated by Thach Sanh, souls of the ogress and the evil eagle were roaming and accidentally they met each other once day. They stole the king's gold and hid it in their enemy's cottage to accuse him of theft.

Thach Sanh was thrown in jail for long. Once day he began playing the guitar to kill sadness, actually melodies from the guitar resounded to the king's palace, the princess who was so sad after being saved life by an unknown young man that she lived without smiling or saying began speaking and smiling happily. Thach Sanh after that was invited to the court. There he retold to all the court what had happened to him and how he had saved the princess's life. Everything was made clear then. Thach Sanh was asked to judge lives of Ly Thong and his mother. However, they were freed to returned to their hometown for Thach Sanh's kindness but they both were killed by thunderer on the way home and turned to Dor-beetles.

The wedding of Thach Sanh and the princess was celebrated so magnificent that made all the princes of the neighboring countries who had failed for asking the princess's hand. They rose army of 18 countries for war. Thach Sanh asked the king for going to the battle where he did not fight but play the guitar and made the enthusiasm of princes' army damped by melodious sounds. They all put off their amours and gave up. Thach Sanh offered all the princes and their army a meal but brought out a small pot of cooked rice only. They felt strange when they found that it was impossible for them to eat all the cooked rice in the small pot. The pot was filled again and again whenever cooked rice was taken out. After that they showed their deep gratitude to Thach Sanh and returned to their countries.

The king had no son so he ceded the throne to Thach Sanh.