Article by Heang Vanny (Cambodia)
Blog Correspondent of ASEAN-Korea Centre
There are a lot of collections of folk tale in Cambodia. Many of them are even added into general education curriculum because we believe that folk tale has priceless educational value from which we can learn. Among those, I also have my favorite one, the hunter and the birds. If I did not remember wrongly, I studied about this folk tale when I was in primary school. Through this folk tale, our teacher taught us to be modest.
There was a hunter who had caught a black bird, a peacock and a heron. He taught them to play circus. He taught the black bird how to speak like men, and the peacock and the heron how to dance. When the hunter taught the tree birds skillfully, he took them to play circus for the king in his palace for gift and money from the king as he wanted. The king asked him ” What do the tree birds know ”
The hunter replied ” This blackbird can speak like men ” then he let the blackbird talk. The blackbird spoke, showed his knowledge in talking the human language, then he asked the peacock to dance for the king. The peacock danced as well as he was taught. The king was delighted to see the two birds and he told his men to put them in the cage to be in the care of servants.
Next the hunter took the heron off the cage and let him act for the king, but the heron was a clever bird and knew bad times and good times. He thought that the blackbird and the peacock who showed their skill to the king who was delighted at their acts, were put in the cage to be in the care of the king’s servants. If I showed my skill to the king he would put me in the cage as he did the two birds.
Being always in the cage, I shall have no freedom and no happiness. So it is not good to show my dancing. Let me pretend to be ignorant. Then the heron did not dance and cried ” krack! krack! ” The hunter tried to make him dance, but the heron did not do anything, he just cried ” krack! krack! ” then the king saw that the heron did not know how to act, so he told the hunter to free him.
The hunter freed the heron as the king told him. When the heron was free from the hunter he flew up and talked to the peacock and the blackbird ” Being clever and proud and making people amused you both, peacock and blackbird are in the cage. It is wonderful and happy for you, but for me, it is unhappy to be in the cage, so I did not show my knowledge, I pretended to be ignorant and I became hated by people, then they freed me, and now I will see my family whom I left.
You, peacock and blackbird, showed your skill which tied up your neck. I do not admire at all the skill which put you in the cage. Oh, poor birds, peacock and blackbird, you did not know what was good or not good for you in showing your skill, so you had better live in the cage for you can not go anywhere. ” Thus the heron told them proudly and he flew away to his place. This story tells of the person who does not know how to use knowledge in good or bad conditions and has it tied around his neck.