Who is Nang Ta-khian?

Nang Ta-khian (นางตะเคียน, The Lady of Ta-Khian) is a ghost or forest fairy found in Thai and Lao folklore.

Background

Nang Ta-khian is the tree spirit of the Hopea odorata trees native to Thailand and Laos. These mighty trees can live for hundreds of years and are not usually found near populated areas. Nang Ta-khian is typically depicted as a beautiful woman with long hair and a flowing green dress, as well as a traditional sabai. Sometimes she is depicted sitting on a branch of her tree or riding on a swing.

According to Thai belief, these trees are inhabited by spirits called Nang Ta-khian or Ta-khian Phi (ตาเขียนผี), who can bring illness or misfortune to those who upset them. For this reason, offerings are sometimes made at the roots of such trees to appease the spirit dwelling there. It is said that Nang Ta-khian have a deep understanding of human temperament and are often invoked by people who want to harm those who have wronged them. It is considered extremely disrespectful to cut down a tree in which a Nang Ta-khian lives.

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However, it is also said that they are generally friendly and helpful spirits who often provide food and shelter to those in need. It is believed that they were once human beings who were elevated to the status of guardian spirits because of their good deeds. As such, they are often seen as powerful allies by those seeking their help.

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