EPL Prediction Competition 2018-2019 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

White elephant in Thai culture, highly auspicious and symbols of royal power

In my view, one of the most impressive and majestic animals is the elephant, in particular the white elephant. In Thai culture the white elephant is called “chang samkhan”, which means “auspicious elephant”.


By Sirinya Pakditawan

Sunday 12 November 2017, 02:00PM


White elephants have been used in royal ceremonies for hundreds of years because of their revered status. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP

White elephants have been used in royal ceremonies for hundreds of years because of their revered status. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP

Whiteness is regarded as an sign of purity in this context. The white elephant has an important meaning in both Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hinduist thought, the white elephant is related to the God Indra who is also a guardian deity in Buddhism. His elephant can also fly and it is called ‘Airavata’.

This kind of elephant is thus also related to Buddha’s conception since his mother Maya is said to have been circled by a white elephant three times until it entered her womb through her right side. Thus, in Thailand white elephants (chang phueak) are not only considered to be auspicious but they also belong lawfully to the King.

Have you ever seen a white elephant? In fact, chang phueak are not necessarily albinos but are much paler than common elephants. Their skin may be light grey, beige or even have a rosy or pinkish hue. Think of the impressive procession of 11 white elephants at the Grand Palace in honour of Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok.

In Thai culture, the status of kings have been rated by the number of white elephants that were in their possession and they have been historically considered a symbol of the King’s majesty. Hence, the late King Bhumibol owned the greatest number of white elephants. He had 21 white elephants and this can be regarded as an unprecedented achievement. Eleven of these elephants are still alive but only five of them have royal titles.

QSI International School Phuket

Hence, how does a chang phueak become a royal elephant? An elephant has to undergo a number of tests conducted by the Bureau of the Royal Household since it is important to ensure that the elephant is suited for the title and has not only the physical but also the behavioural characteristics required.

In the past, Thai kings also gave white elephants as presents to friends and allies. This was a blessing or curse since an elephant considered sacred was not supposed to work and at the same time it needed care and food. Thus, a chang phueak could easily become a huge financial burden to the owner unless the king would also provide the recipient with land for the elephant.

Summing up, we may say that the white elephant has been the most sacred and auspicious animal in Thai culture since it is also considered as a royal animal related to the King.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Foul stench of sewage in black-water canal spurs Phuket hotel wastewater inspections

“We are planing to inspect suspicious hotels in the area from Monday (Aug 21),” he said. Will n...(Read More)


Phuket to hold mass merit-making event for Phoenix victims

Poor wording, "merit-making" Merit, the quality of being particularly good or worthy, esp...(Read More)


Phuket Governor to appeal to Cabinet for B108mn to improve marine safety

So this is his final gift to his cronies before being shuffled to the next area where he can continu...(Read More)


On Phuket, hotel guests check out of plastic waste

Why the pic of Bali when every beach on Phuket right now is also encrusted with refuse? Could the ...(Read More)


Phuket law office raided over nominee land deals for foreigners

If you ever need some remote editing done...I know just the person. btw I loathe the 3 stage captch...(Read More)


Foul stench of sewage in black-water canal spurs Phuket hotel wastewater inspections

Once again their "solution" is let it flow more freely into the sea. The guys says it stin...(Read More)


Truck driver blames reckless tourist for motorbike slam

How utterly tacky to show the victim and the blood. Please pretend like you've got some class an...(Read More)


Disaster officials on alert amid heavy rain warning

If you bothered to read the article it states, "... small boats keep ashore lasting 20 August.&...(Read More)


Phuket Town ‘unofficial parking crew’ cleared by police to collect ‘tips’

Geez...by putting your own silly spin on the article, don't you people read or understand a simp...(Read More)


Phuket Governor to appeal to Cabinet for B108mn to improve marine safety

Nonsense! Phuket marine safety is not about money! It is about apathy and laziness of marine officia...(Read More)