Tung is a Lanna word refers to flag (or Thonge in general Thai word). Its shape seems like a Pagata of India which is a long sheet hanged on a pole. Wood, zinc, brass, fabric, paper, or palm leave can be used as the material.

Tung is made for all Buddhist rite usage. The differences of shape and material implies for different belief and rite, and also appreciation in each location.

The purpose of Lanna Tung making are…

  • for offering to buddha, satisfying themselves, or making merit to pass away person in order to let their spirit live in heaven
  • for decorating regional places and objects, and also celebrating
  • for exorcising, removing bad luck, protecting from bad spirit or ghost
  • for using in black magic rite, charming rite, or offering to angel and good ghost
  • for using in festival and other rites such as praying rite, Suep Chata rite, Songkran Festival, etc.

People in Mae Jaem employ the skill of Jok to create Tung for offering to Buddha in Buddhist tradition. The design of Jok which used in Tung are geometry, plant, and animal especially the 12 zodiac signs.

If you have a chance to travel in Mae Jaem, do not miss temple visiting. This city has many ancient temples such as Pah Dad temple, Yangluang temple, Phut En temple, Gong Karn temple, Jiang temple, etc. The most notable thing inside these temples is Tung hanging from the every-corner pole which demonstrates faith in buddhism and folk wisdom of Jok creating of people in Mae Jaem.

Crocodile Tung and folk wisdom in coconut leave wickerwork of Mae Jaem

Mae Jaem did not have a ready-made Tung in the previous time so people tried to create it by using coconut leave to form a flag instead and continuously conserved this technique till these days.

Tips

There are 4 types of flag for using in Kathin ceremony and it means differently

A crocodile holds a lotus in its mouth means greed. Normally, crocodile is an all-time hungry animal so it was used to imply a greedy person who usually finds the way to gain their own advantage.

A centipede holds a lotus in its mouth means anger. When people get a bite from centipede, they will feel the pain and this feeling will be gone after healing. So, hurting is represent the anger which easy to occur and can be disappeared by using moral thought.

A mermaid holds a lotus in her hands means passion. Human always gets into appearance, voice, scent, taste, and touch which can convince them be irrational. Moreover, the image of mermaid also implies to the hesitation of human.

A turtle holds a lotus in its mouth means religious precept or to ignore a touch of 5 senses. A turtle is used as a symbol of prevention because it normally has the instinct of self-protection.

So, for person who wants a great merit from Kathin ceremony, regarding Buddhist precept and calming is the important thing to do. Buddhist should avoid doing bad thing, getting into a touch of 6 senses, and getting angry or weary also.