Animal Folklore: Tiger Stripes

I wanted to continue with the animal folklore theme, as so much from this collection was based on human stories, I wanted to add more animal folklore. Additionally, I wanted to look for folk tales from other cultures beyond Western influences. Thus, I went on YouTube to find some Eastern tales and found a very interesting little cartoon explaining how the tiger got his stripes. The tale comes from Vietnamese folklore and is narrated by Rob Cleveland. It is a digitally generated cartoon published by August House for children’s entertainment.

The tale talks of the arrogant and proud tiger who is not afraid of any animal in the jungle except the water buffalo. At this point in history, the tiger had a pure golden coat, which he was extremely proud of. He scared the other animals away with his big teeth and claws. One day, “Tiger was confused” to see his enemy the water buffalo tied to a plow that a lowly human was using to till his field. So, tiger asked the water buffalo. The story has different voices for each of the animal characters, which makes it more entertaining from a visual perspective. They are all the same narrator, but with different accents. The water buffalo tells the tiger he works for man because of his “wisdom.” The tiger saws “I must get some wisdom” because of his arrogance. He threatens the man and demands he gets some wisdom. The man says, “tiger, wisdom is not something I can give you,” but the tiger continues to threaten the man. So, the man says “oh tiger, mighty tiger, I am afraid to go get you the wisdom,” because he is worried about the tiger eating his goats. The tiger promises not to eat the goats and agrees to be tied to a tree by the tip of his tail to protect the goats. The man continues to tie the tiger’s paws and head to the tree as well as he continues to trick him. The man left the tiger there after tricking him, and the other animals in the jungle laughed at him. Finally, the water buffalo “shook his head and walked away.” Finally, the tiger realizes he was tricked and could not untie himself from the tree. As he pulled away, the ropes “dug into his fur;” he eventually broke free but “the ropes had burned stripes into his coat.” Tiger saw the stripes and became embarrassed, slinking around in the shadows, “still searching for wisdom.”

The narration starts off with “many years ago, when the jungle was young, the proudest animal in the jungle was the tiger.” This is reminiscent of the way Western fairy tales start, beginning with “a long, long time ago.” It is interesting to see how similar folk tales are, despite vast cultural differences. Moreover, the basic format is very similar to that of Aesop’s Fables. The man tricks the tiger and his arrogance leads to a significant change in the animal’s character. It also explains a behavioral characteristic of the tiger in a very fun and entertaining way for children.

Source: August House. “How Tiger Got His Stripes.” 2009.