When mentioned about Mid-autumn festival, apart from moon cakes and lanterns, Vietnamese people often tell each other about the image of Chú Cuội or Mr. Cuội sitting next to the tree on the full moon day.
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The legend of Chú Cuội or Mr. Cuội
Long time ago, in a tiny bamboo hut beside the jungle, there lived a poor woodcutter named Chú Cuội. He had lived every day of his life cutting small trees in the woods and gathering dry sticks to sell as fuel in the market.
One day, as he was gathering stick in the woods, he spotted three tigers playing among each other. He looked around and learned that the three cubs were left alone by their mother to hunt for food. Desperate to make some money to buy himself an ox, Chú Cuội planned on catching one of the cubs and sell it in the market. Slowly, he laid down his bundle of sticks and crept behind a fallen log. While waiting for a chance to grab one of the playing cubs, the youngest one accidentally rolled right next to him. Quickly, Chú Cuội grabbed it by the back of its neck, careful not to be bitten and scratched as the cub kept on squirming. The two other cubs saw what happened to their brother and scampered away in fear.
Thinking it was safe to go, Chú Cuội started to head out of the jungle. But before he was even able to take a few steps, he heard a great, loud roar from behind. When Chú Cuội turned around, he was startled to see the mother tiger. As quickly as he can, Chú Cuội climbed the closest tree he could find, still, with the cub in his hands. But as he was making his way up to the tree, the cub managed to struggle free from his grasp, fell, and landed hard on the ground.
From atop, Chú Cuội watched as the mother tiger as she approached an old, twisted Banyan tree growing near a bubbling stream. She tore off a few leaves from the tree, chewed them up, and placed the leaves on the cub’s head. To his amazement, the baby tiger jumped off from his feet and started playing with his brothers as if nothing happened. The mother, then, led his cubs to a dear she hunted earlier, and everyone went on to eat.
When the tigers left, Chú Cuội came down from the tree. Because of curiosity, he went to the ancient Banyan tree, plucked a few leaves, and smelled them. He found that they don’t smell any different from other banyan leaves, so he thought that the cub may have just been stunned, and the banyan leaves had nothing to do with its quick recovery. Still a little curious, he placed some of the leaves in his pocket so he could study them closer when he gets home. Chú Cuội then gathered his axe and headed out of the woods.
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The play “Chú Cuội and the tree on the moon” performed by VLS Students
At the 2022 Mid-Autumn Charity Trip “Đường tới trường – Đường tương lai” on September 10,11, VLS students and guests performed the play “Chú Cuội and the tree on the moon”.
Special thanks to our casts:
– Mr. Cuội: Michael Donald Ta
– The Tree: Jessica Ann Maley
– Mr. Cuội’s Wife: Heather Nelson
– The Rich Man: Ronald Bertus Geskus
– Mother tiger: Peggy Lam Hung Foo
– Tiger Cup: Vũ Minh Như
– Tiger Cup: Quynh Ariana Maley Nguyen
– The Fairy: Đặng Thị Thảo Vy