Something I read online the other day said that in Bangkok there is a 100 BILLION Thai Baht business revolving around Thai amulet sales.
That’s 30 million USD. That’s a lot of Thai amulets business. Apparently the Buddhist amulets that really sell for the highest amounts are the old amulets made by monks many years back. Some Thai and Indian amulets are over 1,000 years old.
The Thai amulets that are famous include Som Dej, Luang Phor Tuad (Thailand’s most famous monk), anything with Luang Phor Klai or Pra Bit Tar (Closed Eyes Monk). I don’t think there are any original Lersi or Garuda amulets floating around – I think those were recent creations and don’t hold all that much value.
There are an incredible number of bogus Thai amulet copies making the rounds. The opportunity to sell one amulet for a few hundred thousand Thai Baht is apparently too good for a lot of scheisters to pass up. I’ll bet the owner of every amulet stand I’ve been to in Thailand has told me they have original amulets – and they proceed to show me their 10,000 to 50,000 THB amulets. I wouldn’t know what to do with an amulet that was that much money. Put it in a vault?
There are some common Thai amulets you’ll see if you go looking… Luang phor Tuad amulets are quite famous Thailand-wide at least. Usually he’s in a sitting meditation position and hunched over. His head appears larger than it should be. Does that mean wisdom? Or, did he just have an abnormally large head? Not sure, but you’ll know it’s Luang Phor Tuad by that pose. In fact, nearly all the recognizable amulets are made of monks that hold the same pose and have the same features. This goes not only for Thai monk amulets, but for other popular amulets like Ganesh, Kwan Yin, Garuda, Luang Phor Klai, Pra Bit Tar, Nong Kwak, and others.
Nong Kwak is a Thai woman that has a hand raised and waving – Thai style. Thai style calling someone to come here. So, the meaning is that she is calling customers to come into the amulet owner’s business so money can come in. Many business owners have statues and amulets of Nong Kwak because she seems to be the main business prosperity figure.
Kwan Yin is the goddess of compassion. She is in one of 3 poses typically.
1. Standing in a long gown or robe. Sometimes the robe is flowing to the side – as if she was moving.
2. Sitting on a tiger and she is holding 4 things in 4 arms.
3. Thousand arm pose – Kwan Yin has many arms coming out from her side and is holding something in each.
Ganesh is the Hindu god of obstacles – both placing obstacles in the way, and removing them. I believe that Hindus call Ganesh the highest god. I could be wrong on that.
Of course the Buddha is the most popular amulet in Thailand and he is represented many ways in amulets. Usually sitting in a meditative position but sometimes reclining on his side. Sometimes there is a background of Naga (serpents, snakes) in back of him, forming a profile around his head. Sometimes Buddha is meditating on top of rolls of coiled Naga, as in the Som Dej amulets. Sometimes there is a lattice frame of Naga behind him.
Thai amulet materials include: Â tin, iron, gold, silver, bronze, brass, pewter, plastic, gold paint, gold plating, silver plating, plastic, wood, stone, hair, bone ashes, ground bone, animal hair, animal teeth, seeds, clay, dirt, sand, rock, jewels, glass, and probably more I’m not aware of.
Thai amulet prices vary widely. In Ubon Ratchathani I was quoted 2 baht each at a Chinese store that had a plastic bag full of them. For a similar amulet at an amulet shop I was quoted 1,000 THB. There is no way for me to tell whether an amulet is worth 1,000 THB – you must trust the Thai amulet store owner.
There is an amulet market in the streets of Bangkok that is a massive meeting place for those that buy and sell Thai amulets of all sorts. It is called, “Ta Prachan” – which, in Thai means, person bringing good luck and good fortune. The market appears every Sunday and is located close to Wat Mahathat between Maharat Road and the Chao Phraya river. During every day of the week there is also an impromptu gathering of amulet sellers (Thai) that spread their amulets out on cloths on the Maharat Road sidewalk and sell to passers-by. Hundreds of thousands of Thai amulets are available at the market, and on some days – that many on the sidewalks. If you’re in the market for some try there or at online markets.