Stories from Akha People in Northern Thailand

Origin of a Swing

Humans did not have a swing. How did it come to exist?

A long, long time ago, many fish lived in rivers and rice paddies. There was a village, and farmers lived there. When the farmers went to farm, they did not take anything to eat with them except for rice. They caught fish and ate them with rice.

This caused trouble for the fish. So, two fish went to ask God to do something about the humans. They said, “God, please help us.” God asked them, “Why do I need to help you?” The fish replied, “When the humans go farming, they catch us and eat us. We cannot stand it. We used to play in rivers and rice paddies. We have come to live here for a long time. However, we cannot survive anymore.”

A sparrow at God’s house happened to hear this conversation. He said that it was because the fish had done something wrong to the humans. So, the humans got angry. The two fish said that it was not true. They said that the humans were causing them trouble. God did not know what to do.

God finally decided to make a swing and give it to the humans so that they could play. When they swung up, especially at the beginning of the rainy season, they would be away from the earth for a few days. The fish thought that God had punished the humans and so became satisfied with what God had done. The two fish went back home.

There lived a brother and a sister. The brother’s name was A Rong and the sister A Ong. They made a type of swing, too. The two played with it, swinging up and down and moving around as well. Back in those days, the sun and the moon did not keep time. They came out when they felt like rising. Sometimes, neither the sun nor the moon came out for four or five days. Then, when they were up in the sky, they did not go down for two to three days.

This was a problem. Humans did not know when to farm. They could not tell what season it was. A Rong and A Ong felt sorry for this and decided to talk with the sun and the moon to do something about it. So, they cut bamboo trees and made a swing. They rode on the swing, swung up and down, and finally flew up into the sky.

A Rong got to the sun and asked the sun to come out on time. The sun agreed. But it was too hot and so A Rong died. A Ong reached the moon and asked the moon to come out on time. The moon agreed. But it was too cold and so A Ong died, too.

Since then, the sun and the moon have come out on time. Making a swing is to remember about A Rong and A Ong, who sacrificed themselves for humans.