Foreign visitors are allowed to buy amulets in Phuket and take these items home with them. There are many different types of amulet to choose from, and there is a certain ritual involved in purchasing this item. It the accompanying post (Introduction to Thai Amulets) there was a general introduction to this talisman given, and in this post the emphasis will be on what to buy and where to buy amulets in Phuket.
Popular Thai Amulets
The amulets that are most popular in Thailand would include:
Luang Por Tuad
The Luang Por Tuad amulet is not only in great demand in Thailand but also in Malaysia and Singapore. It contains an image of a seventeenth century Buddhist monk called Luang Por Tuad – Luang Por means respected father in Thai. During his lifetime, this monk developed a loyal following because of his devotion to spreading the dharma. Luang Por spent most of his life in Southern Thailand, but he lived for a few years in Ayutthaya which was then the capital city of Thailand. Luang Por Tuad developed a reputation for having powerful psychic gifts, and he is said to have healed many of his followers of illness. It is believed that after his death in 1682 (when he was 120 years of age) his healing and protective power was passed into amulets that hold his image. There are many stories popular stories in Thailand about how these images have managed to save people from danger.
Kwan Yin has a following in many parts of the world, and she is important to Taoists as well as Buddhists. In Thailand she is more popularly known as Phra Mae Kuan Im (พระแม่กวนอิม). Kwan Yin is said to have lived in China in the fifth century. She was a Chinese princess who was known for her kindness. Kwan Yin was also a devoted Buddhist who managed to become a bodhisattva – an enlightened being who postpones nirvana, so that they can continue to help people. Her amulets are said to bring people good luck, and they are particularly popular with sailors in Thailand because she is believed to offer them protection at sea.
Phra Khun Paen
If people are unfamiliar with Phra Khun Paen they may mistakenly believe that the image of these amulets are of the Buddha. They actually contain images of Khun Paen who was a Thai soldier. He became famous during the fifteenth century as a mighty warrior, and it is said that he was able to use magical powers to defeat the enemy. It is believed that his amulets offer a number of different powers including:
- Success in business and in life.
- Protection against weapons.
- Increased attractiveness to the opposite sex.
- Increased confidence
Phra Khun Paen amulets are much sought after and some of them can fetch millions of a baht when sold.
Phra Phikanet(พระพิฆเนศ) is probably the most distinctive of all the images to be found on amulets in Thailand because it shows a human body with an elephant head. This image is actually of the Hindu god Ganesh who is the son of Shiva (the god of destruction and death). Ganesh once had a human head, but he lost it during an argument with his father. His mother, the goddess Pavarti, was able to restore him, but she could only do this by using an elephant head. Ganesh is known as the destroyer of obstacles and people wear his amulets, so that they will be able to overcome the obstacles in their own life. He is also known for his wisdom, and so wearing this amulet is believed to help people make better decisions. Buddhists believe that he is a bodhisattva who has dedicated his life to helping the human race.
The Jatukham Rammathep amulet has become extremely popular in recent years. In 2007 alone, there was 20 billion baht in sales for this item – the price for the original Jatukham Rammathep amulets created in 1987 went from 100 THB to 600,000 THB. This talisman is distinctively large, and it contains images of a famous Hindu character known as Jatukam Ramathep as well as monkey like figures. It first came to the public’s attention back in the nineties when a policeman claimed that it helped him to solve crimes. This was followed by other stories in the media for how it provided people with good luck and helped them to become rich. The original amulets were created by Mahathat Woramahawiharn temple in Nakorn Si Thammarat to help them raise money to build a chedi, but they can be now found for sale in many temples around Thailand.
Where to Buy Amulets in Phuket
If people are looking to buy amulets in Phuket they will find them on sale a number of venues including:
- The Phuket Amulet Market (aka Amulet Alley) can be found on a side street that runs between Rassada road and Phang Nga road in Phuket Town. This is the largest amulet market on the island, and they offer a huge selection of objects to suit different budgets – they sell and buy amulets here.
- Boonyium Thai Buddha Amulet is an amulet shop located on Patong Beach Road. They offer a wide selection of options, but if people are looking for something expensive they might get a better deal at the Phuket Amulet Market in Phuket City.
It is also possible to pick up amulets at the more popular Buddhist temples when they are trying to raise funds.
Cost of Thai Amulets
There are many factors that will determine the cost of this item such as:
- The current level of demand for this item. If it is popular, this will push the market value up.
- The materials used in the amulet – gold will be more expensive.
- The reputation of an amulet will also have a significant impact on its value. If an item has a proven record of providing good luck or protection it can be worth millions of baht.
There are fake amulets on sale in Phuket, so it is important to always seek advice from somebody who is familiar with buying this type of item. It is best to go somewhere like Amulet Alley in Phuket Town and take along a trusted Thai friend.
Amulet Etiquette at a Market
It can be nice for visitors to Phuket to visit an amulet market, but there is some etiquette to observe when doing this:
- Thai people will never say that they are going to buy an amulet because this is considered bad luck – instead they will say that they are going to rent (chao เช่า) the item.
- Some amulet sellers do not want females to touch certain items, so it is important to always ask before touching. If a woman is menstruating she should not touch any of these amulets.
- When picking up an amulet it is usual to hold the item between the palms in a praying position and lift the palms up to the forehead before examining it.
- After purchasing this item it should not be placed in a trouser pocket – it is better to wear it or put it in a shirt pocket.