Hmong Folklore – Npoj Thaub (Bao Thao)

Npoj Thaub (Bao Thao)

Va Yang Xiong told this story, and Ted Yang translated it. The lessons of this story are not to lose hope and if you want to accomplish anything, just put your mind to it. The story teller chose to share this story because people need to know that there once was a Hmong king and prince. The Hmong prince was the most powerful of all.  Va started telling the story with these words: “Vietnam, the day third of the eleventh month, 1986.  I am Va Yang Xiong. I’m going to tell a story about our life of long ago for all the relatives –for everybody to hear from now on, so let us listen to this story. Maybe it is true and maybe it is not, but let us just listens…” |

Hmong Folklore - Npoj Thaub (Bao Thao)
Hmong Folklore – Npoj Thaub (Bao Thao)

Long ago when god made the land, the king of Laos and the king of Hmong came and lived. King Laos was the one that had more when King Hmong was the only one. Then King Hmong became friendly with King Laos. King Hmong had a baby boy and named him, Moithou. When Moithou grew bigger. He became better, so the father couldn’t come and ruled the land. Soon, another king, King Faulture heard about Moithou. King Faulture knew that if they don’t  go and eat that son, Moithou, then there wouldn’t  be any way of eating Laos. How should they go and eat it? This was what was decided. Let King Faulture’s  youngest daughter go and marry Moithou’s  father and be his second wife. Then, maybe King Faulture could go and eat Laos. It was done. The king let his daughter go down and marry Moithou’s father who was King Hmong. The second wife; King Faulture’s daughter, really cared and loved Moithou. One day she said, ” Moithou, would you want to go and learn fighting skills?

If you want to go, then I’ll send a letter for you. If you don’t want King Faulture to come and eat Laos, you must go and learn for three years in King Faulture land. You have to learn three years. Outside of Faulture’s land, is where another King Hmong lives. His land is better and has more sunshine than Faulture’s  land. This King Hmong has a daughter that is going to rule all of her father’s land. She is still single. Her name is Nulone. After three years in Faulture’s  land, you should go and learn three years from Nulone’s land. Then, if you like het, you can go and marry her, son.” Moithou then said, “I want to go.” His stepmother wrote a letter and gave it to Moithou. She said to him, “You go and you will meet Pilyju. Pilyju is a Buddha who starves from twenty to twenty-four days and finally eats. He sleeps in the cave; he wears a type oflong black dress.” Then, Moithou went to meet Pilyju. Pilyju asked, “Where are you going?”

Moithou replied, “Oh, I want to go learn in the forest.” Pilyju said, “Young boy, it’s better if you go back.” Moithou said, “Pilyju, I don’t want to go back.” Pilyju said, “I already know your 2nd mother wrote a letter to me, and it said to have the highness eat you. If the highness doesn’t eat you, he can’t come to Thailand. The boy said, “I still want to go though.” Pilyju replied, “Well, if you go, I’ll help you. Give me your paper; let me see it.” The boy handed over the paper to Pilyju.  Pilyju wrote on really quickly on the note that said, “Your Highness, if you want to come and eat Thailand, you have to let this young boy stay with you for three years. When three years are done, then your Highness can come along with the young boy and you can eat Thailand. Moithou went to King Faulture’s land and brought the letter to his Highness. King Faulture loved his daughter a lot. Because the letter was from his daughter, Moithou could go stay with him and go to school.

In King Faulture’s land, Moithou saw a girl that he liked. Moithou was pretty handsome himself, so he tried to date her. He became smart. They kept on talking to each other. Umm…the girl asked Moithou if he would marry her. Moithou said, “Yes, I would, but I am an outsider. You probably would not want to marry me.” The girl said, “If you marry me, I will give you everything and anything you want and need.” Moithou said, “Okay, let us get married then.” So, they both went to go and tell King Faulture. His Highness said, “Mohhou, you just came to marry my daughter huh? To bring her back to your mother huh?” Moithou said, “Yes, I did.” “When you came your mother wrote you a letter huh?” “Yes,” Moithou replied. King Faulture asked, “You met Pilyju. He changed your letter so you could come, right?” Moithou said, “Yes.” King Faulture showed Moithou the letter and said, “You look right now okay? I’m going to open it for you. Your 2nd mother ate your real mother, and she died. See, look.”

Moithou did not know what to do. Should he marry? Moithou said, “What if, when we are married, the 2nd wife comes after us?” To help them, King Falture gave them three white magical objects. He said that when you fly up in the air, and she comes after you, throw one at her face. Then, she will die and become pig’s food. Then, you put the 2nd white thing on your back, and she will become a [sic] and will again come to find you. She’s going to fly for three months looking for you. You take the 3rd white thing and put it on your back, and she will never find you.  She will fly and fly for three months.  You put the 3rd white thing on your back, so it will cover you. King Faulture then gave the three magical things to Moithou. Moithou said, “Oh, this one is so heavy. If I could bring this, I would bring a giant to my village.  This one is too big for me; it is bigger than me, so I must run.”  So, Moithou ran and flew away. He flew away, and she saw him fly away. She chased after Moithou.

She chased and chased Moithou until she finally got him.  Then, Moithou threw back the first white thing.  That made our fields and our lands.  She got there, and then for three months, she looked for Moithou. When she found him, Moithou took the second thing, and she kicked it away.  There was no way, so she looked for him. She found him three months later.  Now there is…what the Americans call a dark cave…dark cave.  Then she chased Moithou for the third time, and then Moithou threw the third one back, and then Moithou went the other way. She was there and saw it and said, “Moithou, you are so mean and bad hearted.  I taught you and you are still mean to me.  One day you will miss me like I miss you right now.” Then Moithou ran, and he met his father and his father said, “My son, if it is like that…you are not finished yet.  If we do not have their power or any of their magical things and giants still caught you, then, you are still not good enough.

I will send you to the mountain until you are ready, and then you can come back down.” Moithou’s father sent him for six years to the mountain. When he was leaving, Moithou said, “When I leave there will be war. There will be people fighting, people alive and some people dead.  The day I come back there, won’t be any more of wars.” Moithou left for the mountains, and what he said was true. People were fighting in the village and no one got along at all.  People argued with one another. The judging wasn’t good either.  There were people killing each other, and there were rotting dead people lying all over the ground.  Poison came, and then more people died. Hayahh…Moithou sent down a giant to eat and when Moithou was going to return he said “Eat only the dead ones, and the live ones leave them be, okay?”  Moithou sent the giant and the giant came to eat the dead people. But, the giant would eat live people.  He would eat wives and other people.

The villagers asked the king to sacrifice people. The king would not do this. So, the kings’ soldiers went to mend wheat, and when they came back they told the king. “There is someone eating your fields.  Let’s go and kill this person.” The king took his dogs and went. He ran and ran and then he got there, and he shot the giant. The giant said, “King, I asked him to give me some people, and he wouldn’t so I ate his fields only and he became really jealous. I should eat him first.” The king of Laos begged and begged and then he said, “I’ll make you a house, and every month I’ll send you one to keep you happy.”  Then, the king made a house with twelve levels. The bottom floor had a bowl to wash your hands and the twelfth floor had a bowl to wash your face.  Every month one person from each family and would go there, and the giant would eat them.  The giant ate and ate. Then, it was time for the king’s daughter to go. At this time, Moithou came back.

He stayed at a widow’s house and wondered why the king cried all the time. He asked the widow and the widow said, “My son, it’s because in our country we have a giant who eats people. At first the giant came to eat only dead people.  He ate and ate the dead ones, but then he started eating the live ones.  Today is the day when the king’s daughter is going to go because it’s her tum. That is why everyone is moaning.  They are sending her to the giant. We don’t want to, but we have too.” “How does he eat?” asked Moithou. “The king built a tower house for him on that mountain over there.  In a while they will be sending her to the tower.” Then Moithou ate and set off for the tower. When Moithou got there, on the bottom, which was the first floor, there was a gold pot filled with water. Moithou took his sword out and hit the pot filled of water and it fell apart. It flew to the twelfth floor. The gold pot filled with water flew everywhere.

Moithou took out his sword again and hit the string, which broke apart into two pieces. Moithou then went and started a fire. He was still blowing on the fire when the King’s daughter flew into his arms and started crying. Moithou asked Xer, “How about this. Will you stop crying and marry me? If you will marry me then I will help you.” Xer said, “If you will help me then I will marry you.” They were talking for only a moment then the princess said, ” Moithou, it is about time for the giant to return. Cover up the fire.” Moithou hurried and covered the last bit of fiie when the giant came. He flew down and perched on the first floor. He said, “This king is so jealous. One day I will eat him, but only after I eat his daughter.” He went up the stairs making lots of noise. When he got to the twelfth floor, he saw the broken gold pot, and was filled with jealousy. He flews around and started blowing the fire. Moithou flew next to him, and hit his head with his knuckle.

“Ouch!” said the giant, “Come on, pretty soon you will be eaten girl. •stop playing around.” Again he blew on the fire again. Again Moithou hit him. “Ouch! Didn’t I say before that you should stop playing around? You are going to get eaten sooner or later. So stop playing around.” Moithou hit the giant again. This time the giant fell, and Moithou said, “When I told you to come, I told you to eat only the dead people, not the live ones.” The next day, Moithou and the Princess married. They lived happily. Then, one day while looking for birds and stealing apples, Moithou saw a girl. The girl followed him, and the girl turned into a bird. Then, she flew after him. She again turned into a human and she was so beautiful.  She followed him until they came to his house. They lived happily and along with the first wife.  The second wife had a nice life, and she had two sons. Both of the wives would go tend their fields every day. One day the king of Laos asked Moithou to go to war.

He said, “Father, my second wife has so much power, and I’m scared that you will not be able to take care of her.  I won’t go.” His father said,” Son-in-law, just go, I have soldiers who will keep anyone away. Anyone who wants to kill someone. I have soldiers with guns and knives.  Go, if you don’t the war will never be over. So, go my son.” Moithou could not do anything else. So, Moithou took some people with him to fight the war. They went and then they stopped at a place, they stayed. Moithou went in a boat, and he was pushed into the water. Then, the soldiers were all alone.  They went to look for Moithou and they didn’t find him, and they were very hungry.  So, they went fishing for food. They got fishes, and they started cutting the fishes.  All of a sudden, someone found Moithou.  They took him out of the water, and they made him breathe. There was a witch and Moithou said, “I am so hungry. Go get the wood from the mountain/cave.”

Then he said, “Grandma, do you have any wood so we can make a fire?” Then they took the wood and made a fire and ate.  Moithou said to the witch, “I will go to fight for seven days, now you must stay here. If you run, you will not have a neck anymore.” The witch thought he was kidding.  He went for seven days, and then he came back.  The people said the king of Laos has come back.  The witch was kind of scared and thought it was too• late too run.  She said, “I’ll ride the ox and run away.”  She got on top of the ox, but the ox couldn’t run. She was out of luck. The Hmong, they rode horses.  So, she said, “I’ll ride a horse to run away.” She rode the horse, but the horse wouldn’t budge. So, she was out of more luck. Then, she thought about riding the pig.  She got on the pig and flew all the way to water Nonum. The pig was going to fly over Nonum, but Moithou finally caught up. With a sword, he slashed two times at the pig. This killed the pig.

So the witch’s pig died in the middle of the Nonum River. Many more stories are told about Moithou and his heroic adventures. One story is told about his wife, who felt neglected and left home. Moithou searched heaven and hell for her until he finally found her. The two came and told King of Laos, but he wouldn’t let Moithou’s wife leave. He said, “The god finally created your dad and I. I won’t let you go.” They talked and talked and the papers were made, so even if they wanted to stay they couldn’t. They king said, “If you two are really going to go then give me one of your sons. Then there will be peace, if not then there is panic.” Boy?” Moithou talked and he said to his wife, “Honey, should we leave the youngest. She replied,” No, let us leave the oldest boy because he knows a little more.” Then the two parents left the oldest. The boy was crying and he said, “Dad, don’t go! How will I know if someone wants to kill me?” Moithou replied, “When I go, I will tell you this.

When someone wants to kill you make sure that you know, but when you want to kill them make sure that they don’t know.” From that day on, the Hmong know every word. The son said, “Dad, what if you go and I don’t know how to save and make money, what should I do?” Moithou, his father, got a hand full of seeds and said, “My son, in the 1ih month go and plant these seeds and raise them. Then, in 7 or 8 months you will go and cut them down. In the 12 month you will go gather all of the pretty flowers and sell them. Have a long temper and the seeds will grow and you will get money.” The son said, “Father, if it’s like that then, when you bring all the relatives back, how am I suppose to find you?” Moithou said, “My son, I will go then I’ll leave something behind for you. I leave the sword for you too. When you want to know where I am, you take the sword and make a fire, and pound it twice with a hammer. Then, you will know where I am. Then, after this was said, Moithou left.

Moithou’s son did everything his father told him to do until he got back with all the relatives. He went to go find his grandparents on the other side of the land. This story ends like this. In the year ’81 people say that there was an airplane that flew around on the American side.  I don’t know if this is true or not, but that is what I have heard. Nobody can see it. If this is true, then we have some Hmong relatives living on that side. If this is not true, then there aren’t any people that live on that side.


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