Lao Folktales : The Crescent Moon Comb

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Author's Note: A word about mia noi or minor wives

For married men to have minor wives is a common practice in both Thai and Lao societies. A minor wife is a mistress in which a married man will have in addition to his major wife, who watches over his household and children. On the other hand, the minor wife obscurely takes care of the husband unbeknownst to the major wife. In some cases, a minor wife will share children with the husband in question and in most cases, she is younger in age than the major wife. Quite commonly, men of affluence will flaunt their minor wives as he is expected to. Popular belief dictates that the more money you have the more minor wives you have. It's important to note too that in many cases, the mia noi or minor wife will come from a poor family and will remain faithful to her husband for the duration of their agreement. Although some cultures frown at the practice of polygamy, Lao and Thai culture has long accepted it as a part of society as it has been the norm for hundreds of years.

The Crescent Moon Comb

Once upon a time a man from a farming village told his wife that he was going to go into town to buy some fishing supplies.

“Since you are going, maybe you could buy some candy for our son,” she said. “And while you’re at it, could you buy me a crescent moon comb? I always wanted one.” The man rolled his eyes.

“Oh, what a difficult name,” he said. “Once I get to the town, I won’t remember to. I am quite forgetful, you know.”

“That won’t be a problem. Should you forget, just look up at the moon. It looks like that.”

Later on that day, the moon would in fact be a crescent moon. The man had to walk many days and nights before reaching the town. Once he arrived there, he immediately went to buy all the fishing accessories he needed and by the time he finished, he completely forgot what his wife asked him to buy. Hoping that he would remember, he went to the store anyway. While there he browsed around looking at every item but found that he was clueless as to what his wife wanted him to buy. After watching this man for some time, the shopkeeper came around to ask him what he needed.

“May I help you find something?” The shopkeeper said. The man shook his head in defeat.

“My wife asked me to buy something for her, but now I forget what it is.”

“Is it this lipstick?”


“Is it this purse?”


“Is it this spoon?”

“Spoon? Oh, I remember now! She told me to look up at the moon!”

The shopkeeper looked up at the full moon. By the time the man from the farming village reached the town, the moon became full. Just then, the shopkeeper’s eyes lit up. He picked up a round object and smiled at the man.

“Here you are!” The shopkeeper said. “I’m willing to bet that this is what she wanted!”

The shopkeeper then wrapped the round object in brown paper and handed it to the man from the farming village. The man paid the shopkeeper and returned home happy and satisfied. Once he made it inside his house, he found that his wife, his boy, his mother and father were all waiting for him.

“Here you go, have a piece of candy,” he said handing the candy to his son who tore off the wrapping of the candy and placed it inside his mouth.

“Did you remember to get what I asked for?” The wife said smiling.

“Oh, yes,” the man said while walking over to the drinking jar as he was very thirsty. “It’s in my shoulder bag over there.” Just as soon as the wife reached inside his shoulder bag, her heart began to beat very fast.

“My crescent comb isn’t in here,” the wife said.

The man then walked over to the bag and reached inside. He brought out the round thing that the shopkeeper wrapped in brown paper so proudly and gave it to her.

“Here you go,” he said to her.

The wife ripped open the object and then stood, looking into the mirror with great disdain.

“What is it?” He asked.

“You are an awful, awful person old man! You bought home a minor wife. This is an outrage!” She screamed.

“What?” The man’s mother said. “Let me have a look.” The wife handed her the mirror.

“This is terrible! Indeed, you are awful! You really did bring home a minor wife and she is so old and wrinkled. What were you thinking? How could you do such a thing?”

While sitting near his grandmother, the young boy grabbed the mirror from his grandmother’s hands and immediately went on a tirade.

“Grandpa, look! He took my candy and is eating it!”

“Let me see who this wicked person is,” the grandfather said, taking the mirror from the boy. “He’s making faces at me, this villain! I’ll hit him with the broad side of my knife here!” So the grandfather set the mirror on the ground and grabbed his knife. “What? He’s grabbing his knife too!”

At the sight of this, the grandfather became so angry that he brought the knife down on the mirror and broke it into a dozen pieces.

“Now you won’t bother anyone anymore,” he said.

And that is the story of the people who had never seen neither a crescent-moon comb nor a mirror their entire lives.

© Copyrigjht 2009, O. Dohn Paditsone. All Rights Reserved.

Lao Forest Painting. Courtesy
Lao Forest Painting. Courtesy

I'm Not Backing Out Yet! (Hub 18/30)

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Comments 24 comments

Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 7 years ago from Near the Ocean

Thanks for the education and the story Dohn.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Randy! Always nice to see a familiar face.

wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 7 years ago from The Land of Tractors

I enjoyed this story and your retelling was masterful!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, wannabwestern. I really enjoyed hearing this story as it made me laugh. It's so much funnier when you read it out loud and act out the lines. Thanks for commenting! I appreciate your compliment.

cosette 7 years ago

i have one of those. i wear it UNDER my hair to give it some height :) groovy tale!

fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

Ha ha ha loved it! Your country folktales are so full of humour! And metaphor, brilliant. You really have to think to get it. :)

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Yeah, I found this story really funny. The story's even better when a good storyteller acts it out in front of an audience. Thanks buddy!

Karraline profile image

Karraline 7 years ago

That story is awesome! Good writing.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Karraline. Much obliged!

dokdumduan 7 years ago

DOHNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN, you know to much, mia noi, you ka hu juk mot . kuc lai der jao. 55555555

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Haha! Yes, I do. In America, having a mia noi is a no-no. Polygamy or one having more than one spouse is illegal here and is also frown upon. I know a few Lao that have married an American wife here, separated/divorced and then went back to Laos to remarry or to get a mia noi.

Thank you for all of strong support of me. Perhaps the next article that I write will be on the 25th Annual SEA games!

dokdumduan. 7 years ago

alway support you , proud of what you do topromote our country, i love your work. yes i see alot of them thao hua ngu want mia noi. 5555555

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you very much for that, dokdumduan! You've been so supportive of me through and through. Korp jai, lai lai! Soke dee duh!

thanglynn07 profile image

thanglynn07 7 years ago from Long Beach, CA

So I read the beginning...looked at my bf and said, "Have any knowledge of this? Hmmm?!" Then went on to read about him going to get fishing gear...turned to my bf and said, "Nope. You're not going fishing!" Then read to where the wife sees the mirror and accuses him for getting a "mia noi" and thought ohhhh!!! Good story lol. Okay okay, I'll let him go fishing...Thanks for sharing Dohn! I love asian folklores!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

LOL. Minor wives are no strangers to Lao men, I'll tell you, nor Thai men for that matter. Lao men are also lovers of fishing too. Just watch out for the mermaids, however. They tend to steal men with their voices! LOL. Thank you for the comments, thanglynn07.

thanglynn07 profile image

thanglynn07 7 years ago from Long Beach, CA

Lol! Thank God he loves my voice! And yeah, he is quite familiar with the term "mia noi". He smiled and said, "Yeah...I know what it means." Fortunately he, nor his family is a participant of this "approved" lifestyle. I never told you how I got the name Thanglynn did I? His name is Thangly and mines is Lynn. Since we've been a couple our friends started calling us "Thanglynn". And we've stuck with that.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

That's so awesome. You guys must really make a pair!

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

A great story. How I love the old folk tales. It would be wonderful to sit and hear a good story teller spin this yarn. Thanks for sharing, I loved it!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you for that, Dolores! I always used to pester my dad for a good folk tale...Correction, I still pester him about a good folktale! There are a few more that I know, but I have yet to write them as hubs.

Bbudoyono profile image

Bbudoyono 6 years ago

I always enjoy your great hubs. Thanks for it.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Bbuoyono! I appreciate it.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

it is funny Dohn, when I see that mirror I will say, go out girl enjoy the winter, huh,

Anyway in the Philippines too there are mia noi, it is a common practice, my ex husband had one, LOL,

have a good day Dohn and thanks for this one, it made me laugh, Maita

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Hey, Maita. The way things are going with my life, I'm doing away with the traditional wife and going straight for the mia noi, lol. I'm glad that you liked this one :)

Random and Common 2 years ago

Who's the original author? Thanks I badly need it, man!

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