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Spirit houses

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Although the vast majority of Thais are Buddhist, nearly everyone also believes that the physical world is inhabited by spirits. These spirits can cause trouble if not given enough care and attention, and are apt to wreak havoc when made homeless. Therefore, whenever a new building is constructed – be it a traditional village house or a multistorey office block – the owners will also construct a home for the spirits who previously occupied that land. Crucially, these spirit houses must be given the best spot on the site – which in Bangkok often means on the roof – and must also reflect the status of the building in question, so their architecture can range from the simplest wooden structure to an elaborate scale model of a particularly ornate temple or even a sleek little icon of modernism. Daily offerings of flowers, incense and candles are set inside the spirit house, sometimes with morsels of food.

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