Pohm ( ဘုန်း) and Women’s Clothing


The informant is from Myanmar/Burma and this superstition is found among their culture. Recently there has been a military coup within the country and so this entry gives insight to how the people are responding and resisting.


Informant: “So there is a superstition that if you’re a man — so like men in Myanmar have this thing called a pohm (ဘုန်း) or like they have pohm which is like a spiritual, well it’s just like something to make them better than woman basically, it’s like a spiritual thing. But there’s a superstition that if men walk under women’s clothing — like so in Burma we wore a bunch of these skirts like traditional skirts and if men walked under it then they lose their pohm so they lose their like higher spirituality if that makes sense. And recently actually like you know how the coup and everything is happening in my country the women hung up a bunch of skirts on the electrical wires so that the military could not walk underneath and because the military is so superstitious they actually had to take each skirt down before they could walk underneath. So it’s like a superstition in my country.”


From an outside perspective, one can see how superstitions within a country can be very influential on the way people think and act. Based off this superstition, it would seem that Myanmar is a patriarchal society and that they believe in “pohm” and use it as a way to differentiate between men and women spirituality within the society. However, walking under some type of feminine clothing, such as the traditional skirts the informant was talking about, it would cause them to lose that higher sense of spirituality and so they are, for lack of a better term, “downgraded” to feminine spirituality. I think Burmese men must be very proud of and value their “pohm” a lot, and more generally embrace their masculinity. So, in terms of the military, the men would rather take down a bunch of traditional skirts one by one than dare walk underneath them because they want to protect their “pohm” that much. In addition, the people and women resisting must also believe in the superstition a lot too in that they put up the skirts and knew it would cause the military to slow down.