Folk Belief – Thailand


“People who have long earlobes live long, fulfilling lives.”

Ben told me that he first learned this belief from his aunt when he was 6 years old.  He was living in his hometown of Bangkok at the time.  He informed me that this is a very common belief amongst his friends and family.  While it may have Thai origins, the belief itself, has Buddhist roots.  Ben has extensive knowledge of Buddhism.  He is an avid Buddhist and event spent a small portion of his life studying to become a Buddhist monk.  At age 12, he studied the religion at a temple outside of Bangkok.  He lived this way for almost an entire year, abiding by a strict code of rules and conduct. He says it was a great experience and it helped him gain a more profound understanding of the religion.

The theory behind this folk belief comes from Siddhartha Gautama (a.k.a. Buddha) himself.  Because worshipping Buddha and his teachings have resulted in an abundance of statues, paintings, and other forms of decorative art, Buddhists pay particular attention to his physical appearance.  In virtually every representation, he is shown with these great big drooping earlobes.  As a result, Buddhists have come to believe that massive earlobes is an indicator that an individual is destined to have a strong, prolonged existence.  Ben informed me that there are some who believe that Buddha is depicted this way because it was and is a sign of royalty and power to wear earrings that stretch one’s earlobes.  This theory however, is not nearly as common.  Ben told me that his entire family sees earlobes as an important indicator of the length of an individual’s life.  His older brother was born with enormous earlobes so his family is always praising this physical trait and telling him to cherish the gift he was born with.  This belief is a unique example of folklore because it is extremely common amongst Buddhists—many wouldn’t know that it isn’t formally written anywhere, but has been accepted as truthful and ordinary because Buddha is constantly depicted in this manner and the theory has offered an answer to why Buddha appears the way that he does.