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The Spirit of a Heroine: Ya Mo-Spirit Reverence, Patriotism and Thai Buddhism

Nilsen, Marte LU (2011) In Modern Asian Studies 45(6). p.1599-1625
Abstract
The story of Ya Mo is that of a great Thai heroine honoured with a grand monument: (the Suranari memorial) in the centre of Khorat, a city in the northeast of Thailand. The monument is a sacred shrine embedding Ya Mo's guardian spirit which protects the people of the city. She is a grantor of protection, auspiciousness and good luck, and can fulfil wishes, needs and requests. Her spirit can be benevolent as well as ferocious and revengeful. She is a warrior and a guardian, but also a grandmother and a symbol of patriotism, kinship and loving kindness. Ya Mo and her shrine must be perceived in relation to Thai religion and the position of deities, spirits, ghosts and otherworldly beings in Theravada Buddhism. Ya Mo represents a wide range... (More)
The story of Ya Mo is that of a great Thai heroine honoured with a grand monument: (the Suranari memorial) in the centre of Khorat, a city in the northeast of Thailand. The monument is a sacred shrine embedding Ya Mo's guardian spirit which protects the people of the city. She is a grantor of protection, auspiciousness and good luck, and can fulfil wishes, needs and requests. Her spirit can be benevolent as well as ferocious and revengeful. She is a warrior and a guardian, but also a grandmother and a symbol of patriotism, kinship and loving kindness. Ya Mo and her shrine must be perceived in relation to Thai religion and the position of deities, spirits, ghosts and otherworldly beings in Theravada Buddhism. Ya Mo represents a wide range of meanings and functions, but when viewed exclusively as a historical figure, most of these do not surface. In order to understand the Ya Mo phenomenon, the field between religion and magic in Thai Theravada Buddhism must therefore be explored, as well as how people create and uphold distinctions between religion and magic, and how they communicate and negotiate between these two spheres or dimensions. This paper attempts to analyse how non-Buddhist monuments and shrines, in this case a historical memorial to Ya Mo, erected as part of Thai nation-building, represent a vivid part of Thai religious and spiritual life, deeply rooted in a Buddhist worldview. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Modern Asian Studies
volume
45
issue
6
pages
1599 - 1625
publisher
Cambridge University Press
external identifiers
  • wos:000296365300007
  • scopus:79551688191
ISSN
0026-749X
DOI
10.1017/S0026749X09000122
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
088288d9-3330-43ca-a1d9-baba02809161 (old id 2254356)
date added to LUP
2011-12-20 09:59:43
date last changed
2017-01-01 04:01:23
@article{088288d9-3330-43ca-a1d9-baba02809161,
  abstract     = {The story of Ya Mo is that of a great Thai heroine honoured with a grand monument: (the Suranari memorial) in the centre of Khorat, a city in the northeast of Thailand. The monument is a sacred shrine embedding Ya Mo's guardian spirit which protects the people of the city. She is a grantor of protection, auspiciousness and good luck, and can fulfil wishes, needs and requests. Her spirit can be benevolent as well as ferocious and revengeful. She is a warrior and a guardian, but also a grandmother and a symbol of patriotism, kinship and loving kindness. Ya Mo and her shrine must be perceived in relation to Thai religion and the position of deities, spirits, ghosts and otherworldly beings in Theravada Buddhism. Ya Mo represents a wide range of meanings and functions, but when viewed exclusively as a historical figure, most of these do not surface. In order to understand the Ya Mo phenomenon, the field between religion and magic in Thai Theravada Buddhism must therefore be explored, as well as how people create and uphold distinctions between religion and magic, and how they communicate and negotiate between these two spheres or dimensions. This paper attempts to analyse how non-Buddhist monuments and shrines, in this case a historical memorial to Ya Mo, erected as part of Thai nation-building, represent a vivid part of Thai religious and spiritual life, deeply rooted in a Buddhist worldview.},
  author       = {Nilsen, Marte},
  issn         = {0026-749X},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6},
  pages        = {1599--1625},
  publisher    = {Cambridge University Press},
  series       = {Modern Asian Studies},
  title        = {The Spirit of a Heroine: Ya Mo-Spirit Reverence, Patriotism and Thai Buddhism},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0026749X09000122},
  volume       = {45},
  year         = {2011},
}