Phra Leela – Pang Perd Lok amulets

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pra leela kampaengphet

Phra Pang Perd Lok is a style (Pim or Pang Leela) of Buddha Image, representing his descent from the Tavatimsha Heaven, to which he had risen in order to preach to his mother.

A figure that seems to have come to a momentary pause mid-stride, one heel raised while the other foot is firmly planted on the ground, one hand lifted in a gesture of giving instruction or dispelling fear, while the other arm is naturally at its side.This iconography is most closely associated with amulets from the Sukhothai era and are considered by many collectors to be some of the most beautiful pims ever created.

The Buddha is always represented with certain physical attributes, and in specified dress and specified poses. (Pang) Each pose, and particularly the position and gestures of the Buddha’s hands, has a defined meaning.

The most important aspect of the iconography of the Buddha is gestures made with the hands, known as  mudrā, a symbolic or ritual gesture.

The Abhaya mudrā (“mudrā of no-fear”) represents protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear. In the Thervada it is usually made with the right hand raised to shoulder height, the arm bent and the palm facing outward with the fingers upright and joined and the left hand hanging down while standing. This mudrā is associated with the walking Buddha.

The gesture was used by the Buddha when attacked by an elephant, subduing it as shown in several frescoes and scripts.The dress of the Buddha is the monastic robe, draped over both shoulders, or with the right shoulder bare.

It was at Sukhothai that the most beautiful and characteristic Thai art developed including the Walking Buddha, the highpoint not only of Sukhothai art, but indeed of Siamese art as a whole.

The Thai adopted Theravada Buddhism from the Mons, and also incorporated their basic conception of image making; the art of Sukhothai is therefore closely linked to the art of Gupta, India. From the Khmer, the Thai retained a deep affection for the great Indian epics, especially the Ramayana.

Although the artists of the Sukhothai period are often credited with ‘inventing’ the walking Buddha, it actually appeared in Indian sculpture (only in relief) much earlier and in particular the Jain sect, an old religion dated around 6 BC.

Walking Buddhas display the gesture of dispelling fear (Abhaya Mudra), or giving instruction (Vitarka Mudra).

The original Pra Pang Perd Lok amulets were heavily influenced by the iconography of the Khmer Kingdom, evidenced by the similarity of the face to various Hindu gods.The Thais re-designed the style and nowadays is called Phra Leela and although essentially the same amulet tends to appear be somewhat more delicate and lively.

Today Phra Leela is respected as one of the most beautiful images of Buddha in the world.

Pra Pang Perd Lok amulets can be classified according to several different style of pim. Although somewhat technical and used only by professionals, I list it here for your reference.

1.Pim Ting Ding (Toes of the Buddha image are close to one another)

2.Pim Teen Tang (Toes of the Buddha image are further apart )

3.Pim Yerntor (Buddha Image standing on a base)

4.Pim Met Tonglarng (Similar in shape to the seed of Tonglarng, a species of Thai plant)

5.Pim Kleep Jumpa (shape of amulets similar to Jumpa, a species of Thai flower)

6.Pim Kleep Bua (Similar in shape to the lotus)

7.Pim Kempetch (Similar in shape to Kempetch, a variety of Thai flower)

8.Pim Bai Kem (shape of amulet similar to the leaf of the Kem flower.

9. Pim Khanun

The smallest Pra Pang Perd Lok amulets are approximately two-centimeter high and the tallest are about eight-centimeter high.

Today the most sought after Leela amulets originate from Kamphaengphet province, often achieving very high prices. Probably the most affordable Sukhothai pims are those from Kru Larn Dokmai.

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