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mysterious "mekhapat" of Thailand ?



 
 
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  #1  
Old January 16th 04, 06:22 AM
Bill Woodruff
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default mysterious "mekhapat" of Thailand ?

I hope this not off topic, but I feel there's more chance of someone in =
this
group knowing what this is than elsewhere. By way of
obeisance/defense may I say that I have recently done a website for a =
real
jeweler and gemologist and it was a pleasure

I am a serious collector and student of the visual arts of S.E. Asia, =
and for
several years have been trying to identify a black
substance used in making Buddhist amulets (usually small, usually Buddha =
images,
sometimes Sangkajai [fat, Buddha's disciple],
sometimes amulets of Cambodian secondary Buddhist/animist themes =
[oophakhoot]).
A very frequent use of this material is for amulets
called "Phra Pid-Da" in Thai (literally : "amulet of the closed eyes") =
which is
a very ancient icon of a person with hands covering
the eyes that many people believe pre-dates Buddhism.

When I ask my Thai friends about this they usually repeat the story that =
it is a
"secret" material made only by Monks, and the
method of manufacture is passed from one Monk to another. Monks do make =
amulets
in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition from substances
including clay, terra-cotta, mixtures of plant material and clays, etc., =
as well
as bronze, silver, brass, sometimes gold. So far no
luck in tracking down a Monk who makes mekhapat, and I am reluctant to =
travel in
Cambodia for safety reasons.

The substance, which I at first believed was a kind of black agate or =
glassine
rock, is black, glossy, smooth to the touch. Slightly
reflective rather than dull. I remember in my childhood in Florida =
finding black
agate ... or was it volcanic glass ... that could
be flaked into razor-sharp shards.

I believed this to be some kind of molten material until one day I came =
across a
large Buddha amulet that was not only clearly
Mekhapat, but also highly magnetic.

I appreciate any ideas you have about what this substance may be.

thanks, Bill Woodruff
dotScience
Chiang Mai, Thailand

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  #2  
Old January 16th 04, 04:02 PM
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

My wife gave me a pendent from Japan, it is a gold symbol surounded by =
flat
black.
It came with a card telling how it was made. A steel disk was carved and
gold hammered into the grooves.
Then somehow charcole was rubbed in to the steel, I'm not sure how that
works out, but there it is.
This is placed into a gold bezel. I wear it 24/7 for about 5 months now =
and
it is holding up fine.
It is also magnetic from the steel disc, but shows no sign of rust.

Les

On 16-Jan-2004, "Bill Woodruff" wrote:

I hope this not off topic, but I feel there's more chance of someone in
this
group knowing what this is than elsewhere. By way of
obeisance/defense may I say that I have recently done a website for a =

real
jeweler and gemologist and it was a pleasure

I am a serious collector and student of the visual arts of S.E. Asia, =

and
for
several years have been trying to identify a black
substance used in making Buddhist amulets (usually small, usually =

Buddha
images,
sometimes Sangkajai [fat, Buddha's disciple],
sometimes amulets of Cambodian secondary Buddhist/animist themes
[oophakhoot]).
A very frequent use of this material is for amulets
called "Phra Pid-Da" in Thai (literally : "amulet of the closed eyes")
which is
a very ancient icon of a person with hands covering
the eyes that many people believe pre-dates Buddhism.

When I ask my Thai friends about this they usually repeat the story =

that
it is a
"secret" material made only by Monks, and the
method of manufacture is passed from one Monk to another. Monks do make
amulets
in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition from substances
including clay, terra-cotta, mixtures of plant material and clays, =

etc.,
as well
as bronze, silver, brass, sometimes gold. So far no
luck in tracking down a Monk who makes mekhapat, and I am reluctant to
travel in
Cambodia for safety reasons.

The substance, which I at first believed was a kind of black agate or
glassine
rock, is black, glossy, smooth to the touch. Slightly
reflective rather than dull. I remember in my childhood in Florida =

finding
black
agate ... or was it volcanic glass ... that could
be flaked into razor-sharp shards.

I believed this to be some kind of molten material until one day I came
across a
large Buddha amulet that was not only clearly
Mekhapat, but also highly magnetic.

I appreciate any ideas you have about what this substance may be.

thanks, Bill Woodruff
dotScience
Chiang Mai, Thailand

  #3  
Old January 16th 04, 04:03 PM
pathfind11
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

large Buddha amulet that was not only clearly
Mekhapat, but also highly magnetic.


If it is naturally magnetic, it sounds like
lodestone, which is black=20
Regards,

Mark

Do not envy a sinner; you don't know what disaster awaits him.
Bible, Old Testament

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he =
shall
receive the crown of life. Bible, New Testament, James, Chapter 1, Verse
12
  #4  
Old January 17th 04, 08:03 PM
NE333RO
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

The substance, which I at first believed was a kind of black agate or =3D
glassine
rock, is black, glossy, smooth to the touch. Slightly
reflective rather than dull.


Along with being magnetic it sounds like hemotite to me.
  #5  
Old January 24th 04, 06:42 PM
will e
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Posts: n/a
Default

Sounds like tektite (or tectite), glass produced by hypervelocity
meteorite
impacts on terrestrial rocks. Will E.
"Bill Woodruff" wrote in message
...
I hope this not off topic, but I feel there's more chance of someone in
this
group knowing what this is than elsewhere. By way of
obeisance/defense may I say that I have recently done a website for a
real
jeweler and gemologist and it was a pleasure

I am a serious collector and student of the visual arts of S.E. Asia,
and
for
several years have been trying to identify a black
substance used in making Buddhist amulets (usually small, usually Buddha
images,
sometimes Sangkajai [fat, Buddha's disciple],
sometimes amulets of Cambodian secondary Buddhist/animist themes
[oophakhoot]).
A very frequent use of this material is for amulets
called "Phra Pid-Da" in Thai (literally : "amulet of the closed eyes")
which
is
a very ancient icon of a person with hands covering
the eyes that many people believe pre-dates Buddhism.

When I ask my Thai friends about this they usually repeat the story that
it
is a
"secret" material made only by Monks, and the
method of manufacture is passed from one Monk to another. Monks do make
amulets
in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition from substances
including clay, terra-cotta, mixtures of plant material and clays, etc.,
as
well
as bronze, silver, brass, sometimes gold. So far no
luck in tracking down a Monk who makes mekhapat, and I am reluctant to
travel in
Cambodia for safety reasons.

The substance, which I at first believed was a kind of black agate or
glassine
rock, is black, glossy, smooth to the touch. Slightly
reflective rather than dull. I remember in my childhood in Florida
finding
black
agate ... or was it volcanic glass ... that could
be flaked into razor-sharp shards.

I believed this to be some kind of molten material until one day I came
across a
large Buddha amulet that was not only clearly
Mekhapat, but also highly magnetic.

I appreciate any ideas you have about what this substance may be.

thanks, Bill Woodruff
dotScience
Chiang Mai, Thailand


  #6  
Old January 26th 04, 05:20 AM
Josiah Cod
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Many thanks for the comments and responses !

The Japanese pendant sounds beautiful, but I am sure this is not the
same type of material as Mekhaphat.

Meteorite fragments are sometimes used in several forms in the religious
arcana of the "animist universe" that swirls around the
formal traditions of Theravada Thai Buddhism like moths around a flame.
Meteorite fragments are referred to in Thai as "dao tok"
which translates as "fallen star." Meteorite is considered specially
"magically potent" in making "takut," fetishes worn usually on
a braided belt believed to protect from harm in battle.

I am not familiar with hypervelocity impact produced tektites, but will
pursue this line of inquiry. Lodestone or hematite are also
good hypotheses to be pursued.

Mekhaphat (and its rarer cousin "mekhasit") await clarification.
Whatever it is, it is hard enough and strong enough to take
detailed carving as a beautiful Cambodian piece of a Buddha surrounded
by two phiyanaag (primordial water serpents who look a lot
like Chinese dragons) in my collection attests. A local dealer has a
Phra Sangakajai (fat Monk often mistaken for the fat Buddha
coming from the Chinese Mahayana tradition) he claims has a coating of
mekhapat over bronze : if that is true, then it was
definitely cast which means it is definitely meltable and pourable. This
material though looks porous and smells of sulfur; the
mekhapat I have seen is almost always semi-gloss (artifact of polishing)
appears non-porous and has no distinct odor.

If I find a really "definitive" answer, I will post either a summary or
a link on this group.

Sawasdee Khrup, Bill Woodruff
Chiang Mai, Thailand

  #7  
Old January 26th 04, 05:32 AM
Peter W. Rowe
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Posts: n/a
Default

On Mon, 26 Jan 2004 05:20:31 GMT, in rec.crafts.jewelry "Josiah Cod"
wrote:

he claims has a coating of
mekhapat over bronze : if that is true, then it was
definitely cast which means it is definitely meltable and pourable. This
material though looks porous and smells of sulfur; the
mekhapat I have seen is almost always semi-gloss (artifact of polishing)
appears non-porous and has no distinct odor.


Bill,

more and more this is sounding to me like at least a variant, of, if not
exactly, Niello. Niello is normally a mix of copper, silver, and
perhaps lead, which are melted together and then mixed with an excess of
sulphur. The resulting mix of black metal sulphides is fairly low
melting, and in jewelry, is normally used much like enamel, poured into
depressions or engravings in silver or gold (or other metal) items, and
then usually scraped or filed flat and burnished or polished. the stuff
softens a bit when warmed and can be quite plastic, depending on the mix
of the metals it was made from. If not made well, it could be quite
porous and frothy, or have tiny bits of metallic metal still floating in
it, and a sulphur smell also might occur if it's not well made and
mixed. It will adhere to most metals, including steel or iron, so it
would not be hard to make a magnetic item simply by using it to coat
something made of, say, cast iron. also possible might be a mix of
niello and iron filings, used as a solid cast material. That too, might
be quite magnetic. While it's normally used as an overlay on metal,
there's no real reason it could not be cast into probably small solid
forms as well. The use of niello is quite traditional in thai jewelry,
and I can well imagine that there might be a variate formula made,
perhaps with other metals, such as maybe without the silver, that might
then have a completely different name, with other traditional uses.

what I like about this hypothesis is not just that, for me, it seems to
fit your descriptions, but that since there are numerous variations in
the formulas that can be used to make neillo or neillo-like substances,
these variations could easily account for the several variations you
cite in it's appearance and the like...

Hope thats of interest and use.

Peter Rowe

  #8  
Old January 27th 04, 08:42 AM
S.A.Smitherman
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Default

The smell of sulfur also puts me to think that what you are referring to
is
"niello". For more information on it see the following website:

http://ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/nillo-work-10-1.htm

good luck


  #9  
Old January 28th 04, 02:14 AM
Ganoksin
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Posts: n/a
Default

I would second Peter. It sounds like a neillo or neillo-like
substances. Almost all amulets and Buddha figures are mass produced,
mostly cast, check out the amulet wholesale market at the temple
opposite the Golden Mount....

my 2c

hanuman
http://www.ganoksin.com
 




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