The people of Thailand are very superstitious, and the use of lucky charms and talismans is still in use every day. Thailand has many lucky charms, talismans and amulets, indeed, Thailand probably has more lucky charms and talismans than any other country in the World. Where money and business is concerned there is one lucky charm which virtually all Thai shopkeepers, merchants and traders believe can make the difference between profit or loss. Nang Kwak “The Beckoning Lady” also known as “Mae Nang Kwak” or “Nang Gwak”, is said to attract business, prosperity and wealth. She takes pride of place in most shops and businesses throughout Thailand. Nang Kwak is usually prominently positioned on the shop, restaurant or business counter, or on her own mini altar shelf on a wall behind the counter or near the shop entrance, For her magical charms to work she must be in a highly visible position. You might often see Nang Kwak in Thai households as well, where her purpose is the same, to bring wealth and prosperity.
What does Nang Kwak look like.
Nang Kwak (see photo below) is depicted as a beautiful young woman, she is usually positioned sitting with her feet underneath her thighs, she wears a red dress (sometimes (but not often) other colors). She wears a crown upon her head, her right hand is raised in front of her to just above head height and her palm is facing down in a beckoning gesture, her left hand is resting on her thigh, usually holding a bag of gold or coins.
Just like other divine spirits and Deities in Thailand, Nang Kwak is worshiped, similarly to spirits and deities in a Thai Spirit House, Nang Kwak is given daily offerings of water, rice, flowers and garlands of flowers, she seems to share the preference which many other spirits in Thailand have for Nam Daeng or Sala Daeng, which are much the same as red fanta, in fact red fanta is commonly used.
Accompanying the figurine of Nang Kwak, or sometimes instead of the figurine there may be a cloth with Nang Kwak’s image on it, this is called a Yantra Nang Kwak.
The origins of Nang Kwak.
It is quite difficult to find conclusive factual information about the origins of ancient spiritual and religious subjects in Thailand, but many seem to be based in Thailand’s fusion of Buddhism, Hinduism and Animism, and Nang Kwak is no different.
One theory is that Nang Kwak evolved from the rice goddess “Mae Po Sop” of ancient Siamese origin, and that both Mae Po Sop and Nang Kwak, in image and nature, both are based on the Hindu Goddess “Sri Lakshmi”.
The most popular belief about Nang Kwak’s origin are (in brief), that in the early years of Buddhism, perhaps when Buddha was still alive there was a man by the name of Mr. Sujidtaprahma who lived with his wife in the Indian district of Sawadtii. The couple were market traders who earned a meagre living and just managed to get by. Mr. Sujdtaprahma invested in a cart so they could sell their wares further afield, their daughter “Supawadii” insisted on going along with them. One day in a far away town Supawadii heard a sermon given by Phra Gumarn Gasabatera, Supawadii was suitably impressed and became a devotee, on seeing Supawadii’s devotion, Gasabatera being an Arahant “Elightened Saint” used his powers to bless Supawadii so that she was lucky and had power to attract business, wealth and prosperity. She recieved further blessings from Phra Siwalii. With the power of these blessings Supawadii attracted so much business that her parents took her along with them every day, they became extremely wealthy and the charm and power of Supawadii became legend.
How did Supawadii become known as Nang Kwak.
After her death people began to worship Supawadii’s image which was originally of her riding on a cart. The legend of Supawadii came to Thailand with the arrival of Buddhism and Brahmanism, her image and figurine was later changed to the present day posture of the Beckoning Lady, her name was also changed to be more in fitting with the posture. She was to become known as Nang Kwak, the “Beckoning/Waving Lady”, Kwak or “Gwak” meaning beckoning or waving.