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Mermaid’s Daughter –in-law

Many stories are being told about the wealth, fame, strength and influence that Buli Ponpo had so much so that it became a source of contention for even the central government at that point of time to wage a war against him. Even to these days, many people continue to respect their nobilities. The descendants are often referred to as Buli Ponpo(s) or Buli Ashi(s).

Legend speaks of a mermaid who had escaped from a lake situated near present day Zhemgang Dzong. People who stayed nearby had contaminated the lake by shitting around, rearing pigs and washing clothes. It became so unbearable that the mermaid had to run away.

So she metamorphosed as an old woman and sought shelter at the house of one of the three Tibetan brothers living in Buli. The three Tibetan brothers had come all the way from Tibet hunting for wild boars. When they reached Buli, they were overjoyed with the place. So they decided to settle down there.

The mermaid in disguise requested the host to accommodate her in the ground floor of their house . She told him that she would be expecting her friends in the night to join her and not to disturb them. The request was quite unusual but nevertheless, he agreed to her request.

However, in the night, lot of queer sounds were heard from the ground floor, which aroused curiosity of the host. The host peeped through a crack on the door and saw that there were many reptiles lurking around in his house.

When the dawn broke, the old woman left the house and as she left, she chided the host for peeping. Interestingly, after this incident, it is being said that the daughter of the host started to frequently disappear from the house. This arose suspicion of the father.

Like in the story of ancient Greek story of Minotor, the father tied one end of the thread ball to the daughter’s kira and kept the thread ball which he slowly allowed to undo. Following the thread ball, father is known to have reached the lake in the jungles of Buli. He saw his daughter disappear into the lake. It is being said that the daughter had been taken by the mermaid as her daughter-in-law.

He also saw that there were many copper pots floating on the surface of the lake but one particular copper pot with broken rim caught his attention. When he touched it, all the rest disappeared except for the one he touched. It is being said that he was given the copper pot as compensation for his daughter who was taken as a bride for his son. Had he not peeped during her stay at his house, it is said that he would have got pot with unbroken rim.

He brought the broken rimmed copper pot to his home. Ever since then, he became rich, famous and powerful so much so that he was elevated to the nobility of Ponpo by the local people and was known as Buli Ponpo.

The rising popularity of the ordinary man, who had been a poor hunter before invited suspicion among the officials in the central government in Punakha. The central government sent officials and armies to crush the Ponpo but to no avail.

However, much later in history, it is being believed that the Buli Ponpo’s desendant Drongseb Singye Namgyel inherited the pot. After he was killed during a battle with Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuk, the pot arrived at Punakha Dzong and it continues to remain there.

I haven’t seen the pot myself…just heard the story. Hope someone at Punakha and Wangdi will send me a picture of the pot so that I will have a glance too at one piece of history.


Unknown said…
Sir, do you remember me? I'm sonam Norbu (son of Rigsar School's Ap Rinzin) I took tuition under you. I am glad to see you here. Where are you sir? I've become a teacher at samtengang in wangdi. Please visit my blog at
I have read some of your writing outside the blog and loved them. The writings on your blog are no exception.
Anonymous said…

I think I am not the person who taught you. It must be other Tshering C Dorji. Anyways, thaks for the comment and wish you happy reading.

Tshering C Dorji

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