04 September 2013

Mae Nak Prakhanong

Now I see what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that's what. 
~ Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Ed Warren observes that the devil exists, God exists. He did not specify 'ghost' but that could well include Casper and his relatives whom I believe in but do not want to see except in films. On my way to see The Conjuring I snapped this photo from a speeding bus of the Prakhanong klong, a tributary of Chao Phrya. The water looks peaceful enough to me. If I closed my eyes to the wires and vandalized bridge, that is.



Mae Nak Prakhanong, is a film I watched while traveling from Huahin to Bangkok in 1998. It portrays normal life in Prakhanong, then a village; of people rowing their boats in the klong to visit neighbors or go to the market. Scenes especially those around the water are engulfed in eerie serenity. You see Mae Nak  is a ghost. She is probably famous as I have yet to meet a Thai who has no idea who Mae Nak is. Her love story with her soldier husband is told in the film.

There is no definite date as to when the legend started, but the mid-18th to the 19th century is suggested. Mae Nak is married to Mak who goes away to war leaving his pregnant wife behind. While fighting, Mak is wounded and at about the same time back home Mae Nak dies in childbirth. She is buried, which is unusual. Cremation is the fashion out in predominantly Buddhist Siam.

The war ends and Mak returns home, reuniting with Mae Nak and their baby son. They are so in love he does not listen to tales of what happened to his wife. Neighbors who tell him who he actually lives with die one by one. They probably should have let Mae Nak finish her unfinished business. The couple continues to live together for a time until Mak finally discovers that he is actually sleeping with the ghost of his wife!

He flees and takes refuge at a nearby temple but she chases him there and that's when things turn to horror. The villagers repeatedly try to exorcise Mae Nak and are successful only after several attempts. Mae Nak is sent to the other world at last.

The klong is still. Mae Nak steps into the light. Peace, albeit a ghostly kind, reigns in the village once more. Today Prakhanong is a bustling part of Bangkok. The water in its klong, particularly the one in the photo, looks as if Mae Nak has just rowed by.

Mae Nak, a native of Phra Khanong, marries the handsome Mak. When war breaks out, Mak is conscripted for military service and leaves his pregnant wife behind.
In the war, Mak is severely wounded. Meanwhile, Mae Nak dies during childbirth with her unborn child and is buried by the neighbors. This is unusual as Buddhist custom calls for the cremation of their dead.
When Mak recovers from his injuries, he returns home to an emotional reunion with his loving wife and baby son, not realizing what has happened.
Neighbors who try to warn him meet with a grisly end. Things remained this way until he discovers that he's actually living with the ghost of his wife!
He flees but she pursues him and the romance turns to horror. Mak seeks refuge in Wat Mahabut but Mae Nak follows him there. After several attempts by the terrified villagers, Mae Nak is finally exorcised to return to the other world and leaves Mak alone.
- See more at: http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/wat-mahabut.html#sthash.xwgvkf7o.dpuf
Mae Nak, a native of Phra Khanong, marries the handsome Mak. When war breaks out, Mak is conscripted for military service and leaves his pregnant wife behind.
In the war, Mak is severely wounded. Meanwhile, Mae Nak dies during childbirth with her unborn child and is buried by the neighbors. This is unusual as Buddhist custom calls for the cremation of their dead.
When Mak recovers from his injuries, he returns home to an emotional reunion with his loving wife and baby son, not realizing what has happened.
Neighbors who try to warn him meet with a grisly end. Things remained this way until he discovers that he's actually living with the ghost of his wife!
He flees but she pursues him and the romance turns to horror. Mak seeks refuge in Wat Mahabut but Mae Nak follows him there. After several attempts by the terrified villagers, Mae Nak is finally exorcised to return to the other world and leaves Mak alone.
- See more at: http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/wat-mahabut.html#sthash.xwgvkf7o.dpuf
Mae Nak, a native of Phra Khanong, marries the handsome Mak. When war breaks out, Mak is conscripted for military service and leaves his pregnant wife behind.
In the war, Mak is severely wounded. Meanwhile, Mae Nak dies during childbirth with her unborn child and is buried by the neighbors. This is unusual as Buddhist custom calls for the cremation of their dead.
When Mak recovers from his injuries, he returns home to an emotional reunion with his loving wife and baby son, not realizing what has happened.
Neighbors who try to warn him meet with a grisly end. Things remained this way until he discovers that he's actually living with the ghost of his wife!
He flees but she pursues him and the romance turns to horror. Mak seeks refuge in Wat Mahabut but Mae Nak follows him there. After several attempts by the terrified villagers, Mae Nak is finally exorcised to return to the other world and leaves Mak alone.
- See more at: http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/wat-mahabut.html#sthash.xwgvkf7o.dpuf

8 comments:

  1. Even in that photo captured from a moving bus there is still a king of spaciousness - a ghostly calm perhaps!

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  2. Oh my goodness Hazel, I won't sleep tonight!

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  3. I never expected a ghost story to link to the theme.

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  4. Wow! That film looks great. I want to see it now. Such a good story. How sad.

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  5. Unfinished business indeed. Perhaps that ghostly alliance was what should have been.......

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  6. I think the graffiti adds a ghostly mystery to your photo. The film looks like a movie that deserves wider play with dubbed language or at least sub-titles.

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    1. I watched it with English subtitle. That was 1999. I wish the ones on youtube had subs; there's one but I do not know how to figure out the subtitle. It says "for subtitle, click [an] captions."

      From a comment I learned that this movie was shown in Russia on TV.

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  7. What a nice story about Mae Nak! I love these mysterious stories. Thanks for sharing!

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