Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Planet of the Dolls

Indonesia police confiscate sex toy mistaken for 'angel'

BBC  5/3/16  

Pictures spread on social media of the apparent "angel" 

Indonesian police have confiscated a sex toy from a remote village after its inhabitants and some on social media mistook it for an "angel".

The doll was found in March floating in the sea by a fisherman in the Banggai islands in Sulawesi province.

His family took care of the doll, and pictures soon spread online along with claims it was an angel.
Police investigated amid fears the rumours would cause unrest, and found it was in fact an inflatable sex doll.

The doll was taken home by the fisherman 

Indonesian news portal Detik said photos of the doll dressed demurely and wearing a hijab spread on social media shortly after its discovery.

Rumours then began to spread that it was a "bidadari" along with unverified stories about how it was found "stranded and crying", prompting the police investigation.

Many across Indonesia continue to hold strong beliefs in the supernatural, including the existence of "bidadari", which is a type of angel or spirit.

Local police chief Heru Pramukarno told reporters that villagers had found the doll shortly after the rare March solar eclipse that swept across South East Asia.

The timing of the discovery led some to believe the doll had a divine provenance.

"They have no internet, they don't know what a sex toy is," the police chief was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

In 2012, a TV station in China's Xian city apologised after running a false report that a local farmer had discovered a giant piece of precious lingzhi mushroom.

The fleshy object, found in a well by the farmer, was identified by many viewers as a sex toy made of silicone.
Big in Thailand: Fake Kids

Middle-class women treat the “child angels” as though they’re real, taking them to get blowouts at salons and even giving them their own seats at restaurants.

Plastic luk thep dolls go everywhere with their adult owners, including grocery stores, restaurants, and salons. Rungroj Yongrit / EPA / Corbis

In Bangkok, a plastic-baby boom is under way. Thai adults have lately been towing around lifelike dolls known as luk thep (commonly translated as “child angels”), which are believed to be inhabited by spirits that bring good fortune. There are few places the dolls don’t go: They are carried through street markets, they receive blowouts at salons, they take up seats on airplanes, they are even served restaurant meals.

At first glance, the dolls—which seem to be most popular among middle-class, middle-age women—might appear to reflect Thailand’s low fertility rate (which has plummeted in recent decades from six children per woman to 1.5 today, a rate below that of most neighboring countries). Yet close observers say the luk thep craze is more strongly connected to Thailand’s complex religiosity.

Although nearly 95 percent of Thais practice Buddhism, many also make offerings to Hindu gods, and the country has a long tradition of object worship, thought to have roots in animism.

Mae Ning, a doll-seller and self-professed master of Hindu ritual, is widely credited as the first person to transform plastic dolls into sacred luk thep. Last year, Thai celebrities started posting photos of the dolls on social media and crediting them with bringing good fortune. One radio DJ said that his lifeless look-alike, a doll named Wansai, had helped him recoup a lost job and later land a film gig. Ever since, assorted Buddhist monks, fortune-tellers, and other enterprising individuals have been conducting rituals that promise to imbue dolls with spirits. People have in turn been shelling out hundreds of dollars for the dolls—a down payment, perhaps, on future prosperity. “They are my children,” one businesswoman told the Bangkok Post, referring to her doll collection. “My children are part of my success.”

Some onlookers have compared the trend to a gruesome Thai practice from centuries past: kuman thong, dolls that were made from the remains of a stillborn baby and were believed to retain the infant’s spirit. However, experts on Thai religion told me that luk thep dolls have more in common with jatukam ramathep, a type of gold amulet believed to grant wealth, which became tremendously popular a decade ago. Justin McDaniel, who has written extensively on Thai amulets, says Thailand has a long tradition of seeking good fortune and physical protection through talismans.

Press accounts of the luk thep fad posit that the dolls are also a manifestation of growing public unease over the past couple of years, as Thailand has experienced a political coup and a declining economy.

And yet the dolls themselves are prompting certain anxieties. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, for
one, has urged luk thep purchasers not to squander money on the dolls that they might need for practical things. The Supreme Sangha Council, the assembly of Buddhist monks that oversees Thai Buddhism, hasn’t weighed in yet, but at least one senior monk has condemned the craze as anti-Buddhist.

Meanwhile, a hotel in Phayao has gone so far as to ban luk thep entirely, warning that plastic guests might leave the more traditional flesh-and-blood ones feeling “paranoid.”
Thai police detain 'Child's Angel' drug mule as airline allows passengers to buy seats for 'spirit' dolls
Thailand swept by craze for pampering infant-sized “child’s angel” dolls that are believed to bring good fortune, wealth and health

Ratchada Mahanavanont talking and patting her Child Angels Dolls while having a meal at her house in Bangkok Photo: EPA

The Telegraph  By Philip Sherwell, Bangkok  26 Jan 2016

Thailand’s first “Child’s Angel” drug mule has been seized at Chiang Mai airport, just a day after an airline announced that haunted spirit dolls could fly as passengers.

The life-like infant-sized doll was allegedly inhabited not by a spirit believed to bring good fortune and health, but by 200 tablet of ya ba, a popular Thai amphetamine.

Police discovered the drugs inside a so-called “Look Thep” (“child’s angel”) doll inside a black suitcase in the airport car park.

The doll’s detention is the latest strange twist in craze sweeping the highly superstitious country as Thai adults pamper, dress up and travel with the dolls as their “children”.

Thai Smile Airways has announced that it will start selling plane tickets and serve food and drinks for passengers who refuse to be parted from their lucky companions.

The trend was fuelled by celebrities vouching for the good fortune brought by their “Look Thep” dolls which are believed to be possessed with a child’s “angel spirit” after a blessing ceremony is conducted.

It has become a common sight in Thailand to see the dolls being wheeled around by their “parents” in prams or seated at restaurants where they are served children’s meals.

The new superstitious trend among Thai people involves carrying, talking and caring for factory-manufactured dolls (called 'Look Thep' in Thai)The new superstitious trend among Thai people involves carrying, talking and caring for factory-manufactured dolls (called 'Look Thep' in Thai)  Photo: EPA

But for Thai Smile Airways, the refusal of travellers to check in their dolls has caused problems for safety and space. Many passengers were insisting on bringing the dolls on board as hand luggage and even on holding them in their laps as they flew.

The airline, a regional subsidiary of the national flag carrier Thai Airways, has now said that owners must buy seat tickets for the dolls, that they cannot occupy an exit row and they must be secured with seatbelts. As paid-for passengers, the dolls will be served food and drinks.

The Bangkok Post reported that the new guidelines were laid out in an in internal document to cabin crew on how to deal with “Look Thep” on board.

Devotees believe the dolls hold children's spirits which bring good luck, wealth, blessing and protection from harm. Devotees believe the dolls hold children's spirits which bring good luck, wealth, blessing and protection from harm  Photo: EPA

It stated that more than 40 passengers had brought Child’s Angels on flights in the past three months, but many were angry when attendants tried to insist that the dolls be placed in overhead compartments or under seats.

The factory-manufactured dolls, which cost from 2,000 baht (US$55) to 20,000 baht ($556), are contemporary versions of the old Thai tradition of carrying fetishes that are believed to be inhabited by the soul of a child.

Thailand is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country where the belief in spirits and superstition is strong. The popularity of the dolls soared last year after Bookko Thannatchayapan, a radio disc jockey, described the success that “Wansai,” his Look Thep, brought him in the entertainment industry.

Ratchada Mahanavanont (C) talking to her friends Nipaporn Pornchaipimolpunt (L) and Nita Kangvanchaivanich (R), as they have together with their Child Angels dolls at a market in BangkokRatchada Mahanavanont (C) talking to her friends Nipaporn Pornchaipimolpunt (L) and Nita Kangvanchaivanich (R), as they have together with their Child Angels dolls at a market in Bangkok  Photo: EPA

Mr Bookko explained that he asked Wansai for a better job, promising that he would buy the doll a gold necklace as a reward. The entertainer was promptly called for an audition for a film role that he landed and Wansai is now resplendent in jewellery “bling”.

"I feel like Wansai really exists,” said the disc jockey. “I love him as my child."

The Chiang Mai airport doll seizure seems to bear out police fears, however. On Monday, Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, voiced concerns that dolls on flights could be used to smuggle drugs and he ordered officers at airports and borders to scrutinise such "passengers" with extra care.

And the Department of Civil Aviation has now called a meeting of all airlines, airports and related agencies to discuss security concerns over in-flght "child's angels".

OK, you laugh, but these Thai people are onto something.
Population in the world is currently (2016) growing at a rate of around 1.13% per year. The current average population change is estimated at around 80 million per year.

I think we all ought to have fake children.

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