kuman thong

"golden boy." A protective child spirit in Thai tradition. It is a small statue made of wood that represents a little child with a topknot. The statue retains its power as long as the owner takes care of it. It must be fed and protected, and in return it will warn and protect its owner in times of danger.

Kuman Thong was first mentioned in the nineteenth-century novel Khun Chang, Khun Paeng. It tells of Khun Paeng, a high-ranking soldier in the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767), a type of soldier-magician. Even though he had certain powers he felt that they were inadequate and that he needed some additional protection. He knew that the only one he could really trust would be his own son, but to be able to fully protect his father, the boy had to be a ghost. He went to visit a magician for help. The old man took a liking to Khun Paeng and offered him his daughter in marriage. Some time later, the old magician began to doubt his son-in-law, up to a point where he asked his daughter to kill her husband. Khun Paeng discovered the plot and murdered his wife. He cut her belly open and removed his unborn son.

Khun Paeng then went to a temple and started a small fire. He wrapped the body of his son in pieces of sacred cloth covered with prayers, and placed it on a grate over the fire. He recited prayers until the corpse was reduced to a small size and was completely dried out. Upon completion, the body had become a ghost child with whom he could communicate and he called it Kuman Thong.