If you thought Thomas Edison's talking dolls were creepy, get prepared to witness something even scarier: the Look Thep dolls.
A new superstitious trend which sees people cradling, feeding and dressing up haunted dolls like a human child, is taking Thailand by storm. The supposedly possessed dolls are believed to bring wealth and luck to its owner – or parent, as they call it.
Look Thep dolls, which translate to “Child God,” are actually the modernized version of the ancient Kuman Thong practice, where people worshiped dead fetuses for blessings and prosperity. The followers of the ritual believed the soul of the child who died in the womb would make their wishes come true.
Thankfully, Look Thep does not involve dead fetuses. Instead, the spirits of the dead children are invited to inhabit the factory-manufactured dolls through a special ritual.
“The first day I got him, I took him out shopping for clothes in the baby section,” said local radio host DJ Bookkoh Thannatchayapan. “Right after I paid for his clothes, I got a call that my canceled job was back on!”
While the incident could easily be chalked up as a coincidence, Thannatchayapan isn’t the only local celebrity to be obsessed with these dolls. As disturbing and bizarre as this trend is, several people treat these dolls as their real child and claim the dolls have brought them great success.
However, no one could be quite as fanatical about these haunted dolls as Thai collector Mae Ning, who is also the brains behind the latest version of the dolls. As it turns out, she started making Look Thep three years ago as a way of dealing with her stubborn son.
“I thought to myself, ‘how do I control him? How can I make him behave?’ So I was inspired to make a doll in his representation and created a soul for it,” the women explained. “I put my son’s charms into the doll. That’s how it started.”
Ning also runs the online Look Thep club and has made thousands of dolls who are waiting to be adopted by new families.
The process of “reviving” these child size dolls is also pretty fascinating. Ning claims she calls upon the power of Hindu goddess Parvati through an ancient ritual to create new souls for the dolls. The Look Thep are also given names and they start ageing from the day they “come to life.”
She also changes their hair and apply some makeup to give them a more human-like appearance.
“We treat them as if they’re really alive,” she said. “I created a soul into it. Can’t you see that he looks very alive? They’re not just spirits. They’re children’s souls. They are the souls I created by chanting incantation.”
These dolls not only make wishes come true, Mae Ning believes they also fill a void in many people’s lives.
“When we raise a child, some children are stubborn and give us a headache,” she added. “Some people never found love. Some lost their child. After they adopted a Look Thep, their life has changed. From a broken family where they argue, they now have a cute Look Thep. Suddenly, the family is full of love. This is the case for most of my customers.”