Tibetan Folk Tales: A Rabbit Story

This is a story about a rabbit's revenge; at least, it starts out as revenge, but once the rabbit starts acting up, he isn't able to stop himself. He gets his revenge on a bear, but then he tricks a tiger, then a shepherd, and then a wolf. This is one dangerous rabbit!

Explore: For another story about a trickster rabbit, see How the Rabbit Killed the Lion, and compare also the story of the trickster frog, The Tiger and the Frog.

[notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Tibetan Folktales unit. Story source: Tibetan Folk Tales by A.L. Shelton with illustrations by Mildred Bryant (1925).

A Rabbit Story

The voice of the wolf is a sign to the sheep.
Tibetan Proverb.

ONCE upon a time there were two neighbor families, one family composed of an old mother bear and her son and the other of an old mother rabbit and her son. The children kept the house while the two mothers went out to dig roots. The rabbit's claws were sharp and quick and she got the most. This made the old bear mad so she killed the rabbit and took the dead body and roots home, although she couldn't dig very many, as her claws were dull.

The little rabbit waited and waited and could not understand why his mother didn't come home. Finally he slipped over to the old bear's house to see what he could discover. He peeped in and saw that the old bear was cooking his mother, and she and her son sat down and ate her all up. He felt dreadfully bad and began to think of revenge, and said to himself, "Some day I will get even with them."

One day the old mother bear went out to carry water, and while she was gone the little rabbit heated an arrow red hot and shot the little bear in the ear and killed him. Then he took his mother's sack which the old bear had stolen with the roots in it and carried it away with him.

As he went up the mountain he met a tiger and said to him, "There is a bear coming after me, Mr. Tiger; won't you save me and find a place for me to hide?"

"All right, you crawl in my ear and that bear will never find you."

The old mother bear returned, bringing her kang of water, and found her son dead. She said, "The young rabbit has done this. I shall follow him and kill him." So, going after the rabbit, she came upon the tiger and asked, "Have you seen a fellow with gray fur and long ears any-where? If you don't tell me the truth I will kill you."

The tiger answered, "Don't talk to me that way, for I could kill you without very much trouble." And the old bear went on.

The rabbit sat there in the tiger's ear eating some of the roots he had in his sack and the tiger could hear him munching away, and asked: "What are you eating?"

"My own eye-ball," he answered.

The tiger said, "Give me one, they seem very good." The rabbit handed him a root, the tiger ate and said, "That's very good. Let's take my eye-balls out and eat them, and if I am blind, since I saved you from this bear, you will take care of me and lead me around, will you not?"

The rabbit said, "I will do that all right." So he dug out the tiger's two eye-balls and handed him some roots to eat in place of them. Then he went on leading the tiger, who now was blind, right up to the side of a big steep cliff, where he told him to lie down and go to sleep. Then he built a big fire on the other side of the tiger, who got so hot that when he moved away he fell over the cliff and killed himself.

The rabbit now went to a shepherd and told him, "There is a dead tiger up there, you can go and cut him up."

Then he went to the wolf and said, "The shepherd is gone and you can go kill some sheep."

Then he went to the raven and said, "You can go and pick the little wolves' eyes out, as their mother is gone to kill a sheep."

Now the rabbit had done so much harm he thought he had better run away. He went into a far country and I expect he still dwells there.

(700 words)