- Women carry “child angel” dolls to a Buddhist monk to be blessed at Wat Bua Khwan temple in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
- Devotees play with “child angel” dolls at a house in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
- Mananya Boonmee, 49, works on the make-up of a “child angel” doll at her house in Nonthaburi, Thailand, January 26, 2016.
- Devotees pay respect to a Buddhist monk as they sit with their “child angel” dolls during a blessing ritual at Wat Bua Khwan temple in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
- A devotee dresses up her “child angel” doll inside a department store in Bangkok, Thailand.
- Mananya Boonmee (L), 49, performs a ritual on a “child angel” doll and her owner Manita Chuenarom (R), 33, at her house in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
- A devotee dresses up her “child angel” doll near Wat Bua Khwan temple in Nonthaburi, Thailand, January 26, 2016.
A new trend report from The Atlantic comes out of Thailand, where middle class middle-aged women have adopted fake dolls known as “luk thep” (or “child angels”), which are carried outside of the home and into markets, salons and restaurants. The cause of the practice could be a combination of Thailand’s low fertility rate and the nation’s “complex religiosity,” wherein object worship is popular, although 95 percent of the country practices Buddhism and many also make offerings to Hindu gods.
Earlier this year, a Reuters report attributed the dolls’ popularity to a combination of widespread superstition and the problematic economy. “The economy is bad right now. Everybody needs something to hold on to,” Mananya Boonmee, 49, a doll owner and seller told Reuters.
She said her doll, called Nong Petch, or baby jewel, had helped her win the lottery by telling her what numbers to buy in her dreams. Some companies have seen a way to leverage the dolls’ popularity. Thai Smile, a subsidiary of national flag carrier Thai Airways, said it would charge passengers who bring dolls on board and would serve them snacks.
The Atlantic explains that “luk thep” were popularized by celebrities who posted photos of the plastic dolls to social media and may be a symbol of public unease in Thailand. They also may compare to “kuman thong,” a centuries-old tradition where the remains of stillborn children were kept in the belief that the spirit of the infant remained,” or “jatukam ramathep,” an amulet that is worshiped and believed to bring wealth.
Read the full story at The Atlantic.