Laos: The Mountain Spirits and the Stone Mortars

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 Mountain Spirits and the Stone Mortars

The spirits, who lived in the mountains near a large city, upon a time wanted money for some purpose, and they brought down to the people of the city a number of large and heavy stone mortars which they commanded them to buy at an exorbitant price.

The men of the city said, “The price you ask is too great; moreover, we have no need of your mortars, as they are too large for us to use in pounding out our rice or for any other purpose. Therefore, we do not wish to buy them.”

The spirits were very angry because they did not cheerfully agree to pay the money, and answered, “If you will not buy these mortars which we have brought for your use, you shall carry them up to our home on the top of the mountain, for the labor of bringing them down has wearied us.”

Not daring to incur the wrath of the spirits, and yet being utterly unable to carry the huge mortars to the high mountain, they paid the price, for, they reasoned, “Is any price too great to risk our falling under the displeasure of the evil spirits?”

The spirits departed with the money, and to this day, the stone mortars are scattered about the streets of that city, and when strangers ask why they are there and what use is made of them, this story will be told, and all people say it is verily the truth, for do you not see them with your eyes, and how else could they have come here, had not the spirits brought them?

(300 words)

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