In the grand scheme of the doll pecking order, Thailand's Luk Thep dolls have just knocked Mattel's new Barbie off her pink pedestal, with the errie-looking plastic critters becoming the country's latest obsession, and rising.
The Luk Thep, which translates to "child angels" are lifelike dolls believed to not only bring good fortune to the owners, but reportedly can be "infused with a child's soul" in the same vein as a guardian angel, and must be treated as such.
According to a piece in the Bangkok Post, a celebrity monk by the name of Phra Ajarn Vinai Thitapanyo has been non-stop blessing the dolls in his temple every day, reportedly spending up to 10 minutes with each doll and drawing on their foreheads, while doll owners clutching up to 10 dolls build long queues out the door of the temple.
The practice may have roots in an ancient Thai household divinity called Kuman Thong, where an unborn foetus is burned and preserved in gold leaf, or kept inside a child-like figure as a way to carry around the child's spirit. However, in this case, the trend took off, predicably, after a number of local celebrities credited their fortune and success to owning one of the dolls. And like sneaker freakers to a flaming pair of Yeezy 350s, fans seeking fame and fortune followed.
Now, the trend has hit such a peak, that airlines are allowing owners to purchase another ticket for their doll, seating and offering refreshments to them. Yes, really. While on-the-ground, some Thai restaurants are boasting special menus and hotels are offering Luk Thep special deals and designer boutiques are selling out of doll-sized threads. One can only imagine the Valentine's Day specials that await the Luk Thep this weekend...