LUK THEP – Spiritual Significant or Disturbing Obsession?

Luk thep angel dolls craze swept Thailand earlier this year despite economic and political struggles. The lifelike plastic dolls are believed to possess supernatural powers reaped through benedictions and incantations and bring good luck and fortune to owners, also known as “parents.”

Thai doll owners treat their luk thep as if they are real and alive (
Thai doll owners treat their luk thep as if they are real and alive (

Angel dolls, as they are known, are often dresses like real children. They are also given seats in restaurants and airplanes.  Devotees spent large amounts of money on the dolls as if they are alive and real.

Several temples and monks are even performing blessings and incantations for the dolls called the Plook Sek ritual.  The ritual lasted for 5 to 10 minutes. Monk writes magical symbols for each doll. The doll’s parents believed that the rite called angels to the doll who will ensure good luck. Some owners viewed the rite to animate the doll, instilling spiritual power by attracting a spirit to inhabit it and give it a soul.

Phra Ajarn Vinai, one of the monks who performs Plook Sek ritual said that the belief in the supernatural powers of the dolls give the owners happiness.  A good monk should not refuse to bless the dolls as the rituals comfort faithful Buddhist doll owners and offer them with peace-of-mind.

However, monks at the Sawang Arom temple reported that some doll owners have left luk thep at the temple. The monks allotted a room for the luk thep where they are also served with red fizzy drinks. The Sawang Arom is famous for its collection of plastic child-dolls dressed called kuman. Kuman usually holding a bag of gold and thought to be dwelled by the ghost of an unborn fetus.

Monk writes magical symbols for each doll (
Monk writes magical symbols for each doll (

“Each person has their own beliefs”, monk Phra Prasit Warayan said in an interview, “but the belief in the power of luk thep is very strong. When things go well for the owner, they worship them, but when things turn bad, they abandon them. Because they are afraid of what might happen, they leave them here, because they know we accept them, and the abbot is always careful to put them in an appropriate place.”

Luk thep craze took over Thailand when few Thai celebrities were seen carrying plastic dolls, about the size of a real baby. They treated the angel doll as near-human as they refused to put the dolls in check-in luggage and reserved seats at restaurants.  Reports surfaced that wealthy owners give their angel dolls botox injections or buying them jewelry.

Source:  BBC    Bangkok Post     Nikkei Asian Review 

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