Here is an overview of the important Thailand amulets, as well as the state of pendant selling and buying in Thailand. We have a few different pendant sites, and, while we’re not world renowned experts on the pendants of Thailand – we have learned some things over these few years of selling them online and in our Thailand store.
How are Thai Amulets Worn?
Thai pendants are usually worn around the neck by Thais in Thailand. Some Thais wear one amulet, and some wear as many as 7 – one hanging down in the middle of the necklace, and 3 on each side. We rarely see any more than 7 pendants on one necklace, but we’re sure they are out there. Thais, as all Asians can be, are quite superstitious. Amulets arose out of this superstition. As such, there are pendants that came out of Animism – Thailand’s early religious roots, as well as Buddhism, Hinduism, and black magic type beliefs.
Some Thais hang their pendants from the mirror in their car. Some have shrines setup in their homes where they have dozens or hundreds of Thai pendants from every temple they’ve visited, and every Thai holiday they’ve ever witnessed at these shrines.
Thais believe that all pendants should be worn at head/chest level, and not kept in the pocket. Amulets should never be worn around the waist, legs, or feet – as this shows disrespect to the religion and the followers. In a similar way, images of the King of Thailand should never be worn near the feet.
What Historical Figures Are the Subject of Thai Amulets?
Typical Thailand Buddhist pendants have figures such as: Buddha, Kwan Yin, and some famous monks like Luang Phor Tuad, Luang Phor Klai, Phra Bit Tar (Biddar) and others. Sometimes the Kings of Thailand (Rama 1-9) are featured. We even sell an pendant that has portraits of all 9 Thai kings on it. Thais do love their kings, and many pendants feature King Rama V, and IX – Thailand’s current king, King Bhumibol.
The Hindu influence on Buddhist pendants can be seen with Ganesh (Ganesha) – the elephant amulets, Shiva, and other gods and goddesses.
There are such colorful characters as Lersi, Tigers, Demons, Guman Thong, and others that give a wide-breadth of figures. There is an pendant for everyone, from child to an elderly Thai on his deathbed.
By far Buddha pendants are the most popular and the most worn pendant Thais purchase. I would say then, Luang Phor Tuad, Thailand’s most famous monk – has the 2nd most wearers in the country.
Where Do Thai Amulets Come From?
Keep in mind that Buddhist pendants found in Thailand are two things… one, a religious symbol to those that believe in Buddhism, and two, a money-making scheme for dishonest companies to take advantage of good Buddhist followers.
Amulets are sometimes given directly from monks. We have some pendants that were given to us over the years from monks (Phra) at our local Buddhist temples. These are not to be sold, and most Thais hold them in special esteem. If you visit Thailand and see a bit of the country, not just one area – you will find that some monks are into pendants as lucky, bringing health, fortune, or love, and some are not at all.
In fact, western monks like those found at Wat Pah Nanachat in Warin Chamrap, Thailand – Ubon province, do not have pendants at all. There are no pendants sold there at the temple, and they do not talk about special powers of pendants – choosing instead to focus on what Buddha said and did – as the way to reaching nibbana (nirvana).
Wat Suan Mokkh in Chaiya, Surat Thani province is another temple that does not even sell 1 pendant for visitors. Buddhadasa Bhikku, the first monk and founder of Wat Tum Sua didn’t believe in pendants as having any power at all, and frequently called them a product of superstitious minds. Buddha himself was not known to wear amulets.
Other monks are well-versed in the powers of amulets, and when they bless an pendant – it gains even greater power. Wat Tum Sua’s Ajarn Jumnien (Teacher Jumnien) is one such monk of Chinese lineage that is now often known as Thailand’s good luck monk. Aj. Jumnien wears dozens of pendants at a time, and is sought after for his blessing and pendants – which are known to be exceptionally powerful. Chinese people mostly, from China, Malaysia, and Singapore come from far away to see Abbot Jumnien and donate money for his temple in Krabi, Thailand.
Wat Tum Sua is our home temple, and where we get the majority of our pendants from. The temple is beautiful and well worth a stop if you happen to be in southern Thailand.
What Are Amulets Made Of?
Thailand pendants are typically made of hard materials like: iron, tin, brass, copper, bronze, silver, pewter, marble, jade, crystal (rarely), granite, petrified wood (very rarely), glass, wood, ceramic, clay, and other materials.
Fake versus Real Amulets
Amulets from Thailand are easy to replicate as fakes, and this is a giant business, not only in Thailand, but, across the globe as companies are formed to take advantage of well-meaning Buddhists that want to protect their families’ health, or ensure good karma.
It is not difficult to manufacture fake amulets, because the expensive pendants – the genuine pendants from many years ago, were made with simple technology and there are no real secrets any longer about which is a real or fake amulet. The experts cannot tell fake pendants from real in many cases.
In fact, recently some very expensive and rare pendants were judged to be fake at a conference of “experts” and later proven to be genuine pendants with great power. A collector bought them before the discovery – for very little money, and was rewarded with millions of Thai baht as a result.
We spent 2-hours yesterday looking at pendants that were being sold on eBay and we were appalled. Amulets that are found for $3 are selling for $150. Amulets that are no more than $10 to buy in Thailand in rip-off pendant stores – are selling on eBay for $250 and we even saw one for more than $400.
The state of the pendant industry is rather sad. How can someone from Canada, Australia, Tahiti, Spain, UK, or Czechoslovakia buy genuine pendants from real Buddhist temples?
Here at www.ThaiAmuletSales.com we wanted to come up with a way for Buddhists across the world to buy genuine Thai pendants from Thailand, without any chance of forgery or ill-intent. We came upon a simple solution.
We offer Thai Buddhist pendants only bought at the Buddhist temples in Thailand.
That’s it. We don’t buy from non-Buddhist sources.
You can be absolutely sure that the pendants you’re buying are genuine articles, crafted from Buddhist hands.