There is a world-wide market for Thai amulet creations of all kinds. Here in Thailand the selling of amulets is a 100+ Billion Baht (30 Million dollar) business per year. Probably far in excess of that.
In my small town we have 13 Thai amulet stores and an amulet market that shows up every now and then – usually on Sundays. Thai people wear the amulets for protection and good health, good luck, natural disasters protection like tsunamis and floods, and some even to bring love into their lives.
I don’t know where this aspect of Buddhism started, or if it’s primarily in Thailand and not that much in Buddha’s birthplace of northern India which is now actually, Nepal. Chinese Thais are big on amulets, and maybe that’s where the whole Thai amulet craze started. I’ve no idea. What I do know is that most Thais are wearing one or own (rent) at least one. Some wear 5 at a time. Some have whole collections of rare amulets that they keep hidden away. For what reason? Again, not sure. Good luck? To give to family as they themselves are ready to pass?
There are some monks that wear amulets. Ajarn Jumnien of Tiger Cave Temple in the south wears 20+ amulets all the times I’ve seen him. People call him the good luck monk because he gives amulets away to people, and is never seen without them. He believes in the spiritual world – and apparently that amulets have power to protect people from certain things.
Amulets are seen for sale locally for 50 THB (about $1.80 USD) up to 20,000 THB ($600+ USD). The more expensive amulets are those that Thais believe to be older or they could also be recent, but with more power. The amount of power depends on the monk that created the amulet, blessed the amulet, or according to what protection similar amulets have provided in the past.
The Jatukam Thai amulets were a Thailand-wide craze for about 3 years when someone wearing one was shot at by a gun that misfired. Twice. That has since died down and there is no new amulet that is fueling the amulet market in Bangkok or Thailand as a whole.
Do Thai amulets work? Do they have magical power? Did the Buddha say anything about this? Or, was it all created by monks that realized they could help people feel safer by creating protection amulets? At some point some capitalists became involved and turned Thai amulet making into a massive business. I have a friend that sells Thai Buddha amulets here. She doesn’t believe they work very much either – but there is that voice inside her, put there by years of observing Thai tradition in the northeast where she was raised, that says – it’s real. Amulets have power. They work.
Personally I don’t believe in the power of amulets from Thailand, or anywhere else, to help to protect me or give me good luck. What do you believe?