The Magic Paintbrush – Chinese Fairy Tale

The Fairy Tale of The Magic Paintbrush

“The Magic Paintbrush” is a Chinese fairy tale that portrays the dream of the magical potential of human beings and the value of true art.

Once upon a time, there lived a young boy named Ma Liang. Unfortunately, both his parents had died early, so he had to support himself by chopping wood and cutting grass. Despite his difficult life, Ma Liang had a passion for painting. Unfortunately, he was so poor that he couldn’t afford to buy a paintbrush.

One day, Ma Liang walked past a school and saw a teacher painting with a brush. Without hesitation, he walked into the classroom and asked the teacher, “I want to learn painting. Can I borrow a paintbrush from you?”

The teacher sneered at the shabby boy and replied, “What? A poor kid like you wants to learn to paint? You must be daydreaming! Get out of my sight!”

Ma Liang quietly walked away, his heart filled with disappointment. However, he remained composed and calm. In his mind, he thought, “I just don’t believe a poor child is not good enough to learn painting.”

From that day on, the boy made up his mind to learn to paint by himself. Whenever he chopped wood in the forest, he would draw a bird in the sand with a branch. When he was cutting grass by the river, he would dip a grass reed in water and trace a fish on the rocks.

At night, when he returned to the cave that he called home, he would use a stick of charcoal to sketch on the wall everything he had drawn during the day. Ma Liang practiced day after day, never missing a single one. He drew everywhere he went using anything he could find. If he wasn’t actually drawing something, he was drawing it in his mind. Every inch of his cave wall was covered with paintings.

Despite not having a paintbrush, Ma Liang had developed some amazing skills. When he drew a hen on the ground of his village entrance, eagles hovered above. When he drew a black wolf at the back of the mountain, cows and sheep stayed away in fear.

“It would be great to have a paintbrush,” Ma Liang said to himself every day.

Ma Liang and the Magic Paintbrush
Ma Liang and the Magic Paintbrush

One night, while painting, Ma Liang fell asleep and dreamed of an old man with a long white beard who gave him a magic paintbrush. When he woke up, Ma Liang found himself still holding the brush. He tested it out by drawing a bird that came to life and flew away. Excited by its power, Ma Liang went on to paint a fish that swam away in a river he drew.

Ma Liang knew that he had been given a special gift, and he decided to use it for good. Every day, he painted things to help the people in his village, such as a cow for a family that needed one, a stone mill for those who wanted one, and a waterwheel for those who didn’t have one.

Word of Ma Liang’s magic paintbrush spread quickly, and it eventually reached the ears of a wealthy landlord who lived nearby. The landlord was greedy and wanted to use Ma Liang’s brush for his own selfish purposes.

He sent two of his bodyguards to bring Ma Liang to him and ordered him to draw gold coins and ingots. But Ma Liang refused, even when the landlord threatened him. In a fit of anger, the landlord had Ma Liang locked in a stable with no food or water, hoping to break his spirit.

But the magic paintbrush came to Ma Liang’s rescue once again. Using it, he drew a fire and a feast of piping-hot Chinese pancakes and stew. When the landlord’s men saw the food and fire, they knew that Ma Liang had used the brush, and the landlord became even more furious.

He ordered his henchmen to kill Ma Liang and seize the brush. However, when they burst into the stable, Ma Liang had disappeared. He had used the brush to draw a ladder and escape over the eastern wall. The landlord and his men tried to follow, but the ladder vanished, and they fell to the ground.

Ma Liang had the last laugh as he rode away on a white horse that he had drawn with the magic paintbrush. But the landlord and his men were not far behind, chasing him with swords drawn. Ma Liang calmly drew a bow and arrow with the brush and shot the landlord in the throat, killing him instantly. Ma Liang then galloped away and eventually arrived in the next village, safe and sound.

The Fairy Tale of The Magic Paintbrush
The Fairy Tale of The Magic Paintbrush

After several days of riding, Ma Liang arrived at the next village and decided to start a new life there. He began selling his paintings on the street, but he was careful not to paint any animals that could come to life, as he feared the consequences.

However, one day, he accidentally dropped a drop of ink on a white crane he had painted, and to his amazement, the crane came to life and flew away. This caused a commotion in the village, and soon everyone heard about the boy with the magic paintbrush.

The local officials reported this strange happening to the emperor, who ordered Ma Liang to appear before him. Reluctantly, Ma Liang was escorted to the emperor’s palace by his guards, but he had heard stories of the emperor’s cruelty towards the common people and felt great resentment towards him.

When the emperor ordered Ma Liang to draw a dragon, he drew a big house-lizard instead, and when the emperor demanded a phoenix, Ma Liang painted a crow. The two creatures fought each other, causing chaos in the palace hall.

Enraged, the emperor ordered his guards to take away Ma Liang’s magic paintbrush and throw him in prison. Ma Liang was devastated, and he realized that he had been foolish to disobey the emperor. He regretted his actions and hoped for a chance to redeem himself.

With the magic paintbrush now in his hands, the emperor couldn’t wait to use it. He drew one mountain made of gold after another until he had painted a whole range of mountains. However, as he stepped back to admire his work, he was shocked to find that the mountains were just piles of rocks. Suddenly, the rocks tumbled down, nearly crushing the emperor’s feet.

Undeterred, the emperor tried again, this time painting gold bricks one by one. But he soon grew impatient with the small size of the bricks and drew a long, giant brick that filled the entire wall. Before he could finish, however, the painting came to life in the form of a huge python.

The emperor’s bodyguards quickly sprang into action, saving him from the man-eating creature just in time. Despite his fear, the emperor was determined to get what he wanted from the magic paintbrush. So he made a deal with Ma Liang, promising to set him free and even make him a prince if he would agree to use the brush to paint what the emperor wanted.

The Story of "The Magic Paintbrush"
The Story of “The Magic Paintbrush”

Ma Liang pretended to agree and the emperor gave him back the magic paintbrush. The young painter then drew a blue ocean that shone like an endless jade mirror. The emperor was not happy, demanding that Ma Liang draw a money tree that would drop gold coins when shaken.

Ma Liang drew an island in the middle of the ocean and on the island, a tall and big tree. “Isn’t that the money tree you wanted?” he asked the emperor.

The emperor laughed and asked Ma Liang to draw a boat so they could shake the money tree. So Ma Liang drew a big wooden boat and the emperor and his guards boarded it.

As the boat started out slowly towards the island, the emperor demanded that Ma Liang make it go faster. So Ma Liang sketched a few broad strokes in the air and immediately huge gusts of wind started blowing, propelling the boat forward.

The emperor wanted even more speed, so Ma Liang added more strokes to the wind. The boat masts caught the wind fully, and the wooden boat sailed ahead at full speed. However, the waves were getting bigger and bigger, and the boat was being tossed about in the choppy waters.

Despite the emperor’s frightened cries to stop, Ma Liang continued to add more wind. Soon, the waves became many feet high, slamming into the boat and drenching everyone on board.

“Stop drawing! The boat is sinking…” The emperor’s hysterical voice was drowned by the roaring waves and the shouts of panic on board the boat.

He demanded that Ma Liang stop drawing as the boat began to sink, but Ma Liang pretended not to see and continued to draw. His magic paintbrush whipped up a thunderstorm, and walls of waves smashed into the ship amidst horrific thunder and lightning. The waves grew even more violent, until they finally broke the boat and sank it.

After the emperor’s death, the story of Ma Liang and the magic paintbrush spread far and wide. But no one knew where Ma Liang went. Some said he returned to his hometown, while others claimed he travelled far and wide, using his magic paintbrush to help the poor wherever he went.

The Story of “The Magic Paintbrush”
– Chinese Fairy Tale –

The Moral Lesson of “The Magic Paintbrush”

“The Magic Paintbrush is a Chinese fairy tale that has been translated into many languages around the world and has inspired numerous literary and artistic works. It tells the story of a poor boy named Ma Liang, who lost his father early in life. Because of his strong passion for painting, he was gifted a magical paintbrush by a deity, which allowed him to develop his talent. Ma Liang used the magic paintbrush to help the poor in his village and fight against greedy and cruel oppressors.

The moral lesson ofThe Magic Paintbrush is that one should use their talents and abilities for the benefit of others, rather than just for personal gain.

This story conveys the traditional Chinese belief in social justice and the purpose of artistic talents. It also expresses the dream of extraordinary human abilities. The emphasis is on the importance of generosity, kindness, and selflessness, as well as the idea that the power of art can inspire and bring joy to others. Additionally, it warns against the dangers of greed and the abuse of power, as the greedy officials who take advantage of the paintbrush‘s magic eventually face their comeuppance.

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