Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Tying the Hand: Life Sustaining Technique in Northern Thailand


Iida, Junko (2017). Tying the Hand: Life Sustaining Technique in Northern Thailand. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 71(1):305-326.

Abstract

In Thai folk thought, human life is believed to be sustained and animated by a life essence or soul spirit called khwan. At certain times of crisis, the khwan tends to leave the body, and its temporary absence causes suffering including sickness and misfortune. Thai people therefore perform rituals to recall the khwan to their bodies when they are in a state of suffering. They also perform rituals to bind the khwan to their bodies in order to contain it within the body and prevent it from leaving when they are in a state of transition. This article explores these rituals concerning khwan in northern Thailand. The focus of anthropological studies on khwan and the related rituals has been on the meaning of the words and the function of the whole process of the rituals. In contrast to this, I demonstrate the importance of the body techniques, routines, and sensory experiences as well as the spoken messages of the recitations in the rituals. In these rituals, elders or healers bind khwan to the body of the participants by tying a piece of cotton thread to each of the participant’s wrists. I argue that this action – mat mue, which means “tying the hand” – forms the heart of the ritual.

Abstract

In Thai folk thought, human life is believed to be sustained and animated by a life essence or soul spirit called khwan. At certain times of crisis, the khwan tends to leave the body, and its temporary absence causes suffering including sickness and misfortune. Thai people therefore perform rituals to recall the khwan to their bodies when they are in a state of suffering. They also perform rituals to bind the khwan to their bodies in order to contain it within the body and prevent it from leaving when they are in a state of transition. This article explores these rituals concerning khwan in northern Thailand. The focus of anthropological studies on khwan and the related rituals has been on the meaning of the words and the function of the whole process of the rituals. In contrast to this, I demonstrate the importance of the body techniques, routines, and sensory experiences as well as the spoken messages of the recitations in the rituals. In these rituals, elders or healers bind khwan to the body of the participants by tying a piece of cotton thread to each of the participant’s wrists. I argue that this action – mat mue, which means “tying the hand” – forms the heart of the ritual.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics

Altmetrics

Downloads

60 downloads since deposited on 30 May 2018
28 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 71 (2017) > 1
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
Uncontrolled Keywords:khwan, northern Thailand, body technique, routine, sensory experience
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:30 May 2018 14:44
Last Modified:28 Jul 2020 13:58
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0004-4717
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2015-1028

Download

Green Open Access

Download PDF  'Tying the Hand: Life Sustaining Technique in Northern Thailand'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 25MB
View at publisher