About a life devoted to the love for Folklore, Mythology, Legends and.....Art

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tell me a story; Mae Nak Phra Khanong

Is there a better way to start the New Year then with a great story? I don't think so.
The following story was send to me quite some time ago and all those time it has been one of my personal favorites. It was such a special and detailed story that I thought it would be a perfect one to start the New Year with.

Virginie-Pairaya Pithon, who submitted the story told me that this ghost - tale is very popular in her own country (Thailand) and that it has been made into
countless films and TV series. It has even been made into an animated movie and an opera. But more interesting might be that Mae Nak, the main character of the story, also became a popular figure in folk belief. At the place where she was supposedly buried a shrine was build. Virginie mentioned: "People visit this place everyday, and make offerings. Usually they will ask Mae Nak for luck with the lottery, but women expecting to give birth are told not to ask for Mae Nak’s help."

Why that is, you will find out while reading this marvelous and classic ghost-tale...

NOTE: would you also like to see your story get illustrated? please check out my previous blog post here and read the guidelines.

(Please, click picture for bigger and better view)

Story Title: Mae Nak Phra Khanong
Submitted by: Virginie-Pairaya Pithon
Country: Thailand

"Long ago, when King Mongkut reigned over Thailand and when Bangkok was still known as “The Venice of the Far East” a young woman known as Nak lived with her beloved husband Maak near the Phra Khanong canal. The young couple were very much in love and believed that nothing would ever tear them apart.

One day all of this changed. Thailand was at war, and she needed all the soldiers that she could get. Maak was conscripted into the Royal Army, and had no choice but to leave Nak and their unborn baby behind. In the subsequent war Maak was very badly injured, and while he was being nursed back to health Nak and her baby son died in childbirth.

Months would pass before Maak was able to return to his home near the Phra Khanong canal. When he did finally return, he went home to find his wife and son waiting there to greet him. Nak looked even more beautiful than he had remembered, and his baby son was healthy. Maak was very happy. Unbeknownst to him, the ghost of Mae Nak had enslaved him with a spell. Her love for him was so great that she wanted to create the illusion of a normal life, an illusion so perfect that he would stay with her forever.

When the neighbours realized what was happening they all tried to warn Maak that the woman he was living with couldn’t be Nak – that Nak had died in childbirth and that the woman he was living with had to be a ghost. Maak scoffed at these stories, unable to believe that his Nak was anything else than what she presented herself to be. Although Maak hadn’t believed any of the people who had come to warn him, the ghost of Mae Nak was not going to let them get away with it – or give anyone else the opportunity to take her husband away from her. Every single person who had warned Maak about his wife met with a macabre end… all of them suffered strange unexplained deaths. Some of them went through grisly fatal accidents, while others were found with their bodies drained of blood. Despite all these strange occurrences, Maak refused to believe that there was anything wrong with his wife.

One evening while Mae Nak was cooking for her husband, she dropped a chopped up piece of lime. It fell through a hole on the floor, rolling onto the ground below. Wanting to finish her cooking quickly Mae Nak neglected to be careful. She extended her arm to an unnatural length so that she could retrieve the piece of lime – but what she had not realized was that her husband Maak had seen everything.

With the sickening realization that his neighbours had been right, Maak plotted his escape while at the same time struggling to maintain the pretence that he was unaware of her true nature. One night, Maak tells his wife that he needs to go outside to urinate. Mae Nak, suspecting nothing wrong, did not try to stop him. Once outside Maak broke a little hole in an earthen jar filled with water so that Mae Nak would hear it and think he was urinating. As soon as he was sure that Mae Nak had fallen for his trick, Maak ran away from the village.

When Mae Nak discovered what had happened she became incensed. She set about hunting Maak down, but it was too late. Maak had sought shelter in the temple Wat Mahabut, and no matter how much Mae Nak tried, she could not enter this holy place. In her grief and fury Mae Nak terrorized the villagers that had helped her husband escape.

The villagers who lived in fear of Mae Nak searched far and wide for an exorcist powerful enough to get rid of Mae Nak. When they did, the exorcist trapped the grieving ghost in an earthen jar which was then thrown into the canal in the hopes that the ghost would never haunt the villagers again.

Unfortunately this was not to be. A fisherman and his wife further down the canal came across this mysterious jar one day while fishing and accidentally released the angry spirit within. Mae Nak was soon terrorizing the village just as before, when a venerable old monk was called forth to help them. This monk foretold that Mae Nak would be reunited with her husband in their next life. Upon hearing this, the ghost voluntarily agreed to stop killing and to pass on to the afterlife where she waits for her one and only beloved.
Another version states that the monk instead of telling Mae Nak that she’ll be reunited with her husband in her next life, exorcises her and then traps her spirit in a bit of bone from her dead body’s forehead. This bone he carried around with him until the day he died, and supposedly it is currently in Royal possession."


  1. Oh, wow! What a wonderful, haunting story! I think this might be one of my new favorite ghost stories!

    Great illustration! I love her ghostly arm!