An interesting phenomenon in Thai society is the superstitious belief in objects held to possess supernatural power. These objects have many forms such as figurines of animals like buffaloes, birds, and pigs; representations of human sex organs; coins; geometric forms; and natural objects like stones and tree roots decorated with lacquer, gilt, or braided strings. Such an object is made potent through the recitation of a magic incantation in a special
ceremony, from whence it becomes a charm. Each form of charm bestows its own particular
power. A charm in the form of a buffalo confers bravery, prowess, and fearlessness upon the carrier, while a charm in the form of the male sex organ, or "palat khik," when hidden among goods brings success in trade. Such charms have come into being to lend support and security amidst the vicissitudes of life for some people in society, though without any rational basis. The interesting point is that even though Thai society is advancing in education, science, and technology, people of every social strata still cling to their belief in Charms.
While there seems to be no cause for alarm here if this irrational belief in charms is regarded as a part of traditional culture and is kept separate from religion, no small number of the people in our society suffer from the misunderstanding that these charms are a part of Buddhism because of the fact that most of these objects held as sacred
come from Thai nomasteries. The feebleness of the effort to instruct people so that they acquire a correct an rational understanding of the principles of Buddhism has fostered the spread of this unreasonable belief in charms in Thai society. Observation of the behaviour involved with this irrational belief in charms among Thais inspired the works in this collection. These objects differ in their symbolism. One type embody irrational beliefs related to Buddhism, for example, the "takrut," gold or silver strips rolled into a cylinder and worn on the waist or the neck, the "khwai thanu," a magic buffalo image made of clay, the "palat khik," a male sex organ,and coins of various forms.lmportance is attached to these because of a baseless belief that they will bring success and happiness in life, but in fact, they symbolize cowardice and weakness and lead to a life of illusion separated from Buddhism. The other type of charm embody beliefs related to nature. These objects,
such as small stones, a dry twig fallen to the ground, have evolved from nature, and can give an understanding of the cycle of nature, and the accurate understanding of nature is the object of Buddhism and an important factor in leading a happy and tranquil life.

Thavorn Ko-udomvit
Translation : Kanokwan Rittipairoj

Thai Artists