san phra phum

"house of spirits." Spirit houses are found at almost every Thai house or building. They are for the spirit of the land (see Phra Phum Chao Tih), to calm it and assure good blessing for the owner. The size of the spirit house is directly related to the size of the owner's house and must not be situated in the shadow of the main building. In the morning, the spirit is provided with food and drinks by the owner or by the building attendant. The spirit house also contains small figurines that represent the spirit's servants and dancers for his entertainment. Little elephants provide the spirit with means of transportation.

A spirit house, whether old or damaged or obsolete, may not be disposed of by simply throwing it away. It must be taken to a suitable location, for example to the foot of a large, venerable banyan tree. After giving the appropriate thanks it is left there to rest in the company of other spirit houses.

One of the best-known spirit houses is that of the san phra phrom, also called Erawan Phra Phrom since it is located on the grounds of the Erawan Hotel in Bangkok. It was originally built to ward off the bad luck that was hampering construction of the hotel several decades ago. The four-faced deity in the center of the shrine is Phra Phrom (the Thai name for the Hindu god Brahmā) and his protection proved to be so effective that the shrine is attracting a steady stream of devotees.

The deity in the San Phra Phrom shrine was destroyed on March 22, 2006. A new representation of the deity, containing the fragments of the original, has been constructed.