We just sent the Reader’s Guide to the interior book designer and once she’s finished with this section we’ll send the entire PDF manuscript to our favorite editor for proofreading. It’s exciting to be so close to getting our book published. It’s been an 8+ year journey and has taken on a life of its own. We decided to add a Reader’s Guide when we decided there were important things we wanted to include that wouldn’t fit into one of the four contextual chapters.
In this Reader’s Guide we provide:
- The complete Muan Sadok from Sang Sinxay
- A list of scenes translated from the original Sang Sinxay
- Table matching the six stages in the evolution of the hero’s journey with scenes from Sinxay
- A discussion of magic and supernatural abilities in Sinxay
- A detailed key to the Sinxay World Map
- Discussion questions
- Explanation for including redrawn mural details as illustrations
I think one of the most interesting sections is #4, a discussion of magic and supernatural abilities in Sinxay. This subject didn’t really fit in to one of the four contextual chapters, but since Sinxay is rich with the use of magic and supernatural abilities, we figured our readers would benefit from getting a better understanding of how magic and supernatural abilities was viewed during the time Sinxay was written in the late 17th century. As we begin,
Here in the Reader’s Guide we want to take the time to briefly explore the importance of magic and the use of magic and supernatural abilities seen in Sinxay. James Brandon writes in Theatre in Southeast Asia, “A common attribute of Jataka stories, in addition to the fact that the hero is Buddha in a former life, is the great magic power which the hero comes to possess through knowledge of Buddhism.” This is clearly seen in the extraordinary feats that Sinxay employs as he perseveres against all the demons he faces on his quest to free Soumountha. Magic, like with many oral and folk tales in Thailand and Laos, plays a central role in Sinxay. This interplay of magical powers and knowledge three to four hundred years ago was not seen as being at odds with each other.
There are a couple of great articles we read and reference we highly recommend for anyone interested in the subject.
Baker, Chris and Phongpaichit, Pasuk, 2008, The spirits, the stars, and Thai politics, Siam Society
In the article by Chris Baker they talk about the use of yantras, a form of saiyasat, the Thai word for supernaturalism. In the article they write,
The best example of the merging of different traditions into saiyasat, are yantra or lek yan, magical designs which primarily deliver protection. Originally these were simple geometric designs for aiding meditation. But in the Siamese tradition they have become much more elaborate designs incorporating not only magical geometry, but images of spirits, deities or powerful animals…
Yantras are so common now in Thailand, and somewhat in Laos. They are commonly seen as tattoos, but monks often create yantras on cloth (easy to fold up and carry with you) or paper. We include several photos of yantras in our book, including the featured photo of this post.
The yantra with this post is known as Narai phlik phaendin, where Vishnu overturns the earth, referring to one of Vishnu-as-Rama’s feats of strength with a bow. The animal on the left is a singh (lion), which is synonymous with royalty and majestic courage. On the right is a ratchasi, like Siho, with a lion’s body and the head of an elephant. We believe a ratchasi takes the strength of a singh and combines it with the wisdom of an elephant, while reinforcing the royal connection.”