That’s why, we all must go and visit to Karen States.We can see Pha-Si @ Karen State, Myawaddy and Pha-an.
Pha-Si (Frog drum) is the national instrument of Karen. It’s called ‘Kyik‘ in Sakaw Karen and ‘Kalu(Kawha)’ in Poe Karen language respectively. Researchers believed that Karen started using pha-si over 3 thousand years ago. According to Kyan-sit-thar’s Mon stone inscription, it is safe to say that pha-si is used at 4th November 1011 A.D., prophets and astrologers played ‘drum’ during carrying water. The actual usage date may be earlier than that.
Pha-si is the most prized possession of Karen people. It is not ordinary leather drum but a combination of bronze, white ore, zinc, silver, and gold forged into hollow metal drum. Toads are seen on the surface of the drum and thus earned the name pha-si (frog drum) among Myanmar.
Karen believes that toads possess these characteristics:
- They keep their promise and it’ll rain whenever they croak.
- They do not eat their eggs and younglings.
- The skin could cure deadly poisons though it’ll give the eater nausea and vomit.
- They secrete poisonous fluid when faced with danger which would kill the threat.
- Itch, ringworm, and burn could be relieved by placing toad skin on wound.
There are two types of pha-si: good luck pha-si and bad-luck pha-si. Toads on the surface of good luck pha-si follow each other in anti-clockwise direction and portray unity and good leadership. It is played on auspicious ceremonies. Toads on bad luck pha-si face each other conveying rivalry, division, and dissension. It is used in misfortunate events.
The good luck pha-si is used in wedding, at the start of farming and harvesting as congratulatory drum. And, with firm belief, doing so could bring wealth and prosperity to the region. The bad luck one is used when there is a funeral, an invasion or other disaster by playing it loud 7 times by the head of village. The villagers then had to summon before him quickly to prepare.
When someone pass away, a small piece of the drum is buried together with the deceased. Once the last member of family expire, the sun at the centre of the drum surface is buried with the member.
Sometimes pha-si would discharge unknown liquid and it’s called ‘the crying of pha-si’. Guardian spirits are given an offering with blood of chicken and birds painted on the drum during such time.
Surface region is considered chest of pha-si. Body of the drum is thinner than its chest counterpart. The bottom part is bigger than body and is hollow.
Tale of Pha-Si
Legend has it that Phooh Dai, a Karen elderly, was faking death in order to drive away the invasive troop of monkeys, devouring recklessly from his crops, when they come. The monkeys thought the owner was really dead and brought him back to their colony to stage a funeral. They started the process by playing gold, silver and wish-granting pha-sies. But when Phooh Dai sneezed during fake death, all monkeys frightenedly ran away.
The man then collected and played the drums. When he played wish-granting pha-si, he was instantly brought back to his place by the power of the drum. The monkeys feared pha-sies and didn’t dare to mess with the crops anymore. Phooh Dai later become leader of the region with the help of pha-si. Karen believed the possession of pha-si would bring them power and wealth. If placed in rice storage, it would provide a great yield and give plenty of foods.
So many Karen People live in Twantay City. Bty, Come and Visit to TwanTay.
Ref : Highlights of Pha-An by Win Myint Oo
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