Now Reading
Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang

Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang

  • The Lord of all Phayant - The Ultimate Buddha's Grace

 

Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang at Lanna Folklife Museum, Chiangmai, Thailand

 

History of Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang

Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang

, otherwise also known as Phayant Phra Singh
is a large cloth talisman, originating in the traditions of Lanna
Sorcery. Historically, the kingdoms of Thailand were defined by 4 major periods – 1) the Sukhothai
period, which lasted about 200 years (from 1238 – 1438), 2) the Lanna period, which lasted 483 years (from 1292 – 1775), 3) the Ayutthaya
period, which lasted 416 years (from 1351 – 1767), and lastly, the Rattanakosin
period, which has lasted from 1782 to present-day.

Map of Lanna

The Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang fulfilled a specific purpose in the lives of the Lanna smallfolk. They were unable to keep Buddha statues in their household for purposes of worship, as they deemed anything but the holiest of sanctuaries as “impure” settings that were wholly unsuitable for the veneration of the Buddha.

Instead, they would inscribe images of the Buddha and his enlightened disciples; the Arahant and the Savaka, Celestial Deva and mythical animals upon linen cloth, and accompany these with Akara, which depicted Buddhist scriptures relating to the beings on each Phayant

.

 

These esteemed artefacts were crafted with utmost dedication and faith in the Buddha, in line with the Dhamma contained in the main scriptures of the Kam Pee Trinisinghe. The oft-depicted image of the Buddha in the innermost circle was inspired by the awe-inspiring beauty of the statue residing in Wat Phra Singh

, in Chiangmai province. Wat Phra Singh is an abbreviated form of Wat Phra-Put-Tha-Si-Hing, and the name of this Phayant was thus derived here.
Phra Puttha Sihing, Wat Phra Singh at Chiangmai, Thailand

The truth about the statue’s origins have been lost to time, but according to legend, it was modelled from the Shakyasimha

(Lion of the Shakya
clan, referring to Shakyamuni
Buddha himself), a long-lost sacred statue that was formerly housed in the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya.

 

In present-day, worshipping the Buddha within the confines of a household has become an accepted part of Buddhist culture. As a consequence of this, the Wicha, and the associated tradition of creating Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang, have also been lost to the ravages of time. 

Characteristics of Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang

Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang is a fabric talisman that combines both the ancient, esoteric knowledge arising from discovery, study and Katha, with the art of fine craftsmanship. More than a mere sacred artifact, Yant Phra Sihing Luang

is also considered valuable examples of Buddhist Art, owing to the meticulous craftsmanship and painstaking process involved with the creation of each. The market prices for these amulets, as a result, are often astronomical.

 

The 1st circle depicted on the talisman surrounds a Buddha. The 2nd and 3rd circles are where the Akara (abbreviated forms of Katha) are inscribed. The 4th circle contains depictions of the Buddhist saints and the disciples of the Buddha (the Arahant and Savaka). This is followed by a 5th circle, containing more Akara. The 6th circle contains a painting of various animals such as elephants, horses, Singha, as well as various celestial Deva. The 7th circle is the outermost circle and contains either more Akara, or depictions of the four Tao Jadtu Lokkabaan (commonly known as the 4 Heavenly Kings, who rule over each of the 4 cardinal directions). The 4 Celestial Kings (Refer to our upcoming article on Tao Wessuwan

, are sometimes also drawn at the 4 corners of the fabric.

 

 

 

 

A Painstaking Process

The creation and consecration of this Phayant is an elaborate process that requires plenty of preparation and may take place over the course of many days. Each Phayant begins with select cotton, specially selected and spun by a celibate lady who adheres well to the Buddhist precept. Any monks participating in the creation of Phayant, need to be meticulous and have attained an encyclopaedic knowledge of the various inscriptions and katha required, as even a minute error could render the entire process fruitless by eliminating all traces of the Phayant’s spiritual power. Spiritual adepts carefully select and prepare all of the dyes, colours, and tints required for the paintings, ensuring that they have been properly consecrated before they are used to paint the sacred images.

The preparation of the various inks, drawings and inscriptions of the characters have to all be carried out in the Ubosot. Some special procedures have to adhere to during the preparation of the inks, each of which is carried out on the corresponding days described below:

Sunday

The red ink is obtained from the heartwood of the “Chad

” tree (Dipterocarpus tuberculatus Roxb.) Yang Sadao
(resin) is obtained by cutting a hole near the base of the tree trunk. The resin is collected, and mixed with ground heartwood and water, resulting in a red dye. This process has to be done while facing East.

 

The ink requires further consecration. It is brought before the Buddha statue, along with offerings of red flowers, red candles and incense, where incantations are then invoked to increase its spiritual efficacy.

(left) Trunk of Dipterocarpus tuberculatus Roxb., (right) “Chad” dye
Pic reference: (left) neenawat khenyothaa / shutterstock.com, (right) Sylwia Brataniec / shutterstock.com

Monday

Crush Horadal

(Orpiment) to obtain yellow ink, while orienting yourself towards the West.

 

The ink requires further consecration. It is brought before the Buddha statue, along with offerings of yellow flowers, yellow candles and incense, where incantations are then invoked to increase its spiritual efficacy.

Horadal Picture reference: losmandarinas / Shutterstock.com

Tuesday

Crush charcoal to obtain black ink, while facing North.

The ink requires further consecration. It is brought before the Buddha statue, along with offerings of flowers and candles in very dark shades, and incense. Incantations are then invoked to increase its spiritual efficacy

Wednesday

To get white ink, crush Din Gee

(fired bricks made from white clay) while facing the Southeast direction.

 

The ink requires further consecration. It is brought before the Buddha statue, along with offerings of white flowers, white candles and incense, where incantations are then invoked to increase its spiritual efficacy.

Thursday

To get green ink, sap from crushed Yod Baitong

(the topmost growth of banana leaves) and other leaves from the Banana tree are pounded together while facing Northwest.

 

The ink requires further consecration. It is brought before the Buddha statue, along with offerings of green flowers, candles and incense, where incantations are then invoked to increase its spiritual efficacy.

Friday

Blue ink is obtained from the “Hom

” tree (Strobilanthes cusia). Its leaves are soaked in water and left to ferment, resulting in a chemical reaction that results in an intense blue pigment.
See Also

 

While grinding down the resulting compound to obtain the blue ink, ensure that you are oriented to the Northwest. The ink is consecrated with offerings of yellow flowers, candles and incense before a Buddha statue.

(left) Close up of the leaves of the Strobilanthes cusia, (right), blue tinctoria in fermenter
Picture reference: wasanajai /Shutterstock.com, bonga1965 / Shutterstock.com

Saturday

To obtain intense colours like dark crimson or orange, crushed Krang

(Lac) is used.  “Krang” is lac resin derived from the nests and wax secretions of the Kerria Lacca beetle. In order to produce the dye, the raw material is boiled down into a sticky paste. You should face the Northeast while grinding down the resulting paste and make an offering of red flowers during its subsequent consecration ceremony.
(left to right) Kerria Lacca beetle, “Krang” on the tree branch, Lac resin
Picture reference: (left to right) Amam ka / Shutterstock.com, RoseChom / Shutterstock.com, khlongwangchao / Shutterstock.com)

An auspicious date must be selected to draw and inscribe the characters. All individuals participating in the creation of the amulets should purify their mind and spirit through meditation beforehand. The positions of each element on the Phayant should be strictly adhered to, as any mistakes will turn the entire process into a failed endeavour.

 

Variants of this Phayant has also been recorded from numerous sources, such as in the traditions of the Tai Yai

tribe, Tai Yuan
tribe, and the Burmese. Some of these are also crafted in a variety of colours, while others are inscribed with purely black ink.

 

The Protective Powers of Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang

History records that Kruba Khantha Khantharo

of Wat Tha Khum Nguen
first crafted this Phayant during World War II, to protect the homes of villagers ravaged by war.

 

The presence of the Phayant helped to stave off a variety of calamities. There have been reports of people staving the worst effects of torrential rain, wind, and flooding through the mere act of placing the Phayant upon the rooftops of their houses. The Phayant strengthened their faith in the Buddha and his teaching, and they were able to overcome their incumbent misery, through natural disasters, calamities, and even the sorrow and wanton destruction of war. The talismans were also known to protect them during their journeys, and from the threat of demons, ghouls, and wild animals, all of which plagued the lives of many Thai people at the time.

Phayant are even widely believed to be able to reverse impending doom. Within the tribal belief system, many events were seen as ominous harbingers of disaster, from falling trees to wild animals such as serpents, monitor lizards, and even elephants appearing at their doorsteps. Even their rice crop spouting leaves, or mushrooms growing in their fireplaces, were seen as signs of ominous foreboding. In the face of such terrors, Phayant were often brought out to dispel the impending calamity.

These efforts themselves constituted something of an event. When not in use, Phayant Sihing Luang were to be stored respectfully, wrapped in a clean cloth and kept in a chest. They only emerged during times of extreme strife and desperation, or during extremely special or trying times, where a little spiritual boost could make all the difference.

 

Faith, Devotion and Miracles

Despite the length of time that has elapsed since their creation, and the rich history of Wicha, Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang is still considered a Yant Kru

(the first Yant), or a top-tier talisman. There were many Geji Ajarn throughout history who had participated in the creation of these, and they are considered the pride of the Lanna people.

 

The teachings of the Buddha, as well as the exemplary life of the Arahant and Savaka, are often retold through the Phayant. Through devotion and embodying these teachings in their daily lives, devotees are able to connect to a higher power, allowing miracles to happen to them. It is said by the Buddha, “Dhammov have rakkhati dhammacarim

“; Dhamma naturally protects one who practices it.”

 

In present-day, it is rare to see these Phayant in-person.  If you want to see authentic old pieces of  Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang, you might like to visit the Lanna Folklife Museum, in Chiangmai, Thailand, and feel for yourself how the wisdom of the ages, and a little spiritual help, could have a deep impact on your life.

Footnotes:

  1. The information summarised and extracted from “คง เข้ม ข่าม ขลัง เครื่องรางล้านนา” by Prof Wilak Sriphasang
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 The World's Knowledge Base for All Things Mystical. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top