World Folk Tales – Chang and his Magic Paintbrush
When a boy gets a magic paintbrush that brings sketches to life, he faces trouble from the emperor himself!
Once upon a time, long long ago, in ancient China, there was a boy called Chang who lived alone in his little home. Though he had little wealth, he had a big heart and he would always help animals and humans with whatever he had to give. He would cut and sell wood for a living. Chang would go during the day to cut wood and after that he would sit and draw sketches on rocks with the twigs he had. As dusk approached, he went home and continued to draw on the walls of his house. All of his actions were watched by someone from up above in the heavens.
One night, after Chang came home, he was very exhausted and he fell asleep right away as he had nothing to eat. After he was fast asleep, a fairy entered his house and left something by his bed. She told him that her gift would solve all his problems and it would help him serve others better as well. She blessed him for having a kind heart and disappeared. Chang woke up a little time later and he saw something shining next to him. It was a paintbrush, but something about it seemed different to him and he did not know how he exactly got the paintbrush in the first place.
Chang then started to sketch a plate of food with the new paintbrush and to his surprise, the plate of food popped up in front of him! Chang was extremely flabbergasted and he decided to try it again. He did this a great number of times and whatever he drew, appeared in real life. Chang then started to draw food and clothes and he distributed this to people who were poor and soon he became famous in the kingdom. Word of Chang’s great deeds spread everywhere and eventually reached the emperor’s ears. The Chinese emperor was a tyrant and he sought to exploit the talent of the boy. He at once told his soldiers to bring the boy to his court. The soldiers went at once and the next day, Chang was brought in front of the emperor.
The emperor then told Chang to draw a mountain of gold. Chang then asked the emperor if he would be let go if he drew it and to this the emperor said in a tone of mockery that he should not imagine such things. He said that Chang would forever be his slave. Chang felt very depressed and even the guards and soldiers in the court felt pity for the boy. The emperor then ordered a big piece of paper to be held for Chang to draw.
Two guards came and held a huge piece of paper on either side for Chang to draw. Chang started to think and he started to draw an ocean. The emperor was seeing this and he intervened and asked him where the mountain of gold was. Chang said that the mountain of gold would be on the other side of the ocean and he drew a big mountain in the corner of the paper. The emperor now shouted and asked Chang to draw him a boat. Chang drew a boat and the emperor immediately went into the paper and landed into the boat. The emperor then rowed the boat and started to move towards the mountain of gold.
At this time, Chang immediately drew dark clouds all over the ocean and made it rain with heavy winds. The guards and soldiers saw what Chang was doing, but they chose not to interrupt Chang and instead smiled to themselves. The emperor continued to row his boat towards the gold, as a huge storm started to shake the boat left and right. Soon, water entered the boat from all sides and the boat snapped in two. The emperor held on to the broken boat for his dear life and he tried to swim back to the paper, but he drowned in no time as huge waves crashed from all directions. The soldiers then closed the paper and allowed Chang to leave the palace.
Chang went back to his home and he continued to help people with his magic paintbrush.
Moral – One grows by helping others in whatever way they can