Carved & Inscribed Talismanic Protective Boar’s Tusk Pendant
early 20th century
length: 10cm, weight: 28g
Thai people continue to have a strong belief in the spiritual protection of talismans. The older and the more ‘magical’ the better. This example, which has been worn smooth with wear and which has a honeyed patina, has been made from a boar’s tusk. The tip has been carved as a tiger resting on its haunches.
The tusk has been engraved on all sides with magical script, and then darkened with lac. The script, which most Thais are unable to read but which essentially is Cambodian script, in itself is deemed to have magical properties. Motifs such as a stylised tiger, a pair of parrots , talismanic squares, and highly stylised depictions of the seated Buddha are included. These symbols are the same as what some Thais have tattooed directly into their bodies as protective tattoos (
The stylised Buddha is an all-purpose talisman, whereas the paired parrot motif is based on the
sarika, a mythical bird, and is designed to make the wearer more articulate. The tiger is believed to promote strength and power.
The tusk is in excellent condition. It has been fitted with twisted wire so that it can be suspended as a pendant.
Vater, T., Sacred Skin: Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos, Visionary World Ltd, 2011.
UK private collection
Inventory no.: 4101
A highly stylised and yet standardised representation of the seated Buddha.