LUK KROK
Wat Chang Yai has a Luk Krok or Child Spirit displayed in a glass cupboard in its old
ordination hall. It has been created years ago by a monk of the Tudong sect (forest sect),
who remained four years at the temple. A "Luk Krok" is at par with a "Kuman Thong" or
"Gold Child".  The difference although between a "Kuman Thong" and a "Luk Krok" is
that the first was made in former days from a dead baby inside the womb of the dead
mother, while the second was made of a dead baby or fetus after its birth, but the mother
could be alive.

The way to get a "Luk Krok" is quite bizarre. A dead fetus need to be obtained and dry
burned in order to make a small body.  During the process, at an auspicious time, old text
incantations are cast on the body. The person creating the "Luk Krok" will request the
child spirit to enter the body or image and remain there. Due to the black magic, the
image gets strong spiritual powers, some time told even to be dangerous. The "Luk
Krok" is supposed to warn and protect his owner in case of danger.

The story goes that the "Luk Krok" of
Wat Chang Yai remained before in the residence
of the monks (kuti). These baby spirits sometimes have a tendency to be naughty. This
was the case here at the monastery. The spirit started to tease the young novice monks
and finally had to be brought to the old ordination hall to be contained.

Khun Chang Khun Phaen

In the epic poem of the Ayutthayan era, "Khun Chang Khun Phaen", we find one of the
earliest references to a Kuman Thong or Gold Child. As Chris Baker wrote: "
The spirits
of stillborn babies are believed to be specially potent, perhaps because they contain
all the energy of the unlived life. The most common form of these infant-spirits is
luk krok, a stillborn baby, small and not fully developed, dried and kept as
powerful protective charm, nurtured or enchanted so it will love and hence protect
its master
."

Khun Phaen looking to forge a magical sword, to procure a special horse and find an
unborn dead baby, preferably his son, to become a Gold Child, in order to obtain magic
powers to gain back his love, Wanthong, arrived in the village of Ban Tham, Kanburi. He
encounters Nang Bua Khli, the beautiful daughter of a local bandit chief and soon after
became husband and wife. Nang Bua Khli got pregnant and Muen Han, her father
became at loggerhead with Khun Phaen. Muen Han pushed his daughter to poison Khun
Phaen. The latter became aware of the situation, killed his unfaithful wife, cut out the
unborn baby and prepared the fetus to become a Kuman Thong.

"
Late at night when everyone was sleeping quietly, he blew a formula to immobilize
people, and then got up to get things ready. He quickly put his saddlery, three
candles, a flint, sacred thread, and yantra-cloths in a sidebag. He grabbed a tooled
knife with a coral handle, and went straight to Buakhli. He parted the curtains and
turned up the mosquito net. The lamp shed a dim light. He stood up on the bed
beside her and examined her sleeping form with a big sigh. ‘I didn’t know such a
body could have no heart. That she could kill her husband is unthinkable.’

He raised the knife to strike, but felt a pang in his heart, changed his mind, and
relaxed his arm. Then he thought again about her giving him the poison. ‘Don’t
hesitate! Take her life.’ He plunged the knife in her chest, piercing right through.
Blood  spurted out and flowed down to her back. She writhed and died. The red
blood spread all around like the killing of a buffalo. Then he cut her whole chest
wide open, and severed the umbilical cord. He examined the baby and was happy
to find it was a male as  he wanted.  He lifted the infant out of her belly. ‘Come, my
Goldchild. Go  with your father.’

He picked up his big sidebag and hung it round  his neck. He wrapped the son in a
cloth, and slung him on his  shoulder.    Opening the door, he left the house and
walked quickly through the forest to Wat Tai. He closed the door of the wihan, shot
the bolt  inside, and inserted the batten to shut it tight.  He put down the sidebag
and took out his kit. He struck the flint and lit the candles. He stuck pieces of
yellow cassia wood in the ground to make a frame on which to lay the Goldchild.  
He put a yantra-cloth with a Narayana design of mighty power on his head,
another with a Racha design on his lower body, another  with a Narayana Chikok
design in-between, and one with a Nang  Thorani design on the ground.  He drove
rak into the ground as pillars of the four directions, attached more yantra-cloths as
flags, and circled them with sacred  thread. For the roof he put a cloth with the
design of Indra’s  necklace. Everything was prepared according to the manual in  
every detail.

He made a bundle of marit, armorwood, and kanphai vine to  light a fire on the
ground below. He meditated to focus his mind, and sat grilling the Goldchild
[Kuman Thong]. He heated the whole body so the fat dripped and sizzled, turning  
it over both front and back. Just as the dawn brightened and the golden sun rose, it
was dry and crisp as he wanted.
" [1]

The spirit of Bua Khli is believed to reside in a cave at Wat Ban Tham also called Wat
Tham Mangkhon Thong in Kanchanaburi Province. Nang Bua Khli is painted on the base
of a stalagmite next to her son the Gold Child, wearing a beautiful dress, which is
regularly changed. Offerings are visible around the depiction.

References:

[1] Khun Chang Khun Phaen: chapter16 - The birth of Goldchild, son of Buakhli.
Luk Krok at Wat Chang Yai
Luk Krok at Wat Chang Yai
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - June 2009
Updated October 2013
(Luk Krok at Wat Chang Yai)
(Luk Krok at Wat Chang Yai)
Nang Bua Khli and her son, Kuman Thong at Wat Ban Tham in Kanchanaburi
(Nang Bua Khli and her son, Kuman
Thong at Wat Ban Tham in
Kanchanaburi)