Phallic talismans, or amulets, known in Thailand as ‘palad khik’, have a long tradition as lucky charms and for redirecting malevolent forces. Worn on a string or belt at the waist, off-center, or carried in the pocket by men and boys they are thought to both attract and absorb any magical malevolence intended for the real genitals. Sometimes more than one is carried/worn with the additional function of bringing good luck in love, gambling, or business. Though not generally worn by women, they may be carried in a purse as protection from rape or purse-snatchers, or used as an offering at a shrine if a specific petition has been granted.
Materials used include wood, horn, bone, black coral, and ivory, which can all be carved and then incised with special Buddhist inscriptions. Cast metal palad khik are widely used today and may or may not have inscriptions. The inscriptions are usually in an old religious language and made by special monks who also perform the requisite blessings.
It is thought that the phallic amulet has its origins in the lingams of India, which are for the worship of Shiva, and were brought to Thailand by Khmer monks in the 8th century AD. (Extant examples of these lingams can still be seen in various temples around Angkor Wat as shown below, on the left in the photo.)
Other uses for phallic symbols relate to fertility, as this shrine (below) on the lot of the former Hilton Hotel in Bangkok shows.
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