In the Thai language, Ta dieu means an eye. It’s made of bamboo strips and hung on a door or planted in the ground to chase away evil spirits.
Tong Van Hia, a shaman in Mong hamlet, Son La city, explained: “I’m 80 years old. I saw my grandparents and parents making Ta dieu when I was small. We make Ta dieu for every occasion such as to work or sleep in the forest, inaugurate a new house, to relieve from bad luck, or when a family has a sick person or a newborn baby.”
| A 7-eye Ta Dieu planted on the ground.
There are two types of Ta dieu. The one-eye Ta dieu is made from 6 bamboo strips. It’s hung on a door or the staircase, or planted in the ground with a leaf and a piece of charcoal. This Ta dieu aims to chase away evil spirits and inform guests that the family has a sick person or a newborn baby.
| A 1-eye Ta dieu
The other type of Ta dieu is made from 12 bamboo strips to make 7 eyes. The Thai plant 4 Ta dieu at the 4 corners of a new house or on 4 sides when they sleep in the forest to inform the land deities of their presence and chase away ghosts and devils.
“When I was about 10 years old, I tended buffalos and cows and learned to make Ta dieu from the elders. Very few people can make Ta dieu, mostly the elderly," said Hia.
| Tong Van Hia is making Ta dieu.
Reading a prayer is more difficult than making a Ta dieu. Hia explained: “When we plant or hang a Ta dieu, we read a prayer to scare the ghosts and devils. Shamans will read different prayers but generally Ta dieu miraculously scares away all types of ghosts. A Ta dieu is like a dragon eye, a knife, or a gun to terrify ghosts into running away.”
The Thai feel good when they finish a Ta dieu rite. They have continued to uphold it for the next generation.