Tiger Offers Ride for Dutiful Son
This tale narrates the story of a tiger who, upon being moved by a dutiful son’s filial piety, offers him favors.
A long time ago in a village lived a dutiful son who was so poor he could not afford food for his mother, and he had to ask for food from the family he worked for as a farmhand, and ride on the back of a tiger to serve the food to his mother. There was another dutiful son who had to travel far to get medicine for his ailing father and a tiger appeared and let him ride on its back. Another dutiful son was accompanied by a tiger when he went to live in a hut by his father’s grave to serve his three-year mourning ritual (simyosari). Yet another dutiful son found strawberries (or paper plant shoots, bamboo shoots, carp, ripe persimmons, or lichen) in the winter for his mother, and when she died, a tiger kept his side during the three-year mourning and also found him a bride.
The reason a tiger offers the dutiful son these favors is owed to the son’s devoted filial piety. This tale is transmitted only in the oral tradition. The only reason that a tiger, which is a feared beast, helps humans is because it is moved by filial piety, indicating that at the time, filial piety was perceived as the highest virtue.