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The Magic Fan

Traditional Chinese tale

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Conte pour petits et grands à partir de 5 ans.

Temps de lecture : 7 minutes

Traditional Chinese tale – version created by

Young Chen-Shao sold fish in his parents’ market stall. They earned so little money that they could barely survive. But what worried him even more was, because of their poverty, no young woman would marry him.

– Don’t worry. His mother told him. You are still young and girls like you.

Indeed, Chen-Shao was tall and handsome, and all the young women sighed at the thought of him. But their parents discouraged them, saying:

– Youth passes quickly. What can this hungry man give you when you are thirty? – And they all gave up their dream of marrying Chen-Shao.

One day, the chief fisherman came to the shop in a bad mood and with an endless list in his hand and addressed the father as follows:

– Here is the list of everything you owe me. With all this, I could buy a brand new boat. You won’t have any more fish until you pay us back.

– If you do that, my family will starve. Protested the father.

Then Chen-Shao approached the chief fisherman and said:

– Will you accept me as a sailor on your boat in payment of my father’s debt?

The fisherman, appreciating his strong build, agreed and said:

– Let’s meet tomorrow on the beach, before sunrise.

But Chen-Shao did not bring luck to the crew because that day, the boat broke in two and sank. Chen-Shao clung to a piece of wood that was floating and was carried away by the waves.

After a frightening night among the waves, he arrived on a beautiful island and saw a little house on top of the hill.

When he got there the door opened on a beautiful young woman who said to him:

– At last you are here. I have been waiting for you for so long

– Have you been waiting for me? Chen-Shao exclaimed in surprise. Unfortunately, I don’t remember seeing you before, he said, already under the charm of the girl.

– You may have never seen me, but I’ve known you for many years.

She told him that she was the daughter of the god of the sea and that she sometimes rode to his house and looked at him in his sleep.

Chen-Shao thought that it must be a dream, but when he woke up the next morning, he saw that his beloved was still there and told him:

– But of course it was not a dream. My father is indeed the god of the sea and he does not know that this island that I asked him as a gift, was intended to welcome you. He would be able to kill you if he knew. You must not leave under any circumstances.

– For you, my beloved, I will remain hidden in the space of a shell. Said Chen-Shao.

Thus passed ten months of absolute happiness for the two lovers. One day the girl said to him:

– Today is my aunt’s birthday, I have to go so as not to arouse my father’s suspicion.

Chen-Shao was very sad because he could not live without the girl.

– I’ll be back this evening. She comforted him. If you are bored, you can open the north window, the south window, the east window, but never the west window.

Then she took out a sword made of pearls and told him:

– If a strange creature attacks you, just say: “Magic sword, cut the head of this monster” and it will protect you.

The princess got on your winged horse and flew into the clouds.

Time passed and Chen-Saho was getting bored. He thought of his beloved and could not bear the wait to see her again.
He opened the northern window and saw all the beauties of the world.
Then he opened the southern window and saw all the birds of the sky gathered before him.
He opened the eastern window and saw all the riches of the sea.
But all these wonders could not make him forget his love and, in his madness of love, he opened the western window without remembering the advice of his beloved.

Through the forbidden window, he saw two sea creatures on a boat not far from the island. The monsters also saw him because the spell that hid the island was broken.  They boarded the island to capture him. But Chen-Shao remembered the sword and shouted: “Magic sword, cut off the head of this monster”. And the Sword slit the heads of both creatures.

The princess, who was still at her aunt’s house, had a premonition and turned pale. Her aunt, believing that she was ill, gave her a magic fan which, if waved very hard, had the power to swell the waves and create storms. The princess took it with her on her winged horse and returned to her island.


After he had confessed his fault and told her all about his misadventure, she consoled Chen-Shao in shame, and told him:

– We must leave here because my father will send his army to capture you when he hears that you have killed two of his soldiers.

But just then, thousands of underwater creatures came out of the sea and surrounded the island to attack them.

– I’m going to surrender. Said Chen-Shao. I am responsible for this situation.

But the young woman held him back, took out her aunt’s fan and waved it with all her might. This caused the gigantic waves to rise and sweep away the army of the sea.

– Let’s run away from here. She said. We have won a battle, but we will not win the war.

They rode the flying horse to the village of Chen-Shao, where she told him again:

– Take me as your wife, so my father will know that I love you and will stop chasing us.

– But I am poor. Said Chen-Shao.

The young woman smiled at him and started to shake her hair. He pulled out pearls, corals, and many other treasures from the sea.

– If this seems small to you, we will ask my father for more.

But Chen-Shao did not live in luxury. He preferred to help his father in the market and never went out to sea again.

When he ran out of fish, his wife went to the beach and sang a strange song that caused many fish to splash on the sand.

– Why are you surprised? she asked tenderly. My father is the god of the sea and this is his favorite song.

And she waved the fan to make the waves bigger and to let her aunt know that she remembered her.


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29 Jan 2023

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