Shan village exorcism ritual, Mae Hong Son, Thailand

John Spies

Mae Hong Son, Thailand

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Artist's Description

Ethnic Shan (Tai) villagers sit amongst baskets of offerings during a ceremony to drive malicious spirits from their village. The bamboo hoop is a ‘spirit catcher’ that allows people to pass through at the end of the ceremony, devoid of any lingering spirits. Each family brings a variety of offerings including firewood that they will burn in their houses to further cleanse the village. This ceremony, held once very few years, is also attended by Buddhist monks who sit on a higher platform, chant and flick holy water on the villagers. The platform is connected to every house in the village by a ‘sai sin’, a cotton thread that helps protect the village from bad spirits. Taken in Tham Lod village, Pang Mapha district in Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand. The Shan, closely related linguistically and culturally to the northern Thais, are originally from the Shan State in Burma. Millions of Shan have moved across the border during the past few decades to escape severe hardship and atrocities committed by the Burmese military Junta.

Artwork Comments

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