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LEXICON

 U          

 

u-ba (อุบะ)

Thai. A bunch of stringed flowers that either suspend from a garland or with kreuang khwaen, decorative net (fig.) or frame-like arrangements of stringed flowers (fig.), used to hang up at windows, doorways, gables, etc. U-ba consist of three parts, i.e. dok suam, for which most often dok rak (fig.) are used, dok khrob and dok tum. There are several models, including the tung ting (ตุ้งติ้ง) or u-ba kha diaw (อุบะขาเดียว), a single u-ba with one leg (kha diaw) of dok suam, one dok khrob and one dok tum; the puang tao rang (พวงเต่ารั้ง) or u-ba khaek (อุบะแขก), which has multiple legs of dok suam, each with its own dok khrob and dok tum; the u-ba phoo (อุบะพู่), which has multiple legs of unequal length and that are arranged as a cluster, with the longest one in the middle; the u-ba Thai thammada (อุบะไทยธรรมดา) or ‘common Thai u-ba’, which consists of one long leg of dok suam, that splits up in two double sets of smaller u-ba; and the u-ba song kreuang (อุบะไทยทรงเครื่อง), which consists of one u-ba, that splits up in two sets, of three smaller u-ba each.

U Bein Bridge

Name of a 1,200 meter long wooden footbridge in Amarapura, the former capital of Myanmar located to the South of present-day Mandalay and also referred to as Taungmyo. This footbridge crosses Taungthaman Lake, has 984 teakwood pillars, and is said to be the longest teak bridge in the world. It was constructed in 1859 by the directive of then mayor U Bein, after whom the bridge is named, from the discarded teak columns of the old palace, when the capital was moved to Mandalay. At the southeastern side of the bridge is the sunken pagoda, a temple which during the monsoon season is for the most part either flooded or submerged by the water of lake. In this period, especially at crack of dawn and at sunset, it becomes a photogenic attraction in its own right, when its silhouette mirrors in the water (fig.). This historical Burmese footbridge is reminiscent of the wooden Mon bridge of Sangkhlaburi (fig.) in Thailand's Kanchanaburi province, which is said to have a length of 850 meters and hence the longest wooden bridge in Thailand (fig.).

Ubon (อุบล)

1. Thai for ‘water lily’. General term for flowers of the family of water lilies, including the lotus.

2. Popular name of Ubon Ratchathani, a city in Isaan.

Ubon Ratchathani (อุบลราชธานี)

Thai. ‘Royal city of lotuses’. Name of a province (map) and its capital city in Northeast Thailand, 629 kms from Bangkok and located on the banks of the Moon River (fig. ), the second largest river, after the Mae Khong, and with a population of around 90,000. Known for its annual candle festival. The province has twenty amphur and five king amphur. Popular name Ubon and sometimes transcribed Ubol. Some of its places of interest are the Moon River, Chong Mek Thai-Lao border pass (fig.), Kaeng Tana National Park, and Pha Taem National Park (fig.), which includes Hin Taek, Sao Chaliang and Nahm Tok Long Roo (fig.). See also Ubon Ratchathani data file.

Ubon Rattana Rachaganya (อุบลรัตนราชกัญญา)

Princess and eldest child to King Bhumipon and Queen Sirikit. Born in Switzerland on 5 April 1951. Her personal flag (fig.) consists of a red field, for Sunday, the colour of her birthday (see sih prajam wan), with her initials U.R. (อ.ร.). Unlike the flags of most other members of the royal family, hers has no crown, as the princess renounced her royal titles.

ubosot (อุโบสถ)

1. Thai. The hall of a Thai wat used for ordinations and other religious ceremonies, usually facing East and centrally built on consecrated ground surrounded by bai sema. Often abbreviated to bot (fig.) and derived from the Pali word uposatha. In this hall monks gather for prayer and rites (fig.) and it often contains the chief Buddha image of the wat. It is generally the most ornate building of a temple complex and the building style resembles that of a viharn.

2. Thai term that initially referred to certain days of fasting.

U Byatta (ဦး ဗျတ္တ)

Burmese. ‘Uncle Byatta’. Name of a male Burmese spirit or nat. In life, he was Byatta (fig.), the husband of the flower-eating ogress Me Wanna (Me Wunna - fig.), who later became the nat Popa Medaw (fig.), and with whom Byatta had two sons, namely Shwe Hpyin Gyi (fig.) and Shwe Hpyin Nge (fig.), who are jointly referred to as Taungbyone Min Nyinaung, i.e. the ‘Brother Lords’ (fig.). Byatta was the royal messenger and trusted lieutenant of King Anawrahta, yet was condemned and killed on the orders of the King under some trumped-up charges put forward by his rivals who feared his power. After realizing his mistake, the King adopted Byatta's two sons, but in the end the unforgiving rivals of Byatta and some new rivals to the rising powers of the two sons tricked the King again to kill the two sons on yet another trumped-up charge, i.e. that they allegedly failed to place a brick each at the Taungbyone pagoda in order to complete it, as was ordered by the king, thus leaving some gaps. Though himself not included in the pantheon of 37 nats, U Byatta's two sons are, and they became the second most worshipped nats after Maung Tint De (fig.), i.e. Shwe Mje Hna or Min Mahagiri (fig.). At Mount Popa (fig.), the spiritual abode of the pantheon of nats, U Byatta is depicted wearing a red Myanmar turban or gaung-baung (fig.), and holding some flowers, conceivably for his spouse, who was a balu pan gai or balu pan zwe (fig.), i.e. a flower-eating balu or ogress. Also transliterated U Byat Ta. See also LIST OF BURMESE NATS.

U Chang Klong (อุช้างโขลง)

Thai. ‘Elephant herd liquor’. Name of a spirituous fermented liquor made of broken rice. It is a OTOP promoted specialty from the northern province of Nan, packed and sold in earthen jars that contain around 12 liters. It is a local variant of lao khao.

Uchchaisaravas (उच्चैःश्रवस्)

Sanskrit. ‘One whose ears are long’. The white horse of Indra that appeared during the churning of the Ocean of Milk. It is described as having seven heads and able to fly, and is considered the king of horses. Though it is often portrayed as the vahana of Indra, it is also recorded to be the horse of Maha Bali. Also transcribed Uchchaisravas.

Uchchaisravas

See Uchchaisaravas.

Udon (อุดร)

1. Thai. ‘North’ and ‘northern’. The direction of the compass guarded by the lokapala Wetsuwan or Phra Paisarop (who is known in Sanskrit by the name of Vaisravana and is related to Kubera). See also Taksin, Isaan, Burapah, Ahkney, Horadih, Prajim and Phayap.

2. Abbreviated name of a city in Northeast Thailand, full name Udonthani.

Udonthani (อุดรธานี)

Name of a province (map) and its capital city in Northeast Thailand, 568 kms from Bangkok with a population of around 95,000. Shortened named Udon. The province has eighteen amphur and two king amphur. See also Udonthani data file.

Udraka Ramaputra (อุดรากะ รามพุธระ, उद्रक रामपुत्र)

Thai-Sanskrit. The sage from whom Siddhartha went to gain knowledge in his search for the redemption of suffering caused by the circle of perpetual rebirths, after his instruction by Arada Kalapa. Udraka Ramaputra was a hermit and master of yogic meditation, who lived in a forest near Rajagriha, the capital of Magadha, India. After Siddhartha renounced the world to lead a religious life, Udraka Ramaputra became his second teacher. He had seven hundred disciples and was said to have attained, through meditation, the Realm of Neither Thought Nor No Thought. Siddhartha quickly mastered this meditation but, finding no fundamental answer to his questions therein, left the sage and turned to the practice of austerities. In Pali his name is Uddaka Ramaputta and in Thai he is also referred to as Utakadabot Ramabut (อุทกดาบส รามบุตร) and Uttakadabot Ramaphutta (อุททกดาบส รามพุทธา).

udumbara (उडुम्बर)

Sanskrit name for the cluster fig tree.

Uh Chai Seun Yeh (อู่ไฉเสินเย่)

Thai-Tae Chew name for the Chinese deity Zhao Gong Ming, in addition to Chai Sing Ihya Boo.

Uma (उमा)

Sanskrit. ‘Light’. Benevolent form of the shakti or consort of the Hindu god Shiva. Her mount is the lion (fig.) and she is sometimes portrayed with multiple arms. She is also known as Devi and Parvati.

Umadevi (อุมาเทวี, उमदेवी)

Thai-Sanskrit. One of many names for Uma, Parvati and Devi.

Umamahesvara (उमामहेश्वर)

Sanskrit. Image of Mahesvara (Shiva) and Uma together, sometimes seated on the bull Nandi (fig.). In English often spelled as separated words, i.e. Uma Mahesvara.

Umapati (उमापति)

Sanskrit. ‘The companion of Uma’, i.e. Shiva. Literally the word pati can be translated as ‘husband’ and ‘spouse’, but also as ‘lord’, ‘master’ and ‘ruler’, as well as ‘on the way’, from the same root as paati (पाति), meaning ‘to protect’, and related to pathika (पथिक), i.e. ‘traveller’ or ‘wanderer’. The name Umapati could hence be understood as a ‘companion who travels together and protects’, whereas the word patitva (पतित्व) literally means ‘being a husband’.

um baat (อุ้มบาตร)

See pahng um baat.

U Min Gyaw (ဦးမင်းကျော်)

Burmese. ‘Uncle King Kyaw’. Another appellation for the nat Min Kyawzwa.

U Min Thonze (ဥမင်သုံးဆယ်)

Burmese. ‘Thirty Tunnels’ or ‘Cave of Thirty’. Name of a Buddhist cave temple on a hilltop in Sagaing. READ ON.

United East Indian Company

See Dutch East India Company.

unna

Pali for urna.

unnahlohm (อุณาโลม)

1. Thai. A curl or whorl of hair between the eyebrows. Compare with urna. Also transcribed unalom.

2. Thai. An auspicious emblematic sign used in Buddhism, similar to the yan sign and referring to an urna. Also transcribed unalom.

3. Thai. The insignia on a military cap. Also spelled unalom.

Upanishads (उपनिषद्)

Sanskrit. Philosophical dissertations of Hinduism developed during the 8th to 6th centuries BC and which became part of Vedic literature.

uparacha (อุปราช)

Thai for viceroy. A sovereign's deputy ruler in a town, province, etc., or when the king is absent. In Thai texts it often refers to the Burmese Viceroy, who in 1592 AD was defeated in a duel on the back of an elephant by King Naresuan in Nong Sarai, when Burma threatened to invade Ayutthaya. The first viceroy of the Rattanakosin period was Somdet Phra Bowon Maha Surasinghanat. Also pronounced uparaat and sometimes transcribed upparat.

upasaka (อุบาสก, उपासक)

Thai-Pali-Sanskrit. Buddhist lay people who shave their heads like monks, but dress in white. Although not fully ordained upasakas in Theravada Buddhist countries vow to live in temples or monasteries and abide by certain precepts. The term means ‘who sits near the Triple Gem’, i.e. is the close to Buddhism. The female form is called upasika.

upasika (อุบาสิกา, उपासिका)

Thai-Pali-Sanskrit. The female of a upasaka.

upasombot (อุปสมบท)

Thai-Sanskrit. ‘To go into the priesthood’ or ‘to be ordained’. See also upasaka, upasika, buat, buatnaag, banpacha and phanuat.

Upendra (उपेन्द्र)

Sanskrit. A designation given to Krishna by Indra.

Upnayanam (उपनयनम्)

Sanskrit. Ceremony in India that celebrates the coming of age of young men, and which is open only to members of the three higher castes, known as Dvija. During the ritual, the boy or young adolescent is invested with a yajnopavitam, a sacred cord which symbolizes his entrance into adulthood. In Hindi, this ceremony as well as the sacred cord are called janeu.

uposatha

Pali for ubosot.

urdhva-pundra (ऊर्ध्वपुण्ड्र)

Sanskrit. ‘Upward sectarian mark’ or ‘upright sectarian mark’. A kind of tilaka in the form of a pundra, that consists of a simple U-shape (fig.), often with another mark inside, such as a red dot or a vertical yellow line (fig.). It is worn by Vaishnavas, the followers of Vishnu, usually on the forehead, but sometimes also on other parts of the body, especially on the torso. It is applied by hand using a mixture of river clay and sandalwood paste. See also tri-pundra.

urna (ऊर्णा)

Sanskrit. A whorl of hair or oval sign between the eyebrows of the Buddha and some deities, sometimes described as a curl of hair. According to legend it radiates beams of light that enlighten the entire world and are a symbol for great wisdom. It  is also one of the marks of an enlightened being. In oriental iconography often indicated as a round mark, also called third eye or buddha eye. In Pali called unna. See also tilaka.

Usha (उष)

Sanskrit. ‘Dawn’. The charming daughter of Bana. Also Ushas (उषस्).

U Shin Gyi (ဦးရှင်ကြီး)

Burmese. Name of a Burmese spirit or nat. In life, he was a musician from Pegu, who played the saung-gauk, i.e. the Burmese harp (fig.). According to legend, he one day landed on an island while on a journey to find food. The island was inhabited by two malevolent female nats, who didn't allow him to leave and demanded that he played his graceful boat-shaped harp for them. He eventually drowned, either while trying to escape from the island or drowning himself out of desperation (or to propitiate the spirits), and became a nat himself. He is commonly venerated in the Irrawaddy delta region, where it is believed that he is a guardian spirit of waterways, known as Ray Ngan Bain U Shin Gyi, i.e. ‘Lord of the Sea’. In iconography, he is typically depicted wearing a gaung-baung (fig.) and holding a Burmese harp. Annually in March, a nat pwe-like festival is held in his honour. Compare with Shin U Pagok (fig.), a deity with authority over water, who is also widely worshipped in Myanmar. See also LIST OF BURMESE NATS.

ushnisha (उष्णीष)

Sanskrit. Literally it means ‘turban’, but in iconography it refers to the tuft of hair, protuberance or topknot on the head of deity or Buddha image. In Buddhist iconography, it is one of the marks of an enlightened being and sometimes a rasmie (fig.) or lotus (fig.) emerges from the ushnisha, or other symbols of Enlightenment. See also Ushnishavijaya.

Ushnisha Sitatapatra (उष्णीष सितातपत्र/सितातपतत्रा)

Sanskrit. ‘White Umbrella Turban’. Name of a fierce, wrathful, multi-armed goddess, worshipped in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. READ ON.

Ushnishavijaya (उष्णीषविजया)

1. Sanskrit. ‘Victorious turban’. Name of a tantric deity, worshipped in Tibet as the goddess of longevity. She is usually portrayed with a white complexion, three faces and eight arms, and is sometimes depicted seated inside a stupa. Her attributes may include a white lotus in which Amitabha is residing, an arrow, an utpala, a vajra, a pasa, a bow, and an auspicious nectar vase. See also ushnisha.

2. Sanskrit. ‘Victorious turban’. The name of a particular prayer. See also ushnisha.

U Shwe Yo (ဦးရွှေရိုး)

Burmese. ‘Uncle Shwe Yo’ or ‘Mr. Shwe Yo’. Name of a comical character that features in zat pwe and yokthei pwe recitals, as well as in other traditional Burmese dance performances. He is typically depicted with thick eyebrows and a long mustache, wearing a checkered longyi, the Myanmar turban or gaung-baung, and a small hand-painted parasol called Pathein (fig.).

Uthai Thani (อุทัยธานี)

Name of a  province (map) and its capital city in Central Thailand, 219 kms north of Bangkok on the West bank of the Sakae Krang river, a tributary to the Chao Phraya. The city has a population of approximately 30,000 with a large community of Karen. The region is known for its unspoiled nature, such as Hup Pah Tahd (fig.), and Khao Sakae Krang, a mountain range between the Huai Yai River in the North and the Khlong Yai River in the South. The province has eight amphur. See also Uthai Thani data file.

Utha Kyaung Tite (အုဌ်ကျောင်းတိုက်)

Burmese. Name of a Monastery School on the outskirts of Meiktilai. Whereas the school buildings consist of more modern structures, the temple complex has a number of older structures too, including several pagodas in various styles, set in a spacious garden adorned with some sugar palms and coconut palm trees. There is also a platform with a sacred bodhi tree, which is surrounded by eight Buddha images, in combination with eight animals from the Burmese system of an animal-per-day (fig.), in order to allow for devotees to worship at the image that corresponds to their day of birth.

Uthayaan Haeng Chaat (อุทยานแห่งชาติ)

Thai. ‘Park Of the Nation’. Name for any National Park in the country (map). There are two types, i.e. Uthayaan Haeng Chaat Thaang Bok (อุทยานแห่งชาติทางบก) for all inland National Parks and Uthayaan Haeng Chaat Thaang Thale (อุทยานแห่งชาติทางทะเล), which refers to National Marine Parks, both submerged underwater, such as coral reefs, or on land near the sea, such as islands and beaches. These National Parks exist in addition to the many Wildlife Sanctuaries in the nation, known as Khet Raksah Phan Sat Pah. MORE ON THIS.

Uthayaan Prawatisaat Thahaan Reua (อุทยานประวัติศาสตร์ทหารเรือ)

Chulachomklao Battle Ship Museum.

U-Thong (อูทอง)

1. A town in West Thailand that flourished during the 12th to 15th centuries AD. Also a dynasty and an art style for mainly Buddha images produced in that period. The town is famous for its annual Big Head Festival.

2. Name of the king (fig.) who moved the central power of his empire from the town of U-Thong to Ayutthaya, which he ruled from AD 1350 to 1369. See also Ramathibodi I and list of Thai kings.

utpala (उत्पल)

Sanskrit. ‘Water lily’ or ‘lotus flower’, i.e. a blue lotus or water lily. Pink, white and red lotuses are named differently, i.e. padma, pundarika, and kamala, respectively. The blue lotus, is a symbol of the victory of the spirit over the senses, and signifies the wisdom of knowledge. As such, it is the flower of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom. In Chinese, the name for Holland is He Lan (荷兰), with He (荷) meaning lotusand Lan (兰) meaning lily’, though Lan is here also used for its sound as a substitute for the English word ‘land’. Interestingly, there is another word that shares the same transliteration and the same pronunciation, but has a different spelling in Chinese, i.e. Lan (蓝), and actually means blue. Holland could thus –at least verbally– be understood to signify ‘Blue Lotus’. Besides this and a book in the Tintin series, Blue Lotus may also refer to the town of Pushkar in India (fig.), as the Sanskrit word Pushkar or Pushkara (पुष्कर) also means ‘Blue Lotus.

Utsaren (อุศเรน)

Thai. Name of a character from the story Phra Aphaimanih (fig.) by Sunthorn Phu (fig.). Both Phra Aphaimanih and Utsaren, a Langkan prince, love the same princess of Phaleuk (ผลึก), who does not care for Utsaren. This leads to wars between Phaleuk and Langka. Phra Aphaimanih tries to avoid bloodshed by playing music on his magical flute (fig.). When Utsaren and his father, the King of Langka, attacked the Kingdom of Phaleuk, Utsaren is captured, and to avoid an even bigger battle if he would be set free, he is instead taunted by Nang Wali until he dies of rage. As a result, his younger sister Nang Laweng (fig.) seeks revenge for her brother. Thus in spite of Utsaren's death, the war increased. To end the long war, Phra Reusi, the holy hermit or from Crystal Island is invited to preach to the two warring sides and bring about reconciliation. However, the war only ended when Nang Laweng fell in love with Phra Aphaimanih and became his wife. After the war was over, Phra Aphaimanih forgave his enemies, set them free, gave back their possessions and arranged their return voyages back home. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2).

uttarabodhi (उत्तारबोधी)

Sanskrit. ‘Excellent Enlightenment’. The mudra of Supreme Enlightenment, a Buddhist hand gesture in Mahayana Buddhism, in which the hands are put together with the thumbs and fingers intertwined, as is done when praying in the West, but with both index fingers extended and pointing upward (i.e. northward), with the index fingers touching each other at the tip. The name is a compound of the Sanskrit words uttara (उत्तार - pronounced u-taa-ra), which means ‘excellent’ or ‘surpassing’ and the word bodhi, meaning ‘enlightenment’. The former is related to the word uttara (उत्तर- pronounced u-ta-ra), which means ‘north’, as in Uttara Phrathet (Uttar Pradesh). Alternatively, this mudra is found depicted with the fingers of the one hand placed over the fingers of the other, rather than intertwined, and in Myanmar yet another variety exists (fig.). The term is also used in yoga, but the hand position used there also has the thumbs extended and pointing backward, while touching each other at the tip. Also transliterated uttarbodhi and in Thai called uttarapoh.

Uttaradit (อุตรดิตถ์)

Name of a province (map) and its capital city in North Thailand, 491 kms north of Bangkok and with a population of around 35,000. Birth place of Phraya Phichai Dahb Hak (fig.), a local hero who fought alongside king Taksin. The city was given the epithet ‘city of widows and virgins’, supposedly because the region was a former front-line during invasions from Burma. The province is known for having the largest teak tree in the world. It is 1,500 years old and has a height of 47 meters and a diameter of 9.8. Besides this, places of interest include the Phraya Phichai Dahb Hak Museum, several waterfalls, National Parks, and the world's biggest Nahm Phi sword (fig.). The province has nine amphur. See also Uttaradit data file.

Uttara Phrathet (อุตตรประเทศ)

Thai name for Uttar Pradesh, the former United Provinces of India.

uttarawat (อุตราวัฎ)

Thai. Term from Buddhism that indicates a circular, anti-clockwise procession, i.e. the opposite of a thaksinahwat. Compare with the Sanskrit word prasavya. Also transliterated uttrawat.

uttarapoh (อุตรโพธิ์)

Thai for uttarabodhi.

Uy Tho (อุ่ยท้อ)

Thai-Tae Chew name for Wei Tuo. In full also called Uy Tho Pho Sak (อุ่ยท้อผ่อสัก) or Uy Tho Phoo Sak (อุ๊ยท้อพู้สัก).