Previously: The NNN Special Broadcast.
Type: CC (Corporeally Challenged).
Period/location of origin: 19th century, Phra Khanong district, Bangkok, Thailand. )
Appearance: Subject, known alternately as Mae Nak Phra Khanong (แม่นากพระโขนง), Mae Nak (แม่นาก), and Nang Nak (นางนาก), appears to be a young woman of both marriageable age and childbearing years. Typically described as beautiful, she looks, for all intents and purposes, human — except for her arms: They may, under certain circumstances, reveal themselves to be extraordinarily long.
Modus operandi: Subject is largely benign, so long as she is left alone with her family. However, should one interfere with her business in any way — for instance, informing or attempting to inform one of her family members or other loved ones that she is not, in fact, human, or even alive — the interloper will immediately become a target and expire shortly thereafter at subject’s (non-corporeal) hands. The manner of death has never been adequately described; further research may be required to determine it — although at the same time, it is also possible that these details have not been recorded due to being, simply put, indescribably awful.
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Should one become beloved of subject — for instance, a spouse or romantic partner — and attempt to flee subject, this individual, too, will immediately become a target; however, the manner in which subject targets them is somewhat different from the manner in which subject targets interlopers. Subject, desperately in love with the target and unable to exist without them, will pursue them as long and as far as possible in order to keep hold of them.
However, subject may, with proper deference paid, also function as a guardian for devotees under certain circumstances. She may, for instance, guard pregnant people from risks in childbirth, protect children, and prevent people in danger of being drafted into the military from conscription.
Containment: Subject may be… well, perhaps “contained” is the incorrect term; “evade” may be more accurate. In any event, targets may ward against her using any of several methods. First, targets may hide in or surround themselves with Blumea balsamifera, also known as naat (หนาด); this plant may ward off spirits, phi (ผี), or other entities. Second, targets may seek sanctuary in a temple or upon holy ground, where spirits, phi, and other entities may not enter. And third, targets may leave to subject at her shrine (see: Additional notes) in order to appease her and ask her good favor.
True containment may also be achieved through several different methods: Subject may be lured into a jar and sealed in with a sutra; subject may be buried with a tree planted over her remains to keep her in place; or, subject may be trapped within a bone and turned into an amulet for safe keeping.
Alternatively, you may simply… leave subject alone. This tactic does not, perhaps, do those who may be living with target as family much good; the suggestion is more for those who simply live near or around subject. However, if subject loves you, if you love her in return, and if you can square with the fact that she’s dead and just accept her for who she is, you may all be much happier for it.
Additional notes: Subject’s history is a tragic one, although its details vary depending on the source.
Most reports agree that subject lived during the reign of Monkut, also known as King Rama IV, which ran between 1851 and 1868. Subject married the love of her life, Mak; the pair settled down together near the Phra Khanong Canal; and soon, subject became pregnant with the couple’s first child.
While subject was pregnant, however, Mak was conscripted into the military and sent off to war. While he was away, subject went into labor — but the birth was a difficult one, and both mother and child perished.
Mak was not to know this, however, and when he returned home to a loving wife and child, he saw nothing amiss. It did, however, strike him as odd that their formerly bustling neighborhood seemed strangely quiet now — almost empty. But his family is attentive, and for a time, he is happy. He almost doesn’t notice that, whenever neighbors or friends try to speak with him, they soon vanish — and, eventually, turn up dead.
But then, something happens — one of two incidents, depending on the report: Either Mak is instructed by a monk to view subject upside down while looking through his own legs, or he sees subject drop something — typically a lime, although occasionally a comb — when she believes she is alone and witnesses her arm elongate far beyond its natural length as she picks it up. The upshot of both incidents, however, is the same: Mak realizes his wife is dead, and that his child is also dead, and that he is living with a pair of ghosts.
He flees. She pursues. He evades her through the enaction of several methods outlined in Containment. Eventually, she herself is Contained; often, she is said to be trapped in a jar, which is then thrown into the canal.
Sometimes, that is the end of the story. Other times, there is more: The jar is found, dredged up by people fishing, and subject is released. A monk is called, and she is trapped again, this time inside a bone — the part of the skull that forms the forehead — which is then made into an amulet, which is then given to the royal family for safe keeping. Or, the monk convinces her that she will one day be reunited with her husband via reincarnation if she would only depart this life, and she leaves.
According to some reports, subject is a complete fabrication. The source for this report, an article written by K. S. R. Kularb and published in the newspaper Siam Prapet in 1899, posits that subject was, in actuality, a woman named Amdaeng Nak. The daughter of Khun Si, a Phra Khanong leader, she died in childbirth, after which her husband, Chum (rather than Mak) buried her in the cemetery of Wat Mahabut. The couple’s older child, a son, then invented the story of the spirit, going so far as to dress up as the ghost of his mother and frighten neighbors and other residents of the area; he reportedly later confessed, saying that he was attempting to prevent his father from remarrying and subsequently losing their wealth.
Regardless, subject’s story has been adapted into numerous pieces of art, including stage productions, television series, and more than 15 films. One of these films, 2013’s Pee Mak, is, at the time of this writing, Thailand’s highest-grossing film of all time.
There is now a shrine to subject located in Bangkok at Wat Mahabut. Visitors and devotees to subject frequently leave offerings — dresses, food, toys for her child, and more — for her here, in the hopes that she will protect them or guide them. The shrine is located at 474 On Nut Soi 7, and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It may be reached by taking the Bangkok Transit System (BTS) Skytrain to the On Nut station.
Recommendation: Remember: She is only vengeful if you stick your nose where it doesn’t belong.
She just wants to live a quiet life with her family.
You can let her do that, can’t you?
Mae Nak Phrakhanong. (Thai.)
Trailer for Pee Mak. (Thai; subtitled.)
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[Photo via cocoparisienne/Pixabay]