Monday, April 15, 2019

M is for Magic Mango (A to Z Challenge 2019: Fruit Folktales)

Mangoes are relatively popular in folklore and legends. The Tamil story (part of a longer series of tales) I picked for today belongs to one of my favorite folktale types, ATU 567, The Magic Bird Heart. Except in this case, the magic bird heart is a mango.

The story begins with a king who wishes for a child for a long time. One day a hermit foretells that he will lose his kingdom for seven years, and in the first year of his exile his wife will give birth to twins. The prophecy is fulfilled: The exiled king and queen become servants, and they have twin sons a year later. When the boys grow up, they decide to set out and seek their fortune.

In a forest nearby, a hermit is patiently waiting under a mango tree. The magic tree only bears one fruit every hundred years; the one magic mango is ripening, ready to fall. The hermit decides to go and bathe, so that he can be clean to receive the holy fruit. While he is away, the mango drops, and the princes find it and share it. What they don't know (unless, in some versions, the hermit tells them) is that the mango has a special power: Whoever eats the peel will become a king, and whoever eats the seed will drop gemstones from his mouth every time he laughs.

Soon after, the king of a nearby kingdom dies. According to custom, his advisers give a flower garland to his favorite elephant, and set it free; whoever the elephant puts the garland on will be the next king. The elephant runs into the forest, puts the garland on one of the princes' head, then picks him up and carries him home. He is crowned immediately.

The other brother is left alone in the woods. After some wandering, he comes across a house where an old woman lives with her daughter, a dancing-girl. They invite the prince in, entertain him, and soon find out about the gemstones he laughs. They decide to get the magic mango seed, so they feed him a potion that makes him vomit and then faint. While he is passed out, they throw him out into the woods again, and the girl swallows the seed.

The prince eventually comes across another magic mango tree in the woods that bears four kinds of mangoes, and tastes them all. One turns him into an ape, another into a kite, the third into an old woman, and the fourth returns him to his original form. He collects some of all four kinds, and returns to the house of the women. Disguised as an old woman, he sells them some fruit, and lo and behold, the old woman turns into an ape, and the girl into a kite. The prince sets out, touring the towns and villages, showing off the magical animals. Eventually, he ends up in the royal city where his brother is king. The two brothers are reunited; they feed a potion to the girl, regain the magic mango seed, gather an army, and take back their father's kingdom. All is well if it ends well.

(You can read this story here or here. I also included a Mongolian version, The Gold-spitting Prince in my book, Tales of Superhuman Powers.)

Which part of the magic mango would you rather eat?
More importantly, would you be willing to eat it after someone else has thrown it up?...


  1. Wow! This one seems much more involved than most.

  2. I don't get the moral of the story. But nope, wouldn't like to eat second! I love mango, I used to eat one everyday for breakfast when I was living in French Polynesia. Mangoes there are very sweet, so so good!!

  3. You've reminded me that I've not made a mango smoothie for a while!

    The Queen of all Mermaids

  4. Mad about mangoes here too! This one is a complex story - the forest wandering twin brothers reminded me of Lav and Kush from the Ramayana.

  5. I suppose there's no reason you couldn't give the mango seed a good scrubbing before being the second to eat it.
    It would be pretty awesome to be able to turn into a kite (and back) at will.
    Black and White: M is for Malacorana

  6. I love almost all the tales you share, but this might actually be my very favorite of all time. With a garland-bearing elephant charged with appointing the next king who wouldn't love this tale? A little trouble in the mix with the greedy, and then shape-shifting, and plenty of mango eating rounding it all out. I call it perfect!

  7. It would be too dangerous to spit out gems every time you laugh. While you probably wouldn't laugh if captive, you might still be taken advantage of. You can't limit laughs your laughs to private!
    What an intricate story this one was.
    I guess the kite here is the bird? Of course I pictured a child's paper kite until it mentioned "animals!"

  8. A non-linear thinking person(s) put this tale together. I can tell.

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  10. I love this story :) very interesting version for Mango. I'm mad for mangoes now :p
    #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterAtoZ #vigorousreads

  11. I'm thinking you would choke on the mango seeds as they are too big to swallow unless there is a small variety. I don't normally eat the skin either so I would not be Queen or laugh jewels out of my mouth. Oh well!

  12. Eww. She ate it after he threw it up? Gross! Nah, I like my mangoes all normal and sweet.

    Ronel visiting from the A-Z Challenge with Music and Writing: So Many Amazing M's

  13. Love mangos but only if I'm eating them first. Thanks for stopping by my neck of the woods!

    Janet’s Smiles

  14. Hi Zalka,
    First time on your blog. Love the story. The second brother was witty. He took revenge but in a subtle way. Glad that they won their father's kingdom back.
    I love mangoes! And I would never want to eat it after someone has spit it out.


  15. I wouldn't eat either the peel or the seed! Ughhh! To hell with the gemstones and the kingdom! And why would I want to be turned into crazy animals either? Hahaha!
    Happy AtoZing!
    Find my M post @ Benefits Of Being Mindful | 5 Ways To Boost Happiness With the Practice of Mindfulness

  16. I will need to check this out for my Tamil character in my WIP. Fascinating tale - and different.

  17. Fascinating, but a bit weird tale. The 2 young princes remind me of Luv and Kush - twins born to Sita ( from the Uttara Ramayan epic). Those prince twins very very dutiful, brave,valour, kind and had all the 'sattvic gunas' / good qualities. They were brought up in a hermitage by Rishi Valmiki.