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The Amazing World of Pidta


The inspiration for researching into Phra Pidta amulets came from my association with a very good friend Larry. His inspiration and kindness had helped me to penetrate into the Amazing World of Pidtas and together with his blessing, may this article serve as a good cause to bring these benefits to Pidta fans. In this article too, an old associate of mine had also contributed significantly by allowing us to photograph many of his Phra Pidta amulets to serve as reference here.

Phra Pidta is well known in the amulet circle and it is highly accepted by collectors due to its Buddhistic qualities to provide protection against dangers and harm of all sorts, brings good luck and success to the owner.

Of all Pidta we have heard in recent past, the most popular or possibly famous Buddhist masters in making effective Pidta are Luang Po Khron better known as "Tok Raja" from Wat Uttamaram, Kelantan in Malaysia, Luang Pu Toh from Wat Pradoochimlee in Bangkok, and among others notably in Southern Thailand Pattalung.

Besides this two famous masters, of course there are many others who can bless and make good powerful Pidta amulets in recent times such as Chao Koon Chan the 2nd Abbot of Wat Uttamaram, Phor Than Mit the 3rd Abbot of Wat Uttamaram, Luang Po Dum of Wat Mai Naparam, Chao Khun Onn of Wat Sungai Padi and others not mentioned here. However, it is not the intention of this article to pinpoint which master is better in producing powerful Pidta. Our interest is to obtain a better understanding of Phra Pidta amulets with regards to its origins and uses.

In Thai’s amulet culture, a lot of attentions have been given to Phra Pidta talismans and its making can be traced back to many centuries ago. The Pidta wooden bowl featured here is a gift from a monk and was recently been restored by applying a layer of lacquer to prevent ageing. All Pidtas on the surface of this bowl was beautifully handcrafted in Thailand. This wooden bowl was used to store holy waters by the venerable. The significance of Phra Pidta in Thailand Buddhism culture is both historical and important.

To further understand the significance of this talisman, Phra Pidta is being highly revered as much as Phra Sivali in Thai’s tradition. Both Phra Pidta and Phra Sivali are disciples of Lord Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha. According to legend, both the disciples are capable to receive unexpected great fortunes whenever they wish due to their advanced Dharma and high respect for Lord Buddha. 

To begin with Sangajayana or commonly known as “Sangajai” was a disciple of the Lord Buddha who transformed and manifested himself. Sangajayana is a monk of great fortune and his figure representation is an important characteristic that had evolved into today’s Phra Pidta. This is the reason you may see one similarity between Sangajayana and Pidta as they have one common feature - a big potbelly. It must be noted that some Pidta may not have big potbelly. However, there is one distinctive difference in every Phra Pidta figure which is its lifting hands to cover the eyes.

According to legend and belief, Phra Pidta posture brings 3 important qualities to worshippers. This is done by incorporating 3 different Yant scripts and incantations of sacred spells called “Katha” into the materials to make these qualities. Some temples may concentrate only 1 or all the 3 categories of qualities. Let’s take a look into all the 3 yantra categories.

• Firstly, the script for “Kong Kraphan Chatri” or impenetrability by weapons and invincible to enemies as in the case of well-known Tok Raja’s Pidtas.

• Secondly, the scripts for self attractiveness or Maha Metta to make the owner well-liked by others thus, creating a favorable environment for business success as well as personal career success and;

• Thirdly, the script for fetching good fortunes and enable good luck for the wearer can be found in today’s modern Pidtas generation. Another name for Pidta in this category is called Pidta Mahalarp.

Since the humble beginning in making Phra Pidta during ancient time, the priority was to incorporate high Kong Kraphan quality. Living in ancient time, people have to go through a lot of hardships such as war, robberies and ferocious wild animals in their daily lives. This quality is the no. 1 priority for making Pidta talismans. The most common form in this category is Phra Pidtawan that has up to 5 pairs of hands covering every ventilation opening in the body such as eyes, mouth, ears, navel and anus.

Wat Donsala, Pattalung 

According to folklore, the primary reason for such covering is to provide protection against harms usually black magic or evil forces that can penetrate a person through any one of the ventilation opening in the body thus causing suffering. Pidta with such strong protection for its owners such as Pidtawan is also named Pidta Maha-Ut in recent times.

Apart from giving protection to oneself against evil forces, Kong Kraphan against lethal weapons and poisons are also the benefits of Phra Pidta and favored by people from all walks of life in the Thai kingdom.

There are a lot of people who are ill-informed by subscribing to the notion that Pidta is a kind of “fighting amulets” believing that it is suitable for people dealing in illegal activities that involves street fights. This is absolutely not correct if we ask ourselves a fundamental question is Pidta associated to Buddhism? The answer is very obvious. As we now know that Phra Pidta is the manifestation of a venerable monk during Lord Buddha’s time more than 2,500 years ago. We may try to think how will it then by wearing Pidta talismans encourage people to fight and conduct evil deeds? The noble answer for this form of holy Pidta images is to help the wearer to go through life obstacles and not by promoting them to conduct sinful acts e.g. killings or stealing.

In the Northern East part of Malaysia toward Southern Thailand, there are many medidative masters that make potent Pidta amulets till today such as Chao Khun Onn from Wat PhraChonChomTaRa at Sungai Padi, Narathiwat in Thailand. Temple is not very far from the Golok/Rantau Panjang Customs.  He is one of the remaining few like LP Daeng of Wat Kok Sai and Than Mit whom have learned the art of making Phra Pidta Bangsek from Tok Raja lienage.

In our opinion, preference is given to powder or “Phong” based Pidtas. Some temple issued Pidtas have Takruts inserted together and some don’t as it is very much depending on the purpose of making and the technique used. Phong based amulets will always contain more materials such as holy herbs, flowers, etc. and can provide holy ingredients to be mixed such as sacred relics, takruts and gemstones whereas lead and metal will not be flexible to integrate these sacred items as the heat during melting process will destroy it.

To illustrate this further, let's take a detail look into Chao Khun Onn 1st batch powder based Pidta made in B.E.2538 as an example which have high content of holy ingredients mix in all its 999 pieces. Please refer to the details of this batch certificate of authencity.

This preference theory is also applicable to any powder based votive tablets such as Somdej and others. However, we are not concluding that metal based votive tablet properties in terms of protective qualities are not equivalent to powder based. It is individual preference and liking for a powder or metal based amulet.

Pidta Mahalarp is another category of Pidta primarily for Lucky Wealth as the word Mahalarp described. With lots of Metta Loving Kindness to give unexpected Lucky Fortune, Pidta Mahalarp also give protection to the wearers. Mahalarp type is always seen with a big belly with hands closing eyes just like any other Pidta.  Seen here is a Pidta Mahalarp Boddhisatta sitting on a lotus base.

In Penang, Wat Buppharam meaning "Flower Temple" and home to the Lifting Buddha had also produced its trademark Phra Pidta Kut. Wat Buppharam is the only Thai temple in Penang island that produces amulets for devotees. Its batch of Phra Pidta Kut was very successful and following that another batch Phra Pidta Patihan was produced in B.E.2550 and mass chanted by many senior monks. Penang also have a strong followership of Kelantan's Tok Raja and in both the 2 batches; Pidta Kut and Pidta Patihan, monks from Kelantan and Southern Thailand were invited for both the Pidta consecration and chanting ceremony "Puttaphisek".

From our perspective, Phra Pidta Kut is Penang's "Golden Pidta" of Wat Buppharam. This is because of the golden chrome body texture of this pidta. Pidta Kut also became the trademark of Wat Buppharam that had made this temple more famous during the last few years with its Pidta auspicious properties as endorsed by the temple.

Wat Buppharam have a long relationship history with Wat Uttamaram in the sense that it has a strong followership of Tok Raja by Penangites.

A few more variety of Phra Pidta examples and medellions "Rians" associated with Pidta makers are shown here with the hope readers will appreciate its art formations and to understand its common postures and shapes made by various temples. All sacred Phra Pidta tablets featured here are contributed by private collectors.

Towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century in the advent of industrialization, many people started preferring metal based Pidta instead. Newer techniques in molding had enabled many Phim designs of votive tablets and can be produced in large quantities that deemed impossible in the past. Therefore, many temples began developing metal based amulets and they are very common until today and may usually have a mix combination of copper, alloy, lead, bronze, silver, gold and even used bullet shells. One of the very common bullet shells Phra Pidta used as an example is LP Daeng of Wat Rai.

Other rare materials used in making Pidta are special woods with great properties usually called King of Wood or “Raja Kayu”, ivory or buffalo horns. From our research, Pidtawan and Pidta Maha-Ut are best made of buffalo horns. The condition must be a deceased buffalo died due to painful cause when giving birth to its calf. By carving out Pidta using the dead buffalo’s horns, it provides one of the most potent protections on Kong Krapan category. Hence, the quantity produce is very limited as it is not easy to find such condition for making this type of Pidta and every piece is handcrafted by the master guru.

One such example of Buffalo Horn Pidta is from a guru master Ajahn Uwan in Kelantan state of Malaysia. Ajahn Uwan is in 70s and he studied “Vicha” or magical sciences under the tutorage of Tok Raja and Chao Koon Chan from Wat Uttamaran.

Below are examples of wood based Phra Pidta individually hand crafted.

There is one more interesting discovery about wood Pidta. Usually we have heard that a special kind of wood that has potent properties is usually selected by guru masters from the jungles in South East Asia. Another rare wood material that a guru master can use to make Pidta is from old wooden structure collected from sacred temples. One such example is Luang Po Sang or commonly known by his devotees as Phra Ku Sang from Kedah.

This batch wood Pidta Mahalarp "wealth and fortune" was created in B.E.2552 using old wood found in the Ubosot "Sermon Hall" from Wat Suwannaram in Bangkok.  Through Phra Ku Sang's friendship with monks from this temple, he personally made the journey twice from Malaysia all the way to Bangkok by land transportation to collect the discarded wood material. Wat Suwannaram was built during the Ayuthaya period and is more than 200 years old. It recently went through a major renovation and all the wooden structures such as the big Garuda figure was dismantled.

This historical temple is highly sacred due to the daily chanting over the years by past and present monks. Therefore, the wooden materials inside this sermon hall will not be wasted. Instead all the materials torn down during renovation were recycled to turn into holy talismans.

Nue Wahn (Herbs Material)

There is no definitive answer as to what color Phong Pidta should represent. Some people will say that black holy-powder "Nue Wahn" Pidta provides better protection and security whereas white holy-powder Pidta will bring Metta loving kindness to the owner either in business or relationships. It is not so as it all depends on the guru masters intention and the choice of Katha incantation alongside the materials.  Shown below is another highly effective powder-made Pidta with 4 pairs of hands covering eyes, ears, stomach, and back.

According to Thai people, some of the highly sought after Pidtas by collectors are made by LP Kaew of Wat Klerwan in Chonburi Province. According to historical account, he is the first guru monk who successfully made efficacious Pidta imageries as the same period during Somdej Puttajarn Toh’s lifetime. Next is LP Suek of Wat Pak Klong Makhamtao in Chainat Province. This is also the temple of the famous LP Sook’s Somdej amulets were found. Following is Pidta by LP Kai of Wat Chernglen in Bangkok, Pidta LP Iam of Wat Sapansueng in Nonthaburi province and Pidta LP Jean of Wat Talad. All the above sought after Pidtas are Neu Wahn or powder based. It is very unfortunate that we do not have any photo examples of such great Pidtas because these are very rare pieces and not easily available.

Pidta Bangsek of Kelantan

In Malaysia, perhaps the most popular Phra Pidta is Tok Raja Pidta. There have been a lot of serious followers for this great master from Kelantan due to the astonishing miracles and good effects associated with these Pidta popularly known as Bangsek (the old name of Wat Uttamaram). Phra Pidta made by Wat Uttamaram's 2nd Abbot, Chao Koon Chan has also large followers. 

One may wonder why images presentation of Phra Pidtas usually covers its eyes or all the body ventilation opening. The rationale for such formation is linked to Vipassana theory when all sensory organs are controlled, happiness arises. In simple words it means if you don’t see evil, hear evil, speak evil, No harm and suffering will come to you. We are clarifying a very important logic on Pidta Maha-Ut. Although this Pidta category gives full protection against all harms by closing all doors to sufferings, so does fortune luck will also be denied entry to its owner. In any case we are not disputing the fact that when ill fortune and evil doers are being avoided so will fortune luck can be retained to the owner.

In the higher Dharma studies, suffering is released when the mind achieve equanimity at Nibbana state when knowing is knowing, seeing is seeing, hearing is hearing, feeling is feeling and the pure mind is undisturbed no matter in what circumstances. When nothing comes, nothing go, it is treated as living at present and not the past nor the future. Therefore, Pidta Maha-Ut provides this total protective quality to the owner when obstacles and harms come into contact at the door senses. So choose wisely which Phra Pidta that will suit your situation and mental characteristic to gain the optimum effect.

From a collector point of view, all reputable amulets are collectible. It is human nature to test out the efficacious effect on each amulet under his collection and then make his own conclusion. From experience, this is an important lesson to learn. In the event there is no significant uplifting change in one’s own experience after wearing the amulet, respectfully keep it aside and try another piece. The reason can be that particular piece may be unsuitable for oneself but it does not mean that it is not suitable to someone else. Here you may choose to give that piece away to someone you have fate in the course of your life journey. This may help the other person who can be your family, friend or relative to overcome life obstacles and in return may also help you to accumulate good karma.

One can never find this Phra Pidta art form in any other Buddhist countries around the world. Buddhist masters creating this art mostly come from South East Asia countries like Thailand and northern states in Malaysia. Phra Pidta is a beautiful art sculpture with a long Thai tradition and is only appreciated by those who understand the meaning and significant values that it can bring to its owner.

Amazingly a small piece of Phra Pidta can also be very potent in bringing good effects to the owner. One good thing that we discovered about Phra Pidta amulet is there are less restrictions or “Pantang” for the wearer to abide. However much powerful an amulet piece can be, the wearer must always bear in mind to observe the 5 Precepts and conduct good karma always. Such is the noble intention of all guru masters in the past till the present in making efficacious talismans for lay devotees. From the generosity of donors in return for a piece of talisman, only will the Sangha Order can continue to exist to continue spreading the Dharma teachings. This is indeed the fundamental in understanding the amazing world of Phra Pidta images and all its 3 major properties.

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