- Museum number
A bundle of charms, the central piece of one is green glass, another is a stone (possibly haematite) the other two are made of resin or gum, one is long and thin and the other is a hallow circle. The charms are all surrounded by copper wire which has been very intricately knotted.
- Production date
Height: 8.70 centimetres
Weight: 65 grammes
Width: 6.60 centimetres
Depth: 2.70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Similar to charms worn around the waist (which are called ai khik in Thai- meaning penis). These charms protect against sickness and evil spirits. Such a charm would be given to a man to give him confidence. It could also have been worn around the neck.
The value of an object (that is, its usefulness as part of a charm) lies in its rarity; for example when a temple was struck by lightening bits which fell as a result were gathered up and incorporated into such charms. See 'Monks and Magic' by Baas Terwiel. From comments made by Baas Terwiel 27/03/2008
The slip says that the green glass is from a bottle.
The custom of using elements from temple compounds such as stones or earth continues. This example looks like it might be laterite possibly bound with resin. Spirit doctors incorporate such elemets as parts of their technology. From comments made by Susan Conway 06/05/08
The collector of this object was Carl Bock, a Norwegian naturalist who visited Siam and areas to the north of it from June or July 1881 until August 1882. His account of his travels was published in London in 1884 as Temples and Elephants: The Narrative of a Journey of Exploration Through Upper Siam and Lao (Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington).
Bock spent time in what is now central Thailand, including in Bangkok, the capital of Siam, and the towns of Paknam, Ayutthaya, Petchaburi, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi, Kamphaeng Phet and Tak (Raheng). He also travelled in today’s northern Thailand, visiting places along the Ping and Kok rivers including Lampang, Lamphun, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chiang Saen and Fang.
In Bock’s book, he used the term “Lao” to refer to northern Thailand. This use of “Lao” differs from the contemporary understanding of “Lao.” In the late 19th century, Thailand, or Siam as it was then known, did not have the national borders which it has today. The so-called “Lao” area visited by Bock along the Ping and Kok rivers was the kingdom of Lanna, then a tributary of the kingdom of Siam. The Siamese in Bangkok referred to the land and people of Lanna as Lao even though the people of Lanna did not regard themselves as Lao. The dominant group in Lanna was the Tai Yuan. There were also various Shan, Karen and mountain peoples as well as Burmese and Chinese. The Siamese and Lanna languages were not mutually comprehensible. The Siamese government at Bangkok began to extend greater administrative control over Lanna beginning in about 1870, and Lanna was not fully absorbed into Siam until the turn of the century.
Although Bock’s publication as well as the British Museum records of the late 19th century refer to many of Bock’s items as Lao, they are unlikely to signify the Lao people and country as understood today. The items he describes as “Lao” are most likely to be from the Tai Yuan culture. Some also came from other groups living in the areas visited by Bock such as Shan, Karen and Lahu.
Items from the Bock collection include those produced by these groups as well as by the Siamese (Thai).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
CDMS number: As1883C9.106 (old CDMS no.)
Miscellaneous number: Bock 31