A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z




Jatukam-Ramathep (จตุคาม-รามเทพ)

Thai. Name of a large, very popular amulet in the shape of a medallion, about 6 millimeters thick and a diameter of around 5.4 centimeters. The original Jatukam-Ramathep amulets were introduced in the 1980's by Khun Phantharak Rajadej, a police chief from Nakhon Sri Thammarat, to raise funds for the construction of a lak meuang (city pillar). The amulet was then priced at 49 baht. The amulets became very popular when the Police Major General died at the age of 103 (some say 108) on 5 September 2006, just days before the coup d'état that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawat, and now, many are sold for more than 100,000 baht each. Believers wear the amulet around the neck as a talisman as it is believed to have magical powers and protect its owners. The front side of the amulet shows the god Tao Ramathep (fig.) seated with the right knee uplifted in a casual yoga position and surrounded by the animals of the Chinese zodiac, a reference to the coat of arms of Nakhon Sri Thammarat (fig.), and by eight figures of the demon-god Rahu. The back side shows a relief with some ancient yan signs that have an animist protective purpose. Tao Ramathep is, together with Tao Kadtukam (Kattukam - ท้าวขัตตุคาม), the guardian god of the holy relics of the Buddha. Their statues are carved onto the doors of Wat Mahathat Wora Maha Wihaan in Nakhon Sri Thammarat. The name of Tao Kadtukam was over time understood to be Jatukam, hence its present designation. However, since jatu (จตุ) is a word that derives from Pali and means ‘four’, as in jatulohkabahn, i.e. the ‘four guardians of the world’, it is also said that the name Jatukam-Ramathep in fact refers to four deities found within the wihaan of Wat Mahathat Wora Maha Wihaan, who besides Tao Kadtukam and Tao Ramathep, whose depictions are in bas-relief on the doors, are Tao Wirunhok (ท้าววิรุฬหก) and Tao Wirunpak (ท้าววิรุฬปักษ์), represented in the two gold statues located on the left and right top of the staircase, respectively. Together, the four are known as Tao Jatu Maha Raj (ท้าวจาตุมหาราช). Buddhists today have become obsessed with this alleged magic amulet, despite warnings that the circular icon is only a secular crutch, corrupting both religion and society. Due to its magical claims and a highly inflated resale value the amulet has caused an out-of-control craze. Thieves have broken into shops and homes and infiltrated temples to steal it. Then, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand allowed materials from his temple, such as ash from incense and powder from bricks, to be made into the controversial amulets and when in April 2007 a fresh batch of the lucrative charm went on sale in southern Thailand, a crowd of thousands waiting to buy coupons they could exchange for the amulets erupted into a stampede, trampling a woman to death and injuring many others. A few weeks later, the Supreme Patriarch stopped providing materials for the amulets. The first generation of amulets issued in 1987 AD, is also referred to as Phra Phong Suriyan-Jantrah (พระผงสุริยัน-จันทรา). See also Tao Ramathep and POSTAGE STAMPS.