Tag Archives: jade emperor

Why Ducks Sleep on One Leg


While at my grandma’s house, she was serving me lunch. She used to live in Vietnam and came to the U.S. during the Vietnam War. I asked her to tell me a story she used to tell me when I was little and spend the day at her house. For context of the story, the Jade emperor is the king of heaven.


Main Piece

Grandma: “Oh I remember. Do you know why the duck sleeps on one leg?”


Me: “No, why?”


Grandma: A long time ago, there were 3 ducks that each only have 1 leg. So, the other animals ridiculed them. They were embarrassed and felt that they were short changed.


They were talking to each other saying, “It’s really unfair that the jade emperor only gave us one leg!”


So, they asked the rooster and the goose for help. Together, they all rode to the Jade emperor.


When they got to his palace the Jade Emperor was shocked with himself, “I forgot to give you two legs when I made you,” and decided to give them each an extra golden leg as compensation.


But the emperor warned them that from then on, they need to guard their appendages carefully. So now when they sleep, ducks sleep on one leg to protect their golden leg.”



This legend is a fun story to explain something about nature people in the past may have questioned. It also incorporates Vietnamese religion and culture of the Jade emperor who created all animals.