If you have ever traveled to Thailand, chances are that you have come across middle-aged people, travelers, and locals alike, leaning over small, roadside stalls examining neatly arranged curios.
These matchbox-sized amulets, commonly referred to as Thai Amulets or Buddhist Amulets make up a billion-dollar industry in this small country. They hold immense historical, cultural, and religious significance to the people of this nation, and to understand why we have to delve deeper into the meaning it holds and how it came to represent what it does.
Thai amulets are medallions and pendants with engravings of mythical or spiritual figures, usually of Buddha depicted as sitting on a throne. There are two distinct factors that make these items so valuable. The first is its historical value. The most prized of these amulets were made by the Buddhist monk Luang Phor. He was an official adviser to the monarch of Thailand and apparently made a number of these amulets and handed them down to his followers – to remind them of his teachings and to protect them from evil spirits. Genuine amulets can cost over a million US dollars today.
The second factor is this apparent spiritual or religious value. Believers and traders claim Thai amulets, especially those made by renowned monks, have magical powers that bring fortune and ward off evil spirits. Health, wealth, social status, etc are all flouted as the potential benefits of having a genuine Thai amulet on one’s body. Specialist medallions that protect the wearer from road accidents and even bullets are sold widely in these markets.
Luang Phor Parn Wat Bang Nom Kho Porcupine available at https://thaiamulets888.com/lp-parn-wat-bang-nom-kho/porcupine/, for instance, is famed for its power to release its owner from debts. Available to be bought online, these amulets claim to have been blessed by Luang Phor, a monk who gifted it to his disciples, along with the power to clear them off their debts. Porcupine is a small wild animal with sharp hair as weapon, it is hard to be harm. Very good for protection and against competitor.
Today, amulets are mass-produced in factories all around Thailand. These “cheap knockoffs” are sold extensively around Buddhist temples and mainly target gullible tourists. They look no different from ‘genuine’ amulets and it would take years of expertise before one can tell them apart. Only close inspection of the materials an amulet is made of and thorough background checks of the origin of the piece can help a buyer distinguish between them.
Whatever be the reality of the magical powers of the Thai amulet, ultimately it is the buyer who sets the price of these items. While the spiritual nature of these claims makes it very difficult to be empirical about them, traders are so confident that they assure refund policies on their medallions. When it comes to artifacts of faith, the price if what one is willing to pay.