History of Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang
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
The truth about the statue’s origins have been lost to time, but according to legend, it was modelled from the Shakyasimha
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
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
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:
The red ink is obtained from the heartwood of the “Chad
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.
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.
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
To get white ink, crush Din Gee
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.
To get green ink, sap from crushed Yod Baitong
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.
Blue ink is obtained from the “Hom
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.
To obtain intense colours like dark crimson or orange, crushed Krang
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
The Protective Powers of Phayant Phra Puttha Sihing Luang
History records that Kruba Khantha Khantharo
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 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
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.
- The information summarised and extracted from “คง เข้ม ข่าม ขลัง เครื่องรางล้านนา” by Prof Wilak Sriphasang