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1001 Stories Collection

The Cap Seller and the Monkeys

Added on 25th June 2020

Oral tradition Indian folktale from the Panchatantra (300CE)

A fun oral story about the importance of listening to and learning from stories.


A cap seller sets out to market with a heavy sack of caps to sell. In the heat of the day, he settles down in the shade of a tree to rest, laying his bag down beside him. When he wakes the bag is empty and the tree is full of monkeys – and every monkey is wearing one of his caps. What is he to do? And what happens to his son, many years later, when he fell asleep under that tree with a sack full of hats beside him?

Why we chose it

Great stories are passed down from generation to generation. This is a story about learning through stories and about the importance of remembering the stories our parents tell us.

Where it came from

The ancient Indian story comes from a collection of animal parables called The Panchatantra, which was first written down in about 300BCE. These interconnecting tales about jackals and elephants, tigers and crows, are told as if to teach three foolish princes how to conduct their lives wisely.

Where it went next

By 1600 these stories were translated from Sankskrit into Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. They now appear in languages across the world, offering words that are still wise today.

Associated stories

Stories from the Panchatantra reappear in Aesop’s Fables and folk collections from La Fontaine to the Brothers Grimm. A German translation, printed in 1483, was one of the earliest books to be printed by Gutenberg’s press after the Bible.

Added on 25th June 2020

Oral tradition Indian folktale from the Panchatantra (300CE)