Tell-It Tuesday: A Watermelon Folktale

This week’s theme: SEEDS

Here is a retelling of a Vietnam’s tale about Watermelon Magic


watermelon drawing

Long ago, Vietnam had a kind king named Kind Hung Vuong the Third. This king was blessed to have a wonderful daughter but could not have a son. He adopted a boy from another land and named him An Tiem.

When An Tiem and king’s daughter grew up, they got married and had a wonderful life. They were kind and generous just like King Hung Vuong. They had two children of their own.

But, as usually happens with people, some of the King’s court became very jealous of An Tiem. They spread vicious rumors about him. They said he was disloyal to the King that had adopted him, and planned to overthrow him.

The King was very saddened by these rumors and did not want to believe them. But, the more he heard them, the more he wondered if An Tiem and his daughter might betray him. So, even though he did not want to, he exiled them and their children to a far away island. He hoped An Tiem would be brave and strong. He hoped the family would be able to survive on such a harsh and wind-beaten island.

An Tiem and his family made the best life they could on the island. They were all alone, and the island was bleak and desolate.

One day An Tiem was walking by the sea. He found some birds peeking at and eating strange black seeds he had not seen before. An Tiem gathered up a few seeds and took them home.

He planted them in their garden. The seeds grew to produce heavy, green fruits that lay on the ground. An Tiem and his family cut the fruit open, and found the flesh to be pink, juicy and delicious!

They grew many of these fruits. An Tiem wanted to name them. His wife told him the birds always said, “Tay qua” when they found the seeds.  An Tiem thought this would be a great name for the fruits-watermelon.

An Tiem longed to see his adopted father again and go back to his old life. He wanted his father to know that he and his family had been strong and brave and were alive. One day he got an idea. He would use the surplus watermelons to send a message and a gift to the King.

An Tiem’s family carried many watermelons to the shore. They wrote An Tiem on all of them and threw them carefully into the ocean.

Many days later, on the other side of the ocean, King Hung Vuong was walking by the shore. “What are these?” he said out loud, as he picked up one of the heavy, green fruits that were littering the beach. He rolled the fruit over in his hands, admiring its smooth beautiful skin.

“What?” shouted the King when he saw what was written on the other side of the fruit. “An Tiem? My son is alive! My daughter and my grandchildren must be alive, too.” When the King tasted the sweet fruit, he knew that An Tiem had sent them as message and as a gift for him.

The King brought An Tiem and his family home. They ruled happily and generously for many years. People throughout the land talked about the magic seeds and An Tiem’s gift of watermelon.


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