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

by Henry Parker | 1910 | 406,533 words

This folk-tale entitled “the pied robin” 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. 29 from the collection “stories told by the cultivating caste and vaeddas”.

AT a certain city, while a female Pied Robin [1] was digging and digging on a dung-hill, she met with a piece of scraped coconut refuse, it is said. She took it, and put it away, and having gone again, while she was digging and digging there was a lump of rice dust. Having taken it, and put it to soak, she said, “Sister-in-law at that house, Sister-in-law at this house, come and pound a little flour. [2]

The women, saying,

“No, no, with such a fragment you can pound that little bit yourself,”

did not come.

The Pied Robin pounded the flour, and cooking a cake of the size of a rice mat (wattiya), and tying a hair-knot of the size of a box, and putting on a cloth of the breadth of a thumb, while she was going away she met with a Jackal.

The Jackal asked,

“Where are you going ?”

“Having looked for a [suitable] marriage, I am going to get married,”

she said.

The Jackal said,

“Would it be bad if you went with me?” [3]

The bird asked,

“What do you eat ?”

The Jackal said,

“I eat a land crab, and drink a little water.”

Then the bird said,

Chi! Bullock, Chi!”

and while going on again she met with a blind man.

The blind man asked,

“Where are you going ?”

“Having looked for a [suitable] marriage, I jam going to get married,”

she said.

The blind man said,

“Would it be bad if you went with me ?”

The bird asked,

“What do you eat ?”

The blind man said,

“Having chewed an eel, I drink a little water.”

Then the bird said,

“Chi! Bullock, Chi!”

and while going on again she met with a Hunchback, chopping and chopping at a bank (nwa) in a rice field.

The Hunchback said;

“Where are you going ?”

“Having looked for a [suitable] marriage, I am going to get married,”

she said.

The Hunchback said,

“Would it be bad if you went with me?”

The bird asked,

“What do you eat ?”

The Hunchback said,

“I eat rice cakes.”

Then the bird having said,

“Ha. It is good,”

the Hunchback said,

“I put rice on the hearth to boil, and came away. You go and look after it.”

After the bird had gone to the Hunchback’s house, she found that the water was insufficient for cooking the rice, and except that it was making a sound,

Kuja tapa tapa, kuja tapa tapa,”

it was not cooking.

So the bird went to the Hunchback, and said,

“The water is insufficient for cooking the rice. It only says

‘Kuja tapa tapa, kuja tapa tapa.’ [4]

Bring water, O Hunchback.”

The Hunchback became angry [at the nicknames], and having come home, when he was taking a water-pot to the well, a frog sitting on the well mouth jumped into the well, making a sound,

“Kujija bus.” [5]

Then the Hunchback, having drawn and drawn up the water from the well, caught and killed the frog, and tried to fill the water-pot with water.

The water continuing, as he poured it, to make a sound

“Kuja kutu kutu, kuja kutu kutu,” [6]

except that it splashed up does not fill the water-pot.

Through anger at it, he took the water-pot and struck it against the mouth of the well, and smashed it.

While he was coming home he met a Village Headman. The Village Headman asked,

“Where, Mr. Hunchback, did you go ?”

The Hunchback said,

“What is the journey on which I am going to thee, Bola, O Heretic ?”

and having come home, killed the Pied Robin, and ate the cakes that the bird brought.

North-western Province.



In Indian Folk Tales (Gordon), p. 59, a large grain measure {paila) having quarrelled with his wife, the small grain measure (paili), and beaten her, she ran off, and on her way met with a Crow, which invited her to stay with him.

She inquired,

“What will you give me to eat and drink, what to wear and what to spend ?”

The reply being unsatisfactory, she went on, and met a Bagula (crane or heron), which also invited her to stay, and when asked the same question gave an unsatisfactory answer.

She next met a King, who said,

“I will place one cushion below yon and one above, and whatsoever yon desire you may have to eat.”

She refused this, and met a dog, who told her that in the King’s store there was much raw sugar, of which they would eat as-much as they pleased. She accepted this offer, and they lived in the store; but one day the King’s daughter threw in the scales, which wounded the dog on the head, so the measure jumped out.

Footnotes and references:


Polmicca kirilli.


An imitation of the song of the bird, apparently.


Mat ehka giyama nakeyi?


“Stooping man, there is heat, heat.”


Kujja is a man who stoops. He may have thought it said, “Stooping man, you are refuse.”


Kuti is a bend. He appears to have interpreted it as, “Stooping man, you are bent, bent.” All these expressions are imitations of some of the notes of the bird’s song.

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