Occupation: Restaurant Owner
Residence: New York
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: Thai (laotian)
Other Language(s): English
The following informant is a 60-year-old Thai immigrant who heard the following story growing up as a kid. This interview was carried out in a mix of Thai and English. In this I will be denoted as C and the informant will be denoted as S
S: This story is, this story is … uh the fox … uh (in English: the fox) and the sacred tree.
C: I see.
S: There is this fox, it is skinny, hungry, it hasn’t eaten, it is very skinny. So it went and it prayed, in other words it went to ask the sacred tree. The fox asked, it asked to become an ox. An ox that people would take care of and become big and healthy. Strong, and had things to eat all the time. Do you understand?
C: Yes, I understand.
S: And now the fox, whose body was very skinny, became an ox. It became an ox and the people around there started to take care of it. Once they took care of it until it was large and healthy they took it to chai naa.
C: What is chai naa.
S: chai naa (in English) means to work in the field.
C: I understand.
S: After having to work in the field the fox goes back to the sacred tree and says “I can’t take this. Once becoming an ox, they took me and used me in the fields. Can I become a horse or something? At least I’d have someone taking care of me.”
But once it became a horse, the king, uh, the king that lived in that country saw how beautiful this horse was and ordered his soldiers to capture it and make the horse his personal horse. Do you understand?
C: What do you mean personal horse?
S: He used the horse to ride around for fun.
C: Oh, to ride around for fun.
S: He also used the horse to ride for work, for religious events, stuff like that. The King’s working horse. After becoming a working horse, the fox felt bored and realized being a king was betterthan being a horse. You understand?
S: The fox felt the kings used horses and were better than them. So, the fox went to the sacred tree and asked to if it could be a king instead. Now once the fox was a king, it wanted to travel on a boat. It wanted to, uh, wanted to travel on the ocean. So, it ordered its soldiers to go cut down trees to, uh, make a very large boat. And the soldiers ended up trying to cut down the sacred tree too.
C: Uh oh.
S: So now the sacred tree was very angry, that it, that it had helped the king, had helped the king since way before when it was a fox, and fox’s soldiers were trying to cut it down. So, it ordered the soldiers to tell it’s king to come cut the sacred tree itself. Once the king came to the tree, the sacred tree blamed the king that “You don’t know, you don’t appreciate, you don’t, you’re a bad person who got whatever they wanted and it wasn’t enough.”
From being a fox to becoming an ox, from becoming an ox to becoming a horse, from becoming a horse to becoming a king, becoming a king and even trying to cut down the sacred tree that helped it. So the sacred tree cursed the king and turned him back into a hungry fox.
C: Uh oh.
S: The end.
Analysis: This tale is serves as an example of how someone should conduct themselves and to appreciate the things that people, in this case a sacred tree, would give them. There seems to be a greater message to this tale than just the story itself.