Access count of this item: 366
|Other Titles:||The community of spirit possession: religious practices of a grouping of spirit mediums that worships the tutelary spirit of city pillar in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand|
|Author's alias:||Fukuura, Kazuo|
|Journal title:||人文學報 = The Zinbun Gakuhō : Journal of Humanities|
As is widely recognized, people in so-called traditional societies often create its own space and time by means of their cultural practices, differentiating themselves from the biopower in the contemporary world. From such a viewpoint, this paper considers the religious practices of a grouping of spirit mediums in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. The city is famous for its history and culture; it had been the ancient capital of Lan Na kingdom in the northern area of Indochina Peninsula. The kingdom enjoyed suzerainty until the beginning of the twentieth century for seven hundred years, during which its unique culture flourished. Even after the integration into the Thai state, Chiang Mai people have preserved the old city area in square with walls and five gates surrounded by the moat, while they have continuously practiced a lot of calendrical rites and rituals. Among them, the spirit worship is one of the most important traditions for them; while they are Theravada Buddhist, they have also developed the notion of spirit worship in their religious life. From this tradition, the spirit mediumship has descended and become very popular since the end of the twentieth century. As a traditional city-state called muang, the city has a "city pillar", which is a ritual symbol installed at the navel of the city, connected to the notion of tutelary spirit of muang. Though its political importance has already expired, the spirit mediums continue to worship the tutelary spirit, forming a grouping there. This grouping practices calendrical rituals for the spirit; firstly, it is the most important for them to support an annual festival to worship the city pillar. It is hosted by the Chiang Mai municipality, and the core members of the grouping are in charge of the preparation of ritual instruments around the pillar. In fact, the municipality demands them to do so every year. Even if the festival seems to be totally Buddhist at first sight, it is actually a kind of spirit worship ritual: the instruments are mostly the same as those seen in the ordinary ritual of spirit mediumship, and more importantly, the members' behaviors signify nothing but what spirit worship should be. These facts confirm that they regard this pillar as the source from where the tutelary spirit of Chiang Mai emerges. Secondly, it is equally important for them to organize and practice two spirit possession rituals every year in the spirit shrine at the northeast corner of the old city area: the mediums in Chiang Mai come and are possessed by their spirits in order to celebrate the tutelary spirit of the city. Once possessed, they wear special clothes and hoods for the spirits on top of everyday clothes, to walk around barefooted. The rituals feature the spirit dances to music played by a small orchestra in the tents beside the shrine the whole day. Thirdly, there are several other spirit possession rituals for the tutelary spirit, the participants of which are limited to the core members. Then, it is common for each medium to organize a collective ritual at least once a year. Even if it would be a traditional ritual for guardian spirit in villages, or in matrilineal descent groups, there are a lot of cases in which mediums invite other mediums from outside the local community. Thus, the guest mediums come to offer the spirit dances to the host medium's possessing spirit in harmony to the local dance music played very loudly the whole day, as they do in the celebration of the tutelary spirit of Chiang Mai. In such occasions, the participants are not only those who have traditional spirits, but also those who have the other kinds of modern spirits, such as Hindu deity or spirits in northern Thai folklore, and so on. Generally, this ritual is called "yok khu", or the ritual "to worship one's deceased master". It is actively practiced for a whole year except for Buddhist Lent Retreat season. As the same members gather together almost every day in different places, and the possessing spirits of the host medium are wide-ranging, there emerges a heterogeneous community of ritual and its networks by such means. Moreover, they have an ability to create new rituals, as is proved by an example of a newly started ritual to worship historical figures in northern Thailand. This ritual could be the biggest one in the collective rituals of mediumship in Chiang Mai, with one thousand participants. Though it is a kind of collective ritual of spirit mediumship, there are some characteristics to be noticed: firstly, this is the ritual to worship the three kings in the thirteenth century, including the founder of the city. Secondly, its full-length picture consists of the three rituals which proceed independently; there are a ritual of spirit mediumship to worship the kings, and two rituals for ancestral spirits in two matrilineal descent groups, respectively. In short, the totality of this ritual contributes to enhance local people's awareness about the political and cultural boundary of ancient suzerainty. One of the host medium says that anybody who wants to join this ritual is welcomed, and that Chiang Mai people should not forget their own culture. These remarks reflect their pride of that the spirit worship is Chiang Mai's native culture, and that they are exclusively in charge of its preservation through their practices. Through these examples, it becomes clear that the spirit mediums in the city are engaged actively in various aspects of the city's spirit worship. Through these engagements, they create a ritual community and networks. This makes us understand that their religious practices show the diversity and the power of popular culture in action.
|Appears in Collections:||第98号|
Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.