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ba (八)

Chinese. ‘Eight’. The number eight (8) is believed to be the most auspicious number in China because it is associated with wealth. It is a homonym with the word ba (巴), which means ‘to long for’ and ‘to wish’, whilst it also sounds similar to fa (发), i.e. ‘to make a bundle of money’, and occurs as a compound in words such as facai (发财), meaning ‘well-off’ or ‘becoming rich in a short time’. Furthermore, the loop of the number 8, similar to ∞, indicates perpetually and thus longevity. Being such an auspicious number, China in 2008 chose August 8th, i.e. 8/8/'08, as the date for the start of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The number 8 is also associated with the shape of calabashes, known in Thai as nahm tao, and refer to supernatural shielding and healing, as in the past physicians would carry medicine with them inside a calabash, which ever since has been regarded as a legendary symbol associated with healing. As an auspicious number it also frequently is chosen in religion and mythology, as in the Eight Great Bodhisattvas, the Eight Immortals, and the Eightfold Path, to name just a few.

baan burih leuang (บานบุรีเหลือง)

See ban buri leuang.

baan burih muang (บานบุรีม่วง)

See ban buri muang.

Baan Dam (บ้านดำ)

See Ban Dam.

Baan Kudichin Museum

See Ban Kuti Jihn Museum.

baan mairoo rohy (บานไม่รู้โรย)

Thai name for a flowering plant, with the botanical name Gomphrena globosa (fig.). This annual plant grows up to 60 centimeters in height and bears globular flowers. Though the flowers of true species have magenta bracts, cultivars may have colours such as purple, pink, lilac, red, white, etc. The flowers are in Thailand often used in the making of garlands (fig.) called puang malai, as well as in stringed flower arrangements known as kreuang khwaen, and in phum dokmai (fig.). They are also reproduced as artificial flowers in Japanese clay, known as din yipun (fig.). In English, the plant is commonly known as Globe Amaranth and Bachelor Button. In Thai, it is also known by a variety of other common names, such as ga-laum (กะล่อม) and t-alaum (ตะล่อม), used in the North, and dok sahm deuan (ดอกสามเดือน), which is used both in the North and the South.

baan mairoo rohy farang (บานไม่รู้โรยฝรั่ง)

Thai designation for a dark red to purple plant or small shrub, that typically grows between one and two meters high, and with the scientific name Alternanthera dentata. It blooms year-round and has small, globular flowers, that are whitish in colour. In English it is commonly known by the names Dentata Ruby and Purple Knight.

Baan Sukhawadee (บ้านสุขาวดี)

See Ban Sukhawadih.

baat (บาตร)

Thai for a Buddhist monk's alms bowl. The term derives from the Sanskrit word patra (पात्र), which means bowl, hence the unpronounced yet written r () at the end of the Thai spelling. Thus, literally, the term baat should actually be transliterated baatr. Providing a kind of income to the clergy by using the baat to beg for food, the term baat is likely also etymologically related to the word baht, i.e. the currency unit of Thailand, which is used by laymen to buy food.

baat song hua seua (บาตรทรงหัวเสือ)

Thai. ‘Tiger head (fig.)-shaped alms bowl’. Name for a style of Buddhist monk's alms bowl, with a shape similar to the original and traditionally rather angular shaped baat song thai deum, i.e. ‘old-shaped Thai alms bowl’, but with its base slightly cut back, so it can be placed on the floor. This style of alms bowl is the newest and has been in use for about 30 years.

baat song thai deum (บาตรทรงไทยเดิม)

Thai. ‘Old-shaped Thai alms bowl’. Name for the original and traditionally rather angular shaped Buddhist monk's alms bowl. This style of alms bowl has been in use for centuries.

Bac De Tran Vo (Bắc Đế Trấn Vũ)

Vietnamese name for the Chinese deity Xuanwu, though besides being the Emperor of the North or Northern Emperor, he is in Vietnam worshipped as a god in his own right, namely as the Vietnamese god of weather. Den Quan Thanh, a den in Hanoi (fig.), i.e. a Vietnamese temple dedicated to a deified hero, is devoted to him (fig.). He is depicted as a warrior in imperial robes and standing on a tortoise while holding a sword, which sometimes has a snake entwined on its blade. He is believed to control all kinds of weather changes and natural calamities and is also associated with the Chinese Tortoise General Gui Jiang (fig.). See also Zhenwu.

Bach Ma (Bạch Mã)

Vietnamese. ‘White Horse’, i.e. the name of a 220 km² National Park in central Vietnam. READ ON.

Bactrian Camel

One of the only two remaining species within the genus Camelus still existing today. READ ON.

badahn (บาดาล)

Another name for narok.

ba da ji xiang (八大吉祥)

Chinese. ‘Eight big propitious good omens’ or  ‘eight big good auspicious [things]’. Name for the Ashtamangala, which were brought from India to China by Buddhist missionaries.

Bagan (ပုဂ)

Burmese. The modern transliteration used for Pagan.

Bagaya Kyaung (ဘားဂရာ ကျောင်း)

Burmese-Mon. ‘Starflower Monastery’. Name of a wooden monastery in Inwa. READ ON.

bagh chal (बाघ चाल)

Nepalese. ‘Moving tigers. Name of a board game, that originates from Nepal. READ ON.

Bago (ပဲခူး)

Burmese. The modern transliteration used for Pegu.

bagua (八卦)

Chinese for ‘eight trigrams’.

ba guan (拔罐)

Chinese name for a cupping glass or jar used in fire cupping, an acupressure technique used in traditional Chinese medicine and known as ba guan zi.

ba guan zi (拔罐子)

Chinese. ‘To pull [with] jars’ or ‘pot pulling’. Name for fire cupping, the cup being referred to as ba guan.

Baha'i (بهائی‎)

Persian. Name of a religion that teaches the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. The name derives from the Arabic word Bahá‘ (بهاء), which means ‘glory’ or ‘splendor’, and is usually transliterated Bahá'í. It claims to have over 5 million adherents worldwide. The Lotus Temple in Delhi (fig.) is a Baha'i temple. As such, it is not dedicated to one single religion, but instead invites people of all faiths to come in and pray.

Bahnar (Ba Na)

1. Vietnamese. Name of an ethnic minority group, that lives in the Central Highlands of southern Vietnam and has an estimated population of around 190,000. They live in concentration in Gia lai and Kon Tum Provinces, as well as in western parts of Binh Dinh and Phu Yen Provinces. They live in houses on stilts, with extended families sometimes living in Longhouses. Their villages all have a communal house called rong, which stands out for its height (fig.) and is the symbol of the strength and skill of the villagers. Their language belongs to the Mon-Khmer group.

2. Vietnamese. Language of the Bahnar people of Vietnam, which belongs to the Mon-Khmer linguistic family and has about 190,000 native speakers.

baht, Baht (บาท)

1. Thai. Currency unit of Thailand, made up of one hundred satang. The last coins during the reign of King Rama IX were those of 1 baht (fig.) depicting Wat Phra Kaew (fig.), 2 baht (fig.) depicting Wat Saket (fig.), 5 baht (fig.) depicting Wat Benjamabophit (fig.) and 10 baht (fig.) depicting Wat Arun (fig.), although coins with other denominations have also sometimes been issued. Due to its similar size and confusingly same reverse side, the 2 baht coin was reissued in a brass colour after just a short while in circulation. Coins of the lowest denomination with a value less than one baht are called satang and are also in a brass colour. Those exist as coins of 25 satang (fig.) depicting Wat Mahathat Wora Maha Wihaan (fig.) and 50 (fig.) satang depicting Wat Doi Suthep (fig.), but also other denominations have been issued. On the reverse side all coins depict HM the King, although some special issues may also depict another member of the royal family or a king of the past, often together with the then present king. These are usually issued for special commemorations and are for many real collectors items. Thai people, especially youth, can often be seen carrying a 5 or 10 baht coin in one of their ears. This is usually the fare for the public bus, boat or songthaew (fig.) which is put in the ear for convenience. Obviously, there is no need to search for it, easier to get out compared to the pockets of a tight jeans, and allows the hands to be free. It is said amongst expats that once one starts wearing the bus fare in ones ear, one has been in Thailand for too long. Previously, until 1897 the Thai currency was called tical. The word baht is likely etymologically related to baat. See also gun pahk phi and photduang.

2. Thai. A unit of weight used by apothecaries and jewelers in Thailand. For gold the unit of weight is equal to 15.16 grams for jewelry items and 15.244 grams for gold bars (fig.), ingots and bullion coins (fig.). See also Thai gold.

3. A line of a Thai verse.

4. Thai-Rajasap for ‘foot’, as in chalong phra baht. Also Phrabaht.

Bai (白)

Chinese. ‘White’ or ‘Pure’. Designation of one of the 56 ethnic groups that are officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. They number almost 2 million and live in southern China's Yunnan province, especially in the Dali area, as well as in the Bijie area of neighbouring Guizhou province, and in Hunan's Sangzhi area. They are usually referred to as Baizu (白族), i.e. the ‘White Clan’ or ‘White Race’. The Bai people speak their own language, which is believed to be either a member or an independent branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family.

bai bua bok (ใบบัวบก)

Thai.  ‘Land lotus leaves’. Name for a common semi-aquatic plant, with the botanical designation Centella asiatica, and commonly known in English as Asiatic Pennywort. It grows in swampy areas and in low wet areas, e.g. along ditches. The plant consists of small, green, kidney-shaped leaves known in botany as reniform leaves, and are somewhat akin to miniature lotus leaves (fig.). The leaves are edible and can made into a drink called nahm bai bua bok (น้ำใบบัวบก), or eaten raw in a salad known as yam bai bua bok (ยำใบบัวบก), which has a Burmese variant called Myin Kwa Yuat Lethok - fig.).

bai chaphlu (ใบชะพลู)

Thai for ‘wild betel leaves’ (fig.), the leaves from a plant with the botanical name Piper sarmentosum. See also chaphlu.

bai jahk (ใบจาก)

Thai. The dried leaves of the nipa palm (fig.) are used for thatching, to make ngop nahm chiao (fig.), and to roll cigarettes, but fresh they are used to wrap sweetmeats called kanom jahk (fig.) and as an ingredient in alcohol.

bai kang han (ใบกังหัน)

Thai for ‘weather vane’ or ‘wind vane’. Often seen at rural houses, most commonly with fanciful shapes, e.g. decorated with puppets that move up and down through a handle when the vanes (blades) turn in the wind. Many of those wind vanes are not necessarily put up with the intend to find out the direction of the wind, but rather for sanook (fun). Also called bai kang han lom (ใบกังหันลม). See also silom.

bai lahn (ใบลาน)

1. Thai. ‘Palm leaves’. Name for the leaves of a kind of fan palm tree, known as ton bai lahn, which are used to make a variety of things, such as Buddhist manuscripts, which are likewise called bai lahn (fig.); artificial fish called pla taphian sahn bai lahn (fig.), traditional farmers' hats, which are known as ngop (fig.); etc.

2. Thai. ‘Palm leaves’. Ancient palm leaf manuscripts carrying Buddhist scriptures. The palm leaves were first trimmed into long sheets and then engraved by scratching the text into the leaf with a needle, the ink being rubbed in afterwards. They are sometimes elaborately decorated with engravings showing episodes from Buddhism (fig.) and are kept folded between two wooden covers, usually adorned with gold leaf and measuring around forty by eight cms. Because of their fragile nature they are preserved in specially designed scripture cabinets coated with protective lacquer.

bai raka (ใบระกา)

Thai. The ornamental crest running along the ridge of the two sloping edges of a traditional gable roof, as seen on most Buddhist temples and palaces. On Buddhist temples it starts beneath the chofa (fig.) and at the lower end usually ends with an antefix (fig.) often in the form of a hang hongse (fig.), whereas in traditional houses it usually ends with a ngao (fig.). The bai raka also occurs in Thai palaces (fig.). Most temples show a combination of a chofa, bai raka and a hang hongse (fig.).

bai sema (ใบเสมา)

1. Thai. Stone boundary markers at the eight cardinal points around a botThey demarcate the consecrated ground on which the bot is constructed. They are usually built as free-standing structures, though occasionally they are built-in on the outer wall of the ubosot of the temple (fig.), such as at Wat Bowonniwet Wihaan Racha. Bai sema  may be erected singly, or in pairs. If in pairs it may signify that the temple was of royal origin (fig.), or that it has undergone major renovation, or is built on the site of a former bot. The bai sema often have the shape of a bodhi tree leaf and are sometimes sheltered under a small mondop-like structure (fig.). They are usually carved with decorative motives and are placed on top of the look nimit which are buried in the ground. It is represented on the emblem of the Ministry of Education (fig.), in combination with the Wheel of Law (fig.). Also sema, and compare with wisung khama sima.

2. Thai. The merlons or crenellated parapet on battlements surrounding a city or temple. Also sema.

bai sri (บายศรี)

Thai. An offering of cooked rice under a conical arrangement of folded leaves and flowers, sometimes topped with a boiled egg like some kreuang bucha (fig.), and used during weddings (fig.) and other auspicious ceremonies. When placed in a bowl, it is also referred to as bai sri pahk cham (บายศรีปากชาม). Also bai si (บายสี). See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

bai toey hom (ใบเตยหอม)

Thai. The leaf of a pandanus.

bai tong (ใบตอง)

Thai name used for a banana leaf’, whereas ─in contrast─ a ‘banana’ is known as gluay and abanana plant’ as ton gluay.

bajiao shan (芭蕉扇)

Chinese designation for any palm-leaf fan. READ ON.

Bajrakitiyabha (พัชรกิติยาภา)

See Phatchara Kitiyapha.

Bai Wu Chang (白无常)

Chinese. ‘White Impermanence’. Name of a Chinese Hell Guard. READ ON.

Baiyoke (ใบหยก)

Thai. ‘Blade of Jade’. Name for a high-rise that between 1999 and 2016 was Thailand's tallest tower. READ ON.

Bakheng (បាខែង)

Khmer. Temple dedicated to the god Shiva and built by King Yasovarman I at the beginning of the 10th century AD in the Khmer capital Angkor.

Balaha (बलह)

Sanskrit-Khmer. Name of a talking, flying white horse, that rescues those who repent from their sins, as well as merchants from perils at sea. READ ON.

Balarama (बलराम)

The older brother of Krishna and avatar of Vishnu. An ancient myth relates that Shiva took two of his own hairs, one black and one white, then created Krishna out of the black hair and Balarama from the white one. He is the god of ploughmen and is in art usually portrayed holding his ploughshare Hala. He is also sometimes depicted with a pestle named Musala. When he died, Sesha, the immortal serpent appeared from his mouth and flew away, back to the Ocean of Milk. He is also known as Balabhadra and Baladeva.

bale fruit

See matuhm.

Bali (พาลี)

Thai. A king of the monkeys and a half-brother of the monkey king Sugriva, who usurped his throne, in the Thai epic Ramakien. In the Ramayana he is known by his Sanskrit name Vali and in Thai his name is pronounced ‘Phali’ (fig.). Though they had the same mother, the father of Bali was Indra. He is depicted as a monkey with green fur and usually wearing a chadah-style headdress with a conical peak of which the tip folds backwards. He was formerly known as Kakat/Kaakaat (กากาศ), in Sanskrit known as Kakatsa, and was the first ruler of Kheedkhin. He is represented on one of the Royal Barges, which is consequently named after him, i.e. Reua Phali Rang Thawihp. After the very strong, yet foolhardy buffalo Torapi challenged his father Torapa to a fight and slew him, and then went on to challenge the gods to fight him, Idsuan ordered the buffalo to fight Phali instead, but cursed the buffalo and condemned him to die at the hand of the monkey king (fig.). See also LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS & NAMES.

Bali (บาหลี)

Thai name for the island of Bali, Indonesia.

Bali Myna

Another name for Bali Starling. Also spelled Bali Mynah.

Bali Starling

Common name for a medium-sized myna, with the binomial name Leucopsar rothschildi. Both sexes are similar and are mostly white, with blue bare skin around the eyes, and black wingtips and tail tip. The legs are greyish-blue and the bill is light brown, with a pale, yellowish tip. This bird also has long, drooping crest feathers, which the males raise to attract females, whilst bobbing up and down. Also known as Bali Myna and Rothschild’s Myna (Rothschild’s Mynah), and in Thai as nok king krohng bali (นกกิ้งโครงบาหลี) or nok ihyang krohng bali (นกเอี้ยงบาหลี). In the wild, this endangered species only occurs on the Indonesian island of Bali, where it is called jalak bali.

Balled Millipede

Name of a non-poisonous arthropod found in Southeast Asia. This millipede has a dark brown to black body and rolls itself into a ball when it feels threatened or when resting. It lives in damp places in the forest, usually near water, and feeds on mushrooms and decaying plant material. Of the 105 species of millipedes on record in Thailand, there are at least 5 known species of Balled Millipedes. They belong to the family Glomeridae and are also known as Bill Millipedes. The dark kind is known by the scientific name Hyleoglomeris albicollis, the plain brown by the Latin designation Hyleoglomeris cremea. In Thailand, they occur mostly in the North, especially during the rainy season, and in Vietnam, they are considered to be living good luck charms (fig.). In Thai, they are known by the names king keuh krasoon (กิ้งกือกระสุน), i.e. ‘bullet millipede’, and krasoon phra in sih dam (กระสุนพระอินทร์สีดำ) or krasoon phra in sih nahmtaan (กระสุนพระอินทร์สีน้ำตาล), i.e. ‘Indra's black or brown bullet millipede’.



Common name for a species of milkweed, with the botanical designations Asclepias physocarpa and Gomphocarpus physocarpus. The plant is recognized by its green hollow inflated balls with prickly hairs that stick out from the foliage like that consists of lanceolate leaves on otherwise bare stalks. It originates from Africa, but has been widely naturalized and is often used as an ornamental plant, both in gardens and in floral bouquets. Also commonly known as Balloon Cotton-bush and Swan Plant, and in Thai as hong heun (หงส์เหิร).

balu (ဘီလူး)

Burmese for an ‘ogre’ or ‘giant’. Hence, the term is the Burmese equivalent of the Thai yak. Many ogres are said to be flower-eating ogres, which are often depicted in iconography and known in Burmese as balu pan zwe when holding a garland with both hands and as balu pan gai when disgorging flowers and foliage (fig.). These ogres are usually benevolent. But the latter may also be malevolent, especially when depicted with straight fangs, which allows him to devour humans. In Ananda Phaya (fig.) in Bagan is a bas-relief of two simha (lions) that are sitting back-to-back, while their heads are facing each other. The top part of this relief is made in such a manner that is can be viewed separately as a balu face (fig.), which is reminiscent of Rahu (fig.), and similar to Taotie (fig.) and kirtimukha (fig.), i.e. a kala or kala face (fig.). Also transcribed belu and bilu.

balu pan gai (ဘီလူးပန်းကိုက်)

Burmese term for ornamental motif on pagodas or in stucco, depicting an ogre head eating or disgorging flowers and foliage. This ogre may sometimes be malevolent, especially when depicted with straight fangs, which allows him to devour humans. The representation of this ogre in iconography is rather reminiscent of depictions of the demon Rahu (fig.). Compare also with balu pan zwe, Rahu (fig.), Taotie (fig.) and with the Sanskrit term kirtimukha (fig.).

balu pan zwe (ဘီလူးပန်းဆွဲ)

Burmese term for an ornamental motif on pagodas or in stucco, depicting an ogre (balu) clutching a garland with both hands. It refers to the ogre's flower-eating habit and if disgorging flowers and foliage it is referred to as balu pan gai (fig.). This particular ogre is reminiscent of depictions of the demon Rahu (fig.) and of kirtimukha (fig.).

Bamar (ဗမာ)

The Burmese name of the dominant ethnic group in Myanmar, from which derives the Thai designation Pa-mah.


Giant plant, that belongs to the family of grasses and with the botanical name Bambusa vulgaris. READ ON.

Bamboo Borer

Common name for a species of beetle in the family Cerambycidae. It is also commonly known as Bamboo Tiger Longicorn and Bamboo Longhorn Beetle, and has the scientific designation Chlorophorus annularis. It is mostly black with a bright yellow tiger-like pattern and is very similar in appearance to Chlorophorus varius, a beetle which is commonly known as the Flower Longhorn Beetle. The Bamboo Borer is primarily a borer of cut, dry bamboo.

Bamboo Buddha

Name of a style of Buddha image found in Myanmar, which has entirely been woven from bamboo, similar to traditional basketry. Such an image can be seen in Nyaung Shwe (fig.), in Shan State. That particular one is ca. 3 meter tall and seated in the lotus position while performing a dhammachakka mudra. It was made in 2008 by craftsmen from Namhu, a village on Inle Lake (fig.) and is currently on display in the Nyaung Shwe Cultural Museum (map - fig.). Another such image (fig.) is found at Shwe Mawdaw Phaya, a Buddhist temple in Bago (fig.). The latter is also seated in the lotus position, yet is displayed with a different mudra and known as Mahalabamuni. Another Bamboo Buddha (fig.) is found in Thailand, i.e. at Wat Jong Klang (fig.) in Mae Hong Son (fig.), a provincial capital that borders Myanmar and which has many temples in a mixture of Burmese and Shan art styles, often displaying also artifacts from Myanmar. The latter, also seated in the lotus position, is displayed with a bhumisparsa mudra.

Bamboo Garden

See Suan Phan Phai.

Bamboo Palm

See jang jihn.

Bamboo Rat

Any of the four species of rodent in the subfamily Rhizomyinae. READ ON.

bamboo violin

See waiolin mai phai.

bamboo worm

Name of a worm that inhabits the inside of bamboo stems. It is in fact the larva of a moth of the genus Omphisa and has quite a long larval stage that lasts for ten months, whilst its adult life as a moth is only less than a week. Therefore most of its lifespan is spent as a larva, inside the bamboo stem. Once becoming a moth it will fly out and try to mate immediately. When this is fulfilled the female moth will lay its eggs on the skin of a bamboo shoot, and dies. Once those eggs have hatched the small grubs will dig into the bamboo shoot peel and start feeding on flakes of bamboo, without actually doing harm to their host. Some -mainly hill tribe- people of Northern Thailand eat the larvae which are collected by cutting down the bamboo. Subsequently they are fried crisp in oil and sold on markets (fig.) for up to 500 baht per kilo. Due to its long train-like body the creature is in Thai nicknamed rot duan, meaning express train.

bamih (บะหมี่)

Indonesian-Thai for egg noodle, noodles made of wheat flour and eggs (in most cases). Bamih is a tick noodle usually of a yellowish colour, though also a pale green colour exist, and is sold only fresh (not dried). It can be eaten from a bowl with added broth or water (bamih nahm - fig.) or boiled -but dry- from a plate (bamih haeng - fig.), a form which may also be stir fried. A popular dish is bamih moo daeng (fig.). It might be compared to the English chowmein what derives from chao mian, Chinese for fried flour. See also TRAVEL PICTURES (1) and (2).

ban (บั้น)

Thai. An old unit of capacity, officially called ban luang and equivalent to 1,000 liters.

Bana (बाण)

An asura with thousand arms, that struggled with Krishna and who is a son of Bali. He is also called Banasura (बाणासुर).


Fruit of the banana plant which grows in clusters on an arched, overhanging inflorescence. Attached to this are several combs each numbering around a dozen bananas (fig.). They grow towards the light, making them curve and resulting in their typical shape. There are several kinds, both large, e.g. the plantain horn banana or pisang tanduk (fig.) that occurs from Sri Lanka  to Indonesia and Malaysia; and small, e.g. gluay khai from Kamphaeng Phet, as well as the Pink Banana (Musa velutina), a species of seeded banana that grows in the mountainous regions of Myanmar. Bananas are frequently used in Thai cuisine (fig.), fresh as well as fried, boiled, dried or baked (fig.), and it is the daily food for about one billion people worldwide. Thailand produces about two million metric tons of bananas per year, ranking eighth on the world's list of mass producers which tops India with an annual production of 16.8 million metric tons. Thailand's production represent only around 2.74% of the worldwide crop and most of it is used for domestic consumption. In Thai, bananas are called gluay and in Indonesia and Malaysia pisang. The the word banana is often used interchangeably with plantain, a banana-like fruit of a kind of banana plant equally of the genus Musa and also grown for its fruit, but which fruit is firmer and starchier, and used for cooking.

banana plant

A non-woody fruitbearing plant, with a soft herbaceous stem, that is made up of leaves that wrap round each other, forming what appears to be a trunk. READ ON.

ban buri leuang (บานบุรีเหลือง)

Thai name of an evergreen climber, with yellow calyx flowers and with the botanical name Allamanda cathartica. In English it is known by a variety of common names, such as Golden Trumpet, Yellow Allamanda, Buttercup Flower, Yellow Bell and Common Trumpet Vine. Originally from the Americas, its a popular ornamental climber widely used in the tropics, especially grown over fences and along walls. Also transcribed baan burih leuang. See also POSTAGE STAMP.

ban buri muang (บานบุรีม่วง)

Thai. Climber with the botanical name Allamanda violacea and commonly referred to as Violet Allamanda. Its flowers are red to purple coloured calyx flowers. Also baan burih muang.


Name of a traditional double-outrigger boat in The Philippines, consisting a narrow main hull with two attached outriggers. In Indonesia, a similar kind of canoe-like fishing boat is known as jukung.

Ban Chiang (บ้านเชียง)

A prehistoric civilization in northeast Thailand known for its early bronze metallurgy and clay pottery. Archeological finds of elaborate pottery with distinctive burnt ochre, rust coloured swirl designs painted onto a buff background provide evidence that the indigenous people of Ban Chiang were capable of producing sophisticated works of art. Some of the bronze objects found are thought to date from around 3000 BC, making it possibly the earliest Bronze Age culture in the world. See also Udonthani, POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2), TRAVEL PICTURES (1) and (2), and THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

Bandai Kaew (บันไดแก้ว)

Thai. ‘Crystal Stairway’. Name of a kind of kreuang khwaen, i.e. net or frame-like, stringed flower arrangements, that are used to suspend at windows, doorways, gables, etc. This particular type is rather simple and is knitted of mainly jasmine buds (fig.), white dok rak (fig.), and white jampah flowers. It consists of three horizontal lines of white jampah flowers, that are conected with diagonal strings of jasmine buds in an X-shape, and has a tapering top and bottom. At the corners of each step are pink flowers, that are handmade from rose petals and finished with a real flower at its centre.

Bandai Ngun (บันไดเงิน)

Thai. ‘Silver Stairway’. Name of a kind of kreuang khwaen, i.e. net or frame-like, stringed flower arrangements, that are used to suspend at windows, doorways, gables, etc. This particular type is rather simple and is knitted of mainly jasmine buds (fig.), white dok rak (fig.), and white jampah flowers (fig.). It consists of three horizontal lines of no more than three white jampah flowers, that are conected with diagonal strings of jasmine buds in a V-shape, and has a tapering top and bottom. At each connection there may be additional flowers in a different colour, often handmade from rose petals and finished with a real flower at its centre. It is similar to the Bandai Kaew (fig.), but with only three jampah flowers per horizontal step, and it is also akin to the Bandai Thong, but with white jampah flowers, rather than yellow ones (fig.).

Bandai Thong (บันไดทอง)

Thai. ‘Golden Stairway’. Name of a kind of kreuang khwaen, i.e. net or frame-like, stringed flower arrangements, that are used to suspend at windows, doorways, gables, etc. This particular type is rather simple and is knitted of mainly jasmine buds (fig.), white dok rak (fig.), and yellow jampah flowers (fig.). It consists of three horizontal lines of yellow jampah flowers, that are conected with diagonal strings of jasmine buds in a V-shape, and has a tapering top and bottom. At the corners of each step there may be additional flowers in a different colour, often handmade from rose petals and finished with a real flower at its centre. The Bandai Thong is depicted on a Thai postage stamp issued in 1991 (fig.).

Ban Dam (บ้านดำ)

Thai. ‘Black House(s)’. Name of an somewhat outlandish museum in Chiang Rai that consists of a peaceful garden with a collection of buildings. Most of those are dark in colour and made of wood such as teak, though there are also some edifices constructed in brick. The museum is the brainchild of local artist Thawan Duchanee (ถวัลย์ ดัชนี), and it is considered to be his architectural masterpiece. Inside, the museum displays a  collection of paintings and sculptures, including a few featuring the artist himself (fig.), as well as artifacts and furniture decorated with or made with animal bones, skulls, skins, and horns, such as several long tables lined with chairs made from buffalo and other animal horns, and a number of black crocodile skins. Besides Thai-style art and artifacts, the eccentric museum also features some Balinese and Burmese objects, including Bedogol (fig.), i.e. Balinese-style door guardians (fig.), and Burmese legged nagah (fig.), i.e. naga-like creatures, yet with legs (fig.), as well as Burmese mythological lions known as chintha (fig.). See MAP.

bandasak (บรรดาศักดิ์)

Thai. Non hereditary titles conferred by the sovereign mostly on government officers, such as Luang, Phra, Phrya and Chao Phrya.

Banded Bullfrog

Common name for a species of frog which is native to Southeast Asia and belongs to the family Microhylidae. READ ON.

Banded Krait

A venomous and potentially deadly snake, with the scientific name Bungarus fasciatus, which occurs in India and Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, where it is the most commonly found krait. It has an elevated vertebral ridge, giving it a triangular body, and alternate black and pale yellow bands of almost equal width, that encircle the body and tail, though which are of a rather grey colour with hatchlings. The Banded Krait can grow up to about 2 meters in length and may have up to 37 black bands. Its broad and depressed head is predominantly black, with black eyes and a pale yellow throat and supralabials. Its habitat is diverse and ranges from forests to mangroves and agricultural areas. It is found in all parts of Thailand, often advancing along a waterway to find food. It is inert during the day, but active and dangerous at night. Also called Yellow-banded Krait (fig.) and in Thai known as ngu saam liam, literally ‘triangular snake’. In 1981, it was depicted on the second stamp of a set of four Thai postage stamps featuring venomous Thai snakes (fig.).

Banded Linsang

Common name of a species of civet, with the scientific name Prionodon linsang and found in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The Banded Linsang is around 74 cm long, including the tail, and has a white base colour, with black cloud-like spots on its body and and black bands on the tail. The lower legs and paws are white and have sharp, retractable claws. This linsang is omnivorous and feeds on birds, squirrels, rats, and lizards. It is the rarest of the civets, and is sometimes referred to as Tiger Civet. The Banded Linsang is arboreal and spends the majority of its time in trees. In Thai, it is known by the names chamot plaeng laai thaeb (ชะมดแปลงลายแถบ) and ih-hen laai mek (อีเห็นลายเมฆ), the latter name meaning ‘cloud-patterned civet’. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

Banded Treebrown

Common name for a species of butterfly, with the scientific designation Lethe confusa and which can be found across Southeast Asia and in parts of South Asia, mainly in bamboo forests. It has a wingspan of up to 5.5 centimeters and the surface of the forewings is brown with a white band and two pale spots, whilst the underside of the wings is brown with whitish wavy lines and they have a series of ocelli along a whitish lined margin, i.e. the forewing has three ocelli, while the hindwing has six eye spots. Most ocelli are roundish and have a white dot in their centre, though some have two, i.e. a larger and a smaller one, and the sixth or last ocellus on the hindwing is an eight-shaped oval with two white dots, that looks like a two merger of two ocelli rather just one. This butterfly is very similar to the Straight-banded Treebrown (Lethe verma), but the latter has a darker underside.

bandit (บัณฑิต)

1. Thai. A word derived from the Sanskrit word pandita, that usually is translated as ‘sage’, ‘wise man’, ‘philosopher’, or ‘pundit’, the latter being an English word derived from the same Sanskrit root word. See also Vithura Chadok.

2. Thai. A recipient of an academic bachelor degree.

bando (บัณเฑาะว์)

Thai. A small handheld double-sided hourglass-shaped drum used in brahmin rites. It is played by swaying so that the two weights that are tied to it with short strings hit both drum sides. It is also found as an attribute to several Hindu deities and typical of Shiva (fig.) in his form of Nataraja (fig.). In this context, the drum represents the primordial sound and rhythm from which the universe emerged, and into which it will be reabsorbed. The triangular shape of the drum represents this concept of creation, i.e. the upward side symbolizes the male creative principle or linga (fig.), the downward side represents the female creative principle or yoni (fig.), and creation begins where the two triangles meet, whilst dissolution will occur when they are separated. The ‘o’ in bando is pronounced very short. In Sanskrit the drum is referred to as damaru or damru (डमरु) and in English a similar toy, but with a flat shape rather a triangular one, is known as a rattle drum.

bang (บาง)

Thai. ‘Village’. Name used for riverside settlements. Found in place names of both large cities and small villages, like Bangkok and Banglamung.

Bang Fai (บั้งไฟ)

See boon bang fai.

bangfai phayanaag (บั้งไฟพญานาค)

Thai. ‘Fireballs of the Naga’. Annual phenomenon on the Mekong river in Nong Khai, occurring at the end of ouk phansa, during the 15th full moon of the 11th lunar month. Soundless, smokeless and scentless fireballs shoot up from the deepest, Lao side of the river and float silently into the air, tens of meters and sometimes up to 300 meters high, finally evaporating in the inky blackness of the nightly sky. In some years there are only a few, but in 1999 nearly 3,500 fireballs were counted. Some claim them to be a natural phenomenon, others believe these fireballs are caused by a naga (fig.) that, according to legend, lives in the river, others allege they are man-created. Up to date no verified scientific explanation has been found for this strange phenomenon. An ancient legend tells that when the Buddha returned to earth after teaching his mother in the Tavatimsa heaven at the end of the Buddhist Lent, phayanaag and his followers welcomed him back by blowing fireballs into the sky. See also Boon Bang Fai.

Bangkapi (บางกะปิ)

Thai. Name of a khet or district in eastern Bangkok. READ ON.

Bangkok (บางกอก)

1. Thai-Western name for Krung Thep Maha Nakon (fig.), the contemporary capital of Thailand on the estuary of the Chao Phrya river. READ ON.

2. An art style from the Rattanakosin period.

Bangkok Art & Culture Centre

Museum of contemporary art (fig.), located at Pathumwan Intersection in Bangkok's Pathumwan District. READ ON.

Bangkok Butterfly Garden & Insectarium

Museum of live butterflies, located within Chatuchak Park, in Bangkok's Chatuchak district. It consists of a huge domed enclosure with a garden that mimics these winged creatures' natural habitat. A footpath guides the visitor through the garden, which encompasses large shady trees, ferns, wild flowers, rockeries and a waterfall. Over 500 butterflies are said to dwell here, at any given moment, though one needs to look for them as many are hiding high-up in the trees and in the tropical vegetation. In Thai it is known as uthayaan phi seua lae malaeng Krung Thep (อุทยานผีเสื้อและแมลงกรุงเทพฯ). See MAP.

Bangkok Ferris Wheel

Name of a 60 meter high sky wheel erected at Asiatique (fig.) Night Bazaar, located along at the riverfront of the lower Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. READ ON.

Bangkok Forensic Museum

See Siriraj Hospital Museum.

Bangkok Mass Transit System

Bangkok's elevated train system, usually referred to as BTS or Sky Train. It started its initial service in December 2000. The central terminal is at Siam Square from where lines go in four directions: there are eight stations to the North ending near Chatuchak (at the old Mo Chit bus station); six stations to the South with end station at the Thaksin Bridge; just one station at the National Stadium in the West; and nine stations to the East, stretching to On Nut (Sukhumvit soi 50). Later the southern line was expanded crossing the Chao Phraya River, on to Klong Sahn. It operates from 6.00 AM to midnight. See also Bangkok Metro, Airport Link, and MAP.

Bangkok Mega-Bridge

Name of a gigantic bridge near Bangkok, built as part of the Industrial Ring Road project. READ ON.

Bangkok Metro

Name for Bangkok's underground train system. READ ON.

Bangkok Seashell Museum

A three-storey museum located on the corner of Silom Soi 23 in Bangkok, but with a slightly deceiving name, as besides seashells, the museum also exhibits shells of land snails and freshwater molluscs, as well as the globular endoskeletons of sea urchins and a few other oddities, such as the tubular bivalves of Kuphus polythalamia, the longest bivalve mollusc in the world. The extensive and impressive exhibition, with over 3,000 specimens of about 600 selected species, comes from both the seas of Thailand and from those around the world, and is the childhood passion of Ms. Oraphin Sirirat (อรพิน ศิริรัตน์) and Mr. Somwang Patthamakhanthin (สมหวัง ปัทมคันธิน), who both gathered the collection. In Thai, the museum is officially known as Phiphithaphan Hoi Krung Thep (พิพิธภัณฑ์หอยกรุงเทพฯ), which translates as ‘Bangkok Museum of Shellfish’ or  ‘Bangkok Museum of Shells’, though it may also more correctly be referred to as Phiphithaphan Pleuak Hoi Krung Thep (พิพิธภัณฑ์เปลือกหอยกรุงเทพฯ), i.e. ‘Bangkok Museum of Shells’. See also MAP, TRAVEL PICTURE, and THEMATIC STREET LANTERN.

Banglamphoo (บางลำพู)

Thai. Name of a khwaeng (subdistrict) in Bangkok's khet (zone) Phra Nakhon, famous for the backpacker's paradise around Khao San Road and Phra Ahtit Road. The name is a compound of the words bang and lamphoo, the first one referring to a riverside village, the latter being a variety of mangrove of the genus Sonneratia caseolaris. Also transcribed Banglamphu.

Bang Pa-in (บางปะอิน)

Thai. A municipal district (fig.) of Ayutthaya, which is home to an open air museum, approximately 20 kms from the city centre. It has a collection of palace buildings in various architectural styles, as well as well maintained topiary gardens. The name is derived from the fact that a former Ayutthaya king met (pa) a girl called ‘In’ at a riverside village (bang) in this area. In 1985, four of the Bang Pa-in palace buildings, i.e. Aisawan Thipphaya Asana (map - fig.), Varophaat Phimaan/Varophat Phiman (วโรภาษพิมาน, map - fig.), the Chinese pavilion (fig.) Wehaat Jamroon (เวหาศน์จำรูญ, map - fig.), and Ho Witoon Tatsanah (หอวิฑูรทัศนา, map - fig.), a lighthouse on the premises of the Summer Palace —not to be confused with the nearby Bang Pa-in Lighthouse which is located on a small island in the Chao Phraya River, opposite of the palace (map - fig.). The palace buildings were illustrated on a set of postage stamps to mark the occasion of the Thaipex'85 Stamp Exhibition (fig.), whereas the Bang Pa-in Lighthouse appears on a postage stamp issued in 2019 as part of a set of four stamps on lighthouses  (fig.). Besides those, Bang Pa-in also fearures a number of other structures, such as Sapahkaan Rachaprayoon (สภาคารราชประยูร, map - fig.), Phra Thihnang Uthayaan Phumisethiyan (พระที่นั่งอุทยานภูมิเสถียร - map), the prang-shaped Ho Me Montien Thewaraat (หอเหมมณเฑียรเทวราช), Phra Tamnak Faai Nai (พระตำหนักฝ่ายใน), etc. In addition, the compound also has a memorial (fig.) to Queen Sunandha Kumariratana (fig.) and her daughter, who both drowned on 31 May 1880 when their boat (fig.) on way to the Royal Summer Palace capsized.

Bang Pakong (บางปะกง)

1. Thai. Name of a river in eastern Thailand, that originates at the confluence of the Nakhon Nayok River and the Prachinburi River at the tambon Bang Taen (บางแตน) in the amphur Ban Sang (บ้านสร้าง) of Prachinburi Province. The river is about 230 kilometers long and its estuary is home to dolphins (fig.), including the rare Irrawaddy Dolphin. In the Tambon Bang Kaew (บางแก้ว) in Chachengsao Province, the Bang Pakong River (fig.) temporarily splits and forms an island (map - fig.), on which the Buddhist temple Wat Samaan Rattanaraam is located (fig.). The river feeds a hydroelectric power plant, just before it mouths in the Gulf of Thailand at the northeastern tip of the Bay of Bangkok, South of the city of Chachengsao. See MAP.

2. Thai. Name of an amphur in the province of Chachengsao.

Bang Poo Nature Reserve

Name of a protected coastal wildlife area located in a military base in Samut Prakan and jointly run by the Royal Thai Army and the Thai World Wild Life Fund. It has a pier jutting out into the sea and is notable mostly for its mangrove forest and Charadriiform birds, such as Chinese Pond Herons (fig.), Great Egrets (fig.), and Black-naped Terns (fig.), as well as large flocks of wintering Brown-headed Gulls (fig.). See also bang and poo, TRAVEL PICTURES (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5), MAP, and WATCH VIDEO.

Bang Rajan (บางระจัน)

Thai. Name of a camp in Singburi,where in 1767, at the end of the Ayutthaya period, a handful  of heroic warriors (fig.) reportedly offered resistance for five months against a superior force of Burmese troops. READ ON.

bangsaek (บังแทรก)

Thai. One of the royal regalia having the form of a fan.

Bang Seu Grand Station

Bangkok's newest Central Station (fig.), which was built from 2013 to 2021 and officially came into service in July 2021. READ ON.

bangsoon (บังสูรย์)

Thai. One of the royal regalia serving as a sunshade.

bangsukun (บังสุกุล)

1. Thai. A yellow robe placed on the coffin by a Buddhist monk just before lighting the pyre. Also the term for performing such a rite.

2. Thai. A requiem chanted by Buddhist monks.

banh bao banh vac (bánh bao bánh vạc)

Vietnamese. ‘Cauldron dumpling’. Name of a culinary specialty and signature dish from Hoi An, somewhat similar to wonton noodles. READ ON.

banh com (bánh cốm)

Vietnamese. Rice cake’. Name of a sweet snack or dessert, which consists of a sweetened paste made of green mung beans, which is wrapped in a chewy dough, made from pounded sticky rice and coloured green. It is typically sold wrapped in a transparent plastic film, and is sometimes packed additionally in a small, square, carton box. It is often part of the traditional Vietnamese pre-matrimonial wedding gifts called cuoi hoi tron goi (fig.).

Ban Hun Lek (บ้านหุ่นเหล็ก)

Thai. Iron Doll House’. Name of a factory and museum in Angthong. READ ON.


A group of nomadic people (fig.) from northern India, where they live mainly in Rajasthan (fig.), but in part also in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and even in parts of Pakistan. Like many people in Rajasthan, they claim to be descendants of the Rajput, and are also known by a variety of other names and designations, including the epithet Indian Gypsies (fig.). Since they are a nomadic people, they can frequently be seen traveling along the road in carts with all their belongings and usually with some livestock (fig.), or camping in a field.

Ban Jim Thompsan (บ้าน จิม ทอมป์สัน)

Thai name for the Jim Thompson House.

Ban Kamthieng (บ้านคำเที่ยง)

Thai. An ethnographic museum under royal patronage that consists of an old wooden teak house which was originally constructed in Chiang Mai over 150 years ago. It was donated to the Siam Society (fig.) by its owner, Mrs. Kimho Nimmanhaemin (กิมฮ้อ นิมมานเหมินท) who named it after her mother, i.e. Mrs. Kamthieng Anusarnsunthorn (คำเที่ยง อนุสารสุนทร), who was born in this house. It was then reconstructed in Bangkok in a garden adjacent to the Siam Society. It displays items and utensils used by Thai farmers and fishermen. The museum exhibits the Lan Na way of life. The space under the house on stilts displays two large klong aew (fig.) temple drums, tools used to make a living, such as a Jacquard loom (fig.) for weaving, agricultural tools, objects used for rice offerings and sacrificial offerings for the ancestors, wood carvings, fabric talisman, ancient jewelry, kitchenware, and items and utensils used by Thai farmers and fishermen. The garden in which the house is rebuilt features different varieties of Thai flowers, trees, shrubs and plants. The house on stilts is today over 175 years old and is made from teakwood. Being from the north, its roofs are decorated with the typical kalae (fig.), i.e. an V to X shaped, often flame-like ornament at the top of traditional gabled roofs in northern Thailand. It is situated in Soi Asoke off Sukhumvit Road (map). Also transcribed Ban Khamthiang and also known in Thai as (พิพิธภัณฑ์เรือนคำเที่ยง) Phiphithaphan Reuan Khamthiang, i.e. Khamthiang [Traditional] House Museum. The logo on the name board at the entrance to the museum consists of a talaew (fig.), i.e. strips of bamboo plaited into a star shaped object with five or seven points, found mainly in northern Thailand where the hill tribes especially place them at the entrance to their houses or villages to keep away the spirits of the deceased. WATCH VIDEO.

Ban Khamthiang (บ้านคำเที่ยง)

See Ban Kamthieng.

Bank Myna

Common name for a species of starling with the scientific name Acridotheres ginginiamus, found in northern India and western Pakistan, and belonging to the family Sturnidae. This stocky bird has a bluish-grey plumage, with a deep orange bill and eye patches, while its legs and feet are yellowish-orange, and its hooded head, tail and wings are black, the latter with ginger wing patches. The sexes are alike, but juveniles are paler and browner. This bird inhabits towns, villages and cultivation. Also spelt Bank Mynah. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Bank of Thailand Museum

Museum founded under the auspices of the Fine Arts Department, the Treasury Department and the Thai Coin Museum. It is situated at Wang Bang Khun Phrom, a former Royal Palace within the compound of the Bank of Thailand. It was restored and converted to a museum in 1992 and officially opened on 9 January 1993, by King Bhumipon Adunyadet. The museum features a large collection of coins, including ancient coins, photduang coins, Thai coins, etc. It also has a section on Thai banknotes and a room commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Bank of Thailand in 1992, an event for which the Thai Post, nowadays called Thailand Post, issued a commemorative postage stamp (fig.). In Thai the Bank of Thailand Museum is called Phiphithaphan Thanakhaan Haeng Prathet Thai (พิพิธภัณฑ์ธนาคารแห่งประเทศไทย). See also Thai Bank Museum and MAP.

Ban Kuti Jihn Museum

Museum in Thonburi, named after the community in which it is located. READ ON.

Ban Lae Chiwit (บ้านและชีวิต)

Thai. ‘Home & Life’. Name of a modern sculpture erected at Phuket Gateway (map - fig.) and which consists of a giant tortoiseshell, surrounded by large eggs. It was created by professor emeritus Thana Lauhakaikul (ธนะ เลาหกัยกุล) and reflects the turtle watching legend of Mai Khaw (Mai Kao) beach in the North of Phuket island. Besides this, the tortoiseshell is a symbol for any ‘house’ or ‘home’, whereas the eggs stand for ‘life’ and ‘development’. The sculptor intentionally did not create the tortoiseshell of any specific species of tortoise, thus referring to all homes in general, rather than to the distinctive Leatherback Turtle that occurs on Mai Khaw beach and which in Thai is known as tao ma feuang (เต่ามะเฟือง). The shape of the eggs also indicate generality, as their shape is round when seen from the back, like the round eggs of tortoises, but oval when seen from aside. The Ban Lae Chiwit Monument is similar to Sagittarius, another sculpture of the same sculptor in Lumphini Park, in Bangkok (map - fig.). See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

Banlaichak (บรรลัยจักร)

Thai name of a demon, giant or yak from the Ramakien, whose very name means ‘annihilate’, ‘ruin’, or ‘destroy’. He is the son of Thao Chakraphad, ruler of Maliwan, and Nang Watchanihsoon. He is the younger brother of Suriyapop (fig.) and the elder brother of Nonyuphak. Known for his strength and rough temperament, he wields the powerful Herapot arrow, as well as a chakra. After Suriyapop's death, Banlaichakra seeks revenge but is struck by an arrow from the Lord Buddha. He survives and performs a ceremony to enhance the Herapot arrow, but Phra Phrot, advised by Phiphek, disrupts the ceremony. Banlaichakra battles Phra Phrot's forces, using magical tactics like blocking the sun and capturing Satrud. Ultimately, Phra Phrot destroys Banlaichakra's weapons and kills him with the Brahmastra arrow. In iconography, Banlaichak has a purple complexion and wears a conical flame-like crown. See also LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS & NAMES.

banlang (บัลลังก์)

Thai. ‘Throne’. The state throne of a monarch. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

Ban Lek Tih Neung (บ้านเลขที่ ๑)

Thai. ‘House Number One’. Name of a two-storey, neoclassical building in Bangkok, that was built in the first quarter of the 20th Century AD on Privy Purse property. It is located adjacent to the old warehouses of the Louis T. Leonowens Company (fig.), founded by the son of Anna Leonowens, on today's Captain Bush Lane, in between the Chao Phraya River (fig.) and Charoen Krung, i.e. Bangkok's oldest road (fig.). The land was initially rented to the Société Française des distilleries de l'Indochine, i.e. the French Society of Distilleries of Indochina’, which built this house to serve as its office, and which was later rented to the Department of Industrial Works, whose lease expired in 1994. In 1958, ownership of the land was transferred to the Crown Property Bureau. Over time, Ban Lek Tih Neung had fallen into disrepair and between 2012 and 2016 this historic building and ancient monument underwent extensive restoration, commissioned by the Crown Property Bureau. See MAP.

ban luang (บั้นหลวง)

Thai. The official unit of capacity for measuring uncooked rice, equivalent to 50 thang or 1,000 liters. See also ban.

Ban Manang Khasilah (บ้านมนังคศิลา)

Thai. Name of a mansion in Bangkok, that was built by King Vajiravudh as a gift to Phraya Udom Rrachaphak (อุดมราชภักดี), the former chief of the Royal Household. Later, the mansion was placed in mortgage with the Bank of Asia, until the government under premier Phibun Songkram paid the mortgage  and had the place renovated to serve as the government's guesthouse to receive visitors, as well as a venue for meetings of the members of parliament who were in support of the government. When the premier together with Police General Phao Sri Yanon (เผ่า ศรียานนท์) in 1955 started a new political party, they named it Seri Manang Khasilah (เสรีมนังคศิลา) and the mansion became the party's head office, until its demise three years later. From 1975 onward, it has been the office of the Thai National Women's Council, and since 2008, part of it has been made into a centre of learning aiming at the development of political democracy, and features a hall of honour, with the history, legacies and pictures of all Prime Ministers that have ever served the nation. Also transcribed Ban Manangkhasila. See MAP.

ban nahm (บ้านน้ำ)

Thai. ‘Water house’. In the old days each house on the countryside had a small platform with a wooden-tiled roof built to house water containers for guests and passer-bys. Prior to building this water house the landlord conducted a ritual, calling upon the earth goddess. In the past there were usually three or five water containers in one water house, representing the three parts of the Tripitaka or the five buddhas, the past four and one future Maitreya buddha. Nowadays these water houses can still be seen but their roofs are more often than not made with stone tiles and the number of water containers may vary, starting from just one.

Banpacha (บรรพชา)

Thai. ‘To enter the monkhood’. Thai term similar to buat.

Ban Rajan (บ้านระจัน)

See Bang Rajan.

Ban Suan Phuttasin (บ้านสวนพุทธศิลป์)

Thai. ‘Buddhist Art Garden House’. Name of a covered market located on Khlong Saen Saeb (fig.), adjacent to Talaat Nahm Khwan-Riam (fig.) and Wat Bang Peng Tai (fig.) in Minburi, Bangkok. It sells typical Thai artifacts and foodstuffs, and exhibits a number of sculptures made from sand, an international art form which in Thailand is practiced in Chachengsao and is known as pan saai lohk (fig.). See MAP.

Ban Sukhawadih (บ้านสุขาวดี)

Thai. ‘Eden's House’, ‘Paradise House’, or ‘Heaven's House’. Name of a rather pompous mansion located in the district Banglamung (บางละมุง) in Chonburi Province, near the seaside town of Pattaya and owned by billionaire Dr. Panya Chohtithewan (ด.ร. ปัญญา โชติเทวัญ), owner of Saha Farm (สหฟาร์ม), one of the biggest agricultural product exporters of Thailand. Described by some as a ‘luxurious castle’ it has by others been called a ‘place decorated with super bad taste’. It covers an area of 80 rai, i.e. ca. 128,000 square meters, with a 400 meter long beach. The complex consists of group of pink and pale blue contemporary buildings, including the Kuan Yin Building, which is also the residence of the Chohtithewan Family. Beside a reception room and the multi-function room for seminars that can accommodate up to 500 people, this building also houses a statue of Kuan Yin standing on a dragon and adorned with priceless gems. Another outstanding building is Buddha Tower which houses a collection of Buddha images and sacred things, including an 9.28 meter tall statue of the Buddha. Ahkaan  Phutthabaramih (อาคารพุทธบารมี) is a luxuriously decorated convention hall that features murals painted by a team of Thailand's Fine Arts Department and of which the floor is covered by the largest carpet in the Asia Pacific region. This building consists of several meeting rooms used for activities of Saha Farm and affiliated companies. The garden of Ban Sukhawadih features a number of giant light trees, referred to as Miracle Trees. At night these colourful tree-like towers lit up the sky, becoming a landmark attraction in the area. Also transliterated Baan Sukhawadee or Ban Sukhavati.

bansuri (बांसुरी)

Hindi. Name for an ancient, northern Indian style, transverse flute associated with cowherds and with the love story of Krishna, who was a master of this simple musical instrument, with which he is often portrayed (fig.). It consists of a single length of bamboo with open finger holes. The Hindi name has its roots in the Sanskrit words vamza (वंश) meaning both ‘flute’ and ‘bamboo’ or ‘bamboo cane’, and svara (स्वर) meaning ‘musical note’. Krishna's flute is also referred to by the name vamsi. See also pih.


Name for a breed of small-sized domestic chicken originally from Southeast Asia and named after the Javanese city of Bantam, a former major trading centre, from where European sailors restocked on live fowl for their long sea journeys, hence the etymology of its name. Whereas the roosters have a colourful plumage, the hens and chicks have a much duller brownish-buff plumage (fig.). Besides its bright and colourful plumage, this species is also appreciated for its economic value. In Thailand, it is known as kai jae, i.e. ‘dwarfed fowl’. See also kai betong and POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2), as well as TRAVEL PICTURES (1) and (2).

banteay (បន្ទាយ)

A Khmer temple with an important surrounding wall, a citadel.


Name of a species of wild bovine animal found in Southeast Asia, with the scientific designation Bos javanicus and also commonly known as Tembadau. They are divided into three subspecies, listed according to there distribution, i.e. the Java Banteng (Bos javanicus javanicus), the Borneo Banteng (Bos javanicus lowi), and the Burma Banteng (Bos javanicus birmanicus), with the latter being the subspecies found in mainland Southeast Asia, i.e. Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Both males and females are usually orangey-brown to buff in colour, with whitish buttocks and whitish lower legs, though some bulls are darker, varying from chocolate brown to almost black. The Banteng is a large species of cattle, that stands up to 165 centimeters tall at the shoulder, may grow to over 3 meters in length, and can weigh up to 900 kilograms. The darker Banteng bulls strongly resemble the fierce looking Gaur (fig.). In Thailand, it is called hua daeng, literally ‘red cattle’. In 1976, a Banteng was depicted on a Thai postage stamp, as part of a series on wild animals (fig.).

Bantu Rajasih (บัณฑุราชสีห์)

Thai-Pali. ‘Yellowish-white royal lion’. Name of a mythological creature from Himaphan forest, that has the body of a true lion, but is sometimes depicted with claw-like feet. Its body has the size of an ox or buffalo, and is covered with yellowish-golden, flame-like manes. In ancient literature it has been described as a large lion, with a body the size of a young cow, with a yellowish colour like that of a fallen leaf. It is also called Bantu Suramareukin.

Bantu Suramareukin (บัณฑุสุรมฤคินทร์)

Thai-Pali. Another name for Bantu Rajasih. The word bantu (บัณฑุ) means ‘yellowish-white’, sura (สร) is used as a prefix to other words and means ‘thep’, i.e. ‘angel’, whilst mareukin (มฤคินทร์) is another name for ‘singtoh’, meaning ‘lion’.

Ban Wanglih (บ้านหวั่งหลี)

Thai-Chinese. ‘Wanglih House’. Name of a two-storey mansion in Bangkok, built in 1881 and which for a time was used as the family home of Tan Siew Wang, an influential Tae Chew businessman. READ ON.

banyan tree

Generic name for a wide variety of sacred tropical trees, usually with many aerial roots that may develop into additional trunks called aerial prop roots (fig.). Its name often refers specifically to the species Ficus bengalensis or Ficus indica, and sometimes to Ficus microcarpa, though the term has been generalized to include all figs that share this unique life cycle, including also Strangler Figs (fig.), and sometimes to other giant trees with wide branches. The name banyan comes from the Gujarati word bania, meaning ‘trader’ or ‘merchant’, and refers to the Indian merchants that would meet underneath this tree to conduct their business and sell their goods, as it provided a shaded place. In Hinduism, it is the tree under which the god Vishnu was born, and in Buddhism it is known as the tree under which the Buddha stayed for seven days, after gaining Enlightenment. Hence, it is often confused with the bodhi tree, the tree under which the Buddha sat at the moment he attained bodhiyan or Enlightenment. In mythology, the ogre Alavaka lived in a banyan tree. In Thailand, the base of a banyan tree is also used to dispose of old or damaged spirit houses (fig.). Due to its long, hanging aerial roots, it is sometimes nicknamed bearded fig-tree. However, some large trees also referred to as banyan trees, such as the Giant Rain Tree in Kanchanaburi (fig.) and the Giant Banyan Trees in Pindaya (fig.) do not posses aerial prop roots yet consists of spectacular trees with a very wide crown made up of large and thick branches that spread out over tens of meters from the trunk. In Thai, the banyan tree is known by the names nikhoratha (นิโครธ) and ton sai, though the latter is also an abbreviation used for ton sai yoi (ต้นไทรย้อย), another species of banyan tree commonly known as Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina), for its drooping leaves and many aerial roots. See also Nyaung Shwe. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

ban yi zha chan (斑衣蜡蝉)

Chinese. ‘Mottled waxy skin cicada’. Chinese common name for a kind of Planthopper, i.e. an insect in the family Fulgoridae, that is found in China and which has the scientific designation Lycorma delicatula. Its forewings are light brown with black spots at the front and a diffuse black scaling at the rear. Its hind wings are reddish with black spots at the front and black with a white bar at the rear. Its abdomen is yellow with black bars, which is best observed on the underside. It has dark eyes with tiny orangey spots underneath them. In general, it may also be referred to as hua da jie and hua xi fu. In English, it is commonly known as Spotted Lanternfly. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Baoding Balls

See Chinese Massage Balls.

Baoding Jiang Shen Qiu (保定健身球)

Chinese. Baoding healty body balls’. See Chinese Massage Balls.

bao gai (宝盖)

Chinese. Precious Canopy’. The name of a ceremonial umbrella or parasol, typically attached to a long pole and decorated with a tubular cloth fringe featuring elaborate embroidery. It serves as a symbol of royal authority and spiritual protection. Along with representing the power of a monarch, it also signifies spiritual authority and provides shelter for all living beings. It is typically used in Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism, where it is carried along with statues of deities in processions, or placed at their altars.

baoli (बावली)

Hindi. ‘Stepped well’. A rectangular well surrounded by steps in India. The steps are traditionally cut from rock and the oldest date from around 200 AD. They were constructed to facilitate access to the ground water. Also known as bawdi (बावड़ी). Compare with ghat (fig.) and sra (fig.).

Bao Sheng Da Di (保生大帝)

Chinese. Mandarin for the Thai-Hokkien name Po Seng Tai Te, a god of medicine worshiped in Chinese folk religion and Taoism (fig.). WATCH VIDEO.

Bao Wei (豹尾)

Chinese. ‘Leopard Tail or Panther Tail. Name of a guardian of the Underworld in Chinese mythology. READ ON.

Baphuon (បាពួន)

1. Khmer. An 11th century Khmer temple in Angkor, located to the northwest of Bayon (fig.) and belonging to the Angkor Thom (fig.) group of monuments. It consists of a three-tiered temple mountain and was built as the state temple of King Udayadityavarman II (1050-1066 AD) and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It is the archetype of the Baphuon style. The temple with its tower intanct stood circa 50 meters tall on a near sqaure base of 100 by 120 meters. Being a royal temple, it adjoins the southern enclosure of the royal palace.

2. Khmer. The 11th century AD school of Khmer art and style of architecture from Angkor, of which in the latter the Baphuon temple is the archetype.


Term for a colonnade, portico or pavilion with columns, in Indian architecture. The term is said to mean twelve pillars’ and thus seems to derive from the Hindi word baraha (बारह), i.e. twelve.

barami (บารมี)

Thai. ‘Merit’ or ‘virtue’. The term is often used in relation to the ten virtues that the Buddha embodied before attaining Enlightenment, and which are also known as totsabarami.

baray (បារាយ)

Man-made reservoir, basin or lake. This artificial body of water is a common element in the ancient architecture of the Khmer, and is believed to have had both practical and spiritual purposes. In spiritual sense, it was used for ritual bathing, akin to the Indian ghats (fig.), and symbolizes the oceans that surround Mount Meru, the centre of the universe in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, and as such it surrounds major temple complexes, such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which initially was a Hindu temple, and Prasat Phanom Rung in Buriram. In practical sense, it was used to irrigate the fields and provide water for the local populace during the dry season, in Angkor Wat especially because the dimensions of the nearby Tonlé Sap Lake annually shrink up to five times its original size in this season. See also srah.

Barbados Cherry

Common name for a shrub or small tree with the botanical name Malpighia emarginata and known in Thai as Cherrih Spen (เชอร์รีสเปน), i.e. ‘Spanish Cherry’ and Cherrih Thai (เชอร์รี่ไทย), i.e. ‘Thai Cherry’. The name is also used for its edible fruit and it is also commonly known by a variety of other names, such as West Indian Cherry and Wild Crape Myrtle. Its flowers typically have five pink petals that are usually slightly different in size, fringed and somewhat spatula-shaped, whereas the stamens are pale with yellow anthers. It bears green to bright red drupes that are divided into three indistinct lobes. These acid fruits are circa 2 centimeters in diameter (fig.), thin-skinned, juicy and high in Vitamin C. Despite its common name and the cherry-like appearance of its drupes, this shrub is not listed in the cherry family, but is a member of the tropical and subtropical Malpighiaceae family.

Bar-headed Goose

A species of wild goose with the binomial names Anser indicus and Eulabeia indica. It has a pale grey body plumage with some dark tan shades and a white head with two black horizontal bars on the back (fig.). Its throat and neck-sides are also white, but the front and back of the neck, as well as the wingtips, are seal brown. The bill, legs and feet are orange. The Bar-headed Goose is one of the world's highest flying birds. They regularly migrate over the Himalayas (fig.) and have been spotted in flight at altitudes of over 10,000 meters. Generally, Bar-headed Geese spend the winter in the wetlands of Pakistan, India, Assam and northern Myanmar, and are but rare winter visitors to Thailand. In Thai, it is called haan hua laai.

Barking Deer

Common name for a small deer with the scientific name Muntiacus muntjak, though the name is often used generically for any deer of the genus Muntiacus. The common name is derived from the bark-like sound that it makes when sensing danger, and not for its habit of ripping bark off of trees. There are 15 subspecies, of which eleven are spread across Asia, with two species residing it Thailand, i.e. Common Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak), also known as Red or Indian Muntjac, and in Thai it is called keng, ih- keng (อีเก้ง) or faan (ฟาน); and the darker coloured Fea's Muntjac or Fea's Barking Deer (Muntiacus feae), in Thai named keng moh (เก้งหม้อ), keng dam (เก้งดำ) or faan dam (ฟานดำ). The Indian Muntjac specifically is widespread throughout Southern Asia and the subspecies most commonly found in Thailand has the Latin-scientific designation Muntiacus muntjak curvostylis. Muntiacus muntjak has short, orange-brownish hair, with milky markings, dark brown ears with creamy hair on the inside, and a dark brown V-shaped bar on the face, above the eyes. Muntiacus feae is similar but darker and brown in colour (fig.). Barking Deer are omnivorous, feeding on anything from grasses, leaves, bark, twigs, fruit and shoots, to eggs, small mammals and even carrion. They possess a set of elongated lower canines, that protrude from the sides of the mouth, like fangs (fig.), and are used for defense. Barking Deer are solitary animals. The only known White Barking Deer (fig.) in the world is of the genus Muntiacus muntjak and can be found at Bangkok's Dusit Zoo. This albino was donated to the zoo by Queen Sirikit on 14 June 2002 and is named Phet (เพชร), meaning ‘Diamond’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES and THAI STAG'S ANTLERS.

Barn Owl

A widely distributed species of owl, with the binomial name Tyto alba. Its underparts are whitish pale with a varying amount of tiny grayish buff speckles. Its head and upperparts are a mixture of golden-brown, buff and gray with fine black and white speckles. The tail is short and broad, the legs bare and long, and the claws long and curved. It has black eyes and a distinctive, heart-shaped facial disk. As usual for owls, the Barn Owl is nocturnal (fig.), yet it stands a good chance of being spotted, as it often becomes active shortly before dusk. It grows to an average height of around 34 centimeters. It is a common resident throughout Thailand and can be found roosting in caves on the hillsides or hunting over open areas and marshes, by flying low and slowly over the ground. It feeds mainly on rodents, as well as on small vertebrates, such as amphibians, reptiles and birds, and on large invertebrates. Also known as Common Barn Owl and in Thai called nok saek (นกแสก), named after its call.

Barn Swallow

Common name for a species of swallow (fig.), a passerine bird, with the scientific name Hirundo rustica. Adult males have bluish-black upperparts, off-white underparts, and a rufous forehead, chin and throat, which are separated from the off-white underparts by a broad dark bluish-black breast band. It is about 17 to 19 centimeters long, including the elongated outer tail feathers of the deeply forked tail. Its wings are curved and pointed. Females are similar in appearance to the males, but the tail streamers are shorter, the blue of the upperparts and breast band is less glossy, and the underparts more pale. Juveniles are browner and have a paler rufous face, and whiter underparts. They also lack the long tail streamers of the adults. It is the most widespread species of swallow in the world, with at least six known subspecies, including Hirundo rustica gutturalis (fig.), which is found in much of eastern and southern Asia, breeding from the central and eastern Himalayas (fig.) to Japan and Korea, whilst it winters across tropical Asia, from India and Sri Lanka to Indonesia and New Guinea. Another regional subspecies is Hirundo rustica tytleri, which has deep orange-red underparts and an incomplete breast band, as well as a longer tail. The latter subspecies breeds from central Siberia to northern Mongolia and winters from eastern Bengal, to Thailand and Malaysia. In Thai, the Barn swallow is called nok naang aen baan (นกนางแอ่นบ้าน). See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2).

Barred Eagle-owl

A species of owl with the binomial name Bubo sumatranus, found in Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, where it is named nok khao yai pan sumatra. It is has black eyes, an orange-yellow beak, barred ear-tufts, dark brown upperparts and heavy dark barring on its underparts. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. Also called Malay Eagle Owl.

Barred Jungle Owlet

Common name for a species of small, up to 20.5 centimeter tall owl, with the binomial name Glaucidium radiatum. It is found in found from India southward to Sri Lanka, and eastward to Myanmar. It does not appear in Thailand, but is similar to the slightly larger Asian Barred Owlet (Glaucidium cuculoides), which may grow up to 23 centimeters tall and is found in northern South and northern Southeast Asia. Both the Barred Jungle Owlet and the Asian Barred Owlet are also know by the name Barred Owlet, whereas the former is also called Jungle Owlet. Besides size, the difference between the two species consists of the Barred Jungle Owlet being more densely barred and being all-barred below. Besides this, the Barred Jungle Owlet has prominent dull rufous colouring on the flight feathers, as well as smaller white scapular markings.

Barred Jungle Owlet

Bar-tailed Pheasant

Common name for a species of forest pheasant, with the scientific designation Syrmaticus humiae and also commonly known as Hume's Pheasant or Mrs. Hume's Pheasant The male is up to 90 centimeters long, with a chestnut plumage, a greyish-brown head with metallic bluish-grey neck feathers and a bar in the same colour at the shoulders, a yellowish bill, and bare red facial skin underneath a white supercilium. Furthermore, it has two white wingbars finely lined with black at the top, and a black and greyish-white scaled lower rump, and a long greyish-white tail that is barred with black and brown. The female is overall chestnut, with at certain places some paler and some darker brown markings. This rather rare pheasant lives in forested habitats in China, India, Myanmar and Thailand, and is known in Thai as kai fah haang laai khwaang (ไก่ฟ้าหางลายขวาง). Both the male and female Bar-tailed Pheasant appear on a Thai postage stamp released in 1988 (fig.) as part of a set of four postage stamps issued to publicize the project of the Wild Animals Conservation.


Latin. Architectural term for any substantial Christian church building, except for minor basilica typically a cathedral (fig.), which is richly decorated, usually longitudinal, aisled, and with mosaic floors and large windows (fig.). The Latin name come from the Greek basiliké (βασιλικὴ), meaning ‘royal’, and derives from the basiliké stoa (βασιλικὴ στοά), meaning the ‘royal stoa’, i.e. the tribunal chamber of a king. An example of a basilica in Southeast Asia is the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ho Chi Minh City (map).


Sculpture or cast in low relief, with the figures projecting slightly from the background.


Mouse-like, nocturnal, flying mammal in the order Chiroptera. There are two types, i.e. Megabats (fig.), which include the Flying Foxes (fig.) and are usually fruit-eaters, and Microbats (fig.), which are mostly insectivores. With lots of limestone caves and plenty of insects, Thailand is something of a bat paradise, home to 92 bat species (fig.) from ten different families, including the Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus), the world's largest bat; several species of Horseshoe Bats (fig.); the Wrinkle-lipped Free-tailed Bat (Chaerephon plicata), and the Hog-nosed Bat or Bumblebee Bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), in Thai known as kahng kahw kitti, the world's smallest bat, with a weight of less than 2 grams. At nightfall Microbats fly out from the limestone caves (map - fig.) in which they live during the day, in order to hunt for insects during the night. They typically leave their dwelling place simultaneously in large flocks (WATCH VDO). Often birds of prey await them at the cave as they fly out (WATCH VDO). In China, the bat is a symbol for good luck, as the pronunciation of fu, the Chinese word for ‘bat’, is homophonous with (i.e. echoes the sound of the word) foo, which means ‘good luck’. It therefore often appears in Chinese iconography as an auspicious sign, e.g. it is held by Zhong Kui, a powerful vanquisher of ghosts and demons (fig.), and the god Fu (Hok) is symbolized as a bat. It also appears in architecture, often above or on doorways (fig.), to wish good luck to those who enter or leave (fig.), as well as in art (fig.) and on furniture (fig.), both in its natural form and stylized as a logo (fig.). When five bats are displayed together (fig.) they stand for fortune, longevity, good health, love and death of natural causes (fig.). It may also be depicted with a yasui qian (fig.), i.e. a stringed ancient Chinese fang kong qian coin (fig.) in the mouth (fig.). Thus, bats are believed to bring happiness and peace into one's life. The Long Corridor (fig.) in the Beijing Summer Palace (fig.) is made in the form of bat's wings and among its rich decorations are plenty of bat figures, including on the painted ends (fig.) of the inclined roof support beams (fig.), inside the gazebos and on the roof fittings (fig.). In Thai, bats are called kahng kahw. See also THEMATIC STREET LIGHTS (1), (2) and (3).


Indonesian term for, usually cotton, textiles painted with patterns in which the parts that need no colouring, are being covered with paraffin wax, made from dammar, or beeswax (fig.). The wax lines and dots are made either with a pen-like tool called a canting or by a copper stamping tool which is dipped into a pan of hot wax and pressed onto the fabric. On thicker fabrics the waxing is carried out on both sides. After the material has been painted or dyed, the layer of wax is removed through boiling. The parts that were covered in wax resisted the dye and remain in the original colour. This process (fig.) may be repeated to obtain a multi-colour design. Batik is known to exist throughout South, East and Southeast Asia, but it was on the Indonesian island of Java where it first emerged. When in the beginning of the 17th century the Dutch set up a permanent trading post in Banten, West Java, batik was also introduced to Europe. The term batik is believed to be a compound word that derived from the Javanese words amba and titik, meaning ‘to write’ and ‘to dot’ respectively. But also a Malay influence is often mentioned and the word amba may therefore perhaps refer to the Malay word ambah which means a ‘trade’ or ‘handicraft’.

Batik Golden Web Spider

Name of a genus of giant, hand-sized spiders, with the scientific name Nephila antipodiana. Females are much larger than males and have a body length of about 3 centimeters, whereas males are only about 90 millimeters. The black legs of females have yellow joints and its abdomen is decorated with yellow spots, that are scattered in batik style, hence its name. It is similar, yet less common than the Golden Orb-web Spider (Nephila maculata - fig.). It is found in many parts of Southeast Asia and in Thai it is named maengmoom sih thong laai phah batik.

Battambang (បាត់ដំបង)

Khmer. ‘Lost Stick’. Name of a province and its capital city in northwestern Cambodia. The origin of its name is related to the legend of Neak Tah Dambang Kranhoung and was prviously tranliterated as Bat Dambang, and sometimes is today sometimes spelled and pronounced Battambong.

Bauhinia purpurea

Latin. Small tropical tree with the Thai name chongkho.


See niche.

Baya Weaver

Common name for a widespread weaverbird, which is fairly commonly distributed across South and Southeast Asia. READ ON.

Bayinnaung (ဘုရင့်နောင်)

Name of a historically important Burmese King and military leader. READ ON.

Bayinnaung Kyawhtin Nawrahta (ဘုရင့်နောင် ကျော်ထင်နော်ရထာ)

Full name of the Burmese King Bayinnaung.

Bay of Bangkok

The northern tip of the Gulf of Thailand, South of Bangkok, at the estuary of the Chao Phraya River (fig.), and extending more or less from Sattahip in the East to Hua Hin in the West. It is home to a number of medium-sized to small yet often inhabited islands, such as Koh Si Chang (เกาะสีชัง - fig.), off the coast of Sri Racha; Koh Lahn (เกาะล้าน), i.e. ‘Million Island’ or ‘Bald Island’, which in English has been nicknamed Coral Island, off the coast of Pattaya (fig.); the pestle-shaped private island Koh Saak and its mortar or C-shaped sister island Koh Krok, meaning ‘Pestle Island’ and ‘Mortar Island’, also off the coast of Pattaya; and Koh Phai (เกาะไผ่), i.e. ‘Bamboo Island’, which is located about 14 kilometers to the West of Koh Lahn. The Bay of Bangkok is also known as the Bight of Bangkok, and in Thai it is called Ahw Krung Thep.

Bayon (បាយ័ន)

1. Khmer temple in Angkor Thom, constructed during the reign of King Jayavarman VII (fig.). The temple has 37 standing towers, most of them with four gigantic stone faces oriented to the cardinal points. It is believed from old maps and the outlay of the temple complex that there once used to be a total of 54 towers. It is disputed who the faces represent but they might be Lokesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion from Mahayana Buddhism, or perhaps a combination of Jayavarman VII and the Buddha. Bayon was the state-temple of Jayavarman VII and in many ways it represents the pinnacle of his massive building campaign. It somehow appears to be an architectural muddle. This is to some extent due to the fact that its gradual construction lasted for over a century. The temple features bas-reliefs on its exterior walls of the lower level and on the upper level where the stone faces are located. The ones on the southern wall contain scenes from the historical sea battle between the Khmer and the Cham (fig.). It is not clear whether this represents the Cham invasion of 1177 AD or a later battle in which the Khmer were victorious. Other carvings show revealing scenes from everyday life such as markets, birth, cockfighting, etc. See also varman and TRAVEL PICTURES (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6), as well as MAP.

2. Khmer school of art from the late 12th to the early 13th centuries AD.

bay window

A window built in a niche.


Abbreviation for ‘Buddhist Era’. The Theravada tradition claims that the Buddha's parinirvana occurred in the year 544 BC, marking the beginning of the Buddhist era in Burma, Sri Lanka and India. In Thailand, Laos and Cambodia the era begins on the first anniversary of that event, in 543 BC. It initially followed the irregular lunisolar system in which the months are based on the lunar calendar while the years are based on the solar cycle, a system that often required intercalations. To align the Thai system with the Gregorian calendar, it was on 23 February 1912 decreed by King Mongkutklao that the use of the Buddhist Era would in the future track the Thai solar calendar, and the harmonization officially started on 1 April 1912. In Thai Phuttasakkaraht. See also RE.

Beach Tiger Beetle

Common name for a beetle of the genus Cicindela, with the scientific designation Cicindela dorsalis, of which certain subspecies are found in Southeast Asia. It is stilt-legged and about 1.5 to 1.8 centimeters in length, with large compound eyes and vicious-looking jaws. The elytra are creamy white. Also known as Sandy Beach Tiger Beetle.

bearing stone

Name for an upright, stone block, which is placed in pairs, one on either side, at the entrance of traditional Chinese temples, courtyard houses and important folk mansions. They are also known as door pillows, made from marble or carved stone, and are placed on the outside of the threshold, though sometimes they are incorporated in the handrails of staircases (fig.). The surface of this architectural feature is usually carved with decorative patterns, often floral motifs or deity animals, such as lions or dragons, and they have the same purpose as the Imperial Guardian Lions in front of palace entrances (fig.), i.e. to greet and bless visitors, and to protect against evil. Besides this, they also reflect the majesty of the building and its owner. They are generally about half a meter tall and their shape indicated the occupation of the resident of the house, and with temples,  the person or clan who financed its construction. Round or drum-shaped bearing stones indicated that the occupant had a military background, whereas square or book-shaped bearing stones meant that the occupant was a scholar or an official of some sort.

Bear Macaque

Another name for the Stump-tailed Macaque.

Beautiful Garden in the Cemetery

See Susahn Tae Chew.


Balinese name for a dvarapala, i.e. a door guardian (fig.). They are usually depicted fierce-looking, with bulging eyes and holding a gada, i.e. a ‘club’. See also TRAVEL PICTURE (1) and (2).


See feng.

Bee Beetle

A kind of checkered beetle in the family Cleridae and with the scientific name Trichodes apiarius. These beetles are overall black, with two reddish-orange bands on the elongated elytra, as well as two reddish-orange spots near the front of the elytra. Underneath the elytra, and visible on take off or in flight, the abdomen is brownish-orange. Bee Beetles are typically found on blossoms, where they prey on other insects that they actively hunt, but also feed on pollen. The females lay their eggs in the nests of solitary bees. After hatching the larva feeds first on the eggs or the young larvae of the bees, and later on the pollen reserve. It is similar in appearance to the Blister Beetle (fig.).


Name of a species of small colourful birds (fig.) in the family of Meropidae, of which Thailand hosts six varieties, being the Blue-throated Bee-eater, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Blue-bearded Bee-eater (fig.), Little Green Bee-eater (fig.), Blue-tailed Bee-eater (fig.) and Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (fig.). They are predominantly aerial insectivores (fig.) feeding on flying insects whilst still on the wing, especially honey bees and wasps which are caught in the air by sallies from an open perch. Remarkably, they ignore flying insects once they have landed. Before eating their prey, they remove its sting by repeatedly hitting it on a hard surface. The Little Green Bee-eater (fig.) is quite common in India (fig.) and southern Nepal (fig.), though also occurs in Cambodia (fig.), whereas the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater seems to occur more frequently in western and northern Thailand (fig.), in areas along the Burmese border, as well as in southern and central Myanmar (fig.). The generic name for bee-eaters in Thai is nok jahb kah. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7) and (8).


Common name for any species of fly in the family Bombyliidae, which has several subfamilies and genera. In Thai, they are known as malaeng wan pheung.

Beehive Ginger

Common name for a species of true ginger. READ ON.


See duang and malaeng pihk khaeng.

beggar's staff

See khakkhara.


See alms bowl.

Beijing Opera

See Peking Opera.


See Phetcharatana Rachasuda.


Sanskrit. A flat circular stone below the amalaka (fig.) in the finial of a temple in North Indian style.

Bekphon (เบกพล)

Thai. Name of the war elephant used by Prince Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai at age 19. In ca. 1256, Poh Khun Sahm Chon (สามชน), the ruler of Chot (ฉอด), raided Tak. When his father, Poh Khun Sri Intaratit (fig.) went to fight the aggressor, Khun Sahm Chon charged from the the opposite direction, causing his father’s men to flee in confusion. Ramkhamhaeng however, quickly mounted his elephant, pushed it ahead in front of the opponent's elephant and beat it. Khun Sahm Chon consequently fled. It was because of this incident that King Sri Intaratit named his son Phra Ramkhamhaeng (fig.), which means ‘Rama the Brave’.

Bell of Ramkhamhaeng

Name today given to a bell from the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng and that is described on Inscription Nº 1. READ ON.


Malay name for the Donax grandis, a small, up to 3 meter high, dark green, bamboo-like plant which in Thai is known as ton khlum.


Cambodian. ‘Pool’.

Bengal Monitor

See monitor lizard.

Bengal Trumpet

Common name for an evergreen vine in the family Acanthaceae, with the botanical name Thunbergia grandiflora, and with orchid-like flowers, that are bluish lilac in colour and measure about eight centimeters across, with a circa four centimeter long pale yellow tube inside. It is found in southern and eastern Asia, from India to China and across Southeast Asia. This creeper can grow to around 20 meters long. Other common names include Blue Trumpet Vine, Clock Vine, Sky Flower and Sky Vine. In Thai, it is known as S(r)oi Inthanin (สร้อยอินทนิล), i.e. ‘Inthanin Necklace’, due to the similarity of its flowers, that grow as if on a chain. See also THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

benjahngkhapradit (เบญจางคประดิษฐ์)

Pali-Thai. A form of prostration in which five parts of the body, i.e. the head, hands and feet, touch the ground. See also kraab and aphiwaht.

Benjakitti Forest Park

Thai. Name of a public park in Bangkok's Khlong Toei (คลองเตย) District. READ ON.

Benjamabophit (เบญจมบพิตร)

See Wat Benjamabophit.

Benjamaraat Waranuson (เบญจมราชวรานุสรณ์)

Thai. Name of a building in Wat Mahathat Yuwaraja Rangsarit (fig.) on Bangkok Rattanakosin Island and referred to in Thai as Ahkaan Benjamaraat Waranuson (fig.). Also transliterated Benchamarat Waranusorn.

benjarong (เบญจรงค์)

Pali-Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Five Colours’. A type of enameled porcelain. READ ON.

benji (畚箕)

Chinese name for a bamboo or wicker scoop, similar to the Thai bungkih (fig.) and used to transport fruit, vegetables, etc. Separately, the word ben (畚) refers to a basket or pan used to transport earth, whilst the word ji (箕) stands for a winnowing basket (fig.).

bento (弁当)

Japanese. ‘Box lunch’, i.e. a meal served in a box-shaped container, common in Japanese cuisine and reminiscent of the Burmese tea leaves bowl (fig.), which is known locally as laat hpaat khwat (fig.). The Thai term pintoh, a kind of lunch box consisting of a stack of typically three to five cylindrical containers (fig.), derives from it. The Japanese term itself is said to derive from the Chinese term bian dang (便當), meaning ‘convenient’ or ‘convenience’, and when imported into Japan, it via its initial transliteration in Ateji, became to be the current Japanese term.

Benyagai (เบญกาย)

Thai-Sanskrit. Demon daughter of Phiphek, the chief astrologer of Longka, and Drichada, in the Thai Ramakien (fig.). She has learned magical powers from her father, and with these she changes herself, at Totsakan's urging, into Sida. According to the plot she has to play dead near the monkey camp of Phra Ram, hoping that the latter would cease his quest for his beloved and end the battle against the demons. Benyagai visits the captured Sida to study her appearance (fig.) before changing herself into her. But, the plan fails nonetheless thanks to the sharp attentiveness of Hanuman, who notes that the alleged corpse, which was found at a river bank and apparently drowned, could not have floated to the location where it was found, as the demon's camp was in fact located downstream (fig.). Hence, Benyagai's deception is revealed and she is sent back to Longka. See also LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS & NAMES.

Berdmore's Ground Squirrel

Name for a kind of squirrel, with the scientific designation Menetes berdmorei. It has alternating brown and dark brown stripes on its back and is similar to the Himalayan Striped Squirrel (fig.). In Thai, it is known as kra-john (กระจ้อน).

Berlin Pharmaceutical Museum

Name of a museum in Bangkok's Chinatown. READ ON.


Malay, Generic name for ‘monkey’ and ‘macaque’, though in southern Thailand the word is also used specifically for the Southern Pig-tail Macaque (fig.), which is officially known in Thai as ling hang san.

betel nut

The seed of the green to yellow-orange coloured fruit (fig.) of the areca palm (fig.). This acidulous seed is cut into pieces and mixed with lime paste, tobacco, and sometimes with spices for extra flavouring which is all wrapped in a glossy heart-shaped piper betel leaf called bai chaphlu (fig.) and slowly chewed on, releasing a mild stimulant. Note that the piper betel leaf is not botanically related to the betel palm which got its name only by association. The high fat seed contains alkaloids including areca, and tannins including a red colour named catechu. The tanning extracts improve the formation of saliva and the alkaloids have a stimulating effect. Catechu colours the saliva red and the substances in the seed speed up the functions of the heart and improve digestion. The lime is used as an agent that helps releasing the alkaloids. Furthermore evaporation via the skin is increased, the gums and palate are strengthened and possible intestinal worms are killed. A side effect however is that the teeth are coloured by a black lacquer-like substance (fig.). It is mainly used in less developed areas, such as among the hill tribes, who sometimes use leaves other than those of the piper betel (fig.), by older women in the Thai countryside, but also allover Myanmar, where it is widely on offer and usually prepared by the seller, who will wrap the ingredients in the leaf ready for chewing (fig.). In Thai, betel nut is called mahk. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2) and (3).

betel nut tray

A platter, plate or tray, often phaan-like with a pedestal (fig.), used as part of a betel set (fig.) and on which containers and tools used in the preparation of betel nut chewing, are placed (fig.). In Thai called yong. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2) and (3).

betel palm

See areca palm.

betel set

Small containers usually with some instruments used to hold and prepare the ingredients for betel nut chewing, often on a stem-plate or tray with pedestal. The production of betel sets was very popular during the reign of Rama IV and Rama V, mainly in the northeastern provinces of Thailand, Maha Sarakham and Khon Kaen. A betel set was often donated as an offering to monks (fig.) and it was traditional for a groom to give the parents of the bride a betel set. Sets donated by the rich were often made from precious materials, such as silver, tropical hardwood inlayed with mother-of-pearl, bronze, etc., depending on the status of the donor. The ingredients for betel nut chewing are a piece of areca nut, a leaf of the betel palm and calcium carbonate lime paste. Amongst the instruments should be a cutter to slice the nut, which in Thai is called takrai nihb mahk (fig.) and a betel nut grinder, used to mash the ingredients. The betel nut in Malaysia is known as sirih or penang. In Thai khanmahk and chianmahk. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2).

Beua Mai Long (เบื่อไม่ลง)

Thai. ‘Bored Not Descending’. Name of the fifth level in the series of seven falls of the Erawan Waterfall (fig.) at Erawan National Park (fig.) in Kanchanaburi Province. The rather strange name seems to suggest that this otherwise stunning place is somewhat boring when the water is not cascading, i.e. in the dry season. See MAP.

beung (บึ้ง)

Thai general designation for giant ground spiders that live in burrows and which is usually translated as tarantula’. READ ON.

beung dam (บึ้งดำ)

Thai. Black tarantula. Local designation for a species of black tarantula (fig.), which is often used indiscriminately to refer to both the Thai black tarantula (Haplopelma minax), also known as beung dam thai, and the Thai zebra tarantula (Haplopelma albostriatum), also known as beung laai. See also beung.

beung dam thai (บึ้งดำไทย)

Thai. Thai black tarantula’. Name for the Haplopelma minax. See also beung dam and beung.

Beung Kahn (บึงกาฬ)

Thai. Dark swamp. Name of the provincial capital of the in 2011 newly created province (map) or jangwat of the same name. READ ON.

beung laai (บึ้งลาย)

Thai. ‘Striped tarantula’. Name for the Thai zebra tarantula, Haplopelma albostriatum. See also beung dam and beung.

beung nahm ngeun (บึ้งน้ำเงิน)

Thai. ‘Blue tarantula’. Name for the Cobalt Blue Tarantula, Haplopelma lividum. This eye-catching species of tarantula is endemic to Thailand. It has blue hairs on both its abdomen and legs, and is able to inject venom from its fangs. See also beung.

Bhad Gaule topi (भाद गाउले टोपी)

Nepali name for a type of brimless hat (topi), which is part of the Newari national dress. It is completely black (fig.) and is worn especially by the Newa people of Nepal, i.e. the indigenous people of the Kathmandu Valley. It originates from the town of Bhaktapur (fig.), which is otherwise known as Bhadgaon (भादगाँउ), hence the name. Also known as Nepali topi, alongside the more colourful Dhaka topi (fig.). 

Bhadeshvara (भदेश्वर)

Sanskrit. Name under which the followers of Shivaism from the 5th century AD in Cambodia worshiped the Hindu god Shiva. The king himself would bring honor to special ceremonies in which a sacred mountain was climbed at night and a rite was performed in which, according to rumours of Chinese inhabitants at Angkor, human sacrifices were also involved.

Bhadra (भद्र, ภัทร)

1. Sanskrit-Thai. Name of one of the eighteen arahats, who was a cousin of the Buddha and one of his great disciples. His Sanskrit name has many meanings, including ‘auspicious’, ‘kind’, ‘gracious’, ‘blessed’, ‘skillful’, etc. It is said that he was a proficient preacher, who could expound in clear and simple language. According to legend, he spread Buddhism to the East Indies, thus fording many rivers and crossing several seas, reportedly sailing from India to the island of Java. He is commonly portrayed with a beard and a sack on a stick, worn over his shoulder and in which he bears the sutras. In Thai, his name is pronounced Phatra, but he is also called Chatohloh (ชะโตโล). In Chinese, he is known as the luohan Guo Jiang (过江, or in traditional Chinese: 過江), literally ‘To Pass Through a Large River’. In English, he is referred to as the Oversea Lohan or the Arhat Who Crossed the River, a designation akin to the Jain leaders, who were called Tirthankara, meaning ‘ford-makers’ and a metaphor widely used for some exalted spiritual state. Bhadra is also known by the name Bodhidurma, a name reminiscent of Bodhidharma, as well as of the Sanskrit word Bauddhadharma (बौद्धधर्म) which means ‘Buddhism’, and a compound of bodhi meaning ‘perfect knowledge’, and druma (द्रुम) meaning ‘tree’, hence a bodhi tree. Some sources assert that this disciple was born underneath such a tree, the same as under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment, though it is likely that the name (also) is an allegory for his steadfastness in the Buddhist faith, like a tree (druma) of perfect knowledge (bodhi). Besides this, the Sanskrit name Bhadra is said to be a compound of bha and dra, with bha meaning delusion or maya, and 'dra' being the Devanagari superlative maha. Hence, Bhadra can be translated to Hindi as Maha Maya. In Vietnam, he is called Qua Giang La Han (Quá Giang La Hán - fig.) and may be depicted seated on a mythical Rui Shi-like lion (fig.).

2. Sanskrit. Another name for Sumidha.

Bhadrakali (भद्रकाली)

1. Sanskrit. ‘Blessed Kali’ or ‘auspicious Kali’. Hindu goddess who is the consort of Virabhadra, who was created along with her, and a gentle form of Kali. She arose from the wrath of Devi after Daksha, one of the sons of Brahma, mocked and dishonored a statue of Shiva, resulting in the suicide of Sati, another form of Devi. This daughter of Shiva was created from his third eye and liberated the world from the demon Daruka (fig.). This goddess is also referred to as Bhadrakali Amman, Kaliamman (fig.) or Kali Amman, especially in Tamil temples. See also Sri Mariamman.

2. Sanskrit. Tantric goddess who is the consort of Bhairava.

bhadrapitha (भद्रपीठ)

Sanskrit. ‘Auspicious seat’ or ‘blessed throne’. A rectangular pedestal for a deity, used in art.

Bhagavad Gita (भगवद्गीता)

Sanskrit. ‘Song of the divine Lord’, revealed by Krishna in the Mahabharata. Hindu religious text prescribing a moral and ethical code of behavior emphasizing the merit of selfless service and devotion. The text is in the form of a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, taking place just before the battle of Kurukshetra.

Bhairava (भैरव)

Sanskrit. ‘Terrible’ or ‘gruesome’. The Hindu god Shiva in his more fearful appearance as a ten armed creature wearing a bone necklace, and a skull as a hair ornament. This fierce manifestation of Shiva is associated with annihilation. See also Mahakali (fig.).

Bhairavi (भैरवि)

Sanskrit. ‘Terror’. A goddess with evil and terrifying aspects, virtually indistinguishable from Kali, except for her particular identification as the consort of Bhairava. Due to her similarity with Kali, she is also associated with Devi, the consort of Shiva. Compare with Mahakali (fig.).

Bhaisajyaguru (भैषज्यगुरु, ไภษัชยคุรุ)

Sanskrit-Thai. Name of a buddha from Mahayana Buddhism, who attained Enlightenment before the historical Sakyamuni Buddha, of whom he represents the healing aspect. He is therefore also known as the Master of Healing or Medicine Buddha (fig.). When he was still a bodhisattva he made twelve vows to always help all living beings to be free from illness once he would attain Enlightenment and thus became the embodiment of the wish to free all beings from all illnesses, both physically, mentally and spiritually. In Chinese tradition, he is often depicted together with the Sakyamuni and Amitabha Buddhas, a representation known as the Trikaya (fig.) or Trinity Buddhas (fig.). He is usually depicted seated, wearing monk's robes, holding a lapis-coloured jar of medicine nectar in his left hand, and with his right hand resting on his right knee, whilst holding some herbal plants, that represent healing (fig.). In Tibetan tradition, this buddha's hairline is sometimes painted blue to represent a peaceful manifestation. In Cambodia, he might be represented seated in the half lotus position, with both hands in his lap (as in the meditation pose pahng samahti), whilst holding a small jar with a tiered conical lid in the palm of his right hand, which contains medicine nectar and represents his healing aspect. His full name, Bhaisajyaguru Vaiduryaprabha, means ‘Medicine Guru Lapis Lazuli Light’ or ‘Medicine Teacher whose Light is that of Lapis Lazuli’. Lapis Lazuli is the name of a semi-precious stone of an intense blue colour and it refers here to Bhaisajyaguru's complexion which is dark blue (fig.). He is sometimes confused with Akshobhya (fig.), the buddha of the East and one of the five dhyani buddhas, who is also represented with a blue complexion. In China, he is called Yaoshi Fo (fig.).

bhakti (भक्ति)

Sanskrit. ‘Devotion’. A kind of worship in which one seeks unification with a personal god through intense devotion, thus hoping to free the soul.

Bhanubandhu Vongsevoradej (ภาณุพันธุ วงศ์วรเดช)

See Bhanurangsi Savangwongse.

Bhanurangsi Savangwongse (ภาณุรังษี สว่างวงศ์)

Thai. A son of King Rama IV and a brother of King Rama V, who is also known as Prince Bhanubandhu Vongsevoradej. Both names are here transcribed as they usually appear in English literature, but are actually pronounced quite differently, i.e. Phanurangsih Sawaangwong (fig.) and Phanuphanthu Wongworadet, respectively. The prince held the rank of Field Marshal and during the reign of his brother, he was Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Siamese Army (fig.). He is however best remembered as the founder of the Thai postal service. With the help of some his brothers, the Prince wrote news about the court and had it published in a daily newspaper titled Khao Rajakahn (ข่าวราชการ), literally ‘News Service’, but in English referred to as Court, which was delivered only to members of the royal court. Since the practice was similar to the postal services in western countries, his elder brother the King trusted him with the responsibility of founding the Department of Posts and on 2 July 1881 appointed him to the position of Director (although the department didn't open to the public until 4 August 1883 - fig.). As such, he is commemorated with a statue in front of Bangkok's General Post Office (fig.). Prince Bhanurangsi was born on 11 January 1859 and died on 13 June 1928. In 2009, the 150th anniversary of his birthday was celebrated with a set of 4 Thai postage stamps, issued on the date of his birth (fig.). See also Postal School and MAP.

Bharadvaja (भारद्वाज, ภารัทวาช)

1. Sankrit-Thai. Name given to the arahat Pindola (fig.), leader of the Eighteen Arahats (fig.), often to distinguish him from one of the candidates for inclusion as the 17th or 18th arahat, who is also named Pindola. In the Sutta he is referred to as having a voice like the lion's roar. The Sanskrit name Bharadvaja, pronounced bhāradvāja and commonly spelled or transcribed Bharadvajo, Bharadwaja or Bharadhvaja, is said to mean one bearing vigour, and if so might rather be spelled Bharatvaja (भरत्वाज) and pronounced bharatvāja, a compound of bharat (भरत्) which derives from bharata (भरत) and means ‘to bear’, and vaja (वाज) meaning ‘vigour’. The name Bharadvaja is also used for another arahat, i.e. Kanaka Bharadvaja, as well as for one of the great sages (rishi) whose accomplishments are detailed in the Purana. However, though the name of the latter is usually pronounced bhāradvāja, the same as above, it may also be pronounced bharadvāja (भरद्वाज) which has a different spelling in Sanskrit. In Thai pronounced Pintohn Pharathawat.

1. Sankrit-Hindi. Name sometimes used for the Greater Coucal (fig.).

Bharat (भरत्)

1. Sanskrit. The old and official name for India which derives from Bharat or Bharata.

2. Sanskrit. Name of the elder brother of Gomateshwara, and the firstborn son to Adinatha, the first Tirthankara of Jainism. According to Jain beliefs, India was named after him.

Bharata (भरत)

1. Sanskrit. ‘Being maintained’. Half-brother of Rama in the Indian epic Ramayana.

2. Sanskrit. ‘Being maintained’. One of the names of Agni, the Hindu god of fire.


A popular Javanese appearance of Shiva as a fat ascetic with a beard and plaited hair. His attributes can be a jar, rosary, or a fly whisk. At some stage worshiped in Java as the rishi Agastya.

Bhavani (भाविनी)

Sanskrit. ‘Provider of life’. The female creator, one of the benevolent forms of Devi, consort to Shiva.


Pali. Term for a Buddhist monk who lives as an ascetic, without a dwelling place. An ordained Buddhist monk, a religious mendicant (fig.). In Sanskrit known as bhiksu. See also bintabaat.


Pali. Feminine form of a bhikku, a Buddhist nun. In Thailand they are called naang chi and mae chi, but are lay persons without official status.

bhiksu (भिक्षु)

Sanskrit. ‘Beggar’. Bhikku, the Pali word for a Buddhist monk, who lives as an ascetic, without a dwelling place, derives from it.

Bhima (भीम)

Sanskrit. ‘Dreadful’, ‘fearful’ or ‘terrible’. Important character and protagonist in the Indian epic Mahabarata, famous for his strength and bravery. He is the second son of Pandu and thus belongs to the tribe of the Pandavas. His mother is Kunti and his heavenly father is Vayu, the Vedic god of wind or air. He is of enormous size and involved in the battle of Kurukshetra. He is usually depicted carrying a club. He is also referred to as Bhimsena and in Indonesia, his story is known as Bhima Swarga. See also Wayubud.

Bhima Swarga

Indonesian-Balinese. Name of the Balinese variant of Bhima, an episode of the Indian epic Mahabharata. READ ON.

Bhimsena (भीमसेन)

Sanskrit. ‘Dreadful army’ or ‘fearful force’. Son of Vayu, the Vedic god of wind or air.  An important character in the Indian epic the Mahabarata, famous for his strength and bravery. He is of vast size and usually depicted carrying a club. He is also called Bhima.

bhumi (भूमि)

1. Sanskrit-Pali. ‘Earth’.

2. Term that refers to a horizontal molding running down the length of a shikhara, the spire of a North Indian temple.

Bhumidevi (ภูมิเทวิ)

Pali-Thai. ‘Goddess of the earth’. One of Vishnu's two consorts in Hindu mythology. In Buddhism the goddess of the earth is Mae Phra Thoranee.


See Bhumipon Adunyadet.

Bhumipol Adulyadej (ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช)

See Bhumipon Adunyadet.

Bhumipon Adunyadet (ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช)

Ninth King of the Chakri dynasty in Thailand, with the crown title Rama IX. READ ON.

bhumisparsa (भूमिस्पर्श)

Pali. ‘Touching the earth’. The most common mudra (fig.) in Thai Buddhist sculpture, meaning ‘touching the earth’ and also known as maravijaya, ‘victory over Mara’. It symbolizes the episode in Buddha's legendary life story when he sat in meditation under a fig tree (fig.) in Bodh Gaya, and vowed not to move from the spot until he would have gained Enlightenment. Mara, the god of Desire and Death tried to interrupt by invoking a series of distractions and temptations, including young maidens. Reaching down to earth with his right hand (fig.), Buddha summoned the help of the earth goddess Mae Phra Thoranee, who rose to his aid, wringing water from her long hair and washing away Mara and his army. Buddha was hence saved from the temptation of desire whilst he called upon the earth to bear witness of his accumulated merits from former lives. Buddha images in Thailand usually make this mudra while seated in half lotus position (fig.), where as Buddha images in Burmese style are usually seated in (full) lotus position (fig.). In rare instances this mudra might be portrayed in combination with a pahng nahg prok position (fig.). A Buddha image in this pose is also used in the Phra prajam wan system as an additional image for those who do not know the day on which they were born.

Bhuridatta Chadok (ภูริทัตชาดก)

Thai name for one of the ten jataka, i.e. life stories of the previous incarnations of the Buddha, in which the bodhisattva was born as Bhuridatta, Prince of the Nagas. READ ON.

Bhutan Glory

Common name for a species of swallowtail butterfly, with the scientific name Bhutanitis lidderdalii. READ ON.

Bhutsaya Khiri Sri Suvarnabhumi (ปุษยคีรีศรีสุวรรณภูมิ)

Thai. Name of a giant stone Buddha image in Suphanburi province that has been carved from natural rock at an abandoned quarry in the tambon and amphur of the same name, i.e. U-Thong, and that belongs to the nearby Buddhist temple Wat Khao Tham Thiam. The statue is also known as Luang Pho U Thong, whilst an alternative transliteration for Bhutsaya Khiri Sri Suvarnabhumi is Phutsayah Khiri Sri Suwannaphum, which is closer and more exact to the actual Thai pronunciation of the name. See also TRAVEL PICTURES, MAP, and WATCH VIDEO.

bi (璧)

Chinese. Name for a circular disc-like artifact from ancient China, with a shape reminiscent of a flattened straight grinding wheel, i.e. a disc with hole in it, and usually made from jade or occasionally from glass, and reminiscent of the small circular jade tablets worn today as pendants (fig.). The earliest bi date back to the New Stone Age and were produced in the Liang Zhu civilization, that existed between 3400 and 2250 BC. Whereas the earliest bi are not bedecked, those of later periods are, often with a hexagonal pattern carved in its surface. The disc's round shape is associated with heaven, as in the ancient fang kong qian coins (fig.). Though the exact original function and meaning are unknown, it is acknowledged that bi were found in tombs, buried with the death of high social status, possibly as a symbol for heaven, and usually placed near the stomach and chest. Bi also remind of the smaller sized jade tablets, that in ancient China were sometimes placed in the mouth of deceased high officials and members of certain dynasties. The meaning of bi can also be derived from the structure of its Chinese character (璧), which is a compound of 𡰪 (with 尸, meaning ‘corpse’ + 口,  meaning ‘mouth’, ‘gate’ or ‘entrance’); + 辛, which means ‘bitter’, but also represents the ‘8th heavenly stem’; + 玉, which means ‘jade’. Additionally, jade is associated with immortality and is believed by the Chinese to have the power to purify, and was hence perhaps placed on the dead in order to help purify their soles. See also jade tablet and cong.

bia (เบี้ย)

1. Thai. Tropical mollusc with a bright shell, a cowrie. It was formerly used as money with an monetary unit equal to one-hundredth of an at.

2. Thai. A counter used in gambling. Compare with pih.

bian pao (鞭炮)

Chinese for firecracker’. See also prathat fai.

Bich Dong (Bích Động)

Vietnamese. Name for a series of mountain pagodas dotted all along the flow of the Ngo Dong (Ngô Đồng) River in the Tam Coc scenic area of Ninh Binh (fig.) It is part of the Trang An eco-tourism area, which since 2014 is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (fig.) under the name Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex and that also includes Hoa Lu and Chua Bai Dinh (fig.). It is often referred to as Tam Coc-Bich Dong. See MAP.

Bicolour Cleaner Wrasse

Common name for a species of coral reef-fish, with the scientific designation Labroides bicolor. READ ON.

bie (鳖)

Chinese for 'turtle'. See also gui and tao.

Bi Gan (比干)

Name of a Chinese wealth god. READ ON.

Big-eyed Pit Viper

Name of a venomous species of pit viper with the scientific names Cryptelytrops macrops and Trimeresurus macrops, that lives in Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, i.e. North of the Peninsula, Cambodia and southern Vietnam. This up to 72 centimeters long nocturnal snake is easy recognizable by its short, somewhat rounded, triangular head, with large yellow eyes. As with all pit vipers, it has heat-sensing organs, i.e. pits on the side of its head, located between its eye and nostril (fig.). Its head and body are green to bluish olive-green above with lighter on the abdomen, while its tail is reddish-brown, in Thai referred to as burnt. Although mostly arboreal, it can in the early hours of the morning be found on the ground, hunting for small animals. Sometimes spelled Big-eyed Pitviper and also known as Large-Eyed Pit Viper and Kramer's Pit Viper. In Thai it is called ngu khiaw hahng mai ta toh and ngu khiaw hahng mai sih makok.

Big-headed Turtle

Name of a semi-aquatic turtle, with the scientific name Platysternon megacephalum and found in China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand. As its name suggests, it has an enormous head, with a strong beak. The head is triangular in shape, but so large that it cannot be retracted in its shell for protection. Instead, its skull is solid bone and the top and sides of its head are covered with a large bony shield. Its powerful beak has a hooked upper jaw, which it uses to defend itself and sometimes as an aid to climbs trees. In addition, it has a remarkably long tail, which it uses for extra support when moving about on the bottom of streams, where it feeds on fish, snails and invertebrates. The big-headed Turtle is portrayed on one of a set of four Thai postage stamps issued in 2004, in order to publicize turtles and to promote their conservation (fig.).

Big Head Festival

Name of a Thai cultural event in which performers parade in the streets dressed in traditional clothes and wearing large human heads (fig.) with traditional hairstyles, both male and female, usually made from papier mâché. The heads often have red cheeks and young girls customary have hair that is tied in two tails, one on either side of the head, while young boys usually have a traditional topknot known as a juk (fig.). The festival coincides with the annual Songkraan Festival and is celebrated most famously in U-Thong, in Suphanburi Province. In Thai, it is called thetsakahn hua toh.

Big Mango

A farang designation for Bangkok, after the ‘Big Apple’, New York. It derives from the Chinese name for Bangkok, i.e. Mangu. See also mango.

bijia (笔架)

Chinese. ‘Brush rack’ or ‘pen-holder’. Name for a frame or rack to hold Chinese writing brushes, called mao bi (fig.), or simply bi. The word is a compound of bi (笔), meaning ‘pen’, ‘pencil’, ‘writing brush’, ‘to write or compose’, ‘the strokes of a Chinese character’, ‘measure word for sums of money’, or ‘deals’; and jia (架), which translates as ‘frame’, ‘rack’, or ‘framework’. Traditional writing brush racks are often carved from wood and typically decorated with dragon heads. See also TRAVEL PICTURES.


An infection caused by small microscopic flatworm parasites that burrow through the skin. These move through the body via the blood towards the liver. There they produce eggs that travel further via the blood vessels and settle in the intestines and bladder where they cause serious abdominal pains. Swimming in contaminated water, eating poorly cooked fish or snails, as done by the local population, is the main cause of this infection, as the fish and snails are often carriers of this parasite. The region of Sakon Nakhon in Northeast Thailand is known as the place with the most registered cases of bilharzia in the world.

Bimba (बिम्ब/बिंब)

Wife of prince Siddhartha, with whom he had his son Rahula at the age of twenty nine. She was the daughter of Suprabuddha, prince of Devadaha castle and a brother of the deceased queen Maha Maya. Also known as Gopa and Yashodhara.

bindi (बिन्दि)

Hindi-Sanskrit. A ‘dot’ or ‘drop’. Traditional decoration worn by Hindu women in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. The word is derived from the Sanskrit word bindu, meaning a ‘point’ or ‘dot’, but also a ‘drop’. It refers to a kind of tilaka in the form of a dot applied between the eyebrows or on the forehead of Hindu women. In southern India, girls choose to wear a bindi, while in other parts of India it represents their marital status, i.e. a red dot is worn by married women and a black dot is worn by single girls. Applying the red dot is a tradition that derived from ancient Aryan society (fig.), when the groom used to apply a drop (bindu) of his blood on the dividing part of the hair of his bride (fig.), as seal and recognition of the matrimony (fig.). The vermilion dot symbolizes the drop of blood, as well as being a symbol of love and the end of virginity, and is traditionally –like the vermillion applied on the hairline (fig.)– made of a orange-red powder (fig.) called sindura, whereas the black dot is believed to ward off evil spirits. Nowadays, often prefab stickers are used (fig.), that replace the original bindi dot made with sindura and occasionally also other colours are used, even for married woman, usually a colour that is regarded as more fashionable (fig.).

bindu (बिन्दु)

1. Sanskrit. A ‘point’ or ‘dot’, but also a ‘drop’. It may refer to a kind of tilaka, in the form of a dot applied between the eyebrows or on the forehead of Hindu women, a custom nowadays usually called bindi.

2. Sanskrit. A ‘point’, ‘dot’ or ‘drop’. An aspect of the anatomy, also known as bindu chakra (‘circle of drops’), located at the back of the head, in the part where brahmins grow a small tuft of hair called codhumbi (fig.). It is believed that there a fluid is produced, composed of ‘drops’ which can become either amrita, the elixir of immortality, or the poison of death.

3. Sanskrit. A ‘point’, ‘dot’ or ‘drop’. The word bindu appears in the term chandrabindu, meaning ‘moon-dot’ (fig.), the name of a stroke (ँ) which is sometimes written above the top-line of vowels of the Devanagari script in order to nasalize their sound.

bintabaat (บิณฑบาต, บิณฑบาตร)

Thai. ‘To beg with an alms bowl’, a word referring to the alms begging round of Buddhist monks. READ ON.


See Asian Bearcat.

biqi (荸荠)

Chinese for ‘water chestnut’, in Thai known as somwang.

bitter gourd

Name for a tropical and subtropical vine with the botanical name Momordica charantia and belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae. Its edible fruit is widely used in Asian cuisine as well as in  Asian traditional medicine and its taste is among the most bitter of all vegetables. In Thai it has many different names depending on the region, but generally it is called ma-ra khee nok (มะระขี้นก) which literally means ‘bird droppings gourd’ or ma-ra lek (มะระเล็ก) meaning ‘small gourd’. In the North it is called phak hai (ผักไห่), ma hai (มะไห่), manoi (มะนอย), mahuay (มะห่วย) or phak sai (ผักไซ), is Mae Hong Son the Karen people call it suphasu (สุพะซู) or suphadeh (สุพะเด), in Central Thailand it is known as maroi roo (มะร้อยรู), in Songkhla as phak hey (ผักเหย), in Nakhon Sri Thammarat as phakhai (ผักไห), in the South as ra (ระ), and in Isaan as phak sa-lai (ผักสะไล) or phak sai (ผักไส่). Other names in English include balsam apple, balsam pear, bitter cucumber, bitter melon, carilla fruit, and in China it is known as ku gua (苦瓜) which is close to the southern Vietnamese dialect khổ qua, and in some places lai gua (癞瓜). Larger bitter gourds are in Thai is called ma-ra (มะระ), or ma-ra jihn (มะระจีน) which means ‘Chinese gourd’ (fig.), but many languages make no distinction between the two kinds. In English the smaller ones are sometimes called tiny bitter gourds.

Bi Xi (赑屃, 贔屓)

Chinese. ‘Gigantic strength’. A stone tortoise in the form of a pedestal supporting a stele, initially used in funerary complexes of Chinese dignitaries, though later also to commemorate important events. It is believed by some that the tradition of using a tortoise as a pedestal may have derived from the Hindu legend of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk (fig.), in which Vishnu incarnated in the avatar of a tortoise and supported Mt. Meru with its shell (fig.). This idea could be supported by the meaning of the name Bi Xi, i.e. being capable to support great weight. Also known as Gui Fu (龟趺) and Ba Xia (霸下), which translates as ‘sitting tortoise’ and ‘under rule by might’, respectively. In English called Turtle Stele.

Bi Xie (辟邪)

Chinese. ‘To ward off evil’. Besides bì, the first word can also be pronounced mi˘, pì, or pī, whilst xié, the second word, can also be pronounced xú, yá, yé, yú, or shé. Due to this Bi Xie is also transcribed Pi Xie and Pi Xu, whereas in Thai-Tae Chew it is called phisiw. Bi Xie is the name of a fierce but auspicious creature from Chinese mythology that resembles a winged lion. There is an ancient myth that tells the creature violated a celestial law and was consequently punished by the Jade Emperor by restricting its diet to gold. Besides this, he also prevented the creature from defecating, by sealing its anus. Thus it started a quest for the hard to get gold for survival. Since it can only absorb gold, but not expel it, Bi Xie is seen as a symbol of the acquisition and preservation of wealth. There are different types of Bi Xie: one without horns, the others with either one (fig.) or two horns. The one with one horn is also called Pi Chen or Tian Lu (天祿) and is in charge of wealth (fig.). The one with two horns is often depicted with hooves rather than paws, and is considered to ward off evil (fig.). Though in origin Chinese, Bi Xie has also invaded Thai culture, where it has taken on its own distinctive form (fig.). See also Rui Shi (fig.).

Black Bat Flower

Common name for a flowering plant with the botanical name Tacca chantrieri. READ ON.

Black-bearded Tomb Bat

Common name for a species of insectivorous sac-winged or sheath-tailed bat in the family Emballonuridae and with the scientific designation Taphozous melanopogon. This widespread species ranges from the Indian subcontinent through mainland Southeast Asia and southern China, to Sumatra, Java and Borneo, and generally lives in colonies that roost in the better-illuminated areas of caves and rock crevices, such as cave entryways. It has a body length of around 9 to 10 centimeters, including the head, and a free slender tail which is up to 2.4 centimeters long, while its wingspan is between 37 to 40 centimeters. Its fur is pale buff to greyish-brown, while males also have a dark elongated patch on the throat. In Thai known as kahng kahw pihk thung khrao dam (ค้างคาวปีกถุงเคราดำ).

Black-bodied Skimmer

Name of a commonly found species of dragonfly, native to South, East and Southeast Asia. It has the scientific name Orthetrum pruinosum and belongs to the family Libellulidae. Males (fig.) have a red abdomen, a very dark grayish brown to black body, and greenish blue eyes. Its wings are transparent, with dark veins and a dark brown spot near the wing tips. Black-bodied Skimmers are sexually dimorphic and females (fig.) have a golden-yellow abdomen, ringed with grayish black, a dark grayish to black body with a yellow dorsal stripe and dark, greenish gray eyes. In Thai it is called malaeng poh ban sih mon thong daeng.

Black-browed Barbet

Name of a species of barbet , with the binomial name Megalaima oorti. It is between 21.5 to 23.5 centimeters tall and mainly green, apart from the head, which is green patterned with black, blue, yellow and red. In Manadarin, this bird is called wu se niao (五色鳥), meaning ‘five-coloured bird’, referring to these colours, and in Taiwan, this bird is allegedly nicknamed the ‘spotted monk of the forest’, referring to its call, which resembles the sound of a muyu, a wooden bell-like percussion instrument used by monks in Mahayana Buddhism.


Common name for a species of antelope found in India, which has been given the scientific designation Antilope cervicapra. It is the swiftest of all Indian antelopes and by many also considered the most beautiful. Whereas females have fawn upperparts, males are brown to dark brow above, and become black with age. All have a white underside, muzzle and eyering, while the legs are white on the inside and brown on the outside. Adult males wear extensive horns, that can grow up to 68 centimeters, which are ringed at the base and then spiral up to 5 turns (fig.). When alarmed, this slender antelope dashes off in quick bounds and then breaks into a graceful gallop (fig.). Its habitat being open plains, the Blackbuck was more vulnerable to hunting than other animals, and hence was once all but wiped out from India. Today, this near-threatened animal survives in protected areas. The Blackbuck grazes on grasses, including cereal crops. In Hindu mythology, the Blackbuck is the vahana of the lunar god Chandra and is believed to bestow prosperity to the areas where it dwells. In Thai, this animal is known as lamang dam, which translates as ‘black antelope’, a name also used in Thai for a kind of black stag beetle. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) (2).

Black Bulbul

A species of passerine bird in the Bulbul family, which is listed under the scientific names Hypsipetes leucocephalus and Hypsipetes madagascariensis. It is about 25 centimeters in length, with a broad, long tail, of which the outer feathers are slightly curved outwards. Its plumage is all-black to slant grey, though two wintering subspecies have a white head (fig.) in adult plumage, of which one also has a white upper breast. It has a black, fluffy crest and its beak, legs and feet are reddish. Sexes are similar in plumage, but young birds lack the fluffy crest. It is found in South, East and Southeast Asia and in Thailand it is mostly restricted to the montane forests of the North and West, where it is a common resident, though winter visitors are reported to also reach Isaan. Also known as the Himalayan Black Bulbul and in Thai called nok parod dam.

Black-capped Kingfisher

Name of a bird with the binomial name Halcyon pileata. It is a kind of tree or wood kingfisher in the family Halcyonidae, which is widely distributed in tropical Asia, from the Indian subcontinent to China and Southeast Asia. It is a common species on coastal waters, especially in mangrove forests, as well as in various inland freshwaters and coastal wetlands, where it hunts for fish and frogs. The sides of its head and its crown are black, whilst its collar, throat and breast are white. Its bill is red and its legs and feet are dark orange. Its underparts are orange-buff, while the upperparts are mainly deep blue, with mostly black wing-coverts and a whitish wing-patch. In Thailand it is a common winter visitor and known by the name nok kra-ten hua dam.

Black-collared Starling

Name of a bird with the scientific name Gracupica nigricollis or Sturnus nigricollis. It is found all over Thailand and in Thai it is known as nok king krohng ko dam (นกกิ้งโครงคอดำ) or nok ihyang krohng ko dam (นกเอี้ยงโครงคอดำ). It is a species of starling in the Sturnidae family and is outside Thailand also found in Brunei, Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests, as well as urban, cultivated and deforested areas. They are very common throughout Thailand (fig.), except in the extreme South. They love dwelling on the ground and in the wild they are often seen in pairs (fig.). It has a grey-brown back and a white head with a black neck collar. It has a white rump and tail tip, pale yellow-grey legs and bare skin patches of a similar colour below the eyes (fig.). WATCH VIDEO.

Black-crested Bulbul

Name of a medium-sized, passerine bird with the scientific name Pycnonotus melanicterus and which is found throughout Southeast Asia (fig.). It has olive upperparts and brilliant yellow or olive-yellow underparts, whilst there is only a tinge of yellow on the wings, and none on the relatively long tail, which is actually grey on the underside. It has white eyes that stand out on a glossy black head with a prominent crest and a black beak (fig.). The legs are dark grey. Sexes are similar in plumage, but juveniles are duller. There are several subspecies and the local subspecies, which is mostly found in the eastern provinces, has a red throat patch. This is a bird of forest and dense scrub, that feeds on fruit and insects. In Thai this bird is named nok parod leuang hua juk, meaning ‘yellow juk-headed bulbul’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURE.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Common name for an approximately 61-64 centimeters high, long-legged wading bird with the scientific designation Nycticorax nycticorax. This species is gregarious and largely nocturnal, except during the breeding season. Nycticorax actually means ‘night raven’ and like its common name, refers to this species' nocturnal habits, but also to its harsh crow-like call, which sounds somewhere between the call of a duck and a barking puppy. It has a distinctive dark bluish grey to black back and crown, and pale grey wings. Its underparts are greyish white-buff and its legs pale yellow. Its has red eyes and breeding adults (fig.) sometimes have 1-8 slender, long, white, occipital breeding plumes, hanging from the back of the head. Immature birds are brown, speckled with white and grey. These birds primarily feed on small fish, frogs, crustaceans and aquatic insects, but are known to also eat small mammals, as well as the eggs and young of other birds. They are patient hunters and often stand still at the water's edge, waiting to ambush prey that passes by, mostly at night. During the day they rest in trees or bushes. It is a common resident in the central plains of Thailand and a winter visitor in some other areas. Preferred habitats include swamps, rivers, streams, mud flats, marshes and the edges of lakes that have become overgrown with rushes. In Thai it is named nok khwaek.

Black Drongo

Common name for a 28 centimeters tall passerine bird with the scientific designation Dicrurus macrocercus. It is a common resident breeder in much of tropical southern Asia, from Iran through to southern China and Indonesia. It is entirely glossy black with a distinctive 11 centimeters long, deeply forked tail (fig.). Sexes are identical, but first winter immature birds have brownish-black wings and diffuse greyish scaling on the fringes, lower breast, belly and rump, which near the vent becomes lighter in colour and may form whitish patches (fig.). The species is famous for its aggressive behaviour towards much larger birds that invade its territory, thus providing a safe haven for smaller birds that like to nest in its area. It feeds primarily on insects and frequently associates with cattle from which it picks parasites. It is commonly found in the wild (fig.), especially perching along telephone wires and power lines. Also known as King Crow (fig.) and in Thai called nok saeng saew haang pla, meaning ‘fish-tailed drongo’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Black Dwarf Honeybee

Common name of one of eleven known bees in the genus Apis (honeybees). It is a very small-sized species of bee, which makes small, single comb nests. It has the scientific name Apis andreniformis, and is one of two species placed in the subgenus Micrapis (dwarf honeybees), the other one being the Red Dwarf Honeybee (Apis florea - fig.). Apis andreniformis has only recently been recognized as a species in its own right and was until 1991 listed along with Apis florea. It has been identified in India, Southeast Asia, Borneo, the Philippines (Palawan) and the southern Chinese peninsula, but may also occur elsewhere, where it was previously recorded as Apis florea.

Black Eagle

Name of a 70 to 80 centimeter large bird of prey, with the scientific name Ictinaetus malayensis. READ ON.

Black-eared Kite

Common name for a subspecies of the Black Kite (fig.), with the scientific name Milvus migrans lineatus. READ ON.

Black-faced Langur

Common name for a species of leaf monkey in the Cercopithecidae family, with the scientific name Presbytis entellus, and found in India. It has a light greyish-buff fur, black hands and black facial skin, and a long tail − almost twice the size of its body (fig.). This species is also commonly known as Common Langur, Gray Langur or Grey Langur, and Hanuman Langur. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Black Froghopper

Common name for a species of spittle bug, with the scientific name Callitetrix versicolor and belonging to the family Cercopidae, the largest family of froghoppers (fig.), named after the fact that in the nymphal stage, these insects fabricate a cover of frothed-up foam produced from plant sap, which resembles saliva and is referred to as frog spit (fig.). The Black Froghopper is overall black in colour with four white dots on the anterior part of its wings and four red spots towards the posterior part of the wings. In Thai, it is known as phlia kradohd dam jud khao daeng (เพลี้ยกระโดดดำจุดขาวแดง) or simply phlia kradohd dam (เพลี้ยกระโดดดำ).

Black Giant Squirrel

A large species of rodent found in large parts of South, East and Southeast Asia, including China, India, Indonesia, and Thailand. It is one of four Asian species of Giant Squirrel, of which only two occur in the region, i.e. the Black Giant Squirrel, known by the binomial name Ratufa bicolor, and the Pale Giant Squirrel, also known as Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel or Sunda Giant Squirrel, which has the scientific name Ratufa affinis. The Black Giant Squirrel can grow up to one meter long and is almost entirely black, with the exception of the throat, the cheeks and sometimes also the belly, which are a pale yellowish orange. It has a large black tail, at least the size of its own body length (fig.). It is found mainly in the forest canopy, where it feeds on fruit, seeds and some leaves. In Thai it is called phaya krarok dam, literally ‘black squirrel king’.

Black-headed Bulbul

Name of a medium-sized, fruit-eating bird with the scientific name Pycnonotus atriceps and which is found throughout Southeast Asia. It has a predominantly yellow to greyish olive plumage with a glossy bluish black head, blue eyes, a black beak, a broad black tail with a yellow tip and grey legs. There is also a greener variant, in which the olive-green colour of the breast and upper mantle is extended towards the belly, lower mantle and uppertail (fig.). In the wild often occur in small flocks, looking for fruiting trees in the forest. In Thai this passerine bird is named nok parod thong, meaning ‘golden bulbul’.

Black-headed Cardinal Beetle

Common name for a small beetle with an elongated body and overall black in collour, with heavy serrated antenna, and a deep blood red thorax and elytra of the same colour. It has the scientific designation Pyrochroa coccinea and belongs to the family Pyrochroidae, i.e. the so-called ‘fire-coloured’ beetles.

Black-headed Gull

Common name for a medium-sized gull, with the scientific designation Larus ridibundus and belonging to the family Laridae. Black-headed Gulls inhabits coasts, rivers and lakes, are gregarious, and often mix with Brown-headed Gulls (fig.), a similar yet somewhat larger species, with a body size of around 42 centimeters, against the 36 centimeters for adult Black-headed Gulls. The adult breeding plumage is white with light grey upperparts, a black head and black wing tips, and a white eye ring. Outside the breeding season the black hood of the head is reduced to two pale grey bars with a darker ear patch (fig.), and first year juveniles are similar to adults in non-breeding plumage, but with brownish colouring on  the wings and black tail bars (fig.). See also THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

Black-headed Ibis

Common name for a species of wading bird, with the scientific name Threskiornis melanocephalus, which belongs to the ibis family Threskiornithidae. It is found in South, East, and Southeast Asia, and occurs in inland mudflats, marshy wetlands (fig.), as well as near coastal areas, including mangroves. It is mainly white, with a bare, black head, neck, bill and legs. in flight, reddish skin shows through the underwing-coverts. In the breading season, adults have a yellowish-buff wash on the scapulars, mantle and breast, and a greyish wash on the tertials, which are longer than in the non-breading plumage, as well as white breeding plumes that extend from the lower neck (fig.). In Thai, it is known as nok chon hoi khao (นกช้อนหอยขาว), i.e. ‘white mollusk lifting bird’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Black-headed Langur

Common name for an endangered species of leaf monkey, found only in southern China, though originally from northern Vietnam, from where it in the past migrated and where it is now extinct. With an estimated 800 animals found in the wild, they top the list of endangered species. It has an all-black fur, apart from a white moustache-like stripe above that extends to the cheeks. It is related to the White-headed Langur, a subspecies of the Black-headed Langur, with an all-black fur and an all-white head, that lives to the South of the former's territory, divided only by a river.

Black-headed Woodpecker

Common name for a species of bird with the binomial name Picus erythropygius. READ ON.

Black-hooded Oriole

Name of a passerine bird, with the scientific name Oriolus xanthornus and found throughout South Asia. Males are bright to golden-yellow with a pinkish beak, grey legs, black wing tips and black tail feathers on the upperside, and are easily recognized by their black head and throat. Sometimes the black colour doesn't completely cover the hood, leaving the nape yellow (fig.). Females (fig.) similarly have the black hood, but their lower mantle to rump is washed olive, whereas the lower mantle of males is largely black. Overall, females are of a duller colour. Juveniles are also duller and have a whitish throat with blackish streaks, that change into yellow with fading blackish streaks on the breast. In addition, they have a yellowish-white orbital ring, a black-streaked yellowish forehead, and an olive-streaked crown. Their bill is blackish and their wing markings are generally fainter (fig.). The Black-hooded Oriole's natural habitat includes open woodlands, mangrove and cultivated areas, where it prefers the foliage of trees. It feeds on insects, fruit, berries and flower nectar. In Thai it is called nok khamin hua dam yai, literally ‘large, black-headed canary’. It is sometimes confused with the Dark-throated Oriole.

Black Hornbill

A species of hornbill, with the scientific name Anthracoceros malayanus. With a length of 76 centimeters it is medium-sized. Fully developed males have a mainly black plumage, a blackish facial skin, white outer-tail tips on the underside, and a plain yellowish-white bill and casque (fig.). Adult females are also black, with white outer-tail tips, especially visible on the underside (fig.), and a blackish bill and casque, which is somewhat smaller than that of adult males. They also have a pinkish red sub-moustachial patch and pinkish red orbital skin. There also exists a variant which has a broad, greyish white supercilium, that runs downward to the back of the neck (fig.). The Black Hornbill rather uncommon and is found in lowland primary forests, in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Though rare, it also occurs in southern Thailand. Its diet consists of fruit, grasshoppers, locusts, small reptiles and amphibians. Also known as Asian Black Hornbill and in Thai as nok ngeuak dam.

Black House

See Ban Dam.

Black Kite

Common name for a medium-sized bird of prey, with the scientific name Milvus migrans. READ ON.

Black Lahu

A subgroup of the Lahu people who are again divided into two clans, that are distinguished by different languages and traditions, one of which is known as Lahu Shehleh and the other as Lahu Na. The male dress consists of black culottes (fig.). The women wear a long black silk-like gown, trimmed with white and has sleeves with coloured bands, that indicate which tribe they belong to. They are also called Lahu Na and Mussur Dam. MORE ON THIS.

Black-legged Kittiwake

Common name for a species of seabird, with the scientific name Rissa tridactyla and belonging to the gull family Laridae. Adults are between 37 and 42 centimeters in length and with a wingspan of about one meter. Non-breeding adults of the subspecies Rissa tridactyla pollicaris, one of two existing races and the one which is prevalent in the northern Pacific and thus in Thailand, have relatively dark grey upperparts and upperwings, a grey nape and a vertical blackish bar behind the eye. The bill is yellow and despite its name, the legs and feet may vary in colour from dark brown to black or even tinged reddish to pinkish. The slightly notched tail is white. Its breeding plumage is the same, apart from the head which is all white. Yet, first winter plumage differs from the non-breeding adult by a black the tail tip, bill and nape, whilst its outer-primaries are broadly black and there is a black diagonal band across the coverts. In Thai, it is called nok kittiwehk kha dam.

Black-lored Tit

Common name for a species of passerine bird in the Paridae family, with the scientific name Parus xanthogenys. Adults have a bright yellow upper body, faint olive-yellowish lower body, and a bright yellow head with a large black crest, that has a narrow bright yellow line that runs upwards along the back edge of the crest. It has a black bib that extends all the way down across the belly to the vent, as well as a black lores and a black posterior eye-stripe that ends in a black neck-patch. Its upperparts are greyish-olive, with a white bar on the lower part of the wings. The bill is black and the legs and feet are yellowish-grey. It is similar to the Yellow-cheeked Tit (fig.), but with black lores and a broader and more prominent eye-stripe. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Black Marsh Turtle

Common name of a medium-sized, black, freshwater turtle, with the scientific designation Siebenrockiella crassicollis. Juveniles are notably different from adults. Whereas adults have a single keel on the carapace and serrated posterior margins, juveniles may show three keels and have smooth margins. Adult males also have a comparatively longer and thicker tail, and a slightly concave plastron. Additionally, adult females retain the pale yellow to white patches on the head, while these markings fade away with growth in males, and the front legs of both sexes bear some enlarged scales. They are omnivores, feeding on frogs, freshwater prawns, worms and snails, as well as carrion. Black Marsh Turtles grow to about 20 centimeters. Its natural habitat consists of soft-bottomed, heavily vegetated, shallow bodies of slow-moving or stagnant waters in low elevations, such as marshes, ponds, canals, ditches, streams and lakes, where it spends most of its time at the bottom of the water or buried in the mud. Because of this it is rarely seen, though it is one of the more abundant species in the region. It is often kept around temples in Asia. It is also known as Malaysian Black Mud Turtle, Borneo Black Mud Turtle, Black Terrapin and Smiling Terrapin, due to its jaw line, which is curved upwardly into a permanent smile. In Thai it is called tao dam, meaning ‘black turtle’, and alternatively tao kaem khao, which translates as ‘white-cheeked turtle’.

Black-naped Blue Flycatcher

Common name of a species of monarch flycatcher, which is also commonly known as Black-naped Monarch, and with the binomial designation Hypothymis azurea. READ ON.

Black-naped Oriole

Name of a passerine bird with the scientific name Oriolus chinensis and which is found throughout South and Southeast Asia (fig.). It is predominantly yellow with a pink beak, grey legs, black wing tips and black tail feathers on the upperside, and is easily recognized by its broad black eye-band, that runs across the nape, where it joins and which is reminiscent of a burglar's mask, though variously, the black colour may also cover the crown, looking like a black cowl mask that wraps the top of the head from eye level upwards. Because of this, it may easily be confused with the Black-hooded Oriole (fig.), which in turn is often confused with the Dark-throated Oriole. The female differs only slightly from the male, with the colour of her mantle being more yellowish-green to olive (fig.). Juveniles are also yellowish green above, though somewhat duller than females, while below they are creamy to yellowish white with thin blackish streaks (fig.). Immature birds have yellow head-sides but no eye-band. Instead, they have a faint eye-stripe. Their bill is mostly blackish with some pink and they have a yellow vent and flank-wash. Black-naped Orioles feed on fruit and insects. In Thai it is called nok khamin thaay thoy dam, literally ‘black occiput canary’ or ‘black nape canary’.

Black-naped Tern

Common name for a typical tern, with the binomial designation Sterna sumatrana. READ ON.

Black-necked Crane

Common name of a large bird in the crane family Gruidae, with the scientific name Grus nigricollis. It is found in China and India, breeding on the Tibetan Plateau and wintering in remote parts of India and Bhutan. It grows up to 139 centimeters tall, is mostly grey with a black tail, primaries and secondaries, a black naked head and neck, a dull red crown and lores, and a small patch of white feathers below and behind the eyes. In Thai, it is known as nok krarian kho dam (นกกระเรียนคอดำ), i.e. ‘Black-necked Crane’.

Black-necked Stork

Common name for a species of stork, with the scientific name Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus and found across South and Southeast Asia. Adult birds of both sexes have a iridescent glossy bluish-black head, neck, secondary flight feathers and tail, a coppery-brown crown, and a bright white back and belly. They have a heavy bill, which is blackish, whilst their legs and feet are bright red. The sexes are identical apart from the iris, which is brown in males and yellow in females. These birds are usually seen alone, wading in shallow waters, where they feed mainly on fish, but also on frogs, reptiles and crabs.

Black Panther

See Leopard.

Black Redstart

Common name for a 15 centimeter tall, passerine bird, with the scientific designation Phoenicurus ochruros. Adult males have black or dark grey upperparts, a black breast, and rufous underparts, whereas females and first-year males are almost entirely dusky brown with a rufous-orange wash on the lower flanks and belly. Juveniles are as females, but additionally have diffuse dark scaling on both the upperparts and underparts, as well as a fine buff bar on the underside of the greater coverts. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Black-shanked Douc Langur

Name for a colourful and attractive species of leaf monkey native to Vietnam and Cambodia, and which has the scientific designation Pygathrix nigripes. It is reminiscent of the Red-shanked Douc Langur (fig.), but its colouration is somewhat different and, apart from the area of the eye sockets (which is white), it has a largely greyish-blue face (fig.). In Thai, it is known as kaang sahm sih, meaning ‘three-coloured langur’ and referring to its three main colours, i.e. a grey back, chest, inner legs and inner arms; a blackish-chestnut head, shoulders, outer legs and outer arms; and a white bottom, tail, neck and beard.

Black Sharkminnow

Common name for a kind of freshwater fish in the carp family, with the scientific designation Labeo chrysophekadion, and also commonly known as Black Shark and Black Labeo. It has a black body and large black fins, of which the dorsal fin is exceptionally large. It has a somewhat shark-like appearance. In Thai, it is called pla kah dam (ปลากาดำ). See also POSTAGE STAMP.

Black-shouldered Kite

Common name of an elegant, medium-sized raptor with the scientific designation Elanus axillaris. READ ON.

Blackspot Widow

Common name for a species of dragonfly, fairly commonly found in South and Southeast Asia. READ ON.

Black Stork

Common name for a large wading bird in the stork family, with the scientific designation Ciconia nigra. In Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia it is a winter migrant. Its upperparts, head and neck are greenish to purplish-black, its underparts are white. The bill, orbital skin, legs and feet are red. It is about 95 to 100 centimeters tall and has a wingspan of about 180 centimeters.

Black-tailed Rat Snake

Another name for Cave Dwelling Snake.

Black-throated Laughingthrush

A bird with the Latin scientific name Garrulax chinensis, belonging to the Timaliidae family. It is mainly grey, with white cheeks and some tiny white feathers on the forehead, and a black bib, i.e. the patch covering the throat and upper half of the breast (fig.). It is found in northern, northeastern and central Thailand, as well as in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, eastern Myanmar and southern China. Its habitat is subtropical to tropical moist lowland forests and moist montanes, where it feeds on fruits and insects. In April, females lay 3-4 eggs in a clutch. It is valued for its beautiful song and thus often held as pet (fig.). In Thai it is also known as nok karaang kho dam. In Thai known as nok so hoo.

Black-throated Thrush

Common name for one of the two subspecies or races of the Dark-throated Thrush, the other one being the Red-throated Thrush. This large, plump thrush has the scientific designation Turdus ruficollis atrogularis and has a plain grey back, and rufous-buff underwings, with adult males having a black face, throat and upper breast, often speckled, whilst adult females and young birds lack the bib of adult males. Instead, adult females have a whitish throat, a black-streaked side-throat and black scaled mottling on the upper breast, as well as a whitish submoustachial. The bill is pale yellowish with a dark tip. In Thai, this bird is known as nok deun dong kho dam, i.e. ‘black-necked jungle-walking bird’.

Blacktip Reef Shark

Common name for a species of shark, with the scientific designation Carcharhinus melanopterus. READ ON.

Black Tortoise

See Xuanwu or tortoise-snake.

Black Water Monitor

A monitor lizard of the genus Varanus salvator komaini, in Thai known as hia dam. It is mainly active in the morning, at dusk and during the night. They are good swimmers and can stay submerged for up to 30 minutes. In defense they will whip their tails and can inflict painful bites. With a length of up to 227 centimeters, males are slightly larger than females. Its prey is similar to that of other species of water monitor, including even those. They live in coastal areas, in particular in swamp forests and are mainly found in the South, near the Thai-Malaysian border area. Formerly considered a subspecies, it is now regarded as a synonym of Varanus salvator macromaculatus.

Black-winged Starling

A species of small starling or myna, known by the scientific names Sturnus melanopterus and Acridotheres melanopterus. It is about 23 centimeters tall and mostly white, with black wings and bare yellow skin patches near the eyes. Its bill is yellow, yet slightly darker towards the base. The sexes are identical, while the crown and scapulars of juveniles is brownish-streaked grey. Though endangered, it is found from Indonesia to Singapore. This species is also known as White-breasted Starling, as well as by the names Black-winged Myna and White-breasted Myna.

Black-winged Stilt

A small, yet long-legged wading bird with an upward-curved bill (fig.) in the avocet and stilt family Recurvirostridae. Its body is white with black wings and sometimes a grey tinge on the neck. It has long pink to orange-red legs, that trail behind it during flight. They are usually found in small parties on freshwater marshes and in rice paddies. Occasionally, they may be found on the shore or at open ponds and lakes (fig.). They feed mainly on insects and crustaceans. This bird is a common resident in southern Thailand and a fairly common winter visitor in other parts of the country. It also known as Common Stilt and has the binomial name Himantopus himantopus. In Thai it is called nok teen thian.

Blastophaga Wasp

Name for any wasp of the family Agaonidae, that pollinate fig trees. The wasps begin their life cycle with a female wasp entering a fig through a small natural opening that is covered in male flowers. Once inside she deposits her eggs in the cavity which is covered in female flowers. Whilst depositing her eggs she pollinates the flowers on the surface inside. The frig will provide a safe haven as well as nourishment for her future offspring. As the fig ripens, the wasp's eggs hatch and develop into larvae. Once the grubs have matured into wasps, they will mate. Then the wingless male digs out of the fig, only to die soon after. Females wasps however will leave the figs, thus picking up pollen and restart the cycle. Also called fig wasp.

Bleeding Heart Vine

Name of an evergreen vine also known as Bag Flower and Broken Heart and which belongs to the family Verbenaceae. It has deep crimson flowers that emerge from pure white, bell-shaped calyces. Its scientific name in Latin is Clerodendrum thomsoniae and in Thai it is known by several common names, including phuang kaew (พวงแก้ว) or ‘bunch of crystals’; phuang kaew manih (พวงแก้วมณี), meaning ‘bunch of crystal gems’; phuang ngun (พวงเงิน), which means ‘silver cluster’; hua jai taek (หัวใจแตก), which translates as ‘broken heart’; and mangkon khaap kaew (มังกรคาบแก้ว), i.e. ‘a dragon with a crystal in its mouth’.

Blister Beetle

A kind of checkered beetle in the family Meloidae and with the scientific name Mylabris pustulata. This beetle is about 2 centimeters long and overall black, with two reddish-orange bands on the elongated elytra, as well as two reddish-orange spots near the front of the elytra (fig.). These reddish-orange bands and spots are believed to be aposematic signals, i.e. a warning colouration to deter would-be predators. Also known as the Common Blister Beetle or Orange Blister Beetle, and similar in appearance to the Bee Beetle. See also Red-headed Blister Beetle. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Blood Python

A non-venomous, heavily built snake, with the scientific name Python curtus brongersmai and found in southern Thailand, peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. With a length of up to 275 centimeters, it is the smallest and the least common python in the area. Its tail, as well as its head, which has the shape of a duck's bill, are proportionally small compared to the thick body, which is dark brown to brick or blood-red in colour, with irregular beige and beige-black-white blotches on the flanks. This snake is nocturnal and spends most of the day partly buried under mud, or hiding under vegetation and logs. It is fairly aquatic and occurs along riverbanks or shallow waters in forested areas. The Blood Python is popular as a pet, but it is also bred for its leather. In Thai it is known as ngu laam pahk pet, literally ‘duck-mouth python’.

blood tofu

Name for coagulated or curdled animal blood, especially of pigs, chickens, ducks or geese, which is eaten as food in Asia, especially in soups. The name derives from China, where it is known as xue dou fu (血豆腐), which translates as ‘blood tofu’. In Thai, it is called tom leuad (ต้มเลือด), which means ‘boiled blood’, or sometimes as khek leuad (เค้กเลือด), i.e. ‘blood cake’. See also tofu.

blood tofu

Blossom-headed Parakeet

Name for a 30-36 centimeter tall, green parrot, with the binomial names Psittacula roseata and Psittacula cyanocephala, which is a resident breeder in South Asia (fig.) and mainland Southeast Asia. The male's face, head sides and forehead are pink to maroon (fig.). This pinkish red gradually changes to violet-grey towards the back of the crown and nape, which is bordered with a narrow black neck collar and chin stripe. There is a maroon, diagonal shoulder patch, and the tail is deep turquoise with pale yellow tips. Its upper mandible is yellowish, whereas the lower one is dark. Females have a violet-grey head and lack the black neck collar and chin stripe, making them very similar to the female Grey-headed Parakeet (fig.). Juveniles have a green head and no shoulder patch. Its habitat consists of mixed deciduous and open woodland, evergreen forest, as well as cultivation and temple groves. Also known as Plum-headed Parakeet and in Thai called nok kaew hua phrae (นกแก้วหัวแพร), i.e. ‘silk-headed parakeet’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Blue-bearded Bee-eater

See Bee-eater.

Blue Crested Lizard

See king kah hua sih fah.

Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot

Common name for a small parrot which is found in the canopy and middle stage of both primary and secondary forested lowlands. Its original habitat includes Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, stretching as far as the island of Kalimantan and Borneo. They have an overall green colour and adults have black beaks. Adult males have a blue spot or ‘crown’ on their heads, a crimson throat, a yellow neck and lower back and a red rump, whereas adult females usually lack the yellow neck and lower back, as well as the crimson throat, whilst the blue crown is often much less conspicuous. Juveniles are somewhat duller, with a gray forehead washed with blue and a horn coloured beak. The eyes are always dark brown and the legs can be brown or orange. They have a short tail and their length is about 12-14 centimeters, top to tail. They are social birds often travelling in pairs and they love climbing as much as flying, which they do with fast, whirring wing beats. Their diet includes small and soft fruits, such as bananas and berries, but also flowers, buds and even small insects. Certain seeds and rice can only be eaten when pre-boiled. They build their nests in tree cavities with the female carrying nesting materials tucked into their rump feathers. A clutch usually contains about three eggs, which are incubated by the female for about 3 weeks. The hatchlings will leave the nest after just over a month. The blue-crowned hanging parrot gets its name from the blue spot on its head and its peculiar sleeping habit, i.e. hanging upside-down (fig.). This strange roosting position gave it the nickname bat parrot or bat parakeet. In this position, it also likes to take a shower, hanging in the rain. Their calls are shrill and squeaky, and often made in flight. It scientific name is Loriculus galgulus and it belongs to the family of Psittacidae, but it is also known as blue-topped hanging parrot, sapphire-crowned hanging parrot, Malay hanging parrot and Malay lorikeet. In Thai it is named nok hok lek pahk dam (นกหกเล็กปากดำ), literally ‘small black-billed upside-down bird’.

Blue-faced Honeyeater

Common name for a species of passerine bird with a variety of scientific names, including Entomyzon cyanotis, Turdus cyanous, Merops cyanops, Gracula cyanotis and Melithreptus cyanotis. It is also commonly known as the Bananabird, due to its tendency to feed on the flower and fruits of banana plants. In the wild, this species is found in southern New Guinea, as well as in northern and eastern Australia.

Blue-faced Malkoha

Common name for an up to about 40 centimeters large bird, with the scientific designation Phaenicophaeus viridirostris. READ ON.

Blue Gem

Common name for a small butterfly with the scientific name Poritia erycinoides, and found in South Asia and parts of Southeast Asia. Five subspecies have been described. The male of the nominate race had blue upper forewings, with a black border and black spots, whilst the upper hindwing is also blue, but with a large grey area on the top and a lesser grey area at the bottom. In addition, the grey fields are separated from the blue by a black line. In 2001, this butterfly was depicted on one of a set of four Thai postage stamps featuring butterflies (fig.).

Blue Glassy Tiger

Name of a species of butterfly, with the binomial name Ideopsis similis persimilis or Radena similis persimilis. It has black wings with light blue spots and a wingspan between 6 to 7 centimeters. It is fairly common and very similar to Dark Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina), the main difference being the shape of some of the spots on the forewings, which in the Blue Glassy Tiger are rounded and in the Dark Blue Glassy Tiger, rather wedge or block shaped. The latter is also slightly darker and smaller. Also known as Ceylon Blue Glassy Tiger and in Thai called phi seua non bai rak fah sih jaang (ผีเสื้อหนอนใบรักฟ้าสีจาง), with fah sih jaang referring to the faded blue’ colour of the wing spots. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Blue Lotus

See utpala.

Blue Moon Butterfly

Name of a medium-sized species of butterfly, with the binomial name Hypolimnas bolina and several subspecies. Above, the male's wings are blackish, with three pairs of whitish spots with a purplish-blue iridescence. Two of those spots, one larger and one smaller, are on each forewing, whilst a single spot is on each of the hind wings, which are edged with a series of small whitish dots and bars. In addition, the outer edges of the upperside of both wings are scattered with tiny whitish dots. The underside of the male's wings are brownish (fig.), with a small white outer edge and a broad white inner edge, bordered with tiny white dots. In addition, it has vague smudgy, white streak near the middle of the wings. The underside of the wings of the female (fig.) is similar to that of males, but above the female's wings are a brownish black and lack the larger spots of the male, though the edges bear similar white markings, yet bordered with larger white dots (fig.). This species is also commonly called Great Eggfly (fig.) and Common Eggfly, and in Thai it is known as phi seua pihk khai yai (ผีเสื้อปีกไข่ใหญ่), which translates as large egg-wing butterfly. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Blue Pansy

Name of a medium-sized species of butterfly, with the binomial name Junonia orithya. READ ON.

Blue-rumped Parrot

Common name for a species of a small, stocky, up to 19.5 centimeters tall parrot, with the scientific name Psittinus cyanurus. It is found in the southernmost part of Myanmar, southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, and parts of Indonesia. Males have primarily greenish upperparts and yellowish-green underparts, with a greyish-blue head and rump, a blackish mantle, a reddish shoulder patch, yellowish fringes on the wing coverts, and a red bill with a blackish lower mandible. The body and wings of females are similar, but the head and bill are brownish, the rump is yellowish-green, the red wing-patch is smaller, and they lack the black mantle. In Thai called nok hok yai (นกหกใหญ่).

Blue-spotted Tiger Beetle

Common name for a colourful beetle of the genus Cicindela, with the scientific name Cicindela aurulenta, and which is a resident in certain countries of mainland Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. It is stilt-legged and about 1.5 to 1.8 centimeters in length, with large compound eyes and vicious-looking jaws. The elytra are dark blue-green, with a brownish orangey-red band along the central edge, and six large pale yellowish  to orangey golden spots, as well as an additional two spots on the shoulders. Also known as Golden-spotted Tiger Beetle (fig.) and in Thai called duang seua sahm jud (ด้วงเสือสามจุด), i.e. ‘three-spotted tiger beetle’, a term that refers to the large pale yellowish spots, that number three on each of the elytron.

Blue Temple

See Wat Rong Seua Ten.

Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse

Common name for a species of coral reef-fish, with the scientific name Labroides dimidiatus. READ ON.

Blue Swimming Crab

See poo mah.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

See Bee-eater.

Blue-throated Barbet

Common name for a species of barbet, with the scientific name Megalaima asiatica. It is mostly green, with a red forehead and crown, a pale blue throat and cheeks, and a black eyebrow, that extends over the crown. Its bill is black at the tip and above and pale yellowish-white below, at the base. This species of barbet is found across the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, where it is known as nok prodok kho sih fah (นกโพระดกคอสีฟ้า).

Blue Whistling Thrush

Common name for a species of thrush, with the scientific name Myophonus caeruleas and belonging to the family Turdidae. With a body size of 35 centimeters, it is thought to be the world's largest known species of thrush. It is overall dark purple-blue bird, with vague to pale spangling, depending on the variety, and apart from adults of the subspecies Myophonus caeruleas caeruleas, which have a blackish bill, the bills of other subspecies may vary from yellow to near orange, sometimes with a blackish shine. Its feet and legs are dark grey. The Blue Whistling Thrush is found from South (fig.) to Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, where it is known as nok ihyang tham. Its natural habitat includes temperate forests, subtropical and tropical moist montane forests, and broadleaved forests, usually near streams or waterfalls. Also spelled Blue Whistling-thrush.

Blue-winged Leafbird

Common name for a species of passerine bird, with the binomial name Chloropsis cochinchinensis, and found in many parts of South and Southeast Asia. There are a few subspecies, but males are overall green, with a yellow to orange-tinged face, a black bib with a yellow rim, and a blue malar strip (fig.). Females (fig.) are similar to males, but have a greener head and do not have the black bib nor the yellow bib-surround (fig.). In turn, juveniles are similar to females, but also lack the blue throat patch and have a darker green head. Both sexes, as well as juveniles, have distinctive turquoise-blue colouring on the primaries and tail. Adults have a blackish bill, whereas that of juveniles is yellowish. It is somewhat similar to the Jerdon's Leafbird (Chloropsis jerdoni), though the latter lacks the turquoise-blue colouring on the primaries. In Thai it is called nok khiao kahn tong pihk sih fah.

Blue-winged Pitta

Common name for a small terrestrial bird, with the scientific name Pitta moluccensis and belonging to the family Pittidae. It is one of twelve species of Pitta, that occur in Thailand, only migrating here to breed. It typically arrives in April or May, with the first rains. Blue-winged Pittas have plain pale buff underparts, with a reddish maroon vent, that may extend to the lower belly (fig.). Its head is black, with dark buff crown sides and supercilium, thus producing a black line on the centre of the crown. Its chin is whitish and the wings are overall green with bright blue coverts and primaries that change from black to white towards the tips. It has a bright blue rump and a short black tail, with a bright blue tip. Its legs and feet are pinkish-grey, and its bill is dark greyish (fig.). It is very similar to the Mangrove Pitta, which is a strictly resident bird, but differs by a longer bill and the near-absence of the black line on the centre of the crown. Its natural habitat includes relatively open broadleaved forests, as well as parks, gardens and mangroves, especially when on migration. They have a rather secretive character and prefer to remain hidden during the day. When disturbed, it hops or flies out of sight, making it a creature hard to observe or photograph. In Thai, it is known as nok taew laew thammada.

Blyth's Kingfisher

Common name for a species of kingfisher, with the binomial name Alcedo hercules. It is 22 to 23 centimeters tall and has a large, all-black bill, blue upperparts, orange-rufous underparts, and a white nape and throat. This species has a naturally low population size and is a very rare visitor to Thailand. In Thai called nok kra-ten hercules.


One of the avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu, incarnated in the form of a boar, known as Varaha. See also Wild Boar.

boat money

See ngun reua.

bo bia keo nha (bò bía kẹo nha)

Vietnamese. Name of a Vietnamese candy that is typically sold as a street snack (fig.). It consists of a bed of sweet and crunchy, yellowish-brown barley sugar bars, that easily crumble when bitten into; slivers of grated coconut; and some black sesame seeds. Before serving, these ingredients are rolled into of a thin, crepe-like pancake, which is used as a wrapper, akin to the Vietnamese spring rolls.

Bo Bo Gyi (ဘိုးဘိုးကြီး)

Burmese. ‘Great Grandfather’. Name of a nat-like deity worshipped in Myanmar. He is a benevolent guardian spirit unique to each Buddhist temple  and is classically depicted as a life-sized man, often holding a walking stick in one hand while pointing the index finger of his other hand in a direction away from him. Shrines in veneration of Bo Bo Gyi may also be found in some Buddhist temples in Thailand, especially in areas bordering Myanmar. In Thai he is known as Thep Than Jai (fig.), literally ‘Instant Deity’, and people who go their to worship typically first prostrate in front of the image and afterward place the forward pointing index finger of this guardian spirit between the eyebrows or on the forehead, for blessing and good luck (fig.). See also LIST OF BURMESE NATS.

Bodawpaya (ဘိုးတော်ဘုရား)

Burmese. Name of the sixth king of the Konbaung Dynasty of Burma, who reigned from 11 February 1782 until his death on 5 June 1819, and who is also known as Badon Min (fig.). He was born as on 11 March 1745, as the fourth son of King Alaungpaya (fig.), and initially named Maung Shwe Waing. He was proclaimed king after deposing his nephew at Ava (fig.) and immediately moved the royal capital back to Amarapura. He was titled Hsinbyumyashin, which means ‘Lord of the White Elephants’. He fathered 62 sons and 58 daughters by about 200 consorts. In Thai, he is known as Padung (ปดุง). See also Nine Armies War.

bodh (โพธิ์)

Thai. The perfect knowledge or Enlightenment, which enables one to become a buddha. The word is derived from the Sanskrit terms bodha (बोध) and buddhi (बुद्धि), which are related to buddha, and has a number of meanings, including ‘insight’, ‘understanding’, ‘knowledge’, ‘realization’, etc. Also bodhiyan and bodhi, and in Thai pronounced poh.

Bodhgaya (बोधगया)

See Bodh Gaya.

Bodh Gaya (बोध गया)

Sanskrit. The place in Bihar state of North India where the Buddha attained bodh, near the town of Gaya. Now an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhist worshippers. The emperor Asohk erected a monument at this spot which was later destroyed and rebuilt as the Maha Bodhi pagoda. Many temples in Buddhist countries have been modelled after the Maha Bodhi pagoda in India, such as Wat Yahn in Chonburi (fig.) and Wat Wang Wiwekaram in Sangkhlaburi (fig.), both in Thailand; Maha Bodhi Phaya (fig.) in Old Bagan in Myanmar; Chua Huyen Khong in Hué (fig.) in Vietnam, etc. Also spelled Bodhgaya and Buddhagaya, and in Thai Phuttagaya.

bodhi (बोधी, โพธิ)

Sanskrit-Thai. The perfect knowledge or Enlightenment which enables one to become a buddha. Also called bodh and bodhiyan.


Name of a Buddhist monk, who lived in China in the 5-6th Century AD and who is traditionally accredited with being the first Chinese patriarch, as well as the originator of the physical training of the Shaolin fighting monks. READ ON.

bodhidurma (बोधीद्रुम)

Sanskrit. ‘Bodhi tree’. Name for the Ficus religiosa, as well as a nickname for Bhadra, one of the eighteen arahats, who allegedly was born underneath such a tree (fig.).


Pali. ‘Pavilion of Enlightenment. The exact and sacred spot at Bodh Gaya where the Buddha attained Enlightenment. See also Vachara Asana.


Pali. A buddha-to-be and one of the 550 incarnations that precede buddhahood, in Theravada Buddhism. Written with a capital letter, it is used as one of the former lives or chaht of the Sakyamuni Buddha.

bodhisattva (बोधसत्त्व)

Sanskrit. ‘One whose essence is perfect knowledge’. A being who has attained Enlightenment or bodhi but has postponed buddhahood in order to help others reach that goal. In Mahayana Buddhism, many bodhisattvas are personifications of divine qualities, such as compassion (Avalokitesvara) or wisdom (Manjushri) and are often depicted with multiple arms. In both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, the term is also applied to refer to a buddha-to-be, as well as the earlier lives of the historical Buddha called chadok and to his last life as prince Siddhartha, before his Enlightenment. Also spelt bodhisatva and bodhisatwa. In Thai, photisat and when referring to the Buddha before his Enlightenment or to his earlier lives, the tern Phra Photisat  (Phra Bodhisattva) is used. In Tibetan Buddhism, they are called lama and the Dalai Lama is considered an incarnation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Mummified monks, who are seen as a kind of full body relics, are also referred to as flesh body bodhisattvas. See also Eight Great Bodhisattvas (fig.).


See bodhisattva.


See bodhisattva.

bodhi tree

Sacred fig tree in Bodh Gaya with the scientific name Ficus religiosa, also known as the ‘tree of knowledge’, under which the Buddha sat (fig.) when he gained Enlightenment. Its leaves have the shape of a sacred lotus bud and are suspended upside down, that is with the tip of the leaf pointing almost straight downwards (fig.). Because of this the leaves actually function as a ventilating fan, causing a downward breeze when the wind blows through the treetop's foliage, so cooling the spot underneath it. It is supposed that this might have been a reason why Siddhartha chose to meditate under this particular tree. After the original bodhi tree was cut in 600 AD, cuttings were replanted wherever Theravada Buddhism was introduced and practiced. In literature it is often confused with a banyan tree, the tree to which the Buddha moved to stay, seven days after he had attained enlightenment. It is often seen in or near temples (fig.) and often portrayed in art (fig.). The leaves of the bodhi tree are depicted on the national flag of Sri Lanka (fig.). The term bodhi tree is also used as a generic name for any of the various trees under which all of the buddhas known to Theravada Buddhism attained Enlightenment, such as the Sacred Garlic Pear. In Thai, ton poh and in Sanskrit bodhidurma. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

bodhiyan (बोधअयन, โพธิญาณ)

Sanskrit-Thai. Enlightenment’. The perfect knowledge or enlightenment which enables one to become a buddhaAlso bodhi and in Thai  wipatsanah, bodh  or poh. In Sanskrit pronounced bodhiyana, and in Thai photiyaan.

Bodindecha (บดินทรเดชา)

Thai. Name of a prominent ruler of the Rattanakosin period during the reign of King Rama III. READ ON.

body snatchers

See moonlaniti kep sop.

bogu (防具)

Japanese. Armour. Term for the protective gear as used in the Japanese martial art of kendo and otherwise known as kendogu, literally kendo equipment’. It consists of a mask and breastplate, similar to those used by a catcher in baseball, though the kendo mask also hood-like helmet and shoulder protectors attached to it, making it somewhat reminiscent of a coal hood or the monastic hood worn by Christian monks. In addition, the combatants wear gauntlet-like hand and forearm protectors, as well as a skirt-like leg and groin protector. In kendo, bamboo swords known as shinai (竹刀) are used for both practice and in competition.

Bogyoke Aung San (ဗိုလ်ချုပ အောင်ဆန်း)

Burmese. ‘General Aung San’. See Aung San.

Bogyoke Aung San Market

Name of a market in Yangon, which was built in 1926 during British colonial rule and then known as Scott's Market. After independence from the British, it was renamed after Bogyoke Aung San. This indoor market is complemented by a number of colonial-style stores and shophouses along cobblestone streets around the main market hall, mostly with covered walkways in the front, in order to provide a shelter from the sun and rain. The market sells Burmese handicrafts, antiques, and art, but also foodstuffs, garments, medicine, as well as foreign goods, especially imports from China. There are even some jewelry stores, mainly offering homemade products from local jade and jadeite. It is also operates as a black market for foreign currency exchange. See also MAP.

boht (โบสถ์)

See bot.

Bombay Locust

Name of a 6 to 8 centimeter large grasshopper, with the scientific names Patanga succincta and Nomadacris succincta. It has a long, tapering body, which is overall pale brownish, with a yellowish-green shine and some dark brown colouring, especially on the flanks. It has three pairs of legs, the larger hind-legs with spines, similar to the Tatar Grasshopper (fig.). It is widespread in Southwest and Southeast Asia, from India to South China, Indonesia and the Philippines, usually appearing in big swarms that feed on more than 34 species of plants, including corn, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane, bamboo, coconut, rice, citrus, and grasses, and thus causing significant economic losses to agricultural crops. In Thai, it is known as takkataen pahthangkah (ตั๊กแตนปาทังก้า), a transliteration of this grasshopper's Latin designation.

bok choy

Cantonese. ‘White vegetable’. Name for a Chinese cabbage, known in Mandarin as bai cai (白菜), and in Thai as phak kahd kiyaw kwahng tung, and which has been adopted as the common name for this leaf vegetable in English. It has broad green leaves and white petioles and stems with a crisp texture (fig.), whilst a variety referred to as Shanghai bok choy has pale green stems that have a less crisp texture (fig.).

bom ba cang (bom ba càng)

Vietnamese. ‘Three-pins bomb’. Name of an anti-tank weapon designed by the Vietnamese Army and used as a suicide bomb against the invading Japanese Imperial Army during WW II. READ ON.

bon (บอน)

1. Thai name for the Caladium, a tropical plant that usually grows near water and consists of a strong stem with a single large heart-shaped leaf. It belongs to the family of Araceae which includes many different species. Caladium allegedly derives from the Malay word keladi, meaning ‘yam’, a kind of edible root, known in Thai as pheuak (fig.). The Giant Caladium or Giant Taro is generally about 1 to 2 meters high although some may grow a little larger, whilst others species are much smaller and may even have colours on their leaves. It is frequently seen as an ornamental plant in tropical gardens. In French, the Caladium is called oreilles d'éléphant (géantes), meaning ‘(giant) elephant ears’, whereas other species are known by the names angel wings, and heart of Jesus. Bon leaves are completely water-repellent and its surface structure has been imitated in certain technical applications. The stagnant drops of rainwater that gather on the leaves are a convenient drinking source for birds and insects (fig.). A restaurant in Chiang Mai which is built underneath a large banyan fig tree (sai) and next to a pond with caladium plants (bon), was given the witty name ‘Bonsai’. See also ton kradaat. See also POSTAGE STAMP.

2. Thai name for the taro plant (Colocasia esculenta), a short-lived tropical plant of the Araceae family, and known in Thai as pheuak (fig.).

bone prognostication

Term indicating either the practice of fortunetelling by reading the future from the bones of animals, e.g. using pig's jaws (fig.) or practicing fowl bone prognostication (