The Proverb Worth Thirty Damloeungs
September 19, 2007, 3:04 am
Filed under: Khmer Folktales

The Proverb Worth Thirty Damleoungs

Translated from Khmer by Chhim Chan Bora



nce upon a time there were two persons who were man and wife. The husband saw other people learn magic well, so he also wished to learn it. He took 30 Damleung, said goodbye to his wife and left.

He kept walking from one district to another. He would be told to go to see some people who had been said to have good magic powers. Those magicians would recite and demonstrate their magic powers for him to see, but he did not like them and kept walking till he met an old man.

The old man said:” Where are you going alone? What are you looking for?” The man said:” Oh! My dear old man! The reason why I have come here is because I have heard that there is a good magician here. If you know magical powers, please teach me.”

” I know three phrases of words which are worth thirty Damleung,” said the old man, adding:” If you strictly adhere to them you will benefit from them, and if you have to go on a long journey, you must recite my these three phrases of words. They are actually efficacious.”

The man said:” Please recite them for me! I will take them if I like them.” The old man then recited:” Moving your hands and your stomach will be filled; do not talk to a woman when you sleep at night and do not hurry to eat if you are hungry.” The man heard him out and liked the three phrases of words, so he gave 30 Damleung to the old man.

He recited the phrases fluently and remembered them all well. The old man said:” If you can stick to these three phrases of words well, I will give them to you free of charge.” Thus, he gave back the money to the man. The man then said goodbye to the old man and came back home. The man kept reciting the phrases as he was walking on the way.

When he was walking a little farther, he saw a business sailing ship. He asked the captain of the ship for a free ride and the captain agreed. The man kept reciting the three phrases and helped wash, maintain and repair the sailing ship as if it were his. The captain thought:” Since he has got a ride in my ship, he has cleaned and maintained the ship as though it were his.” Therefore, the captain liked the man so much that he always had meals prepared for him everyday.

As for the man, he was not in the least lazy. He tried to work hard just like other crew members. The captain bore in mind that:” When arriving at the homeland, I will give him some wealth to do business.” When the ship sailed to the central part of a district, they saw a temple in which large amounts of food and drinks had been prepared for an ogre to eat and drink.

When arriving at the temple, all the crew members anchored the ship and disembarked. They then saw those food and drinks and there was nobody there, so they helped themselves to those food and drinks till they got so intoxicated that they fell asleep in the temple altogether except the man who kept reciting:” Moving your hands and your stomach will be filled; do not talk to a woman when you sleep at night and do not eat yet although you are hungry.” He thought:” There must be something unusual that people have prepared all these food and drinks here. Now that these crew members have eaten and drunk them all, they must be in danger.” The man, thinking things over, dared not to eat and drink and he climbed up the wooden crossbar of the temple and hid himself there to wait and see what would happen.

At noon, the ogre came flying and became furious:” How dare these people eat up and drink all the food and drinks prepared for me and sleep here.” After uttering those words, the ogre threw up his magic cudgel to kill all those sleeping people. The magic cudgel then flew back to the ogre itself. The ogre eat all those people and looked hither and thither. The man, seeing the ogre, was very frightened, but his mouth kept memorizing the three phrases and thought:” I’m afraid that the ogre might hear me if I shout. Then, he will see me and eat me like those people.” Thinking that, he jumped off the wooden crossbar and shouted with all his might. The ogre got so panicked that he ran away quickly, leaving behind his magic cudgel. The man picked up the magic cudgel and walked back to his home village, leaving behind the sailing ship at that temple’s port.

The man reached his home at night. He hid the magic cudgel under the ladder of the house, covered it with a big piece of stone and then climbed up the house. His wife asked him something, but he said:” I’ll tell you in the morning.”

After her husband had left home, the wife had an adulterer. On the night when her husband arrived home, her adulterer hid himself under the house to eavesdrop. Out of wanting to hear the story quickly, the adulterer signaled to his adulteress to keep nagging her husband insistently till her husband said:” I talk to you now in contrast to my teacher’s advice as he said:” Do not talk to a woman when I sleep at night.” Now, I am in complete contrast to my teacher’s advice.” His wife said:” What have you brought home?” The husband said:” I got three phrases of words and a magic cudgel when I was on my half way back.” The wife Kept asking:” Where do you keep that magic cudgel? I want to see it.” The husband replied:” I hide it under the ladder and cover it with a big piece of stone.” Then, he fell asleep. The adulterer heard everything, so he took away that magic cudgel.

The man got up very early in the morning and went to see his magic cudgel, but saw nothing. He then told his wife:” It was because you did not believe me and because I was in total contrast to my teacher’s advice. It was you who begged me to tell you. Now, someone overheard it and stole the magic cudgel.” The wife, hearing what her husband had said, kept quiet as she immediately knew that it was her adulterer, who had stolen it. Then, she cooked rice for her husband, who, after having finished eating his meal, took a string to tie the stone he had used to cover the cudgel and pulled it to see the district governor to ask him to help find the thief. As for the district governor, he did not know what to do as the stone could not speak. Then he cursed the man:” How foolish you are! Since my ancestral period, no one has ever seen a magic cudgel.” Then, he drove the man away. The man, pulling the stone with him, lodged complaint with a district governor till Mr. the Yomareach ( a palace high-ranking dignitary ). All the dignitaries at all ministries, after having heard the man’s complaint, thought that he was losing his mind, so they drove him away. The man pulled the stone to see the King, who asked him everything and said to the palace dignitaries:” What it has been said is true; water flows where there is a canal and a dog shits where there is rubbish. You all must not say that he is out of his mind. This must be true as he has affirmed.” The King then said:” Now, go back to your house and come back to me only when I order someone to send for you.” The man said:” Yes, Your Majesty!” And went back home.

After the man had left, the King ordered his servants to announce to the people that the King would order his ladies-in-waiting to dance three days and three nights to entertain the people indiscriminately. The King also ordered a play to be performed. At that time, almost all kinds of people went to watch the event. The King went to his chamber to select a bottle of ointment with unusually sweet smell which was designed especially for the King and no palace dignitaries had it. Then, the King ordered a servant to take it to give to the man and told the servant to tell the man:” The King gives this special ointment to you and your wife, but you must stay at home and do not go to see the play. You must allow your wife to go alone.” After telling the man everything, the palace servant went back to tell the King what he had told the man. As for the man, after obtaining the bottle of ointment, he called his wife and handed the ointment to her and said:” His Majesty the King has given us this bottle of ointment to wear when we go to see the play as he pities and likes us, but as I now have a headache, I can not go, so you take it to rub yourself and go to see the play.” The wife, hearing her husband allow her to go as well as giving her the ointment to rub, was very pleased as she was not aware of the arranged trick. She also gave the ointment to her adulterer to rub himself and they both went to see the play by standing side by side. When the play was in progress, the King smelt the sweet smell of the ointment. The King then whispered to a high-ranking dignitary and said:” Go to find the people with the sweet smell of that ointment and bring them to me quickly.”

The dignitary accepted the order and went among the people, smelling all the people, but all the people had no sweet smell of the ointment except a man and a woman who were standing side by side and who wore the ointment. He then brought them to the King, who at that time ordered the play and dance to stop immediately. The King then asked the man:” Is this woman your wife?” The man said:” Yes.” Then, the King asked the man who was the woman’s adulterer:” Have you stolen that man’s magic cudgel?” The adulterer said:” Yes, I have.” The King ordered a servant to go to bring back the magic cudgel and ordered both the adulterer and the adulteress to be legally punished. The man who was the owner of the magic cudgel begged the King to pardon the convicts and gave his house and his wife to the adulterer without being angry. The adulterer was very glad. He saluted the man with respect who forgave him and went back. The man who was the owner of the magic cudgel gave the cudgel to the King and said his farewell and left though the King tried to ask him to stay. The King said:” This magic cudgel is invaluable.” The King then ordered his servants to open the doors of all storehouses where silver and gold were stored and allowed the man to take them at his own will. The man looked at the silver and gold objects in all the storehouses and he found an old ( Bantuos ) knife. He took that knife and a small amount of pieces of silver and gold to spend on his way. He then said farewell to the King and left. The King did not say anything, but all the dignitaries criticized that man as very naive as he did not take silver and gold and took only a rusty ” Bantous ” knife instead.

The man walked out of that country and eventually arrived in another country. On the day of his arrival, the King in that country ordered a millionaire to make a good cart with attractive carving and beautiful painting in time for his visit to the forest in the next morning, or he would have that millionaire executed. As for the millionaire, he realized that he could not make a beautiful cart as ordered ready in time for the King’s forest visit in the morning, so he had a coffin made instead.

On that day, the funeral ceremony being organized by the millionaire coincided with the man’s arrival. Upon seeing the ceremony, the man walked up to someone and asked:” What kind of ceremony are you organizing with such a coffin?” He said:” The King has ordered a beautiful cart made in time for his visit to the forest in the morning, or the King will have the millionaire executed. Now, the millionaire is aware that he can not have such a nice cart made in such a short time, so he has a coffin made and his own funeral ceremony organized instead.”

Hearing that, the man replied:” It is not so difficult! First give me meal to eat and I will make one in time in the morning.” The millionaire, hearing out what the man had said, was very delighted, so he had a good meal prepared for the man to eat his fill and gave him enough wood to make the cart. The man made the cart with only his ” Bantous ” knife and finished it at that night. He painted the cart beautifully and in the morning he pulled it to the King, who saw it and ordered his servants to get things ready for the forest visit. As for the millionaire after being freed from death, he thought:” This man has rendered me a great deal of favors and I do not know what I should offer him in return, but I have only a daughter whom I should marry to that man in return for his invaluable help.” Then, he married his daughter to that man. On that night, when going to bed, the man wanted to test his wife’s heart, so he pretended to be so intoxicated that he soon fell asleep. When it was rather late at night, the man pretended to vomit and dirtied his wife all over. Seeing that, the millionaire’s daughter shouted on that night:” Father has married me to a drunkard! Now, he has vomited and dirtied me all over. I can not put up with him.” The millionaire, hearing his daughter’s cry, said:” Please go to sleep, my dear! Your husband is being drunk and moreover, he has also rendered me great favors.” The daughter did not listen to her father’s advice and said:” You had better marry me to a cat or a dog rather than to a drunkard. I can not stand him.”

In the next morning, the man got up and walked up to the millionaire to give his daughter back to him. He told the millionaire that he would not accept his daughter and that he did not touch her. The millionaire tried to apologize for his daughter’s improper behavior and told him to stay, but the man declined. The man then said goodbye to the millionaire and walked away, bringing along only his ” Bantous ” knife. When the King had come back from his forest visit, he ordered a servant to send for the person who had made the cart. He felt very sorry when the man could not be found. The King then ordered his dignitaries to send letters to all provinces to look for the man,. Yet, nowhere could the man be found. The King then stayed quiet.

As for the man, after saying goodbye to the millionaire, he kept walking till he reached another country. The King of

that country ordered his dignitaries to take turn in guarding the royal hall every night. The King always came out at night and chopped the guarding dignitary to death one after another since the first turn. Many dignitaries had been killed.

The day on which the man arrived coincided with the turn to be taken by Mr. the Chaovear ( title given by the King to a high-ranking dignitary ) to be chopped to death by the King that night. That Chaovear organized a funeral ceremony for himself on that day. The man, arriving at the Chaovear’s house, asked:” What is the matter with him? Why is he holding this ceremony? And why are his wife and children crying?” Someone told him that it was his turn to be chopped to death by the King that night. That was why he was holding a ceremony before he died. Then, the man said:” Give me a meal to eat and I will go to be chopped to death by the King instead.” Hearing that, Mr. the Chaovear ordered a servant to call the man to him and had a good meal prepared for him to eat and said:” If you go to be chopped to death by the King instead of me, I will organize a funeral ceremony for you. The man agreed and asked Mr. the Chaovear for his official clothes to wear and then walked away, carrying his ” Bantous ” knife on the shoulder, to the royal hall to sleep in wait for the King to come out to chop him to death. On that night, the man did not sleep. He waited for the King to come and chop him to death. When it was very late at night, the King opened the door to come out secretly with a sword in his hand. He approached the man and chopped him, but the man rushed to hug the King tightly and pierced him with his ” Bantous ” knife a few times, but he pretended to miss the King. He then said:” Who are you? How dare you come here at night? The King has ordered me to guard the pavilion tonight.” After having uttered such words, the man pierced the King another few times, but also pretended to miss him. Then, the King said:” It is me! It is me!.” ” Who says it is me!” replied the man. The King said:” I am the King!” ” Eh! If you are the King, why do you come here at this time of the night,” said the man, adding:” I do not know who you are because the King has ordered me to guard the royal hall tonight.”

After asking the King so insistently, the man knelt down and saluted the King by joining both hands and raised them up to ask for forgiveness. The King said:” Where do you live?” The man said:” I live in Mr. the Chaovear’s house.” The King smiled and walked back into the chamber.

In the morning, the man, carrying the knife on his shoulder, walked out of the palace and went back to Mr. the Chaovear’s house. Upon seeing him coming back, everyone doubted why the man, who had gone to sleep for the King to chop him to death, came back alive. Mr. the Chaovear asked the man about what had happened. The man told him everything and said, adding:” The present King is not so mean as he has wished to look for knowledgeable people in the country to protect him. This is why he had ordered dignitaries to take turn in guarding the pavilion, but those dignitaries went to sleep instead of doing guard duty, so the King sneaked to come out to chop them to death. What would happen if the enemy came to attack the King while we were sleeping?” Only after the man had told everything that everybody realized the truth.

Mr. the Chaovear had a daughter. He then married her to the man as he thought that the man had saved his life.

In the morning, the King sent for the man and appointed him to be a palace highest-ranking dignitary, the rank which was only one level lower than the King to protect the country.

When the King became very old and as he had no sons to succeed him except a daughter, he decided to marry his only daughter to the man and allowed the man to succeed him as the King.

” True Words May Keep You Alive “



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