The Ghost of Mae Nak
Every country has its ghost stories, myths and mysteries, Thailand is no different. A threat to most Thai children that if they don’t behave then Mae Nak (Mother Nak) will come and visit them, will almost certainly quieten the young offender and have their big brown eyes constantly checking for the feared ghost.
The story about Mae Nak is one of the most well known ghost tales in Thailand and a useful weapon in a mother’s armoury to dampen down the noisest child.
Their home was built on thick wooden stilts and Nai Mak quietly climbed the steps, he didn’t want to disturb his wife and child. He stood at the top step and lovingly watched his wife rearranging a basket of fruit, his young child slept peacefully near her.
Nang Nak unaware she was being watched, picked a lemon from the basket and sighed as it rolled from her hand and dropped to the floor, rolling until it disappeared between one of the many gaps in the wooden flooring.
The lemon settled with a quiet thud on the rough earth below the house. Nang Nak streched her arm the three metres or so down through the wooden flooring and retrieved the lemon from the ground below.
Nai Mak was shocked, his senses numbed, what everybody had been telling him was true. He slowly and without sound made his way back down the stairs.
The Ghost of Mae Nak
Nai Mak and his wife Nang Nak lived in Phra Khanong district, Bangkok. It was the 19th century, popular tales mark it as around 1870. Conscripted into the army Nai Mak went off to war, leaving behind his beloved and pregnant wife. During the fighting that followed, Nai Mak was badly injured and sent back to Central Bangkok to recieve treatment and recuperate.
Back in Phra Khanong, Nak and her unborn child had both died during childbirth. Mak returned to his home expecting a loving welcome from his wife and new born child. The welcome was more than he had ever dreamt of and their love more strong than ever, a caring family living together in harmony.
A series of gruesome murders within the community failed to alert Nai Mak that his wife and baby were spirits masquerading in human body form. Anyone who told Nang Nai of the mother and child’s tragic death during childbirth met an untimely end themselves, not once did he consider that a spirit might be brutally killing his fellow village folk.
On discovery of the heartbreaking truth when Nai Mak saw the spirit form of his wife stretch down and retrieve the fruit, he went back up the stairs and greeted his wife, bravely holding back his tears and fears. He spent one last evening with the two loves of his life.
In the middle of the night Nai Mak crept back down the stairs and fled into the darkness of the village. Soon after Nang Nai awoke and realising her husband had gone took chase after the man she loved and couldn’t let go.
A desperate Nai Mak now aware that the ghostly form of his wife was hell bent on taking him back, raced to Wat Mahabut and the refuge that its temple offered. An enraged Nang Nak returned to the village angry and saddened at losing the only love of her life.
Nang Nak’s spirit terrorized the village and after exorcism and voodoo shaman failed to rid them of the ghost, a novice monk arrived from Thonburi. The Buddhist monk coaxed Nang Nak’s spirit into a ceramic pot and after sealing it shut, cast the pot into a nearby river and in doing put an end to the tragic tale. The ghost story of Mae Nak is very popular in Thailand due to its love story and tragic deaths. Mae Nak has been sighted many times since.
The Ghosts of Kamchanod
Top Poster by kind permission of Tom Waller De Warrenne Pictures
Photograph Mae Nak Shrine at Wat Mahabut, Bangkok by Ananda
HD this goes some way to explaining some of the programmes I watch on Thai TV with MTF. Demons and vampires seem to feature quite regularly.
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Glad I didnt’ read this in the evening I just can’t sleep with these thoughts in the head. We have many ghosts here, glad to say none in our house. My neighbour’s house has a resident ghost and many of my faimly in the UK have haunted houses. Also an apartmetn I used to live in Yambol was haunted, I was glad I got out of there eventually. Fascinating subject, but like I said, not late at night.
Martyn,Now on Thai tv sets everywhere, there are three soaps (new ones) and all three feature ghost in them . Ciejay loves a good love story , but will put the love story aside very quickly if a ghost soap or movie flashes across the wonder box screen.I have never seen people that believe in ghost as much as the Thai people , and with their ole tales of ghost to scare and control , and all the spirit houses ,out front kind of gives me the willys at times . I liked the story you told ,and will try and rent it at the video store and watch with Ciejay, it’s a sure way to get her to sit very close and all cuddly, on the couch,ha ha ha. Malcolm
You have a gift, as it were for coming up with some great subjects for your post.Do they come to you in a dream or nightmare ????
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Mike – Demons, vampires and the twins who always fancy the same bloke. Wilai is totally addicted to the Thai soaps.
Martin – Glad to see the petition to Today.com worked. Ghost stories from Bulgaria, now that would make a good read.
Malcolm – The Thai’s are totally obsessed with ghosts. Conversations with Wi often turn to her fears about ghosts and I do often tease her about it. Mind you if there was a knock on the back door at midnight, I certainly wouldn’t answer it.
Oh how sad for Mae Nak! And the child! … but yeah, killing humans who want to tell the widower/hubby the truth isn’t cool :p The concept of capturing a spirit in a container, then throwing it in the river is a common technique in Malaysia too when dealing with such beings…
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Isn’t it bad for the psychology of children to be scared? I mean our parents usually scare us of untrue things and we all grow scared of such imaginary things and become quite cowards of nothing.
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Webbielady – I can’t argue with your point of view. However in the case of Thai children then they are really respectful and yet retain that fun seeking mischievous character that most children have. The ghost of Mae Nak seems to have done them no harm. Thanks.
I find ghost stories and similar features really creepy and I get a ghost bumps whenever I hear one. Whenever there are great features on scary movies or stories such as this arises, I cannot help but feel the chill.
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Ella thanks for your comment as it’s much appreciated. I’m a lot like you when it comes to ghosts and your comments very much echo how I feel.