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The nats (Burmese: €•‚; MLCTS: nat; IPA:ƒ[na€]) are spirits worshipped in Burma (or Myanmar) in conjunction with Buddhism. They are divided between the 37 Great Nats and all the rest (i.e., spirits of trees, water, etc.). Almost all of the 37 Great Nats were human beings who met violent deaths („…†‚‡ˆ‰, lit. "green death"). They may thus also be called nat sein (€•‚„…†‚‡; lit. green spirits). The word 'sein', while meaning 'green', is being used to mean 'raw' in this context. There are however two types of nats in Burmese Buddhist belief. Nat spirits are termed lower nats or auk nats (Š‰‹Œ‚€•‚), whether named or unnamed, whereas ahtet nats (Š•Œ‚€•‚) or higher nat dewas inhabit the six heavens. Much like sainthood, nats can be designated for a variety of reasons, including those only known in certain regions in Burma. Nat worship is less common in urban areas than in rural areas, and is practised among ethnic minorities as well as in the mainstream Bamar society. It is however among the Buddhist Bamar that the most highly developed form of ceremony and ritual is seen.
Nat oun (Suxorimus) hung on a post in a house.
Every Burmese village has a nat sin (€•‚„Ž‚) which essentially serves as a shrine to the village guardian nat called the ywa saung nat (••‹„‰‹Ž‘‚€•‚). An offertory coconut (€•‚Š’€‚‡ˆ“‡) is often hung on the main southeast post (”•••…’Ž‚) in the house, wearing a gaung baung (headdress) and surrounded by perfume, as an offering to the Min Mahagiri (Lord of the Great Mountain), also known as the ein dwin (Š…†‚••Ž‚‡€•‚) or ein saung (Š…†‚„‰‹Ž‘‚€•‚) (house guardian) nat. One may inherit a certain member or in some instances two of the 37 Nats as mi hsaing hpa hsaing (†…–…’Ž‚—–…’Ž‚; lit. mother's side, father's side) from one or both parents' side to worship depending on where their families originally come from. One also has a personal guardian spirit called ko saung nat (Œ…’˜‚„‰‹Ž‘‚€•‚).
Nat worship and Buddhism
Some disagreement in fact exists in academic circles as to whether Burmese Buddhism and Burmese spirit worship are two separate entities or just different dimensions of a single entity. Many Burmese themselves would say it is merely superstition and tend to downplay its role in society. Since the institution of the official 37 Nats was founded by King Anawrahta (1044•1077) of Bagan, albeit with later alterations, it has been argued that this may be interpreted as a process of Burmanisation and establishment of Bamar supremacy in the Irrawaddy valley after the unification of the country and founding of the First Burmese Empire was achieved by the king. Worship of nats predates Buddhism in Burma. With the arrival of Buddhism, however, the nats were merged, syncretistically, with Buddhism.
A nat kadaw dressed as U Min Gyaw at a nat pw€ in Mingun, August 1989
lit. the nat kadaw profession was hereditary and passed from mother to daughter. and needs. Since the 1980s. and many are entranced. Nats have human characteristics. transgendered gay men and transvestites have increasingly performed these roles. the smaller precipice Taung Kalat with its nat shrines atop to left of picture Popular nat festivals The most important nat pilgrimage site in Burma is Mount Popa. Mount Popa from Kyaukpadaung road. wants.Nat (spirit) 2 Nat worship and ecology The widespread traditional belief among rural folks that there are forest guardian spirits called taw saung nats (•‰‹„‰‹Ž‘‚€•‚) and mountain guardian spirits called taung saung nats (•‰‹Ž‚„‰‹Ž‘‚€•‚) appears to act as a deterrent against environmental destruction up to a point. Taungbyone. with familial custodians of the place and tradition Kyawzaw nat at a nat pwe in Amarapura and with royal sponsorship in ancient times. During a nat pw€. is another major site with the festival held each year starting on the eleventh waxing day and including the full moon in the month of Wagaung (August). Music. nat kadaws (€•‚Œ•‰‹‚. i. Historically. few nat gadaws were male. The annual festival is held on the full moon of Natdaw (December). having desires considered derogatory and immoral in mainstream Buddhism. Until the 1980s. held a week later in honour of Popa Medaw (Mother of Popa). Indiscriminate felling particularly of large trees is generally eschewed owing to the belief that they are dwellings of tree spirits called yokkazo (•’Œ™š„…’‡) and that such an act would bring the wrath of the nat upon the perpetrator. Yadanagu at Amarapura. People come from far to take part in the festivities in various nat shrines called nat kun or nat naan. north of Mandalay. The nat kadaws as an independent profession made their appearance in the latter half of the 19th century as spirit mediums. Whereas nat pwes are annual events celebrating a particular member of the 37 Nats regarded as the tutelary spirit in a local region within a Offerings of alcohol and liquor to U Min local community. hence evocative of royal rituals. adds much to the mood of the nat pw€.: nat lady. Mount Popa and Taung Kalat to left of picture seen from a distance across a dry riverbed . They are flawed. possessed by the nats. located near Bagan in central Burma. often accompanied by a hsaing waing (orchestra). which is a festival during which nats are propitiated. an extinct volcano with numerous temples and relic sites atop a mountain 1300 metres. is also a popular nat festival. who was the mother of the Taungbyone Min Nyinaung (Brother Lords). get drunk on palm toddy and dance wildly in fits of ecstasy to the wild beat of the Hsaing waing music. there are also nat kannah pwes where individuals would have a pavilion set up in a neighbourhood and the ritual is generally linked to the entire pantheon of nats. and nat kannahs are more of an urban phenomenon which evolved to satisfy the need of people who had migrated from the countryside to towns and cities but who wished to carry on their traditions or yo-ya of supplicating the mi hsaing hpa hsaing tutelary spirit of their native place.e. mediums) dance and embody the nat's spirit in a trance.
Thonbanhla (ˆ’Ÿ‡¡€‚¢ž) 6. Maungminshin (†‰‹Ž‚†Ž‚‡•žŽ‚) 15. Mintara (†Ž‚‡••‹‡) 8. illustrations of them show them in Burmese royal dress. His stratagem of incorporation by bringing the nats to his Shwezigon Pagoda in positions of worshipping the Buddha. Shwe Nawrahta (••ž‰€‰‹‚••‹) 10. Shwe Nabay (••ž‰€Ÿ ‰‡) 5. Aung Pinle Hsinbyushin (Š‰‹Ž‚¡Ž‚¢˜‚–Ž‚—›••žŽ‚) 13. Yun Bayin (˜•€‚‡ ’•Ž‚) 23. Shwe Sitthin (••ž‰„„‚ˆŽ‚) 20. Maung Po Tu (†‰‹Ž‚ …’‡••) 22. Hnamadawgyi (€ž†•‰‹‚Œ›“‡) 4. Minye Aungdin (†Ž‚‡•¦Š‰‹Ž‚•Ž‚) 19. Min Kyawzwa (†Ž‚‡Œ¥‰‹‚„•‹) 33. Nyaunggyin (¤‰‹Ž‚š¥Ž‚‡) 17. eventually succeeded. Mintha Maungshin (†Ž‚‡ˆ‹‡ †‰‹Ž‚•žŽ‚) 28. Aungzwamagyi (Š‰‹Ž‚„•‹†Œ›“‡) 11. 31. but also contains nats of Thai (Yun Bayin) and Shan (Maung Po Tu) descent. Taungoo Mingaung (•‰‹Ž‚Ž•†Ž‚‡š‰£Ž‚) 7. Shwe Hpyin Nyidaw (••ž‰—¥Ž‚‡ ¤“•‰‹‚) 27. Tabinshwehti (•¡Ž‚••ž‰•“‡) 18. after he had failed to enforce a ban on nat worship. Thandawgan (ˆŸ•‰‹‚šŸ) 9.Nat (spirit) 3 List of official nats King Anawrahta of Bagan (1044•1077) designated an official pantheon of 37 Nats. Maung Minbyu (†‰‹Ž‚†Ž‚‡—›•) 24. Shindaw (•žŽ‚•‰‹‚) 16. 30. 29. Seven out of the 37 Nats appear to be directly associated with the life and times of Anawrahta. Min Mahagiri (†Ž‚‡†œ‹•“•…) 3. and by enlisting Thagya Min at the head of the pantheon above the Mahagiri nats. Myaukhpet Shinma (†›‰‹Œ‚ Œ‚•žŽ‚†) . Taungmagyi (•‰‹Ž‚†Œ›“‡) 14. Listed in proper order. they are: 1. Mandalay Bodaw (†€™•¢‰‡ …’‡•‰‹‚) 25. Ngazi Shin (Ž£‡„“‡•žŽ‚) 12. Thagyamin (ˆ…Œ›‹‡†Ž‚‡) 2. The official pantheon is made up predominantly of those from the royal houses of Burmese history. Htibyuhsaung (•“‡—›•–‰‹Ž‚‡) Htibyuhsaung Medaw (•“‡—›•–‰‹Ž‚‡ †˜‚•‰‹‚) Pareinma Shin Mingaung (¡•…†™†•žŽ‚ †Ž‚‡š‰£Ž‚) Min Sithu (†Ž‚‡„¤‚ˆ•) Me Wunna with her sons Min Gyi and Min Lay at Mount Popa Traditional offerings of bananas and coconut at a nat shrine 32. Medaw Shwezaga (†˜‚•‰‹‚••ž‰„Œ‹‡) 21. Shwe Hpyin Naungdaw (••ž‰—¥Ž‚‡ €‰‹Ž‚•‰‹‚) 26.
Tun Institute of Learning.Online Burma/Myanmar Library (http://www.flickr. Anauk Mibaya (Š€‰‹Œ‚ †… ’•‹‡) Shingon (•žŽ‚Œ’€‚‡) Shingwa (•žŽ‚Œ•) Shin Nemi (•žŽ‚€¦†…) 4 References § 'King Mae Ku: From Lan Na Monarch to Burmese Nat'.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchresult. cfm?keyword=thirty-seven+nats) at NYPL Digital Gallery § Nat belief and Buddhism (http://www.ibiblio. 430.com/photos/10186213@N07/sets/72157600874292494/) Flickr photos by Boonlong1 § Amarapura Nat Pwe (http://www.studenttraveler.sublimefrequencies.com/photos/useenburma/page2/) Flickr photos by Burma lay § My House Nat Can Whip Your House Nat (http://www.org/films/friends-in-high-places.com/item. Michigan State University § Myamar Cyclone Brings Rise in Centuries-Old 'Nat' Worship (http://online.htm) Zaw Win Than.edu/seasia/Burma/religion.com/ 2010/08/20/tropical-punch-tour-myanmar-part-10/) and Part 2 (http://arcanecandy. Student Traveler. Burma.html#animism) Windows on Asia. National Geographic Magazine.claudiawiens. 36. (1906).mmtimes.net/Myanmar/Nat-worship/ nat-in-classroom/nat-in-classroom. in: Forbes.com/ mod-Pagesetter-viewpub-tid-10002-pid-292.com/no430/n017. Retrieved 2006-07-03. August 4•10.-3) § The Nat Spirits and Burmese Animism (http://asia.com/watch?v=lhL3nIWf4oI) § Nat Pw¨ recordings (http://www. Ancient Chiang Mai Volume 1.youtube.php?cat=494&lo=d&sl=0) § Friends in High Places (http://www. David. § Hla Tha Mein External links § Images of the 37 nats (http://digitalgallery. The Myanmar Times Vol. video and photo slideshows § Festival brings noise and colour to Taungbyone (http://www. National Geographic. Andrew. 2012.asp?Item_id=38& t=Music-of-Nat-Pwe:-Folk-and-Pop-Music-of-Myanmar-Vol. 2006-11-24 § An account of the Taungbyone 2010 nat pwe spirit festival at Arcane Candy Part 1 (http://arcanecandy. The Thirty-seven Nats-A Phase of Spirit-Worship prevailing in Burma.Nat (spirit) 34.html?mod=rss_free) The Wall Street Journal.com/public/article/ SB121477496021514039-syxR0hOJ5boY_duRsHM8vhUotEo_20090630.C.ƒ136•157.html) Photo essay by Claudia Wiens § The Nats . May 2006 . 22 No. June 30.com/2010/08/21/ tropical-punch-tour-myanmar-part-11/) § Myanmar's River of Spirits (http://ngm. 2008.com/englisch/vorlage_e. § Spirit of Burma 2006 (http://www. Chiang Mai.wsj. 2008 § Myanmar Nat Pwe in Bago (http://flickr.com/watch?v=ywuhWi3j0Fg) YouTube § Mintha Theater (http://minthatheater. 37. "Nat in My Classroom!" (http://tuninst.msu. R.html) Ethan Todras-Whitehill.der. § Salek. § Temple. Kira (May 2006).nypl.youtube. "Myanmar's River of Spirits".htm). 35. § U Kyaw Tun et al. (2005-01-15).org/obl/show.com/ngm/0605/feature5/) Kira Salak. pp. and Henley. Cognoscenti Books.nationalgeographic.com) Dance theater in Mandalay.html) Preview of a documentary film by Lindsey Merrison § Nat Dance (http://www.
Hintha.org/w/index.0 ƒContributors: vive le vªlo File:IMG banana-offering. RossF18.0 ƒContributors: Wagaung (talk) File:Distant Popa.JPG ƒLicense: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3. Angr. Shii.org/w/index. QuizzicalBee. The Anome.wikipedia.JPG ƒSource: http://en. Scewing.0 //creativecommons. RegentsPark. Woohookitty. Kmrt.org/w/index.wikipedia. Heike B. Hybernator.wikipedia. Jderosier. Doc glasgow. NaiPiak. Good Olfactory.php?title=File:Offerings_of_alcohol_to_Burmese_nat.JPG ƒSource: http://en.jpg ƒLicense: Creative Commons Attribution 2. Kintetsubuffalo. Dream of Nyx.JPG ƒSource: http://en. Yworo.JPG ƒLicense: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3. Rjwilmsi. Lionslayer. GoingBatty. Nat Krause.wikipedia.org/w/index. Rodan44.org/licenses/by-sa/3.wikipedia File:Brother Nats.php?title=File:IMG_banana-offering. Hvn0413.JPG ƒLicense: GNU Free Documentation License ƒContributors: Original uploader was Wagaung at en.php?title=File:Nat_Pwe. Fram.JPG ƒLicense: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3. Wdfarmer. Jaxartes.wikipedia File:Offerings of alcohol to Burmese nat.0/ . SchreiberBike. RandomCritic.JPG ƒLicense: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.JPG ƒLicense: GNU Free Documentation License ƒContributors: User:Wagaung File:Nat Pwe. Bkonrad. Vinterheart. Middayexpress.php?oldid=597358615 ƒContributors: Ahivarn.php?title=File:Mount_Popa.. Proof Pudding. Nakon.php?title=File:Brother_Nats. PiCo.0 ƒContributors: Wagaung (talk).php?title=File:Distant_Popa.php?title=File:Nat_oun.wikipedia.jpg ƒSource: http://en.0 ƒContributors: Wagaung at en.org/w/index. Dcattell. SMasters. TigerShark. Moillead©ir.0 ƒContributors: Wagaung (talk) License Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.org/w/index. Alan16. Fleebo. Koavf.wikipedia. Rivertorch.wikipedia.wikipedia File:Mount Popa. Bojnin. K4ir0s. Original uploader was Wagaung at en.JPG ƒSource: http://en.org/w/index.wikipedia. 25 anonymous edits Image Sources.JPG ƒSource: http://en.Article Sources and Contributors 5 Article Sources and Contributors Nat (spirit) ƒSource: http://en.org/w/index.JPG ƒSource: http://en. Kuru. Licenses and Contributors File:Nat oun. Xufanc. Zekepunk. Vyom25. Wagaung.
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