Monks and Magic

Revisiting a Classic Study of Religious Ceremonies in Thailand

Barend Jan Terwiel

336 pp.,
NIAS Classics # 2
Available from NIAS Press worldwide




Hardback - 2012, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 065 2, £30.00
Paperback - 2013, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 101 7, £19.99


  • An important contribution to Buddhist studies.
  • Addresses the controversy among scholars about the nature of Theravada Buddhism.

First published in 1975, B.J. Terwiel’s Monks and Magic remains a widely cited text. This is an absorbing study of Buddhism as practised at that time in a community in rural Central Thailand, describing how esoteric spells and magical diagrams were the main interest of children and adolescents but full ritual knowledge was obtained in adulthood and tempered by life experiences. As death approaches, the Buddhist world view stimulates merit-making.

This reproduction of the 1979 second revised edition is augmented by new material on magic and Buddhism in Southeast Asia by Professor Terwiel, a renowned specialist on the social and cultural history of Thailand.

Press news

  • Jan. 13 2015

    The first two titles of 2015 have showed up at our NIAS Press office (and are out there in the wider world, hopefully coming to a bookshop or library near you). Both books coincidentally deal with important issues affecting China –territorial disputes and the environment.

    This made for a perfect opportunity to charter Karolina to present the books in true NIAS Press fashion!

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