The Monkeys and the Moon

A Folk Tale from Tibet

– Illustration practice with a short story –

In long-past times there lived a band of monkeys in a forest. As they rambled about they saw the reflection of the moon in a well, and the leader of the band said, “O friends, the moon has fallen into the well . The world is now without a moon. Ought not we to draw it out?”

The monkeys said, “Good; we will draw it out.”

So they began to hold counsel as to how they were to draw it out. Some of them said, “Do not you know? The monkeys must form a chain, and so draw the moon out.”

So they formed a chain, the first monkey hanging on to the branch of a tree, and the second to the first monkey’s tail, and a third one in its turn to the tail of the second one. When in this way they were all hanging on to one another, the branch began to bend a good deal. The water became troubled, the reflection of the moon disappeared, the branch broke, and all the monkeys fell into the well and were disagreeably damaged.

A deity uttered this verse, “When the foolish have a foolish leader, they all go to ruin, like the monkeys which wanted to draw the moon up from the well.”

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