Tales from Asia (Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, India, China, Japan)
The best way to get to know a place is by listening to - or reading - the stories of the local population. Thus the readers of the first volume of ‘The Universe of Fairy Tales” titled “Fairy Tales from Asia” are given the opportunity to - in their minds- travel to distant lands and get to know them through the fascinating adventures of a magic hat, the life of a parrot, visiting an island without tigers, witnessing a quarrel between a monkey and a crocodile, gazing at the portrait of a beautiful woman and, lastly, through a story that makes one realise money does not necessarily bring happiness.
Sample chapter translation: “The Painting of the beautiful Wife
Long ago there lived a man by the name of Kombei. This Kombei, a simple soul who was not married, though he had already passed thirty, lived all alone in a small, dirty, hut.
One evening, there came to his lonely home, a beautiful woman - one he could never have imaged even in his wildest dreams. “Let me spend the night here”, the womanpleaded. Astonished, but not so that he did not understand what was going on, he hurried to invite her in.
Once it had grown properly dark the woman said “ Like you I too am all alone in the world. I beg you, marry me”.
Kombei could not believe his luck. Naturally he did not refuse her. He was so in love with the beautiful woman with whom he now shared his humble home, he became quite distracted - as well as absentminded. For instance, when making new sandals instead of keeping his eyes on his work his gaze would travel to the young beauty with the result that the sandals turned out much too big for any one to wear. The same happened when he tried to make straw hats. Lost in his beautiful wife he made the hats too large to fit even the biggest head. The story was repeated when working in the fields. Whilst preparing the shallow channels carrying water to the rice paddy he would suddenly throw down his spade and run home to look at his wife...after which he would run back to the field, open yet another channel then streak back home and so it went...
Not surprising then if no one wanted to hire him anymore. His wife, seeing Kombei would soon be out of work, went to the city, found an artist and asked him to paint her portrait. When it was ready she carried it home and gave it to Kombei, saying:” Here you are. This is a good likeness of me. Take it with you when you go to work. Hang it on the branch of a tree near where you are digging. This way you can see me without having to run home every time”.