Buddhism and amulets
Many Buddhists in Thailand wear or carry amulets of different kinds. These
are in some ways comparable to the "holy medals" of Catholicism. A Buddhist
amulet may represent a famous Buddha image. It might be one blessed by
a particularly saintly monk- this has been very popular in Thailand since
the 19th century. Or it may be a more specific spirit figure to bring
different kinds of luck, or to ward off different kinds of misfortune.
The "cover-up" amulets.
There are 2 varieties of "cover-up" amulet. One is called pit ta ha lap-
"cover eyes and find fortune", a seated figure with his hands over his
eyes. The amulet enables the bearer to attract people who will love him.
The other, pit ta maha ut, covers all his orifices with his hands and
feet. As he is a spirit figure, there is no problem with his having
a few extra arms or legs to do so in comfort. This protects the possessor
from outside harm. However it can also prevent good luck from getting in-
so the wearer must decide when he needs the amulet for special protection,
rather than wear it all the time.
These pictures are from an excellent reference book, which should
be in most big university libraries.
Tambiah, Stanley 1984 The Buddhist Saints of the Forest and the
Cult of Amulets. Cambridge University Press.