Nang Kwak is seen in Thai Temples and Business Establishments as an Deified Object of Worship, in the form of a beckoning lady.
Wikipedia states that Nang Kwak is originally derived from Mae Posop Deity, which is a Fallacy. Mae Posop is the harvest or fertility Goddess, and is completely unrelated.
Who was Nang Kwak?
The legend of Nang Kwak, is something that occurred a long time ago, before or during the time when Buddhism was beginning to spread, about 2500 years ago. The legend tells that, in the Indian province of Sawadtii in the small town of Michigaasandhanakara. There was a married couple whose names were Mr. Sujidtaprahma and Mrs. Sumanta, who had a daughter named Supawadee. They were merchants who sold small amounts of wares on the markets, only earning just enough to maintain their small family from day to day. One day, they were discussing their hopes and dreams for the future, and decided that they should try to expand their business to make more profit and begin to think of being able to save something for their old age.
As a result of this conversation, they decided to try to afford to buy a “gwian” (cart) in order to use to travel with and sell their wares to other towns and villages. They also then brought wares from the other towns to sell in Sawadtii and Michigaasandhanakara when they returned. Sometimes, Supawadee would ask to tag along for the ride, and help them. One day, as Supawadee was helping her parents to sell wares in a distant town, she was lucky to be able to hear a sermon by Phra Gumarn Gasaba Thaera; she was so convinced and moved by his sermon, that she took refuge in the Triple Gem. When Gasaba Thaera saw her faith and devotion, he collected all his powers of
thought and concentration of an Arahant (for indeed Phra Gasaba Thaera was and Arahant), and bestowed blessings of good fortune and luck in salesmanship on Nang Supawadee and her Family. Below; Pha Yant Nang Kwak – Yantra cloth wit Nang Supawadee and Kata Khom mantras, from Wat Suntara Tammaram. These can be carried in your pocket, in the car, on the wall or above your altar for making Pooja (the word Poojah is called ‘Bucha’ in Thai).
In addition, Phra Gasaba Thaera increased the power for the blessing to make the magic stronger every time that Nang Supawadee would attend and listen to Dharma teachings with such devotion as she had this time. In the next town they went to to sell wares, Nang Supawadee recieved the opportunity to listen to the preachings of Phra Sivali Thaera, who was also in the business of wandering around preaching the Dharma as taught by Lord Buddha Sakyamuni.
Nang Supawadee received teachings from this master, and thus became extremely well versed and knowledgeable in Dhamma. Pra Sivali bestowed blessings of Metta upon her for her diligent efforts to follow and understand the practice of Dharma. Pra Sivali Thaera was different from normal beings and had a strange event marking his birth; namely that, he remained in his mother’s womb for a period of 7 years 7 months and 7 days before being born in the world.
This caused Pra Sivali to be endowed with extremely strong mind powers, which, when he concentrated all his mental power and effort to bestow the Metta blessing upon the young Supawadee, the result was an especially strong effect to the blessing he gave.
Due to these blessings gained from the two saints, it came to notice that every time Nang Supawadee came along for the ride on her parents’ cart, sales were fantastic and all the goods were always sold in no time at all! As the when Nang Supawadee did not accompany them on their market sounds; sales were pretty meagre in comparison. Her parents decided that their fortune would be best if they had their daughter Supawadee accompany them always on their sales rounds because they believed that the good fortune was to do with the blessings and merits he had with her. This brought such great fortune upon the family, that in a short time they became extremely wealthy merchants.Once they had already become pretty wealthy, Mr. Sujidtaprahma received the opportunity to hear some Dharma teachings from the Lord Buddha himself; he was filled with faith and reverence, and as a result of this, began to practice Dharma practice and reached the attainment of Sotapanna (Sodaaban, in Thai), which is otherwise known as “Stream Enterer”.
Supawadee’s father then donated a park called “Ampatagawan”, for the Bhikkhus to rest and take shelter in, as well as building a Vihara (shrine and salon) for the Monastics, as a temple withing the grounds. The temple was named “Wat Machigaasandharaam”, Phra Sutamma Thaera was invited to be Abbot of the temple. Mr. Sujidtaprahma, who was very well know for being a person who would go out of his way to help others, and a good-hearted generous fellow, would ask people on his selling rounds if anyone was going the same way and wished to hitch a ride with him.
Sometimes there would be as many as a thousand people wishing to accompany him, which he never refused, always fulfilling their wishes, regardless of if they were followers of the Buddha like himself or not. The many people who got to ride with him noticed the amazing power of Metta Mahaniyom of his daughter Nang Supawadee, whose blessings had caused her parents to become wealthy merchant moguls, and thus began to worship her as a cause of good fortune in selling and business matters.
After many years, Sujidtaprahma and his wife Mrs Sumanta became old and passed away – their blessed daughter Supawadee also became old and eventually had to pass on to the next life, and left her body behind. But her legend lived on in the hearts for all the people who had adopted her as the patron saint and magical Deva of all merchants,praying to her and making offerings to increase merit,and receive great fortune in business dealings.
Anyone wishing to have good luck in Business sales, would seek out an image or statue of Nang Supawadee and make Pooja offerings to her, inviting her spirit to come and reside in the statue or image, and bring them luck, as Supawadee had always done whilst riding on her father’s cart. All of 4 different castes of the Indian Hindu caste system adopted the practice;
Brahmins, Royalty, Medics, and even Sutras were seen to worship and respect Nang Kwak. The practice of making Poojah to Nang Kwak became ever more widespread, due to tales of many merchants practicing Poojah Nang Kwak, and becoming extremely wealthy; this caused people in all four directions of the compass to adopt the practice.
The practice of praying to Nang Kwak was adopted by the Thais as the Buddhist and the Brahmin faith came to Thailand, and is as popular today as it ever was in ancient times!
The Brahmins, who were adept in the invocation of Kata Akom, brought the statues of Nang Kwak here with them, changing the posture of the statue from that of a lady sitting on a cart, to that of a lady sitting in a shop waving to beckon customers. First of all the Brahmins used it for their own business, but when they saw that people in Thailand believed in the powers of Nang Kwak, they began to make the statues to, chanting and invoking the Kata and blessing the statues to sell to other Thai Merchants for making Poojah to.
Nang Supawadee then received her new and more commonly known name, due to her sitting and waving position in the new statue form “Nang Kwak” (waving lady – Kwak means to wave and beckon with the hand). You can see Nang Kwak waving and beckoning to you to come and buy wares in almost every business establishment in Thailand, so now when you see her as a statue or a Yant Cloth (Pha Yant), you will know what it represents.
Nang Kwak (Alternative legend)
In This version of the story, Nang Kwak is the daughter of ‘Phu Jao Khao Khiaw’ (meaning ‘Grandfather Lord of the Green Mountain – Khao Khiaw could also mean ‘Green Horns’). Phu Jao Khao Khiaw was a Lord of the Jadtu Mahaa Raachiga realm (one of the lower levels of Heaven – an Asura realm of giants and monster beings). His other name is ‘Pra Panasabodee’, and he is the Lord of the forest and places where wild plants grow. In that time, there was an Asura demon called Taw Gog Khanag (otherwise known as ‘Taw Anurach’). Taw Gog Khanag was a good friend of Phu Jao Khao Khiaw, who had been attacked by ‘Pra Ram’ (the name of Rama in the Thai Ramakian – adapted from the Indian Ramayana Epic), who had thrown a Gog tree at him which pierced his chest and carried him through space to be pinned to the side of ‘Pra Sumen’ (Mount Meru). In addition, Pra Ram cursed him with the following magic spell; ‘Until your descendants weave a Civara monks robe from lotus petals, and offer it to Pra Sri Ariya Maedtrai (Maitreya – the future Buddha), your curse will not be lifted’.
After this, Nang Prajant, the daughter of Lord Gog Khanag (Taw Anurach) had to serve her father, spending the days and nights trying to weave a Civara robe from lotus petals, in order to have it ready for offering to Pra Sri Ariya Maedtrai, who will descend to become enlightened in a future age from now. Because Lord Gog Khanag had to remain cursed and pinned to Pra Sumen, his daughter was in a pretty dire state without her father to help run things. Because she had to spend all her time weaving the Civara, she had no time to go sell things or make money, nor time to run a shop. When Jao Khao Khiaw heard the news of this, he felt compassion, and sent his daughter Nang Kwak to go stay with her as a companion. Because of the ‘Bunyarit’ (power of her great merit), Nang Kwak caused merchants and rich nobles from around the area to flock to Nang Prajants home and bestow gifts of gold, silver and money on them. Nang Prajant became wealthy and led a comfortable life.
Characteristics of a Traditional Thai Nang Kwak;
Nang Kwak statues are a very sacred and ancient tradition of Deva worship which Thai Buddhists adopted from Brahmins as they immigrated and came to stay in Siam, long before Buddhism had got a foothold. Due to this, Ajarns of Ancient Times created ‘Kreuang Rang’ (magical effigies) in the likeness of a lady with a shoulder mantle, sitting and beckoning with her waving right hand, inviting you to come and buy her wares. The statues were dressed in the traditional costume, and the Masters would make offerings and chant in meditation, until the statues hand began to wave back and forth, which was the signal that the ritual was successful and complete. Nang Kwak is seen to be prayed to (Bucha), as an altar statue, and also as an amulet, and Pha Yant (Yantra Cloth).
Traveling salespersons may use Nang Kwak portable amulets to be able to make Bucha whilst on the road, and ensure success in their salesmanship.