Visitors to Phuket may notice that many Thai people wear amulets around their neck – this is something that Thai men in particular like to do. This type of talisman is extremely popular in Thailand because these items are believed to provide good luck and protect the owner from harm. Amulets can range in price from 20 baht to millions of baht – depending on the materials used and the reputation of the item. Thai people will often be willing to travel hundreds of miles in order to purchase the latest hit amulet. Amulets are traded in a number of locations in Phuket and in the next post (Popular Thai Amulets) there will be information on what to buy and where to buy.
Thai Amulets Explained
An amulet refers to any object that is believed to give people special powers or protect them from harm. It can be something the individual wears around their neck, or that they carry around with them. In Thailand amulets are usually referred to as Phra Kruang (พระเคื่รอง). The tradition of stamping amulets with holy images is believed to have originated in India, and it was introduced to Thailand somewhere around the sixth century along with Buddhism. During the 1800s there was a significant increase in the popularity of these items, and they remain equally as popular today. Modern amulets are usually created and blessed by monks at Thai temples when they are trying to raise funds. These items will initially be sold for a small amount of money (usually around 100 THB), but if buyers begin to experience good luck (or other magical blessings) it will increase the worth of the amulet. Buying these items can be a nice investment because their worth will skyrocket if they become popular. There are many people who make their fortunes by speculating on the future value of these items – of course there must also be people who are losing a great deal of money as well.
How Amulets Are Made
Amulets are made by monks in temples in many locations throughout Thailand. The most common materials used in their construction include:
- Clay amulets are usually mixed with other materials (such as dirt from a holy place or a graveyard), and they will have a image stamped on them – they are baked in an oven to make them hard. This is the oldest type of amulet in Thailand, and they are still popular.
- It is common to see amulets made from metals such as bronze, brass, silver, copper, or tin. Metal is sometimes used to create a glass case inside of which there will be a clay amulet, but there are also items made completely from metal.
- There are many amulets that contain figurines inside of a case. Figurines of the Buddha are common, but there can also be images of popular Thai monks such as Luang Por Tuad or Hindu gods such as Ganesh.
- Some of the more expensive amulets are made from gold. This material might only be used to create the casing, or the figurine inside might also be made from gold.
An amulet expert will usually be able to tell where the item was made simply by looking at the design. Visitors to Phuket are usually welcome to ask Thai friends questions about this item, but they should never actually touch the amulet unless they are invited to do this.
In order to enjoy the power of an amulet, it first needs to be activated. This consecration of the item is usually done by a senior monk, and it involves them chanting (suad mon สวดมนต์) over the amulet – this will sometimes have to be done a number of times over the course of a few days. Some Thai people will take their amulet to be blessed by another monk after they have purchased it for increased peace of mind, but this is not really necessary. Visitors to Phuket will be able to have their amulet blessed at any of the main temples.
There are certain things to do and not to do when it come to interacting with this type of item. In the accompanying post (Popular Thai Amulets) there will be information on the rules for buying this type of item, but here are some important things to consider when coming into contact with this type of talisman:
- An amulet should always be kept somewhere high (above head level) when it is not being worn.
- Before putting on this item it is usual for the individual to bless it. This means holding it between their palms in a praying position, and bringing the hands to forehead level while reciting the chant Namo Tasso Phakhawato Arahato Sama Smbudh Tassa.
- It is also usual to bless the amulet when removing it from the neck.
- In order for the amulet to work, the individual needs to be a good person.
It is common for Thai men to wear more than one amulet at a time. There are certain numbers that are considered lucky so the person may wear three, five, seven, or nine amulets.
What Not to Do With an Amulet
There are certain things that people should not do when wearing or coming in contact with this item such as:
- It is considered bad form to ever touch another person’s amulet because this will steal some of its power.
- It is considered improper to bring an amulet into somewhere like a brothel or strip club. It might be a good idea to remove this item before going partying in Patong.
- It is important to remove this talisman before having sex.
- It is bad luck to wear this talisman when engaging in any type of immoral behavior.
- If a woman is wearing a dress she must not remove this by pulling the dress over her head while wearing the amulet. It is OK to pull a t-shirt over the head so long as it is not so long that it goes below the waist.