The Giarai are an ethnic minority living in Vietnam and Cambodia, much beloved by anthropologists for their elaborate funeral traditions. Lady Tung is the Giarai weaving goddess of life and death.
Giarai tradition suggests that souls of the dead travel to an after-life village in the west where they live a parallel existence. Lady Tung and her compatriot Lady Tai preside over a large, deep cave that is a threshold between the realms of the living and the dead. Once upon a time, long ago, the living could enter this cave and visit with ancestors, friends and relatives but it got too crowded. Spirits blocked the entrance to the cave with a huge tree trunk, thus separating the realms of the living and the dead.
Lady Tung presides over birth and death.
• When she weaves a new weft, a child is born
• When her thread breaks, someone dies
The Giarai believe in Reincarnation; souls transition between different realms over life times. As weavers, Lady Tung and Lady Tai preside over these transitions. They are fate goddesses. Humans are believed to have two incarnations in the realm of the living and two in the realm of the dead. Having completed those four life/ death cycles, Lady Tung and Lady Tai transforms souls into spiders, which wander Earth until transforming again into a dewdrop, they enter a newborn soul.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.