10/18/13 - 10/18/13
Meanderings in Myanmar 2013
on mjschrum's travel map.
We took a walk in the morning along the railroad tracks to some Shan Villages to the south of Hsipaw. We met lots of friendly people along the way, and noticed that each village had a distinct nat shrine at its entrance. We did some investigating and put our findings below the first pics.
Burmese villages have a Nat shrine dedicated to the village guardian Nat, or spirit. This shrine is to protect the village from evil spirits. The photos we included are village protection shrines. Nat worship predates Bhuddism in Myanmar, and perhaps can simplistically be explained that Nat worship encompasses the realm of daily life, while Bhuddism is related more to the afterlife. A Burmese king tried to outlaw Nat worship in the 11th century, and the fact that Nat spirit worship in Myanmar is alive and well today is testimony to its resilience in day to day Burmese life. In the fifth picture below, a bomb casing has been repurposed as a bell (?) nearby the shrine, perhaps to increase the broadcast signal from the protection shrine.
There are 37 great Nats, who are human beings who died a violent death. There are also forces-of- nature Nats, such as trees, water, air, mountains etc. Some Nats are specific to different regions. Nat worship derived from Animistic origins, and has evolved into different spirits that may hold dominion over a place, person, or field of experience. The word “nat” is derived from the Sanskirt Natha meaning lord or guardian, and despite efforts of some Burmese leaders to suppress Nat worship, it remains popular.
Posted by mjschrum
Archived in Myanmar
Tagged village myanmar shrine shan nat worship protection hsipaw
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