Mother Spirit of Popa Nat Shrine

Myanmar (Burma)

Before climbing Popa Taung Kalat, drop by the tiger-guarded shrine in the village at the foot of the mountain (just across from the steps guarded by elephant statues). Inside you’ll find a display extending left and right from an inner hallway door of mannequin-like figures representing some of the 37 official nat (spirit beings), plus some Hindu deities and a few necromancers (the figures with goatees at the right end of the shrine).

In the shrine there are also nat not counted among the official 37, including three principal figures: the Flower-Eating Ogress (aka Mae Wunna, or ‘Queen Mother of Popa’) and her two sons (to her left and right), Min Gyi and Min Lay.

The plump Pyu goddess Shin Nemi (Little Lady) is a guardian for children and is given toy offerings during school exam time. She’s the cute little thing clutching a green umbrella and a stuffed animal, midway down on the left of the shrine.

There have been a few Kyawswas in Myanmar spirit history, but the most popular is Popa-born Lord Kyawswa (aka Drunk Nat), who spent his few years cockfighting and drinking. He boasts, ‘If you don’t like me, avoid me. I admit I’m a drunkard'. Needless to say, he's the most popular nat with pilgrims and tourists alike! He’s the guardian of gamblers and drunks and sits on a horse decked in rum and whiskey bottles, to the right. Be sure to pay your respects if you've been partying your way through Southeast Asia.

Locals pray to Shwe Na Be (Lady with Golden Sides) when a snake comes into their house. She’s the woman holding a naga (serpent) near the corner to the left.

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