Amulets - Article of faith or collectible Art?

Two different groups of people dominate the movement of the Thai Buddhist amulet movement;
Collectors and Devotees.
These two enclaves do not confer on what is judged to be a good amulet - in fact they can differ greatly. It is important as a buyer, to know which of these worlds you have decided to move in when looking for and obtaining amulets. If what you are primarily looking for is a genuine sacred amulet, then this doesn't mean that it has to be a famous one nor an expensive one. This enclave is primarily a Faith based one and is not commercially influenced. But if you are more of a collector and appreciate the values of beauty and pricing method used by "Nak Len Pra krueang" (amulet dealers/collectors), then you are in the more difficult enclave to keep tabs on. If you don'tspeak read or write Thai and cannot keep up with the current flow of preference in the collectors market, then you will be at a serious disadvantage when trying to recognize authentic amulets and purchase them. This enclave is a commercial market, and not related to magical power as much as it is to artistic beauty and rarity.

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One thing i am noticing in Singapore is that people tend to only go for the famous editions of an amulet (ie real Somdet Dto or real LP Tuad Wat Chang Hai) - this has two negative effects; firstly it exposes Singapore to a flood of fakes, and secondly is simply a shame that the purchaser does not look for an amulet using beauty and texture, feel and intuition as a criteria for choosing amulets. For this reason i am trying to publish more articles helping you to be able to more easily identify a real from a fake amulet, as well as to share the Thai values and evaluation methods for judging amulets.

To be quite honest, i find the search for real Somdej Dto 140 year old amulets is a bit of a silly thing for most people to think of, unless they are expert in authentic amulet recognition. Certification is a help but there are many places offering Certification of amulets and not all of them are universally accepted. The best way really to choose and be happy with your amulet is, if you are just a collector, to feel what is right for you, and choose what your heart says feels right. In addition do not go too expensive unless you are sure of what you are buying, or know and trust the person who is obtaining the amulet for you.

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Like Thai people say "Man Yoo Tee Jai" ("its in your heart" - meaning that whether an amulet is real or not, if you are faithful and it makes you think of the master or the Buddha, then the amulet is working). Amulets work because of your faith in the Master and the Buddha too, not only because of Psychic monks or special herbs. Also if wekeep 5 precepts the amulet will have power. An image of the Buddha when held in our hearts, is always powerful.

The thing that makes some amulets much more expensive, is not always that people consider them more powerful. This assumption is the mistake that non Thai nationals collecting Thai amulets often make. The best and most powerful amulets are not always famous. When we talk now about Wat rakang amulets, and other top popular collectors items, we are delving into the world of collectors, and dealers. This has nothing to do with sacred or not sacred; this is then an art market where Buddhist collectible art is played around with on a market that is as changeable as the New York stock exchange.

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This is the backstage of the amulet scene and has different criteria from that of the devotee collector. The devotee collector chooses an amulet from the Master Guru he believes in, or a Buddha amulet of the temple he believes in as a good temple. A market collector however, will choose amulets fusing the following criteria; Texture, beauty, condition,current price on the market, poularity,rarity, if the master who made it is alive, passed away or very old... and so on.

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These criteria will help the collector to be able to get both bargains for himself as well as sell-able items with a decent profit margin. This facet of the amulet scene is purely religious art collection and basically a commercial art lover enterprise.

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Whichever facet of the amulet world you are interested in, you should learn to be able to apply the necessary criteria when seeking your amulets and making your choice. I hope the articles i am publishing will help you to become wiser in the subject of Thai Buddhist amulets.

Pic Left; A Beautiful Somdej Wat Gaet Chaiyo amulet - an amuletlike this will go for 8 to 12 thousand  Singapore dollars for an authentic amulet.
This amulet is popular both in the art collector and with genuine devotees of Wat Gaet Chaiyo. It is one of the most famous amulets.
Such an amulet is of course  a wonderful aquisition, but you don't need to spend this much to have an authentic sacred amulet that is also beautiful. Even a relatively old one doesn't have to cost that much..

You can contact me on sakyant at windowslive dot com or fone 98323062 (Singapore) if you wish to rent  amulets.

Above; Somdet Satan Paetch fromWat Boworn- these amulets are made and distributed to the folk only once in a while - this edition is relatively new. I have an example from 2537 which is now rather in demand and beginning to elevate in price. These are amulets from a Royal temple and are blessed in the correct manner using the Gru technique of burying under the Main Buddha statue as well as a Maha Putta Pisek blessing with many distinguished monks doing the blessing. This is a prefect example of a prime quality amulet blessed by authentic masters and using high quality mixture for the cement, as well as coming from a famous and revered temple, but that does not cost much money. These amulets end up becoming rather rare too because they are only released once in a while.

Above; Fake Somdet Wat Pra Gaew (temple of emerald Buddha) - no real edition ever had semi precious stones inserted in it. This is therefore a total fake amulet.

Above; Somdej Khee Ratchasri Hlwong Por Chern from Wat Koke Tong, in Ayuttaya. This is a very famous and revered temple near to Wat bang Nom Koh. This amulet is from 2536 (17 years old), and has LP Parns Yant Grao Paetch on the back side.

Above; Pra Pid Ta Wat Tong Siarn Pimsen - this amulet is both popular, considered very powerful, and not too expensive. This is a good choice for a person who wishes some protection from evil and sickness as well as good fortune. Also this amulet will still be admired by serious collectors, despite its lower price.
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