Cult of the amulets in Southeast Asia: origin, function and transformation

Armer, C. (2014) Cult of the amulets in Southeast Asia: origin, function and transformation. M.A. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.


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The cult of amulets in Southeast Asia is a controversial point that has, due to the recent renewed interest in these objects, become a popular topic of discussion by Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. The use of amulets has to an extent always been contested in Southeast Asia and many other areas, with a divide consistently present between individuals, and, in the case of Southeast Asia, between the varying schools of Buddhist thought. Although there are examples of scriptures and texts such as the Parittas and Jinapañjara Gārthā supporting the use of amulets, or at least their apotropaic nature, these items are still not unanimously accepted across Southeast Asia, where certain movements and individuals reject the cult of the amulets, and often the cult of sacred objects as well.

Throughout this thesis I will explore the origins of amulets; the varying and often magical or supernatural functions that are so frequently attributed to them; and the transformation amulets have gone through, with particular reference to the current climate and material issues of contemporary Southeast Asia.

Amulets are reflective of the societies in which they are produced and they have the potential to be changed by societal events. This would appear to be true, given the spectrum of societies and designs amulets are found in; not to mention their vastly varied functions. Researching this topic I explored existing material on this subject, including journals, books, collector magazines, websites, and auction sites where appropriate. This information provided not only an understanding of the conflict and reasoning behind the cult of the amulets in Southeast Asia, but also of the online resources delivered an up-to-date experience of their popularity and the monetary value of amulets in contemporary Southeast Asian society. In concluding this thesis I hope to have provided an interesting insight into the issues and conflicts surrounding the cults of the amulets in Southeast Asia, with particular consideration given to the Buddhist Theravada tradition (the predominant religion of this area).

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Hudson
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2015 09:50
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 09:23

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00