Burmese term for a
but also the name of an alchemist from Burmese folklore, who possesses
1. Arabic. The
a Islamic tomb.
Hindi. Name for a type of thread made of fine gold or silver wire
used in traditional Indian and Pakistani garments, especially those
made from silk.
zat pwe (ဇာတ်ပွဲ)
Burmese. Classical dance drama in
Burma, with performances usually based on the Jataka or
Burmese. Prayer pavilions in Buddhist temple compounds in
with a function and style very similar to the Thai
Common name for a species of small butterfly in the family
Lycaenidae and with the scientific designation Leptotes plinius.
Above, the wings are white with black lines and markings, and with a
bluish-violet shine that emanates from the base of the wings. Below,
the wings are white, with a zebra-like pattern in pale and dark
brown, and with two ocelli at the apex of the hindwings, which end
in a short tail. Though this pattern remains the same year-round,
the dry-season form is paler than the wet-season form. The head,
thorax and legs are mostly white, apart from the large black
compound eyes, brown bars on the top of the abdomen, and dark rings
around the lower legs. The antennae are banded, with black and
white. This butterfly is also commonly known as Plumbago Blue, and
in Thai, it is called
phi seua fah laai (ผีเสื้อฟ้าลาย).
Common name for a bird of the dove family Columbidae, native to
Southeast Asia. It is also known as barred ground dove and has the
scientific name Geopelia striata. In Thai it is called nok khao
chawa (นกเขาชวา), i.e.
‘Java dove’. It is a small and slender bird
of about 20 centimeters in length, of a brownish-grey colour with
black-and-white barring. There are however two varieties, i.e. the
Pilbara reddish form (fig.) and the Kimberley grey form (fig.). Whilst its face is blue-grey with bare blue skin
around the eyes and black bars on the sides of the neck, breast and
belly, the top and back of its head is brown. It has a long, narrow tail
with white tips to the tail feathers and its underside is pinkish. Zebra doves love to dwell on the ground
and are often seen in pairs (fig.). Both in Southern Thailand and
Indonesia, the birds are popular as pets and in
the Asean Barred Dove Tournament is held annually, in which competitions are
organized to find the most beautiful bird with the most attractive cooing call.
Name for a type of domestic cattle with the scientific name Bos
indicus, and found in South and Southeast Asia. It is characterized
by a fatty hump on the shoulders, drooping ears and a large dewlap,
and is hence also referred to as humped cattle. It has more sweat
glands than other types of cattle, and is well adapted to high
temperatures. In Thailand, Zebu are used mainly as beef cattle and
draught oxen (fig.), as well as for byproducts such as hides, which in
Isaan are, together with the ears, also
consumed as food (fig.). In India, this kind of cattle is regarded as
tradition, the holy cow was the first creature to arise during the
Churning of the Ocean of Milk
and as such it is in
sometimes depicted on waves of milk
Vedas it is detailed that
cows are to be
treated with the same respect as one's mother, because of the milk
they provide, and some
in the hump on its back.
Many of the protagonists in Hindu and
Buddhist mythology are associated with cattle, such as
Krishna, who is described as a cowherd, and
Sujata, who was a milkmaid, whilst
the mount of the god
Shiva is a bull named
Nondi. In the same tradition, oxen are used
in the annual
Royal Ploughing Ceremony (fig.)
at the beginning in Thailand, a
brahmin ritual in which the oxen are
served seven several food baskets to forecast the future for the
coming year, according to which basket the oxen eat from. Also known
brahman cattle, and in Thai
called wua india (วัวอินเดีย) or
ko india (โคอินเดีย), i.e. ‘Indian cattle’.
In Vietnam (fig.), it is known as Bò Zebu (fig.).
i.e. a —usually solid— type of
pagoda enshrining sacred objects, though the term is also
used for any shrine or sacred depository. Besides the
plih, i.e. the
multi-layered royal umbrella (fig.)
atop a zedi, which in Burmese is referred to as a
hti, some bell-shaped pagodas also have a circular ornament
with horizontal radiating beams (fig.)
just underneath the chattra and coined after the flower of the
Star Flower Tree
which in Burmese is known as
Sometimes transcribed zeidi
or ceti, and occasionally also referred to as
zedi taw (စေတီတော်)
Burmese. A synonym for
also transliterated zedi daw and pronounced zedi do.
zee kwet (ဇီးကွက်)
Burmese name for a golden owl in Myanmar, which is made made of
papier-mâché and believed to bring luck and prosperity to a family.
Burmese name for the
Also transcribed zi gwe.
Japanese. Term for a school of
that developed mainly in
China and Japan. It emphasizes
self-realization and meditation, and discourages ritual practices. In
and in Chinese known as Chan (禅), which besides ‘Zen’ and ‘meditation’
can also mean ‘to abdicate’. In Zen, daily life and
practice are not separated, it includes the inner life with outer,
while focusing on what one is doing at the moment, while clearing
the mind of all thinking and being in the moment, which is believed
to increase the power of intuition and achieve a blissful state of
mind. It is said to allow for instant
here and now, rather than in some future
chaht. The Po Lin Monastery in
Hong Kong (fig.)
is a famous centre of Zen
Arabic. Segregated residence for
Hindu women. See also
Name for a kind of
Zen ink painting. It consists of a
simple black circle that represents the entire universe made in a
single, perfect stroke. Besides this it also symbolizes the void,
wholeness, perfection, strength, elegance and
Enlightenment. Despite the fact that this
common object seems quite simple, it is actually rather difficult to
paint successfully. It is said that, like in Japanese and
only one who is spiritually whole can paint a true Zen circle.
Besides the circles in black ink, also more artistically and colourful Zen circles
can be found, like those decorated with
leaf. Some are painted on paper or canvas, others may be printed
on cards and sold as commercial art. Many are accompanied of
the imprint created by a Japanese
seal, usually in red and
similar to those used in China, which are called
yin zhang. In Japanese, Zen circles
literally ‘circle countenance’ or ‘circular aspect’.
A language related to
Sanskrit in which the Avesta is written, a religious book of the ancient Persians
and their descendants, the Parsi.
Zhang Tian (增长天)
‘Deity that enlarges’. Name of one of the
Four Heavenly Kings.
He correspondents with the Indian
who guards the South. In
Chinese tradition his attribute is a sword.
In Sanskrit, he is known as
Virudhaka, and in Thai as
zha can yong (炸蚕蛹)
Name of a
true Chinese street snack,
that consists of the
chrysalises of silkworms, that are impaled on a skewer
and then deep-fried, usually in a
zhan chi fu tou (展翅幞頭)
‘Spreading wings head cover’.
Name for the black
hat with two short, wing-like flaps of thin, oval shaped boards,
worn by feudal officials in the Ming Dynasty, and also known as
wu sha mao.
It is an adaptation of the earlier
zhan jiao fu tou worn by court
officials in the Song Dynasty. The names for both kinds are
sometimes shortened to
zhan jiao fu tou (展角幞頭)
‘Spreading horns head cover’.
Name for the black hat with two elongated, horn-like projections,
one on each side, as worn by Han court officials in the Song
Dynasty. It was allegedly designed in order to keep distance between
the officials so they couldn't whisper to each other during court
assemblies. Depending on the wearer, the elongated appendixes could
be straight or somewhat curved, either downward or upward. The style
was later adapted by the Ming Dynasty to become the
zhan chi fu tou.
The names for both kinds are sometimes shortened to
Perhaps, the style of these winged hats may itself have evolved from the
Chinese. Name of a late 2nd to
early 3rd century military general, who served under the warlord Liu
Bei, and was among the earliest to join this lord and later founding
emperor of Shu Han, together with
thus sharing a brotherly band amongst them. Zhang Fei and Kuan U
accompanied Liu Bei on most of his early exploits, fighting for him
in various battles, including the Red Cliffs Campaign, the capture
of Yi Province, and the Hanzhong Campaign, all fought over a period
of ten year, between 208 and 218 AD. Zhang Fei was assassinated in
221 AD by two of his subordinates, who cut off his head and took it
with them when defecting to the side of the enemy. Today, Zhang Fei
often features as a character in
where he is depicted with a white face decorated with black spots
surrounding his eyes like a mask, black bat-shaped eyebrows, and
black spots with curls around his mouth. Zhang Fei
is venerated up to this day, especially in the city of Langzhong
(阆中) in northeastern Sichuan Province, where he was killed when
mobilizing 10,000 troops in order to lead them to meet-up with Liu
Bei's main army at
Jiangzhou (江州). His remains are also enshrined in a
temple in this city.
Zhang Heng (張衡)
Chinese. Name of a 1st and 2nd
century AD polymath, who lived from 78 to 139 AD, i.e. during the
Han Dynasty, and due to his various successful achievements as an
inventor, mathematician, astronomer, geographer, cartographer,
artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar, is sometimes regarded
the Leonardo da Vinci of ancient
He was educated in
and Xi'an (fig.),
and is noted for many ancient Chinese inventions, some of which that
have been registered as a world’s first, such as water-powered
armillary sphere (fig.),
an instrument to locate the position of various stars and to
represent astronomical observations; an odometer that consisted of a
carriage with a mechanically operated arm that struck a drum every 1
i.e. a Chinese mile measuring around 500 meters, while another arm
would struck a bell or gong after 10 li had been covered; a
south-pointing chariot, a two-wheeled vehicle with a figure mounted
on top that always pointed southward and acted as a compass; as well
as the world’s first seismometer called
hou feng didongyi, which was
invented in 132 AD (fig.).
His name is also transliterated as Chang Heng.
Zhang Qian (张骞)
Chinese. Name of a 2nd century BC imperial envoy and explorer from
the reign of Han Emperor Wu. He was the first official diplomat to
bring back reliable information about the world outside of China and
his missions played a key role in opening up the Empire to
international commercial trade. His pioneering work, travels and
explorations are associated with the
Zhao Gong Ming
Chinese. ‘Zhao, the Just and Bright One’. Name of the
influential and popular
An ancient Chinese zither, that is to say a multiple-stringed
instrument, with a flat soundbox, which is placed horizontally and
played with the fingers and a plectrum. It has an arched surface and
may have 13 to 26 strings, stretched over individual and
movable bridges. In ancient times, the strings were made of silk,
though today metal strings are commonly used. On the right side of
the bridges, the strings are plucked by both hands (fig.),
while on the left side, the strings can be bend to change the pitch
or to produce vibrations in sound. This ancient instrument
purportedly derived from a small bamboo instrument that initially
was used by herdsman. It is a similar instrument to the Vietnamese
đàn tranh, and is often referred to as gu zheng (古筝), with gu (古)
1. Chinese. ‘Perfected Warrior’
or ‘True Warrior’. Name for the protector of the North.
Chinese epithet for the
tortoise-snake (fig.), symbol of the
protector god of the North.
Chinese. ‘To press down paper’. Name for traditional paperweights,
i.e. objects used in
Chinese calligraphy to press
the paper when one writes or paints, to keep it in place. They come
in pairs, one for each end of the paper, and typically consist of a
rectangular bar, usually made from wood, but sometimes from bronze,
these bars are at the top decorated with a Chinese
Zhong Kui (鍾馗)
Chinese. According to some the name of
the god of examinations (fig.), before his deification. Also transcribed
Chinese. Name of a character from Chinese mythology who, similar to
Kui Xing (fig.),
was also an outstanding scholar with a disfigured appearance and who
was unfairly denied examination honors by the Emperor. He committed
suicide (according to one version by hurling himself against the
palace gate until his head was broken) and makes his
reappearance as a powerful vanquisher of ghosts and demons.
He is a popular figure in Chinese folklore
and a popular door or portal guard, used to keep evil out of homes.
Chinese door god, he is identified with the
military general Yuchi Jingde (fig.). He purportedly is able to command an army of 80,000 demons. He
is usually represented as a fierce looking bearded man,
sometimes depicted standing on one leg. Mythological
characters with similar backgrounds or service functions are
sometimes blended together and are spoken of as if they are a single
entity. It is therefore unclear if Zhong Kui is indeed another character
from Chinese mythology or actually ís Kui Xing himself (see point 1
above). Also transcribed
Chung K'uei. See also
Imperial Examinations (fig.).
Zhong Tan Yuan Shua (中壇元帥)
Chinese. ‘First Commander of the
Central Alter’. Official title given to
Nezha, after he
was deified. In English, the title is
usually translated as ‘Marshal of the Central Altar’.
‘Mid-Autumn Festival’. Name of a
festival which is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar
calendar with full moon
usually sometime between late September and early October, and known
in Vietnamese as Tet Trung Thu (Tết Trung Thu). It is observed for
lunar appreciation and moon watching, as the moon is then at its
brightest, as well as to give thanks for the harvest. During the
festival, especially Chinese
and Vietnamese people, traditionally
Zhong Yuan Jie (中元节)
Chinese. Another name for
i.e. ‘Ghost Month’, which falls on the 15th lunar day of the
7th lunar month, which is known as Zhong-Yuan and refers to the
middle period of the year. It is the birthday of the Hell Officer,
who has the right to pardon ghosts. On this day, all the ghosts can
leave hell and travel to the human world for food. Due to
superstition, any Chinese people won't get married in this month.
Often shortened to simply Zhong Yuan (中元).
Zhou Bo Tong (周伯通)
Chinese name for
Jiw Pae Thong.
Zhou Gong (周公)
Chinese. ‘Duke of Zhou’, that is
the Zhou Dynasty, who after his death, became a
Chinese for ‘bamboo’. In Chinese mythology, bamboo is a symbol for longevity
and the word in Chinese is homonym with another character (祝), meaning
‘to invoke, pray to, wish’ and ‘to express good wishes’. Bamboo has
hence become a Chinese symbol of good luck and longevity and can
often be seen in Chinese art and architecture (fig.).
‘lord’ or ‘to host’. It is a
compound of the character
‘king’ or ‘ruler’, and
a dot (丶)
on top of the character wang.
CHINESE CHARACTER FORMATION & ETYMOLOGY.
Chinese for ‘ancestral tablet’.
It has a pictophonetic
character, that consists of the words shi or dan (石), meaning ‘stone’ and
which suggests the meaning, and zhu (主), which means ‘lord’ or ‘to
host’ and is used to provide the sound. See
Chinese ancestral tablet.
Chinese. Name of an ethnic minority group that lives primarily in
the mountains of the Guangxi region in southern
With an estimated 17 million members, they are the largest minority
group in China. The traditional clothes they wear vary according to
different areas. In Longyi, for example, the traditional
daily outfit of women
consists of dark, loose and wide trousers, and a dark jacket, with a
blue edge on the collar, blue buttons, and blue lower sleeves, whilst on the head, they wear a towel,
festivities they wear a more colourful attire (fig.),
with silver headgear and ornaments (fig.),
that all in all can weigh as much as 15 kilos per individual (fig.).
The practice of wearing silver is a remnant of the past when Zhuang
people were self-supporting farmers that traded by means of
bartering, without the use of money nor banks. Thus, in order to
save they would stash silver, which they could also wear as
ornaments. During festivities, young Zhuang girls dress in a
knee-high skirt, with
around the calves, and have
far less silver ornaments than the adult women of this tribe and no
heavy headdress, but instead wear an ornamental silver hairpin (fig.).
2. Chinese. Name of a language spoken in the southern Chinese
province of Guangxi.
Zhu Bajie (猪八戒)
of the eight precepts’. Half-man
half-pig character from
Journey to the West.
He was once an immortal Field Marshal called Tianpeng, commander in
charge of the Heavenly Naval forces, the 100,000 soldiers strong
army of the Milky Way. One day he was intoxicated and flirted with
Chang-e, the moon goddess, for which he was banished to the mortal
world. In the process of his rebirth however, something went wrong.
Due to an error at the Reincarnation Wheel he ended up in the womb
of a sow, turning him into a man with the features of a pig. He is
capable of 36 methods of transformation and has the power of
cloud-traveling. He often behaves like a real pig with a voracious
appetite for food and sex, and is always looking for a way out of
his duties. At the end of the pilgrimage he was therefore relegated
to cleaning the altars of Buddhist temples in perpetuity, perhaps an
explanation of why pig's heads are often part of Chinese offerings (fig.).
Also known as
Wuneng and in English simply called Pigsy. See also
zhu sheng (竹笙)
fungus, a kind of net-bearing mushroom used as an ingredient in
Chinese haute cuisine (fig.). It grows among bamboo groves in southern
China and has
a net-like structure hanging down from its conical cap, which gave
it the nickname veiled lady. Whereas the word
and refers to the place where it is found, the word
actually the name for a small gourd-shaped musical instrument with
bamboo pipes (fig.),
similar to that used by some Thai hill tribes (fig.). Initially an
expensive delicacy reserved for special occasions, its price has
over time dropped due to advances in cultivation. Its botanical name
is Phallus indusiatus.
Zhu Wuneng (猪悟能)
Chinese. ‘Pig understanding power’. Another designation for
Arabic-Urdu. A sacred Islamic burial chamber,
architectural design of pedestrian bridges that cross oriental
garden ponds (fig.)
and which merge the concept of
according to which straight
lines attract evil,
with esthetics. The bends are said to stop the evil spirits from
following a person, as evil spirits can only travel in a straight
zi pai (字牌)
Chinese. ‘Character cards’ or ‘letter cards’. A type of elongated
playing cards used in
(fig.), and that at first sight are somewhat reminiscent of domino tiles.
There are 80 playing cards, printed in either red or black, and each
has two identical Chinese characters on it, one at the top and the
other mirrored at the bottom. A full pack holds 80 fixed playing
cards, that consist of 56 cards with black print and 24 cards with
red print. The black cards are divided into 4 identical sets of 14
cards, whilst the red cards consist of 4 identical sets of 6 cards.
Furthermore, there are 4 series of 2 sets of 10 cards each and
consisting of a mixture of both red and black cards, with numerals
running from 1 to 10. The numbers 2, 7 and 10 are always printed in
red, as they are considered the most valuable subjects with which
special series can be formed, while others are black. Both sets are
numbered from 1 to 10, with one set using ordinary numbers as in
simplified Chinese, i.e. 一, 二,
and 十; while the other set uses numerals spelled in
the official form, known as banker's anti-fraud numerals, i.e.
叁, 肆, 伍, 陆, 柒, 捌, 玖 and
拾. In addition to the 80 fixed cards, the pack may also include one
or more loose, special subject-cards (depending on the edition),
that act like western joker-cards. With the exception of the single
special subject-card, all other special cards come in couples, and
feature characters in ordinary and official form, as the sets of
fixed cards do. Also transliterated zhi pai.
A theoretical belt of twelve astral signs in which lies the solar
orbit. In Thailand both the Chinese and the regular zodiac are used.
In Thai the twelve astral signs are called
and the circle of the zodiac ‘chakrasih’.
The escutcheon of
Nakhon Sri Thammarat shows
a zodiac (fig.).
The word zodiac is derived from the Greek zoo-o (ζώο), meaning
‘animal’. See also
prajam wan and
zou shou (走兽)
‘Walking quadrupeds’ or ‘walking beasts’. A name for
Chinese Imperial roof decoration.