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'The Shaman who is scared of evil spirits' (Phù thủy sợ ma) is a illustration book that I have done and published in 2011, based on a Vietnamese … Read More
'The Shaman who is scared of evil spirits' (Phù thủy sợ ma) is a illustration book that I have done and published in 2011, based on a Vietnamese Folktale Read Less
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The shaman who is scared of evil spirits
Phù thủy sợ ma
'The shaman who is scared of evil spirits' is a illustration book that I have done and published in 2011, based on a Vietnamese Folktale.


the shaman who is scared of evil spirits

Once upon a time there was a shaman, an expert in finding and expelling evil spirits. Rumor had it that he was top classed in the field. In order to have his service, people needed to receive him as a guest of the highest honor, with lots of consideration and regards.
However, evil spirits were sometimes in short supply, so he had to satisfy himself with the job of holding superstitious ceremonies around the town, helping a family with a well- blessing rite, organizing a ritual for relieving another family from their run of bad luck, and such like.
Whenever coming to a household, he was the boss, ordering the head of the family to arrange the offerings - incense and food. After that he closed his eyes, his mouth chanting his mysterious words, his hands tossing his coins , and finally, his legs crossed and he wolf down the food. When the ritual was officially over, besides the money paid, he could take home all the food that remained. What a good way of earning a living.
He was very proud of himself. He just needed some drink to show off.
No matter what types of ghosts they were, whatever demons they could be, the clever-clever shaman could expel them immediately, clasping one hand to exorcize, casting the amulets by the other hand, whispering magic spells on his lips.
His mulberry rod and urine could drive any evil spirit from its possessed host.
His story made everyone hearing it scared and awed.
However, no man is a hero to his valet, the shaman’s wife didn’t believe that her husband was so powerful. Once she asked him right when they were having dinner:
- Hubbie, are you afraid of evil spirits?
- Meow
He replied angrily: “What a ridiculous question! Evil sprit expelling is my profession. It is that kind of spirits that need to be scared of me, why should I be scared of them?”
One day, a man died in the town. The shaman was invited to the man’s funeral to help with the ceremonial offerings. The master of the house treated him with a lavish meal that kept him there until it was late at night. He left for home in a hangover, a bit swaying away on his feet. Around him it was pitch dark and the path was meandering. There was only the sound of the frogs and bamboos creaking in the wind…
Nobody’s even suspicious that the shaman’s wife had been hiding herself in the bushes, with a burning charcoal and a secret plan.

When the shaman, with a basket full of the offerings - a pig head and truncated cones of sticky rice, bananas etc – went across this big bush, the wife slowly raised the burning charcoal up.
Seeing that, the shaman got a bit frightened, thinking that it was one kind of evil spirits that he hadn’t recognized. But he still believed in the effectiveness of his magic, so he put the basket down, clasping his hands while chanting a exorcizing spell:
- Yem, thien ly thu lai! Yem, van ly thu lai!
The wife had to force herself not to burst out laughing and kept swinging the burning charcoal back and forth. “Shush!” the shaman tried to scare the “evil spirit”. The wife tried harder to suppress a laugh and brandished the charcoal towards him. It flickered and looked like a will o’ the wisp.
Now the shaman couldn’t hold on anymore. He was so horrified that he couldn’t think of anything else, his basket fell behind, even his headscarf wasn’t on his head. He ran for his life, shouting:
- Ahhh, thien ly help me! Ohhh, van ly save me!
After the shaman disappeared in the dark, his wife leisurely walked out of the bush, picked up the basket of offerings.
Once in their house, she acted as normal. The shaman wasn’t suspicious at all.
Next morning, the wife served the shaman with all the offerings she collected from the previous night. The shaman was so surprised. He looked at the meal, murmuring to himself:
- Strange!! The pig head looks like… the pig head, The sticky rice looks like… the sticky rice!
The wife laughed out loud:
- You are so funny! If the pig head doesn’t look like the pig head, the sticky rice doesn’t look like sticky rice, so what will they look like? Or will they look like that will o’ the wisp last night?
. The shaman realized that he was fooled by his own wife. So ashamed, he kept his head down to eat, dared not to lift it up.
. Since then, there was a jest that:
The best shaman took a fire fly for a will o’ the wisp. So frightened he had to run, not missing a beat
The basket he didn’t need
The headscarf he didn’t care
The sticky rice he left behind
The spell he kept shouting
didn’t stop the evil spirits
Please explain!