Power, Protection and Magic in Thailand

Power, Protection and Magic in Thailand

The Cosmos of a Southern Policeman

Authored by: Craig J. Reynolds

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This biographical study of an unusual southern policeman explores the relationship between religion and power in Thailand during the early twentieth century when parts of the country were remote and banditry was rife. Khun Phan (1898–2006), known as Lion Lawman, sometimes used rather too much lethal force in carrying out his orders. He was the most famous graduate of a monastic academy in the mid-south, whose senior teachers imparted occult knowledge favoured by fighters on both sides of the law. Khun Phan imbibed this knowledge to confront the risks and uncertainty that lay ahead and bolster his confidence and self-reliance for his struggle with adversaries.

Against the background of national events, the story is rooted in the mid-south where the policeman was born and died. Based on a wide range of works in Thai language, on field trips to the region and on interviews with local and regional scholars as well as the policeman’s descendants, this generously illustrated book, accompanied by short video clips, brings to life the distinctive environment of the lakes district on the Malay Peninsula.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Oct 2019
Asian Studies Series Monograph 12
ANU Press
Asian Studies Series
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies, History
Southeast Asia: Thailand


‘Written in clear, straightforward language, the book is also readily accessible to readers with different levels of expertise on Thailand.’ 

– James Ockey, The Journal of Asian Studies, (81)1, March 2022.

All videos by Oliver Friedmann at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. Filming in Thailand by Tanavit at HD Team Production Nakhon Si Thammarat.

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