Thai Amulet Collecting

May 28, 2012

thai amulet

Not Sure How Much These Amulets Are Worth?

You only have to be on Thai soil for a minute before youstumble upon the Thai amulet, be it hanging from the rear view mirror of a taxi or dangling around the neck of a wealthy businessman. You might not realise, however, that amulets are more that just lucky Buddhist charms; this is big business. Amulets can fetch upwards of 1m Baht depending on their origin and age. There are conventions, numerous monthly publications reselling and educating, and an abundance of enthusiasts selling on the street in areas such as China Town.

So why I am interested in Thai amulets. Well I do like collectable things and I enjoy history, and for some time now I have been trying to figure out how one can tell what an amulet is worth, where it’s from and if it’s authentic or not. I am not in the market to buy because I am 100% sure I’d end up paying well over the odds and getting it all very wrong.

I am really struggling to see how the eye glass helps to identify the origin and age of an amulet. I have searched online for information, but at best I can only find English written warnings to beware of fakes, to not trust magazine pictures and to be careful of buying mass produced amulets that aren’t made in temples. The materials used for fakes and authentic amulets are  the same, making it easier to get ripped off. Apparently experts know how to spot real markings and obviously they know the issue history of  different series of amulets. Another reoccurring warning in my research is to look out for sellers who are “selling” the luck/magic aspect of the amulet rather than its heritage. Apparently genuine sellers are genuinely interested in promoting an authentic resale market along with Buddhism itself.

I read in a book that there have been a few series of amulets issued at various times by the King to members of the aristocracy and leading army figures; clearly having one of these would be worth a fair buck. Many are issued in limited runs to commemorate the passing of well respected monks or commemorative days linked to the monarchy.

It’s a huge business, but little information is accessible for westerners to learn and get involved because it is essentially a “Thai-centric” hobby. However, I am hoping that a few enthusiasts (or anyone with more knowledge than myself) might pass through and contribute some information in the comments section so that foreigners like myself can get an insight to this business/hobby.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Derek June 5, 2012 at 1:25 am

Hi Peter,
I would like to know a bit more on this subject myself,I got a present of an amulet from a Thai friend 6 or 7 years ago his wife told me the stone was old and expensive and to take care of it, its Phra-Pidta (the closed eyed god) its supposed to protect you..and I do like it,I got it mounted in gold and wear it every day,But I dont know where the stone came from as I have never shows it to anyone in the business,just for interest it would be nice to know a bit more.. Derek :)

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TheThailandLife June 5, 2012 at 11:54 am

That sounds interesting, perhaps you should bring it with you next time and get a few valuations on it. That could be a starting point to knowing what markings to look for and how to verify authenticity. Please come back and post your findings if you do.

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