Wood stoves in Thai people’s spiritual life

(VOVWORLD) - A stilt house built by the Thai ethnic minority people has two wood stoves for different purposes. Besides cooking, the wood stove has an important position in the spiritual life of the Thai in Vietnam’snorthwestern mountainous region.
Wood stoves in Thai people’s spiritual life - ảnh 1

The Thai’s extended family often live together in a stilt house which has 3 to 5 rooms, two staircases on each end, and two wood stoves.

Ca Van Chung in Co Pục hamlet, Sơn La city, said: “Wood stoves are must-have items in the house. They symbolize happiness and prosperity. It’s the Thai customs that the house’s owner asks a brother of his mother or his wife to help set up the wood stoves. A relative of the mother’s side will be the first person to light the wood stoves.” 

The Thai identify the Kitchen Deity as the Fire Deity, who plays an important role in the house. The Fire Deity gives them good meals and keeps them warm on chilly days. 

In the past, when electricity was unavailable in remote regions, only a fire in the wood stove could light and warm the house. People often sit around the wood stove to discuss family issues.

The Thai rarely put out their flame, especially in winter. Tong Văn Hịa in Hua La commune said: “A wood stove is placed in front of the ancestral altar. It is rarely used for daily cook but mostly to warm the house. Old men in the family boil water to make tea and receive guests by the wood stove.”

Women and children are not allowed to use the wood stove or sit equally with their grandparents and parents there. It’s the family hierarchy, according to Tong Văn Hịa. “The wood stove at the outer room is used for daily cooking without any prohibitions. Most of family activities happen around it. A mother and her new born baby sleep close to the wood stove until the child is one month old. Then they can move to the sleeping room,” Hia said.

Living conditions have improved and Thai people also use other kinds of cookers. But wood stoves are still used in Thai stilt houses as a spiritual symbol of warmness and prosperity.