“The story of ‘The Monkey and the Crab has as many versions as that of ‘The Arkansas Traveler.’ It is continually re-appearing in new dress and with new variations, according to the taste and abilities of the audience. Its flavor, as told by the chaste mother instructing her daughters, or by the vulgar coolie amusing his fellow-loafers while waiting for a job, is vastly different in either case. The most ordinary form of the story is as follows:
“Once upon a time, a monkey and a crab went for a walk.
“Along the way, the monkey found a persimmon seed and the crab found a rice ball. The sly monkey persuaded the crab to trade his rice ball for the persimmon seed, and quickly ate the rice ball.
“The disappointed crab couldn’t eat the persimmon seed, but she took it home and planted it in her garden, where she tended it until it grew into a large tree full of beautiful persimmons. When the monkey saw this, he climbed the tree and began to eat them. The crab asked him to pick some for her, but he threw down only a hard green persimmon, which hit the crab on the head and hurt her badly.
“The crab’s children were very distressed to see their mother hurt. Their friends, a bee, a chestnut and a mortar came to see their mother. They asked them to help take revenge on the monkey. To do this, they invited the monkey to their house.
“When he sat down by the fireplace, the chestnut burst out from the ashes and burnt him. As he reached for the water jug, the bee flew out of it and stung him. Then as he tried to run out of the house, the mortar fell on him from above the door and squashed him.
“The monkey saw there was no escape. He apologised to the crab for hurting her, to the delight of the children and their friends. The monkey had learned his lesson and never again tried to cheat anyone.”
– The Mikado’s Empire, by William Elliot Griffis, 1906
Picking persimmons with a bamboo pole, c. 1950.
1950s • Amusements & Recreations • Lifestyle
Tagged with: Agriculture, Children, Folklore, Food, Fruit, Persimmons
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