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Mae Nak spirit

The story of "Mae Nak" (แม่นาค) is perhaps the most famous of all Thai ghosts.

Mae Nak Phra Khanong
A famous shrine in Bangkok (ศาลแม่นาคพระโขนง) is located near Sukhumvit Road, Soi 101, inside Wat Mahabut. It is containing the grave of the dreadful ghost "PHI PHRA KHANONG" (ผีพระโขนง). This ghost has frightened Thai people since almost a century.

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Mae Nak Phra Khanong

Last century, during the reign of King Mongkut (1851-1868), when Bangkok was still called the "Venice of the Far East", a woman called "NAK" was married to a man called "TID MAK". They moved into a house in Bangkok's Phra Khanong district, near Wat Mahabut. After a while her husband was called off to war. Alas she was already pregnant.

While her husband was away, she died with the baby still inside her body. So as Thai people believe, a woman who died with her baby creates a powerful spirit called "PHI TAI HONG THONG KLOM" (ผีตายโหงทองกลม). She became a ghost. As she still loved her husband deeply, she took a form of human being and waited for "Tid Mak" to return.
Mae Nak Phra Khanong
Mae Nak Phra Khanong

Her husband didn't know anything about his wife's death. So when he came back home, his wife was waiting for him. Many persons did warn him that his wife was dead and that he was living with a ghost but he did not believe them.

Mae Nak Phra Khanong
One day when "MAE NAK" was preparing the dinner and her husband bathing himself in the bathroom, a lemon fell from her hand. As the house was a Thai traditional house, it was built on piles and so the lemon fell on the ground 2 meters lower than the house's floor. So the ghost "MAE NAK" made her arm longer in order to get it.
Mae Nak Phra Khanong

But her husband saw that, he understood that his wife was now a ghost. He managed to flee from the house and took refuge inside Wat Mahabut. "MAE NAK" terrorised the local population as an expression of her anger with them for helping her husband.

Thanks to a monk, the spirit was imprisoned in an earthen pot and thrown in the river. The monk covered the bottle with a cloth. On this cloth was written Pali language in order to disable the spirit from going outside the bottle. But the legend is not over. Two fishermen trying to catch some fish got the bottle and freed "MAE NAK".
Mae Nak Phra Khanong
Mae Nak Phra Khanong

But the husband of "MAE NAK" was living with another woman. The ghost of "MAE NAK" managed to find them and killed her husband's new girlfriend.

Finally "MAE NAK" accepted to stop killing because a monk promised her that in a next life she would live again with her husband. Nowadays Thai people still believe in the story of "MAE NAK PHRA KHANONG". Thai people don't like to speak about ghosts, they are afraid to meet them in their dreams while sleeping.

"MAE NAK" is said to love listening Mon Rak Luuk Tung Speaker "click here"
Lottery numbers
Most of those coming to Wat Mahabut go with the intention of worshiping at the ghost shrine of "Mae Nak", asking her spirit to bless their lives with good fortune. They also make a stop at the "Ton Takien" (ต้นตะเคียน) shrine for a lucky lottery number.
Lottery numbers

The Thai expression is ขัดต้นไม้ขอหวย.

A young Thai is lady adding gold leaves on Mae Nak Phra Khanong's arm. Her baby is in front of her.
Mae Nak Phra Khanong
Mae Nak Phra Khanong

"MAE NAK" is the short name for "MAE NAK PHRA KHANONG". "MAE" (แม่) means mother but now many people are calling her "YA NAK". "YA" (ย่า) means grant mother. Indeed the story happened one century ago.

Mae Nak Phra Khanong
Many donations are made : toys, flowers, beautiful dresses, children clothes, food for her or her child. During all the day, a TV is on. "MAE NAK" likes the Thai movie "MON RAK LUUK THUNG" (มนต์รักลูกทุ่ง).
Mae Nak Phra Khanong

Thai mothers always warn their daughters to come home after school. If not "MAE NAK" might catch them ! The shrine where "MAE NAK PHRA KHANONG" ashes remain is located near Sukhumvit road, soi 77. This shrine is now famous. Due to the several Thai TV series and few movies, the shrine is overcrowded.

Inside the shrine there is a statue of "MAE NAK" covered with gold leaves.
Mae Nak Phra Khanong
Mae Nak Phra Khanong

The Thai movie "NANG NAK" released in 1999 is the year biggest success in Thai cinema. It is the story of "MAE NAK PHRA KHANONG". More than 15 Thai movies remakes about "Mae Nak" life have been produced so far. In year 2009 Mae Nak The Musical was even launched.

Mae Nak Phra Khanong
Each day the "Mae Nak" ghost shrine draws hundreds of worshippers who are looking to improve their fortunes at Wat Mahabut.
Mae Nak Phra Khanong


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Click here to discover Thai movies about Mae Nak



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