If you have seen some of the famous Thai movies like Pee Mak or The Medium, you know that Thai people have a superstitious culture. Most of their superstitions stem from their religious beliefs. And one of the most widely accepted superstitions is wearing amulets for various purposes.
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Curious to learn more about Thai amulets?
This is your complete Thai amulet guide - covering their history, how they are made and why they are worn in Thailand. Also, if you're an aspiring collector, you'll find a list of the most famous Thai amulets and advice on where to get them. Let's start with the basics:
What is an amulet?
Aamuletis defined as an object believed to be “endowed with special powers to bring good luck or protect. It is also defined as a pendant or jewelry, often embossed with a symbol or magical incantation to "help or protect the wearer from evil".
Among believers, amulets are considered to be power carriers from religious associations, connections with natural forces or for ritual purposes. They can be natural or artificial.
Amulets are worn on the body or kept in a desired place - for example in the house or on the roof.
There are many types of amulets.
Natural amulets can be a number of things. Such as gems, teeth, animal claws, bones and metals. Plants like four-leaf clovers can also be a natural amulet as they are believed to bring good luck. Artificial pendants can be in the form of small figurines, religious medallions or jewelry. (Those,Those)
In addition, different countries have their own versions of amulets.
For example, “evil eye” amulets (usually shaped like an eye in a circle) are widespread in the Middle East. While natural amulets such as "crocodile teeth" are believed by some Africans to be helpful in winning gambles.(Those)
History of Thai amulets
In ancient Buddhism, the making of symbolic religious objects was not common.
It is argued that Thai amulets were first designed in the style of Greek amulets and icons of deities, which were widespread in India under the rule of the Greek king Menander.
When Buddhism reached Thailand, people started worshiping the religion. This in turn influenced the creation of the Thai "Pra Kruang". Amulets were made to serve as objects of worship for the followers of the faith.
The emergence of authentic Buddhist amulets in Thailand in the late 19th century - showed the cultural shift in the role of Buddhism in the country's society. This was due to Bangkok's Thai elite members espousing philosophies related to humanism and individualism.
Consequently, their approach to religion had changed. Instead of focusing solely on spiritual matters, they looked at the realities of the physical world and sought material happiness.
These modern values indirectly led to increased belief in the supernatural powers of amulets in Thai society. Locals began to view the Buddha and his followers as saviors who could bring good fortune to believers.
Therefore, prominent monks in the country began to make their own amulets for believers.
Since then, Buddhist amulets have been found in Thailand across the country. It is difficult to determine the exact origins of Thai amulets. But it is a reasonable theory that they were first created in Thailand when Buddhism was beginning to flourish. (Those,Those)
How are Thai amulets made?
The very first Thai amulets are believed to have been made from simple local materials. The locals used a group of plants (known as "Wan") that were considered medicine and had the power to protect against vulnerabilities.
As Buddhism and Hindu Brahmanism grew over time (in present-day Thailand), amulet productions became more sophisticated.
Amulets can be crafted in a variety of ways. The most common are those made from a mixture of different ingredients - pressed into a mold and baked.
Some are made from powders mixed with oils or herbs and then pressed into a pre-made metal plate to create different shapes and sizes. These amulets are then baked at high temperatures to solidify them. Some amulets are made of metal or a mixture of metal and other ingredients. These mixtures are melted at high temperatures and then poured into a mold to set.
The ingredients contained in amulets are often kept secret by the monks or people who make them - depending on the end use. The finished amulets are then blessed during creation by monks, priests or learned laymen.
Amulets are often marked with the mark of the temple or monk who made them. Often found on the amulets are cryptic and sacred diagrams made up of graphic symbols (known as "yantra").
It is believed to increase their power. Some even add gold or gemstones to the back of the charms.
Aside from these artificial amulets, many amulets found in Thailand's rural areas are often made from natural materials. Wood, flowers, stones and even earth and clay are used.
People in such places tend to use ingredients that are readily available in the area where they live. Old metal amulets and powered amulets are often used to create new amulets. It is believed that this will transfer some of the ancient, powerful magic to the new amulets. This makes them more effective for the wearer.
Ingredients are not the only important aspect when making amulets.
For an amulet to be "powerful", it must be made and blessed by monks or highly skilled and experienced people. That is why some amulets are created by many monks praying together. As a result, the amulets are blessed with special powers. Moreover, only the experienced magicians among them are allowed to do such work.
At the beginning of these ceremonies, all persons involved must be purified. This is to show appreciation and respect for the earlier monks who dealt with these particular amulets. Also in recognition of the spirits associated with bestowing blessings or supernatural powers on the amulets. (Those,Those)
Such processes are considered sacred and must be performed with great reverence by all involved.
For more explanation of the history of Thai amulets and how they are made, here is an informative video:
Why do Thais wear amulets?
Although amulets arecommon superstitionIn many cultures, people wear different amulets for a specific purpose.
The religious meaning of different amulets can vary from user to user. Also, what they portray may be connected to a specific moment in their lives.
For example, a rabbit's foot is a popular amulet in the United States. The ancient Celts believed that rabbits could communicate directly with gods and spirits.
In Norse legend, the oak tree represents the god of thunder and lightning. Thor and Norse filled their houses with acorns to protect themselves from lightning.
It's the same in Thailand.
People wear or wear the amulets for different purposes. The most common belief in amulets in Thailand is that they can bring good luck to the wearer. Also that they protect themselves against any kind of misfortune in their lives.
Thai people usually wear amulet chains to protect themselves from diseases, accidents and witchcraft. It is also believed that the older the amulet, the stronger the protective power.
It is believed that three different types of people collect amulets - the wealthy, the merchants and the believers. Each of these groups has a different purpose:
- Wealthy people:wear amulets around their necks as a sign of prosperity.
- Dealer:Collect amulets for financial gain and profit.
- believers: Only wear amulets for good luck (as stated above).
Amulets in Thailand are also worn to bring closer to the Lord Buddha, especially when worn around the collector's neck.
Even if the Buddha's teachings don'tStrictly speakingEncouraging the use of amulets, many Buddhists in Thailand surround themselves with as much protection and good fortune as possible. Hence wearing, wearing or at least keeping the amulet at home or at work.
They believe that wearing amulets brings them closer to Lord Buddha and reminds them of what to do and what not to do. These amulets often take the form of miniature Buddha statues or representations of various holy monks.
The 10 most famous and powerful types of Thai amulets
Popular Thai Buddha Amulets (Phra Khrueang)
As a rule, Phra Khrueang or Thai Buddha amulets in the form of small Buddha statues can have the appearance of monks who Bodhisattvas, masters and other gods. Thai people believe that these amulets protect them from danger, bring them luck and make them invincible to a certain extent.
These amulets are small enough to be mass-produced as miniature replicas of Lord Buddha's image.
In ancient times, Thai warriors carried these amulets with them. From now on, these amulets are worn around the neck as lucky charms.
Below are some of the most famous Buddha amulets worn or kept by Thai people:
1. Jatukham Ramthep
Known as the most popular Thai amulet in early 2007, Jatukham Ramthep [จตุคามรามเทพ] is an amulet depicting the image of two gods - Thao Khattukham and Thao Ramthep guarding the temple of Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Both gods are considered supreme deities according to Brahmanism beliefs:
Jathukham is a name for the creator god Brahma and Rammathep (the name for Lord Rama), the avatar of Vishnu the god. They were later renamed Thao Jatukham.
There is also another belief that comes from local legend in southern Thailand. According to this belief, Jatukham Ramathep was a king of the Nakhon Si Thammarat kingdom that existed around 1287 AD.
This monarch and mighty warrior was dubbed "the Black King of the South Seas" after he succeeded in establishing the Srivijaya kingdom.
In 2007, the country fell into the "Jatukham craze".
Jatukham amulets were believed to have the ability to make their owners "super rich" or rich for no reason. So extreme was the enthusiasm for Jatukham amulets that in the early stages, a local woman was crushed to death in a crowd at a Nakhon Si Thammarat temple while attempting to place amulet orders.
Because of this frenzy, the price of the first Jatukham amulet, made in 1987, soared to over a whopping 40 million THB (over $1 million USD). The original price was only 49 THB (just over a dollar).
Other variations of Jatukham amulets were also sold at high prices. A high quality gold leaf edition of a famous temple was bought for more than 10,000 THB (280 USD). Jatukam owners proudly displayed their amulets. Either on the outside of their shirts or hung from a thick gold chain.
2. Phra Somdej
Phra Somdej is considered one of the most powerful Buddha amulets and is also known as the "king of amulets". This is because it should bring the wearer the highest praise and blessings from Lord Buddha.
The amulet was named after its creator - Somdej Phra Buddhacara Toh Prommarangsi. A famous monk and son of King Rama II, known for being compassionate, morally upright and deeply committed to his faith.
There are many prints of Phra Somdej but the most popular seems to be Phra Somdej Rahkhang. An original 19th-century piece of the amulet can cost between 80 and 150 million THB (2.2 to 4.2 million USD).
Phra Somdej amulets depict the image of a faceless Lord Buddha seated on three platforms symbolizing the three cosmological levels in Buddhism. (Those)
Box "What is forbidden in Buddhism?’ to learn more about the 5 Precepts (rules) of Buddhism.
3. Phra Nang Phaya
The Phra Nang Phaya Amulet was found atWat Nang Phaya, a temple dedicated to the queen of King Narasuan.
Honored as the "Queen of Amulets", the amulet is said to have first appeared in 2444 BC. to have been discovered.
These amulets are made of holy water, gold and silver sand metal, holy earth, nam phee, a unique iron mineral, and holy relics.
Phra Nang Phaya Amulets are believed to bring good luck and protection. In ancient times, these amulets were given to the troops of King Naresuan, who did not yet want to win a battle and were afraid of foreign invasions. (Those)
Box "Why wasn't Thailand colonized?' to learn more about Thailand resisting foreign invasions.
4. Phra Kring Pawareth (Klingendes Amulett)
Phra King Pawareth is also known as the Ringing Buddha. It was first mentioned in 2390 BC. manufactured during the reign of King Rama III.
This amulet was made in the image of the Mahayana Medicine Buddha. It is believed that anyone who worships the Mahayana Medicine Buddha will be blessed with a long and healthy life and protected from harm.
Therefore, it is believed that these ringing amulets help cure diseases and illnesses of their keepers. they remember
Since there are many Thais (and foreigners) who are health conscious, Phra Kring Pawareth amulets tend to sell out quickly. After all, who doesn't want a reminder and protector of their well-being? (Those)
5. Phra Pid Tha
In Thai language, Phra Pid Tha means "monk who covers his eyes". These amulets were first discovered in 1850.
As the name of this amulet suggests, the image of the monk with his eyes closed depicts enteringNirodha("Attitude"). This is a state of immunity from life's miseries - a removal of thought.
The amulet is popular with people who want to improve their luck and mindfulness. As the monk with his eyes closed represents being invisible from life's distractions and dangers.
Therefore, protect the wearer from suffering and dispel his negative thoughts.
The amulet is also associated with charm and financial success. This explains why it is one of the most sought after Buddha amulets in Thailand. (Those)
Other types of amulets in Thailand
In addition to the Buddha amulets, other types of amulets can also be found in Thailand.
Below are the examples of some amulets that local people believe in:
6. Kuman Thong (The Golden Child):
When visiting Thailand, you might see a child figurine sitting at the top of the shelf at a local grocery store. (Especially in the rural areas.)
This figurine is not just any figurine - it is a lucky amulet.
Known asKeim Tanga(กุมารทอง), kuman means hallowed or sacred boy, and tanga means golden. Hence these amulets are images of little boys covered with gold.
Traditionally, the Kuman Thong was a stillborn boy who had died in the womb. The fetus was roasted into a desiccated shell while it was sung about. Then covered with lacquer and gold leaf.
It is believed to represent the spirit of a child and honoring the spirit of the effigy will bring good luck. A child's spirit is invoked and invited to live in the statue. As spooky as it sounds, many people hold Kuman Thong statues. They believe that it protects them from disasters, helps identify enemies and increases wealth.
A condition that every Kuman Thong holder must meet is that the amulet should be cared for like a real baby. The keepers have to feed the character and invite it to the table. (Those)
Nowadays, it doesn't take a tragic event to create a Kuman Thong character. The use of human remains in ceremonies is illegal. It can be crafted from either seven graveyard soil, gooseberry wood, spurge, or metals. These ingredients are then molded into the shape of a boy in Chong Krab clothing and a topknot hairstyle.
However, it is suspected that the practice of using body parts to create them continues on the black market. CNN and the New York Post reported in 2012 that Bangkok police arrested a Taiwanese man who possessed six fetuses that were roasted and covered in gold leaf. (Those,Those)
7. Nang Kwak (Goddess of Fortune):
Another amulet widely used in Thailand is Nang Kwak (Nang Kwak) – the statue of the goddess of fortune.
The statue shows a woman in traditional Thai costume with accessories. She is sitting on the floor with injured legs. Her left hand is placed either on her side or on her lap while the right hand is raised in a to shoulder heightwaving gesture.
People believed that this welcoming hand sign would "attract wealth and customers" to the business.
For this reason, Nang Kwak statues are considered Thai amulets for wealth. And can be seen in many business establishments across the country.
The Nang Kwak statues were first discovered in Thailand during the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767 AD). Later in modern times, the worship of Nang Kwak became more popular during the reigns of King Rama IV and V. This was due to the economic developments in those eras.
Interestingly, it was also around the time that the famous "Maneki-Neko" (or waving cat of Japan) first appeared in the country. This solidifiedThe Faith of the Thaisin such “lucky statues”. (Those)
8. In Koo (Love Spell):
The In Koo (also known as “Yin Ton” in Southeast Asia) can be considered the most powerful Thai love amulet.
This extremely popular symbiotic deity depicts a woman and man embracing.
Ancient people believed that it means the first male and female couple in human history. So a symbol of love between woman and man.
Therefore, it is believed that the keepers of an In Koo spell would be blessed with itMaha Sanaehpower over the opposite sex. This attracts the opposite sex and wants to get to know the owner.
When kept at home, the In Koo helps everyone in the household to love one another. And be happy together with their family members.
Suppose it is worn or worn on the body as a Thai love charm amulet.
In this scenario, it is assumed that everyone the wearer comes into contact with is kind and compassionate towards them. Also, it can make others fall in love with him or her.
Aside from being a powerful love amulet, the In Koo is believed to also make business flourish, attract money and gifts, and make life less of a hassle.
This spell has been used by ancient peoples for thousands of years and shows no signs of losing its popularity anytime soon.(Those)
9. Thai Lizard Amulet (Jing Jok):
The "Jing Jok" (or gecko) is a magical animal that has appearedThai folklore since the pre-Buddhist times of animism. It usually comes in the form of the lizard statue in a clear amulet case.
According to Thai myth, if you hear a gecko's greeting as you leave your home, you will be blessed with good fortune and other auspicious events.
The Thai lizard amulet is famous among perennial gamers and businessmen. It is believed to increase gambling fortune and improve business conversations and sales.
The Jing Jok is also said to be heavily equipped with Kong Grapan Magic. This protects the wearer from harmful accidents and deadly attacks. Its perceived anti-black magic properties also keep curses at bay.
It is also a popular Thai amulet for love - a favorite love charm of many generations in Thailand. (Those)
10. Thai Elephant God Amulet:
The Hindu deity Ganesha is known as Phra Pikanet in Thailand. It is one of the most worshiped deities in Asia. Phra Pikanet, son of Shiva and Parvati, is the Hinda god who rules mother earth and the life force. His image can be found in many variations throughout Asia.
Still, the elephant's head makes him easy to identify. There are versions of him that are shown sitting, standing, dancing or playing. Also, Phra Pikanet usually has four or eight arms and holds various objects. All items and traits contain interesting symbolism to remind his followers.
These qualities and characteristics are believed to represent:
- A big head to think big.
- Big ears and small mouth to listen more and talk less.
- Small eyes to focus on.
- A big stomach to hold all the good and bad things that happen in life.
To the objects:
- The ax serves to sever all shackles from worldly bonds.
- The mouse stands for keeping all desires under control.
- The rope to take the devotees to their next goals.
- The broken tusk means sacrifice.
These Phra Pikanet amulets are believed to protect the guardians from evil and weapons. They bring an abundance of wealth as a result of thriving trade. It is also believed to have a subtle charm that can attract the opposite sex.
A fantastic gift idea for someone special or a charm collector. (Those)
Where to get a Thai amulet
The Thai amulet industry is huge. It can be found online and offline across the country.
Before you get one, here's what you should know:
Most if not all locals refer to collecting amulets as "borrowing amulets" rather than "buying amulets". This is because trading or selling Buddha images for money is considered offensive and superficial to Buddhist traditions.
Temple for Buddhist Amulets
Sacred Buddhist amulets are only made in Buddhist temples.
So the best place to get one of the Buddhist amulets - and have them blessed by monks for extra powerful effects - is from one of theBuddhist temples in Thailand.
In addition, if you get one directly from a Buddhist temple, you can be sure that your new amulet is genuine.
As might be expected, Buddhist temples and monks would not go against Buddha's principles and engage in counterfeit amulets. They only sell amulets that they have made or that have been commissioned from recognized Buddhist artisans.
Box "6 must-see Thai temples' to learn more about these amazing temples in Bangkok.
Markets for non-Buddhist amulets
Looking for local markets to get non-Buddhist amulets? Or cheaper alternatives to the famous amulets for sale in Thailand?
Talaad Phra Chan (Sunday Amulet Market):
In this case BangkokAmulet market on Sunday– Talaad Phra Chan is a paradise for amulet collectors.
This location is known for having by far the most comprehensive selection in Bangkok. It is usually filled with hundreds of stalls selling all kinds of amulets and pendants - metal, clay, wood, ivory, tooth and many others.
Thai amulet prize
The price of a Thai amulet depends on how rare or how old it is. Artificial amulets that you can find in markets may cost as little as 20 THB (50 cents). While extremely rare Thai amulets are priced in millions.
Most Expensive Thai Amulet Ever Sold (Luang Puu Kai Amuletfrom the Cherng Lane Temple) holds a record of 30 million THB (845,000 USD) per amulet.
Has this guide sparked (or reignited) your passion for collecting Thai amulets?
Now that your curiosity is satisfied, it's time to book your ticket to Thailand and grab one (or more).
Before you do, think of these three behaviors to follow while wearing your new amulet:
- Don't insult someone's mother.
- not having an affair
- Do not wear an amulet when having sexual intercourse or visiting a brothel.
You certainly don't want to get in trouble with the deities.
If you know how to take care of your amulets, their power will be preserved - and you will be blessed with maximum luck!
As always, if you want to learn more about Thailand, stay tunedThaiGuide. You might discover something you never knew about this unique country.