“Kattha”, the Khmer amulets 📿

 In Daily Life, Phnom Penh, Traditions, Typical

Most Cambodians hold a strong belief in the existence of spirits, both good and evil…

That is why protective amulets have a major role in Khmer people’s life to keep off evil spirits and bring them good luck. 📿📿📿

Usually, Khmer amulets include engraved gems, small statues, coins, rings, plant bits or written words in the form of a magical spell to prevent evil spirits. They contain “kattha” [pronounced “K’thaa” in Khmer]. “K’thaa” is the name used for Sacred Pali prayers, mantras and other magical incantations. K’thaa are used in by Cambodian people for a great many purposes; be it for protection, charm or business ventures, there is a K’thaa which can be summoned and worn. They are aimed at bringing luck, happiness or even love to the person wearing it on his wrist or keeping it in his pocket.

These amulets are received from the monk at the temple after making donation. The “krus” (same word as the Sanskrit word “guru”) and Buddhist monks are believed to have the power to prepare or sanctify an amulet by establishing a supernatural link between it and the person holding or wearing it.

You may see Cambodian babies wearing K’thaa around their neck or their waist to ward-off evil spirits, or adults wearing it inserted with a cotton thread around their wrist to be protected on a long journey or when they feel unsafe. Many businessmen and shop owners have sanctified key-chain amulets with K’thaa to bunch their keys and opening their office or shop with such key chains is considered auspicious.

As a tourist, you can buy Khmer amulets on the markets and use them as colored typical bracelets or as decoration, ignoring their importance in locals’ eyes.

If you want to know more about Khmer culture and little known parts of Phnom Penh, join our interactive mystery tour !

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