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Article Date : 19 July 2011
Article Author : Chris Jones

Phra Lamphun - Historical Perspective


Phra Rod, Phra Kong and Phra Bang


Among the Hairpunjaya tablets, Phra Rod, Phra Kong and Phra Bang were recovered in the greatest numbers.
As mentioned previously this group comprises of some of the most popular amulets amongst collectors in Thailand today. All the aforementioned are relatively small 2 to 3 cm high, in comparison to earlier votive tablets.

Interestingly these amulets were also placed inside stupa, whereas previously votive tablets had been attached to exterior walls.

Other than legend it is not known why these amulets were produced in such copious numbers at Hairpuncha. Scholars have suggested three reasons why making such small tablets became popular.

 
  1. Influence of the Buddhist sect, that of Pagan Hinayanism, or Ariya (pre Sinhalese Buddhism) introduced into the northern region of Thaialnd from Burma where large quantities of similar tablets have been found.
     
  2. The larger votive tablets often contain the Ye Dhamma creed and names of kings or monks whereas no such inscriptions were found on the Hairpunchai tablets. It is possible that such tablets were therefore offered by commoners
     
  3. As mentioned earlier new components were used to create these amulets such as pollens and flowers, which may have affected the overall size. It is not really known if amulets were used as they are today, there is no real evidence to suggest they were.
     
These Hairpunchai tablets often depict the pre-enlightenment theme, that is the Buddha seated in the bhumisparsamudra with the legs crossed in vajrasana under the Bodhi tree, The Phra Kong amulet is a good example.

Some of the amulets feature bodhi leaves alone whilst others feature leaves and twigs/branches together


These design features of the Hairpunchai amulets such as Phra Bang / Phra Kong is a classical art style that is today known as Dvaravati. An early period heavily influenced by the Gupta and Pala dynasties of India.