On Saturday, Joy at Joy’s Book Blog, posted a couple of photos she took at the Missouri Botanical Garden Lantern Festival and gave a brief summary of the legend of The Lotus Girl and the Dragon King. The story is rather touching and Joy was kind enough to allow me to repost her photos today.
The “Lotus Girl and the Dragon King” takes place long ago in China. There was a poor blind man who had just one blessing, and this was his daughter, Shimchong.
One day the old blind man fell into a water hole. Suddenly a voice close by spoke. “Old man, if you will promise to give 300 bushels of rice to the temple in the name of Lord Buddha, you will be rewarded with your life, and your eyesight.”
He quickly said, “I promise,” certain it was the Lord Buddha.
The old man blinked, awaiting the return of his sight, but this did not happen. Then he realized with terror what he had done. “Don’t worry, father, I will get you the rice for your offering,” his daughter said. The next morning, Shimchong hurried to the market and approached the wealthiest merchant.
“I am here to offer myself to the Dragon King,” she told him, “and in return you must give 300 bushels of rice to the temple in my father’s name.” The merchant was overjoyed. For many years the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea had demanded the merchants give him a wife, but the merchants refused to sacrifice their daughters. The Dragon King, in his fury, sent wild storms that sank their ships. Here stood just the girl to give to the Dragon King 一only a poor girl, but beautiful.
The old blind man learned of his daughter’s fate, and still his sight did not return. Now, with nothing to offer him joy, he sank into a boundless grief.
At sea, Shimchong was dropped overboard, and as she sank deeper and deeper, she expected to drown. But before long, she saw the fabulous underwater palace of the Dragon King. Like all who saw Shimchong, the Dragon King was instantly enchanted. He became a loving husband, but Shimchong often dreamed of her father, and whenever she thought of his heartbreak, she wept.
The Dragon King loved his wife, and her unhappiness became his. “My beloved,” he told her, “I must set you free to return to the land so that you can once more see your father. But no one will ever accept that you are still alive, and so I will disguise you.” And with that he whispered into her ear and turned her into a lotus flower.
That day a fisherman came upon a magnificent and most unusual flower floating upon the sea, and he decided such a treasure must be given to the emperor.
The emperor loved the beautiful flower. Now one night the emperor could not sleep, and he stepped outside and wandered toward his pond. There he saw a lovely girl standing near the water. “Who are you?” he gasped. Shimchong blushed. “My name is Shimchong,” she said, “I am the lotus flower you love.” He came close to her and whispered, “Shimchong, marry me.” “I will,” Shimchong said, for the emperor was a good man. But she did have one request. “We must invite every blind man in the country to our wedding,” she said. The emperor happily agreed.
On their wedding day Shimchong waited. “Why do you look so sad?” the emperor asked his beloved. “There is one person I must see again,” she said. She turned, and there stood her poor old father, dressed in rags, more sorrowful than any man she had ever seen. “My father!” she cried. And in that moment, the man’s sight did return, and for the first time he saw his beloved daughter.
The next day, several of the merchants’ ships returned to port, and all the sailors remarked on the gentle waves of the Eastern Sea.
I like that the Dragon King truly fell in love with Shimchong, even if she had been forced to marry him. I guess that’s how it happens in fairy tales though. He loved her so much he gave her up so she could be happy. As for Shimchong, once again the pretty girl who is obedient and loving gets a happy ending. She saves her father and ends up marrying the emperor who we’re told is a good man. She couldn’t really ask for better than that. I’m assuming the father gets to live with her in the palace.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.