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The Á Bao A Qu is a Malaysian creature described in Jorge Luis Borges's Book of Imaginary Beings. Borges claimed that he had found the legend in the book On Malay Witchcraft (1937), by C.C. Iturvuru.

Story

The Á Bao A Qu lived in the Tower of Victory in Chitor. The Tower of Victory consisted of many spiraling steps, at the top of which is the most beautiful landscape in the world. The Á Bao A Qu waits on the first step for a man brave enough to try to climb up.

Until that point, it lies sleeping, a translucent blob, until someone passes. Then, when a man starts climbing, the creature wakes, and follows close behind. As it progresses further and further up, it begins to become clearer and more colorful. It gives off a blue light which increases as it ascends. When the climber ascends halfway up the Tower, the Á Bao A Qu's tentacles become visible. But it only reaches perfection when the climber reaches the top, and achieves Nirvana, so his acts don't cast any shadows.

But almost all the time, the climber cannot reach the top, for they are not perfect. When the Á Bao A Qu realizes this, it hangs back, losing color and visibility, and tumbles back down the staircase until it reaches the bottom, once more a colorless, dormant blob. In doing so, it gives a small cry, so soft that it sounds similar to the rustling of silk. The creature has no eyes, but can see with its entire body. When touched, it feels like the fuzz on the skin of a peach. Only once in its everlasting life has the Á Bao A Qu reached its destination at the top of the tower.

Art/Fiction

  • The musician Virginia Astley has created an album named after the Á Bao A Qu.
  • The Á Bao A Qu has appeared as an orange, malevolent blob in the television series The Secret Saturdays.

Sources