Laos: The Justice of In Ta Pome

In Buddhist tradition, the "philosopher's stone" which fulfills wishes and is able to turn things into gold is called the Cintamani. You can read more at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

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 Justice of In Ta Pome

Men of three countries wanted a chemical to change stones and metals into gold, and they all came together to worship In Ta Pome, one of the gods. One man was from China, one from India, and one from Siam. They all worshipped at the feet of In Ta Pome, saying, “We beg thee, O In Ta Pome, give unto us the chemical which will change all stones and metals into gold.”

In Ta Pome replied, “Each of you kill one of your children, cut him into pieces, and put him into a jar. Cover this with a new, clean cloth, and bring it unto me.”

The Chinaman feared to kill his child, so killed a pig, cut it up and placed it in a jar, over which he tied a close cover.

The Siamese did the same with a dog, but the Indiaman believed in In Ta Pome, and killed his only son, put him into a jar, and covered it.

All returned to the god with their several jars.

In Ta Pome sprinkled the jar of the Chinaman first, saying, “Whatsoever is silver, let it be silver; whatsoever is gold, let it be gold,” but the pig grunted, as pigs do, and In Ta Pome said, “From this time forth, you shall take care of pigs and kill them to gain gold.”

Sprinkling the jar of the Siamese, the god again said, “Whatsoever is silver, let it be silver; whatsoever is gold, let it be gold,” but the dog barked, as dogs do, and In Ta Pome said, “You must plow the earth, and only by the sweat of your brow shall you have enough to keep you in food.”

Taking the jar of the Indiaman, and having sprinkled it, In Ta Pome cried, “Whatsoever is silver, let it be silver, and whatsoever is gold, let it be gold,” and lo, the child came to life!

And to the Indiaman did In Ta Pome give the chemical that changes all stones and metals into gold, because he had believed, and had not tried to mock and deceive the gods.


(400 words)









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