Buddha amulets in Thailand
Many faiths have different items and symbols that represent their religion. Buddhists, for example, sometimes wear amulets depicting Lord Buddha or other religious motifs.
In Thailand, where a majority of the population follows Buddhism, these amulets are ubiquitous. Each ong, or amulet, is said to have a specific purpose while also blessing the wearer with good luck, guidance and strength.
With the many different ongs available, it can be difficult to choose just one. To make it a little easier for you, here are nine different types of Buddha amulets and what kind of chok – “luck” in Thai – they bring.
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History of Buddha amulets
The very first Thai buddha amulets were created with the intention to grant their wearers invulnerability. They were made from medicinal plants like wan – a group of flora believed to provide safety, and had depicted Lord Buddha, according to Spurlock Museum.
They were later made with stronger materials like clay and limestone. When the 19th century hit, Thailand’s Buddhism community incorporated more Hindu-Brahman beliefs as well as art styles. From then on, sacred diagrams and symbols were placed onto the amulets, in addition to images of Lord Buddha.
Image credit: เบญจภาคี-มรดกไทย
Whilst we can still find some of these amulets created all those centuries ago, it’s rather difficult and expensive. For example, Benja Phakhee, a set of five of what is said to be the most powerful amulets, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In the set is Phra Somdej, Phra Rod, Phra Pong Suphan, Phra Som Kor and Phra Nang Phaya. An original piece of these amulets from when they were created can go for tens of millions of Baht.
Fortunately, amulets are still being reproduced by monks, so they are readily available both in stores and online.
1. Phra Somdej – King of Amulets
Considered to be the “King of Amulets” is Phra Somdej. This ong is said to be one of the most powerful amulets around, as it was intended to bring Lord Buddha’s highest praise and blessings to the wearer.
This ong was made in 1866 by Somdej Phra Buddhacara Toh Prommarangsi, a famous monk and son of King Rama II, according to Ekkarat Thai Amulets.
The ruler and religious figure was said to be compassionate, morally upright, and very dedicated to his faith. Thus, the amulet was named after him, as written in Top Amulet.
These amulets feature the image of a faceless Lord Buddha sitting atop three platforms that represent the three levels of cosmology in Buddhism.
Image credit: Lazada
Whilst there are many prints of Phra Somdej amulet, the most popular print is Phra Somdej Rahkhang, according to Komchaluek. An original piece that dates back to the 19th century can cost anywhere from ฿80 million (~USD2.4 million) to ฿150 million (~USD4.5 million).
You can buy a Phra Somdej Rakhang amulet on Amazon.com.
2. Phra Rod
Phra Rod is the country’s oldest amulet. This ong was made in 680 A.D. and found at a temple in Lampoon province, which was said to be completely founded by religious hermits.
The amulet was found in the early 1900s and was named after an anchorite known as “Na Rod”, one of the hermits entrusted with the original amulets from the 600s.
This ong is said to provide special protection from disasters and danger. Phra Rod amulets were actually given to soldiers to protect them from physical harm, as well as a source of psychological comfort.
This amulet is available on Aethini.com.
3. Phra Nang Phaya – The Queen of Amulets
The Phra Nang Phaya is honoured as the “Queen of Amulets”, as it was found at Wat Nang Phaya, a temple which was dedicated for King Narasuan’s queen.
This ong was said to be discovered in 2444 B.C.E., as published by Ahaina.
To the wearer, it brings goodwill and protection from harm. They were given to King Naresuan’s troops who have yet to win a battle, and were fearful of foreign invasions, according to Gallery de Amulets.
You can buy this at Aethni.
4. Phra Phong Suphan
Phra Phong Suphan was made in 1347, during the reign of King Phra Maha Dhammaracha Lithai.
Also known as the sixth king of Sukhothai Kingdom, the ruler wanted to expand his empire from Kamphaengphet to Suphanburi, as written in Gallery de Amulets.
Monks and anchorites then created Phra Phong Suphan amulets, named after the province the king wanted to expand into, and later presented it to him.
This amulet is typically forged in a triangular shape with an image of the Buddha with a protruding chest.
Image credit: Ahaina
According to Thai Rath, the amulet is meant to protect the wearer from harm, and to bring more compassion towards them.
You can get one of these ongs on Ebay.
5. Phra Somkor
Phra Somkor amulets were found in 1849 at Wat Phra Borom That in the Kampaeng Phet province.
They were created and then stored in the temple’s chedi – the Thai word for “stupa” – that contains Buddhist relics. It was believed that doing so would preserve Buddhism, so the original Phra Somkor were stored there for over 600 years, reported Old Thai Amulets.
There is a famous slogan for these amulets, “If you have me, you will never get poor,” according to Old Thai Amulets. Can you guess what kind of chok it brings? It’ll enhance your wealth, hence the tagline. It should also be noted that Kampaeng Phet, where the amulets were originally made, translates to “diamond wall.”
They were created with baked clay, Liliaceae fiber, sap, tin, lead, thin gold sheets, soil and calcium.
Image credit: Ahaina
A Phra Somkor can be purchased online at Old Thai Amulets for ฿212,267 (~ USD6,483).
6. Phra Kring Pawareth – Ringing Amulet
Known as the “Ringing Buddha”, Phra Kring Pawareth was produced under the reign of King Rama III’s in 2390 B.C.E.
The amulet was made in the image of the Mahayana Medicine Buddha, and is said to cure diseases and illnesses, as written by Gallery de Amulets. It’s said that whoever worships Medicine Buddha will have a long and healthy life, as well as being safeguarded from harm.
Image credit: Carousell
In this modern fast-paced world, many are more health-conscious and want to look for a totem that reminds one’s well-being. Thus, many Thai online merchants run out of these amulets quickly.
However, you can buy this amulet online at Amulet 24.com.
7. Jatukham Rammathep
There are many stories of how the Jatukam Rammathep amulets were discovered. Although, the most commonly accepted origin story of the ong was penned by Mr. Phantharak Rajjdej, according to Nye Noona.
Jatukam Rammathep depicts deities, Inthara Sairen and Inthara Khao Kheo. Before they earned their cosmic status, these two were the sons of King Jantharaphanu, who ruled the capital of the Krung Srivijaya.
Image credit: Gem
After their deaths, Inthara Sairen and Inthara Khao Kheo became guardian angels. It’s been said that amulets bearing their image will bring wealth as well as provide strength and guidance through life’s different obstacles.
You can definitely find one on Ebay.
8. Phra Khun Phaen
These amulets were made in 1591 for King Naraesuan and his army; this ong was named after a legendary warrior, Phra Khun Paen.
It’s said Phra Khun Paen was very charming, and possessed vast knowledge about magic and war. In fact, he created the first Kuman Thong – “ghost baby”. Lore states that he took a deceased baby from the womb of his late wife to a temple hall, where he roasted the infant’s corpse whilst chanting prayers.
Through this ritual, the spirit of the Kuman Thong materialised, and protected Phra Khun Paen from evil, as written in Thai Boy Amulets.
Image credit: Carousell
The Phra Khun Paen amulet brings the wearer great charm, charisma, influence, and victories.
You can get one of these ongs on Amazon.
9. Phra Pid Tha
Phra Pid Tha translates to “monk who is covering their eyes” in Thai. The amulet depicts a monk going into Nirodha, a state wherein they are immune to suffering, as they are shielded from negativity.
Found in 1850, these ongs are greatly sought after by those looking to improve their luck, as well as mindfulness in life.
Image credit: Khaosod
As its closed eyes symbolise being invisible from danger and distractions, the Phra Pid Tha will bring protection from suffering as well as negative thoughts. It’s also linked to charm and monetary success.
Sacred totems that bring good karma
We’ve chosen nine Buddha amulets for you to look through and consider. Even though the amulets do bring some sort of chok and good karma to the wearer, good deeds based on your behaviour are the main determinants of your destiny, according to Buddhist belief.
If you already got one or two of these, which one did you get first? Would you add any of these to your collection?