Smoked babies, part 2.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.14.44 PMA Thai kaun krak – on sale for $199.99, being offered by a “so-called monk”.

Part 2 of Steven Prigent’s paper on the Cambodian “smoked baby” talisman (in Khmer, “kaun krak” or “kaon kroh” or “kaon kraouch”) . Part 1 was on how to obtain the fetus (it has to be freely offered by the mother, who dies), part 2 describes how the man turns it into a talisman:

  • The man who is to become the talisman’s “father” must first mummify it over a fire, while making offerings.
  • He then presents it to a monk who is skilled in magic. The monk will “awaken” the  fetus through magic words. (Prigent notes that an earlier ethnologist, the famous Etienne Aymonier, makes no mention of monks).
  • Finally the mummified and awakened fetus is sewn into the pouch which will be its final home. This is done within an enclosure of magic sima stones. The koan krak becomes the sole charge of its “father”, who must “feed” it with offerings at its altar in his house. The father should never reveal to outsiders that he possesses a koan krak. It will give its father advice, protect him from bullets (the father is usually a soldier), and even has the ability to make him invisible to his enemies. When he needs its help he asks it: “My child, help your father!” The link is one of father and son, and for this reason a koan krak cannot change hands.
  • Most importantly, a koan krak can be used only to protect its father. It is a moral being, superior to its father in both wisdom and power, and will not allow itself to be used for harm.

Erik W. Davis adds that a koan krak can be naughty and refuse to help its father, in which case the father can discipline it. One man who owns a koan krak told Davis he did this by jabbing it with a needle.

Prigent found the illustration at the top of this article on a Thai website called It seems to be a sort of e-bay for amulet-seekers. The add is still there, but with a note that this item is “out of stock.” This is most disturbing – the temptation for a black market in fetuses is obvious, and considering the rules for ensuring potency (the most powerful come from cutting open a living woman) the consequences would be horrific. Apparently Cambodian expertise is highly thought of in Thailand – the vendor of this thing boats that he “learned further from Khmer ancient magic book.”

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