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abacus (άβακας, אבקוס)

1. Latin-Greek-Hebrew. Architectural term referring to a flat slab on top of a capital, i.e. the uppermost part of a column.

2. Latin-Greek-Hebrew. A device for making mathematical calculations. READ ON.

abat (Һѵ)

Thai-Rajasap. Transgression of a minor precept by a Buddhist monk. See also sa-mee and Buddhist precepts.

abayamuk (ͺآ)

Thai. The way to hell and ruin. A term used for temptations and vices, generally understood to be getting drunk, going out late at night, watching games, gambling, befriend bad people and indolence or laziness.

Abhakara Kiartivongse (ҡ õǧ)

See Aphakon Kiatiwong.

abhava (अभाव)

Sanskrit. Non-existence or non-entity. A term used for one who is never born and as such a title given to some Hindu gods. This could refer to those not born of any human being or material creature, such as Rudra, who was born from between the eyes of Brahma, and Brahma himself, who is born directly from the lotus flower that grows from the navel of Vishnu. The term is related to the Sanskrit words bhava (भव) and bhaava (भाव), meaning being and spirit, respectively. Also transcribed abhaava.

abhaya (अभय)

Sanskrit. Fearless. A mudra symbolizing calm, reassurance and no fear. READ ON.

Abhaya (अभय)

1. Sanskrit. Unafraid, fearless. A god that is also the patron saint of the Sakya clan, and to whom the newborn Siddhartha was presented in the temple of the same name according to ancient tradition. See also abhaya.

2. Sanskrit. Unafraid, fearless. Name of a son of King Bimbisara of Rajagaha, who raised Jivaka as his adopted son.


Pali. Buddhist philosophy, which consists of higher teachings about the dhamma and which has been described as an abstract and highly technical systemization of the Buddhist doctrine, which is simultaneously a philosophy, a psychology and an ethics, all integrated into one framework.

Abhimanyu (अभिमन्यु)

Sanskrit. Excessive anger. Son of Arjuna and Subhadra. He was a brilliant warrior who whilst still in his mother's womb had learned the knowledge of penetrating into the Chakravyuha, a seven-tier defensive spiral formation, by overhearing Arjuna talking about it with his mother. However, his mother fell asleep while she was being explained about it and so he could not learn how to escape from it, hence he later died in battle trying to break free from the Chakravyuha. Shortly after his death his wife Uttara had a miscarriage but the child named Parikshit was brought back to life by Krishna and eventually succeeded Yudhishthira as king of Hastianpura.

Abhinavagupta (अभिनवगुप्त)

Sanskrit. Philosopher from the 10th century AD and writer on aesthetics. One of the most influential philosophers from the Kashmir school of Shivaism.

abhisheka (अभिषेक)

1. Sanskrit. Unction or blessing by sprinkling water, also the ceremonial sprinkling of images with water, milk, saffron, flower petals or other objects, to honour or worship. The Thai word aphisek (ȡ), which means  coronation, derives from it. Compare also with the Thai term rod mon nahm.

2. Sanskrit. Ritual unction or anointment, as in Abhisheka of Sri.

Abhisheka of Sri

Representation of the goddess Sri (Lakshmi) seated on a lotus base (fig.) and holding a lotus (fig.), one of her attributes, in each hand (fig.), whilst being doused with water by two elephants. READ ON.

Acacia ()

English-Thai. Generic name for a genus of pod-bearing trees and shrubs in the subfamily Mimosoideae. READ ON.

Acalanatha (अचलनाथ)  

Sanskrit. Immovable protector. Name of a Hindu deity that in the late 7th century was incorporated into esoteric Buddhism as a servant of the Buddha. READ ON.

achara (अचर)

Sanskrit. Behaviour or conduct. The rules for ritual practice of religions, orders and castes; ceremonial rites. Also transcribed acara.

acharya (आचार्य)

Sanskrit. Teacher or guru, especially of brahman, the Universal, absolute, eternal and pervading spirit in Hindu philosophy. The term is often used for a group of Vaishnava teachers who base their teachings on Sanskrit as well as on Tamil scriptures. They worship the alvars which it is believed are incarnations of the attributes of Vishnu. Acharya is the root word for the Thai word ajaan, meaning teacher. See also Brahmacharya.


Therapy by using pressure and massage on precisely determined points of the body, used in traditional Thai massage. See also acupuncture and fire cupping.


An old form of treatment that originated in China in which long needles of steel, silver or gold are placed in the subcutaneous connective tissue in precisely determined spots of the body. READ ON.

adi (आदि)

Sanskrit. First, beginning or chief, as in Adi-Buddha.

Adi-Buddha (आदिबुद्ध)

Sanskrit. The original Buddha. The supreme primordial Buddha in the Vajrayana sect of Mahayana Buddhism, who created himself from the original void. In true essence, this Buddha is abstract, illusionary and inconceivable. Therefore he cannot be represented in art, unless in his revealed and more earthly forms such as Vajradhara (fig.) and Vajrasattva (fig.), as found in Tibetan as well as in Khmer art, and the various bodhisatvas. Vairochana is considered the Javan Adi-Buddha. Usually depicted in royal attire or in hermaphrodite union with a consort, a principle in Vajrayana Buddhism known as yabyum. The emanations and representations of his five qualities are referred to as the Five Great Buddhas or the Five Jinas, i.e. the five dhyani buddhas.

Adi-Granth (आदिग्रंथ)

Sanskrit. Holy book with more than five hundred hymns composed by five gurus and holy men and written by Arjan Dev (1581-1606) in 1604. They are kept in the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Later, hymns of the Guru Tegh Bahadur were added to the Adi Granth and the text was affirmed its successor.  This second rendition is sometimes referred to as Guru Granth Sahib. The text is so sacred that it has its own bed and bedroom within the gurudwara, i.e. a Sihk temple,  and is each morning carried to the sanctum transported in a special palanquin and carried on the head, a ritual that is repeated in reverse each evening, when the scripture is tucked back into its bed.

Adinatha (आदिनाथ)

Sanskrit. Original lord. Designation of the first Tirthankara of Jainism, who is also known by the name Rishabh or Rishabh Dev. He was a prince of the Ikshvaku clan, born to King Nabhi Raja and Queen Maru Devi in Ayodhya. He became a Siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma. Adinatha had one hundred sons, the firstborn being Bharat, the second one known as Gomateshwara or Bahubali, of which the latter name means strong-armed. Also pronounced Adinath.

Aditi (अदिति)

Sanskrit. Unbounded, free. The Vedic goddess of space and mother of all creatures and gods. Her first offspring were the Adityas. One of them, Daksha, is considered both her daughter and mother. In later mythology she appears as the wife of the seer Kasyapa, by whom she became the mother of Vishnu in his avatar as Vamana (fig.), and of Indra. Besides this she is the goddess of the sky, consciousness, the past, the future and fertility. The Thai word for the past (adit) derives from Aditi.

Aditya (आदित्य)

1. Sanskrit. Sun. The Thai word ahtit (sun) is derived from it. See also Phra Ahtit.

2. Sanskrit. Sons of Aditi. Each of them represent a certain aspect of natural phenomena. In scriptures they first appear as just six then later seven, of whom Varuna was the first. They then became eight in number and eventually twelve, personifying the sun in the twelve months of the year. They have different names, many epithets of the sun. They represent aspects of light and are jointly identified with Aditya, the sun. See also Phra Ahtit.

adorned Buddha

A style of Buddha image popular in the Rattanakosin period, in which the Buddha image is decorated or adorned with jewels or royal attire, and a headdress. In Myanmar, this jewel may be a salwe (fig.), i.e. a set of chains that is worn over the shoulders and is fastened at the chest with several ornamental plaques, in order to indicate the Buddha's royal rank (map - fig.). In Thai, adorned Buddha images are known as phra song kreuang. See also crowned Buddha and Jambupati Buddha image.

adrishti (अदृष्टि)

Sanskrit. Literally no view or no eye. A term for Evil Eye, a look that is superstitiously believed to have the power to inflict harm. In this common conviction from antiquity it is understood that the envy brought forth by the good luck of fortunate people, may result in their misfortune and can be caused simply by an envious person casting a malevolent gaze, intentionally or not. This so-called Evil Eye can be countered by wearing amulets in the form of -usually blue- eyes, that ward off the curse and turn the malicious look back to the envious person. In Hinduism, children, who are traditionally regarded as perfect and thus prone to attracting Evil Eye, are sometimes made less perfect by applying a spot or tilaka on their face or by putting black eyeliner around the child's eyes (fig.). With adults, Evil Eye can be removed by a ritual in which a brahman priest will move a holy flame in a circular motion around a person's head, thus absorbing the evil effects. Many boats have a pair of forward looking, vigilant eyes painted on the prow, one on each side of the stem (fig.). They are believed to be a kind of amulet to protect them from misfortune or Evil Eye. See also Hamsa and Wisdom Eyes.

Adsadongkot (ʴ)

Thai. Another name for Prajim.

Adulyadejvikrom (ʹപԡ)

Thai. Adulyadej The Brave or Courageous Adulyadej. A title given to Mahidol Adulyadej (fig.), the father of both Ananda Mahidol (King Rama VIII) and Bhumipol Adulyadej (King Rama IX). The title is pronounced Adunyadetwikrom.

Advaita Vedanta (अद्वैत वेदान्त)

Sanskrit-Thai. School of thought in Hinduism that is often attributed to the Indian Vedic scholar Adi Shankara, but the ideas existed before him and he only propagated them. It means the non-dualist (or single) end of the Vedas, and means that everyone and everything is connected by their soul, the self, known as atman, and in which moksha is attained through disconnecting from one own entity by acquiring knowledge of one's true identity and oneness with all other beings. In this one monistic concept, the physical equals the spiritual. There is only one universal spiritual and physical substance, an all encompassing matter, to which everyone and everything belongs, and which can be seen and understood through the elimination of maya. Since brahman is the ultimate of everything, this idea also implies that atman merges into brahman, the one eternal being, and hence everyone and everything is god, as is clearly manifested in the Hindu greeting namaste, which is said when meeting others and that can be translated as I salute the divine within you or I bow to the divine in you, meaning the sacred in me recognizes the sacred in you. See also Vedanta.

aeb (ͺ)

1. A northern Thai term used alongside the word kong khao to describe a kratib (fig.), a small basket used to offer or serve sticky rice and to keep it warm, and made from either bamboo or rattan, or from the leaves of a plant from the genus Calathea, named klah () in Thai.

2. Thai word meaning to tuck away, to conceal or to hide.

aerial root

Name for certain kinds of roots that grow above the ground and of which there exist several types. These roots are either growing down, such as supportive buttress roots (fig.), or as with certain ficus trees just hanging down from the main branches or stems to take in moisture from the surrounding air which in the tropics is often high in humidity, whilst other varieties grow up from the soil, such as mangrove pneumatophores (fig.), and so on. See also TRAVEL PICTURE (1), (2) and (3).


Name of a fragrant residue that forms in the heartwood of Aquilaria malaccensis, a tree in the family Thymelaeaceae, as a result of an infection by a type of mold known as Phialophora parasitica. READ ON.

Agastya (अगस्त्य)

Sanskrit. An Indian hermit or rishi who it is believed brought Hinduism to South India. He appears in the Ramayana and is a scholar in literature and science. In Java he appears as the Bhattara-Guru and is associated with the worship of Shiva.

Agni (अग्नि)

Sanskrit. Fire. One of three great Vedic gods with Indra and Surya. He presides over the earth and is known as the god of fire, whilst Indra presides over the air and Surya over the sun and sky. He is the mediator between man and the gods and thus the originator of sacrificial rites. Agni is coloured red and is one of the eight lokapalas protecting the main wind directions, presiding over the Southeast. He is often depicted with a ram, though he may also be seen riding a rhinoceros. In Hinduism, fire is believed to purify, rather than to consume and for this reason Hindus burn their dead, or alternatively throw them in the purifying Ganges. In art, he is at times represented seated on a throne with flames (fig.) or having three heads sprouting red flames. In Thai known as Ahkney or Phra Phleung. In some stories he is mentioned as the father of Nilanon.

ahimsa (अहिंसा)

Sanskrit. The principle of non-violence in thought, action, word and speech according to Buddhist scriptures, and a teaching from Jainism which is often translated as respect for and non-harming towards all living creatures. Sometimes also avihimsa.

Ahkaan Benjamaraat Waranuson (ҤອҪҹó)

Thai name for the Benjamaraat Waranuson Building, an edifice at Wat Mahathat Yuwaraja Rangsarit (fig.) on Rattanakosin Island in Bangkok and whose name may also be transliterated Benchamarat Waranusorn. It was constructed in 2011, and houses the temple's Center for International Vipassana Meditation Study and Practice. The building is painted in the royal yellowish colour in order to match the then colour of the adjacent Thawornwatthu Building (fig.), which was later painted over in a reddish rusty brown colour (fig.). In front of it there is a bronze statue of Prince Wajirunhit (fig.), the first actual Rattanakosin Crown Prince and successor to the throne of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), but who after his premature death in 1895 at the age of sixteen was succeeded by his thirteen year old half-brother Wajirunhit. The location of the Crown Prince's statue is related to the fact that the adjacent Thawornwatthu Building was initially erected to serve as the royal crematorium for this prince.

Ahkaan Rattasapha (ҤѰ)

Thai for Parliament Building, the edifice that houses the National Assembly, i.e. the bicameral legislative branch of the government of Thailand, and which is located along the Chao Phraya River (fig.) in Bangkok's Dusit District. READ ON.

Ahkaht Dam Keung Raphiphat (อากาศดำเกิง รพีพัฒน์)

Thai. Name of an early 20th century novelist of royal descend, who held the title of momchao. READ ON.

Ahkahttalai (ҡȵ)

Thai. Name of a giant or yak from the Ramakien. He has a red complexion, tah phlohng (fig.), and wears a chadah-style crown with five bulbous peaks, i.e. a large globular point surrounded by four smaller ones. He is an ally of Longka which he helps protect from his station in the air.

Ahkney (Ҥ, Ѥ)

1. Thai. Southeast or southeastern. The wind direction guarded by the lokapala Phra Ahkney, also called Phra Phleung and in Sanskrit known as Agni. See also Udon, Isaan, Burapah, Taksin, Horadih, Prajim and Phayap. Also Aknih.

2. Thai name for Agni. Also Aknih.

Ahporn Phimohk Prasat (óҷ)

Thai. Name of an open-sided, sala-style royal pavilion, which is located within the compound of Phra Rachawang. READ ON.

Ahraya ()

Thai. Another name for Maitreya, i.e. the Smiling Buddha. Often referred to as Phra Sri Ahraya.

Ahw Krung Thep (ǡا෾)

Thai name for the Bay of Bangkok.

Ahw Thai ()

Thai. Gulf of Thailand. Name for the section of the South China Sea that is situated to the East of peninsular Thailand, and to the Southwest of mainland Southeast Asia, i.e. from Kota Baru a border town with Thailand on the Malaysian coast, to Mui (or Cape) Bai Bung, also known as Mui Ca Mau, near the city of Ca Mau in southern Vietnam, which lies just South of the mouth of the Mekhong River Delta near Can Tho. The northern tip of the gulf, at the estuary of the Chao Phraya River (fig.), is known as the Bay of Bangkok and in Thai referred to as Ahw Krung Thep. Also transcribed Ao Thai.

Ai Khai ()

Thai. Damn Egg. Name of a young boy, who in iconography is often depicted similar to and thus reminiscent of Kumaanthong. READ ON.

Ailanthus Silkmoth

Common name for a large moth found in southeastern Asia and China. READ ON.

Ai-ma ()

Mother goddess of the earth with the Lahu people. MORE ON THIS.

Airavata (ऐरावात)

Sanskrit. Arisen from the ocean, sometimes translated as child of the water. Name of the multi-headed white elephant divinity of Hindu-Buddhist religion, in Thailand known as Erawan, and produced during the churning of the Ocean of Milk, hence his name. He is the symbol of the clouds and the vahana of the deity Indra, the Vedic god of the heavens, weather, and war, as well as one of the elephants that support the four directions of the world. He generally appears with three heads though sometimes may have 33 heads, representing the various heavenly states. One text even mentions Erawan as a 100 headed white elephant serving as a mount to Narai. In Hinduism he is portrayed as a four-tusked elephant. The 2nd version of the Ramakien, written by Rama II, fully describes Erawan when Indrachit, one of the demon characters disguised as Indra succeeds in fooling the monkey general Hanuman. Sometimes depicted with Ganesha as its rider (fig.).

Airplane Graveyard

A former dumping field for derelict aircraft at Ramkhamhaeng Road in Hua Mahk district of Bangkok's khet Bangkapi, which despite its rather small number of aircraft and the limited size of the area where they were been disposed off, it over time became increasingly more mentioned as a highlight attraction for urban explorers of the Big Mango. The field was home to the remnants of an eye-catching Boeing 747, as well as those of two McDonnell Douglas MD-82s. Surely, these large aircraft that were lying around in tatters in a field amidst some skyscrapers (fig.) and which are clearly visible from the road must be have been a rather weird and unexpected sight for anyone accidentally passing by. In 2022, however, the field was cleared of all aircraft to make place for the construction of a condominium. See MAP.

Airport Link

Elevated train system, that connects Suwannaphum (fig.), i.e. Bangkok's International Airport, with Phaya Thai, in Bangkok's city center. READ ON.

Aisawan Thipphaya Asana (Ծʹ)

Thai. Devine throne of personal freedom. Pavilion in Thai style at the Bang Pa-in summer palace in Ayutthaya. It was built in 1876 by order of King Rama V and modeled after the Ahporn Phimohk Prasat pavilion (fig.) in the Grand Palace in Bangkok, built by King Mongkut and used to exchange the kakuttapan, i.e. the Thai royal regalia, before boarding his palanquin. The pavilion houses a statue of Rama V in the uniform of Field Marshal, which was erected by his son Rama VI. It is similar to Sala Klahng Nahm (fig.) in Ramkamhaeng University in Bangkok. See also asana and MAP.

aitim (͵)

Thai for ice-cream. READ ON.

ajaan (Ҩ)

Thai word meaning teacher or master and often used in association with the Buddha. Sometimes spelled achan, achaan or ajarn, its etymology refers to the Sanskrit term acharya, a respectful title for teacher or spiritual leader. The word ajaan is reminiscent of the Sanskrit word ajaani which means having no wife, whereas the word acharya can be traced back to the term Brahmacharya, meaning celibacy, a possible reference to the fact that the first teachers were usually monks. Common Thai for teacher is kru or gru and is derived from the word guru.

ajaani (अजानि)

Sanskrit. Having no wife.

Ajanta (अजंठा)

Hindi. Name of a World Heritage site of Buddhist caves found in West India and dating from around 200 BC to 650 AD. The 29 man-made caves are cut into volcanic rock and contain sculptures and murals depicting the life of the Buddha.

ajirogasa (網代笠, あじろがさ)

Japanese. Name for a kind of traditional hat made from bamboo, often used to refer to the large woven bamboo hats worn by monks on pilgrimage and mendicancy. Although in English sometimes described as a conical wicker hat, most types are rounded at the top. The large and rounded version of bamboo hat worn by Buddhist monks or pilgrims, is also referred to as takuhatsugasa. To make these bamboo hats waterproof in a traditional manner, they are treated with persimmon tree sap.

Ajita (अजित, ͪԵ)

Sanskrit-Thai. Name of one of the eighteen arahats, who in art is depicted riding or in companion of a deer. READ ON.

Ajnata Kaundinya (अज्ञात कौण्डिन्य)

Sanskrit. Name of the head of the five ascetics, known as the panjawakkih (fig.), to whom the Buddha gave his first sermon (fig.) and who eventually became his disciples. Ajnata Kaundinya was ordained a bhikku or bhiksu by the Buddha and hence became the first ever monk in Buddhism and the seniormost member of the Sangha. In Thai, he is referred to as Phra Anyah Kohnthanya.

Akasagarbha (आकाशगर्भ)

Sanskrit. Boundless Space Treasury. Name of the bodhisattva of space, who is also one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas. READ ON.


Hill tribe in Northern Thailand. The Akha belong to the poorest of hill tribe people and are called Igor by the Thai (fig.), a word also known in Laos and probably derived from a word meaning outcast slave. Akha people usually live high in the mountains where they previously cultivated opium. Typical to their culture is the construction of so-called spirit gates, i.e. consecrated village gates (fig.) erected at each end of their villages (fig.). Typically, these gates are fitted with human items, in order to ward off evil spirits (fig.), as forest spirits are said to be afraid of anything human. The items usually include talaew (fig.) and wooden effigies of naked or copulating humans (fig.). Other unique features of the Akha are their houses, which are built directly on the ground (fig.), with a floor of trampled earth, as well as a harvest swing (fig.), and the helmet-like headdresses of the women (fig.), of which some say it is Akha custom that the male buys it for his future wife and that once she puts it on, she has to wear it for the rest of her life. This tribe has several subgroups, including the Loimi (fig.), the U Lo (fig.), and the Pahmi (fig.). The subgroups can best be differentiated by the women's headdress, which is unique for each group. In Doi Mae Salong there is an OTOP project (map - fig.) aimed at the conservation of Akha culture. MORE ON THIS.

Akha swing

Swing in Akha villages, used during the harvest festival (fig.). There are two commonly found types. The most frequently seen is a swing made of four small tree trunks stripped bare and tied together at the top with a crossbeam from which a rope is hung. At the bottom of the rope a horizontal stick is attached on which the swinging participants will stand upright. It is swung by one or more people on the ground, who pull a long cord attached to the swing rope. The other type consists of a revolving vertical swing made from wooden beams and planks, somewhat like a Ferris wheel (fig.). It usually has four seats and can only be rotated properly when all of them are occupied, in order to have the right balance. This makes it a bit difficult to get on once a first person has taken a seat and is best used with people of comparatively weight. Habitually, every Akha village has its own swing for the occasion of the harvest festival which is also known as the swinging festival, making it an unmistakable feature to distinguish an Akha village from other hill tribe villages. Remarkably, a very similar swing is used by the Hindu population of Nepal during their festival of Navaratri (fig.).


Name of a hill tribe minority found near Kengtung in Myanmar's Shan State, and who are not to be confused with the Akha, of whom they are generally considered a sub-group. Since they have evolved in small communities in an isolated valley for generations they have developed their own unique language. Their traditional dress is overall black while on the head they wear a black piece of cloth that is put on somewhat like a turban. This clearly sets them apart from the Akha, who wear much more elaborate costumes. Since many, including the women, are famous for chain-smoking tobacco in bamboo pipes they are nicknamed the Bamboo Pipe People.

Akhuratha (आखुरथ)

Sanskrit. Literally mouse-chariot or rat-chariot, but usually translated as one who has a mouse as his charioteer. The term is often used as an epithet for Ganesha when riding his vehicle or vahana, i.e. the rat, or when seated in a chariot pulled by rats (fig.). See also ratha.

Akkarajaya (Ѥê)

Thai. One of the principal consorts of a king, sometimes translated as queen consort.

akshamala (अक्षमाला)

Sanskrit. Garland of beads. A string with dried seeds, pearls, wooden beads or other objects, which is an attribute of many Hindu gods. Though the number of beads may vary, it generally comprises of fifty beads, corresponding to the number of characters of the Sanskrit alphabet. In Thai known as prakam.

Akshobhya (अक्षोभ्य, ѡ)

Sanskrit-Thai. Immovable One. Name of one of the five dhyani buddhas. He is the buddha of the East and he is portrayed with a blue complexion. READ ON.

Alaungmintaya (အလောင်းမင်းတရား)

Another name for the Burmese King Alaungpaya.

Alaungpaya (အလောင်းဘုရား)

Name of a historically important Burmese King, who is considered one of the three greatest kings of Burma, along with Bayinnaung (fig.) and Anawrahta (fig.). He was born as Aung Zeya on 24 August 1714 AD in Moksobo, a small village in the Mu River Valley, northwest of Ava, and died from illness on 11 May 1760 during his campaign in Siam. He was the founder of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885) and in 1755 also founded Yangon. He is accredited for unifying Burma for the third time in its history. He is also referred to as Alaungmintaya, and in Thai, he is known as Phra Chao Olong Phaya (ͧ).

Alaungsithu (အလောင်းစည်သူ)

Burmese. Name of the 12th Century King Sithu I of Pagan, the last of the three most renowned rulers of Pagan, after King Anawrahta (fig.) and King Kyansittha (fig.), to whom he was a great grandson and a grandson, respectively. Alaungsithu is remembered as a wandering monarch, who traveled extensively throughout his realm, built monuments, and nurtured Theravada Buddhism with acts of piety. He was born on 17 January 1090 AD and reigned from ca. 1113 until 1167 AD, when he was assassinated by his son Narathu. After falling ill, his son could not wait to become king and quickly moved his father the king away from the palace to the nearby Shwegugyi Phaya (fig.). However, the king regained consciousness and when he latched on what his son was up to, he became furious for having been set aside, prompting Narathu to smother the father with his own bedclothes. After his violent death, Alaungsithu became the nat Min Sithu, who belongs to the official pantheon of 37 spirits that are worshipped in Myanmar.

Alavaka (आलवक, ǡ, အာဠာဝက)

Sanskrit-Thai-Burmese. Name of a man-eating ogre who was subdued by the Buddha. Hatthaka, the son of the king who ruled over the kingdom of Alavi, liked to hunt. One day, he got lost and wandered into the land of the yak Alavaka, who lived in a banyan tree. When the giant was about to eat him, the king begged for his life and vowed that he would send someone to serve the giant every day for the rest of his life. The Buddha, who also happened to be travelling in the land of this man-eating ogre, wanted to lower the giant's ego and subdued him by preaching him the dhamma (fig.), thus saving the prince from being eaten. The prince consequently became a disciple of the Buddha and is later described as one of his foremost lay male adherents. See also pahng proht Alavaka yak.

Alexander the Great

Macedonian king and conqueror who invaded India in 326 BC bringing with him Greek artisans whom it is assumed influenced the first known humanoid images of the Buddha that later developed into the Gandhara style of Buddhist art.

Alexandrine Parakeet

Name of a species of large parrot named after Alexander the Great, who is credited with exporting this bird from the Indian Punjab into Europe and the Mediterranean. READ ON.

alidha (आलीढ)

Sanskrit. Licked or lapped. A kind of asana (posture), used in Buddhist iconography, especially in art of the Vajrayana sect, to depict wrathful deities and in which the figure lunges or thrusts diagonally, with one leg extended, while placing the body's weight mainly on the other leg, which is bent at the knee. Also called the lunging warrior stance, and in Sanskrit also known as pratyalidha asana (fig.).

alms bowl

Contaiber used by Buddhist monks to collect alms, rounded in shape and usually made of metal. READ ON.

Alodawpyi Phaya (အလိုတော်ပြည့်ဘုရား)

Burmese. Fulfilling of Wishes Pagoda. Name of a Buddhist temple in Bagan. READ ON.

Aloe vera

See haang jorakae.

alvar (ஆழ்வார்கள்)

Tamil. Immersed or those immersed in god. Vaishnava poet saints, who lived from the 6th to 9th century. There are believed to be ten or twelve, and are regarded as incarnations of the attributes of the god Vishnu. They are worshipped as minor gods.

Amadaw Mya Nan Nwe (အမတော် မြနန်းနွယ်)

Burmese. Full name of Mya Nan Nwe (fig.).

amalaka (आमलक)

1. Sanskrit. A circular decorative ribbed, almost pumpkin or star gooseberry-like ornament at the top of a northern style Hindu temple, usually above a flat circular stone called a beki. Both its name and shape are related to the mayom. See also THEMATIC STREET LIGHT (1), (2), (3) and (4).

2. Sanskrit. Name of the Indian gooseberry or emblic myrobalan, a tree and fruit associated with the Thai mayom.

amara (अमर)

Sanskrit word for eternal or immortal. The first -a makes it the antonym of mara, which in turn derives from the Sanskrit root mri of the word mriti, meaning death, and is related to amrita, i.e. [the elixir of] immortality. At the Eternal Flame of the Unknown Soldier underneath the arch of India Gate in Delhi (fig.) is a black marble cenotaph inscribed in gold with the words Amara Jawan, which translates as Immortal Warrior. In Thai known as amon.

Amaravati (अमरावती)

1. Sanskrit. The capital of Indra's Tavatimsa heaven situated near the mythical Mt. Meru and renowned for its splendor.

2. Sanskrit. A place in South India where a Buddhist school of art developed from the second to the fourth centuries AD.

Amareswara (अमरेश्वर)

Sanskrit. A title given to both Vishnu, Indra and Shiva, meaning lord of the immortals.

Amarin (Թ)

Thai. Immortal King or Eternal Patriarch. A title sometimes given to Indra, the Vedic god of the heavens, weather and war, as well as the king of the gods and supreme ruler of the Tavatimsa Heaven. It is a compound formed of the words amara, meaning immortal, and In, i.e. Indra, Patriarch or King. The title is sometimes used in combination with the suffix Jom Thep (෾), which means Supreme Angel or Highest Deity. Whereas Indra is usually depicted with a green complexion (fig.), as Amarin Jom Thep, he may in fact be depicted with a red complexion, akin to his twin brother Agni, the Vedic god of fire. See also amara, Amaravati, and Amareswara. See also TRAVEL PICTURES.

amarit (ĵ)

Thai for amrita. Also nahm amarit.

amataya (အမှတ်တရ)

Burmese. Remembrance or proof. A term that may be related to the name Phaya Amat, a Buddhist temple in Bagan.

Amaterasu (天照)

Japanese. Heaven illuminated or shining in heaven. The goddess of the sun and the universe in Shinto, the traditional religion in Japan, from who the emperors of Japan, are considered to be direct descendants and derive their right to rule. Japan's monarchy exists since 11 February 660 BC and is the world's oldest continuous hereditary monarchy. During the inauguration rituals when an emperor ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne, the new emperor is united to his Imperial Ancestress, in this way emphasizing his unique share in her divinity. See also Kiku.


Architectural term for a walkway, especially an aisle or vaulted corridor around the inner sanctum, i.e. the core of a temple or monastery, as at Dhammayangyi Phaya in Bagan (fig.), which interior includes two  ambulatories, that form a continuous passage way around the inner sanctum.

amdaeng (ᴧ)

Thai. General title for a woman equivalent to nang. Formerly used in formal documents but now only used facetiously or derogatorily.

Amida (अमिता)

1. Name of a Buddhist mudra, in which the Buddha image is seated with the hand palms held forward, the fingers upward and the index fingers pointing slightly towards each other. However, there are nine grades of Amida and thus also nine hand positions. Hence, in iconography, this mudra may also be depicted alternatively. Also transcribed Amita.

2. Another name for Amithaba.

Amitabha (अमिताभ)

1. Pali-Sanskrit.  One of the five transcendental or dhyani buddhas of Mahayana Buddhism who reigns over western paradise and is the personification of Eternal Light. It is believed that by calling on this buddha it is possible to be reborn in paradise and consequently gain enlightenment and become a buddha in the next life, thus making him one of the most popular jinas. His mount is a peacock. In China and Japan, he even replaced the Sakyamuni Buddha in importance. In art, he is usually depicted seated in meditation and a celebrated Japanese Amitabha statue is Daibutsu, i.e. the Great Buddha of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, a monumental outdoor bronze statue of which a gilded copy stands in Myanmar's Sagaing region (fig.), and which in turn is reminiscent of the giant Tian Tan Buddha near Hong Kong (fig.), though the later is depicted with a varada mudra, i.e. with the right hand raised, representing the removal of affliction, and the left resting open on his lap in a gesture of generosity. In Tibetan-Nepalese tradition, he is portrayed with a red complexion and performing a dhyana mudra (fig.). In art and iconography, it can be difficult to differentiate the Amitabha buddha from other buddhas or the Sakyamuni Buddha, as he possesses all the attributes of any buddha, as well as of the Sakyamuni Buddha, but has no distinguishing marks. It is by some claimed that in iconography the bhumisparsa mudra is a pose reserved for the Sakyamuni Buddha only, though it seems that this claim can be challenged (fig.). The male deity Avalokitesvara always wears a figure of Amithaba in his headdress, of whom he is an emanation. Also Amida. In Thai called Phra Amitahp Phuttachao.

2. Pali-Sanskrit. The historical Buddha.

Amnat Charoen (ӹҨԭ)

Thai. Power of prosperity. Name of a small city and a 3,161 km² province (map) in Isaan. READ ON.

Amoghasiddhi (अमोघसिद्धि, Է)

Sanskrit-Thai. One of the five transcendental buddhas or dhyani buddhas. He is the buddha of the North, has a green complexion (fig.), and is seated in a lotus position whilst performing an abhaya mudra with his right hand. His mount is the Garuda. On mandalas, he is usually portrayed holding a visvavajra, i.e. a double vajra (fig.), but otherwise he may also be depicted with a small bowl and sometimes seated on a multi-headed serpent (fig.), reminiscent of the naagprok pose of the Sakyamuni Buddha (fig.).

amon ()

Thai term meaning eternal or immortal, which derives from the Sanskrit amara.

amph (-)

Thai prefix meaning mango, as in amphawan, i.e. mango orchard or mango forest. Also spelled amp.

amphawan (ѹ)

Thai term for mango orchard or mango forest. See also wan.

ampheu ()

Thai. See amphur.

amphur ()  

Thai. District. An administrative subdivision of a jangwat or province. The capital city of a jangwat is referred to as amphur meuang, e.g. amphur meuang Chiang Mai is the capital city of the province Chiang Mai, etc. All provincial capitals bear the same name as the the province, preceded by the words amphur meuang, except for Bangkok, where the capital city is called Phra Nakhon and is preceded by the word khet, meaning zone or domain. Thailand has a total of 795 amphur of which 75 are amphur meuang, a number that equals the total number of provinces, minus Bangkok. Pronounced ampheu. See also king amphur.

amrit (अमृत)

Sanskrit. The waters of immortality surrounding the Golden Temple of the Sikhs at Amritsar, in the Indian Punjab.

amrita (अमृता)

Sanskrit. Non-death. The elixir of immortality produced when the gods and demons churn the Ocean of Milk in the Indian epic of the Ramayana. The legend also appears in the Hindu epic poem Mahabharata. Often identified with soma, a nectar of immortality. In Thai amarit and nahm amarit. See also mriti.

Amritsar (अमृतसर)

Hindi-Sanskrit. Lake with amrita. Place name of the Golden Temple of the Sikh religion located in the Indian Punjab, which derived its name from the sacred waters surrounding the temple called amrit, waters of immortality.


A charm or protective ornament believed to shield its bearer from misfortune. Often confused with its counterpart the talisman, an object believed to bring good fortune rather than protection. Buddhist devotional plaques or amulets are often worn in Thailand to serve an apotropaic purpose, i.e. to ward off bad luck and evil. They protect the wearer against disaster. This animist dimension of Buddhism is in defiance of Buddhist teaching, which forbids monks to transfer saksit onto amulets as this would be equal to showing off transcendental powers, though in spite of this they are for sale in many a temple throughout the country to enhance its income (fig.). The practice has become a real cult and has taken the form of a well organized  collectors association like that seen in philately, with special literature on the topic, as well as markets, auctions, museums, etc. In many places in Southeast Asia, tigers are associated with protective power and depictions thereof can often be seen tattooed on the chest, or ‒as in some villages in Myanmar‒ erected at doorposts or fences around countryside houses and farm yards (fig.), in order to ward off evil. In Thai known as phisamon. See also miht moh, sak, POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2), as well as MORE ON THIS.

anagami (͹Ҥ)

Pali-Sanskrit-Thai. Name of the third of the four stages of Enlightenment in Buddhism, i.e. the stage before becoming an arahan, and in which the partially enlightened person has cut off the five chains with which the ordinary mind is bound, namely belief in self (atman); attachment to rites and rituals; skeptical doubt; sensuous craving; and ill will or aversion. The term means non-returner. The anagami person is however not yet free from another five higher fetters needed to become an arahan, namely craving for fine-material existence; craving for immaterial existence; conceit or pride; restlessness; and ignorance. Yet, the anagami or non-returner is not reborn into the human world after death, but into the heaven of the Pure Abodes, where only non-returners reside. There, they will attain full Enlightenment. One stage below anagami is known as known as sakadagami, i.e. once-returner. In that stage the partially enlightened person has cut off only the first three chains with which the ordinary mind is bound. The person in the sakadagami stage must be reborn into the realm of the senses once more.

Ananda (ҹѹ, आनन्द)

1. Pali-Sanskrit-Thai. Joy or Bliss. Cousin of Siddhartha Gautama and chief disciple of the Buddha, as well as one of the Ten Principal Disciples. In art he is often represented as a young monk accompanied by the elderly Kassapa (fig.). Ananda Phaya (fig.) in Bagan is often wrongly thought to be named after him. In Thai, known as Phra Ahnan (ҹ).

2. Pali-Sanskrit-Thai. Name of the Thai king Rama VIII, in full known as Ananda Mahidol, or Anantha Mahidon in Thai pronunciation. He reigned from 1935 to 1946. Sometimes spelt Ananta or Anantha. See also list of Thai kings.

ananda-chakra (आनन्द चक्र)

Sanskrit. Wheel of Joy. READ ON.

Ananda Mahidol (ҹѹԴ)

Name of Rama VIII, the eighth monarch of the Chakri dynasty. His name is pronounced Anantha Mahidon, and may also be transliterated as such. He is the elder brother of Bhumipon Adunyadet (fig.). See also list of Thai kings.

Ananda Phaya (အာနန္ဒာဘုရား)

Burmese. Temple of Joy or Pagoda of Bliss. Name of a Buddhist temple in Bagan. READ ON.

Ananta (अनन्त, ͹ѹ)

1. Sanskrit. Boundless, eternal and infinite. Mythical serpent with one thousand heads on which the god Vishnu rests during the nights that separate two cosmic time periods. This theme, known as Anantasayin (fig.), is popular in Southeast Asian architectural decorations. He is king of the serpents and the symbol of the cosmic waters. When the gods and demons churned the Ocean of Milk to retrieve the nectar of immortality, they used him as the churning rope (fig.). Also known as Shesha or Sesha, and Vasuki. However, the latter names are often used interchangeable: whereas Shesha (Shesh-naak, and spelt with the initial S) is usually linked to Shiva, Vasuki (with initial V) is associated with Vishnu, yet it is also said that the latter is the serpent that surrounds the neck of Shiva, and whereas Vasuki (spelt with the initial V of venom) is described to represent snakes with poison, Ananta (spelt with the initial A of atoxic) is said to represent huge snakes without poison. Ananta, who is considered to be the throne of Narai (fig.), is in Thai referred to as Phaya Ananta Nagaraat. Also transliterated Anantha.

2. Sanskrit. Boundless, eternal and infinite. An epithet for the Hindu god Vishnu.

3. See Anantha Mahidon.

Ananta Samahkom Hall

See Phra Thihnang Anantasamahkom.

Anantasayin (अनन्तशायिन्)

Sanskrit. Resting on Ananta. Epithet used for the Hindu god Vishnu when reclining on the back of the serpent Ananta during his cosmic sleep, when he rests during the nights that separate two cosmic time periods and which are collectively referred to as yuga. It is a popular theme in Southeast Asian architectural decorations. Also known as Vishnu Anantasayin (fig.) and in Thai called Narai banthom sin (fig.).

Anantayot (͹ѹ)

Twin brother of Mahantayot and son of the legendary Chamadevi of Lopburi, queen of the Dvaravati kingdom in the 7th century AD.

Anantha Mahidon (ҹѹԴ)

Thai. Name of King Rama VIII.

anatman (अनात्मन्)

Sanskrit. Non-ego and non-soul. See also anatta.


Pali. Non-ego and non-soul. One of the three characteristics of existence in Buddhist doctrine along with dukha (suffering) and anicca (the impermanence of all existence). It is one of the most fundamental points in Buddhism which states that all existence and all worldly phenomena eventually have no substantial reality. In Buddhism, it pleads the impermanence of all things, it is logical to conclude that in such a temporarily existence, there cannot exist any lasting substance. In Sanskrit anatman.

Anauk Mibaya (အနောက် မိဘုရား)

Burmese. Western Queen. One of 37 nats that belong to the official pantheon of spirits worshipped in Myanmar. During her life she was Shin Mi-Nauk, a senior queen consort of King Minkhaung I of Ava at the beginning of  the 13th century AD. She is said to have died of a heart attack after being shocked by seeing the nat Min Kyawzwa on a magic stallion (fig.) in a cotton field. She was the mother of King Thihathu of Ava, who also entered the nat pantheon as Aung Pinle Hsinbyushin, as well as of Ava's Crown Prince Minyekyawswa, who in 1417 died of wounds received on the battlefield and according to some became the nat Min Kyawzwa. If so, then Shin Mi-Nauk died of shock when seeing her own son appear as a nat. However, the nat Maung Minbyu is also described as the nat representation of Crown Prince Minyekyawswa. Anauk Mibaya is usually portrayed nursing a baby, sometimes while sitting on a lotus-pedestal. See also LIST OF BURMESE NATS.

Anaut Palei Phaya (အနောက်ပလိပ်ဘုရား)

Burmese. Western Wall Pagoda. Name of an ancient Buddhist temple in Pagan, located to the opposite of the road of the Phaya Amat temple (fig.), not far from the place where formerly the western city wall, which over time was eroded by and eventually fell into the nearby Irrawaddy River (fig.), used to be. This brick monastery consists of two large, one-floor, square halls, each one topped with a bell-shaped zedi, which in either building is damaged. Whereas the easternmost building is surrounded by an outer wall the other edifice is left open. See also TRAVEL PICTURES and MAP.

Anavatapta (अनवतप्त)

Sanskrit. Heat-free. Mythological lake in Buddhist cosmology. It is located in the Himalayas and is regarded as the source of the four rivers that flow through the four territories inhabited by lions, bulls, horses and elephants. When the earth comes to an end it will be last lake to disappear and the first to reappear when the world is recreated. See also POSTAGE STAMP.

Anawrahta (အနော်ရထာ)

1. Burmese king who reigned from 1044 to 1077 AD, as the 42nd ruler of the Pagan dynasty, and who unified the country. As a zealous convert to Theravada Buddhism he was responsible for the construction of many of the pagodas of Pagan, his most famous monument being the Shwezigon Phaya (fig.), which is one of four temples entwined in a legend known as Shwe Daw Lay Su, which asserts that the King was given some tooth relics of the Buddha, which were placed on the back of a White Elephant to determine an appropriate spot to built a pagoda to house these relics. As legend has it, the White Elephant halted at four different locations and the King later had stupas built at each of them (fig.), resulting in the construction of three more pagodas, i.e. Tantkyitaung Zedi (fig.), Lawkananda Zedi (fig.), and Tuyintaung Zedi (fig.). He was also responsible for the execution of the Taungbyon brothers Shwe Hpyin Gyi and Shwe Hpyin Nge (fig.), because they hadn't placed bricks near a pagoda, as ordered by the King. They were later admitted in the pantheon of 37 nats. Also transcribed Anawratha. See also Kyaukse Sain Pwe.

2. Burmese. The governor of Arakan and son in law of King Minkhaung I of Ava, as he was married to the latter's daughter Saw Pye Chantha. Appointed governor only in 1406 AD, the newlywed couple in November 1407 fell captive to the troops of King Razadarit of Hongsawadih, i.e. Pegu, when they captured Arakan's then capital Launggyet. They took the couple as prisoners to Pathein, where Anawrahta was executed upon arrival and Saw Pye Chantha passed into Razadarit's harem as a full queen. To distinguish him from King Anawrahta, the governor is usually referred to as Anawrahta of Ava.

anchern jut (ѭԭص)

Thai. Invite (anchern) to be born and die (jut), in rajasap or royal language. A scene often depicted in Buddhist murals in Thailand referring to the invitation of the bodhisattva who would later become the Buddha, incarnated as a buddha on earth. This scene occurred in Dusit heaven, the place where all bodhisattvas dwell in anticipation of their last incarnation, and following up the sawankot of King Wetsandorn, the tenth Totsachat and last Jataka of the Buddha.

Anderson's Grass Yellow

Common name for a species of butterfly in the family Pieridae, with the Latin designation Eurema andersonii. It has a wingspan of between 3.6 and 4 centimeters, and has yellow wings, with one large brown spot on the underside of the forewing and several smaller, mostly ring-like brown patches. In Thai it is named phi seua naen andersan (͹ѹ).

Anek Kuson Sala ()  

Thai name for a Chinese-Thai museum at the compound of Wat Yahn Sangwarahrahm Woramahawihaan in Huay Yai district of Chonburi province. READ ON.

Angada (अंगद)

Sanskrit name for Ongkhot, a monkey warrior of Rama, son of Vali.

Angaja (ѧ)

Sanskrit-Thai. Name of one of the eighteen arahats, who according to one legend, was a snake-catcher. READ ON.

angkaab (ѧҺ)

Name for a shrub with the botanical name Barleria Cristata, commonly known as Bluebell Barleria, Philippine Violet or Crested Philippine Violet. It ranges from Southern China westward to India, and southward to Myanmar and Thailand. The plant has funnel-shaped flowers, about 5 centimeters long, with petals either in white to pinkish-white and violet colour, or in pink to dark pink colour. The plant is portrayed on a Thai postage stamp issued in 2002 AD with near red flowers (fig.).

angkalung (ѧا)

Thai name for a bamboo percussion instrument of Sundanese-Indonesian origin with an onomatopoeic name, and known in both English and Indonesian as angklung. The instrument comes in various types but there are two main varieties: one kind, typically played by a single musician, consists of a number of cylindrical sections of bamboo in variable lengths that are attached to a fixed wooden frame and the tubes with a clapper rattle in different pitches when struck, corresponding to their length; the other kind consists of one or more bamboo tubes of a certain length that produce a single tone. The tube or tubes are attached to a handheld wooden frame around a stick or clapper that is made to rattle by shaking the frame. The latter type is usually played by a group of musicians, each of whom holds one or two angkalung in different sizes, typically one in each hand, and since each single angkalung has a different size, tone and pitch, performers in such an ensemble have to work together and sound their individual angkalung at the appropriate time to produce a melody. WATCH VIDEO.


See angkalung.

Angkor (អង្គរ)

Khmer. City or capital. The ancient capital of Cambodia. It was the centre of the Khmer empire from 802 to 1431 AD.

Angkorian Period

Period in Cambodia from the 9th to the 15th century AD in which the unification of ancient Funan and Chenla took place, marking the beginning of the Angkor civilization. During this period 28 kings ruled and a shift took place from maritime commerce towards a rural economy, to the disadvantage of Funan. Art from this period shows a decline in Indian influence. The period is preceded by the pre-Angkorian period, that existed from the 1st to the 8th century AD.

Angkor Thom (អង្គរធំ)

Khmer. Big Angkor. Name of a three square kilometer walled and moated royal Khmer city in Cambodia, built in the 12th century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. READ ON.

Angkor Vat (អង្គរវត្ត)

Khmer name for Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat

The largest of the Khmer temples and one of the seven Wonders of the World. READ ON.

angle luffa

A species of luffa, known in Thai as buab liam (fig.), and commercially grown as a vegetable (fig.).

Anglo-Siamese Treaty

Treaty between Great Britain and the Kingdom of Siam, which was signed on 10 March 1909, in Bangkok, and which is hence also referred to as the Bangkok Treaty of 1909. The treaty established the borders between the Kindgdom of Siam and the then British colony of Malaya, which after its independence of Singapore became known as Malaysia, which was formed in 1963 through a federation of the former British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, including the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo. To indicate the political union between Malaya and Singapore, the first to letters of Singapore were inserted into the name Malaya to form Malaysia. The borders of the 1909 treaty still define the border between modern Thailand and Malaysia today. However, the area around modern Pattani, Narathiwat, Songkhla, Satun, and Yala, which have a largely Muslim population, with many of whom are united through both a common religion and the language of Yawi, i.e. a Malay dialect, remained under Thai control, which decades later led to a Muslim, an ethnic, and religious separatist insurgency, that is still ongoing today.

angsa (ѧ)

Thai. A shoulder piece worn by Buddhist monks and novices. It is worn either under the jiewon or as a replacement for the saffron robe when working or resting within the temple compound.

Angthong (ҧͧ)

1. Name of both a town and a province (map) in Central Thailand. READ ON.

2. Name of a National Marine Park in Surat Thani province. See Moo Koh Angthong.

Angulimala (अङ्गुलिमाला, ͧ)

Sanskrit-Thai. Garland of fingers. The delinquent son of a brahmin who entered into the service of an evil master. He was a bandit who wore a necklace of cut-off fingers but was converted by the Buddha in Parileyyaka forest, in the eleventh year after the Buddha's Enlightenment. In Thai, the pronunciation is Angulimaan.

a-ngun (ͧ)

Thai for grape.

a-ngun khai pla (ͧ)

Thai. Fish egg grapes. Name for a kind of small round, red grape, which due to its dark colour is reminiscent of sturgeon roe.

angusa (अंकुश)

Sanskrit. Elephant hook or elephant goad. An attribute of Ganesha (fig.) and Indra, that symbolizes control or the ability to steer someone in the right direction. In Thai kho and kho chang. Also transcribed ankusha and ankusa. Sometimes called ankus or angus.

Ang Wa (ѧ)

Thai name for the Burmese former Kingdom of  Ava, in Burmese known as Inwa.

anicca (अनिच्चा)

Pali. Worldliness, temporariness or  impermanence of all existence. One of the three characteristics of existence in Buddhist doctrine, along with dukha (suffering) and anatta (non-ego). It claims that all existence and all phenomena in this world continuously change and don't stay the same, not even for one moment. All is perish to die at sometime in the future and such outlook is the main cause of suffering. This concept should however not just be understood from a pessimistic or nihilistic view, because also progression as well as reproduction are manifestations of this constant change.


Not shaped in human or animal form. For several years after the Buddha's death only aniconic symbols were used to remind his followers of his teachings, such as a footprint or buddhapada, a wheel or dhammachakka, a bodhi tree, a stupa, etc.


Belief that all living or animate things as well as lifeless or inanimate objects, have a soul. Usually found amongst primitive people.

anitya (अनित्य)

Sanskrit. Worldliness, temporariness or impermanence of all existence. See also anicca.

Anna Leonowens

An English woman hired as a nanny by King Mongkut to teach the princely court, between 1862 and 1868. She wrote her story in the book Anna and the King of Siam, which was first made into a musical and later into a film called The King and I. Her son, Louis Thomas Gunnis Leonowens, grew up and worked in Siam, where he from 1881 to 1884 served as an officer with the Siamese Royal Cavalry (fig.), and in 1905, after entering the teak trade, founded a Thai trading company with the name Louis T. Leonowens Company, Ltd. (fig. - map), which up to present remains a leading exporter of Malayan hardwoods and an importer of building materials and general merchandise. Around Anna Leonowens' time, it was common for royal courts in the Far East to attract western instructors, as was also the case in China, where between 1919 and 1924 the Scottish academic Sir Reginald Fleming Johnston was tutor to the Dragon-Emperor Aisin Gioro Pu Yi (fig.) of the Qing Dynasty, the Last Emperor of Imperial China, whilst the Beijing-born American Isabel Ingram in 1922 was appointed tutor to his wife, the Empress Wan Rong.

An Nam

See Annam.


Buddhist state in northern Vietnam conquered by the Chinese in approximately 214 BC and made into a Chinese Protectorate. It had a flourishing Bronze Age civilization and the Chinese called it An Nam, Peaceful South. It was been briefly threatened by the coastal state of Champa, which in the early 9th century was on the defensive against the encroachments of its powerful neighbours, and between 846 and 866 AD it sustained repeated invasions from Nan Chao, a then major power in the affairs of northern Southeast Asia and southern China. It became independent in 1428 AD and became a French protectorate in 1883. In 1887, it was a part of French Indochina, bordering Tonkin in the north and Cochinchina in the south, and in 1946 it was incorporated into Vietnam as central Vietnam. Also spelt An Nam. In Vietnamese known as Trung Ky (Trung Kỳ), i.e. Central State.

Annapurna (अन्नपूर्णा)

Sanskrit. Provider of good deeds or full of food. Goddess of the harvest. One of the forms of Devi, the shakti or consort of Shiva, and a goddess with many forms, both good and evil.

Anohdaad (⹴Ҵ)

Thai-Sanskrit. One of the seven lakes in the Hindu paradise.


1. A corridor that connects the garbhagrha, the inner chamber of a Khmer temple, with the mandapa, the pavilion in front of the main sanctuary.

2. A small entrance hall or chamber in front of a Hindu shrine.


Front room or waiting room.


1. An upright ornament at the lower edge of a roof, projecting upwards, often from the top of a cornice and usually as a extension of a bai raka. On Thai temples it usually has the shape of a naga head (fig.), or an ornamented tail or a flame like ornament (fig.) called a swan's tail. In Thai the antefix is called klieb kanun and on traditional houses it is sometimes referred to as ngao (hook). See also naakbeuang (fig.) and hang hongse (fig.).

2. An upright ornament with some prangs (fig.) and gopuras (fig.) in Khmer style. In Thai called klieb kanun prang (fig.). It is usually pointing forwards and decorated with bas-relief.


Mount of the god Vayu.


See Phleng Chaht Thai.

anticrepuscular rays

Term for an atmospheric phenomena that may appear in the sky around sunrise or sunset, at the opposite side of the sun. It consists of dim linear rays that emerge from the antisolar point and spread out across the sky in a fan-shaped form, reminiscent of the spokes of half a cart-wheel. The rays are much dimmer than crepuscular rays, i.e. the sunbeams that appear at the solar point when the sun is just below the horizon, and may be a mixture of blue, white, orangey to pinkish purple colours. This meteorological phenomena is also known as antisolar rays. See TRAVEL PICTURE.

antisolar rays

See anticrepuscular rays.

anubahn (͹غ)

Thai for kindergarten. See education.

Anuman Ratchathon (͹ҹҪ)

Thai. Court name of Yong Sathiankoset. READ ON.

Anurak Thewet (อนุรักษ์เทเวศร์)

Thai. A nephew of King Rama I, who held the position of Wang Lang, i.e. Rear Palace, officially known as Krom Phra Rachawang Bowon Sathaan Phimuk. It was the last ever Rear Palace, who ruled from 1785 to his death in 1806, after which the office went vacant and in 1885 was abolished altogether, as was that of Wang Nah i.e. the ‘Front Palace or Krom Phra Rachawang Bowon Sathaan Mongkon. Also transcribed Anurak Devet.

Anuruddha Thera (͹ط)

Thai name for Anuruddha, the son of Sukkhodana, i.e. the brother of King Suddhodana, and hence a cousin to Prince Siddhartha. Anuruddha frequently appears in the Jataka, such as in the Canda Jataka (fig.), and is in the Pali Canon depicted as an affectionate and loyal disciple of the Buddha, as well as a master of clairvoyance. He is one of the Ten Principal Disciples (fig.).

Anusawarih Chai Samora Phum (͹)

Thai name for the Victory Monument.

Anusawarih Kreuang Bin Rob (͹ͧԹú)

Thai name for the Jet Fighters Monument.

Anusawarih Phu Phitak Rab Chai Prachachon (͹ԷѡѺЪҪ)

Thai. Statue of the Guardian Servant of the People or Statue of the Defender of the Public. Official name for a monument that is colloquially referred to as Anusawarih Tamruat, i.e. Police Statue. It was designed by Professor Silpa Bhirasri (fig.), a sculptor of the Fine Arts Department (fig.). The heroic statue depicts a police officers carrying an unconscious man in his arms whilst a naked toddler clasps to his trousers. Originally located in front of the Headquarters of the Royal Thai Police (fig.) in Bangkok's Pathumwan District, replicas can now be found in front of many police posts and stations throughout Thailand. The base of the original statue is hollow and is used to store the ashes of police officers killed while on official duty. The original statue was inaugurated on 13 October 1953, i.e. on National Police Day, known in Thai as Wan Tamruat Haeng Chaht. In 2010, the original statue was relocated to the Royal Police Cadet Academy (fig.) in Nakhon Pathom.

Anusawarih Prachathipatai (͹ЪҸԻ)

Thai name for the Democracy Monument.

Anusawarih Prahb Kabot (͹Һ)

Thai. Monument of the Suppression of the Rebellion. Name of an obelisk-like memorial located on the Laksi Roundabout in Bang Khen District, Bangkok. READ ON.

Anusawarih Tamruat (͹Ǩ)

Thai. Police Statue. Colloquial name for a monument that is formally known as Anusawarih Phu Phitak Rab Chai Prachachon.

Anuson Phuh Sia Sa-la Jangwat Tak (͹óШѧѴҡ)

Thai. Tak Provincial Martyr Memorial. Name of a monument in Mae Sot, in the northeastern province of Tak, that commemorates the heroic deeds of those who sacrificed their lives in defense of the nation, in particular the brave fighters and martyrs who in the sixties carried out operations to suppress communist terrorism in the area and in which 93 civilians, police and soldiers were killed. In English, it is usually referred to as the Tak Provincial Sacrifice Memorial.

Anuson Sathaan Chong Khao Khahd (͹óʶҹͧҢҴ)

Thai for Hellfire Pass Memorial.

Anuson Sathaan Haeng Chaht (͹óʶҹ觪ҵ)

See National Memorial.

Anuson Sathaan Racha Sakun Mahidon (อนุสรณ์สถานราชสกุลมหิดล)

Thai. Mahidon Family Memorial Hall. Name of a memorial within the compound of Wat Pathum Wanaraam Ratchaworawihaan (fig.), dedicated to members of the Royal Family of Mahidon Adunyadet (fig.), the Prince Father of Thailand. See MAP.

Anuson Sathaan 14 Tulah (͹óʶҹ )

Thai. October 14th Memorial. Monument near Democracy Monument (fig.) in Bangkok dedicated to the 77 people that lost their lives at the hands of the security forces during the October '73 uprising near the Thammasat University (fig.), in which students and other citizens alike demanded democracy. The uprising brought about the end of the then ruling military dictatorship and altered the Thai political system. The memorial consists of a tapered cube base with a cone-shaped peak, similar to the plong shanai (fig.) of most chedi. Also transliterated Anuson Satahn. See POSTAGE STAMP and MAP.

ao dai (áo dài)

Vietnamese. Long robe. Vietnamese national dress, nowadays most commonly worn by girls and women. In its modern form, it consists of a log-sleeved, tight-fitting tunic, that is ankle-long and split open on both sides from the waist down, and with a slant row of buttons or hooks, that run from the right side of the neck to the armpit and further down the side. The tunic is usually made from silk, and worn over a pair of loose trousers. The ao dai is very feminine and flattering, and the Vietnamese say that it covers everything but hides nothing. Outdoors, the ao dai is often worn with a non la (fig.), i.e. a traditional conical hat made from bamboo and dried palm leaves (fig.). On special occasions, men may wear a somewhat looser version of the ao dai, usually made of thicker fabric and sometimes a bit shorter (fig.). The style of the ao dai is purportedly influenced by the longs robes that were once worn by court officials (fig.) and aristocrats at the imperial courts in Vietnam and China. See also ao gam.

ao gam (áo gấm)

Vietnamese. Brocade robe. Name of dress similar to the ao dai (fig.), but shorter and made of a thicker fabric. It is commonly worn by men on special occasions, usually with a Vietnamese turban (fig.), which is locally known as khan dong (fig.). See also ao quan.

Ao Krung Thep (ǡا෾)

Another spelling for Ahw Krung Thep, i.e. the Bay of Bangkok. See also Krung Thep.

ao ngu than (áo ngũ thân)

Vietnamese. Whole body robe. Name of a former aristocratic gown worn in Vietnam between the 19th and early 20th centuries, and that inspired the later design of the ao dai (fig.).

ao quan (áo quan)

Vietnamese. Chest robe. Name for the academic dress or ceremonial gown as worn in the past by civil mandarins upon passing the Imperial Examinations (fig.). It was worn together with the mu tien si, i.e. a doctoral hat, fashioned after the mu canh chuan, i.e. the Vietnamese equivalent of the Chinese wu sha mao, the black hat with two wing-like flaps of thin, oval shaped boards, worn by feudal officials during the Ming Dynasty. See also ao gam.

Ao Thai ()

See Ahw Thai.

Apasmara (अपस्मार)

Sanskrit. Name of a demon-dwarf, that is crushed by Shiva in his appearance as Nataraja, i.e. the Lord of Dance (fig.). The midget's name means confusion of mind, as well as memory loss and epilepsy, and he represents ignorance, i.e. the ignorance that makes one lose ones balance and which is countered by Nataraja, making a gajahasta with one of his arms. Thus, by subduing him, Shiva allows the birth of knowledge and reminds the people that he is their true source of wisdom. He is depicted with the face of a demon and the body of an infant (fig.), and is also referred to as Apasmara Purusha, with purusha meaning man, person or human, as well as soul or spirit.


Pali. The four lower worlds as described in Buddhism, which are part of the kamaloka, and consist of the animal kingdom, the realm of the ghosts, the world of the demons or asura, and the hells (niraya/naraka).

Aphakon Kiatiwong (ҡ õǧ)

Thai. Name of the 28th child of King Rama V. READ ON.


See Aphitam.

Aphinetsakrom (ɡ)

Thai term for the Great Renunciation of the Buddha.

Aphinya (ԭ)

Thai-Pali term meaning great knowledge and used especially in Buddhism for those who posses prowess, are good listeners, have empathy, have the ability to remember ones previous lives or chaht, have good insight and wisdom in making ills disappear. Also known as Aphiyaan.

Aphiyaan (ԭҳ)

See Aphinya.

Aphisek Dusit Throne Hall

Name of a former palace in Dusit district, which nowadays has been turned into a museum, housing an impressive collection of silver jewellery, silk, and other Thai artifacts, under the auspices of the queen. It was built in 1904, in a Moorish Gingerbread-style and adjacent to the Vimanmek Teak Mansion. Aphisek Dusit Throne Hall consists of a small one-storey, wooden edifice and was used exclusively for state occasions during the Rattanakosin period, and underwent restoration in 1993. In Thai it is named Phra Tihnang Aphisek (ȡ) Dusit. The word aphisek means  coronation and is derived from the Sanskrit term abhisheka, meaning  unction or blessing, usually ceremonial and often including the ritual sprinkling of water. See MAP.

Aphitam (Ը)

Pali-Thai. One of the three books of the Tripitaka. Also Aphidhamma. See also Buddhist precepts.

aphiwaht (ҷ)

Pali-Thai. To prostrate (kraab) ánd wai. In Buddhism, when paying respect to a Buddha image or to a senior monk, it is common practice to perform a wai with the hands high, intending to show high respect, as the more respect is given the higher the hands are held (fig.), and prostrate three times in repetition, in order to show respect to each aspect of the Triratana, i.e. the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. With prostration in which five parts of the body, i.e. the head, hands and feet, touch the ground, it is known as benjahngkhapradit (fig.).

Apple Snail

A species of snail with the binomial name Pomacea canaliculata. It is a commonly seen species of snail in Thailand and lays pink eggs, clung together in clusters (fig.). These pink, caviar-like, clusters of eggs are typically found near freshwater, often on poles or the stalks of plants that stand in the water, such as rice (fig.). It therefore is an natural enemy of rice plants and has several names in Thai, including hoy cherih (), meaning cherry snail. See also taak. WATCH VIDEO.

Apsara (अपसरा, អប្សរ)

Sanskrit-Khmer. The female divinities or nymphs and celestial dancers of the Tavatimsa Heaven. READ ON.

Apsara Dance

The Khmer equivalent of Khon, i.e. Thai Classical Dance (fig.), in Cambodia. READ ON.

Apsarasingh (ѻԧ)

See Apsonsi.


See Apsonsi.

Apson (ѻ)

Thai-Sanskrit. Female nymphs and celestial dancers of Tavatimsa heaven. Also transcribed Apsorn. See also Apsara and THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

Apsonsi (ѻ)

Thai. Creature from Thai mythology with a body that is half woman and half lion. Also called Apsonsingh, Apsonsingha, Apsarasingha or Apsarasingh, being the compound of an Apsara (Apson) and a singha (singh), that is a female nymph and a lion (fig.). The combination of a male angel and a lion is called Thepnorasi (fig.).

Apsonsingh (ѻԧ)

See Apsonsi.


See Apsonsi.

Apsorn (ѻ)

Thai-Sanskrit. Female nymphs and celestial dancers of Tavatimsa heaven. Also transcribed Apson. See also Apsara.

araam ()

Thai. Another name for wat, a temple or monastery. Although it derives from the Sanskrit word ashram, which translates as place to stay or halt and of which the root shram means to make efforts, it is in Thai a synonym for pleasure, delight and happiness, which is seemingly related to arom (), a word that means mood.

Arabian Camel

One of the only two remaining species within the genus Camelus still existing today. READ ON.

Arada Kalapa

Sanskrit. Brahman master whose principles thought of the essential non-existence of all things, and to whom Siddhartha was at first apprenticed after the Great Departure in his search for the redemption of suffering, caused by the cycle of endless rebirths. In Pali called Alara Kalama.

arahan (ѹ)

Thai-Sanskrit. An arahat or Buddhist saint.

Arahang (ѧ)

Thai. A title of the Buddha, used as an invocation by one who is at the bedside of a dying person.

arahat (ѵ)

Pali-Thai. The worthy one, a title given to Buddhist saints. A term derived from the Sanskrit word arihan, meaning foe-slaying. READ ON.

arahatamak (ѵä)

Thai-Sanskrit. The way that leads to Enlightenment. See also arahat.

arahatapon (ѵ)

Thai-Sanskrit. The dhamma that causes the Enlightenment of a Buddhist saint or arahat.

arahitogami (現人神)

Japanese. A deity who appears as a man. Term for the Shinto concept of a human who is at the same time a god, an idea which also allowed for the Japanese Emperor to be viewed as a god. Compare with avatar.

arahtanah (Ҹ)

Thai. The invitation to a Buddhist monk to give a sermon or to begin a religious service.

aran (ѹ)

A Pali word, also used in Thai, and meaning forest. It equates with a certain seclusion and in that way words such as arahan (saint), aranyawahsih (forest monastery), araam (temple), etc. may be derived from it or linguistically relate.

aranyawasi (ѭ)

Thai-Sanskrit. A forest monastery. A sect of monks living in the jungle. A more popular term is wat pah. Also transcribed aranyawahsih. See also Kanchana Aranyawasi.


See kaan ying thanoo.

Ardhanari (अर्धनारी)

Sanskrit. Hermaphrodite depiction of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Uma or Parvati reflecting a composition of male and female energy. One side represents the god Shiva with a jata, his typical plaited hairstyle, the other side represents his consort wearing a crown. In iconography, he is sometimes depicted accompanied with their respective mounts (fig.), i.e. the buffalo or bull Nondi, vahana of Shiva (fig.), and the lion, the personal vehicle of Uma (fig.). In Vajrayana Buddhism, this unity of feminine and masculine principle is known as yabyum. There is an Ardhanari Shrine on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok (map - fig.), near Asohk Intersection. See also phi seua kathoey.

areca palm

Ornamental palm tree that produces green to yellow and orange colored fruits. Areca nuts, its acidulous seeds, are used as an ingredient for betel nut chewing (fig.) and by association, are sometimes inaccurately called betel nuts. Also called betel palm and in Thai ton mahk.

arhat (अर्हत्)

Sanskrit-Pali. See arahat.

Aria (, आर्य)

Thai-Sanskrit. Arian and civilized, as in Sri Aria Metrai, another name for Maitreya. Also Ariaka.

Ariaka (¡)

Thai-Sanskrit. Arian and civilized. Also Aria.


A prehistoric group of white people, who migrated from Central Asia and Europe to Persia and India during the second millennium BC, bringing their own language, culture and religion. The name Arian means noble and is related to the place-name Iran, a region whose ancient civilization closely resembled that of Vedic India. The Arians were a nomadic people, often cattle herders, that traveled along the historic trade routes and first appeared in the area of the Indus Valley in about 1500 BC, following the disappearance of the Indus Valley Civilization, whose inhabitants had lived in the area between 2500 BC and 1800 BC. Unlike the city-dwellers of the Indus Valley, the Arians left no permanent structures or artifacts behind, though their religious rituals and ideas, on which their culture was based, are recorded in the Vedas. Also spelled Aryan and in Thai Ariyaka.

Ariasat (Ѩ)

Thai-Pali-Sanskrit. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.

arihan (अरिहन्)

Sanskrit. Foe-slaying. A compound in which ari means enemy or foe and han means to kill or to slay. It is the name given to Buddhist saints, those who have reached the highest goal in Theravada Buddhism, as they have slain their greed, anger and delusions, and destroyed their karmic residue from previous lives. They are no longer reborn into the world of suffering, no longer trapped in the cycle of rebirth known as samsara. In Mahayana Buddhism, however, the arihan ranks below the bodhisattva on the chain of Enlightenment. See also arahat.

Arishta (ɯ)

Thai-Sanskrit. Demon in the appearance of an ox, sent out by Kansa to kill his nephew Krishna. See also Kuvalayapida.

Arjuna (अर्जुन)

Sanskrit. White, bright or silver. Dhammaracha and King of the Haihayas of the Pandava tribe, and the legendary hero of the Indian epic Mahabharata, the great battle of the Bharatas. Pandu, his natural father, chose Indra as his divine and spiritual father. Arjuna was an excellent archer and an unrivaled warrior, and Krishna was his charioteer, and together they are considered the main heroes of Mahabharata. Arjuna riding a chariot is depicted on a Thai postage stamp issued in 2004, from a drawing of Hem Wetchakon (fig.).

Arjan Dev

See Arjan Dev Jee.

Arjan Dev Jee (ਅਰਜੁਨਦੇਵ)

Punjabi. The fifth guru according the chronological table of the Sikhs which in total has ten gurus, beginning with guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh religion. He was born in 1563 in Gundwal (Amritsar) and is the founder of Har-Mandir Saheb, better known as the Golden Temple in the Indian Punjab. He is co-author of the Adi-Granth which he composed in 1604. He was guru from 1581 to 1606, he died a martyr at the age of 43. Briefly also called Arjan Dev.

Armed Forces Development Command

Name of an operations group and department of the Royal Thai Armed Forces in charge of the construction of military and rural roads, especially in more remote areas. In Thai, it is known as nuay banchakaan thahaan phattanah (˹ºѭҡ÷þѲ).

Armed Forces Development Command


See kong thap.

Army Medical Department

See krom phaet thahaan bok.

Army Ordnance

See Krom Sanphawut Thahaan Bok.

Army Training Command

In 1895, the Training Command emerged alongside the Saranrom Army School, which was founded by Rama V on 5 August 1887, with the goal of training army cadets. READ ON.

aromatic ginger

See sand ginger.


See Dragonfish.


Common name for an aquatic plant with the botanical designation Sagittaria sagittifolia. It has arrow-shaped leaves and edible potato-like tubers.

Arrow Leaf Pondweed

Common name for a species of flowering plant in the water hyacinth family Pontederiaceae and known by the botanical designation Monochoria hastata. READ ON.

Art In Paradise

Name of an interactive 3D Art Museum, in which visitors can take place on, or in front of, a certain painting or object created in such a manner that it generates an optical illusion and makes it appear as if one is part of the subject is a bizarre, often funny way. READ ON.

Artocarpus altilis

Latin. Scientific name for the breadfruit tree.

Artocarpus heterophyllus

Latin. Name for a large fruit (fig.) and its tree, belonging to the genus Artocarpus which also includes the bread tree. In the West it is called jackfruit. The average weight of the fruit is around sixteen kilograms but can sometimes weigh up to forty kilograms. The flesh of the fruit (fig.) is yellow and sweet and sits in small pockets in an enormous browngreen rind with short, hexagonal, blunt prickles. The Thai name for the fruit is kanun and the tree is called ton kanun. Its fruiting season is from January to May.

arun (س)

Thai. Rising sun, sunrise, morning or dawn. See also Arun.

Arun (अरुण)

Sanskrit. Another, more modern transcription of Aruna.

Aruna (अरुण)

Sanskrit. Reddish brown. Hindu god of dawn. His name refers to the colour of the sky during sunrise. He is the charioteer who drives the sun god Phra Ahtit across the sky (fig.) and over the horizon, thus causing dawn. The Thai word arun, meaning morning or dawn is derived from his name. Also transcribed Arun.


See Arian.

Asaanha Bucha (˺٪)

Thai Public holiday on the day of the full moon in July commemorating the first sermon of the Buddha given to the five panjawakkie (fig.) in Sarnath (fig.). It is regarded as the first day when the Rattanatrai or Triple Gem, i.e. the Buddha, his teachings or the Dhamma, and the order of monks or Sangha, was attained. Also Wan Asaanha Bucha (Asaanha Bucha Day), Asalhapuja and Asahara Bucha. See also bucha and POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2) and (3).

asana (आसन)

Sanskrit. Throne, seat, and seated position. The different sitting positions in yoga, and in iconography, the position of the legs of a god. See also royal relaxation position (fig.), padmasana, simhasana, pratyalidha asana (fig.) or alidha asana (fig.), vajrasana (fig.), virasana, and lalitasana (fig.). It appears frequently as part in names for royal palaces, halls and residences, e.g. Chaleemongkon Asana (fig.), Aisawan Thipphaya Asana (fig.), etc.

Asaykhan Fortress

Name of a fortress on the Western bank of the Irrawaddy River. READ ON.


Abbreviation of Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries, i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, increasing the present member total to ten nations (fig.). The ASEAN region has a population of about 500 million, a total area of 4.5 million square kilometers, a combined gross domestic product of US$737 billion, and a total trade of US$ 720 billion. Its flag consists of ten yellow stalks of paddy on a red circle with a white rim and in a blue field. These colours represent the main colours of the crests of all the ASEAN countries and symbolize peace and stability (blue), courage and dynamism (red), purity (white) and prosperity (yellow). The circle represents unity and the ten stalks of padi represent the dream of ASEAN's Founding Fathers for an ASEAN comprising all the ten countries in Southeast Asia bound together in friendship and solidarity. However, since November 2022 East Timor was accepted as ASEAN's eleventh member state. There is an ASEAN Cultural Center (fig.) on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok, located within the same building of the Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center (map - fig.). See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5), and TRAVEL PICTURE.

Ashin Nyanissara (အရှင်ဉာဏိဿရ)

Burmese. Lord Nyanissara. Another name of Sitagu Sayadaw, a Burmese meditation teacher and Theravada Buddhist scholar.

Ashtamangala (अष्टमंगल)

Sanskrit. Eight auspicious [things]. Eight auspicious symbols, the first four of these being royal emblems associated with the Shakyamuni Buddha, the other four symbols of Buddhist religious belief. READ ON.


See Asoka.

ashram (आश्रम)

1. Sanskrit. Place to stay or halt. A hermitage retreat for recluses, holy men and hermits or rishi, in Thai tradition often a cave. It corresponds with the stage of life known as Sannyas. The word ashram has the root shram, meaning to make efforts. Compare with araam.

2. Sanskrit. Stage of life. Hindu tradition recognizes four stages or phases of life, i.e. Brahmacharya, the celibate stage; Gruhastha, the married stage; Vanaprastha, the retirement stage; and Sannyas or the recluse stage. See also Four Stages of Life.

Ashwagandha (अश्वगन्ध, अश्वगंधा)

Sanskrit-Hindi. Horse's smell. Name for a plant with the scientific name Withania somnifera, which roots, and to a lesser extent also its berries, are widely used as herbs in Ayurveda. The name derives from the smell of the roots, which are said to have an odour reminiscent of that of a clammy horse. Due to the similarity of this root with ginseng, which is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, it is in Thai referred to as sohm india or Indian ginseng, against sohm jihn for Chinese ginseng. Occasionally, also transcribed Ashvagandha.

ashwamedha (अश्‍वमे)

Sanskrit. The sacrifice of a horse performed by Vedic kings in order to gain domination over their enemies, to maintain supremacy, or to produce a male offspring.

Ashwapati (अश्‍वपति)

Sanskrit. Lord of the horses. See also reusi nah mah.

Ashwin (अश्‍विन, अश्विन)

1. Sanskrit. Often plural. Horseman/horsemen. Name of two Vedic deities, twin sons of the sky or the sun. They are the personification of early morning light and said to be the physicians to the gods. They are the children of a nymph called Ashwini, who disguised herself in the form of a mare. They are the twin heavenly fathers to the youngest (twin) sons of the Pandavas, i.e. Nakula and Sahadeva. The Ashwin brothers are also referred to as Ashwini Kumara (अश्विनीकुमार), i.e. the Princes of Ashwini or the Horsemen Princes. In the Rigveda, they are together also called Nasatya (नासत्य), which means Kind and Helpful, though later on, Nasatya is the name of one twin, while the other is then called Dasra (दस्र), which similarly means Accomplishing Wonderful Deeds or Giving Marvelous Aid. Also transcribed Ashvin. See also reusi nah mah.

2. Sanskrit. The twelfth month of the Hindu calendar.

Ashwini (अश्‍विनि, अश्विनी)

Sanskrit. Horse woman. A nymph who concealed herself as a mare, mother of the two horsemen brothers, the Ashwin Twin(s).

Ashy Tailorbird

Common name a species of passerine bird in the family Cisticolidae, and with the scientific name Orthotomus ruficeps. READ ON.

Ashy Woodswallow

Common name a stocky, large-headed bird, with the scientific designation Artamus fuscus. It lives in open areas with scattered trees, where it hunts and feeds on insects. Despite its name it is not a true swallow. Its name refers rather to the fact that it sometimes flies in the same areas as swallows and swifts, but it has a much thicker build, with broad-based, triangular, somewhat starling-like, pointed wings. Its plumage is a soft gunmetal gray, with pale greyish underparts, and a pale bluish bill. It has a body size of 16 to 18 centimeters. They are frequently seen perched on wires, often huddled in pairs or groups. It is found from Nepal; over India, where is lives mostly in coastal areas, to almost all of mainland Southeast Asia, but not in southern Thailand nor further south down the peninsula. In Thai it is known as nok aen phong (蹾), which freely translates as undergrowth swallow or grassy area swallow. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Asian Amberwing

Name of a species of dragonfly with the scientific name Brachythemis contaminata. The male has a olivaceous-brown to reddish-brown thorax with two reddish brown lateral stripes on the upper side, and a bright red abdomen. The face is olivaceous, and the compound eyes are olivaceous-brown above and greenish grey below. It has transparent wings, with reddish venation and a broad, bright orange wing patch, that extends from wing base to the rusty wing spot, on both the fore and hind wings. The female has a pale olive greenish-yellow thorax, with brown and dark stripes, and the abdomen is pale greenish with brown and narrow black stripes. Its face is yellowish-white, and the compound eyes are pale brown above and greenish-grey below. It has transparent wings, with pale yellowish to amber wing spots and a yellow tinge at the base of the hind wing. It is also known as Ditch Jewel and Orange Skimmer.

Asian Bearcat

Name of a semi-large, raccoon-like mammal with a thick, black fur and a long, bushy tail (fig.), that -like most civets- belongs to the family of Viverridae. It lives in the forest canopy of rainforests in South, East and Southeast Asia, from India and Bangladesh in the West, to China, Vietnam and the Philippines in the East, to Malaysia and Indonesia in the South, including also Thailand. It has the scientific name Arctictis binturong and is often simply referred to as Binturong (fig.). Among civets, the Asian Bearcat is the largest of them all, weighing up to 20 kilograms and growing up to 180 centimeters (including the tail).

Asian Black Bear

Common name for a species of bear with the scientific name Ursus thibetanus. It is also known as Tibetan Black Bear, Himalayan Black Bear and Moon Bear, the latter referring to the distinctive creamy-white, crescent-shaped curve on its chest, similar to that of the Malayan Bear (fig.). It is a species of bear that occurs in the forests of hilly and mountainous areas in South, East and Southeast Asia. They are omnivores who change their diet according to the seasons, feeding on fish and even carrion in winter, and on insects, grasses and plants during spring and summer. Although the practice is illegal, in China, South Korea and Vietnam, Asian Black Bears are farmed often in very poor living conditions, including crush cages to extract bile from their gall bladder, which is used as an ingredient in Chinese traditional medicine. Bears used in this illicit practice are commonly referred to as bile bears.

Asian Box Turtle

See Southeast Asian Box Turtle.

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Common name for a 12.5 to 13.5 centimeter small passerine bird (fig.), with the scientific designation Muscicapa dauurica. Adults have brownish-grey upperparts and pale underparts, with a more faint brownish-grey breast-wash (fig.), usually without distinct streaks. It has a broad-based blackish bill with a pale based lower mandible, and whitish orbital rings that usually extend to the lores. Furthermore, it has pale grey fringes on the wing coverts and tertials. The Asian Brown Flycatcher is commonly found in open woodland and cultivated areas, and usually nests in tree holes (fig.). It belongs to the family Muscicapidae, and includes the subspecies Brown-streaked Flycatcher, which is sometimes considered a seperate species, known by the Latin name Muscicapa williamsoni. The Asian Brown Flycatcher is found throughout Asia and winters in tropical southern Asia, from southern India and Sri Lanka, east to Indonesia, and the most commonly found Asian Brown Flycatcher in Thailand is the subspecies Muscicapa dauurica siamensis, of which immature birds are somewhat browner above and show whitish fringes on the wing coverts (fig.). In Thai, it is called nok jab malaeng sih nahm tahn (Ѻŧչӵ), which may be translated as brown-coloured insect-catching bird. Despite its common name, the Asian Brown Flycatcher often appears rather dark sooty-grey (fig.), which may confuse correct identification, as it looks very similar (fig.) to the Dark-sided Flycatcher. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2).

Asian Brown Tortoise

See Asian Forest Tortoise.

Asian Elephant

Common name for the largest living land animal in Asia, with the scientific name Elephas maximus. READ ON.

Asian Fairy-bluebird

Name of a small, primarily arboreal bird with the scientific name Irena puella. Males are black with brilliant blue upperparts. Though their tails are the other way round, i.e. black on the upper side, often with a few blue feathers at the topmost part, and blue on the underside. Females and immature birds are of an uniform verdant-blue colour (fig.). They have red eyes and a dark grey, slightly bent beak. They preferably feed on fruit, but will also eat nectar from certain flowers and, occasionally, some insects. They usually dwell in the dense foliage of large trees, often near rivers. In Thai known as nok khiao krah.

Asian Forest Tortoise

A giant tortoise with the binomial names Manouria emys, found in southern Thailand, especially in Ranong and Nakhon Sri Thammarat, as well as in Malaysia and some parts of Indonesia. It is dark brownish gray with a high curved carapace, that usually has light brown to vague yellow clouds in the centre of each scute, which are striated. The length of its carapace is around 50 centimeters and it may weigh as much as 20 kilograms. Its legs are grayish black with large, light brown to vague yellow scales (fig.). It feeds on a variety of vegetation, fruits, mushrooms and snails. Also known as Asian Brown Tortoise and Brown Asian Giant Tortoise, and in Thai as tao hok leuang.

Asian Games

Name of a four-yearly multi-sports event featuring disciplines and athletes from all over Asia, and first organized in 1951 in New Delhi, India. Since then, it has been hosted by Thailand a number of times, i.e. in 1966, 1970, 1978 and in 1998. To mark the occasion, commemorative postage stamps were issued in 1966 (fig.), and in 1998 (fig.). Also known as Asiad.

Asian Giant Hornet

Common name for the largest hornet in the world, with the scientific designation Vespa mandarinia. It has as body length of around 5 centimeters, a wingspan of about 7.6 cm, and carries a large stinger that contains a potent venom. It occurs in temperate and tropical Eastern Asia, where its sting regularly causes fatalities. Between July and October 2013, an influx in attacks have killed well over 40 people and injured nearly 1,700 in China's Shaanxi Province alone, where authorities have been struggling to control the attacks, which have increased in number due to global warming. They are colloquially referred to as Yak Killer Hornets. See also Yellow Paper Wasp.

Asian Glossy Starling

Common name for a species of passerine bird in the family Sturnidae. READ ON.

Asian Golden Cat

Common name of a medium-sized wild cat, with a mostly foxy red to golden-brown fur, though greyish brown and occasionally even darker colour variants may also be found. In general, the fur is plain, other than some spots on the underside and sometimes very faint spotting on the rest of the body, though in China there is a variety with spots like those of a Leopard Cat (fig.). It occurs throughout Southeast Asia, ranging from Tibet and India, to southern China and as far South as Indonesia. Also called Asiatic Golden Cat and Temminck's Golden Cat. In Thailand it is called seua fai, meaning fire tiger, after the popular belief that burning its fur or eating its flesh, drives away tigers, though the Karen people believe that merely carrying a single hair of the cat is sufficient. The name might also be related to a local misapprehension that this cat is ferocious, though in captivity (fig.) it has been known to be rather docile and tranquil.

Asian Golden Weaver

Common name for a weaverbird with the scientific name Ploceus hypoxanthus. READ ON.

Asian Grass Frog

Common name for a small frog species in the family Dicroglossidae and native to East, South and Southeast Asia, and which is also known commonly as Boie's Wart Frog, Indian Cricket Frog and Rice Field Frog, amongst other names. Its Latin binomial designation is Fejervarya limnocharis. Adults are light to dark brown with small chestnut spots, as well as small wart-like bumps all over the skin, and they have a pale greenish (or sometimes off-white to pale beige) vertebral line that runs over the entire back, from head to bottom, and which is absent in juveniles (fig.). It is widely distributed and also occurs at high altitudes. See also TRAVEL PICTURES.

Asian Green Mussel

Common name for a bivalve mollusc in the family Mytilidae. READ ON.

Asian Koel

Name for a bird in the order of cuckoos, with the binomial name Eudynamys scolopaceus and found in South and Southeast Asia, as well as in China. The Asian Koel is between 40 and 44 centimeters large, and has a long tail. Males (fig.) are glossy black with a greenish-blue shine (fig.), a pale bill and red eyes. Females (fig.) of the nominate race are brownish on the crown and have rufous streaks on the head. The back, rump and wing coverts are dark brown with white and buff spots, whilst the whitish underparts are striped, streaked, spotted or barred. Females of other subspecies differ in size and colouration, usually with rufous or buff markings (fig.). Like cuckoos, the Asian Koel is a brood parasite, i.e. it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. In Thai, it is named nok kah wao, with the term kah or nok kah actually meaning crow, whereas the word wao has no specific meaning. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) (2).

Asian Lady Beetle

Common name for a species of ladybug, i.e. a beetle in the family Coccinellidae, with the scientific designation Harmonia axyridis, and known in Thai as tao thong tua talok (ҷͧǵš). Its pronotum and head are black with white dots, and the elytra are reddish-orange, with a number of black spots, though its colour is variable.

Asian Leaf Turtle

Name for a medium sized, semi-aquatic turtle with the scientific name Cyclemys dentata, commonly found throughout Southeast Asia. It is rather flat and shaped like a broad oval, with the rear edge of the carapace strongly serrated, especially with juveniles. The carapace is usually brown, whereas the background colour of the plastron ranges from light yellowish-brown to almost black. When seen from above the carapace somewhat resembles a dead leaf, an appearance that serves as camouflage, since many leaf turtles like to dwell in dry leaves. It lives in shallow waters and streams in mountain forests and while juveniles are highly aquatic and prefer eating in the water, adults may spend more time on land where they also readily eat. In Thai it is called tao bai mai, a near translation of its English name, meaning leaf turtle. Its appearance is reminiscent of that of the Spiny Turtle (Heosemys spinosa), the Stripe-necked Leaf Turtle (Cyclemys tcheponensis) and the Giant Asian Pond Turtle (Heosemys grandis - fig.).

Asian Long-horned Beetle

Common name for a species of large beetle in the Cerambycidae family and with the scientific designation Anoplophora glabripennis. READ ON.

Asian-Oceanic Postal Union

Name of an inter-governmental organization of 32 postal administrations of the Asian Pacific Region, with the objective to extend, facilitate, and improve postal relations between member countries and to promote cooperation in the field of postal services. The convention was established on 1 April 1962, originally under the name Asian-Oceanic Postal Convention (AOPC) and with headquarters in Manila. Later it changed its name to Asian-Oceanic Postal Union (AOPU), and in 2002, the organization relocated its headquarters to Bangkok. Nowadays, it is also referred to as Asian-Pacific Postal Union (APPU) and for the 50th anniversary of its founding, Thailand issued a postage stamp with the flags of all 32 member nations of the organization, namely Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Vietnam (fig.). See more POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2).

Asian Openbill

A species of stork with the binomial name Anastomus oscitans. READ ON.

Asian-Pacific Postal Union

See Asian-Oceanic Postal Union

Asian Palm Civet

See Common Palm Civet.

Asian Palm Weevil

See duang maprao.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher

Common name for a medium-sized passerine bird, with the scientific name Terpsiphone paradisi. Adults have a glossy black head and crown with a crest, a black sturdy bill, and black eyes, greyish throat and underparts, and rufous on the back, though some populations have a white plumage. Males have elongated tail feathers, that grow around 30 centimeters long. In Thai, this species is known by the name nok saew sawan (ä). Both a rufous and a white morph of this bird are depicted on a Thai postage stamp issued in 1975 as part of a set on Thai birds (fig.).

Asian Pied Starling

Common designation for a species of starling, with the scientific names Sturnus contra and Gracupica contra, and found throughout parts of South (fig.) and Southeast Asia. It has a black head, throat and upper breast, white cheeks and fore-crown, and the base of the pale bill, as well as the pale facial skin around the eyes, is orange. Its legs and feet are greyish-yellow. Though this species of passerine bird is mainly terrestrial, it can occasionally be found perching in trees, where it usually retreats for the night (fig.). Also known as Pied Myna, and in Thai called nok ihyang dahng.

Asian Small-clawed Otter

Common name for the smallest species of all otters. READ ON.

Asian Snakehead

See pla chon.

Asian Stink Bug

Common name for an insect with the scientific name Acrosternum hilare, and also commonly known as Green Stink Bug and Green Soldier Bug. READ ON.

Asian Tapir

Another name for the Malayan Tapir, a large mammal with the scientific name Tapirus indicus, in itself a Latin designation that refers to the East Indies rather than to India. READ ON.

Asian Water Dragon

See Indochinese Water Dragon.

Asiatic Brush-tailed Porcupine

Name of a species of porcupine (fig.) found in Southeast Asia, from China to Sumatra. READ ON.

Asiatic Pennywort

See bai bua bok.

Asiatic Soft-shell Turtle

See taphaab.


Name of a night bazaar located along at the riverfront of the lower Chao Phraya River in Bangkok and situated in the former docks of the East Asiatic Company. READ ON.

Asita (असित)

Sanskrit. The hermit living in the mountains not far from the palace of Suddhodana, and who predicted that if the newborn Siddharta were to grow up in the palace, he would become a great king who would submit the whole world, but if he were to deny court life to live a religious life, he would become a buddha. Some texts mention a reusi named Kaladevaila.

Asita (अजित)

Sanskrit. Another spelling for Ajita.

Asohk (ȡ)

Thai for Asoka. Also spelled asohk or Asoke.

Asoka (अशोक)

1. Sanskrit. Without sorrow. Indian-Mauryan Emperor, who ruled from 273 to 232 BC and unified India. During his reign Buddhism was adopted as the state religion and structures inscribed with Buddhist ethics were erected throughout his empire. He sent Buddhist missionaries to many parts of Asia, including Southeast Asia and Ceylon. In Thai Asohk and in full as Phra Chao Asohk Maha Raj, and in Burmese known as Dhammasoka. See also Asoka Pillar and TRAVEL PICTURES.

2. Sanskrit. Without sorrow. Tree with the Latin name Saraca indica, the best known kind of the genus Saraca, that in total numbers 71 species of evergreen trees from tropical Southeast Asia. They can reach a height of nine meters. According to some sources it is the tree under which Siddhartha was born (fig.) and of which Maha Maya holds a branch, standing during the delivery (fig.). In Thai asohk.

3. Sanskrit. Without sorrow. Tree with the botanical name Polyalthia longifolia. Whereas Saraca indica qualifies as the true Asoka, Polyalthia longifolia is often referred to as the False Asoka. It is a lofty evergreen tree, often planted in rows, and grows to around 10 meters in height. It has weeping pendulous branches and long narrow lanceolate leaves with undulate margins.

Asohk Ra-yah (ȡ)

Thai. Chandelier Asoka. Tropical tree with the botanical name Amherstia nobilis. It is native to Myanmar, belongs to the family Fabaceae and bears showy red flowers. It has broad, yet rater short, somewhat scimitar-shaped seedpods. In English, it is known by the names Orchid Tree and Pride of Burma.

Asohk Leuang (ȡͧ)

Thai. Yellow Asoka. Tree with the botanical name Saraca thaipingensis. It is native to Southeast Asia, belongs to the family Fabaceae, and bears yellow flowers. In English, it is also known by the common names Yellow Ashoka or Yellow Asoka, and Yellow Saraca, and in Thai also as Sohk Leuang (ʡͧ) and Sri Yala ().

Asoka Pillar

Name of a series of columns found throughout northern India, often in strategic sites, such as on trade routes, but especially at locations of historical importance to Buddhism. READ ON.

Asokasundari (अशोकसुंदरी)

Sanskrit. Beautiful girl without sorrow. Name of the daughter of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati. See also Naak Galyah. Also spelled Ashokasundari.

Asokaramaya (අශෝකාරාමය)

Sinhala. Name of a Buddhist Temple in the Sinhalese capital Colombo. READ ON.

asoon ()

Thai name for asura, when used separately. It is often used as a prefix in front of the name of yak, i.e. giants or demons, especially from Himaphan Forest or from the story of the Ramakien. If part of a compound name often the word asurais used instead, similar to the Sanskrit term. This has to do with the pronunciation of Thai consonants at the beginning or the end of words and syllables, i.e. whereas the r in the beginning of a word or syllable is pronounced as r, a final r, i.e. at the the end of a word or syllable, is pronounced r. Hence, the different pronunciation of the names Asurapaksi and Asoon Paksah, in which the first name is read as one compound name, whilst the second is read as two separate words, i.e. a title and a name. Sometimes transcribed asun or asuhn. See also Reua Asurapaksi.

Asoon Paksah (ûѡ)

Thai. Name of a creature from Himaphan Forest, which has the upper body of a giant or asoon and the lower body of a rooster-like bird, i.e. from torso down. It is often depicted with a large tail represented as a kranok-design, and usually holds a short mace. It is able to fly at great speed and, being carnivorous in nature, it preys on large animals, such as deer, horses, and even humans. Sometimes transcribed Asun Paksa or Asuhn Puksa.

Asplenium australasicum

Latin. Plant of the genus Asplenium of which there are about 700 kinds, mostly evergreen ferns. The Asplenium australasicum got the nickname bird's nest fern or crow's nest fern, because of its fronds or leaves, that form a funnel shaped nest. These fern leaves can grow to 1.5 meters in length and 20 centimeters in width. They grow in humid and warm climates on trees and rocks. The fronds of larger plants usually get wavy over time. The plant closely resembles the Asplenium nidus, the difference being based on their sori. The sori produce and contain the spores and appear as brown, fuzzy, diagonal lines, on the underside of the fronds, usually more dense towards the end. In the Asplenium australasicum those are half or more the distance between the frond's midrib and margin. Besides this, the fronds of the Asplenium nidus var. plicatum are more convoluted. In Thai called Feun Kha Luang (Թǧ).

Asplenium nidus

Latin. Plant of the genus Asplenium, a specimen of mainly evergreen ferns. This fern occurs frequently in the tropics as a guest plant on trees and rocks, thus colonizing the tropical rainforest. The shiny green lance-like fronds or leaves are thin and have a dark, almost black, middle-vein. It grows circular from a hairy crown and is, like its counterpart the Asplenium australasicum, nicknamed bird's nest fern. It grows in a humid and warm climate. The fronds of larger plants are usually wavy. Although the plant closely resembles the Asplenium australasicum, its sori the spores that appear as brown, fuzzy, diagonal lines, on the underside of the fronds- are less wide, and the fronds of the Asplenium nidus var. plicatum, are more convoluted. In Thai called Feun Kha Luang Lang Laai (Թǧѧ) and the plicatum is known as Feun Jihb (Թպ).

Assamese Macaque

See ling wok phu khao.

asura (असुर)

Sanskrit. Nature gods in Hinduism, i.e. any demi-god or demon, who represents the forces of darkness and evil. As a group, they are constantly at war with the devas, i.e. the gods. They are often referred to in plural. In Thai, they are known as asura, asoora, asun, asuhn or asoon. In Burmese, they are called athura and are considered the lowest form of demi-gods, who have pleasure half the day and suffer the other half. Compare with Aswang.

Asurapaksi (ûѡ)

Thai-Pali. A mythical half-animal half-celestial being (asura) from Himaphan Forest, with the head of a yak (giant) and the body of a bird (paksi). It is very similar to a creature called Asurawayuphak and also has similar characteristics to another creature of Himaphan Forets, i.e. Asoon Paksah. See also Vayuphak and Reua Asurapaksi.

Asuraphat (üѴ)

Thai. Name of a monkey from the Ramakien. He is the son of Hanuman (fig.) with the ogress Benyagai (fig.). His face is that of a monkey, but his head and body are that of a yak, i.e. an ogre. Hence he has a white face akin to his father and black curly hair, like that of his mother. In khon performances, he is depicted by a white khon mask, with a golden diadem-like crown as worn by ogres, as well as black curly hair on the head. His body hair is described as between clear white and shine yellow. Phiphek (fig.), the chief astrologer of Longka, who was driven from the city and became an ally of Phra Ram (fig.), is his maternal grandfather, and when the latter was abducted by Thao Chakrawat (fig.) and Phainahsuriyawong (侹ǧ), Asuraphat came to see Hanuman and told him what had happened. Consequently, Phra Ram ordered Phra Phrot and Satrud to assemble their troops and hunt the duo down, which led to the second battle of Longka, after which Phra Ram appointed Asuraphat viceroy over Longka.

Asuravayuphak (ؾѡ)

See Asurawayuphak and Reua Asuravayuphak.

Asurawayuphak (ؾѡ)

Thai-Pali. Name of a mythical half-animal half-celestial being from Himaphan Forest with the upper body of an asura and the lower body of a bird (fig.). Similar to the Asurapaksi. See also Reua Asuravayuphak (fig.), Vayuphak and Asoon Paksah. Sometimes spelled Asuravayuphak.

Asurindarahu (Թ)

Name of a giant who wanted an audience with the Buddha. Proud of his size he didn't want to bow before the much smaller Buddha. Aware of the thoughts of the giant the Buddha manifested himself lying down with an enormous body, his feet larger than the body size of this giant (fig.). Totally impressed Asurindarahu learned a lesson, namely that there might always be more important or larger beings than one expects and therefore one better not believe rumours without prior consideration. Giant reclining Buddha images (fig.) often refer to this narrative. See also pahng saiyaht.


Name of an evil, demon-like creature from Filipino folklore, that is able to assume different forms, both human and animal, and typically harasses people at night. Like vampires, Aswang can be ward off by using salt or garlic, products known in the Tagalog language of the Philippines as asin and bawang, respectively. Hence, it is believed by some that the name Aswang has derived from this, being a compound of both Tagalog words, though other sources claim the name derives from Sanskrit words for dog and body, i.e. shwan (श्वन्) and anga (अङ्ग), respectively. Also spelled Asuang or Asuwang. See also as asura.

at (Ѱ)

Thai. One-eighth. An obsolete Thai monetary unit equal to one-eighth of a feuang, or a sixty-fourth part of one baht. It is still found on old coins and stamps.

Ateji (宛字)

Japanese. Phonetic character or phonetic equivalent. Term for Kanji used to phonetically represent words with less regard held to the underlying meaning of the characters, similar to the Chinese system of Zhuyin, as well as for Kanji used semantically, without regard to the readings. Ateji was once widely utilized to transliterate foreign names, especially place names.

Atharva (अथर्व)

Sanskrit. The last of the four Vedas which deals with the knowledge of science and other miscellaneous subjects. Also Atharvaveda.

Atharvaveda (अथर्ववेद)

Sanskrit. See Atharva.

Athinkhaya (အသင်္ခယာ)

1. Burmese. Title for a minister, co-regent or viceroy, in ancient Burma, which later on, especially in the 14th century, was also used for certain monarchs and designated kings, such as King Saw Yun of Sagaing (fig.), who actually started as a governor, i.e. a co-ruler. He was a nephew of King Athinkhaya of Myinsaing.

2. Burmese. Name of the oldest of the three brothers who in 1297 AD co-founded the Myinsaing Kingdom. He was born in 1261 and died in 1310. He was an uncle of King Athinkhaya Saw Yun of Sagaing (fig.).

athitahn (͸ɰҹ, ͸Ԯҹ)

Thai. Term for a vow (fig.) or a quick prayer to ask for a blessing when making a formal offering, especially with burnt offerings such as joss paper, joss sticks, candles, etc. The person offering will hold the offer and bring the hands together in a wai above the head before actually burning the gong de, placing the joss sticks in a kratahng toob or putting the candles on a chung thian.

Atlas Moth

Name of the largest moth in the world (with regard to the wing surface), with a wingspan of up to 30 centimeters (12 inches). As a caterpillar it may be up to 12 centimeters long, before it starts spinning its cocoon. It belongs to the family of Saturniidae and has the scientific name Atlas attacus, named after the Titan of Greek mythology for its map-like wing patterns. Atlas moths live in the oriental tropics, in habitats ranging from lowland to upper mountain forests. The moth's brown to ruby red wings have patterns that consist of large, white, triangular eyespots, and strongly curved tips of the forewings, especially in males. Adult moths do not have a mouth and therefore cannot feed, and thus live for only a short time, generally only 5 to 7 days, during which they must find a mate and reproduce. They live off the energy reserve that they obtained as a caterpillar. The females give off a strong pheromone scent which can be detected by the sensitive, feathery antennae of the male, who may be several kilometers away. Once together, the male and female mate, after which the female lays up to several hundred eggs. Both adults then die a few hours later. The eggs require eight to fourteen days to hatch, depending upon temperature. The caterpillars are bluish green, with two ring-like dots in shades of pink on the posterior (fig.). They are adorned with fleshy spines along the back, which are covered in a waxy, white substance (fig.). They do all their eating in the larva stage as adult moths have no mouth. Atlas Moths are also referred to as snake headed moths due to the crude resemblances to snakes heads on their wing tips which are thought to ward off potential predators. In Thai called phi seua yak, what translates as giant butterfly. Also called Giant Moth. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2).

atman (आत्म‍)

Sanskrit. Term meaning breath of life and soul. Philosophical concept of universal soul or spirit in Hinduism, the higher divine self of a human. It is the eternal self that, according to the Upanishads, is reborn in different bodies, either on earth, in some heaven or hell, through the process of reincarnation.

Atsadang Dechawut (ɮҧപظ)

Thai. Name of a son of King Chulalongkorn and Queen Saowapha, with the title Prince of Nakhon Ratchasima. READ ON.

Atsakammalah (ȡ)

Another spelling for Atsakammara.

Atsakammara (ȡ)

Thai. Name of a giant or yak character in the Ramakien. He has a deep purple complexion and is described as having three faces and two arms. In Thai iconography, he is hence depicted wearing a chadah-like crown adorned with 3 small deep purple faces. He is the ruler of Meuang Duram (ดุรัม) and adopted Totsakiriwan and Totsakiriton (fig.), the twin sons of Totsakan (fig.), to look after them as the latter was at war with Phra Ram (fig.), yet the twins eventually joined their father in his struggle. When Totsakan and the twins were killed by Phra Ram, Atsakammalah went into battle to take revenge, but was hit by an arrow of Phra Ram. Yet, instead of dying, he came back doubling his body, each time he was hit. Phiphek (fig.) then informed Phra Ram that this was a special gift that Atsakammalah had received from Idsuan (fig.) as a divine favour and that he could not be killed even if he was cut into small pieces, he would still be able to reassemble himself and raise again. The only way to kill him was to throw his body in the water. Hence, Phra Ram beheaded him with his Phrommat-arrow and dragged the giant's body away to dispose it off in the water. In Wat Phra Kaew, Atsakammalah is one of the giant gatekeepers, who stands at the first of the three western gates, together with Chakrawat. His name is also spelled Asakanmara, which is sometimes transliterated Asakornmarsa, but he is also known as Thao Atsakanmarasoon (fig.) and Atsakammalah. See LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS and TRAVEL PICTURE.

Atsakanmarasoon (ȡó)

Thai. Another name often used for the giant Atsakammara (fig.) and typically presceded by the title or prefix Thao. See also LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS and TRAVEL PICTURE.

Atsawin Waen Phet (Թǹྪ)

Thai. Knights of the Diamond Ring. Secretive organization established by the corrupt and brutal Police General Phao Sri Yanon ( ҹ), a former army officer, who took part in the 1947 coup d'état, staged by the military despot Field Marshal Phibun Songkram (fig.) and aimed at restoring him back to power. The organization consisted of an intimate circle of police officers, who resorted to extrajudicial killing, assassination and murder, in order to elliminate political opponents. This period of police terror under Phao Sri Yanon is also known as Yuk Atsawin Phayong (ؤԹͧ), i.e. Period of the Cavorting (or Prancing) Knights, and is sometimes referred to as Yuk Rat Tamruat (ؤѰǨ), which translates as Period of the Police State. MORE ON THIS.

atti (Ѱ)

Thai. The bones or ashes of a cremated deceased (fig.).


A particular object associated with a Hindu god or goddess, in art usually clearly depicted to identify a god. For example the attributes of Vishnu are a lotus, disc, conch and a club.

Atumashi Kyaung (အတုမရှိကျောင်း)

Burmese. Inimitable School or Unique School. Name of a monastery in Mandalay. READ ON.

Aum (ओँ, ॐ, ओम्, ओ३म्, ओहम्)

Sanskrit. A mystical syllable, the most sacred mantra of the Hindus which is placed at the beginning of most religious texts or uttered before reading or singing them. It is said to be the primordial sound that was present at the creation of the Universe, and the first letter (अ) of the word Aum (ओँ) itself (fig.), represents creation, making it thus a symbol of the creator god Brahma. The anunasika or chandrabindu (fig.), the moon-dot stroke (ँ) which is written on top of the basic letters au () is a Devanagari sign that emphatically nasalizes a vowel sound. Consisting of a dot surrounded by a U, it is reminiscent of a third eye, as well as of Vishnu's urdhva-pundra, a U-shaped sectarian mark and kind of tilaka (fig.) that he and his followers may wear on the forehead (fig.). The Aum sign is sometimes depicted together with three horizontal bars. These refer to Shiva, the third god of the Hindu Trimurti, whose symbol is the tri-pundra, a sectarian mark consisting of three horizontal bars that he and his followers may wear on the forehead. The Aum sign in combination with this thus encompasses all three gods of the Trimurti. It is said to be the original sound that contains all other sounds, words and languages. In yoga, Ayurveda and even in modern medicine, the vibration of the humming sound that is generated when uttering the word Aum, is believed to bring health benefits. Sound healers allege that the monotonous reverberation affects the dis-rhythmic motion found in cancer cells and that it can bring about complete calmness, reducing stress and decreasing general physical and psychological symptoms associated with stress. The primordial sound is symbolized by the Sankha, the conch of victory (fig.). Aum also occurs in Jainism and Buddhism, and both in Devanagari and in English it can be written in many different ways, i.e. Om and Ohm. In Chinese texts, the sound is represented as 唵. See also Aum mani padma hum and THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

Aum mani padma hum (ओँ मनि पद्म् हूँ)

Sanskrit for the Tibetan mantra Om mani padme hum. It originated in India but as it became used in Tibet, the pronunciation somewhat changed, as some of the sounds in Sanskrit were found too hard to pronounce. This six syllable incantation is one of the most widely used of all Buddhist mantras, but cannot easily be translated. Aum is a mystical syllable which is placed at the beginning of most religious texts and uttered before reading or singing them, mani means jewel or gem, padma means lotus, and hum is an exclamation or interjection frequently used in mantras. The mantra might thus be translated as jewel-lotus or jewelled lotus and could be interpreted as an eulogy in praise of the lotus, a sacred flower in both Hinduism and Buddhism, and associated with the divine birth of the Buddha in the latter. In its Sanskrit form it is also known as the mantra of Avalokitesvara. By some its is regarded as an incantation to address a bodhisattva called Manipadma, believed to be a corruption or mispronunciation of Padmapani, a form of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara when he appears as creator. The mantra often appears either in Tibetan and sometimes in Indian Ranjana script, but less so in Devanagari, on mani stones (fig.), mani wheels (fig.), prayer wheels (fig.), jewelry, singing bowls (fig.), etc. In Tibetan it is by some pronounced Om mani peme hung.

Aung Sakkya (အောင်စကြာ)

Burmese. ‘Wheel of Triumph and ‘Wheel of Sakkya. Name of the 69 meter tall pagoda at the Maha Bodhi Ta Htaung monastery in Monywa (fig.).

Aung Pinle Hsinbyushin (အောင်ပင်လယ်ဆင်ဖြူရှင်)

Burmese. White Elephant of Aung Pinle. Name of a spirit that belongs to the official pantheon of 37 nats worshipped in Myanmar, who in English is referred to as Lord of the White Elephant of Aung Pinle. He is the nat representing King Thihathu of Ava, who ruled from 1422 AD until he was assassinated in 1426 AD, in an ambush by the men of Sawbwa of Onbaung (Thibaw) at Aung Pinle near today's Amarapura. He is usually portrayed in full regalia, sitting cross-legged on a throne on the back of a White Elephant, typically with a mahout crouching in front and holding an elephant hook (fig.) and a balu, i.e. a yak-like ogre, sitting on the back holding a club. His mother, Queen Shin Mi-Nauk of Ava, also entered the nat pantheon as Anauk Mibaya. See also LIST OF BURMESE NATS.

Aung San (အောင်ဆန်း)

Burmese. Name of a revolutionary nationalist, who was influential in bringing about Burma's independence from British colonial rule, and is regarded as the father of modern-day Myanmar, but was assassinated 6 months before the nation's actual independence on 4 January 1948. On the morning of 19 July 1947, around 10.30 AM, three gunmen sent by his political archrival U Saw, broke into the Secretariat Building (fig.) in Yangon and opened fire on Aung San, killing him, together with six of his cabinet ministers, including his older brother Ba Win, as well as a cabinet secretary and a bodyguard. U Saw was tried and hanged. A probe into the incident soon found that several low-ranking British officers had sold weapons to a number of Burmese politicians, including U Saw, it seems for an alleged armed takeover. This gave rise to rumours of a conspiracy involving the British, suggesting that U Saw may not have been acting alone and that British interest may have been involved in the assassination of Aung San. Aung San is the father of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Aung San is usually referred to as Bogyoke Aung San, i.e. General Aung San. His portrait is found nationwide (fig.), whilst statues of him on horseback are found on public squares in towns (fig.) and cities throughout Myanmar.

Aung Zeya (အောင်ဇေယျ)

Birth name of the Burmese King Alaungpaya.

Aungzwamagyi (အောင်စွာမကြီး)

Burmese. One of 37 nats that belong to the official pantheon of spirits worshipped in Myanmar. During his life he was Aung Zwa, a commander in the service of Crown Prince Narapati Sithu, the brother of King Naratheinkha of Pagan, as well as the heir apparent and commander-in-chief of the Army. When the King took one of his brother's consorts as his own, Narapati Sithu in 1174 AD ordered Aung Zwa to kill the King, promising him the three consorts of the King, who were his own cousins, as a reward. Thus, Aung Zwa led a squadron of eighty soldiers and infiltrated the palace, where he assassinated the King. However, Narapati Sithu, now King himself, reneged on his promise and Aung Zwa refusing to accept an alternative offer instead, swore at Narapati Sithu, who killed him at once. Hence, Aung Zwa became the nat Aungzwamagyi, i.e. the Great Aung Zwa. See also LIST OF BURMESE NATS.

auparishtaka (औपरिष्टक)

Term used in the kama sutra to describe techniques for oral sex, even stating that eunuchs are the chief experts in performing auparishtaka, whilst describing two kinds of eunuchs, i.e. those who are disguised as females, and those who dress up as males, with the latter being described as the one that is expected to give the most perfect form of oral sex. In India, where the acts is dubbed sucking the mango, erotic sculptures in bas-relief of people performing oral sex on each other are widely found in ancient temples, including all sexes with any sex. Examples are ample in the Kajuraho Monuments (fig.) and in the Bhoramdeva Temple in Chhapri, near Kawardha.

Australian Cockroach

See malaeng saab.


Name of an ancient kingdom in Myanmar, with its capital near present-day Mandalay. READ ON.

avadana (अवदान)

Sanskrit. Buddhist narrative about the virtuous deeds of holy men.


Name of an ogre with immense powers, who terrorized an entire city. However, this yaksha converted to Buddhism in the seventh year after the Buddha's Enlightenment.

Avalokitesuan (š)

Thai for Avalokitesvara.

Avalokitesvara (अवलोकितेश्वर)

Sanskrit. Lord of compassion or the one who looks down with compassion. A male deity and popular bodhisatva in Mahayana Buddhism (fig.). He is the personification of compassion. He has attained enlightenment, but postpones his buddahood in order to help others to reach that goal. He wears the image of Amitabha in his headdress and his body is sometimes covered with numerous small images of the Buddha. This in combination with more arms spread out fan-wise like a halo around his body, he is known as Radiating Avalokitesvara (fig.). He is sometimes depicted with the skin of an antelope over his left shoulder (fig.) or a tiger skin around his waist. He may have up to 22 arms and 11 heads.  In Khmer art, his attributes are a rosary, book, flask and a lotus, though he has many forms with different names, and is called Lokesvara and Padmapani in Southeast Asia. In China, he appears in a feminine form as Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy, in Japan known as Kwannon, and in Tibet the Daila Lama is considered an incarnation of this bodhisatva. He is one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (fig.) and his spouse or shakti is known as Tara (fig.). Some sources describe the Tibetan wealth god Jambhala (fig.) as a wealth-giving form of Avalokitesvara, while the fierce Mahakala (fig.) is sometimes seen as his wrathful appearance. His mythical dwelling place is called Mt. Potalaka, a place said to exist in the seas south of India, and after which a number of famous temples is named, such as the Potalaka Temple in Chengde (fig.), which itself is styled after the Potalaka Palace, the old sanctuary of the Dalai Lama (fig.) in Tibet. See also POSTAGE STAMP, THEMATIC STREET LIGHT (1), (2) and (3), and WATCH VIDEO.

avasa (अवस)

Pali. Temple. Origin of the Thai word wat.

avasatha (अवसथ)

Sanskrit. Dwelling place for students and ascetics. Origin of the Thai word wat.

avatan (ǵ)

Thai for avatar. Also awatan.

avatar (अवतार)

Sanskrit. Descendant, term used for an incarnated god, i.e. the descent of a Vedic deity from heaven who incarnates on earth. Usually the term refers to the god Vishnu who incarnated as the fish Matsya (fig.), a tortoise, a boar or Varaha (fig.), a man-lion or Narasingha, a dwarf or Vamana (fig.), Balarama (fig.), Ramachandra, Krishna (fig.) and the Buddha. His tenth and future avatar is the white horse Kalkin, due to occur at the end of the present time period called Kali Yuga. Vishnu's nine past avatars are sometimes described as a metaphor of the evolution of human life, which according to evolutionary biologists is said to have begun in the water, hence Vishnu's first avatar as a fish. From here, life is said to have developed onto land, here represented by Vishnu's avatar as a tortoise, i.e. an amphibious animal that lives both in the water and on land. These creatures over time evolved into full-fledged mammals, symbolized by Vishnu's avatar as a boar. His incarnation as a man-lion is furthermore said to represent the transition from animals into humans, while his next form represents the beginning of mankind, though still in a form yet to be further developed, hence his avatar of a dwarf. Afterward, his avatars are all humans, whom in chronological order, are said to symbolize human progress throughout history, starting with agriculture, represented by Balarama, the god of ploughmen. This period is followed by Ramachandra, a hero from the Indian epic Ramayana and suggesting warfare, while Krishna subsequently delivers the world the Bhagavad Gita, i.e. a portrayal of religion, and the Buddha eventually brings Enlightenment in the last avatar. In Thai, avatar is pronounced avatan and in Pali avatara. The avatar is similar to the Thai concept of plaeng kaai, as well as to the Japanese idea of arahitogami.

avatara (अवतार)

Pali for avatar.

Avatarana (अवतारन)

Sanskrit. To descent. The dwelling place of the nocturnal malevolent demons, who are known as Rakshasas.


Common name for the fruit of a tree with the botanical name Persea americana. The fruit is also known as avocado pear and was previously referred to as alligator pear, due to its pear-like shape and its rough pebbled skin texture which makes it reminiscent of that of an alligator. However, avocados may also be egg-shaped or spherical and the etymology behind the name avocado may be rather surprising. It is said to derive from the Aztec-Nahuatl Indian word ahuácatl which means testicle (fig.). The edible flesh of the fruit is soft to creamy and yellowish to green in colour, and has a single, large, round seed at the center of the spherical part. The leathery skin can vary in texture and colour from green to dark reddish brown. The avocado fruit is commonly used in cuisine and in Myanmar avocado salad is a popular seasonal dish.

awatan (ǵ)

Thai for avatan.

awejih (Ǩ)

One of eight pits in the Buddhist hell called narok, the deepest abyss of hell where those with the most severe sins receive punishment. Also awiji or awihjih.

Ayodhaya (अयोध्या, ¸)

1. Sanskrit. Not to be warred against, but also translated as irresistible, not conquered, unconquerable, or undefeatable. The capital of Kosala governed by Dasharatha, the father of Rama in the Indian epic, the Ramayana (in the Ramakien this is king Totsarot). Also spelled Ayodhya. In Thai, this name is sometimes used as the old name for Ayutthaya.

2. A town in North India, in the country of Koshala.

Ayodhya (अयोध्या)

See Ayodhaya.

ayonija (अयोनिज)

Sanskrit. ‘Produced, made or born without [the use of] a yoni, i.e. not born from the womb, or a non-uterine birth. The term is used for certain characters from Hindu mythology, such as Minakshi (fig.), an avatar of the goddess Parvati; and Prithu, an avatar of Vishnu.

Ayurveda (आयुर्वेद)

Sanskrit. Knowledge of life. A compound word consisting of the word ayur which comes from ayu, meaning life and veda, meaning knowledge.  It is the name for an alternative and ancient system of health care native to the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka which summarizes the Hindu art of healing and prolonging life. It is supposedly revealed by the Hindu god Brahma and is based on the principles of Vedic metaphysics. The central concept is the theory that health exists when there is a balance between a person's physical and mental qualities. It uses several treatments, including massage, and Ayurvedic medicines are mainly prepared from herbs. It is sometimes regarded as a fifth Veda.

Ayutthaya (ظ)

The capital of Ayutthaya province (map) situated in Central Thailand approximately 76 kilometers North of Bangkok. READ ON.

Azure-winged Magpie

Common name for a 31 to 35 centimeter long bird in the crow family, with the scientific name Cyanopica cyana. READ ON.