Ganpirom: a five-tiered umbrella made of white fabric inscribed with golden magic symbols (yantras) and having a gilded shaft. It is used as a regalia at the front of parading troops or in processions of royal elephants.
From which can be seen the importance of yantras at the highest level of the state.
Krata-tongdeng: burning hot, large frying pans where the sinners are fried in the hell pits.
You’ve been warned.
Krabong-kleung: a long wand turned with a lathe and having a gilded handle, carried along at elephant processions.
Krabong-deng: ‘the red wand,’ a wand turned with a lathe, gilded at the handle, its body coated with vermilion red, its tip gilded too and sculpted in the shape of a shellflower, or water cabbage (Pistia stratiotes). The object is proferred to the royal physician at his investiture and symbolizes the privilege to collect medicinal herbs and plants in the kingdom.
Kring: 1/ the onomatopoeia ‘kring’ 2/ a small-sized, hollow metal amulet inside which is encased a sacred object. When the amulet is shaken, it produces the sound ‘kring kring,’ hence its name pra-kring.
Kampop: the birthplace of those still involved in carnal lust (kama); the dwelling world of those dependent on sensuality, namely the four abaipum (see that word here) (the hell pits and the respective worlds of beasts, pretas and asuras), the human world, and the six heavens (Tjatumaharachik, Daowadeung, Yama, Dusit, Nimmanoradi, and Paranimmittawat-Sawatdi), eleven in total.
Kiatmuk: ‘glory head,’ a nonhuman being in god Shiva’s retinue. It has a grinning, half-ogre (yaksa) half-singha lion face with no apparent protruding chin. It possesses no body nor limbs. They are believed to be guardian gods of thresholds, driving evil away. They are often engraved on arched gates. Also known as kalamuk or nakan, ‘black head.’
Kaopao: lumps of rice mixed with yellow and red pigments, used in the admission ceremony of royal (albino) elephants by preutibat brahmans, i.e. the class of brahman priests dedicated to ceremonies dealing with elephants. Same as Krayasangweng: holy rice in lumps used in the admission ceremony of royal elephants.
So-called brahmans have kept playing a role at the Thai royal court and in Thai society after the introduction of Buddhism, yet they are not recognized as part of the Vedic Hindu world community that includes the religious traditional communities of India, Nepal, and Bali (Indonesia). These priests are often invited to perform ceremonies with Buddhist monks at events such as marriages.
Here is a testimony of their presence from French scholar Pierre Lefèvre-Pontalis (my translation):
‘Like in Cambodia, there still exist today at the court of the Siamese kings brahmans who preside over certain official ceremonies, cast horoscopes, and determine auspicious days and times. Those who serve the brahmanic temple in Bangkok originate from Ligor in the Malay peninsula. Under the direction of Raja Khrou Vamathib, who accompanies the king in all his trips, they have achieved the degree of scepticism and readiness to oblige necessary in a Buddhist court where, if it is not believed in the divinity of the master (Lord Buddha), the idea that any god could be superior to him in the celestial hierarchy would never be admitted. ‘According to the scriptures, Mr Foucher wrote, Shakyamuni himself would always have denied being a god only because he is much more than that.’
The head of the brahmans in Bangkok himself is much at pain to distinguish between the gods that he is serving. Imbued with the idea that the Buddha is superior to all of them, he recognizes as orthodox images of Shiva (in Siamese Phra In Suen) only those representing the highest god having a Buddha sitting in his hair. Vishnu too is admitted only in the quality of Narayan (the Phra Narai of the Siamese), a complex god that procedes directly from Hinduism.’ (Notes sur des amulettes siamoises, 1926)
The original quote:
« Comme au Cambodge, il y a encore de nos jours, à la cour des rois de Siam, des Brahmes qui président à certaines cérémonies officielles, tirent les horoscopes, désignent les jours et les heures favorables. Ceux qui desservent à Bangkok le temple brahmanique sont originaires de Ligor dans la péninsule malaise. Sous la direction de Raja Khrou Vamathib, qui accompagne le souverain dans tous ses déplacements, ils ont atteint le degré de complaisance et de scepticisme nécessaire en une cour bouddhiste, où, si l’on ne croit pas à la divinité du maître, on ne saurait cependant admettre qu’aucun dieu lui soit supérieur dans la hiérarchie céleste. ‘Si l’on en croit les textes, a dit M. Foucher, Çakyamuni lui-même n’aurait toujours nié qu’il fût un dieu que parce qu’il était bien davantage.’
Le chef des Brahmes de Bangkok lui-même a bien de la peine à distinguer les divinités dont il a la garde. Pénétré de l’idée officielle que Bouddha est supérieur à toutes, il ne reconnaît comme images orthodoxes de Siva (Phra In Suen en siamois) que celles où le plus grand des dieux porte un Bouddha assis dans sa chevelure. Visnu lui aussi n’est admis qu’en qualité de Narâyana (Phra Naraï des Siamois), dieu complexe qui procède directement de l’hindouisme. »
Kot: an object hard like a stone and found inside some animals and plants, used as amulet.
It is the bezoar, which is considered to have supernatural properties in many, if not all traditions around the world.
Kantamat: as an adjective, it means: making animals intoxicated through perfumes. As a noun it designates a legendary mountain, ‘the perfume mountain.’
This mountain is located in Himmapan forest. Its fragrance comes from various wood essences and plants. There are caves in it, namely the golden cave, the crystal cave, and the silver cave. It is inhabited by the Pratyekabuddhas, who became Buddhas without the guidance of Lord Buddha.
Ngang: 1/ a kind of image cast with metal for Buddha images, sitting in samadhi position, with even torso uncovered, having no robe nor sash (two of the three customary garments of monks: see trai-tjiwon here), only a garland around the neck. Being cast with a much greater admixture of copper than other images, it is called pra-ngang (pra-‘copper’) 2/ the name of a Buddha image when it has not yet received the final touch, that is, the completion of the eyes (the ceremony during which this is performed is called pitibeukpranet, that is, ‘the opening up of the eyes.’)
Ngasan or Pat-ngasan: (formerly) a fan of rank made of ivory, emblem of the Aranyawasi sect–monks who were dwelling in the forest.
Tjakarawon: (from Sanskrit chakravala) 1/ the three divisions of the universe according to the Buddhist faith, namely a/the worlds of sensuality, b/the worlds of corporeal Brahmans, and c/the worlds of shapeless Brahmans. On these notions, see Ruppaprom and Aruppaprom here; these Brahmans are not the priests but gods 2/ a legendary moutain range surrounding the world like a wall and the border between light and the darkness beyond.
Tjaturapum: the four levels of the mind, namely a/Kamawatjorapum, the reality of those who are travelers in Kampop (the world of the senses, see that word), b/Rupatjorapum, for the travelers in Ruppapop, c/Arupatjorapum, for the travelers in Aruppapop, and d/Lokutarapum, the world detached from the world.
Tjo: the name for addressing a monkey, or a child mischievous like a monkey.
Tjinteng: the Chinese boss of an opium den or of a gambling den.
Chappayaputta: a rainbow-colored naga.
With respect to the color of their scales, there are three other kinds of nagas: golden nagas, green nagas, and black nagas. Rainbow nagas are extremely beautiful.
Chaleo: a sign made of thin bamboo strips crossing themselves at angles in the shape of a five-pointed star. It is stuck above caldrons where medicines are boiled, or on trading goods, or as an indication of place, or as a talisman against possession by ghosts, etc. Also called chaliu or taleo.
As the picture shows, this is the five-pointed star, the pentagram or pentacle (Drudenfuß in German, that is, the foot of the malevolent spirit called a drude–spirits that were believed to have feet like those of geese), and partakes its mystical and apotropaic usages.
Chang-niam: an elephant having three distinct qualities, namely a black skin, black toenails, and banana-shaped tusks.
Chang-samkan: (law) an elephant having the seven auspicious marks that make him (given mark 7 I understand it has to be a male: see below) a royal elephant by right, namely white eyes, white palate, white toenails, white hair, white or clay-colored skin, white tail hair, and white or clay-colored penile sheath (as the following picture seems to show; or else this is a appendage of which function I am not cognizant; the word used for mark 7 is rare and direct from Pali/Sanskrit, literally it would mean ‘testicle urn’ but is translated as eggshell, which cannot be correct in the case of elephants).
The marks indicate albinism, hence the more common name of royal elephants as albino elephants (or ‘taro elephants’ because the flesh of the taro root is bright white). All royal elephants, however, are not albino in the scientific sense of the term and yet all possess the seven auspicious marks according to the Thai specialists.
Siamsi: (from Chinese) a system of fortune-telling practised in shrines (Chinese) and temples. Bamboo sticks marked with numbers are placed in a cylinder, the person shakes the cylinder until one or several sticks fall off and then deciphers the meaning of the numbers on a poster. (See also Tiu)
This Chinese ancient practice has a lot in common with the system known in English as ‘casting lots,’ from the Bible (Numbers 26:55 for instance).
Dok-dua: an animal’s horn revered as a magic object (protecting a house from fire), for instance the horn of various species of buffalo or, in the ancient texts, the horn of a sacred cow.
Dao-tjon: in astrology, a star believed to make a thief of the person born under its influence. =>Yati-dao-tjon: unreliable people.
Tripop, Tripum, or Tripuwa: the three worlds, namely the world of the senses, the world of the corporeal Brahmans, and the world of the incorporeal Brahmans; in popular belief, the heavens, the world of men, and the netherworld.
Taping: a covering for little girls’ genitals, made of metal, for instance gold, colored gold (alloy of gold, silver and copper) or silver, existing in various plaiting styles and shapes.
It is largely an item of the past when Thai children walked about naked most of the time. Poor people would cover their daughters’ genitals with pieces of coconut shell but the wealthy classes would have these fancy coverings known as taping crafted for their own daughters.
Tiu: (from Chinese) sticks often made of bamboo, from 25 to 50 centimeters long, used to score points or, if marked with symbols or numbers, for fortune-telling (see Siamsi) or lottery.
Tamon: big and strong, said of an animal that is the leader of its group, for instance a monkey (ling tamon).
Known in zoology as the alpha male. Yet this scientific name is quite recent, whereas the Thai word is presumably as old as the language itself, and I do not know of any equivalent in vernacular Western languages. Were we to consider patois or dialectal forms of these languages, we might find a similar concept.
Nang-kwak: ‘the beckoning maiden,’ a certain holy image carved in the shape of a sitting woman beckoning with her hand, believed to bring its owner good luck, in general or in business matters.
Nam-mon: ‘mantra water,’ consecrated water for bathing, drinking, or sprinkling, as a blessing.
Nam-man-prai: an oil collected from the burning corpse of a woman died while pregnant. It is believed that when the oil is sprinkled on a woman, that woman falls in love.
Nam-man-mon: ‘mantra oil,’ coconut oil activated by magic formulas and used as ointment or massage oil to heal stiffness, sores, and sprains.
Badan: (from Sanskrit Patala) the underground world of the nagas.
Banpratu-pradapmuk: mother-of-pearl inlaid door panel. I added no Thai definition for this compounded word because the compound talks of itself. The following picture gives an idea of the beauty of this craft.
Bia-ke: the humpback cowry, chocolate cowry, or mourning cowry (Mauritia mauritania), used to make medicines or as amulet.
Bai-miang: 1/cloth wrapped around a corpse in a mortuary urn 2/the arrangement of coral-tree or wild-betel (Piper sarmentosum) leaves used in Thai cuisine for food wrapped in leaves.
I find the dual meaning interesting.
Fang-kem: 1/ to jab into a limb the tip of needle besmeared with mantra oil (see Nam-man-mon) and recite incantations in order to make it penetrate the limb, in order to make invulnerable 2/ Chinese acupuncture.
Panek: a pillow for supporting a sleeping elephant.
Pirot: a ring made of fabric inscribed with yantras or of holy cotton yarn (see Sai-sin), used as amulet.
Makorakunton: dragon-shaped earrings.
Ming-mia: a woman who is auspicious to her husband and family.
Mit-mo: a magic knife used among other things in exorcisms.
Ya-fet: something that a woman gives her man to eat in order to make him love her at the exclusion of any other woman, usually cooked while performing magical rites.
Rukkamulika-tudong: one of the thirteen different so-called tudong observances that a monk performs for merit-making, here making his habitual dwelling at the foot of a tree.
Look-keo: a glass marble; more specifically, glass marbles used by shamans to foresee the future; a boy who has shaved his head as required for being ordained a novice.
Look-chang: the pronoun ‘I’ when the speaker is a spirit of the forests and the fields.
I can’t say for certain why–or whether it is fortuitous or not–the very phrase used to this effect also means a baby elephant.
Sai-sin: a thread of white cotton yarn used in various religious ceremonies, for instance when monks are praying (it then goes from one to the other, resting on their hands and forming a line between them) or surrounding a house to make it auspicious ground during a blessing ceremony.
Suban: ‘the wonderful ones,’ another name of the garudas.
There exist five kinds of garudas with respect to their appearance, namely those who are entirely humanlike except that they possess wings, those with a human body and a birdlike head, those with a human body and birdlike head and wings, those with a birdlike body and a human head, and those who are completely like birds. Garudas live in the first heaven Tjatumaharachik. They eat divine foods same as the devas but also fruits and meat, and even nagas.
Hongron-mangkonram: ‘hovering swan, dancing dragon,’ a charm ceremony performed by a woman to make her man crazy in love with her and chicken-hearted (toward other women), for instance by bestriding the cooking pot before giving her man the rice to eat etc.
The bestriding of the cooking pot here described applies to the ‘hovering swan’ part of the charm and is shown in the picture below. The ‘dancing dragon’ part involves bath water that the woman then uses for cooking.
Look for the previous issues of the series in the Index page.
More annotated Thai vocabulary for those interested in supernatural Buddhism, Vedic supernaturalism, the magical arts, and spirituality.
The following entries are classed in Thai alphabetical order. Let us then start without further ado, with the
Kumpantapret: A pret demon with huge testes.
Pret (from Sanskrit preta) are a kind of supernatural beings or demons living in a world of their own not much different from a hell pit (see Abaipum), although they can interfere with human lives in this world in certain circumstances. There exist several typologies of these demons, one of which features the here kumpantapret or ‘elephantiac preta,’ so to speak.
Kaotok-dokmai: A religious offering of popped rice and flowers.
Kiao-keo: ‘glass teeth’ 1/ the teeth of Lord Buddha are known as Pra-kiao-keo; 2/ the fangs in monkey god Hanuman’s mouth; 2/ the fangs of any venomous snake.
Kontan: the Gandharvas (Sanskrit), a class of inhabitants of the heavenly abodes, counted as minor gods. They form the retinue of Deva Tatarot, one of the four Tjatulokban or Kings of the first Heaven, and are skillful musicians and singers. The spouses of the gandharvas are the apsaras.
Trai-tjiwon: the garments that the Vinaya, i.e. that part of the Buddhist Pali Canon that deals with monkhood and its regulations, allows the monks to wear as a rule, namely the antarawasok, covering the lower parts of the body from the waist down (translated as sarong, a Malay word; in Thai: sabong), the utarasang, or the robe itself, and the sangkati, a shawl for the shoulders and chest.
Nang-mai: a female spirit that dwells about big trees, such as the thingan or iron wood tree. The nang-mai is a rukkatewada (see that word). The nang-tani (here) is a kind of nang-mai.
Beuk-mai: to perform a ceremony to forest spirits (pipa) or rukkatewada (see that word) before falling a big tree in the forest.
Baipattasima, Baisima or Baisema: a stela with a top in the shape of a lotus petal and that marks the limits of a Buddhist temple ground.
Prok: (from ‘to cover’) 1/ the name of the sitting, praying monks during a ceremony of consecrating Buddha images or sacred objects is kana-prok (‘the covering team’) (see Puttapisek); 2/ a small arch under which a monk remains confined when he is atoning for the sangkatiset violation of the Vinaya (see Pariwat).
For another use of the word prok, namely nak-prok, see Thai Mysteries 2 here.
Pra-tiat: a piece of cloth inscribed with yantras (mystic symbols and diagrams) believed to ward off danger and harm. It is fastened around the neck, the upper arm etc.
Pariwat: a penance for the monks guilty of the fault called sangkatiset (most heinous after parachik, which is sanctioned by excommunication) and consisting in confinement (see Prok).
The rules followed by Theravada Buddhist monks are laid down in the Vinaya, which is the second ‘basket’ or treatise of the Pali Canon, a.k.a. ‘The Three Baskets,’ Traipidok in Thai.
Prom-thai: ‘Thai Brahma’ 1/ a piece of land granted to brahmans by the king and exempted from taxation; 2/ a most precious gift; 3/ a parental gift.
Praputtasihing: the name of a Buddha image, which meaning is a Buddha image in the dignified style of a singha-lion (rachasi).
Prayatekrua: a man who is married with both mother and daughter or with two sisters.
Puttapisek: name of a ceremony during which incantations are chanted over a Buddha image or sacred object by a group of sitting monks, known in that circumstance as kanaprok, who pay homage and concentrate in order to bestow the virtues of the Triple Gem (Buddha-Dharma-Sangha) upon that image or object and endow it with magical properties.
Pakawam: a class of amulet with a frowning face and the nine openings of the body, namely the two eyes, the two ears, the two nostrils, the mouth, the anus, and the urethra, closed off. It is alleged to dispel any danger or harm completely.
Mekkapat: name of a black shiny metal alloy that emits green glittering reflections like the wings of a bupestris beetle (picture). It is made by cooking lead and copper together, and adding sulphur (this is the short recipe). Amulets made with this metal are known as pra-mekkapat.
Rukkatewada: a spirit that lives about the trees.
These spirits are supposed to be gandharvas (see that word). The inhabitants of the first Heaven, the closest to our world, are able to travel to and fro between the two places.
Ruppaprom: (from Sanskrit rupa-Brahma) a subclass of Brahma gods (Brahmas –plural– are a class of gods) with apparent body and shape, who dwell in sixteen Heavens in the Brahmaloka (abode of the Brahma gods).
Luknimit: stone balls approximately the size of alms-bowls embedded in the ground to mark the limits of a Buddhist sanctuary.
Lek-yan: (from Sanskrit lekka-yantra) a figure that appears on a yantra (magic diagram).
Okkaidao: ‘fried-eggs breast,’ a woman’s breast that is flat. (Pfff…)
Akanit: the highest of the ruppaprom gods (see that word) that dwell in sixteen Heavens in the Brahmaloka.
Anakami: ‘one who does not attend the worlds of sensuality anymore,’ the third stage among the four ‘Arya stages’ (see Ariya) or stages of enlightenment, that is 1/sodaban ‘the first to attain the Dharma Flow or Nirvana’ 2/sakatakami ‘one who attends one world of sensuality’ (these places or worlds of sensuality (kampop) are a religious term that designates a/the abaipum (see that word), b/the human world, but also c/the six heavens that I have enumerated here – which, by the way, does not mean that places of sensuality in the non-religious sense, across the street, are attended by the sakatakami) 3/anakami, and 4/arahant.
Anusai: the seven defects ingrained in human nature, namely 1/gammaraka (lust for sex) 2/patika (the state of irritability, moodiness) 3/titti (false views) 4/witjigicha (hesitation, doubt) 5/mana (arrogance) 6/pawaraka (lust for the world and worldy pursuits) 7/awicha (imperfect knowledge or ignorance).
Abaipum: the derelict worlds, that is, the eight hell pits, the world of pret, the world of asuras, and the world of beasts.
Ariya: (Sanskrit: Aryan) in Buddhism, those who achieve the glorious Dharma –enlightenment, merit, cessation of suffering, etc.
Aruppaprom: (Sanskrit arupa-Brahma) a class of gods in the Brahmaloka according to the Buddhist doctrine. They have no body or appearance. There exist four subclasses of them.
Unlike the rupaprom (see this word), the arupaprom are a distinct Buddhist feature. They are former ascetics with certain meditative powers (see the two following entries: Arupapop, Arupapatjon).
Arupapop or Arupapum: the world of those who have got the four arupa-jhanas (or arupa-dhyanas) or formless states of no-mind.
Arupapatjon: a formless Brahma god who ‘encloses’ the four formless jhanas or states of no-mind.
Awetji: the deepest of the eight hell pits, where the greatest sinners receive their punishment.
Attaban: ‘the eight juices,’ a fruit juice that a monk is allowed to drink in the afternoon (as an exception to the ban on intussusception in the afternoon for monks), namely mango juice, rose apple or java plum (jambolan) juice, the juice of bananas with seeds, the juice of bananas without seeds, madhuca (Madhuca pierrei) juice, the juice of the fruit of Aglaia silvestris or grape juice, the juice of lotus rhizomes, Marian plum (Bouea burmanica) or litschi juice.
The eight juices are taken from the Vinaya and their names are therefore known in Pali. In the process of translation, some uncertainties have arisen, it seems, as a few of the eight juices can be the juice of either this or that fruit (for instance, Marian plum or litschi, which to my knowledge are not the same). Some people lay down the principle that all fruit juices are allowed in the afternoon, a view that the very word attaban, however, contradicts.
Atsatamongkon: ‘the auspicious eight’, namely the krop-na (a forehead’s ornament in the shape of kratiang, a Thai design used in carving, consisting of leaves outstretching in two arms), the scepter, the conch shell, the chakra disk or wheel, the three-edged flag tongsamchai, the mahoot’s hook, the albino cow (from Shiva’s cow Nandi), and the cauldron.
Atsadayut or Atsawayut: ‘the eight weapons,’ namely the diamond spear, the elephant sword (a large sword used to strike from an elephant’s back), the trident, the chakra (a serrated throwing disk), the sword and shield, the bow, the war scythe, and a match-lock gun of old times. They are respectfully presented to the new king during the ceremony of his coronation.
Itti-patihan: superpowers beyond the limits of common human nature, such as the power to disappear and be invisible, the power to fly, etc. They are one of the three patihan or miracles, together with atetsana-patihan, wich is to be able to read people’s minds, and anusatsana-patihan, the doctrine (that can persuade people to trust and admire).
Unalom: 1/ hair between the eyebrows; 2/ an auspicious symbol that looks like number 9 in Thai and is written on yantras (magic diagrams) to ward off danger or anointed on the forehead of novices in the tam-kwan-nak ceremony (during which the novices are reminded to be thankful to their parents).