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Naang Naak (นางนาก)

Thai. ‘Lady Naak’. Name of a very popular female ghost, who is also known as Mae Naak and fully as Mae Naak Phra Khanong, after the district in Bangkok (fig.) where her story, supposedly based on events that took place during the reign of King Rama IV, is set. The story relates of a beautiful young woman named Naak, which translates as naga, i.e. a mythical serpent (fig.). The young lady Naak lived on the banks of the Phra Khanong Canal, named after a district nowadays in Bangkok (fig.) together with her husband Nai Maak (นายมาก), i.e. ‘Mister Maak’, with maak (มาก) meaning ‘much’, ‘plenty’ or ‘great’. With Naak pregnant, Maak was conscripted and sent to war. During his absence Naak and her child died in birth. Unwilling to part from her loving husband she stayed on as a ghost. Upon his return and naware of the events that had taken place, Maak was reunited with his wife and their child, not knowing that they were actually ghosts, and anyone in the village who tried to warn Maak, got killed by Naak. However, one day, Maak found out that his wife and his was actually a ghost as she had stretched her arm in an inexplicably long way in order to retrieve a piece of lime that had fallen on the ground beneath the house. Afraid of the ghost, Maak found an excuse to be able to flee. Pursued by Naak, Maak conceals himself behind a bush of Ngai Camphor. This plant, called Naat (หนาด) in Thai, is reputed to ward off spirits. Thus Maak was able to stay there until Naak's ghost left, after which he fled into Wat Mahabut (วัดมหาบุศย์), a Buddhist temple and thus holy ground where ghosts cannot enter. Angry and grieved, Naak starts to terrorize the people of Phra Khanong, until she is captured by a powerful exorcist, who confines her spirit in an earthen jar, which he throws into the canal. However, one day, the jar is found by someone oblivious and to its content and opened it, allowing Naak's spirit to escape. She is then recaptured by the monk Somdet Phra Phutthajaan (สมเด็จพระพุฒาจารย์), who assured Naak that in a future chaht, i.e. incarnation, she would be reunited with her beloved husband and thus she departed for the hereafter voluntarily. Today, there is a shrine dedicated to Naang Naak at Wat Mahabut, the temple to which Maak had fled during his escape. Devotees come here to pray for good fortune and everlasting love, and will offer traditional Thai dresses in various colours, as well as toys for the spirit of the dead born child of Naang Naak.