SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Tai Magic: Arts of the Supernatural

IMG-20150203-Susan Conway
Susan Conway (SOAS, University of London)

Date: 3 February 2015Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 3 February 2015Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar

Lecture and book launch


Susan Conway explores a Tai belief system within the context of Theravada Buddhism, spirit religion, astrology, cosmology, numerology and the power of Nature. The lecture is illustrated with relevant Tai manuscripts and textiles.

The Tai of the Shan States, Myanmar and north Thailand have developed a complex belief system that incorporates the power of Theravada Buddhism, spirit religion, astrology, Buddhist cosmology, numerology and  the forces of nature. The seminar will illustrate how these beliefs are expressed in supernatural formulae that contain Buddhist and spirit iconography,  complex magic diagrams and spells and incantations written in code.  There will be examples of how the formulae are currently administered for healing, bringing good luck and dispelling bad luck.

Speaker Biography

Susan Conway teaches the history and culture of the Tai, particularly in the Shan States of Myanmar and Lan Na (north Thailand). Her papers and publications can be viewed on her web site This lecture coincides with the publication of her new book Tai Magic: Arts of the Supernatural focusssing on a complex belief system expressed in illustrations, incantations and magic spells.

Organiser: Centres & Programmes Office

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893