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Phra Malah Biang (พระมาลาเบี่ยง)

Thai. Name for a royal hat as worn by King Naresuan and his generals in battle (fig.). It is made of leather and has the shape of a calyx with a wide brim that completely encircles the hat, in order to shield the neck and throat, as well as earflaps to protect the ears from the weapons of the enemy. The original hat was lost after the fall of Ayutthaya, thus an imitation was created by the royal order of King Rama I. The new version is made of woven bamboo strips in the shape of a winter melon cut in a straight direction. Its brim is attached with a surrounding flap and its inside and outside painted with glossy black lacquer. The crown, i.e. the portion of the hat that covers the top of the head, has a strong lining. The outside is made of strong materials to protect the wearer from being harmed. There is a space between the lining and the outside part of the crown for ventilation. Initially, the front bottom of the crown was decorated with a golden Buddha image with an abhaya mudra in the attitude of forgiving (fig.), but later a circle of another twenty-one golden Buddha images in the pahng samahti or meditation attitude (fig.), which were presented to King Rama VI, were placed around the hat, surrounding the bottom of the crown. The hat, also called Phra Malah Biang and in English referred to as the Helmet for Battle, appears on a Thai postage stamp issued in 2009, as part of a set of four stamps featuring royal headgear (fig.). See also Phra Malah Phet Yai, Phra Malah Sao Soong (fig.) and Phra Maha Malah (fig.).