Similar to belief in Phaya Jolakhe, myths, legends, and folklores relating to Phaya Tao are abundant in Thai culture. The belief may be traced as far back as 1600 AD after the Siamese victory over the Laos. A new settlement Tao Ngoi Village was built along the Lam Nam Phung River in Sakon Nakhon. Presently, the Kudnakham Arts and Crafts Center has built a giant Phaya Tao sculpture surrounded by numerous smaller ones behind the Tao Ngoi District Office.
The main essence of this belief is longevity and prosperity. There are several guru masters in the Kingdom of Thailand making and consecrating statues and amulets of Phaya Tao and the most prominent is of course Luang Pu Liu of Wat Rai Tang Thong, Nakhon Pathom.
Phaya Tao from Wat Lam Bua Loi
If the most acclaimed Phaya Tao statues and amulets are attributed to Luang Phor Liu, you may wonder what then is so special about those made and consecrated by Luang Pu Sanit of Wat Lam Bua Loi?
Whilst most guru master used conventional charms of longevity and prosperity in their creation of Phaya Tao, on the other hand, Luang Pu Sanit, besides conventional charms, has added charms to detect and protect against dangers to his creation. These are special features of Phaya Tao originating from Wat Lam Bua Loi.
Phaya Tao Reun Wud Khring
These features are most eminent in the Phaya Tao Reun Wud Khring amulet made in year 2535 and consecrated for five years before they were released in year 2540. In each of these Phaya Tao Reun Wud Khring amulet there is a talismanic heart inserted into the belly of the Phaya Tao. When the bell rings it signifies auspiciousness but if it does not then believers are advised to avoid all intended activities because the Phaya Tao has detected dangers.
For anyone who has visited Wat Lam Bua Loi he would have noticed that in one of the chamber there are numerous Phaya Tao carved from stones and marbles sitting of racks. Those statues are actually not available to the public. They are actually meant to guard the temple which is why Wat Lam Bua Loi is also known as the house of tortoises to the locals. The only Phaya Tao statues available to the public were made in year 2540 and released in year 2542 after Luang Pu Sanit entered nirvana. They come in the sizes of 3, 5, and 7 inches. Only a total of 797 pieces were made altogether.
However, according to the current abbot Phrakru Pradit, there have been a large number of fake Phaya Tao amulets and statues that are falsely represented to have originated from Wat Lam Bua Loi and consecrated by Luang Pu Sanit. His venerable has in a notification dated September 6, 2560 made the following clarifications:
1. The statue of Phaya Tao on a green resin tray (on the left side of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) is a prototype brought by a craftsman to Luang Pu Sanit for examination. But because the craftsman was not able to find all the 9 colors stipulated by Luang Pu Sanit, therefore, the construction was stopped. The only prototype is now at the temple as seen in the photograph.
2. The bronze Phaya Tao on a white tray (on the right hand side of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) was made and consecrated in year 2540. A total of 797 pieces were created.
3. The Golden Phaya Tao (in front of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) is taxidermy and there is only 1 piece.
4. The small Phaya Tao of size 3 inches (bottom left hand of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) is made from plaster with a ring of Luang Phor Sub, Wat Taluk, Chai Nat. This is the most fake and cited type.
5. The small cast iron tortoise of size 3 inches (bottom right hand of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) is a factory casting from Ma Sai, Tak province, given to Luang Pu Sanit by one of his grandnephew. It is purely for display only.
Finally, his venerable advised believers to “use your discretion when considering carved stone turtles in order not to become a victim to a group of people who are disguising those fake objects as sacred objects from Luang Pu Sanit.”
In these two articles we have introduced you to Luang Pu Sanit’s Phaya Jolakhe and Phaya Tao and in our next article we will introduce you to more Luang Pu Sanit’s amulets whereby his Venerable combined the two charms into one. So stay tuned.