In this article:
- The legend of the krasue comes from Southeast Asia and tells of a woman’s head (with its intestines dangling below it) flying around in the night and looking for raw flesh to devour.
- Some believe that this ghost was created when a woman who live a sinful past life was reborn while others believed that it is the result of witchcraft gone wrong.
- The only way to kill the krasue is to find its body, which it hides during the nighttime, and destroy it before the ghost can return to it at daybreak.
Picture this: you’re walking through a rural area of Thailand or Malaysia or Indonesia or Cambodia (or pretty much any other Southeast Asian country) and, suddenly, you see a glowing light in the distance.
You stop to inspect it further only to realize that the light is getting closer and closer. Your heart starts to beat a little faster.
Finally, you can start to make out the shape of a… Could it be? No! No! It’s a woman’s head, severed at the neck, internal organs dangling from the stump of her spine. Now, that’s some serious shit-your-pants material right there.
Well, chances are you probably won’t encounter this ghost, known as krasue in Thai folklore, at any time in your life.
However, if you’re sitting around and having a beer with a few Southeast Asian people one night, you might just hear them tell this ghost story. Indeed, my first introduction to this legend was during a night out swiggin’ a couple of Chang beers when I was living in Thailand.
I’m pretty sure I said something like, “Imagine if you actually saw that!” Sure enough, one of my compadres assured me that he knew a guy that had actually seen it.
Yes, to the people of Thailand (and surely other Southeast Asian countries), the krasue is not simply a story, but a real phenomenon. And, if you have a cut on your arm, you’d better hope that the krasue doesn’t smell it and come to eat the rest of you.
Like many folk legends, the tale of the krasue has taken many shapes over time and in different regions.
However, the form of the ghost is the same in most of the stories: a disembodied head with its entrails dangling below it. And, even if you don’t believe in ghosts, that description is enough to give you the chills.
Let’s take a look at the different versions of the krasue across the different regions where it exists.
The Krasue in Thai Folklore
In the Thai version of the story, the krasue was originally a normal human woman who lived a very sinful life.
Because of her transgressions during her previous life, she is reborn as a ghost that must live off of rotten or uncooked food. The krasue is cursed to always feel hunger and to only be able to feed at night.
To satisfy its ceaseless hunger, the krasue flies around in the night looking for blood and raw flesh to devour. It is known to attack cows and chickens while their owners are sleeping. The krasue will also eat carrion or even feces if there is no fresh blood and flesh to eat.
Thai people also believe that it’s a bad idea to leave your clothes hanging outside overnight because the krasue might just come by and wipe the feces and blood from her mouth on them.
Thai legend also warns against people falling asleep with open wounds because the krasue will smell the blood (like a shark) and come to devour the person.
Apparently, by planting spiky bamboo around your house or by building a spiky fence, you can deter the krasue from entering your home. It’s scared of spiky things because it fears that it will get its intestines caught on them and not be able to escape.
During the day, however, the krasue is not a floating head, but rather a normal-looking human being just like anyone else. Though it hides the headless body that it came from during the night hours, it rejoins that body at sunrise and walks through the crowds undetected.
However, it must ensure that it hides its body in a safe place because the krasue will die if it cannot rejoin with its body before daybreak.
If the krasue’s body is destroyed or hidden by someone, then the krasue will desperately search for another body and then, eventually, rejoin with the wrong body. At that point, it will experience horrible pain until it eventually dies.
Also, if it does not find a body at all before the sun comes up, it will suffer a painful death. Some Thai people believe that the krasue can also be killed by cutting off its intestines or by burning it.
The Cambodian Ahp
The Cambodian legend is very similar to the Thai one. However, in the Khmer language, this horrible spirit is known as the ahp (a word that derives from a Sanskrit word meaning “to cause anyone to suffer”).
Just like in the Thai myth, the ahp appears as a normal human during the day. When night falls, it leaves the mortal body and brings only its head and dangling intestines. Then, it flies around in the darkness in search of raw flesh and blood to consume.
Others believe that the ahp is a woman who has made a “deal with the devil,” so to speak. In exchange for giving the woman the ability to practice black magic, the devil is allowed to take control of her head each night and use it to carry out his evil deeds.
When someone becomes pregnant, families in Cambodia will build spiky fences or plant thorny bushes around the house to discourage the ahp from entering.
Once she gives birth, it is very important that the placenta is cut off, taken far away from the house, and buried deep enough that the ahp will never be able to find it. Otherwise, very bad things will happen to the mother or her child if the creature eats the placenta.
The Krasue in Modern Life
The legend of the krasue is not just some story told by old people to scare children into being good. Many people throughout Southeast Asia wholeheartedly believe in this horrific phantasm.
In fact, there have been quite a few modern “sightings” reported throughout the last decade, many of which have stemmed from images circulating around social media. Many of these images have been debunked, but some have not.
And, even though many people in Southeast Asia are actually fearful of the krasue, Southeast Asian filmmakers certainly weren’t going to keep this terrifying myth from the silver screen. Many Thai movies have depicted the ghost, including Krasue Sao (“Ghost of Guts Eater”), Krasue Kat Pop, Krasue Fat Pop, and Fullmoon Devil.
The most famous Thai movie about the krasue is called Demonic Beauty, which came out in 2002.
There are also some notable movies from Cambodia that depict the related ahp legend, such as Neang Arp (“Lady Vampire”) or Arp Kalum (“The Sexiest Ahp”).
Other representations of the krasue or the ahp can be found in other types of media including comic books, television shows, and merchandise. You can even find krasue costumes, particularly in Thailand. There you go. That’s your Halloween costume this year.