Cornell University

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Everybody Gets a Sword! The Production and Proliferation of Buddhist Ritual Weaponry in Northern Thailand

Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 12:30pm

Virtual Event

Part of the Ronald and Janette Gatty Lecture Series

Anthony Irwin, Society for the Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University

This talk focuses on the production, ritual use, and recent mass proliferation of magical swords in northern Thailand. Considered to be some of the most powerful Buddhist objects in the northern Thai ritual repertoire, magical swords constitute a category of objects that are connected to state power, ritual efficacy, divine might, and the ability to change the course of personal spiritual progression through numerous rounds of rebirth. By presenting a number of historical, ethnographic, textual, and material examples of magical swords, this talk presents how northern Thai Buddhists use swords to demarcate Buddhist space, protect their homes from malevolent forces, and liberate themselves from the unruly outcomes of desire and attachment.  

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Lecture, Webinar


Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, Society for the Humanities, Southeast Asia Program, Asian & Asian American Center, Anthropology


cascal, cashum, sochum



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James Nagy

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Anthony Irwin

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Cornell University

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