Thai Amulets - Real or Fake?
Thai Amulets – Real or Fake? How to Choose Authentic Thailand Amulets Online…
This is a collection of information about real, sacred, and blessed Thai amulets.
My wife is a lovely Thai girl from the Sisaket countryside in Thailand in the northeast. We have been given, and have collected over the past few years many Buddhist amulets of various types. We have so many at this point we don’t know what to do with them (2005), so they sat in storage where they weren’t doing anybody any good at all. We decided to sell many of them and keep those that have personal meaning to us. We have sold new amulets from Wat Tum Sua in Krabi, Thailand for years now. In the next few weeks we’ll start featuring our old, rare, unique and one of a kind Thai amulets in our old amulets section. These are all guaranteed authentic.
Everything at OUR SHOP is authentic from Theravada Buddhist Temples here in Thailand.
Here on this page we wanted to give you as much information as possible to help you decide, is your amulet genuine and 100% authentic, or is it a fake, Thais’ call fake amulets, “Blawm” and they are as worthless here as they are in your hands in America, Europe, Australia or wherever you happen to be.
How does one tell real amulets from fakes in an Ebay auction?
False information is the easiest way. The top running scam on Ebay appears to be calling every gold amulet – solid gold. Every gold case is called solid gold. This is incorrect in 99% of all ads we saw on EBay. Meaning, there are gold cases, but maybe 1% of sellers even have one. Solid gold cases are not popular in Thailand. They are too soft. If someone is selling a solid gold amulet or any amulet in what they are calling a solid gold case – it’s more than likely a scam, please don’t buy such a thing.
Nearly all Thai amulets are easily faked. You cannot tell from photos. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell in person. I have some good friends that are Thai amulet vendors here in Thailand and sometimes they admit they too are fooled. What to look for? It is impossible to tell 100% if the amulet is genuine. One must trust that the seller is selling genuine articles. If you are a frequent buyer of sacred Thai amulets you need to align yourself with a seller or sellers that you trust and that consistently give you great amulets. Here are some ways you that will help you make the decision about whether the amulets are genuine or fake.
Is the seller located in Thailand? How can you know this?
Ask the seller to send a photo of a Thai license plate, or some of the houses outside where they live. Or perhaps some Thai writing on a box or bag at their home.
Ideally you could ask for a photo sent by email of the amulet he is selling in front of the daily “Bangkok Post” newspaper or “The Nation” newspaper. Then you will know – is the seller living in Thailand or scamming you from another part of the world? Maybe in the town next to yours. Ask the seller to send you photos of Thailand that he took over the years. Doesn’t he have any? How can someone stay in this amazing country and not be able to produce at least a couple hundred images of himself or herself in Thailand?
Can’t the person explain what the photos are of? EVERYONE takes photos here – Thailand is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in the world… everyone would have photos. You can see the website we made for our local temple at “http://wattumsua.thaipulse.com” to see some of our photos and videos. We are very real sellers here. My wife is Thai and I am an American. I have been in Thailand for over 7 years and now that we have a child here we will live in Thailand… well, probably forever.
The best thing to look for in a Thai amulet is whether the amulet seller is getting them from the temple or not. Does he/she mention that the amulets are coming direct from a Buddhist temple in Thailand?
If not, your Thai amulet might be coming from Miami, Florida. It’s easy to make cheap bronze, copper, and clay amulets. There is big money in it – and I’d guess that 95% or more of all amulets sold on eBay are fake Thai amulets. I’d further guess that 80% of all Thai amulets sold at private websites / online stores are also fake. These are just guesses, but we’ve spent a lot of time online looking at what other amulet sellers are doing. It’s scary, and it goes against Buddhism – but, most of the sellers online are not Buddhist at all.
When you’re looking to prove whether the Thai amulet you are going to buy is authentic or not – the prime consideration should be – the way the seller presents it.
Does the seller have photos of the temple the amulets come from? Photos of the abbot of the temple that blesses each amulet before it is sold? Is the abbot of the temple anyone special or not? Does the seller have photos or videos of him/herself with the abbot of the temple? That’s a great way to prove the seller is actually in Thailand.
Does the seller have the items, or is the entire auction a scam?
The technique of getting a picture of multiple items together in a group works well. If you are buying a batch of amulets you can request that we put them all together and take a video, prior to us sending them to you. Obviously we must have the amulets if we can do that for you.
Does the seller add historical information about the amulet?
Where did the amulet come from (city)? What temple is the amulet from? What monk is featured? Thai people will never purchase an amulet that they don’t know the history about. Even if the seller bought the item in Thailand he would know the history. If he doesn’t, you should suspect a scam.
Does the seller have good feedback?
This can be a trick, so watch this carefully. Ebay sellers can build up a username with great feedback by selling and buying very cheap items – 50 cents or less – maybe hundreds of them to build up their feedback rating. They then list $20,000 worth of amulets, mobile phones, notebook computers, or other expensive items and have them all end on the same day. They take the money and run.
It is possible to BUY an Ebay username as well – and some people make big money doing this – they sell an Ebay username for $500-1000 usd which is then later used to run up a huge group of auctions that they don’t plan on sending items for – just collecting the cash. Don’t be a victim! Be careful buying high dollar items over $300 USD or whatever you can’t afford to lose.
We don’t sell much on EBay because we’re not usually dealing with Buddhists or serious collectors of amulets there. There are many scamming buyers as well as sellers. We prefer to list our old amulets here and build a relationship with buyers that continue buying from us for years. This has been the way it’s worked with our new amulets, and now as we offer the old – we hope the same.
Specific Information about New Amulets (less than 100 years old):
1. Does the seller have the city of origination listed? The wat?
If new and authentic he will know the amulet’s origin and other specifics and write it in the auction ad or on the site.
2. Jatukam Amulets – Jatukam (Jatukum) amulets were at a peak in popularity a couple of years ago but many Thais are still collecting them like there is no tomorrow. We don’t have many on site because we cannot find the good ones all that often. (Update – we now have about 25 Jatukam amulets, but most are not online at our store. Ask if interested in Jatukam.)
About Old Amulets (100+ years old):
There are Thai jewelers here that are going against their religion and building up a lot of bad karma by faking the age of their amulets by brushing them with dirt, sand, rust shavings, other metals, and using other techniques. Some things to look for with old amulets…
1. Does the amulet smell strongly of the material it is made from?
Amulets lose their smell over time. One exception to this is some Lek Lai amulets which still have a smell even after many years. One way to tell the authenticity of an OLD amulet is to see if it smells strongly. With the exception of the Lek-lai amulets, Buddhist amulets typically do not smell much if they are ancient. The smell has worn away, like the sharp amulet edges and details.
2. Are there mold marks on the old amulet?
If you check the sides – not the front and the back – you may see a seal from where the mold closed together. Molds were not used much before 100 years ago and if an auction seller is telling you the item is over 400 years old and you can plainly see mold creases – you are likely being sold a fake item. There ARE exceptions to this as sometimes monks would put two halves together. If this is the case you will see a very obvious and uneven crease in where the two halves have been joined. Look for a very small crease that is straight and seems to be from two halves being pressed together that signifies a recently made Thai amulet.
3. Old amulets (100+ years) that are genuine will probably NOT be found for under $100 USD, regardless of size. Why would a seller sell them for under their cost here in Thailand. Logically it doesn’t make sense, and cannot be. Newer amulets between 10 and 30 years can sometimes be found for as low as $70. Sometimes here on this site we have specials at this rate because we have hundreds of amulets that we should really share with the rest of the world. We feel like we’re being selfish by keeping them.
4. Old amulets are imperfect.
Over 100 years ago nobody was thinking about preserving the item in plastic, glass or other cases. The VERY old amulets over 100 years are imperfect, and that is part of their charm and helps prove that they are original. If someone is telling you that a perfect amulet is over 100 years old I would be pretty skeptical. It’s possible, but maybe 2% of all amulets over 100 years old are in perfect shape because they were never exposed to the elements of heat, sunlight, and Thailand’s very humid air.
5. Is the amulet original and one of a kind?
Typically the very old amulets (100+ years) are absolutely unique and original. You will likely not find two OLD amulets of the exact same type, size, colors, materials, etc. If you do, be skeptical. You can search EBays past listings in the “advanced search” function. If a seller is selling multiple very old items that are the same – they are fake – I’m 100% sure. I have found amulets in Chinese stores in Ubon Ratchathani for 2 baht each (8 cents USD). They are the shiny metal and dulled metal – some designed to look old. It can be hard for you to decide by a picture on Ebay, however, if the seller is selling the same type amulet again after his present auction – they are fake and he is getting them for 5 cents to 20 cents per amulet! Are they worth the $30-$200 you’re buying them for?
6. Is the seller representing the amulet’s case as being more than 100 years old?
Prior to 100 years ago or so amulets were sometimes wrapped in a silver, gold or other metal encasement that just outlines the edge of the amulet and protects it from breaking pieces off when brushed up against things during normal wear. There were no plastic or glass cases that are much older than 100 years. Trust me. Most serious collectors here don’t like to put old amulets into new cases. It’s just not ‘right’. However, those amulets that are over 100 years old unless they are brass, copper, silver, gold or nickel, need something to protect them – a new case or old antique case, up to you.
Recently there has been a massive interest in the round-shaped Jatukam type Amulets. These are new amulets, do not let anyone tell you that they are ancient, they are not. The Jatukam amulets have not been made before 2004. That said, there are still some Jatukam amulets that Thai people believe will bring them good fortune. Some being sold outside of Thailand are genuine and some are not. We cannot tell you which ones to purchase as one must know the history of the amulet in order to call it genuine. We buy all Jatukam amulets from the original temple in Thailand where they started – Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Wat Phra Mahathat. This way we know we only carry authentic items. Ask sellers WHERE their Jatukam amulets came from.
It’s nearly impossible to prove that an amulet is genuine unless you know the hi story of it. However, you can spot some fake amulets rather easily.
Metal Amulets – These can be produced by amateurs with a mold for the amulet. All of our newer metal amulets come directly from the temple and we have photos, videos, stickers. There are thousands of fake amulets on the market. Trust in the person you buy from is essential. If you don’t care about authenticity go to eBay and buy amulets for $1-30. I’ve seen some obvious fakes as high as $600. There appear to be few reputable dealers on Ebay.
If you have any question at all, please write us and we will answer your question to the best of our ability.
Look for Thai Amulet Sales sites in Google and find the ones that don’t appear to be selling hype. It’s easy to talk wildly about how great a Thai amulet store is – it’s another thing to sell the amulets in a low key, respectable fashion that brings credit to the seller, the amulets, and Buddhism as a religion of simple-minded, good-hearted people.
Buying Thai amulets for more than $100 is very risky business because the potential exists for you to be cheated out of a lot more money. Buying old Thai amulets from someone that you don’t know, trust, or know someone that trusts the seller – is a very risky idea. I said before, I would guess that 99+ percent of all old amulets sold online are not genuine Thai amulets but are worthless clay that some unscrupulous amulet makers churn out by the thousands here in Thailand daily.
An old Thai amulet has history. If it doesn’t – who is to say where it came from? Thai people tell the history of the amulets that are old and worth anything. They know intimately where the amulet has been, who made it – who owned it – how many were made in Thailand, and other details. The Thais’ tend to keep their very valuable amulets to themselves – and the temples are full of them. They aren’t selling most of them either. Occasionally a foreigner will get a hold of some valuable Thai amulets to sell but, it’s a rare occurrence. I have had a batch to sell and sold some, and I know of only one other authentic old amulet seller on eBay that I could vouch for.
Thai amulets are great gifts and many people pay far too much for junk. Why not try to find an authentic Thai amulet by focusing much more on the seller, the website, the lack of hype behind the sales process, the Buddhist values the seller believes in – to find your Thai amulet? I think you’ll have a better experience.
With Metta! :)