Featured Object: Nang Kwak Amulet
- Post Date9/8/2016
- AuthorKristine Mirate
- Reading Time3 minute read
This tiny artifact is one of several Thai amulets in the Kieffer-Lopez Collection. The carving on the face of the amulet is Nang Kwak, a female Buddhist deity. In this carving, she wears traditional Thai clothing and sits on her knees and poses with her right hand up, a gesture that welcomes in money and financial success. The reverse side also has a carved pattern, which you can see below.
Nang Kwak is known in the Thai Buddhist culture as a symbol of good fortune. She is also referred to as the “Beckoning Lady;” nang is a term used for women, and kwak means “to beckon.” Those who wish their businesses to prosper often display a statue or an amulet of her in their house or business and bring her offerings such as food, incense, and water. A person can also a carry or wear a small image of her, like this amulet, in hopes to gain success during their business trip. A monk or a shaman may be asked to bless the statue or amulet.
The origin stories of Nang Kwak vary. In the Ramakien, Thailand’s national epic and a version of the Hindu epic Ramayana, she is known as the defender of an exiled king. However, The Legend of Nang Kwak remembers her as Supawadee, the daughter of a merchant. She followed her father on business trips, where she met Phra Gumarn Gasaba Thaera, a Buddhist monk. The monk took notice of her listening to his lessons, and he decided to bless her with good fortune. That blessing led to her family’s increasing wealth.
Nang Kwak is found today in certain Thai markets and stores, surrounded by offerings. She is usually posed with her right hand up and is sometimes accompanied by a moneybag. Vendors believe her presence will bring prosperity to their business that day. Some people also believe that Kwak’s fortunes can extend to love and life.