What is a Phi Thayong?

Phi Thayong (ผีตายโหง) is the Thai term for an accident spirit.

Background

In Thai understanding, a Phi Thayong (also Known as Phi Tai Hong) usually goes back to the sudden death of a man or woman who did not have a proper funeral ritual.

According to the Royal Institute Dictionary 1999, the official dictionary of the Thai language, “tai hong” means “to die an unnatural and violent death, e.g. be murdered or drown”.

The word “Hong” (โหง), in turn, contains two components: “great suffering” and “suddenness or unexpectedness”, with the latter component in the foreground because people who become Phi Tai Hong are unable to prepare for death. Therefore, these types of spirits are seen as a reminder that life can end unexpectedly and that anyone can become a victim of death. This suddenness during death also represents the main difference to, for example, a sick spirit (Pieh Tayhah).

Phi Tai Hong are considered particularly dangerous and aggressive by Thai people because they could not fulfill their dreams and wishes during their lifetime. Death came too suddenly for them and prevented them from realizing their dreams. It is anger and sorrow that manifest in the form of a vengeful spirit that make Phi Tai Hong so dangerous. It is believed that these spirits are most active during the first seven days after death. The living are advised to avoid the area where Phi Tai Hong died, as they will often try to kill others in the same way that they themselves died. Therefore, Phi Tai Hong are among the most feared spirits in Thai culture.

In Thai culture, Phi Tai Hong are considered to be among the most difficult to exorcise ghost beings. This is due to their particularly violent nature and the fact that they actively haunt the places where their death took place, including the houses. Stories about these types of ghosts and the exorcism ceremonies required to rid oneself of them are very popular in Thai publications.

Phi Thayong phenomena from the point of view of Saiyasart or Pahuyuth

From the point of view of the Saiyasart such ghosts are no more dangerous than other spirit beings, but only confused because of their very sudden demise and therefore more difficult to calculate than some other types of spirit beings.

It is believed that the ancient Free-Warriors (see Pahuyuth) had a lot of experience in dealing with Phi Thayong, because such spirits can also arise from violence on the battlefield.

Phi Thayong in Southeast Asian Necromancy

Because accident spirits suffer a sudden, often cruel death, they are very popular with Asian necromancers, as they can be used to make very powerful talismans and amulets. From the remains of the deceased, in turn, a special, magical corpse oil (Nam Man Prai) can be obtained.

Phi Thayong in Popular Culture

Phi Tai Hong is also a popular motif in Thai folklore, having appeared in many movies and TV shows over the years. A famous depiction of a Phi Tai Hong comes from the Thai film “Buppah Rahtree” from 2003.

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