Pleng Giew Khao

(a song sung in the rice harvest)

This song is sung while farmers are reaping rice. Just as growing rice has been the main career of Thai people for a long time, so this song has been sung for a long time, too. Usually, farmers will start ploughing and growing rice around May and June in the rainy season and will reap or harvest around January and February. For the harvest, it must be done as quickly as possible or there will be damage to the rice, so they have to ask many people to help. This is called “Long Khaek”. With a lot of people gathering to give a hand with the harvest or when they take a rest, this song is composed to make everyone feel happy. The words of the song are usually asking about growing rice and wooing, so besides having fun it is also a cooperation among the neighborhood who share the same career. It helps to make everyone love each other and to love poetry, to be intelligent and quick – witted.

They sing this song in the rice fields. They dress in local costumes. It is divided into 2 teams : male and female usually about 5-6 for each team. Each team has a leader called “Por Pleng” and “Mae Pleng” and everyone holds a sickle in one of their hands. Before starting to play, both of the teams have to recite the song of Bot Wai Khru.


Example of Bot Wai Khru

Yok Hut Neu Wang Kiew
Tang Sib Niew Pra Thum Thong
Ja Wai Phra Thean Sila Aas
Wai Phra Bat Ti Tan Jum Long
Ja Lao Tae Ton Hai Won Wien
Theung Por Ka Gien Chao Khai Khong
Keun Kao Ta Nin Ga Bilapat
Dai Pen Kasat Krob Krong
Dai Ku Kieng Ma Raum Pirom
Mee Nang Sanom Neung Nong
Por Bun Ma Teun Gor Kleun Kla
Ting Pariya Ti Raum Hong
Paibun Pacha Raksa Prot
Sala Mod Tang Kao Khong
Hai Pen Mongkon Yu Bon Samong
Luk Ti Nai Thong Na Oey
Luk Ja Wai Si Phra Mae Phosob
Mae Nop Dara
Nang Phra Mae Torani Mae Kong Ka
Luk Gor Wai
Hai Ma Pok Glao Pok Phom
Luk Rak Dang Rom Phosai
Wai Khru Sred Srub
Luk Ja Kamnub Kun Mai
Wai Bida Manda
Thi Than Lieng Ma Jon Yai
Dai Aab Nam Pon Khao
Ma Tae Tua Rao Ni Garai
Tang Nam Khun Mi Hai Aab
Khamin Yab Mi Hai Tha
Than Aow Luk Sai Nai Ple
Rong Oh Lahe Lae Cha Kwai


After reciting Bot Wai Khru, they will continue answering (or antiphonal singing), holding a bunch of rice stalks and a sickle while dancing along with the rhythm and the song. The words and melody of the song is similar to Pleng Reu but using less time and played during the day only.

Example of Bot Plob

Male

Phi Ja Khor Fang Samnieng Nong
Mae Oey Rong Ram Wa
Phi Khao Ma Plob Sam Sanguan
Thang Gan Gor Jaun Wela
Kho Choen Mae Yeun Oeun Oad
Therd Mae Phaung Mahod Sumana
Mae Ngam Prakob Jong Tob Waja
Therd Mae Dok Jampa Oey
Thaun Gamnod Sam Bot
Mae Ngam Pragob Mai Tob Ma
Sia Rang Ti Ma Won Mae Yod Rak
Yu Gor Pen Nak Pen Na
Khor Cheun Nong Rong Nong Ram
Ya Hai Phi Chai Khai Naa
Ti Pheun Khao Ma Loey Oey

Female

Tae Por Phi Oey Sam Choey Gor Rong
Tob Sanong Sontana
Chan Sia Kaen Khong Phi Mai Dai
Sang Ja Tai Jam Ja Wa
Nai Nai Gor Dai Khao Ma Plob
Laew Jam Ja Tob Waja
Mi Hai Phi Chai Khai Na
Thi Pheun Khao Ma Dok Oey


The song used while reaping rice will be in short verse. For example :

Kwa Terd Na Mae Kwa
Reeb Tabeung Hai Theung Kan Na
Ja Dai Phud Ja Kan Oey

Giew Terd Na Mae Giew
Ya Mua Lae Mua Liew
Kiew Ja Bad Meu Oey

Giew Khao Mae Yai
Phak Bung Phak Wai
Phun Thi Plai Gam Oey

Kwa Terd Na Mae Kwa
Phak Bung Santawa
Kwa Hai Tem Gam Oey

Notice that Pleng Giew Khao uses verses like Pleng Reu but the chorus at the end of the verse, “He Aow He He” is fun and amusing.

In Angthong, it is called “Pleng Ten Gam” and there will be chorus of “He Aow He He”. In dancing, Por Pleng and Mae Pleng will not reap the rice but stand in a circle, holding a bunch of rice in the left hand and a sickle in the right hand but raise up these two hands in front of the face.

Mr. Boonpheun Phophak, a well-known Por Pleng (61 years old in 2520 B.E.) gave an example of Bot Wai Khru as follows :

Jayok Baisi Kheun Si Mum
Ja Wai Phra Phum Chao Thong Na
Lao Khaud Gai Tua
Ma Sen Ti Thong Na
Ma Nang Nai Kor Cheuy Tor Panya
Meu Luk Ja Wa Pleng Oey
(Chorus : Oeng Oey Pleng Oey
Ma Nang Nai Kor Cheuy Tor Panya (Repeat this verse)
Meu Luk Ja Wa Pleng Oey
Oeng Oey Pleng Oey
Aow Panya Aow Panya
Meu Luk Ja Wa Pleng Oey)

Now Pleng Giew Khao has faded away over time because the ways of living in modern times has changed so much that farmers may not have time to dance for fun anymore.

Mrs. Thonghor Pulsawad, 95 years old, at 20 Moo 6, Tambon Nakhon Laung, Ayutthaya, who was once Mae Pleng, says that Pleng Giew Khao was sung in the rice field because it concerned about farmers life. The style is not the same as dancing of the Department of Fine Arts. In the past, villagers would hold a sickle and a bunch of rice at the shoulder level without bending. She could not remember the song, but she onces played Pleng Giew Khao once when the King and the Queen visited Thung Makham Yong to reap the rice by themselves on May 14, 2539 B.E.

Mrs. Chamloeng Phasomjan, 85 years old, at 62 Moo 6, Tambon Nakhon Laung, Nakhon Laung District, Ayutthaya, had to invite Mae Phoseob into the threshing floor. She explained that this ceremony had been done for a long time by a female only. After inviting Mae Phosob, they would collect falling rice in the field in a basket full of offerings and hang the basket on Khan Chai and then carry it back to the threshing floor without talking with anyone. Now there is no ceremony like this because the method of growing rice has changed. Mrs. Chamloeng was once in a chorus with Mrs. Thonghor Phoolsawad.

Mrs. Boonjan Phasomjan, 75 years old, at 64 Moo 6, Tambon Nakhon Laung, Nakhon Laung District, Ayutthaya, also told about the steps of growing rice in the past : start with preparing the soil in the rice field for growing rice, then perform the ceremony to invite Mae Phosob to the threshing floor and sing Pleng Giew Khao. She was also in a chorus with Mrs. Thonghor Pulsawad, Mae Pleng.

Mrs. Grasae Praedam, 56 years old, at 20 Moo 6, Tambon Nakhon Laung, Nakhon Laung District, Ayutthaya, also gave some more information and was in a chorus too. Presently, she is also a co-ordinator for inviting local guestspeakers to shar more details about Pleng Giew Khao, offers good service and also acts as an assistant researcher.

Mr. Prasan Satienpan lives at 45 Moo 2, Tambon Sam Panieng, Ban Praek District, Ayutthaya. He is a government official as a teacher teaching social science and Thai culture and local wisdom. He explained that this district is a place of old customs, Pleng Pheun Ban, many kinds of games or plays especially Pleng Giew Khao. In the past Por Pleng Mae Pleng would join this ceremony and was played at Ban Ta Ni Yai Lo around Wat Laung Por Khiew. Another place was around Na Beung which was a deep swamp near Wat Laung Por Khiew.

From Mr. Prasan Satienpan’s interview and Mrs. Homfung Poonsab’s song records kept at Ban Praek Culture Center, it is found that Pleng Giew Khao at Ban Praek had been played and sung for more then 100 years. It just stopped being played 50 years ago because the culture of growing rice has changed.

Mr. Prasan also said that Mrs. Pao Satienpan, his mother recited magic words while sowing rice seeds because it was believed that they would bring a good harvest.

The magic words :

(Say “Na Mo” 3 times) “Khum Hok Khum Gai Khum Rai Khum Na
Khum Nok Khum Noo Khum Pu Khum Pla Khum Tagaud Lae Hia
Khum Plia Lae Nok Non Nok Ubpri Ya Hai Mi Kao Ma Sab Phra Ra Phung
Phra Wan Su Mei”.

Mrs. Homfung Poonsab, 100 years old, lives at 19 Moo 2, Ban Heuy Chan, Tambon Klong Noi, Ban Praek District, Ayutthaya. She has special ability in Pleng Pheun Ban such as Pleng Reu, Pleng Choi, Pleng Giew Khao, Pleng Leegei, Pleng Hae Nang Meaw. She was Mae Pleng for the last group of Ban Praek District. She is a relative of Mr. Hom Haun Naksiri, the greatest leegei in Thailand. She said that there were 2 melodies to play Pleng Giew Khao : Pleng Greun and Pleng Ten. Pleng Greun is for Wai Khru, and Pleng Ten is for asking and replying as a conversation.


Pleng Greun Wai Khru:

Sib Niew Pranom Nien
Tang Tub Tien Patum Thong
Phra Putabad Phra Sassada
Hai Panya Luk Kleaw Klong
Tae Gon Pen Kwai Lai Yang
Diew Ni Pen Chang Pudpong
Kor Hai Pen Monkhon Yu Bon Khamong
Peu Luk Ja Rong Pleng

Sib Niew Panom Gorn
Ja Wai Bidon Lae Manda
Luk Rak Ja Rong Pleng
Hai Khum Graeng Gesa
Hai Pen Sethi Mi Ngeun Tra
Chao Khong Un Na Ni

Pleng Ten :

Giew Khao Na Nai
Giew Khao Ti Na Beung
Pling Kwai Wai Ri
Khao Pai Nai Si Mae Aew Gleung
Kao Pai Yu Kang Nai Song Sok
Yu Kang Nok Gam Geung
Riak Ay Tong Ma Cheuy Gan Deung
Pling Kwai Kao Pai Kreung Tua
Pasak Man Lai Raengn
Kanan Aeng Gor Lai Lan
Nam Man Taek Jak Mae
Lai Jak Kwae Supan
Sam Kwae Si Kwae
Krai Ja Ud Mae Man Tan
Man Lai Lon Pon Gan
Loey Mid Un Na
Khaek A-sa Khao Ma Mai Noi
Song Roy Gwa Gwa
Ja Chae Kanom Jeen Sak Grapong
Ja Chae Lodchong Sak Gala
Phad Mi Mai Mee Taojiew
Aow Nam Yiew Tam Nampla
Arai Gor Sai Pai Prom
Leu Tae Huahom Mai Dai Aow Ma
Long Koi Sak Nid Man Pid Wela
Leuy Khao Hai Ma Gin.


By interviewing her closest ones, most of the Pleng Pheun Ban played in Ban Praek District were composed by Mrs. Homfung Poonsab. She is a village or local doctor treating sick people and also a fortune teller using her own wisdom that she has learned by herself, so everyone knows her well as Mae Pleng.