“Community” means a group of people sharing the same or similar characteristics or interests. Currently, there are many communities in Thai society, even large or small.
“Amulet Community” is a group of people who appreciate and interest in Buddha Statue, Amulet, Memorable Medallion, Guru Monk Medallion, Talisman and other sacred objects. It began with few people and has gradually accumulated. Until today, it can be said that Amulet Community is one of the greatest communities in Thailand and many members have participated the community’s activities.
In the early period, the amulets or sacred objects were collected among acquaintances within each locality. Previously, the amulet collectors were interested in sacred objects which had blessing power in term of invincibility. The amulet collectors altogether came to coffee shop and appointment places to exchange their own knowledge and experiences.
The official commencement of Amulet Community began around 2490 B.E. by the high-networth group who would like to possess the amulets and sacred objects. Where there was a demand, there was a supply. Therefore, the possession of amulets and sacred objects has become popular and the centre point is Bangkok.
However, there were other groups of people who were interested in amulets and sacred objects came to participate with the central group. The starting point was the tamarind trees around Sanam Luang (Royal Field).
To avoid being an obstacle to the passerby, the amulet collectors altogether moved to the basement of the Criminal Court on 2500 B.E. The high networth people always made a discussion at “Maha Phan Bar” (Coffee shop which had the owner named Mr.Phan. Currently, this coffee shop still exists but amulet collectors club already moved to other places. Maha Phan Bar was not a real bar. Actually, it was a coffee shop. However, It was called Bar because it was a bantering talk between amulet collectors).
Then the Criminal Court was crowded with many people and it was not suitable for an official place. Therefore, amulet collectors again moved to Maha That Temple (the front of Thammasat University, Thaprachan) during 2503 B.E. to 2504 B.E. In this period, the collection and barter system had evolved to the trading system. Also the amulets and sacred objects were classified into the main type, sub-main type and other sets, for example, Benjaphakee set, Favourite Amulet Set and etc.
In 2512 B.E., Maha That Temple would like to restructure the temple areas for the tourists to pay homage to Luang Pho Nak in the ordination hall. Therefore, “Sanam Phra” or “Amulet Market” was moved to surrounding area of Racha Nadda Temple.
However, the area of Racha Nadda Temple was small and not enough for large numbers of amulet collectors. Hence, there was another group moved to Thaprachan Fresh Food Market.
Maha That Temple, Racha Nadda Temple and Thaprachan are symbol of amulet community in the early period. Although some are terminated, some still remain and has been the center of amulet community until today. As the amulet community has greatly grown, “Sanam Phra” or “Amulet Market” has expanded into department store and it has been called “Soon Phra” or “Amulet Market in Department Store”.
Pantip Plaza, Pratunum was the first department store in which Amulet Market was operated around 2521 B.E.
It was the beginning of Amulet Marketing in Department Store, Amulet Club and other Independent Amulet Shops both in Bangkok and provincial areas.
Therefore, there should be an organization to be a core center of amulet collectors. On 2536 B.E., Thai Buddha Image Admiration Association was established and Ajarn Preecha Duangwichai was the first president of association.
Then Asst.Prof. Rangsan Torsuwan became the president of association. In the early stage, the association was not accepted by others. Most members were high-ranking people in society thus they didn’t have harmonization within association and caused it unsuccessful.
Until 2539 B.E., there was a re-aggregation of amulet collectors (both in Bangkok and provincial areas). The management and operation process were systematized and well organized. The authority was decentralized to executives in each local area as the association would like them to be representatives to share amulet’s knowledge to local people.
In 2540 B.E., the association was re-established. In 2542 B.E. it was officially registered as Thai Buddha Image Admiration Association and it has been operated until today.
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