Monks and Magic: Revisiting a Classic Study of Religious Ceremonies in Thailand

$45.00 SGD

by Barend Jan Terwiel

First published in 1975, B.J. Terwiel's "Monks and Magic" remains a widely cited text. This is an absorbing study of Buddhism as practised at that time in a community in rural Central Thailand. It describes how esoteric spells and magical diagrams were the main interest of children and adolescents but full ritual knowledge was obtained in adulthood and tempered by life experiences. As death approaches, the Buddhist world-view stimulates merit-making. This fourth edition of the work is a major revision that updates the original text, adds new material and offers a contemporary perspective on the original study.

"The author’s own engagement with the monastic and lay communities gives the work a notable depth in the ethnography of ritual and meaning. This remains an important but controversial book: important for the beautiful, detailed ethnographic account of ritual and belief in a village community that it provides, and controversial for the unbridgeable separation…between "village" and "elite" Buddhism." - Joanna Cook, Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Vol. 28, No. 3,

Barend Jan (Baas) Terwiel (born 24 November 1941) is a Dutch-Australian anthropologist, historian and Thai studies scholar.

Publication year: 2012
336 pp / 229mm x 152mm
54 figures, 2 maps, 9 tables
ISBN: 978-87-7694-101-7, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-065-2, Hardback

NIAS Press