Friday, June 20, 2014

Laos: The Giants’ Mountain and the Temple

This story is part of the Laos unit. Story source: Laos Folk-Lore by Katherine Neville Fleeson, with photographs by W.A. Briggs (1899).




The Giants’ Mountain and the Temple

In the time long since gone by, when the world was young, the men of a large province desired to build a temple, a temple which might be seen by men from afar. Their ground, however, was low, and there was no lofty mountain on which they might rear it, and it was deemed wise by all to entreat the giants, who lived in the far East, to help them bring the earth together in one place for a mound.

Willingly did the giants consent to aid them but asked, “Why labor to dig the earth and pile it into a mound? Behold, the high hills are ours; with our strong arms we can remove the top from one of them and bring it to you, and you may rear your beautiful temple thereon, and all men can see it. Go, therefore, and make ready your bricks and mortar, bringing to one place all the materials which you will require, whilst we carry one of our mountains to you for your use.”

The giants went their way to bring a mountain-top from the far East to the plains near the city. Day after day they labored and moved the mountain top a great distance, but the people neither helped them nor did they even commence to prepare the materials for the temple. As the giants toiled, word was brought them that the people were sitting in idleness on the ground.

“Come help us, or gather the materials together,” the giants sent word.

“You, yourselves, offered to carry the mountain-top to us. Your words are stronger than your deeds. You say you will aid us, then ask us to help you,” the people replied. This they said, thinking to goad the giants on to the labor of bringing the mountain-top to the desired place.

“We offered to aid you,” retorted the giants, “but you sit and watch while we do all. Had you done your part, we would have done ours. Now, you shall labor, and we, from our high mountain, will laugh at you.”

Thereupon they left the work and sought their homes, and wearily did the men of the plains dig the earth, carrying it in small loads into one place to build the mound, and sadly did they look toward the East, where they could see the mountain-top the giants had carried such a distance to them, and most bitterly did they repent not having done their share.

The temple is builded now, and from afar the people can see the gleam of the spire when the eye of day first opens in the East, or closes in the West, and to this day the mountain-top lies there far distant from the mountain range and equally far distant from the city of the plains, and the people point it out to strangers, saying, “If you ask aid from others, it is well to put your own heart into the work.”




(500 words)








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