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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Seven: Case File No. 21-333

close up of bottle opener

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Where We Left Off:

Trailcam2 has provided the detectives with invaluable information on a gaze of raccoons.

The Lost Treasure:

The Cook brought me an artifact that she found in the house and asked me to research what it is. I took a couple of photos and met with the cat detectives to get their insight. Oliver immediately went to work with me on internet research while Gus began to patrol throughout every floor of the house (except the attic).

My first assumption was that this was an Indus region Buddha figure based on the thin body frame. The Buddha is depicted thin in regions around India while depictions in China and farther east are typically rotund with large smiles. This may be one of the only things I remember from a college class and I can’t even recall if it was art history or ancient civilizations. Regardless, I was incorrect.

charred brass Thai dancer bottle opener

“This is not the Buddha,” Ollie told me.

“It’s so hard to tell with how badly damaged the artifact is,” I said.

“The Cook said she found this in the fireplace?” Ollie asked.

“I think so. Look at that white residue. Do you think that’s paint?” I tried scraping off some of the white, but still couldn’t tell if it was ash, paint, or something totally different.

charred brass Thai dancer bottle opener

Gus finished his snooping of the main floor and returned with confirmation. The artifact was found in the fireplace!

“I’m sure it was an accident. None of the humans would feel the need to burn an artifact like this,” Gus said.

Our internet research indicated that this was a figure in a stance typical of kohn, the traditional dance of Thailand. The main difference we noticed was how the hands are in a prayer or reverence mudra (gesture) and not wide open as the videos I’ve watched have shown. The hands are an interesting feature of Thai dancers. The joints of their fingers are able to hyper extend backwards. Sometimes this is even more exaggerated with lengthy fingernails of several inches.

The feet of the dancers are either with the raised foot placed on the calf of the supporting leg; or more often seen, held in balance off the ground. This artifact shows the raised foot in contact with the other leg. The negative space would be triangular if not for the costuming.

“The Grumpy Old Man spent time in Thailand. He speaks fondly of it for the most part, though he’s not hesitant about using those 1960’s slurs,” Oliver said.

As I examined the artifact, I felt like it could be used as a bottle opener. I entered “bottle opener” into the internet search and was shocked to see many results of this exact item. It is apparently not a rare nor magical object according the internet. Vintage Thai dancer bottle openers range from $13 on eBay to $27 on etsy in good condition.

Could Restoration Unleash Magic?

My assignment was try and restore the artifact. The Grumpy Old Man lent me some metal polish which does not specify brass. It was worth trying anyway. I spent a couple of hours on it was surprised that I was beginning to see the real state of the shiny brass underneath the char. Some kind of acid bath or an ultrasonic machine might do this a whole lot faster. A strange thought popped into my mind while I used the Dremel buffer on the object. Wouldn’t it be something if all this rubbing of brass made a genie appear?

I gave that thought consideration for a couple days even though it had occurred to me that the artifact was Thai and genies/jinn/djinn are Arabian. A couple days later, I went back to the internet for research on this leaving the restoration barely started. I learned that jinn do appear in the mythologies of the Middle East, North Africa, and South and South East Asia. Jinn are even referenced in the Quran though whether they are literal or metaphor is up for debate, according to varying posts I read. These beings existed before Islam and through it.

What we probably think of when the word djinn/jinn/genie appears is a specific type of jinn called Marids. Since they are born of smokeless fire (consistent origin among my research), it’s easy to see how our modern Westernized imagery has a “genie in a bottle” or “genie in a lamp” that vaporizes to travel between spaces. There’s a brief breakdown of the types of jinn at The Not So Innocents Abroad blog, however, it’s based on the episodes of the American show, Supernatural which has not been the most accurate portrayal of supernatural creatures; and their source link is broken.

In common folklore, jinn are capable of assuming human or animal form and are said to dwell in all conceivable inanimate objects—stones, trees, ruins—and underneath the earth, in the air, and in fire. They possess the bodily needs of human beings and can even be killed, but they are free from all physical restraints. —Britannica Encyclopedia

I read that jinn can be either good, outright evil, or mischievous (perhaps we’d say chaotic neutral). Thailand has a vast history with demons and other supernatural beings. It’s an impressive bullpen of creatures not human.

In December 2021, the Department of Religious Affairs reported that the population is 92.5 percent Buddhist, 5.4 percent Muslim, and 1.2 percent Christian. Other groups include animists, Confucians, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, and Taoists. Islam is the dominant religion in three of the four southernmost provinces (Narathiwat, Yala, and Pattani) near the Malaysian border.—U.S. State Department 2022 report

Case Findings:

The restoration of the artifact continues. I may need to get a new Dremel buffing nib before this is done. So far, I’m impressed that any part of the original brass shine is under all the charred surface. If Gus or Ollie received a visit from a genie, they haven’t told me.

Case Status: Closed


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