Somdej Wat Keschaiyo - An Introduction Part 2
An original article by Yanisar

A Brief History

Somdej Phra Buddhascharn Toh Promrangsi was born on the 17th April BE 2331 at Angthong Chaiyo. At the age of 12 the royal palace adopted him, making him a novice at Wat Intrawiharn, Bang Khun Prom, Bangkok.

He entered the monkhood at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram aged 21. King Rama I announced him to te royal naga and sent him to Wat Rakang Kositaram in BE 2350.

It was here that he made his first batch of Pra Somdej Wat Rakang amulets in BE 2532, these today are known as ra Somdej Early age and are considerably less expensive than later batches. These pims were created using skills employed by village craftsmen from the Baanchanglor area close to te temple.

In fact he used these same village craftsmen during the period of King Rama 2 and King Rama 3 (BE 2532 - BE 2393). The pims created during this era are not considered as beautiful as beautful as later pims either. The arch is not well aligned, and often irregular in shape, the body of the Buddha image is considered short, and inclined. The texture of these pims was rough and fragile with cracks appearing all over due mostly to the actual mixture of the amulet mass.

This earlier age is often referred to by  experienced collectors as "Pim Talok" . Furthermore many even condemn these pims as fake even though they know fully well that they are in fact genuine.

In any case its the second age that we are interested in, that is the age that pims were created during the reign of King Rama 4. By this time he was now using craftsmen from Wang Na, Wang Lang and Wang Luang. The difference in skill reflected in the amulets which now had smooth consistent arches, Buddha images that were considered far more attractive with big chests and small waists, tapered arms with no sharp turns at the elbow. all these features are apparent in the Keschaiyo pims.

In fact one of the biggest improvements was the addition of cement powder called porcelain. This provided far more strength and rigidity which reduced cracking to a minimum.

Somdej Wat Keschaiyo - Dates

This section will explain why there are such significant differences between many of the amulets, and why in the first section I suggested that there was even a possibility that three  authentic pims could be totally unrelated.

What we need to understand is that the Wat Keschaiyo amulets were essentially created on three different occasions at three different time periods

  1. The very earliest pims were created at Wat Rakang in BE 2393 and then stored at Wat Kerschaiyo, Angthong province.
  2. Due to  structural damage to the kru in which these original amulets were stored a second batch was created at Wat Rakang to replace those pims that had either been stolen or broken.
  3. A third batch was created, again at Wat Rakang to replace more amulets that had been stolen from the Kru after a thief dug into the chamber. Here is the interesting fact,  after the stolen pims were replaced the excess amulets were taken to Wat Pho Kriab.

Market Factors

So now the variables are beginning to increase with the number of potential differences between the various pims becoming quite quite substantial.

1. We have different compositions within the same time  period

2.We have three different time periods.

3. We have a variety of different prints

4. We need to factor changes caused to amulets due from exposure to and damage by the elements during a 150 year period.

5. On top of all these variables there is still yet one other factor. That is I am afraid to say essentially the greed of many of Thailand's top amulet societies, and players

By way of example during the third time period which the Keschaiyo pims were created.; all excess pims were deposited for Wat Pho Kriab, and there is overwhelming evidence to prove this.

Despite that knowledge, the top societies and sians deny authenticity. This is typically one way in which they maintain a vice like grip on the control of market prices and availability. In fact they have many such tools at their disposal with which they manipulate the market. This control is so encompassing that we all contribute in some small way to its support.

You may be think that this has no bearing on the Keschaiyo pim variants, and that is where you would be wrong, and its this fact that has caused unbelievable carnage and confusion in its wake.

Prints
Let us now consider the basic prints and see how they as a variable may contribute further to the increasing levels of complexity.

These are the prints created, a straight forward fact, or at least you would think so.

6 Chan Ok Rong
6 Chan Ok Dtan
7 Chan Ok Dtan
9 Chan  Boran
7 Chan Hug Sork
7 Chan Mak Laeng Tho
6 Chan other pims

Now the real stupidity of this is that commercial dealers and societies have chosen only to recognize the first three pims all the remnainder according to them are fake, which is comical to say the least....its simply another way in which they control the market.

So if you are wondering why there is so much misunderstanding and a incredible degree of ignorance about these amulets then I think you will probably by now at least appreciate the reasons why.





Somdej Wat Keschaiyo - The Basics
An original article by Yanisar

The Pra Somdej Wat Keschaiyo group of amulets are classified amongst those that are attibuted to Pra Somdej  Puttajan Toh Promrangsee. These pims predominately share the same unique composition as the Wat Rakang  and Wat Bangkunprom somdej amulets.

They are made from lime (mortar, calcium oxide) , ground shell, pong itijay, pong puthakun, pong pathamang, pong maharat and pong dtree. All these sacred powders are combined with many other auspicious constituents including khao suk, banana and dried flowers .

The Keschaiyo pims I admit can initially  be quite confusing to understand which makes identification difficult for the novice. It is important to acquaint yourself with some basic factual information about these amulets, without which I am afraid,  a greater understanding will almost certainly elude you

Other than the basic print designs, these pims can be divided into a number of specific sub categories,  the most important of which is the composition of the amulet mass.

There are three major variations each giving the amulets a fairly individual appearance and without question is the source of considerable confusion. Indeed  those differences can be so significant it would be easy to conclude for example that you  were looking at three totally unrelated amulets, which as it happens could actually be the case

The confusion only increases when those differences are then combined with other influential factors such as storage conditions within the kru and most importantly the atmospheric conditions and level of direct exposure to the elements.

For example deterioration and compositional change to the amulet surface as a result of oxidation and/or erosion is common and you should also try and familiarize with the physical characteristics of each. In fact one of the basic skill sets of any experienced amulet collector. Different amulet compositions react with the elements in different ways and often is a very powerful authentication tool.

The other factor which plays an important role is the date of creation as we will see later, and why in fact you may very well be looking at completely unrelated amulets

Sub categorization by composition.

1. Neua Graeng...appearance of very old  dry mass, almost stone / marble like in appearance. In Thai it is referred to as "Neua Gae Boon" which literally translates as old mortar and is apt being quite distinct in appearance as the image below clearly illustrates.

Somdej Wat KeschaiyoPra Somdej Keschaiyo, Pim 6 Chan Ok Dtalot. (Neua Graeng)

 

  1. Neua Num Baang Glangyellow white ...which is made from accurately divided constituent components

neua num

Pra Somdej Keschaiyo, Pim 6 Chan Ok Dtalot

  1. "Neua Num"... Soft composition with a higher percentage of nam man or oil, sometimes referred to as "neua jat". The example illustrated below is also known as Pim Niyom

neua num2

Pra Somdej Keschaiyo, Pim 6 Chan Ok Dtalot. (Niyom)

There are other classification systems and other types of description for the amulet mass with no particular standard as such. For example  Pim Niyom (First Class / Diamond Grade) is often described as "Neua Nom  Kon" (condensed milk) with "kraap Leung" or yellow stains.

The system offered using three types of mass is perfectly adequate for the majority of Keschaiyo amulets. The most important consideration is simply to be aware of the degree  of variation that exists.

Once you have the basic knowledge everything will fall into place. Take the time to go through these tutorials and by the end  I can assure you that you will be far more knowledgeable than the majority  of Thai collectors, something that I hope to demonstrate to you by asking you to evaluate various pims being offered for sale on the internet.  At the very least you will be able to make fairly informed decisions should you consider making a purchase.

In the next section I will discuss classification based on the amulet prints before looking at some of the more detailed considerations relating to authenticity.