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Phan Thai Nora Singh (พันท้ายนรสิงห์)

Name of the coxswain (phan thai), who in the Ayutthaya Period was in charge of the navigation of the Ekkachai (เอกชัย) Royal Barge, of which today there are two versions (fig.). When in 1704, King Somdet Phra Sanphet VIII (Phra Chao Seua) made a royal visit to Sakon Buri, the later Samut Sakon, this steersman (fig.) caused an accident. When the boat arrived at Khohk Khahm district, the canal turned so crooked, that he could not control the direction. Unable to navigate the barge, he steered it in a wrong course, hitting a tree near the bank of the canal and damaging the bowsprit. To everyone's surprise, this king -normally infamous for his reign of tyranny, terror and debauchery- pardoned Nora Singh. However, the latter insisted that court law was respected and that he would be given the death penalty for his carelessness and the indignity it had caused, bowing his head before the king and the executioner's sword. Yet, the king still wanted to spare the helmsman's life and had a clay effigy of him made, which he had beheaded instead. Strangely, Nora Singh still insisted that this was not an acceptable punishment, as it would bring the law into disrepute. Finally, the king gave in and Nora Singh was beheaded. After the execution was carried out (fig.), the king erected a shrine in the tambon Khohk Khahm of amphur Meuang and commanded to have a new canal dug, which later became known as the Mahachai Canal.