Friday, April 7, 2017

Waxy home and a homeless doll

Location: within the compound of a temple at a one horse town in northern Thailand.

We were first attracted by a population of stingless Trigona bees (family Apidae) and their characteristics tubular hives made of resin and sand. This type of bees can provide nutritious honey and best of all, they do not have stings or very reduced ones. So naturally, there was a trend by some governments to encourage rural communities to keep them as an additional source of income. They can still bite though, but that's much less of a torment.

.....beside one of the hives, there was a kuman thong doll. Closer inspection showed that its feet were cut off.

Kuman thong, which literary means golden child,  is a popular Thai practice of keeping a child spirit within an effigy in the hope that the spirit will help the keeper prosper, usually in business. In the older days, instead of plastic figurines, dead human foetuses, dry-roasted, were used.  Nowadays, the effigy is likely a plastic depiction of a cute kid in Ayutthaya period costumes.  

Like all babies, this adopted child must be entertained and fed with sweets and soda or he may throw tandrums - which will spell trouble for the keeper. If the keeper decides to disown the child for reasons best known to himself, he must place it in a temple (like this one) and request the priest to perform a ritual to free himself from the shackle. As a further safeguard to prevent the child from following him back home, the feet may be cut off.

So there you have it ... a homeless stranded child spirit beside the stingless bee's humble abode. It may sound hairy but down here its a common folk tradition.

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