Although Thailand is a Buddhist country, many other belief systems like Hinduism and Animism have found their way into Thai spirituality. A great example of this melting pot of faiths is the Thai amulet.
Amulets can be used for anything. Whether you want to be safe, popular, rich or simply better in bed, you can always find an amulet that will meet your need.
As regular Coconuts readers may have noticed, in many of the near-death events we report on, the victims often insist that their amulets saved their lives. Among the lucky ones who managed to survive without a scratch are a Chumphon cop who was shot four times, an executive who crashed his Lamborghini into a electric pole in Chonburi, and a Bangkok fried chicken vendor who was attacked by a stray bullet.
The aforementioned protective amulets are the type that portray the faces of Buddhist monks or Buddha. Yet there is a whole world of amulets for you to find at the Tha Phrachan Amulet Market, one of Bangkok’s oldest and biggest talisman bazaars.
These supernatural objects come in all sizes, styles, shapes and materials. What’s more, many have their origins not from Buddhist philosophy, but from the myriad of other beliefs Thais subscribe to.
Below is our Coconuts list of the nine remarkable talismans you can anticipate to spot at the venue.
9 Phra Kreuang (พระเครื่อง)
The most common and widely traded type of amulet is one that shows the faces of Buddha or Buddhist monks. Believers often wear Phra Kreuang on their necklaces for purported additional protection.
Phra Kreuang is manufactured in bulk as a holy giveaway for temple visitors. Prices for Phra Kreuang is extraordinarily extensive and can range from THB20 to almost THB20,000,000, depending on the history and sacredness of each item.
At the Market, many amulet maniacs are usually seen goggling at Phra Kreuang with a small magnifying glass, the sort used by professional watchmakers. They are primarily attempting to determine whether the one they are about to purchase is authentic. (Note: Thai people use “rent” instead of “purchase” in Thai for amulets, believing that sacred amulets aren’t consumer products that could be traded.) And besides, you will never know whether a piece of THB5,000,000 Phra Kreuang could randomly show up in a pile of amulets on a tiny roadside stall.
8 Pha Yun (ผ้ายันต์)
Pha Yun is a flag of fabric inscribed with Khmer alphabets and sometimes with pictures of senior monks. There are nine types of Pha Yun, with each possessing different mystical benefits. Pha Yun is more affordable, each worth THB20-THB50, but not minimal in magic.
7 Palad Khik (ปลัดขิก)
Palad Khik, the penis-shaped wooden amulet, is normally worn by men around their waist. Some prefer wearing many items of Palad Khik simultaneously. According to believers, Palad Khik can increase one’s charm, gambling luck and defense of bad accidents. The smallest Palad Khik can merely cost you THB20.
6 Mai Mongkol (ไม้มงคล)
A pack of nine woods wrapped with colored robes is priced at THB200. The package is made of nine plants with auspicious names, plus the fact that the number nine is a lucky number in Thailand. They are known for bringing their owner extra fortune and economic success.
5 Kuman Thong (กุมารทอง)
Kuman Thong, which literally translates to golden boy, is an effigy of boy dressed in traditional Thai costume. Believers say that if you adopt Kuman Thong and keep him well fed, he could bring luck and wealth to you, guard your residence as well as warn you of any future mishap. This intimidating-looking statue is worth THB400.
4 Muntjac antlers (เขาเก้ง)
Antlers of Muntjac is one of many animal parts revered by Thai believers, besides wild boar tooth, tiger tooth, ivory, deer antlers and bull horns. The antlers can bring owners financial prosperity and protection from evil forces. One pair is sold at THB2,000.
3 Nine-tailed lizard (จิ้งจกเก้าหาง)
A nine-tailed lizard is suitable for businesspeople and gamblers. Superstitiously speaking, any extra tails on these lizards can help whip more money into the owner’s pocket. The price of nine-tailed lizard ranges from THB500 to more than THB100,000.
2 Nariphol (นารีผล)
Nariphol or fruit maidens are mythical creatures living in Himmapan Forest, according to Thailand’s Triphum Phra Ruang scripture. The fruits emerge fresh from a tree like 16-year-old girls, very attractive so that every man falls in love with them. Nariphol can be a charm booster for its owners. One fruit costs you THB20.
1 Look Krok (ลูกกรอก)
Look Krok, or a child ghost, is a dead fetus whose spirit is reawakened by its parents. According to Animists, Look Krok acts as a guardian angle to its owners and brings them wealth. Apparently and fortunately, Look Krok sold here are mass produced with the price set at THB50 per item.
Photo: Kajonsak Intarapong