Thai Amulets can be found everywhere in Thailand, visit any temple, monk shop or market and I can almost guarantee you will find a vendor. You even find them on public and private transport often hanging from the rear view mirror or on the dashboard of buses and cars.
From a Thai perspective, amulets are considered by some as a good luck talisman, perhaps seen to offer the wearer protection from ghosts and evil spirits or bringing them prosperity.
Collecting Thai Amulets.
Amulets are made from a variety of materials including clay, metal, stone and wood. They will often feature an image of a revered monk or the Buddha. Anyone can make the images, however older monks are usually charged with reproducing amulets with the Buddha image on them. Both inside and outside of Thailand many of the amulets particularly those associated with famous monks are highly collectible and it can cost a lot of money to buy them. The same applies to batches of amulets that are blessed by important Buddhist monks.
The Luang Phor Thuad Amulet.
A Thai amulet featuring Luang Phor Thuad has an interesting story attached to it which reveals how some versions of the amulet became known as the M16 amulet.
Briefly the story goes like this. Bandits tried to stop a lorry in southern Thailand by spraying the drivers cab with M16 rounds which penetrated all around the driver but no bullets struck him. This allowed him to escape and live to tell the tale. Later it was discovered that the truck driver had been wearing a Luang Phor Thuad amulet.
Since that date the M16 amulet featuring a smiling Luang Phor Thuad has become highly collectable and examples change hands for many thousands of Baht.
To put the belief in the power of Thai amulets into perspective here, I read that the previous Prime Minister of Thailand, who was born and educated in the UK, says he does not believe in the power of Thai amulets. However since he had several hundred donated or lent whilst he was in office he felt obliged to wear one. Given his relatively short time in power it seems he might well have been right to be sceptical in the power that Thai amulets offer.
Just for the record, when I first went to live in Thailand I would not have considered buying a Thai amulet, writing them off as superstitious junk . Now I see them as nice little pieces of Buddhist art and have started my own collection from the temples that I visit.
Do I believe that Thai amulets offer me protection? Not really, but I do have one attached to my car keys!