The Myths and Legends of Thailand
The ancient world of Siam is captured in the myths and legends of modern Thailand. This remarkable country in Southeast Asia is steeped in old traditions, legends and myths, and its people love terrifying ghost stories, and national heroes.
Naresuan’s Elephant Battle
Thailand has had a few former names and one of the very oldest is Ayutthaya, and one of the greatest kings of this period was King Naresuan. And his reign will forever be remembered by a legendary battle which is one of the most famous in Thai history.
Naresuan astride his giant elephant threw down the gauntlet to the prince of Burma to face him in single combat. Migya Swa accepted and Naresuan slayed his opponent which helped to win the war between Ayutthaya and Burma.
The Thai’s love to be frightened by ghost stories, and one of the most popular tales is of Krasue who was a lady that had been promised in marriage to a nobleman but loved a soldier of lower standing. Krasue was caught with her lover and sentenced to death by burning. An attempted rescue attempt was made by a sorceress, but the protection spell was to late to save our heroine apart from her head, intestines and viscera. This ghost is often seen roaming at night in search of flesh and blood.
Some people confuse the Naga as a mythical serpent or dragon, but it is not actually either of these. Nagas are semi-devine beings that exist in Hinduism and Buddhism, and it is believed that they live deep in the Mekong River. They are meant to have the ability to spit fireballs, but are tempered by being guardians to stop evil spirits from harming people. So, although these ancient creatures are frightening they are also very much accepted as good.
The story of Mae Nak is spine chilling and falls into line with the Thai obsession of myths about the supernatural and ghosts. Mae Nak was a beautiful woman who was pregnant when her husband was made to go away to fight in a war. During the husband’s absence both Mae Nak and her child died in childbirth.
When her husband returned home, he found what he thought was his wife and child waiting for him. They were specters and had killed all the villagers so they would not warn the husband of their condition. Soon enough the husband found out about the ghosts and fled to a nearby temple, where ghosts cannot enter.
Mae Nak was eventually exorcised, even though it took two attempts, first into a jar, and then finally into the waistband of a temple monk. Some Thai’s today still believe that the waistband is in the possession of the Thai royal family, and it is they who have possession of the evil spirit and keep it to guard their people.
These myths and legends cannot be proven, even though some are documented in historical books. But this does not stop many learned Thai people into believing that they are true. After all why would anybody make such tales up.