Posted on: April 4, 2022 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

The ogre or the ogre is considered by Vietnamese folk to be a type of demon. This object is mentioned most commonly in the Southwest region and is most famous in the fairy tale Thach Sanh – Ly Thong. However, up to now, there are still many different explanations for the ogre/orange. So, what is it really?


First, let’s go over some of the explanations about ogre/orange that have been given so far.

Hypothesis 1: In this theory, there are two different explanations.

There is an opinion that the tiger in the 12 animals is called “gradually”, from which the camp becomes “gradually”, and then continues to say the camp becomes “otter”. However, this opinion seems forced. Usually, for the inexplicable, people tend to cite the reason as… say camp! However, say camp… what’s up with that? Another opinion is that, “chan” is derived from the Malay word “machan” which means tiger, which the Vietnamese call it “Ba Chan”. This is the most commonly accepted opinion today.

Hypothesis 2: Chan is ma lai This idea is that: “Zhan” originates from the Malay word “penanggalan”, which means a type of devil with only intestines. This type of ghost, the Vietnamese call it “ma lai”, has the expression “ma lai gutted”. However, this theory does not explain why “penanggalan” became “the ogre”. Besides, the Vietnamese have called that object “ma lai”, do they need to use another noun, “ba chan”? or not? Please add, the word “ma lai” in Vietnamese is derived from the word “kamalai” in Cham language, which means a type of devil with only intestines.

Hypothesis 3: Deer is a python Originating from the familiar folk idiom “the otter eats the python”, it is speculated that the otter may be a python or a species related to the python. But if so, why not “wrap” like python but “eat”? Apart from the above idiom, there is no other basis to support this hypothesis.

Chan statue in the spiritual life of Khmer people.

Chan statue in the spiritual life of Khmer people.


The above theories have not been able to prove exactly what the ogre / ogre is. Actually, this is not difficult to explain. Those who have the opportunity to go to the West, learn about Khmer culture, attend community festivals, especially festivals related to Buddhism, have the opportunity to enjoy the unique art form of otter dance. . That is also the origin of the word chan in Vietnamese.

Chan is called “Yăk” by the Khmer (or “Yeak” because the Khmer word is transliterated into Latin with different spellings). In Khmer culture, octopus not only appears in octopus dance activities at festivals, but also is one of the images sculpted in temples. This is a form of god in Buddhism, which can be of good or evil nature. Strictly speaking, octopus is a form of god in Indian culture, so it appears in both Hinduism and Buddhism. The octopus appears very early and a lot in the Buddhist scriptures. The countries where Buddhism spread to all received this image with many different names. In addition, some Southeast Asian countries have also adopted this image through the spread of Hinduism.

Teams of monkeys in many localities also practice formation, preparing to go out to serve people in 3 days of Tet.  (Photo:

Teams of monkeys in many localities also practice formation, preparing to go out to serve people in 3 days of Tet. (Photo:

In Pali, the language in which the Theravada Buddhist texts are spread, chan is “Yakkha” (male) and “Yakkhinī” (female). Influenced by this source, chan in Thai is “Yak” or “Nhak”, in Cambodian it is “Yeak” or “Yăk”. In addition, the countries following Theravada Buddhism such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos … all call this object with quite similar names.

In Sanskrit, the language of which Mahayana (Mahāyāna) Buddhist texts are spread, ch is “Yakṣa” (male) and “Yakṣinī” (female). Influenced by this source, the Chinese word “Yecha” in Chinese has spread to Mahayana Buddhist countries such as Japan, Korea, etc. In Vietnam, this object is transliterated from Chinese as “” yaksha”.

In Buddhist culture, there are two types of yaksha, good and evil. The good yaksha are the deities who protect the Dharma, so the pagodas often have the yaksha statue in the fence, implying the protection of the cultivator. The evil yaksha often eats and swallows people alive, so it is considered an image that warns people towards good. When entering Vietnamese culture, due to fear, people often refer to the evil yakkha more often. Therefore, Vietnamese people often call it “demon yaksha”, but rarely “god dasa”. That is also the reason why Vietnamese people have a proverb “eating pythons wrapped around”. In fact, elk and python are not related to each other, “spinning python” is just an extra element to rhyme with “deer eater”.

In short, octopus in Vietnamese is nothing new. This is a form of demonic spirit in ancient Buddhist culture. Vietnamese Buddhist scriptures call it “daksa”. However, ordinary people in the South rarely have the opportunity to contact this source of material, instead they come into direct contact with Khmer culture through and accepting the word “Yeak”.


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