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1001 Stories Collection

The Emperor and the Seed

1001 The Emperorandthe Seed
Added on 23rd August 2020

Oral tradition Chinese story

Asia Fables
1001 , Video , Resource pack

A story about honesty, responsibility and integrity.


One day the Emperor invited all the young boys from across the Kingdom to come to the Palace. The ageing Emperor gave them each a seed and told them to go home, plant the seed in a pot, tend it and to return to the Palace in one year‘s time with their plant. From the plants they produced the Emperor would judge who would succeed him.

After a year they returned and all but one boy, Ling had produced beautiful plants. Ling had nothing to show except his empty plant pot. He was embarrassed and did not want to return to the Palace but his mother had persuaded him to be honest about what had happened.

The ageing Emperor called Ling forward and declared him his successor. The Emperor explained that he had given all the boys boiled seeds, which he knew would not grow. Only Ling had been honest and courageous enough to return to the Palace with an empty pot.

Why we chose it

An inspirational story of honesty, responsibility and integrity.

Where it came from

A Far Eastern classic cautionary tale that summarises in narrative form religious teaching. In Islam, the Prophet’s teaching, ‘‘Truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person", [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8:116]. The story also illustrates Biblical teachings such as, ‘The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness’ [Psalm 18:20-24.

Where it went next

It has been animated as a moral story for children. It has been utilised for Christian, Islamic and Buddist faiths.

Added on 23rd August 2020

Oral tradition Chinese story

Asia Fables
1001 , Video , Resource pack

Learning Resources

  • 1001 Empty Pot resource pack PDF (618.136 KB)