FOLKLORES

Crow Brings Daylight

A long time ago when the world was first born, it was always dark in the north where the Inuit people lived.

They thought it was dark all over the world until an old crow told them about daylight and how he had seen it on his long journeys.

The more they heard about daylight, the more the people wanted it.

“We could hunt further and for longer,” they said. “We could see the polar bears coming and run before they attack us.”The people begged the crow to go and bring them daylight, but he didn’t want to. “It’s a long way and I’m too old to fly that far,” he said. But the people begged until he finally agreed to go.

He flapped his wings and launched into the dark sky, towards the east. He flew for a long time until his wings were tired. He was about to turn back when he saw the dim glow of daylight in the distance. “At last, there is daylight,” said the tired crow.

As he flew towards the dim light it became brighter and brighter until the whole sky was bright and he could see for miles. The exhausted bird landed in a tree near a village, wanting to rest. It was very cold.

A daughter of the chief came to the nearby river. As she dipped her bucket in the icy water, Crow turned himself into a speck of dust and drifted down onto her fur cloak. When she walked back to her father’s snow lodge, she carried him with her.

Inside the snowlodge it was warm and bright. The girl took off her cloak and the speck of dust drifted towards the chief’s grandson, who was playing on the lodge floor. It floated into the child’s ear and he started to cry.

“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” asked the chief, who was sitting at the fire. “Tell him you want to play with a ball of daylight,” whispered the dust.

The chief wanted his favourite grandson to be happy, and told his daughter to fetch the box of daylight balls. When she opened it for him, he took out a small ball, wrapped a string around it and gave it to his grandson.

The speck of dust scratched the child’s ear again, making him cry. “What’s wrong, child?” asked the chief. “Tell him you want to play outside” whispered Crow. The child did so, and the chief and his daughter took him out into the snow.

As soon as they left the snowlodge, the speck of dust turned back into Crow again. He put out his claws, grasped the string on the ball of daylight and flew into the sky, heading west.

Finally he reached the land of the Inuit again and when he let go of the string, the ball dropped to the ground and shattered into tiny pieces. Light went into every home and the darkness left the sky.

All the people came from their houses. “We can see for miles! Look how blue the sky is, and the mountains in the distance! We couldn’t see them before.” They thanked Crow for bringing daylight to their land.

He shook his beak. “I could only carry one small ball of daylight, and it’ll need to gain its strength from time to time. So you’ll only have daylight for half the year.”

The people said “But we’re happy to have daylight for half the year! Before you brought the ball to us it was dark all the time!”

And so that is why, in the land of the Inuit in the far north, it is dark for one half of the year and light the other. The people never forgot it was Crow who brought them the gift of daylight and they take care never to hurt him – in case he decides to take it back.

The Sunflower

A Tale from Ancient Greece

Clytie was a sea nymph who wore beautiful green gowns woven of seaweed. Her long, golden hair floated about her at the bottom of the sea. One day a mermaid sang her a song about a golden light above the water. Clytie wanted to see it!

She swam to the surface and climbed onto the shore. She saw the golden light described in the song. . . It was the sun! She stood happily gazing at it all day. When she at last turned to the water, she saw her reflection. Her golden hair had become yellow petals; her green gown had become leaves. Her tiny feet had become roots. She had become a sunflower, a small image of the sun she loved.

To this day, the sunflowers turn on their stems all through the day so that they can gaze upon the sun as it travels the sky.

THE STONECUTTER

Once upon a time there lived a stonecutter, who went every day to a great rock in the side of a big mountain and cut out slabs for gravestones or for houses. He understood very well the kinds of stones wanted for the different purposes, and as he was a careful workman he had plenty of customers. For a long time he was quite happy and contented, and asked for nothing better than what he had.

Now in the mountain dwelt a spirit which now and then appeared to men, and helped them in many ways to become rich and prosperous. The stonecutter, however, had never seen this spirit, and only shook his head, with an unbelieving air, when anyone spoke of it. But a time was coming when he learned to change his opinion.

One day the stonecutter carried a gravestone to the house of a rich man, and saw there all sorts of beautiful things, of which he had never even dreamed. Suddenly his daily work seemed to grow harder and heavier, and he said to himself: “Oh, if only I were a rich man, and could sleep in a bed with silken curtains and golden tassels, how happy I should be!”

And a voice answered him: “Your wish is heard; a rich man you shall be!”

At the sound of the voice the stonecutter looked around, but could see nobody. He thought it was all his fancy, and picked up his tools and went home, for he did not feel inclined to do any more work that day. But when he reached the little house where he lived, he stood still with amazement, for instead of his wooden hut was a stately palace filled with splendid furniture, and most splendid of all was the bed, in every respect like the one he had envied. He was nearly beside himself with joy, and in his new life the old one was soon forgotten.

It was now the beginning of summer, and each day the sun blazed more fiercely. One morning the heat was so great that the stonecutter could scarcely breathe, and he determined he would stop at home till the evening. He was rather dull, for he had never learned how to amuse himself, and was peeping through the closed blinds to see what was going on in the street, when a little carriage passed by, drawn by servants dressed in blue and silver. In the carriage sat a prince, and over his head a golden umbrella was held, to protect him from the sun’s rays.

“Oh, if I were only a prince!” said the stonecutter to himself, as the carriage vanished around the corner. “Oh, if I were only a prince, and could go in such a carriage and have a golden umbrella held over me, how happy I should be!”

And a prince he was. Before his carriage rode one company of men and another behind it; servants dressed in scarlet and gold bore him along, the coveted umbrella was held over his head, everything his heart could desire was his. But yet it was not enough. He looked around still for something to wish for, and when he saw that in spite of the water he poured on the grass the rays of the sun scorched it, and that in spite of the umbrella held over his head each day his face grew browner and browner, he cried in his anger: “The sun is mightier than I; oh, if I were only the sun!”

And the mountain spirit answered: “Your wish is heard; the sun you shall be.”

And the sun he was, and felt himself proud in his power. He shot his beams above and below, on earth and in heaven; he burnt up the grass in the fields and scorched the faces of princes as well as of poorer folk. but in a short time he began to grow tired of his might, for there seemed nothing left for him to do. Discontent once more filled his soul, and when a cloud covered his face, and hid the earth from him, he cried in his anger: “Does the cloud hold captive my rays, and is it mightier than I? Oh, that I were a cloud, and mightier than any!”

And the mountain spirit answered: “Your wish is heard; a cloud you shall be!”

And a cloud he was, and lay between the sun and the earth. He caught the sun’s beams and held them, and to his joy the earth grew green again and flowers blossomed. But that was not enough for him, and for days and week he poured forth rain till the rivers overflowed their banks, and the crops of rice stood in water. Towns and villages were destroyed by the power of the rain, only the great rock on the mountainside remained unmoved. The cloud was amazed at the sight, and cried in wonder: “Is the rock, then, mightier than I? Oh, if I were only the rock!”

And the mountain spirit answered; “Your wish is heard; the rock you shall be!”

And the rock he was, and gloried in his power. Proudly he stood, and neither the heat of the sun nor the force of the rain could move him. “This is better than all!” he said to himself. But one day he heard a strange noise at his feet, and when he looked down to see what it could be, he saw a stonecutter driving tools into his surface. Even while he looked a trembling feeling ran all through him, and a great block broke off and fell upon the ground. Then he cried in his wrath: “Is a mere child of earth mightier than a rock? Oh, if I were only a man!”

And the mountain spirit answered: “Your wish is heard. A man once more you shall be!”

And a man he was, and in the sweat of his brow he toiled again at his trade of stone cutting. His bed was hard and his food scanty, but he had learned to be satisfied with it, and did not long to be something or somebody else. And as he never asked for things he did not have, or desired to be greater and mightier than other people, he was happy at last, and never again heard the voice of the mountain spirit.

Gold Axe Silver Axe

Gold Axe Silver Axe which is also known as  The Honest Woodcutter or 금도끼 은도끼 is a traditional Korean story or fairy tale. The story is basically a Korean version an Aesop’s Fable of the same name,. The story focuses on a Woodcutter who accidentally drops his axe into the river, and then starts crying. Seeing this the God of the mountain dives into the river and bring out a Gold Axe. When asked if this was his axe the woodcutter honestly said no. After this the God of the mountain dives back into the river and retrieves a silver axe, but once again the woodcutter is honest as doesn’t claim this one either. Because of his honesty the God of the mountain gives the man both axes plus the one he lost.
Later a neighbor hears of the woodcutters fortune and throws his axe into the river and starts crying. When the God of the Mountain bring up a gold the greedy neighbor claims it as his own. The god refuses to give him it and doesn’t give him any axes.
The moral of the story is that honestly has it’s own reward.

The White Butterfly

An old man named Takahama lived in a little house behind the cemetery of the temple of Sozanji. He was extremely amiable and generally liked by his neighbors, though most of them considered him to be a little mad. His madness, it would appear, entirely rested upon the fact that he had never married or evinced desire for intimate companionship with women.

One summer day he became very ill, so ill, in fact, that he sent for his sister-in-law and her son. They both came and did all they could to bring comfort during his last hours. While they watched, Takahama fell asleep; but he had no sooner done so than a large white butterfly flew into the room and rested on the old man’s pillow. The young man tried to drive it away with a fan; but it came back three times, as if loath to leave the sufferer.

At last Takahama’s nephew chased it out into the garden, through the gate, and into the cemetery beyond, where it lingered over a woman’s tomb, and then mysteriously disappeared. On examining the tomb the young man found the name “Akiko” written upon it, together with a description narrating how Akiko died when she was eighteen. Though the tomb was covered with moss and must have been erected fifty years previously, the boy saw that it was surrounded with flowers, and that the little water tank had been recently filled.

When the young man returned to the house he found that Takahama had passed away, and he returned to his mother and told her what he had seen in the cemetery.

“Akiko?” murmured his mother. “When your uncle was young he was betrothed to Akiko. She died of consumption shortly before her wedding day. When Akiko left this world your uncle resolved never to marry, and to live ever near her grave. For all these years he has remained faithful to his vow, and kept in his heart all the sweet memories of his one and only love. Every day Takahama went to the cemetery, whether the air was fragrant with summer breeze or thick with falling snow. Every day he went to her grave and prayed for her happiness, swept the tomb and set flowers there. When Takahama was dying, and he could no longer perform his loving task, Akiko came for him. That white butterfly was her sweet and loving soul.”

 

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