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LEXICON

 

 

Phra Aphaimanih (พระอภัยมณี)

Thai. ‘Jewel of Forgiveness’. A Thai epic story in verse written by Sunthorn Phu (fig.). It is his most celebrated work and narrates the story of a prince who was exiled by his father. Phra Aphaimanih was sent away for an education in martial arts, yet he choose to study how to play the flute instead, believing that music can stop anger and violence and hence deeming it to be more befitting for a future king. This enraged his father so much, that he expelled his son from his kingdom. At first, his brother Sri Suwan accompanied him, but then Phra Aphaimanih is abducted and confined in a cave by a love struck giantess, named Nang Phi Seua Samut (fig.), who ruled over a submerged kingdom. She is able to beget a son of the prince, who is named Sin Samut. The son and his father are then helped to escape from the giantess by a mermaid named Nang Ngeuak (fig.), who moved the rock in front of the cave in which they were held captive. The mermaid helps the prince to escape  to the island of Samet (fig.), where he defeats the female giant by playing his magical flute (fig.). Then, she takes him to the island Koh Kaew Pitsadahn (เกาะแก้วพิสดาร), i.e. ‘Queer Crystal Island’, where they produced a son of their own, whom they named Sut Saakhon (fig.). Later, Phra Aphaimanih was helped by Thao Sinraat (ท้าวสิลราช), the King of Meuang Phaleuk (ผลึก), i.e. ‘Crystal City’, and falls in love with his daughter, Nang Suwanna Malih (fig.), whom he marries with the help of the ugly yet intelligent Nang Wali, as Nang Suwanna Malih had in fact already been engaged to Prince Utsaren from the Island of Langka, whom she nevertheless didn't love. This consequently started a conflict that developed into a full-scale war between the two islands, that lasted for many years and lead to may deaths, including that of Utsaren. The long war only ended when Nang Laweng (fig.), the younger sister of Utsaren and daughter of the King of Langka, eventually fell in love with Phra Aphaimanih and became his second (human) wife. After the war, Prince Phra Aphaimanih ordained as a monk and Nang Suwanna Malih and Nang Laweng both follow him in his ascetic life. Compare the magical flute of Phra Aphaimanih with that of Han Hsiang Tzu. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2) and (3).