Amulets and “Monky business”
One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster.... how true is that! Such a great city! With for instance, a whole market just for selling amulets!
Amulets! According to Wikipedia, the word “amulet” comes from the Latin amuletum; meaning “an object that protects a person from trouble. Hmmm, not sure whether a tiny little jewelry thingy would always be enough. But then there are plenty of other reasons for getting excited about such little things.
So, in Bangkok, just a few street blocks away from the Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew), there is this amulet market. Huge!! Hundreds of tiny stalls all selling some kind of talisman/amulet type object. Mostly little buhhda designs, in all possible shapes and sizes and designs. Mostly copper, brass, ceramics, bone, but (unfortunately) also ivory.
If, like me, you have a ‘thing’ for tiny, rusty metal or natural coloured clay objects, this is a place where you can spend hours digging through heaps or trays of the biggest variety possible.
What ever you can think of, you may just find here.
Apart from the nosy tourists, the real clients here are mainly serious collectors, monks, taxi drivers or people in dangerous professions. And we have seen many taxis with extended collections of medals, flowers and amulets hanging from the front mirror or attached to the dashboard in some way. Some just more ornate than others. On day 1 you may consider it kitsch, but the longer you stay in Thailand, the more you get into the feel of things and realize that this all belongs and that this is what life is about here.
The brightly colored amulets were in some way, my favorite. With, sort of, Christmas tree decorations in the back of my mind. But the idea of combining Buddhas with Father Christmas and Baby Jesus, just didn’t work for me.
And other than you might have expected, I didn’t buy a single thing! May be because I was so totally overwhelmed! Or may be, because just before this, I bought 8 strings of the most beautiful mat glass beads which I was at that stage (and still am!) very excited about! Or otherwise it was because I already had ceramic amulets that we had been nicely forced to “buy” from a monk in Sukhothai! It happened like this…..
While strolling home after a late dinner and 2 big Chang beers (two glasses, one with ice, one without!) one night in Sukhothai, we were distracted by a lit up temple which was in the process of being restored. Seemed like a nice photo opportunity at the time and we wandered around the premises taking photos just to suddenly get invited inside the huge next door temple by skinny monk (okay, they’re all skinny). We were then each treated on a glass of water and was stuck listening to a long explanation about the temple and meaning of all the different buddhas. To make a rather long story short, we were given the opportunity to write our names on 2 ceramic roof tiles which were being used in the restoration process of the temple outside. Which we did, thinking we could then get out of there. But then he continued his explanations and insisted that we take photo’s with him, gave us each 2 ceramic amulets and a silver buddha bangle and nicely explained that this cost us a 100 baht each! That’s about the equivalent of 5 euro’s in total and probably less than what I would have paid for 4 amulets and 2 cheap metal bangles! And as extra, I got a little story to tell and another lovely memory of our wonderful trip!
This was then a first telling about our recent holiday in Thailand. We had such a great time and I got so very inspired that more stories will certainly follow!
PS. เจอกันใหม่ [jer gan mài] means see you again later.