(The Girl with Aromatic Hair)
THIS IS THE NEXT tale in our series of Ancient Thai stories of Legendary Ladies. This folk story highlights the triumph of good over evil, of integrity over deception. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin.....
Naang Jansuda was the daughter of King Prommajak of Jandra Nakorn. She was exceedingly beautiful in every way but her hair was her most wondrous feature. Long tresses, black as the raven's wing, fell in an ebony cascade to her waist. Most wondrous of all was that Naang Jansuda's hair had it's own natural fragrance. She used no forest fruits or oils to scent her hair yet it was always sweet and fragrant to anyone passing near her.
One day, a fierce bird of prey began to terrorize the people in the Kingdom of Jandra Nakorn. It was an eagle of vast wingspan, cruel beak and wicked talons. It would swoop from the skies to attack animals and people alike -- neither man nor beast was safe or immune from attack by this winged monster.
King Prommajak was beside himself with worry about how to deal with the problem. There seemed to be no solution and his anxiety only increased as he saw many of his subjects move to seek refuge and safety in other kingdoms. But he could do something to protect his beloved daughter Naang Jansuda. The King ordered a giant drum be constructed in which Naang Jansuda could hide herself if ever the eagle approached.
Meanwhile, in a faraway kingdom, there lived a Holy Hermit who possessed mysterious and magical powers. One of the mystical Hermit's talents was to change animal forms into human form. This he did with a gentle cow which he changed into a handsome, virile youth named Kawee. The Holy Hermit gifted an intricate dagger to Kawee, telling him never to damage or lose it because the dagger held both his heart and spirit.
Now Kawee, like most young men, wanted to see the world so he began travelling to kingdoms near and far. When he arrived in the Kingdom of Jandra Nakorn he was startled to see a huge eagle soaring against the blueness of the sky. Kawee was further amazed to see a very large drum near the gates to the Royal Palace. He beat the drum -- but there was no sound! Mystified and curious, he drew his dagger and cut through the leather drumhead. Inside, to his astonishment, was the beautiful Naang Jansuda and he was immediately captivated by this lovely girl. She told him all about the fierce eagle and how it was destroying her father's kingdom. Kawee said he would kill the terrible bird and this he did by plunging his magical dagger into the eagle's breast when it swooped to attack him.
King Prommajak, in gratitude, permitted Kawee to marry Naang Jansuda and the young couple were very happy together. Talking about their future plans, they wanted to have a kingdom of their own but where to find such a place was the difficulty. One day, as they bathed together in a nearby river, a few strands of Naang Jansuda's beautiful, fragrant hair came loose. She placed the aromatic strands in a tiny box and smiled as the stream took hold and carried the box away from her.
Much further downstream, in the entirely different Kingdom of Pathawisai, the elderly King Sannuraj found the little box and immediately fell in love with the alluring perfume of Naang Jansuda's hair. He knew it to be the hair of a young girl and, just as the old buffalo like to eat young grass, he had to find the owner! The elderly Monarch engaged the services of a nosy old crone, named Thadprasat, whom he knew could worm information out of a stone. Thadprasat set off upstream and it wasn't long before she knew all about Naang Jansuda, her handsome husband Kawee and his magical dagger. This knowledge was reported back to King Sannurath who determined that he would kill Kawee and then have his way with the young Naang Jansuda.
Old King Sannurath decided the easiest way to dispose of Kawee would be to destroy the magical dagger as it held Kawee's heart and spirit. Fortunately Kawee's dear friend, Holwichai (whom the Holy Hermit had changed from a tiger into a man), knew his friend was in extreme danger and came immediately to Kawee's aid. Holwichai pretended to old King Sannurath that he had an elixir which would restore vigor and attractive features. The Fountain of Youth! King Sannurath believed Holwichai's claim, drank the elixir -- and died!
Now Naang Jansuda's young husband, Kawee, with an eye for the main chance, disguised himself as the rejuvenated King Sannurath and presented himself to the old King's wife Naang Kanthamalee. However, she was not to be fooled as she never remembered her husband to be so handsome -- even in his best days. Naang Kanthamalee instructed her nephew, Waithat, to kill Kawee but the attempt was unsuccessful.
Kawee, well served by his heart and spirit, destroyed all who opposed him and brought his bride, the beautiful Naang Jansuda of the aromatic hair, to their new home. Here they reigned as the King and Queen of Pathawisai -- a Kingdom of their own!
A true tale? A story of human nature? Only you, dear reader, can decide. But do remember -- If people down play you, don't get mad, GET EVEN! Enjoy your visit to our City of Chiang Mai.