If you can recall the highest-grossing Thai movie of all time, you might remember Mae Nak, the wife of Mak that died during childbirth. The tale of Mae Nak is well-known in Thailand and has been filmed few times over the past decades.
Mae Nak is not a threat, as long as she is left alone with her family. However, if anyone interferes with her life, including trying to tell one of her family that she is not a human, the outsider will be targeted by Nak. It is possible for Nak’s family member to be a target if the individual attempt to get away from Nak, after knowing the spooky truth. Different than the outsider’s case that could lead to death, Nak will go easy on her family member but will pursue them in order to keep them with her forever.
There are several methods that can be practiced by the targeted individuals to protect themselves from Nak. First, they can hide or surround themselves with Blumea balsamifera, also known as naat (หนาด). This plant is known to chase away spirits or other entities. Second, they can seek protection in a temple or holy ground where spirits may not enter. And third, they can offer goods for Nak at her shrine.
Although those methods are only to run from her, there are also containment methods to keep her locked away from the human world. Nak may be lured into a jar sealed in with a sutra, or a bone that can be turned into an amulet for safekeeping.
The believability of Mae Nak’s ghost story is unsure whether it really existed or merely a myth but according to the main storyline, it started during the reign of Monkut of the years between 1851 and 1868. Nak married her spouse, Mak and the couple settled down near the Phra Khanong Canal. Soon, Nak became pregnant with Mak’s first child.
However, when she was heavily pregnant, Mak was enrolled in the military and sent off to war. While Mak was away, Nak went into labor but there were complications that caused death to both mother and baby. When Mark returned home to his wife and child, he realized that the neighborhood seemed quiet. Whenever neighbors or friends try to tell him the unsettling truth, they soon vanish or turn up dead.
Depending on the report, either one of these accidents happens that lead to Mak’s realization of his wife’s death. The first situation is where Mak is instructed by a monk to look at his wife, Nak upside down through his own legs. The next one is where Mak sees Nak accidentally dropping something. When she thinks that she is alone, she is most likely to use her arm that will elongate far beyond its natural length to pick the thing up.
There are few versions of the ending but the common one is the containment of Nak. She is said to be trapped in a jar which is then thrown into the canal. Most versions do not have a happy ending for instance where Mak becomes a monk to pray for the spirit of his dead wife, Nak that seems to cannot let go of him. In contrast, the famous Thailand movie Pee Mak, it ends with a happy ending where humans and ghosts live together.