Phi ha (ผีห่า).
This is the phi of epidemic disease, particularly cholera. They come periodically in a host from nowhere. When widespread death occurs to people without any apparent cause, they take the phi ha to. be the author. Precaution is taken in 'many ways: by making merit to appease them or by floating them away ritually. In my young days people in the district where I lived used to hang an empty sugar pot made of baked clay in front of the house or at the head of the stairway. A rough sketch was drawn on the outside of the pot at its base with lime water showing two small circles placed near each other like eyes, a vertical line under these as the nose an d below it a horizontal line as a mouth. At that time I did not know what it meant but had a vague idea that it had to do with keeping the phi ha from getting into a house to kill its inmates. Later on, after a lapse of more than four decades, I was told that the drawing on the sugar pot was called "Tra Khun Phon" (ตราขุนพล) or the seal of Khun Phon. Khun Phon means a generalissimo. He was, as I gathered afterwards, a generalissimo of the host of evil spirits. To hang such a seal at the entrance of the house meant that it was under his protection. The' phi ha when seeing the seal would be frightened and never dare to molest the people in the house. Old people used to tell children that the phi ha came by boats, and in the dead of night their shouts of row in unison might be, "Yeow, Yeow" urging the paddlers to heard faintly from afar. The best thing for the children to do was to get into bed at once. In' imagination, I as one of the children, seemed to bear that foreboding sound. Acquaintance with epidemic disease must have been a well-known thing in the past among the Thai tribes, for the word "ha" is a common word among them but with a variation in its pitch, Like the word "pret" mentioned already, "ha" 'is a word used vulgarly in every - day speech especially, by young men. They address one, another very intimately as "ai ha" or "ai ha kin" (อ้ายห่ากิน), and include it in their speech now and then as a familiar and hearty expression. "May the ha eat" (ให้ห่ากิน) you or me, is a word used thoughtlessly in vulgar everyday speech like the English word "damn", without the knowledge that the word "ha" had a dangerous meaning in its primitive days.