Marine’s hobby gives new life to discarded gods

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A Sattahip marine is winning accolades for his efforts to rescue and restore broken religious figurines and portraits of Thailand’s King and Queen.

Sangworn Liemgpheng, 53, can often be found on his days off sitting under a big tree near Jetsada Camp gluing hands, legs and heads back onto miniatures of Lord Buddha and various lesser gods.

Sangworn, attached to the Marine Corps’ 1st Infantry Battalion, said he found all of the statues discarded along the roadside, but that many were still in good condition. He’s been able to find missing limbs for the male and female figurines and has cleaned and restored paintings of Their Majesties the King and Queen and the Thai flag. He then displays the completed figures and portraits at a shrine in his front yard.

Sangworn Liemgpheng works to restore broken religious figurines. Sangworn Liemgpheng works to restore broken religious figurines.

As his collection has grown, so has Sangworn’s reputation. Spectators often come by to watch him work and he was featured on a Thai television show Sept. 19.

He said that, even broken, religious figures command spiritual power. And, of course, pictures of the revered royal couple and flag must be respected. He’s simply following his beliefs and duty to his country, he said.