A craze for lifelike dolls thought to bring good luck is sweeping Thailand, reflecting widespread anxiety as the economy struggles and political uncertainty persists nearly two years after a coup.
Called “luuk thep” or child angel, these factory-manufactured dolls are believed to be infused with children’s spirits.
Mananya Boonmee is a collector, producer and trader of these dolls. At her home in Nonthaburi on the outskirts of Bangkok, dolls are everywhere. She often takes her dolls to the Bangchak Buddhist Temple to receive incantations by a monk who inscribes auspicious markings on the dolls in a holy mystical rite. The ceremonies can cost from 2,000 to 20,000 Thai baht (RM233-RM2,335) or higher.
The dolls are supposed to bring good fortune, wealth, blessing and protection from harm if the owner takes good care of the spirit by clothing, feeding, bathing and adorning them with jewels and toys.
“Parents” of these lucky dolls have been known to buy seats at restaurant, in-flight meals and designer clothes for their “children”. Thailand’s conservative military rulers have called this latest craze in the country superstitious and are said to be unhappy with it.