Stories source: Archarya, Gopilal. Bhutanese Folktales (From the East and the South) Thimphu: Pekhang Enterprise, 2004
1. Dhon Dor Horla
Courageous Samdrup meets a ghost in the middle night and soon he accompanies the ghost on his journey claiming himself also as the ghost. Samdrup alias Dhon Dor Horla helps the ghost to carry the bag which contains the stolen soul of a princess. The man then runs away and hides in a wheat field until the break of dawn when the angry ghost finally disappears. Samdrup goes to the king’s palace and cures the dying princess whom the happy king rewards him as his wife. Samdrup becomes the next heir to the throne.
Values: courage, bravery, fear, ego, pretension, wisdom, quick thinking, foolishness, fame, fortune
2. The Women who wanted to get rid of their goiter
Zangmo is beautiful and attractive save for her protruding goiter. She sets out one day from her home in Punakha to Thimphu. When she sleeps at night at Dochula, a mountain, the girl prays and takes refuges in the guarding deities for safety. At night, ghosts come and remove her ‘extra meat’. She goes back home happy, but she becomes the object envy of everyone in the village. Another girl also tries the same to remove her goiter, but the result dismays her. She now goes back home with an additional goiter on her neck.
Values: nature, fate, curses, refuge in deity, gratitude, envy, homage, enthusiasm, fear, shame
3. Thagchung Nganpa
The hero saves the king of underground world who is disguised as a snake from a fearful hunter. The king rewards his saver with all types of riches, but the king’s old mother suggests him to ask for an old dog. The dog is not an ordinary one, but later to everyone’s disbelief changes to a beautiful princess. Soon she becomes the object of envy and a greedy king wants to marry her. The king gives the boy a number of changes, but he overcomes all with the help of his wife and the father-in-law.
Values: family tradition, inspiration, hard work, commands, respect for authority, helping others, jealousy, hatred
A new baby boy is born who is fated to die at the mouth of a tiger, the instant fire in the house dies. So, the worried parents try to keep fire continuously burning for seven years. On the eighth, the adamant boy goes out into the forest, but the father secretly follows his son lest any danger befalls on him. At night the father kills a tiger and saves his son. The man carries both the tiger and his son home. When he finds out about the beast, the boy kicks the dead tiger. Unluckily, the boy’s toes hit the tiger’s teeth, the scratch develops into a severe wound and the boy’s fate turns out right for every medication fails.
Values: fate, perseverance, care, arrogance, disobedience, parental concern, advices
5. The Gambler
The hero of he story envisions himself winning a great fortune in a game of dice. His constant dreams make him become a gambler in a hope to make a good living. Following his dream whole-heartedly, the man becomes a great and renowned gambler. The king challenges him only to lose everything including the kingdom. The gambler now becomes the king and with his faithful wife, he lives a majestic life.
Values: boasting, making fun of others, prejudice, dreams, gambling, gain and loss, risk taking, simplicity, favor, helping poor, ego, overconfidence, luck, guilt, apologies, forgiveness, joy, celebration
6. The Cat that Spoke
Namgay is alone in his cowshed when his partner goes back to the village to collect their rations. In the evening a cat comes to his shed out of nowhere. Soon the cat begins to talk and now Namgay observes a goiter swell at the cat’s neck. But pretending not to observe anything at all, Namgay talks to the cat about ghosts. Still the bulge on the cat’s neck keeps on growing in stature and now the cowherd is hapless. In a move that surprises both himself and his uninvited guest, Namgay hits the bulge, which burst out. That’s the end of talking cat.
Values: sense of duties, friendship, unity, quick wit, beliefs, bravery, fear, physical force, strength
7. When Lam Pema Singey Laughed
When Lam Pema Singey laughs, it rains enough and the harvest is always good. Once the great saint refuses to laugh. Even the worried king begs him but to no avail. It is only on his exile the lama cannot control his laughter as he hears two men talking in their dreams. No sooner does the lama burst out than the rain comes pelting down. Finally long waited drought ends and everyone thanks the mighty Lam Pema Singye.
Values: laughter, foolishness, power, might, order, wisdom, gratitude
8. The Greedy Woodcutter
A poor generous woodcutter’s axe once falls down in the lake as he drinks water. He now cries there until the lady mermaid and hears his pleas. Soon brings before him a golden axe, silver axe and a metal axe. But the woodcutter speaks the truth and chooses his own axe. The mermaid rewards him all the three axes. Then a jealous woodcutter also tries his luck only to lose even his own axe in the lake for his dishonesty.
Values: sense of dignity, family pride, hard work, grief of loss, joy of gain, honesty, sincerity, gratitude, reward, jealousy
9. The Magic Pumpkin
An old childless couple desperately longs for a baby, which so seems so distant at their age. They finally find a big pumpkin, which claims as their son. To their disbelief the pumpkin helps the old couple. Even more the pumpkin brings himself a princess as his wife. One fateful day as the pumpkin climbs the tree to pick fruits for his wife, he falls down. The pumpkin shatters into pieces cracking the pumpkin to pieces. From inside it, a young handsome prince comes out. The rest is miracle.
Values: hard work, yearning for possessions, duty to parents, excitement, courage, faith in god, new lessons, respect, sociable norms, wisdom, vision, pride, revenge
10. The Bear and the Fox
A bear and a fox are friends, but the foolish bear soon becomes a slave to the sly fox. They work together and plant crops, which the cunning fox eats them all without the bear’s notice. Once the bear gets seriously beaten and now he realizes he has been cheated. In his counter attack, the bear comes out with serious plan, which ends the sly fox.
Values: friendship, unity, duty, responsibility, dishonesty, trust, sincerity, ignorance, revenge, apologies, ingratitude, satisfaction, happiness
11. Princess in the flower stalk
When their cruel stepmother treats them harshly, the seven princes and their only sister run away to build their own house and start living far from their father’s kingdom. One day when the brothers are out at work, a monster devours their hard working sister. The brothers take revenge killing the monster. However, they are sad as their only sister is dead, but not for long. Miraculously, their sister comes out of a marigold stalk.
Values: divorce, evil nature, pretension, working in unity, revenge, rejoice, happiness
12. The Henpecked King
Totally dominated by his wife, the king hardly takes any decision without his wife. People talk and laugh at the coward king, feel insecure, but the king is helpless. It is one fateful day that the king realizes his weakness, when he finds a monkey beating its wife. Taking the inspiration from the monkey, the king finally realizes his potential. He now beats his once dominating wife. Soon the woman submits herself before her husband, swearing to keep her sharp tongue inside always and does not interfere in king’s business.
Values: selfish ends, carelessness, realisation of potential, cowardice, dominance, obedience, submission before power
13. The Buffalo with sixteen horns
An orphan works all day long for his neighbours, but he is not treated well by the people. So, he runs away one day and reaches a shed where a group of bufalloes take shelter at night. The leader of the herd, the bufallo with sixteen horns allows the poor boy to stay with them, making use of the produce from the herd. He has a long buffalo horn to blow if he is in any sort of dangers, but he misuses it and the herd is unhappy about it. Once when his villagers come to take him back, he blows the horn but this time the herd does not come to rescue him.
Values: endurance, hardwork, cruelty, vision, understanding, kindness, compassion, wisdom, unity, duty, humbleness, sympathy, disobedience, mistrust
14. Puchey Bandhar
Of all a little moneky is the naughtiest who does not heed to his grandfather’s constant advice. The worried old monkey warns his little grandson about the dangers of sea and the crocodiles. But the little monkey wants to see the sea and crocodiles for himself. He does not listen to his grandfather and instead chooses to go to the sea one day. Silly monkey takes his own reflection in the water as his brother. In a foolish move, he jumps immediately to meet his brother in the sea where many hungry crocodiles wait to receive him down below.
Values: anxiety, parental care, advices, disobedience, overconfidence, ignorance, foolishness
15. The princess with three strands of Golden hair
The princess has three strands of golden hair which later becomes her plight. She loses a strand while she takes bath in the river. Everyone is asked to find out the lost hair promising the finder the princess herself. By sheer chance, the finder happens to be none other than her own brother and by vow, she has to marry her brother. The girl now runs away. All her six brothers and their mother all die with the girl’s curse. In the end her youngest brother comes to her. She marries a hunter in the woods and they live happily.
Values: care, disobedience, vows, curses, love, spiritual devotion, universal law, happiness, qucik thinking, obedience, compassion
16. The Foolish Brother
The younger brother is a foolish brother. He kills their grandmother pouring hot boiling water onto her heard while helping her take bath. The upset elder brother now sends him to herd their sheep. He lets most of the sheep die from over feeding. The frustrated elder brother now sends his foolish brother to accompany his wife, only to find that he has cut the wife into two halves. He ruins his brother who dies heart broken.
Values: foolishness, wisdom, care for old, anxiety
17. The Man Who Knew too much
A man becomes famous for his art of prediction although he hardly knows anything about the astrology for which he claims as master. It is only by mere coincidences that he becomes successful in the very art. In likewise manner, he even surprises the king when he locates the king’s lost horse and the queen’s necklace with his prediction. The happy king makes the astrologer his minister who again surprises everyone with a victory in the battlefield - ofcourse by sheer chance.
Values: wit, sensitivity, logic, fame, fear, fortune, struggle, order, reward, joy, comfort, confidence, mistrust, success, bravery, victory, honour, providence
18. The Jealous friend
Two friends go to study in a distant land. They separate from each other at a place to attend different schools. The rich man’s son wastes his time while his friend, the poor man’s son works hard and becomes a learned man. They meet at the very place after certain years. Now the spoilt rich man’s son is jealous of his friends knowledge and overcome by jealousy, he plans to kill his own friend. The poor man’s son sends home a three-lettered chit through his friend, which finally the three scholars intrepret it correctly. The rich man’s gets his share of punishment.
Values: friendship, wealth, fame, power, education, struggle, procastination, bad comapany, guidance, regret, jealousy, curiosity, reward, punishment
19. The Unrelenting enemy
Two men are neighbours by location, but worst enemies at hearts. One neighbour teaches the other’s son how to grow salt in the kitchen garden, but having wasted enough resources and effort, the second man realizes he’s been cheated and now he plans for a sweet revenge. Now he shows his neighbour how to cross a swollen river at night. That’s the end of cruel neighbour.
Values: enmity, lies, deception, ignorance, revenge
20. Prince Vikranta
Prince Vikranta’s father while on exile experiences a vision. He now sends his son to the king of nagas who prophesizes prince Vikranta, a beautiful daughter of demon, who lives in a distant land. On this mission, the prince helps some animals in danger. He also meets two extraordinary men who accompany him on the mission. The demon puts a series of challenges before he gives the prince his daughter’s hand in marriage. He overcomes all with his two friends and the animals that he saves earlier on his way. With a beautiful wife, the prince returns only to join his father.
Values: bravery, discovery, fortune, obedience, advice, prayer, compassion, help, prophesy, challenges, determination, accomplishment, reward, happiness