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Mon 24 Apr 2017
Thai Amulets
Written by B.J. Terwiel   
Friday, 09 February 2007 21:15

From the very early age onward, boys wear objects which reputedly protect them against diseases, witchcraft and accidents. When a boy becomes adolescent these objects with protective power become increasingly important in his life.

Undoubtedly the most popular object which is worn on a cord of chain around a man's neck is the image of the Buddha. These images can be cast from metal or carved out of a piece of wood, ivory, or resin but the most common traditional ones are those manufactured from a mixture of many different ingredients, pressed in a mould and baked. In modern times coloured plastic ones have become quiet popular. The Buddha images very in size; their height may be as small as 2 cm. but can extend to 7 or 8 cm., while their width varies from 1 to 5 cm.

Although laymen are not excluded from making these small protective Buddha images, their manufacture is largely in the hands of older monks. In order to make a pressed or printed image, commonly known as phra phim, a monk needs, apart from the mould, a recipe, the proper ingredients, as well as considerable knowledge of spells, the sacred script and magical drawings. Historians will be sad to hear that one of the common ingredients of phra phim is the ash obtained from burning the oldest handwritten sacred books of the monastery.

Almost as popular as Buddha images are the metal protective medallions which depict the head of a sacred person on one side and often some Khom writing or a simple yan on the other. Very popular are medallions with the face of King Chulalongkorn, but even more popular are those with a monk who is famous for his magical powers. These medallions are made by commercial firms, usually on order from the organizing committee of a fund-raising ceremony.

- From Monks and Magic by B.J. Terwiel

This is the Amulet Market near the Grand Palace. Lots of people who like amulets always come here, even monks. Here there are lots of different amulets for you to choose from. In Thai we don't call it buy, we called it rent but we don't have to give it back.

Inside the market, which most people like to come to buy some amulets. There are lots of kinds and lots of shapes for you to choose from. Some people spend a day here to find only one amulet they want.

Pictures copyright: Panrit "Gor" Daoruang.