Supplication and Synergy : Lessons from a Case Study of Doi Kham’s Miracle

Joseph Rotheray




With reference to a case study of Wat Doi Kham in Chiang Mai, this article discusses the Thai practice of supplication – the propitiation of images or deities for material assistance in exchange for pledged offerings. Despite its ubiquity in Thai religious practice, supplication has never been isolated as the specific focus of English language scholarship. This article gives a general explanation of the practice with reference to some examples from popular Thai-language manuals. In reference to Doi Kham, a popular and deftly managed site of supplication, this article also introduces “synergy” as a concept for understanding the compositional logic of Thai shrines and images, and the ontological framework for their efficacy as loci for supplication. The ethnographic data revealed that whilst synergy is applicable as an organizing principle at these loci, it remains irrelevant to the majority of visitors. Consequently, the author suggests that the overlaps between supplication and Thai domestic tourism should be further explored.


(Published in Rian Thai: International Journal of Thai Studies, Volume 10/2017 (Number 2), Page 51-63)


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