Tradition and Creativity of the Rahu Symbol in Buddhist Temples: Case Study of Paintings, Sculptures and Amulets in Central and East of Thailand
The objective of the study was to analyze the transmission and application of Rahu symbolism in contemporary Thai society. Data was collected from both documents and a field study in central and eastern Thailand. It was found that in traditional Thai art, the Rahu symbol is portrayed as his face swallowing the sun or the moon. This kind of Rahu symbol is found in Buddhist temples. Such appearances of the Rahu symbol are related to the belief that Rahu has a protective function. Interestingly, the sculpture of Rahu’s body rather than only his face has become popular in contemporary Thai society. Nowadays, Rahu sculptures tend to be located in specific places. A ritual of worshipping Rahu is often created with offerings of food generally of black color. In addition, the Rahu symbol is now created in several other forms such as posters, magic cloths and amulets. Such newly created art forms of Rahu are due to modern interpretations and meanings of the Rahu symbol in contemporary Thai society. These newly-developed meanings of the Rahu symbol are interesting since they can be applied to deal with people’s problems in the socio-cultural and political context of contemporary Thai society.