Friday, April 12, 2019

K is for Kantek Figs and Kundong Koong (A to Z Challenge 2019: Fruit Folktales)

You know how hard it is to find folktales or legends about a fruit that starts with K?
Try it.

This legend comes from the Himalayan Lepcha people, and tells about the origin of Chyee or Chi (millet beer), a fermented beverage that is in high regard in their culture.

Picture from here
Story says that once upon a time the Lepcha were fighting a war against the devil Laso Mung Pano. In order to help them, the supreme Creator fashioned a hero with supernatural powers from pure snow. Arriving to the battlefield, this hero realized that the spirit of the Lepcha was broken, and they needed something to boost morale. He quickly consecrated a Lepcha priestess, Nyolik-Nyosong, and gave her some supernatural powers too, to help her people. However, even the priestess' powers failed to make the people fight better.

Eventually, Nyolik-Nyosong found out about a recipe for a power potion, Bhut, that could help the soldiers. She asked for a volunteer to travel to the Netherworld and bring the potion from Matlimanyoo, the evil sorceress. Cockroach volunteered, bravely ventured into the nether realms, tricked the sorceress, and got away with the potion.
On the way home, Cockroach stopped to rest a bit. While he was asleep, Black Cobra happened on him, and tasted some of the Bhut - he instantly became deadly venomous. Soon after, Honeybee passed by, and tasted a speck of the potion - and immediately grew a stinger. Some birds came next, and upon tasting the potion, they became carnivorous; then a kantek fig tree leaned down, and touching the potion, its fruits immediately turned sour. Finally after all these creatures, kundong koong, the plantain tree touched the potion as well, and its fruits grew sweet. The deadly poison was finally out, distributed between several beings; by the time Cockroach made it back to the priestess, the Bhut was safe for human consumption.

From the magic potion, Nyolik-Nyosong created Chi, a fermented drink that boosted the morale of the Lepcha soldiers, who managed to defeat the demon Laso Mung Pano. The evil sorceress Matlimanyoo, however, robbed of her secret recipe, cursed the new drink: It has healing properties in moderation, but it can be a poison if one drinks too much of it.
Ever since then, kantek fruit has been sour, and kundong koong fruit has been sweet.

(Read more about this legend, and Chi, here, here, here, or here.)

I am learning a lot from researching these fruit folktales so far. Are you?


  1. Thanks Mr cockroach for falling asleep on the job and bringing all that poison into the world!

  2. I can see that beer would certainly be helpful in putting heart into the troops!

    K Is For Kwaymullina

  3. Love that the superhero was actually a snowman. Lepchas are there in West Bengal so this story is close to home and heart.

  4. I am Learning a lot from your folktale stories. The soldiers need to be motivated

  5. I am definitely learning a lot! I never imagined so many fruit tales!

  6. Your AtoZ is amazing! Not an easy theme, and you find every day a new fruit AND a legend. I had kiwi in mind, but no folktales...

  7. Knew that cockroaches had their place in the scheme of the universe. Trickster of sorts?

  8. I'm learning so much! Great tale :-)

    Ronel visiting from the A-Z Challenge with Music and Writing: Powerful K's