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Phra Maha Ut (พระมหาอุตม์)

Thai. Name for an image or amulet of a seated figure, who is covering his eyes with two hands. The name is a compound made up of the words Phra (a Buddha, buddha or monk), maha which means ‘great’ and the word ut which derives from utama (อุตมะ) and can be translated as ‘top’, ‘perfect’ and ‘plenty’. The word utama is related to udom (อุดม) meaning ‘abound’ or ‘fertile’, and to utamat (อุตมัตถ์) meaning ‘superb result’ or ‘splendid outcome’, a word with a magical connotation. The amulet is believed to help survive and escape death and is said to be popular amongst muay thai fighters. It is also named Phra Pit Tah (fig.) and is related to Phra Sangkatjaai (fig.). The figure of the amulet is also similar in appearance to statues of Phra Khwambati (พระควัมปติ), a maha thera who is also known as Phra Khwambodih (พระควัมบดี) or Phra Phakhawambodih (พระภควัมบดี) and Phra Pit Thawaan (พระปิดทวาร), who is said to have been an arahan and one of the first great elders of the Buddha, who is depicted with six arms and using his hands to close off his eyes, ears and urethra or anus (fig.), i.e. thawaan (ทวาร). This can be seen in some images that are portrayed with four arms (fig.), i.e. with two hands covering the eyes and –akin to Phra Sangkatjaai– two hands on the belly. Phra Maha Ut images often bear an imprint of one or more sandalwood-flowers, symbol of sammah samphutta (สัมมาสัมพุทธะ), i.e. the Fully Enlightened One.