In this Wall Street Journal article, Jennifer Chen analyzes the recent craze in Thailand for Jatukam Ramathep amulets. Patrick Jory, a history professor from Australia who teaches at Walailak University in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, said that the Jatukam Ramathep medallion, which depicts a mythical figure that resembles a Hindu god with multiple arms and heads, has become so popular because of the country's weak economy and the political instability, particularly a Muslim insurgency in the area around Nakhon Si Thammarat, a Buddhist stronghold that so far hasn't seen conflict. Jory said that popular demand for Jatukam Ramathep amulets also might be a way of expressing solidarity with the beleaguered Buddhists in the southernmost provinces. When the Jatukam Ramathep amulet was issued in 1987, one cost about $1.30, and the price of one of the first editions is now valued at about $13,000. However, to Buddhist purists, the big emphasis the amulet puts on wealth is anathema. They argue it is unseemly for monks to participate in such an overtly commercial venture.
The Wall Street Journal