Mae Ya Nang


A belief of Mae Ya Nang or a Guardian goddess of boats in Thailand has existed for long time and was started by fishermen. We believe that every tree has a guardian (Nang Mai) who takes care like a nymph in Greek mythology. Once a tree is cut and transformed into a boat, its guardian would never leave but stay and protect the boat as a Guardian goddess of boats called “Mae Ya Nang”.

Guardian Goddess of Boats

Mae Ya Nang dwell in every boat. Fishermen believe that Ma Ya Nang will defend every crew on board. Therefore, fishermen will offer customary oblations to Mae Ya Nang for a propitious career, to catch a lot of fish, to guard their staff from any danger, etc.


The fishermen have occasions to worship Mae Ya Nang;

1. Worship for cutting the tree and making into a boat
2. Offer Mae Ya Nang to a temporary shrine before boat building
3. Invite Mae Ya Nang onto the boat after finished installing the boat prow, believing that she dwells on this a part of the boat.
4. Worship to invite Mae Ya Nang to dwell permanently on a completed boat before the first launch.
5. Worship every time before the boat goes out fishing.
6. Every Buddhist Sabbath or important festival season like Songkarn, Chinese New Year, etc.


Oblation for Mae Ya Nang includes Khanom Jan-ap, duck or chicken, dried squid, pork belly or pig’s head, rice, 3 type of fruits, three-color fabric, silver paper, gold paper, 9 incense sticks, a bundle of flowers, a bowl of water, and a branch of pomegranate.

Guardian Goddess of Boats

Khanom Jan-ap (4 types of Chinese Candy made from peanut, sesame, crispy rice, and sweet squash)

The Boat owner will offer oblations at the boat prow and along with 9 sticks of incense, to invite Mae Ya Nang to receive oblations including a prayer to bless with health, wealth and success in their career.

After that, they put three-colors of fabric around the boat prow, then place a bundle of flowers and incense sticks there too.

Guardian Goddess of Boats

Thai boat prow and oblations

Finally, the boat owner will burn silver paper and gold paper, light Firecrackers and sprinkle or throw water from a bowl with a branch of a pomegranate on every corner of the boat before beginning a journey.


In order to keep peace and avoid any danger, the fishermen are required to follow following rules strictly;

1. Do not fight on board
2. Keep the boat clean, do not make a dirty boat
3. No liquor, do not drink on board
4. Do not step on the boat prow
5. Do not bring a woman on board


The belief of Mae Ya Nang initiated from sailing, though it is presently extend to other vehicles as well as automobiles and aircraft. Therefore, you may notice that Thai people have an oblation for every type of vehicle too.


Post Written By Kruu Mita


Photo Cr.

Mae Ya Nang :

Khanom Jan-ap:

Thai boat prow and oblations: