Ghost story, Thai Folk

Nang Nak Phrakhanong

Translator : Mathurose Satiplan, Source

It is believed by Thai people that ‘Phi Tai Hong’ is the most horrible ghost, especially the person died by accident. A woman died with a baby in her womb can give the people extremely horrible and exciting feeling. The ghost called ‘Nang Nak Phrakhanong’ popularly narrated by people until the present is an example.

It was narrated by villagers in Phrakhanong district that, near the canal, which was next to Mahabus temple, there was a garden belonging to a rich man called ‘Phoo Yai Suk,’ the leader of village. At the end of the garden, the way to the temple, there was a small house, which was far from people. A couple of husband and wife lived there. The husband named Tid Mak was a man in Klong-Toey district. The wife was called Mae Nak who was a beautiful woman in Phrakhanong district. Even though, they worked in the garden and poor, they loved each other very much. Tid Mak was sent to be a soldier during Mae Nak was pregnant. Tid Mak could, at first time, come back to visit his wife. Later on, he was sent to join army in the north of Thailand for months. The army finished after Mae Nak’s baby had been born for two months.

When Tid Mak came back from army, he near the nighttime, took a boat to Wat Mahabut’s port to see Mae Nak suddenly. That night was Wan Phra’s night, 15 Khum (full moon shine). The moon’s light was enough for him to find the way to his house. When he arrived at his house, he called Mae Nak and saw her with a baby. He was very glad and hurriedly went to her. Then he had a little bit shock when touching the unusual-cool and thin wife’s body, also the baby. Mae Nak brought him favorite food as if she knew her husband was hungry. While a little bit eating, cool wind coming touched him and made him felt cold, and a spoon fell down the ground floor. Suddenly, Mae Nak could lengthen her hand to keep it. When Tid Mak wondered, she cried and told him she already died. When the baby heard his mother talking, he ran to his mother and jump to a beam, which is under the roof to show his father. Suddenly, Tid Mak knew his wife and baby was ghosts, he hurriedly ran out to his sister’s house, her name was Wan, while the lamp’s light did not work anymore. After that, Nang Nak followed and called him. Tid Oum protected him by spreading the holy water around the house and asked her to go.

Mae Nak extremely horrified the villagers because she was buried under trees called ‘Ta Khian Khoo.’ Before Tid Mak arrived at his house, she went to ask food from a young monk. While lengthening her hand to him, her hand was cut by a monk’s holy knife. An old monk took him to Kuti, the place for him surrounded by leaves of tree called ‘Bai Nad’ and slept near him. Nevertheless, he was killed by Mae Nak. It was rumored that Nang Nak with her baby always gave extremely horrible feeling to the villagers, travelers, and monks. Men often got the horrible feelings from her and ran out when they knew a beautiful lady coming to them became Mae Nak. Tid Mak could not go to the other place because he was always followed by Mae Nak. Finally, Mae Nak’s soul and her baby were defeated by Mor Phi (exorcist). He put her and her baby into a pot and threw it into the water. Tid Mak donated her some food through a monk. After that, she disappeared. By the way, Mae Nak Phrakhanong was legendary narrated until the film called ‘Mae Nak Phrakhanong’ is made for the public.

mae nak

Great review of the movie Ghost of Mae Nak 2005 by Zomboscloset

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Nang Nak, 1999 film, review by viewer below (link might not work properly.)

Thailand does not have a very large pedigree when it comes to their horror films being marketed in this country; unless one can get a hold of some of the Shaw Brothers’ films, many of which were filmed in Thailand. However, that is not to say that Thailand, as with many other countries, does not have its share of ghost stories. One of these is the tale of “Nang Nak.” For those who are not familiar with Thailand’s history, this story is a very prominent one. Moreover, this is a very sad ghost story. The scenery in the film is also a plus, and the village life where the husband Mak, and his wife Nak live gives the viewer beautiful and stunning visuals of Thailand. The fauna and flora make one feel as is if they are indeed stepping back in time into an old Thai village. I liked the film, due to the sadness the film incorporates, yet the film itself may not resonate with many other viewers. Do not expect blood and gore in this film: for it is the nuances and suggestion of horror that make this film great.

This film is based on famous Thai folklore and legend. The films narrative takes place in the 1860’s: as the Thais are at war. The viewer sees in the beginning dead and dying soldiers. And it is here that the films main protagonist is introduced to the audience. His name is Mak, and he is a citizen soldier. Mak has left home to do battle with the enemy. Moreover, he has left behind his pregnant wife named Nak. I would not go so far as to say that Nak is the antagonist, as her story is a touching one that is filled with sadness. Therefore, I will just write that hers is a sad story of love which permeates the screen. When Mak is seriously wounded in battle and goes home, it is his adoring and loving wife Nak that will greet him home. But much has happened since Mak went off to do battle. [SPOILER BELOW]

Unknown to Mak, both his wife and child have died. However, when the soldier returns to his home he is unaware that anything has happened to his family as nothing seems out of place. Further, he does not know that mother and baby are really ghosts. Many people in the village warn him about what has befallen his family, including a close friend, but he refuses to listen to them. He notices that friends and fellow villagers refuse to visit him. Finally, he goes to see some Buddhist monks who in turn tell him that his wife and baby are deceased. He is told to bend over and see between his legs; then and only then will he see the truth. But he still refuses to believe anyone.

It is only when he is working in and around his hut, that he bends over and sees that the hut is decaying, the food rotted, and cobwebs covering the baby’s crib that he realizes that they are indeed dead. Eventually the Buddhist monks do an exorcism ritual to rid him of the ghosts. I really liked this film, because this is a really sad ghost story, and the narrative is very well done. Nak’s love was so powerful for her husband that even in death, she continued to be by his side. And this made the sadness of the film even more sad, because the wife is trying to continue this existence even though she knows she and the baby are ghosts. A really sad film, and highly recommended. [Stars: 4.5]

Nang Nak (Trailer)

3 thoughts on “Nang Nak Phrakhanong”

  1. Ginger, it looks the movie poster you have on this post is for the 2nd Nang Nak movie…which is totally different from the description given above. I saw the 1st movie, Nang Nak, which came out in 1999, had great reviews…but the movie was not as scary as when I heard it growing up. I guess imagination can be stronger than visual stimulations, at times:)))

    Now, Ghost Of Mae Nak (2005), is set in modern time and directed by a westerner, Mark Duffield. Did you see this movie? I was thinking about getting it but was not sure.

  2. Hi Bob, I updated my post so it wouldn’t be too confusing. I didn’t get to see either, but I want to see the 1999 one because I think the girl that played Nang Nak is a good actress, she is also a good singer. This comment I made earlier to Sim about Nang Nak was for the 1999 film, here is part of it,

    “I recalled reading that when they played the music and her singing a lullaby to her baby, the actress’s body that played Nang Nak actually floated slightly up in the air and this scared the filming crews, everyone had chills because it sounded so haunting, and they believed that her spirit is still around. She is the legend of Thai ghosts.”

    I think as far as the movie being scary or not, it’s up to the individual because everyone’s tolerance of ghost is different. Also, how gifted the producer to bring the legend onto big screen, it sounds to me like he didn’t capture the legend or we had high expectation. I think I still want to see the 1999 film because it’s the closest to the real Nang Nak, do you have this one?

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