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Cambodian Folktales

Mask of the Giant

Mask of the Giant worn for dance performance





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The Nymph and the Giant

     Once upon a time in a far away kingdom in the mountains, there was a nymph and a giant who were studying magic with a wise and powerful hermit. The two students were very competitive, they always wanted to outdo each other in their studies.

          One day, the hermit showed them a magic ball, he told the nymph and the giant of the special powers it possessed, he said:

"I will give this ball to the first person who will be able to bring me a cupful of morning dew!"

          The giant, determined to get hold of the magic ball, hardly slept the night. At dawn, he went to gather all the leaves and one by one let each droplet of dew slide into his cup. It was a time consuming task and even after using all these leaves, he only filled about less than a quarter of his cup.

          The nymph did things a little differently than the giant. The night before, she had left a piece of cloth on the grass and by morning the cloth was wet. She just wrung the cloth in the cup and in no time at all, was able to fill up the cup. She excitedly, brought it to her teacher who complimented her on her cleverness. Meanwhile, the giant was still gathering leaves and was very upset when he found that he had lost the contest.

          The giant, as a consolation prize, received an ax from the hermit. This was the beginning of an eternal struggle, for the giant very much desired the ball, for it had magic powers. He stalked the nymph, and threatening her but she was not bothered by him for she was aware of the giant's tricks and teased him return. Finally the giant flung his ax at the nymph, desperate to get hold of the ball, he missed her and tried again. The nymph tossed her ball into the air to deter the ax, and when these two objects collided, they created a bolt of lightning. The light blinded the giant momentarily and the nymph took this time to escape.

          In the villages, whenever there is a big storm, people say that the thunder is created by the giant's footsteps as he runs towards the nymph and the lightning are from the sparks of the impact of the ball and ax. The importance of this story is that lightning and thunder bring rain, a symbol of fertility to the land.
According to this tale, thunder and lightning are created by the sparks from the ax and the magic ball.

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Cambodian Folktales created by Ithara Phlong,

last modified: December 15, 2000