1) Donkey Lady
- There’s a remote bridge over Elm Creek in San Antonio that’s called the Donkey Lady Bridge. It’s said to be haunted by the Donkey Lady, who will do damage to people’s cars and terrorize people that cross it. People have even found hoof-like tracks in the mud under the bridge. The donkey lady is said to have been a settler in the 1800s that threw rocks at a rich boy who was beating up her donkey. The boy went back to town and got all his friends to get revenge, and set her house on fire that night. She was disfigured in the fire, which also killed her children. Her fingers were melted together so it looked like she had hooves and her skin was all freaky and melted, making her look like a really scary donkey. She was angry at the death of her kids, and to this day tries to take it out on anyone she encounters.
- My friend Annalise who is from San Antonio, Texas told us about this story. She learnt of this story just because growing up in San Antonio, it is a story that everyone naturally talked about, among family or friends. This story was sometimes used my adults to scare children and early teens to not go to certain places or stay out too late. Annalise told me this story when we were just talking about San Antonio, because I didn’t know this story, as I didn’t grow up there. It was casual but also intriguing.
- I had no idea of this story before so it was nice to hear about it. I wonder if the events described actually happened or that if it did not, who told the story and shaped it this way. It now makes me wanna go try to see if this story is real, or like if this has inspired any crimes to happen.
The Golem is a creature created by a rabbi to serve the Jewish community when the community needed to be protected. The creature is made of soil or clay and brought to life by the use of alchemical-like formulas described in holy texts. The creature is not possessed by a spirit or ghost, but driven by the ritual to follow the rabbi’s commands and serve the community until he is not needed. The Golem is then called-off and put away. The stories of ‘Golems-run-amok’ are tales of Golems that did not stop once they were told to, but rather continued on wreaking havoc wherever they went.
Another version of the Golem story is that one would mould the Golem out of soil, then walk or dance around it while speaking combination of letters from the alphabet and the secret name of God. To “kill” or “stop” this golem, the creator would need to walk/dance in the opposite direction saying the words backward.
Once again, Max told me this story upon my request. I have definitely heard of similar storie in other culture, but more along the lines of writing magical words into a paper and putting the paper either on a doll or on someone to commend “magical” powers. I had no idea that these stories had a jewish origin though; or is the jewish version an original work or just one of the editions.
17) Prince Lutin
Once there was a prince named Leandre, and he lived in this big palace. Another prince also lived with him, and his name was Furibon. Furibon was born deformed, but even more so, he is mean and nasty, and he has an insane mother.
As time went by, everyone loved Leandre, but hated Furibon. Furibon, out of hatred and jealousy, eventually tried to harm Leandre, and thus Leandre sent him away to live in the countryside to be safely away from Furibon.
While living in the countryside, Leandre was happy and free, but he was lonely. Once when he was out hunting, he was almost attacked by this grass snake; after defeating the snake, he decided to save it instead of killing it. So Leandre kept it in his house and raised it. After a few years, Furibon decided to attack Leandre again, and having found out about this, Leandre decided that he need to travel and get away. It is just then he found out that the grass snake is no longer a snake, but has turned into a fairy named Gentille. To thank Leandre for saving her life, Gentille promised Leandre one wish. She turned Leandre into a Lutin (imp) and gave him a red feather hat. When Leandre put this hat on, he can choose to have the power of the Lutin where he can choose to hide or reveal himself whenever, and he can choose to cross and borders, and he can choose to return to his original self whenever.
Having this power, Leandre first went to the palace and took revenge on Furibon and his mother. Then he went on several adventures where he experienced treasures and unrequited love, till he eventually ended up saving these 3 maidens. He found out from one of them that they are fairies from the Island of Quiet pleasure. This island was made by an old fairy who, after being hurt in love, created this island of only women where she replaced the guards with amazonian women. Leandre used his power to go check out this island out, and he eventually fell in love with the fairy princess. He devised himself as the voice of the parrot and from time to time tried to convince her that it is okay to trust men sometimes. Furibon at the same time, sought to invade this island for its riches and for the beautiful princess. Leandre devised a plan and in the end he killed Furibon successfully, protected the island, gained power and riches, and ended up winning the heart of the princess he loves.
Once again, Cami told me this story. This story seems a lot more like a Rumpelstiltskin style tale. According to Cami, every kid in France knew of this story. When she performed it it was a lot more lively and fun.
This story reminds me a lot of stories like the Iliad or Sinbad’s adventures.
16) Dames Blanches
This is from out of french mythologies/folklores.
Dames Blanches are white dressed female spirits who supposedly appear near caves, caverns, bridges or ravines. These are not extremely evil spirits, but they would ask passersby to do certain things for them to pass.
Those who did what was asked of them were able to pass the road safely, while others that refused are tortured by animals that helped the dames blanches or thrown off somewhere.
Some believe that these were pre-christian goddesses.
(*For more information, check out White Woman of Dutch and Germanic mythologies.)
My french friend Cami told me about this story as her parents used to tell her this story to scare her from going out late at night. She has never encountered these situations herself so it was hard for her to perform it in a believable manner but overall it was cool and I definitely remember reading about similar versions of this story.
15) Shimchong: the blindman’s daughter
Long time ago, maybe during the end of the HongPung era, there was a poor blind man named Shim Hakkyu. Him and his wife finally had a kid, but the tiredness of childbearing was too much for his wife so she passed away. Shim Hakkyu raised his daughter alone with great hardship, but his daughter grew up to be beautiful and kind.
One day, when Shim Hakkyu was out and about begging for alms, he fell into a ditch. As he was wailing about his ill fate, a monk came and helped him out; he told Shim Hakkyu that if he offers 300 sacks of rice to the temple and the Buddha, then it will have his sight restored. Shim Hakkyu was overjoyed by this kind offer and said yes in a whim. However, he soon realized that he has no means to get 300 sacks of rice. Shim Hakkyu told ShimChong that he was really really worried because what if they end up offending the Buddha???
That night, in ShimChong’s dream, her mother came to her and told her that if she goes and find this merchant at the harbor, he will give their family 300 sacks of rice. So the next day, ShimChong sets out to go to the harbor. The merchant is looking for a fair and beautiful girl to sacrifice to the dragon king so that they can finally sail, and he was overjoyed to see ShimChong volunteer.
The temple was very pleased to receive the 300 sacks of rice, yet Shim Hakkyu did not ge his sights back. The monks of the temple told Shim Hakkyu that it will come to him in time. Because of that, Shim Hakkyu has now yet to regain his eyesight, but also lost his only daughter. As ShimChong descended into the water, the sea became calm and all the sailors weeped for this beautiful and filial girl. ShimChong surprisingly found herself to be breathing under water. Two guards of the dragon king came to take her with them to the palace; there she lived happily, and her mother’s spirit rested there as well. However, she soon felt homesick, and unwilling to see this beautiful and filial girl sad, the Dragon King turned her into a beautiful white flower and brought her back to land.
ShimChong the flower was discovered by a fisherman, and then offered to the sad emperor that has just recently lost his spouse. When the emperor laid eyes on this flower, he was so wowed and happy that he took the flower in and kept it in the center of his palace. The king was completely obsessed with the flower and one night, he discovered the beautiful ShimChong that came outside of the flower at night. The emperor was so pleased with ShimChong that he decided to marry her. ShimChong was happy to marry the emperor and finally be back on land, but she was still sad that she could not find her father. She sent a request for the king to have a public wedding banquet and to invite all the blind beggars in this country. For three days, countless blind beggars feasted and joyed, but her father was nowhere to be seen. Just as ShimChong was about to give up, she hears the sound of a blind man who arrived late trying to argue his way in with the guards. She rushes towards the gate and discovers that that was her father! The two were overjoyed and to be reunited, and in that moment, Shim Hakkyu regains his sight so that he was able finally see his beautiful daughter.
My korean friend Justin presented this story to me. Justin could not remember a lot of the details so out of curiosity I looked them up. I really like this story in that it has many ups and downs. Justin knew this story just from reading in Elementary school. I feel like I see some common elements between asian folktales in that they seem to rarely end happily, and that family and being filial is absolutely one of the most important things. However, at the same time, I feel like this story really degrades women, making them objects that when in need are praised.
14) Jing Wei tried to fill up the sea
Legend has it that Yan Di (the ruler back then) had a smaller daughter named Nv Wa. She was really smart and pretty, and Yan Di loved her very much.
One day she went out to play, and saw a bigger kid riding on a smaller kid; she got mad and yelled at the bigger kid, saying that bullying the weaker ones are shameful; if he was really powerful he’d go hunt down bears and wolves.
The older kid saw that she was a little girl so he didn’t take her for anything. Turned out that the older kid was the son of the Sea Dragon King, and he was very full of himself. Him and Nv Wa got into a fight, but Nv Wa learnt a lot from her father and is very agile; she managed to win the fight against the son of the Sea Dragon King, and the Sea Dragon King had no choice but to back-off, swearing that he will get her back one day.
Sometimes later, Nv Wa goes into the ocean to swim; the son of the Sea Dragon King comes to her and asks her to apologize to him for what happened on land the other time. Nv Wa refuses, so the son of the Sea Dragon King turned waves against her, and ended up drowning her.
After she died, Nv Wa could not accept her death. Her spirit turned into a bird named “Jing Wei.” Everyday, Jing Wei flies to the west mountain to get pebbles, throws it into the sea, hoping to fill it up. She goes everyday, never ending.
I remember reading about this folklore in grade school and being very unsatisfied about the sad ending. Having my mom remind me of it and perform it to me again, I got to know more details of the folklore that I didn’t know before, yet I still feel very very sad about this story. I wish it wsa a happy ending.
13) Kua Fu chases the sun
A long long time ago, there were a tribe of titans. These titans were big and tall, and very hardworking. However, it was not a good time then. There were vicious animals everywhere and the land was not very good and thus caused many crop failures. The sun is often so harsh that it killed most of the crops and food that the titans planted.
Kua Fu was the leader of his tribe, and he was tired of seeing his tribe people suffer due to the sun, he decided that he was going to do something about it. Many people told Kua fu that he will fail, that he will never reach the sun or that he will burn to death. These words only made Kua Fu more determined, and so he made up his mind to go on the journey to capture the sun.
Kua Fu marched thousands and thousands of miles, using rocks as his pillows and dirt as his bed; he kept going and going, and the he was getting closer and closer, feeling more and more confident. However, the closer he gets to the sun, the thirstier he got. It got to the point where the one drink from the river can’t even hold his thirst anymore.
After nine days and nine nights, Kua Fu finally reached the sun; he stood right under the sun. But his thirst was so bad that he drank two whole river dry, and that still did not help. He needed to run north; there lies a plain named Da Ze that holds enough water that can solve his thirst. However, Da Ze was simply too far away, and half way there, he just couldn’t do it anymore; Kua Fu fell down and died.
Right before he died, still thinking about the people of his tribe, he threw his cane to the side and it turned into a forest of peach trees. Since then, it has provided people with food and helped with their thirst.
My mother told me this story once again, and this one I also learnt as a kid but couldn’t quite remember the details. When I was little I never really comprehended the meaning of it, but thinking back now it really seems more proverbial, telling people that the more you acquire, the more you want, and the harder it is to get it. Unfortunately, when my mother performed this story to me through videochat it was glitching quite awhile due to the terrible wifi, thus reducing the effect of this story. I never realized that Kua fu is actually a relatively kind character.
12) Chang E goes to the moon
Chang E was the wife of Hou Yi. They were a loving couple that was praised and respected by everyone around him. One day, an old monk that really admired Hou Yi’s power and bravery gave him a pill that can make him immortal and go up to the sky. Unwilling to leave the villagers and his wife however, Hou Yi told Chang E to hide the pill.
Peng Meng–a servant of Hou Yi–was bad natured and greedy and wanted to take the pill for himself so that he can become immortal. Thus, on the 15th of August one year, Peng Meng made an excuse to not go hunting with the rest of the man. He went to Chang E’s house, cornered her and forced her to give him the pill.
Worried and scared, Chang E did not know what to do, so she ended up just taking the pill herself. She then started rising to the sky, but because she loved her husband Hou Yi so much, she decided to land on somewhere that is the closest to earth–the moon.
Hou Yi came back home and when he found out about this, he was heart-broken. He kept chasing the moon, but whenever he moved forward, the moon mover forward, and whenever he moved backward, the moon moved with him also. He was so desperate but all he could do was to just stare up at the moon with his eyes to try to see if Chang E is there.
Thus, on the 15th of August of the second year, Chang E steps out from her moon palace and watches her husband and families. And the 15th of August became the mid-autumn festival/moon festival where all the families came back home and celebrated together (kinda like thanksgiving).
My mother also told me this tale when I was really little, and every kid just knew because when one attends an event for the moon festivals, there are poster boards that explain the origin of the festival. Unrequited love seem to be a very common theme in chinese stories throughout history. It seems that separation of distance between two lovers are used quite often in chinese folklores.
11) Hou Yi shoots the Sun
Once upon a time, there were a total of ten suns; they were the sons of the king of the eastern sky and his wife. Everyday they’d rotate positions and each shine its rays of sunshine on earth. That was a time where everything was peaceful and nice; no one had to worry about other people stealing from them, and animals did not have to worry about people hurting them. Crops are always thriving and there were always enough food and drink for all lives on earth.
One day, the ten suns thought that it would be fun and interesting if they all rose and went out together. Together, they marched across different lands, and thus burned everything; everything dried up, and all lives were dying under the heat. Suddenly everything was changed. The good life was gone, and nothing is thriving anymore.
A young man named Hou Yi, famous for his shooting skills, decided that he will try to save mankind. Thus, he spent many days and nights marching through mountains till he got to the highest point–he shot at the suns. The first 3 arrows took down 3 suns, but there were still 7 other songs that were glaring at Hou Yi. Hou Yi’s next shot took down 4 suns in a row, and the 3 that were left were now really scared. Hou Yi took down two more suns and now only one is left. That one remaining sun was so scared that it hid into the ocean.
Now there were no more sun burning the earth, but without the sun nothing grows; people started praying to the king of “heaven” for the one sun, and thus the next day a gleaming sun rose from the east sea, restoring all life and peace to earth.
Hou Yi was awarded to be a general or his bravery to save the people.
My mother told me this tale, but I’ve known this lore since I was little because every chinese kids know these; if not already told my parents, we read and learnt these in grade school. My mother’s performance really wasn’t anything spectacular since we both already know the tale so well. It’s funny to me that when I tried to think of chinese folklores I couldn’t really think of anything, but with people naming a few, I could remember all the rest.
10) Prince and the Lion
-) There was a prince who was born in a castle. It is said by a prophet that before he reaches the age of 12, a lion will look at the prince and cause the prince to die.
Thus, the King and Queen locked the prince in the castle, and never let him outside, fearing for any sorts of accidents to happen.
One day the prince (age 11 and a half) was bored and was wandering in the hallway, he sees this intricate design of the lion on the wall paper. The prince imagined that he was playing with these lions and thus he was tracing the lion’s shapes on the wall.
However, in the place of the lion’s eye, there was a nail; and so when the Prince accidentally traced it with his finger, he got cut and got tetanus, and he died from it.
-) The moral of this story is that no matter how hard you try to avoid something, what is bound to happen is bound to happen. This is widely believed by many Greek people, and it is a theme that is deeply ingrained in their culture. In many greek plays and myths and legends, we can see that when the main character tries to escape their fate, fate just leads them right back into where they tried to run away from. (ex: Oedipus.)
-) My Greek friend heard this story from her grandmother, and her mother; it was one of the bedtime stories that was told to her. She performed this to me when she heard that I was collecting folklore stories; but rather than a performance it was pretty concise and flat.
-) I think it is very interesting how the theme of fate is so ingrained in greek cultures; from ancient greek plays, myths, to different folklore tales. Even my friend told me that this is something she believed in. These tales must have played a pretty significant role in shaping her belief.