Thursday, 6 November 2008

Ghost residing in a tree ( ผีต้นไม้ )

Do you find this familiar? This is a common sight in thai temple. Everywhere in Thailand, some trees are wrapped with a cloth. Especially in temples but also in forests. It means that a spirit inhabits the tree. Of course the tree shall not be cut without warning the spirit in order to let him find another tree.

ผีต้นไม้ or "PHI TON MAI" means "ghosts that reside in tree". They are generally classified into two categories, i.e. benovolent and malevolent spirits. There is often a certain spirit associated to a certain type of tree such as banana tree.

นางไม้ "NANG MAI" is a female spirit inhabiting a tree. Other famous spirits are นางตะเคียน or "NANG TAKIAN" located in hopea trees and นางตานี or "NANG TANEE" located in banana trees.

To protect forests against logging, some monks ordain trees and wrapped them up with a thin orange cloth. Trees were then sacred. For Bouddhist people it was now impossible to harm the trees. Alas sometimes officials used another monk to defrock the trees.

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