String-pulling tiger clan
Told by: Ta’ Ge
There was this man that has two daughters, and on that very day and the day before, he took his two daughters out to help cut the over-grown brush in the family’s field. They cut the brush and piled it up. The next day they went again. One day, around midday, one of the daughters went to fetch water at a nearby stream. As she strolls down to fetch water, she met a tiger cub. The tiger cub was there to get a drink too and was there first. When the tiger was done drinking, he walked up-stream, muddying the water searching for food. The cub was looking for worms to eat which can be found at the head water of the creek, above the spout. She arrived and waited for him to be done so she can get the water. The tiger muddied the water so much. She said,
“Go away, go home, I want to fetch the water here. The water here is so muddy.”
“Don’t rush me, I am scooping up tadpoles.” the tiger cub said.
“Go away, I want to fetch water. This water is muddy and not good to drink. I must return and clear the brush.” “Don’t rush me, I am scooping up tadpoles.” said the tiger cub.
She waited a long time and became angry. She broke a stick, went up and hit the cub. That tiger cub ran home very quick. Eventually the water was clear and she finally was able to fetch some water and returned back to her family. When night time came, the parents returned home, but the two sisters decided to stay back and sleep in the field.
They built a high field hut to sleep in and inside the hut, they left enough space so they can burn woods for fire. She burned a hole below the fireplace there, our Khmu houses often had the hole like that. The girl sat twisting twine, and the younger sister went down to the ground, and looked. “Ooh, dear, what is there? Look at the middle of the field over there, so many red things.” She told her younger sister, “ It’s nothing, it’s the brush that father and I cut yesterday,” so she said. At that time, the young sister told her sister to return home, but it was evening and is already dark. So, they both decided to stay. She sat to wind the twine in the corner where the burned hole was. All of the sudden, something came through the burned hole and pulled the twine (know as “thread”). “Shoosh, if it is spirit go away, if it’s a person then come up,” she said.“Why are you pulling on my thread?” she said. (That’s why it is called “Thread –Pulling Tiger.”)
Then she ordered her young sister to close the door. The tigers then attacked the hut by ramming their heads on the door and clawing their way in. The door fell and covered the young sister. The tigers stormed in and bit the older sister. When the tiger bit her the moon turned brighter which is a signal to her lover in the village that she’s in trouble. The lover arrived from the village, to where she was sleeping at the field. When he arrived at the scene, he heard something “siat, siat, siat, siat, duañ, duañ’ inside the house there. He heard the blood dripping “pia ria,” underneath. “Cah! What is that?” He swung his sword across underneath where the blood was dripping. He examined it under the moonlight, and it was clotting blood.
The lover hid himself under the railing and held his sword aloft. Those tigers already bit her(older sister’s) upper leg, her calf, her arm, her foot, divided up all the pieces already. During this very moment, one of the tigers clenched a piece of the sister’s body part in his mouth and slowly walking down the hut. “Go slowly, return slowly,” said the leader of the tigers, “the ladder is rotten, the floor is worn out.” He clenched the arm hanging from the mouth as he went down. The sword came down, and beheaded the tiger; down he fell from that ladder. “Yi! I said to go slowly, returned slowly, the ladder is rotten, the floor is worn out.”
In a moment came another one clenching the upper leg hanging from his mouth. He descended the sword came down, it sliced and he fell down. “Yi! I said to go slowly, returned slowly, the ladder is rotten, the floor is worn out.” Another one also had something hanging from his mouth… by this time there were six of them already. He descended clenching the chest in his mouth.
The sword came down; down he fell. Still the leader said, “Yi ! I said to go slowly, returned slowly, the ladder is rotten, the floor is worn out.” He clenched the head in his mouth, it still had a necklace pendant on it and he slowly descended. The man worried that he couldn’t cut through, he had used of all his strength with the sword. He swung at the tiger, went through the tiger to the ladder, and clipped that sword. He listened but couldn’t hear anything and said, “Who’s still there?” “Who’s still inside the house?” “Nobody should be there, you’re all dead already?”
The young sister said, “Hey, I am still here, brother.”
Young sister arose from underneath the fallen door, he picked her up and returned home. If she walked behind him she was afraid, and if she walked in front she was afraid, so he just tucked her under his arm and went home. When they reached the village, the house, he told her, “Don’t tell anyone that it was me, say that you came home by yourself.” When he arrived at that house then, he released her at the house ladder, then she called her parents. Her parents awoke and open the door, and she told about the tiger eating her older sister.
In the morning the parents went to see and wow! There six tigers piled up and dead. They saw that the ladder had a piece of the sword left there. They dug out the sword chip, the sword tooth from there, and returned home. The father announced to the villagers, “Who killed the tigers? Whoever killed the tigers, I will give him the younger sister with bride-price.” Then everybody claimed that it was them, and broke their sword and brought the sword chip to match the one found at the fight scene, but none of them matched. Many more people broke their swords to match, but they didn’t fit. The father went and asked the older sister’s lover, “Is it you, son, who kill the tigers?” Tod hide his identity so that no one knows that it was him who killed the tigers, the older sister’s lover had blackened his face with charcoal, blackened his body, and said, “I didn’t go anywhere, I am sick every day, I stay home and didn’t even have water to wash myself. I’m greasy and scaly.”
The father asked him, “Where is your sword then?” He replied, “I don’t know where the children left it. Go look around underneath the bed there, ok?”
The you girl’s father looked around the house, stuck his hand underneath the bed, encountered something and picked it up. Wow! There were blood stains all over the sword, and it’s still full of tiger hairs. The metal chip dug up from the scene matched and fit perfectly on the sword. As promised, the father gave him his daughter as a token for his bravery for slaughtering the tigers that killed his oldest daughter.
That is the tiger clan, the string-pulling tiger until now. From then on, the members of this clan believes it as being a taboo and not eat tiger meat, touch it and cannot marry a member of the same clan.
Written and shared by: Thomas Manokoune
Related Folk Tales/Superstitions
- (Snta’ rvaay tooc sqkhwaq) String-pulling tiger clan (In English)
- Story of Mél Mool (In English)
- Snta’ Rvaay tooc sqkhwaq (tooc hmpiat) (In Khmu)
- Mél Mool (In Khmu)