Articles

Thai Ghost Guide

Carissa Sutter, 126

While America has Halloween, Thailand has ghosts. A lot of them. But the Thai word phi, actually more closely translates to supernatural scary creature. Thai people don’t fully buy into the whole, invisible dead people, scary American-style ghosts. But they do love our vampires, werewolves, and witches. With Halloween upon the American PCV, I believe it is important to have a general idea of what the Thai people find scary.

Supernatural beings that are just weird.

  • Phi Hong Nam (Phi Kee to adults if you want to make them laugh) – A being that lives in your toilet, and will remove bad luck from your excrement (before you flush) if you remember to ask.
  • Phi Kong Koi (ผีกองกอย), –  a forest vampire with one leg.
  • Phi Pa – A spirit that dwells in the forest. Hunters may leave a piece of their catch to appease and show respect to the spirit, normally a bit of the eyelid, lip, tongue or foot of the killed animal.
  • Phi Duat Leut (aka Phi Kang Kaw) – A ghost that resembles the western Vampire.
  • Phi Tabo (ผีตาโบ๋) – a blind ghost with hollow eye sockets.
  • Phi Am (ผีอำ) –  a spirit that sits on a person’s chest or liver while they sleep to suffocate them or injure them.
  • Phi Thuk Khun – The life force of a living person which has to leave the physical body and be sent out on astral journey on a weekly basis. If this does not happen then harm will come to its owner.
  • Pret (เปรต) – an extremely tall hungry ghost. Two stories tall, very skinny and have needle hole for mouths.
  • Phi Braed – a giant ghost which can be either male or female and sports a sucker like mouth. Is feared in Thailand as it is said to kill parents.
  • Phi Pawb – The spirit of someone that has died violently and sits on the shoulders of their victim causing the victim to appear lop sided.
  • Phi Peta – A hungry ghost. It is said that anyone that is more preoccupied with material attachments and exclude the spiritual will be reborn as a Peta once they die. They have a giant belly and a mouth as small as the eye of a needle with an enormous appetite for almost everything, food, money, power or sex. A Peta ghost can sometimes be heard whistling at night, looking for someone to make merit for them. This ghost is ill tempered and aggressive as they constantly remain unsatisfied.

There are about a million women phi in Thailand, who mostly like to eat children or seduce men who urinate on banana trees. Usually these women exist without a body, or discerning taste buds.

  • Mae Nak (แม่นาก) – one of the most popular phi in Thailand is Mae Nak. She has inspired multiple movies and one TV drama. Mae Nak is the pregnant woman whose husband went off to be a soldier and returned to live with his lady love – who died in childbirth without his knowledge. If you want to creep out your neighbors, throw on a long black wig, a white dress, grab a baby doll, and wander around the streets barefoot howling “Phi Maak khaaa“!
  • Phi Tai Thang Klom (ผีตายทั้งกลม), Phi Ha – the vengeful ghost of pregnant women died during childbirth. She also is sometimes described as the wrathful spirit of a woman who committed suicide after being made pregnant and subsequently betrayed and abandoned by her lover. This is a seriously evil ghost. This ghost is actually a variant of Phi Tai Hong and is sometimes referred to as Phi Tai Hong Tong Glom.
  • Phi Phrai (ผีพราย) – This is another woman who died during childbirth. They become ghosts because their corpse has been used in a ceremony to extract the Phi Thai Hong lotion, which is believed to attract love. The lotion is obtained by a sorcerer who will extract essential oils from the woman’s corpse by putting a lighted candle under her chin.
  • Phi Thale (ผีทะเล) – a spirit of the sea. It manifests itself in different ways, one of them being St. Elmo’s fire, among other uncanny phenomenons experienced by sailors and fishermen while on boats.
  • Phi Pop (ผีปอบ) – a malevolent female spirit that devours human entrails and children. In public if infested with Phi Pob the victim will pretend to be ill but when given the opportunity it will steal uncooked meat to eat at night.
  • Phi Ka – these spirits dwell inside women and unless treated by eating raw eggs can be passed onto others without their knowledge. Can be violent and attack people. Similar to Phi Pob.
  • Krasue (กระสือ) – probably the most feared ghost in Thailand, the Krasue takes the form of a beautiful woman who glides along mesmerizing their prey. She is a vampiric female ghost whose intestines hang out of her neck and trail behind her head. She is often seen in long flowing dresses to hide the fact that she has no lower body. The Krasue manifests itself as a beautiful woman, the appearance of the spirit can be young or old. Most believe the spirit flies around at night looking for blood or raw food and preys on pregnant women. In order to protect pregnant women, relatives often keep thorns around the house to scare the Krasue away. After the birth of a child, the placenta must be hidden from Krasue. It is a malicious and very dangerous spirit. It is rumored that the Phi Krasue ate something in life which, although looked delicious, was not cooked sufficiently and subsequently ate away at them from their insides. (see Phi Ka)
  • Phi Ma Bong (ผีม้าบ้อง) – a female ghost from Northern Thailand similar to a Kelpie.
  • Phi Song Nang (ผีสองนาง) – female ghosts that first lure, and then attack and kill young men.
  • Nang Mai (นางไม้; “Lady of the Wood”) – a type of female ghosts or fairies related to trees.
  • Phi Nang Ta-kean (นางตะเคียน) – the ghost of a beautiful young lady that haunts the Hopea tree – as a result many Thai people do not like to have a Hopea tree growing in their garden.
  • Nang Tani (นางตานี) – a female tree spirit which lives in banana trees and appears on a full moon night. It is regarded as a good ghost and will give bananas as food and occasionally may fill the alms bowls of itinerant monks. She has green skin and wears traditional Thai clothes, and likes to seduce men. She can even have a relationship with a human man – but she takes terrible revenge on men who are cheaters and/or who abandon her. Similar to Phi Nang Ta-kean.
  • Phi Maphrao (ผีมะพร้าว) – the coconut ghost. Enough said.
  • Phi Chamob – This ghost is not a woman, but is said to haunt the place where a woman has died in the jungle. This spirit does not do any harm.
  • Phi Tai Ha – The spirit of a woman who has died of malaria. The ghost also has the ability to spread the deadly disease.

 

There are also the male Phi – sometimes constructed in strange forms or smelling of strange things.

  • Phi Kra-hang (ผีกระหัง) – Krahang uses two large Kradong (กระด้ง), round rice winnowing baskets, to fly in the night in rural areas of Thailand. It also often rides a Sak Tam Khao (สากตำข้าว), the long wooden pestle of a traditional manual rice pounder. It is rumored to eat filth and is seen at night with a glowing aura. Said to be an unpleasant and frightening spirit.
  • Phi Hua Khat (ผีหัวขาด) – a headless man who carries his own head
  • Phi Phong (ผีโพง) – a malevolent male ghost having an unpleasant smell. It lives in dark places under the vegetation

 

American-style ghosts

  • Phi Tai Hong (ผีตายโหง) – the ghost of a person that suffered a sudden violent or cruel death. In certain cultures where funerals and burial or cremation ceremonies are important, such vengeful spirits may also be considered as unhappy ghosts of individuals who have not been given a proper funerary rite.
  • Phi Dip Chin (ผีดิบจีน) – a jumping ghost from the Chinese
    lore dressed in an ancient costume and having a written paper in front of his face, that has become also popular in Thailand through the Thai Chinese community.
  • Phi Tai Ha (ผีตายห่า) – ghosts of persons having died of an accident; similar to ผีตายโหง
  • Phi Hai (aka Phi Tay Hong ผีตายโหง) – these spirits inhabit places or areas where someone has died an unnutural or violent death. In search of victims to possess they are easily offended and will possess people at every given opportunity. They can be tempted to leave from their victim by making an offering however if this is not sufficient for the ghost then an exorcism will be required involving incantations and lustral water. Should this fail then a whip will be used to drive the ghost from its host.
  • Chao Kam Nai Wen (เจ้ากรรมนายเวร) – a person that maintains ill will towards a person even after they die
  • Phi Thuai Khaeo (ผีถ้วยแก้ว) – the ghost that makes the upturned glass move (Thai Ouija)

 

Tricky Black Magic Phi

  • Kuman Thong (กุมารทอง) – spirits of young children caught by voodoo masters to do his biddings, usually dressed in Thai ancient clothing with traditional hair bun.
  • Phi Krasy (aka Phi Sing) – Said to live inside the body of a witch. A witch can be recognized in the daytime by having a glazed look about them, are unable to blink and will not look at anyone in the face. Like the legend of a Vampire, the witch does not cast a reflection in a mirror. The ghost itself will escape through the mouth at night whilst the witch sleeps, and will feed on dirt and occasionally entrails, which ,if they are yours, will result in death. Krasy have a head the size
    of a tennis ball which is the color of fire and a long bluish tail about half a meter in length. Before the witch dies their spittle must be consumed by someone else for the Krasy to be passed to their new host. Not regarded as a very harmful unless it eats your entrails….
  • Pu Som Fao Sap (ปู่โสมเฝ้าทรัพย์) – a male ghost who guards treasures appearing like a venerable old man
  • Phi Pu Thao (ผีปู่เฒ่า) – a ghost appearing as a very old man
  • Phi Lang Kluang (ผีหลังกลวง) – a ghost from Southern Thailand with a very large wound in the back.  One  can  see  through the opening all the entrails inside, and they  are  full of worms. When people sit around a fire in  the  open air to warm themselves at night or go out fishing  at   night, a  stranger  from  nowhere  will  come  up and   join  the  party. It  is  the  phi  lang  kluang.  He  harms  no
    one; and if  he  wants to make a  joke, he  will  ask  a  boy  in  the  party  to scratch his back. Then  the  stranger is revealed to  be  the  phi  lang kluang   for   there  is   a   hollow  in  his  back  full  of  millepeds. The phi   lang   kluang  live  in a community  by  themselves  in   a   forest. Perhaps they are not phi but aborigines whose characteristic hollow back  has been  exaggerated.
  • Hun Phayon (หุ่นพยนต์) – artificial human or non-human. Owners can take advantage of the power of black magic to protect them like Khwai Thanu.

Animal ghosts

  • Suea Saming (เสือสมิง) – a beautiful woman who transformed into a tiger as a result of the power of black magic
  • Khwai Thanu (ควายธนู) – also known as Wua Thanu (วัวธนู) – a magical bull or water buffalo. Owners can take advantage of the power of black magic to protect them.
  • Phi Ngu (ผีงู) – also known as Phrai Ngu (พรายงู) or Ngueak Ngu (เงือกงู) – a ghost related to snakes that may appear in snake form, in human form or in a combination of both forms.
  • Phi Pluak (ผีปลวก) – the ghost of the termites
  • Phi Poang Khang  –  A Spirit in the shape of a black monkey which likes to suck the big toe of people sleeping in the jungle. It is said to live near salt licks.


Thai commercial that features phi ban. Phi ban is the spirit of the home – typically referring to the spirit who shares your home and who you must honor to maintain their happiness … or else. 

 

Thai commercial that features a few different phi

 

Some References:

http://ghostsofthailand.com/Thai_Ghost_Types.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghosts_in_Thai_culture#List_of_Thai_ghosts

http://www.sac.or.th/databases/siamrarebooks/main/index.php/history/jss/297-the-qphiq-

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