Village Folk-tales of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), vol. 1-3

by Henry Parker | 1910 | 406,533 words

This folk-tale entitled “the giant and his two friends” is gathered from oral sources sources, tracing its origin to ancient Ceylon (Sri Lanka). These tales are often found to contain similarities from stories from Buddhism and Hinduism. This is the story nr. 260 from the collection “stories of the western province and southern india”.

Story 260 - The Giant and his Two Friends

IN a certain country a Prince was born to a King, it is said. For the purpose of giving milk to the Prince he caused a wet-nurse[1] to be brought. Because the nurse’s milk was insufficient for the Prince, he caused yet [another] person to be brought. That also being insufficient he caused yet [another] person to be brought. In that manner having caused seven wet-nurses to be brought, the whole seven gave milk to the Prince. That milk also being insufficient, for the day he gave him also the cooked rice from a quarter [bushel] of rice, and a quarter of a goat, to eat. Having eaten this food, during the time when the Prince became somewhat big [so as] to walk here and there, he gave him the cooked rice from a half bushel of rice and the meat of a goat, to eat. Until the time when ten years were completed for the Prince he gave food thus.

At that time the Prince began to jump that side and this side in the river. That circumstance was published in all cities. During the time when it was thus published, the people of the cities were collected together to look at this Prince. Thereupon, when the Prince was jumping to that bank of the river, while in the midst of the great multitude he fell into water of about two fathoms. Thereupon the Prince, having swum with great shame and having gone to the bank, again jumped to this bank. That time he fell into water of about three fathoms. At that time the Prince becoming very highly ashamed, not speaking at all, went to the royal house, and having been adorned with the five weapons,[2] entered the midst of the forest and went away.

While going thus a little far he met with an old mother. Thereupon this Prince speaks to the old woman,

“Ane ! Mother, I am very hungry. Prepare and give me a little cooked rice to eat,”

he said. When he said so, the old woman, calling the Prince and having gone to her house, and given [him] a sort of vegetable stew to eat, says,

“Ane ! Son, to cook and give boiled rice I cannot get water. The crocodile in the river has fallen mad. I cannot go also into the midst of the forest to get firewood, the leopard having fallen mad. Should you bring and give firewood and water I can cook and give cooked rice,”

she said.

Thereupon the Prince having said,

“It is good,”

and taken his sword, and gone into the midst of the forest, when [he was] breaking firewood the leopard came and sprang [at him]. After that, the Prince having chopped with the sword and killed the leopard, cutting off his tongue and breaking as much firewood as he can bring, brought it and threw it down at the old woman’s house.

Thereafter, having taken his sword and the water-pot, at the time when he is going near the river the crocodile came springing [at him]. Thereupon, having chopped it with the sword, he cut the crocodile into four or five [pieces], cutting off its tongue also; and having come back [after] t aking also a pot of water he gave it to the old woman; and having told her to make ready and give the food, because of pain in the body of the Prince, as soon as he had reclined a little he went to sleep.

While he was there for a little time, the old woman having seen that a man is lifting up the leopard which the Prince killed, and going away [with it], having spoken to the Prince, says,

“Son, a man, killing the leopard which had fallen mad is taking it to the royal house. The King had appointed that to a person who, having killed, gave the leopard and the crocodile, he will give much wealth. The King having given much wealth to the man, at the time when you went into the midst of the forest didn’t you meet with the leopard ?”

Having said it, she told him the whole of these matters.

After that, the Prince, not speaking at all, went to the royal house behind the man who is lifting and going with the leopard. The man having gone to the royal house, and made obeisance to the King, [and shown him the leopard], said,

“O King, in the midst of the forest I killed the leopard that had fallen mad. Regarding it, please give me the wealth that Your Honour has appointed.”

Thereupon the King being much pleased, at the time when he is preparing to give the wealth this Prince went near the King, [and said],

“O Great King, I killed this leopard. This man, taking the carcase of the leopard I killed, came to obtain the wealth for himself. If this man killed it be good enough to look where this leopard’s tongue is. I have killed not only this leopard. The crocodile, too, that had fallen mad in the river will be [found to be] killed.”

Having said,

“Here, look; the two tongues of those two,”

he gave them to the King. The King, too, having taken the two tongues and looked at them, believed that he killed the leopard, and having killed the man who told the lies gave much wealth to this Prince.

The Prince, bringing the wealth and having given it to the old woman, and been there two or three days, the Prince went to another district. While going thus he met with a dried areka-nut dealer. Thereupon the two persons having become friends, while they were going along they met with an arrow maker. The three persons having joined together, talk together:

“Friend, what can you do ?”

Thereupon the dried areka-nut dealer says,

“Having uttered spells over this dried areka-nut of mine, when I have struck it having gone everywhere it comes again into my hand. After that, I can do what I have thought (hitu andamak),”

he said.

When they asked the arrow maker, he informed them that, in the very way which the dried areka-nut dealer said, with the arrow also he can display power.

After that, the Prince says,

“The cleverness of you two is from the dried areka-nut and the arrow; my cleverness is from the strength of my body. Should I think of going in the sky further than ye two, having sprung into the sky I go,”

he said. Thereupon those two persons having made obeisance to the Prince, the whole three went to one district.

In that village, at a great wealthy house, an illness due to a demon (yaksa ledak) having been caused in a young woman, they had been unable to cure her. These three persons at that very house got resting-places.

These three persons ascertaining this circumstance, the Prince having performed many demon ceremonies and cured the young woman’s demon illness, married and gave the young woman to the dried areka-nut dealer; and having planted a lime seedling in the open ground in front of the house, he says,

“Some day, should the leaves of this lime tree wither and the fruit drop,, ascertaining that an accident has occurred to me, plucking the limes off this tree come very speedily seeking me.”

Having made him stay there he went away with the arrow maker.

When going a little far, anciently a great collection of goods having been at yet [another] house, and it afterwards having reached a state of poverty, the principal person of the family having died, they got resting-places at the house, at which there are only a daughter and a son. At the time when these two asked the two persons of the house,

“Is there nobody of your elders ?”

they told these two the whole of the accidents that had happened to the people.

Thereupon the Prince, having spoken to the arrow maker and made him halt there, just as in the former way planted a lime seedling; and in the very manner of the dried areka-nut dealer having given him warning, the Prince went away quite alone.

Having gone thus and arrived at a certain village, when he looked about, except that the houses of the village were visible there were no men to be seen. Arriving at a nobleman’s house[3] in the village, a house at which there is only one Situ daughter, this Prince got a resting-place. Having given the resting-place, this Situ daughter began to weep. Thereupon this Prince asked,

“Because of what circumstance art thou weeping ?”

Thereupon this Situ daughter says,

“My parents and relatives a certain Yaka ate; to-day evening he will eat me too. Through the fear of that death I weep,”

she said.

At that time the Prince says,

“Putting (taba) [out of consideration] one Yaka, should a hundred Yakas come I will not give them an opportunity[4] to eat thee. Don’t thou be afraid.”

Having satisfied her mind he asks,

“Dost thou know the time when the Yaka comes ?”

Thereupon the Situ daughter said,

“Yes, I know it. When coming, he says three [times], “Hu, Hu, Hu”; that is, when he is setting off, one Hu, and while near the stile, one Hu, and while near the house, one Hu; he says three Hus.”

Thereupon the Prince asked,

“Are there dried areka-nuts ?”

Afterwards the Situ daughter said,

“There are.”

“If so, filling a large sack please come [with it],” he said.

The Situ daughter having brought a sack of dried areka-nuts gave them. The Prince also having put them down thinly at the doorway, the Prince sitting inside the house and taking his sword also in his hand, waited.

Thereupon he said the Hu that he says when setting out. At that time the Situ daughter in fear began to weep.

When the Prince is saying and saying to the Situ daughter,

“Don’t cry,”

he said “Hu,” the other Hu near the stile. In a little time more having come to the open ground in front of the house saying a Hu, when he was springing into the house the Yaka fell on the heap of dried areka-nuts. At that time the Prince with his sword cut the Yaka into four or five [pieces].[5]

Taking in marriage the Situ daughter, while he was dwelling there a long time, to take in marriage the Situ daughter they began to come from many various countries, because the Situ daughter is very beautiful.

Out of them, a Prince caused the notification tom-tom to be beaten [to proclaim] that should anyone take and give him the Princess who is at the nobleman’s house in such and such a village, he will give him much goods.

Thereupon a certain woman having said,

“I can obtain and give her,”

stopped the notification tom-tom, and having gone to the royal house, asking for three months’ time went to the village at which that Prince and Princess are, and having become the female servant at that house, remained there.

Meanwhile this woman asks the Princess,

“Ane ! Please tell me by what means your lord displays strength and prowess to this degree,”

she asked with humility.

Thereupon the Princess said,

“Don’t you tell anyone; our Prince’s life is in his sword.”

That woman from that day began to collect coconut husks and coconut shells. The Princess having seen it asked,

“What are you collecting those coconut husks and coconut shells for ?”

Thereupon the woman said,

“Ane ! What is this you are asking ? For houses, on the days when it rains is there not much advantage in [having] coconut husks ?”

And the Princess having said,

“It is good,”

did nothing. While she was thus, the three months were passing away.

One day, when this Prince and Princess were sleeping, in the night this woman, stealing the sword that was upon the Prince’s breast and having put it under those coconut husks and coconut shells that she had previously collected, set fire to the heap. When the sword was becoming red [hot] the Prince became unconscious.

Before this, this woman had sent a message to the Prince who caused that notification tom-tom to be beaten, to come with his retinue, taking a ship. That very day at night the retinue came. After that Prince became unconscious, this retinue having taken that Princess by very force, put her in the ship to go to their city.

That Prince’s two friends having arisen in the morning, and when they looked, having seen that the leaves had faded on the lime trees and the fruits had dropped, plucking the limes off them came seeking the Prince. Having come there, when they looked, except that the Prince is unconscious there is no one to see. Having seen that a bonfire is blazing very fiercely, they quickly poured water in the bonfire and extinguished the fire. When they were looking, the sword having burnt [away] (piccila) a little was left. Having got this piece of sword these two persons took it away. Having cut the limes, when they were rubbing and rubbing them on it, by the influence of the Prince the sword became perfect.

At that time the Prince arose in health; and when he is looking perceiving that the Princess is not [there], he went running with those two persons to the port, and saw that at the distance at which it is [just] visible the ship is going.

This Prince asked these two,

“Can you swim to that ship ?”

Thereupon these two persons said,

“If you, Sir, will swim we also will come.”

Then the Prince asked,

“When you have gone to the ship how many men can you cut down ?”

The dried areka-nut dealer said,

“I can cut until the time when the blood mounts to the height of a knee.”

The arrow maker also said,

“I can cut until the time when the blood mounts to the height of a hip.”

Thereupon the Prince having said,

“If you two will cut until the blood is at the height of a knee, and until the blood is at the height of a hip, I will cut until the blood is at the height of a shoulder,”

the whole three persons sprang into the river. Having gone swi mmin g and mounted upon the ship, the areka-nut dealer, taking the [Prince’s] sword and having cut the dead bodies until the blood is a knee [deep], gave the sword to the arrow maker. The arrow maker taking the sword and having cut dead bodies until the blood is a hip [deep], gave the sword to the Prince. The Prince having cut the men until the blood is shoulder deep, and having cast the dead trunks into the river, causing the ship to turn arrived with the Princess at his village.

Having come there, the Prince [and Princess] resided there in health. Those two persons having gone to the cities at which each of them (tamu tamun) stayed, passed the time in health.

Western Province.

Footnotes and references:


Kiri-maw, milk-mother.


Sword, spear, bow, battle-axe, and shield (Clough).


Situ gedaraka.


Lit., leave place to them.


A similar episode occurs in vol. i, p. 163.