Makato and the Cowrie Shell - Thailand

Once upon a time there was a boy named Makato. He was an orphan, and had no friends or family to take care of him. Because he had to make his own living he did all kinds of odd jobs: chopping wood, feeding pigs, clearing and cleaning. He didn't mind to work hard, and despite his small wages he was satisfied with his life.

He was only 4 when his mother passed away, but he remembered some stories she had told about the kind-hearted king of Sukhotai. Ever since he was small he wanted to meet this king. One day, when helping a friend to find food for elephants, he found so many branches that the friend offered him a job to become the assistant of the King's mahout. He worked hard cleaning elephants sheds and finding food. One fine morning Makato's patience and hard work got rewarded: he was to accompany the King's elephant an a parade. As the king mounted the beast, in his splendid, shiny costume, he dropped a tiny cowrie shell. Makato picked it up and held it out to the king. who told him to keep it.
Image: Susil Sri Creations

At the time the people of Sukhotai used cowrie shells as money, and although one little cowrie had little value, he wanted to use it wisely. He went to the market to buy seeds, yet quickly realized he could not even buy the smallest bag of seeds, while he noticed a lettuce seed stall.

"Lady, if I dip my finger into this pile of seeds, can I take those that stick to my finger for one cowrie?", he asked. "Well why not", replied the sales lady, amused by his suggestion. Makato carefully scraped the seeds from his finger and planted them, watering the tiny sprouts daily, until the garden was covered in fresh, green lettuce. Proud as he was, he offered to king his first produce.

"Where did you get these, my boy?" the king asked surprised, and Makato told him the story. He king was impressed by so much intelligence and industry that he offered him a fixed position at the palace.

  • Why do you think the lettuce women agreed to let Makato dip the seeds? 
  • Have you ever asked someone a favor? Was the favor awarded?
  • What can you learn from this story from Makato's point of view?
  • What do you think about the king's perspective?
Management Link
Apart from being a dedicated hard worker Makato has shown initiative and creativity to make something of his life. This story nicely illustrates an Afghan proverb: 'one who does not appreciate the apple, won't appreciate the orchard'. There is also the perspective of the king, who was loved, generous and considerate. He is 'the wise man in the background'. As managers we should aim to inspire by rewarding determination, creativeness and the small efforts of all employees, not only of the big people. Managers need to create an enabling environment for all staff, from the cleaning lady and office clerks to the top sales representatives.

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  1. makato is inspirational because even he is an orphan he is a hardworking boy.

  2. yah that's true

  3. makato's strength is the importance of his life..

  4. walang payabangan dito .. sagutin nyu nalang yung question at dun kayu magmayabang

  5. hhahhahaha tnksxz po sa short story na to:))))

  6. hmmm... I thought it is the whole story but it's just a summary. But it's cute

  7. pinag-aralan na namin toh sa achool ei...

  8. tnkz.. po sa story na to may project na ko haahahah
    thank u very muchh....

  9. ilan po bang taon naging hari si Makato ? pwede po ba patulong lng pakilagay narin po kung paano nakuha yung sagot / solution!!

  10. ang tanong, nagig hari ba siya??basahin..:)

  11. oo tanga ka pla eh!



  12. Wow,makato is a brave even though he is orpan and he had no friends.

  13. at the lend of the story, Makato became the ruler of mon, and at the same time he marry the daughter of the king...

  14. ang ganda ng kwento