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saab (สาบ)

Thai-Isaan. A kind of fresh water fish trap, used in places where the water is shallow. It consists of a round, long tapering wickerwork case, lined and braided with rattan rods. The top is open to enable a view inside to check upon the fish already caught. It has a funnel-shaped mouth with spikes to prevent the fish from swimming back out. See also lob, son, sai and sang.

saad (ศารท/สารท)

Thai. Any festival traditionally held at the end of autumn, as in ‘saad kanom koh’, an annual festival  held more or less during fall, when Chinese sweetmeat made of rice flour is eaten. The term is however often used popularly for any annual festival. See also krayahsaad.

Saadsada (ศาสดา)

Thai. ‘Savant’ or ‘religious prophet’. A name for the historical Buddha, the Enlightened One. See also Phra Samasam, Mahamuni and Mahalabamuni.

saai (ทราย)

1. Thai for ‘sand’.

2. Thai. Short for neua saai, meaning ‘Hog Deer’.

Saai Sanithawong (สาย สนิทวงศ์)

Thai. Name of a Siamese Prince, who was a contemporary of King Rama V. READ ON.

saak (สาก)

Thai. A pestle used to grind things in a mortar called krok (fig.). Its form is reminiscent of the physical shape of a praying mantis (fig.), which is therefore called takkataen tam khao in Thai. In Hindu mythology, a pestle named Musala, is an attribute of the god Balarama, the god of ploughmen (fig.), an older brother of Krishna and an avatar of Vishnu.

Saam Kok (สามก๊ก)

Thai for the story of the Three Kingdoms.

Saam Liam Thong Kham (สามเหลี่ยมทองคำ)

Thai for the Golden Triangle.

Saam Phraan (สามพราน)

Thai. ‘Three Hunters’. Name of a tambon, as well as an amphur of the same name, in Nakhon Pathom. The name derives from a story which relates that in the time when the Phraya Phaan was governor of Nakhon Sri Wichai, i.e. presentday Nakhon Chai Sri (นครชัยศรี) district in Nakhon Pathom, there was a wild elephant with a nice character and very clever, and which was suitable to become a war elephant, so Phraya Phaan sent out some hunters to catch it. However, no one was able to do so, until three hunters volunteered for the task. They dug a large pit on the path that this wild elephant regularly used to travel on. Due to the ingenuity of the three hunters, the elephant could be caught and offered to the Phraya. Hence, the local people named the area where the elephant was caught Saam Phraan. Also transcribed Sahm Phran. See MAP and THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

Three Hunters Statue

saamloh (สามล้อ)

Thai. ‘Tricycle’. Thai for a rickshaw (fig.). If motorized it is nicknamed a tuktuk (fig.) after the sound of its engine. If it is a push-bike it is also called rot saamloh tihb (fig.). Often spelt samlor or samloh. The first ever pedal-driven rickshaw in Thailand was used in Nakhon Ratchasima in 1933. Before then, they were pulled by a person running on foot. See also rot thaeksih.

sabah (สะบ้า)

Thai name for the Entada rheedii, a large kind of sea bean.

sabai (สบาย)

Thai word and concept, that means a variety of things, such as ‘comfortable, ‘at ease, ‘enjoyable’, ‘happy’, ‘cozy’, ‘secure’, ‘safe’, ‘sheltered’, ‘homely’, ‘agreeable’, ‘snug’, ‘happy’, etc. and which is etymologically related to the term sappaya which means ‘a condition that is suitable for living or carrying out various activities with good results, consisting of the four factors (patjai sih) and dialogue, encompassing the 4 things that are necessary for human life, e.g. food, medicine, clothing and housing.

sabbannu (သဗ္ဗညု)

Pali. ‘Omniscient’. Term in Buddhism for a person who knows everything concerning all of the Dhamma, he who has the all-perfect wisdom, sometimes translated as One of Boundless Knowledge or the Enlightened One’, and hence a designation used for any buddha, and especially the Buddha.

Sabbannu Phaya (သဗ္ဗညုဘုရား)

Burmese-Pali name for a just over 60 meter high Buddhist temple in Bagan, i.e. the tallest of all monuments in this ancient kingdom and former capital of Burma. READ ON.

sabha (सभा)

Sanskrit-Hindi term meaning ‘assembly’ or ‘congregation’ and often used to refer to a large assembly-room or hall, and as such typically found in combination with names of Hindu and Vedic temples, and Sikh gurudwaras.

sabong (สบง)

Thai. A sarong-like lower garment of a Buddhist monk, worn below the angsa and underneath the pahkahsahwapad.

Sachi (शची)

Sanskrit. Name of Indra's consort. She is the goddess of wrath and jealousy, and a daughter an asura who was killed by Indra. She is described as very beautiful and sometimes as having a thousand eyes. She is associated with lions and elephants (fig.). Sometimes transcribed Shachi and also known as Indrani.

Sacred Garlic Pear

Common name for a species of flowering tree with the botanical name Crateva religiosa and also commonly known as Temple Plant and Spider Tree. It is a deciduous tree that can reach a height of up to 15 meters and is native to Southeast Asia. Its leaves are trifoliate, often clustered at the ends of branches, shining above and pale below. The showy flowers are yellowish white, usually arranged in terminal clusters and they bear long, spidery stamens. The tree produces rounded, woody berries, which contain kidney-shaped seeds that are buried in yellow pulp. Various parts of the plant, including the bark, leaves, and roots, have been used in traditional medicine for their potential medicinal properties. It is  one of the various bodhi trees under which some of the buddhas known to Theravada Buddhism attained Enlightenment. In Thai, it is known as kum nahm (กุ่มน้ำ). See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

Sadayu (สดายุ)

Thai. A large bird in the epic Ramakien and the younger brother of Samphati. He has the face of the Garuda and the body of a bird with green feathers. He witnessed the kidnapping of Sita by Tossakan and courageously tried to intervene, but was critically wounded by the demon. Yet, it brought Rama the news of Sita's kidnapping and showed him her ring, as proof, then it died. It is sometimes associated with Tantima. Also Nok Sadayu.

Saddleback Anemone Fish

Common name for a species of anemone fish, with the scientific designation Amphiprion polymnus. This fish has a black body, with a yellowish face and two main white markings, i.e. one thick vertical bar behind the eyes, the other an often incomplete bar (or just a large spot) on its back and spreading onto the dorsal fin, which is reminiscent of a saddle. In addition, the anal and caudal fins are lined with white. This species is found only in the Gulf of Thailand. Like other species of anemone fish it dwells near the seabed, in areas with sea anemones. The Saddleback Anemone Fish is depicted on the last of four Thai postage stamps issued in 2006 to publicize the anemone fish of Thailand (fig.). It is also commonly known as Saddleback Clown Fish, which is alternatively spelled Saddleback Clownfish, and in Thai it is called pla cartoon ahn mah (ปลาการ์ตูนอานม้า), i.e. ‘horse saddle cartoon fish’.

Sadeua Chiang Rai (สะดือเชียงราย)

Thai. ‘Navel of Chiang Rai’. Name for the Chiang Rai City Pillar Shrine, which consists of a spot on a hilltop (doi) located in the northern part of the city of Chiang Rai, adjacent to Wat Phrathat Doi Chom Thong (วัดพระธาตุดอยจอมทอง), a Buddhist temple with a chedi that contains relics of the Buddha, hence the name Phrathat. Different from most other City Pillars in the nation, known in Thai as sahn lak meuang, the shrine in Chiang Rai is erected in open-air and consists of one large elevated pillar surrounded by various smaller ones. See also TRAVEL PICTURE and WATCH VIDEO.

Sadeua Mae Nahm Khong (สะดือแม่น้ำโขง)

Thai. ‘Navel of the Mekhong River’. Name of a spot in the Mekhong River considered to be the point where the Mekong River is the deepest. READ ON.

sadhu (साधु)

Sanskrit term used to refer to someone who renounces the secular world and strives for a religious life. READ ON.

Sadok Kok Thom (สด๊กก๊อกธม)

Thai-Khmer. Name of a Khmer sanctuary in Sa Kaeo, that dates back to the 11th century. It was built in red sandstone and laterite, by the order of Udayadityavarman II (1050-1066 AD) and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The sanctuary is best known as the original site of a 1.51 meters high stele, known as inscription K 235, that originally stood in the northeast corner of the temple's court and has inscriptions in both Sanskrit and ancient Khmer, and which is considered to be one of the most revealing writings from the Angkorian Period, describing the rule of twelve Khmer kings over the course of the two and a half centuries, giving account of some basic events of their reigns, as well as some major events, such as the relocation of the capital. The temple was formerly known as Prasat Meuang Phrao and is also called Prasat Sadok Kok Thom or Prasat Hin Sadok Kok Thom, and is sometimes spelled Sdok Kok Thom or Sdok Kak Thom. It has been portrayed on a Thai postage stamp, as part of a set of four stamps issued in 2009 to mark the annual Thai Heritage Conservation Day (fig.). The meaning of the word Sadok is likely ‘Lake’ or ‘Reservoir’, but the meaning of the word Kok is disputed, yet −as in Thai− it possibly refers to the general name for sedges, the family of rush or reed-like waterside or marsh plants, whilst Thom is a Khmer word meaning ‘Big’, as in Angkor Thom. Hence, the name is by some translated as ‘Great Reed Lake’.

sa-do kro (สะเดาะเคราะห์)

Thai. Ritual to get rid of bad luck, usually by sprinkling holy water on the head.

sadtah (ศรัทธา)

Thai. The belief in a religion.

Saeng Ahtit (แสงอาทิตย์)

Thai. ‘Sunlight’. Name of a demon character from the Ramakien (fig.). He is the second son of Phaya Khon (พญาขร) and a younger brother of Mangkonkan (fig.). He owned the Surakaan crystal ring, which Phra Phrom (fig.) gave him as a weapon, and that has the power to emit a deadly ray that can instantly age anyone into death. He had deposited it with Phra Phrom at the time that Totsakan (fig.) send him into battle against Phra Ram (fig.). When Phiphek (fig.) informed Phra Ram of this, he ordered Ongkhot (fig.) to transform himself into the yak Jitraphairi/Wichitphai (จิตรไพรี/วิจิตรไพรี), the younger brother of Mangkonkan and a half-brother of Saeng Ahtit, and told him to fetch the ring from Phra Phrom. When Saeng Ahtit was losing the battle against Phra Ram, he also send his −genuine− half-brother to go and get the Surakaan crystal ring from Phra Phrom, only to learn that he had already given it back to him earlier, thus discovering the deceit. Enraged about this treachery, Saeng Ahtit forced himself into a fierce battle with Phra Ram, but was hit by the latter's Phrommat arrow and died on the battlefield. He seems to be one of the demons that took part in the Churning of the Ocean of Milk (fig.) depicted in the sculpture at Suwannaphum International Airport (fig.).

Saeng Neon (แสงนีออน)

Thai name for an evergreen shrub with the botanical designation Leucophyllum frutescens and in Thailand commonly found as an outdoor ornamental plant. It originates from the US and is in English commonly known by a variety of names, including Texas Ranger, Wild Lilac, Purple Sage, and Texas Rain Sage, among others.

Saen Meuang Ma (แสนเมืองมา)

Thai. Name of the ninth king of the Mengrai (fig.) Dynasty who ruled the Lan Na kingdom from 1385 to 1401 AD. His consort was Phra Nang Tilohk Jutha Thewi (fig.), with whom he fathered Phra Chao Sahm Fang Kaen (fig.). See also TRAVEL PICTURES and LIST OF LAN NA KINGS.

Saen Phu (แสนภู)

Thai. Name of a nephew of King Mengrai and the founder of Chiang Saen, a former kingdom and present-day amphur on the south bank of the Mekhong River in Chiang Rai, established in 1328 AD. He later ascdended the Lan Na throne as the third king of the Mengrai (fig.) Dynasty who ruled the Lan Na kingdom twice, i.e. first between 1318 and 1319 AD and again for a second term in office between from 1324 to 1328 AD. His name is also transliterated Saenphu. See also LIST OF LAN NA KINGS.

saenyahkon (แสนยากร)

Thai. ‘Army’ or ‘military might’. See Royal Thai Armed Forces.


A spice derived from the dried pistils and styles of the saffron crocus, a kind of wild crocus with the scientific name Crocus cartwrightianus, originally from Southwest Asia, but now domesticated as Crocus sativus and cultivated also in other parts of the world, especially in central Spain's La Mancha region. It has long been the world's most expensive spice by weight, nicknamed Red Gold, and is used as a yellowish orange dye or colouring matter for food and textiles. Traijiewon or pah kahsahwapad, the saffron-coloured robes (fig.) worn by Buddhist monks, are not dyed with the costly saffron, but rather, at least in the past, with turmeric, a far less expensive dye. It occurs both dried and in powdered form (fig.). In both Buddhism and Hinduism, the colour saffron −or alternatively ochre− symbolizes renunciation. The name saffron allegedly derives from the Arabic word zafaraan, i.e.  ‘gold strung’, which is itself derived from the adjective asafar, meaning ‘yellow’. In Thai ya faran.

Sagaing (စစ်ကိုင်း)

Burmese. Name of a small former kingdom located on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River (fig.), across from Ava, which is located on the east bank, near present-day Mandalay, and can be reached by boat as well as by the old (map - fig.) and new (fig.) Ava bridges. It existed from 1315 to 1365 AD and was founded by King Athinkhaya Saw Yun (fig.), who was the son of King Thihathu, ruler of the Myinsaing Kingdom. After the latter had appointed Saw Yun's stepbrother as heir-apparent to the throne of Myinsaing, rather than his own son Saw Yun, who was made governor of Sagaing instead, Saw Yun had resented and rebelled against his father the King and consequently seized Sagaing and made it into a rival kingdom. After the split, the remaining part of the Myinsaing Kingdom became the Pinya Kingdom. Hence some source will say that Sagaing was ruled by a junior branch of the Myinsaing Dynasty. Today Sagaing is referred to as Sagaing Division and is an administrative region of Myanmar, in the southeast bordering Mandalay Region. The area is home to dozens of Buddhist monasteries and hundreds of stupas (map - fig.) in various shapes and sizes, both on hilltops (map - fig.) and in the valley (map - fig.), as well as some modern (fig.), a gilded replica of the Japanese giant Daibutsu Buddha (map - fig.), ancient ritual ponds (map - fig.), etc. See also TRAVEL PICTURES and MAP.

Sagar (စကား)

Name of a village in Myanmar's Shan State. READ ON.

Sahadeva (सहदेव)

Sanskrit. ‘With the gods, though sometimes translated asEqual to a thousand gods. Name of one of the Pandavas, i.e. the fifth son of Pandu, and the younger twin brother of Nakula. His mother was Madri and his godly father the Ashwin twin Dasra. He was an excellent sword fighter, as well as a master of chariot and horse riding. 

sahaprachachaat (สหประชาชาติ)

Thai name for the United Nations, an organization of which Thailand is a strong supporter, with much of its regional organizations based in Bangkok, including a total of 24 UN agencies that are active in Thailand (fig.), including UNESCO, the agency that is responsible for the choice and management of the many World Heritage Sites, of which there are many in the Southeast Asian region (map - fig.). Thailand actively contributed to UN peacekeeping operations and has ratified a series of UN human rights, labour and environment conventions and treaties. See MAP.

Sahatsadecha (สหัสเดชะ)

Thai-Pali. ‘Having the strength of a thousand ’. Name of a yak, i.e. a giant or demon from the Ramakien. He is described as having a white complexion (fig.), one thousand heads and two thousand arms. He was the ruler of the city of Pahngtahn (ปางตาล) and an ally of Totsakan, whom he helped in his fight against Rama, yet he was killed by Hanuman (fig.). In iconography, he is usually depicted with a chadah-like crown, with multiple layers of small white heads (fig.). In architecture, he is often portrayed together with Totsakan, a yak with a green complexion. Both stand at the entrance of Wat Arun (fig.), as well as at the northern gate of the Western entrances of Wat Phra Kaew (fig.). In 2001, he was depicted on a Thai postage stamp, as part of a set of four stamps with giants that guard temple entrances (fig.). He is also one of the 12 giants that stand at the check-in hall of Suwannaphum International Airport (fig.) in Samut Prakan. Also transcribed Sahasadeja and usually referred to as Thao Sahatsadecha (fig.). See also POSTAGE STAMPS, LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS, and TRAVEL PICTURE (1) and (2).

sahlih (สาลี่)

1. Thai name for the Chinese pear or sand pear, of the genus Pyrus pyrifolia. It has succulent creamy-white flesh and tastes either sweet or sweet and a little sour. Its flesh is sandy and crispy or soft in some varieties.

2. A cake-like sweet, known as Thai sponge cake and also referred to as kanom sahlih. This light, yet rather dry cake, is made by steaming it in a style similar to au-bain-marie (fig.) and usual flavours include coffee or mocha, pandanus and strawberry (fig.). It is typically cut into small square blocks, each of which may be topped with some kind of edible garniture, such as a raisin or a piece of preserved fruit.

3. Thai for ‘trolley’.

4. Thai for ‘wheelbarrow’, more specifically referred to as rot sahlih.

Sahm Fang Kaen (สามฝั่งแกน)

Thai. Name of the tenth monarch of the Mengrai (fig.) Dynasty, who ruled the Lan Na Kingdom from 1401 to 1441 AD. He is the son of Phaya Saen Meuang Ma (fig.), the ninth king of Lan Na with his consort Phra Nang Tilohk Jutha Thewi (fig.), who thus became Queen Mother. See also TRAVEL PICTURES and LIST OF LAN NA KINGS.

sahmmanaen (สามเณร)

See naen.

Sahmphan Bohk (สามพันโบก)

Thai-Isaan. ‘Three Thousand Potholes’. Name of a large  solid area of rock with cliff-like sides and large rocky rapids along the Mekhong River in Ubon Ratchathani which features thousands of holes and puddles. READ ON.

sahn chao (ศาลเจ้า)

Thai. Generic name for any Chinese shrine, used alongside the term ahm.

Sahn Chao Beung Tao Gong-Ma (ศาลเจ้าปึงเถ่ากง-ม่า)

Thai name for a Thai-Chinese shrine in a Chinese Temple in Khon Kaen, which on its premises is also a shrine dedicated to Pu Khru Yen (ปู่ครูเย็น), who is also referred to as Yah Khru Yen (ญาครูเย็). He was an Isaan astrologer who lived in the 20th century AD, had knowledge of black magic, and could accurately predict providence. He was also a doctor of herbal medicine and a master of traditions. He moved from his native place in Nakhon Phanom and settled in Khon Kaen. He wore white clothes and a rosary around the neck, and is today worshipped by the people of Khon Kaen. WATCH VIDEO.

Sahn Chao Mae Kwan Im (ศาลเจ้าแม่กวนอิม)

Thai name for a Thai-Chinese shrine at the Kuti Jihn Community in Bangkok's Thonburi district (fig.), dedicated to Kuan Yin, the Chinese goddess of Mercy (fig.). READ ON.

Sahn Chao Pho Doi Thong (ศาลเจ้าพ่อดอยทอง)

Thai. Name of a Thai-Chinese shrine located on a hill overlooking the city of  in Chiang Rai. WATCH VIDEO.

Sahn Chao Pho Khrut (ศาลเจ้าพ่อครุฑ)

Thai name for a small and rather unique shrine tucked away in a short and narrow street in Bangkok's Phra Nakhon District, that is entirely devoted to the Garuda (fig.). Being the nation's royal symbol, as well as emblem of the Civil Service (fig.), the shrine is especially visited by government officials, who come here to make offerings and pray, especially to request a good result when taking a civil servant's exam or in order to ask for a career advancement. Although edifices and statues of Garuda can be found in many places and temples all over Thailand (fig.), a shrine devoted solely to this mythological half-man-half-bird is one of its kind.

Sahn Chao Pho Mae Klong (ศาลเจ้าพ่อแม่กลอง)

Thai. Name of a Thai-Chinese shrine in the tambon Mae Klong in Samut Songkhram, adjacent to the northern side of the local Talaat Rom Hoop (fig.) Railway Market (fig.). It is dedicated to the local guardian spirit, referred to as Chao Pho (fig.). WATCH VIDEO.

Sahn Chao Pho Ho Klong (ศาลเจ้าพ่อหอกลอง)

Thai. Chao Pho Drum Tower Shrine’. Name of a Thai-Chinese shrine in Bangkok dedicated to the deity Chao Pho Ho Klong (fig.), a protective deity, who warns people for looming dangers by the sound of drumbeats. He is said to be the spirit of Chao Phraya Si Surasak (สีห์สุรศักดิ์), an important military leader from the Thonburi period, who in battle used to encourage his troops by beating on a war drum. After his death, people would sometimes hear drumbeats coming from his drum, whilst no one was near, and each time just before something bad was about to happen, as it were a supernatural warning sign. His spirit is thus believed to safeguard the population and warn them for looming dangers. This place of worship is especially frequented by by government officials and military staff, many of whom come here to pray for job positions. The shrine has several drums, similar to those formerly located in the Rattanakosin Drum Tower (fig.). In order to receive a blessing, visitors to the shrine are supposed to hit the main and largest of the drums seven times. See also ho klong and WATCH VIDEO.

Sahn Chao Pho Peung Thao Kong (ศาลเจ้าพ่อปึงเถ่ากง)

Thai. Name of any Thai-Chinese shrine dedicated to the Tae Chew deity Peung Thao Kong, who is also known as Pae Kong. Alternatively called Sahn Peung Thao Kong (fig.). Compare with sahn phra phum and sahn chao thih.

Sahn Chao Pho Seua (ศาลเจ้าพ่อเสือ)

Thai generic name for any shrine in Thailand devoted to Xuanwu, who in Thai is known as Chao Pho Seua, i.e. theTiger Guardian Spirit’. There are numerous shrines all over Thailand, and the one built in Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, is associated with a local legend in which the son of Yai Phong (ผ่อง), a resident of a certain village, was killed by a tiger and hence the villagers hunted it down with the intend to kill it. Yet, when Grandma Phong saw the beast, she felt pity for it and adopted the tiger as her pet, thus replacing her son. Seven years later, the old lady passed away and when the villagers cremated her body, the tiger jumped into the cremation fire and also died. Consequently, the villagers built the shrine in Phra Nakhon for the tiger that was so loyal to its owner (fig.).

Sahn Chao Tha Reua (ศาลเจ้าท่าเรือ)

Thai. Name of a prominent Thai-Chinese shrine in Phuket Province, known for being a place where people come to seek blessings for health and healing from Po Seng Tai Te, a traditional Chinese god of medicine. The shrine also includes a space dedicated to the worship of Kuan U, a legendary figure in Chinese history and mythology revered for his loyalty, bravery, and sense of justice. Kuan U was a general during the Three Kingdoms period in China and later became a significant deity in Chinese religious and Taoist traditions. In the shrine's courtyard stands a statue of Kuan U, reputed to be the largest in Phuket. In April 2004, the shrine celebrated its 125th Anniversary. WATCH VIDEO (1) and (2), and VIDEO (E).

sahn chao thih (ศาลเจ้าที่)

Thai name for a kind of spirit house with four, and on occasion six legs (fig.), that houses the chao thih, the animist guardian spirit of the land. Also transliterated sahn chao tih, sahn jao thee, saan chao thih, or similar. See also sahn phra phum and compare with Sahn Chao Pho Peung Thao Kong. WATCH VIDEO.

sahn lak meuang (ศาลหลักเมือง)

Thai. A shrine in Thailand housing the lak meuang, i.e. the sao inthakhin or city pillar (fig.). Every provincial capital has its own city pillar, believed to house the city's guardian spirit. It represents the centre of town and the point from which distances between cities are measured. See also MAP and WATCH VIDEO (1) and (2).

Sahn Peung Thao Kong (ศาลปึงเถ่ากง)

Thai. Name of any Thai-Chinese shrine dedicated to the Tae Chew deity Peung Thao Kong, who is also known as Pae Kong. He is a Tae Chew deity worshipped as the Chinese protection god for residences, locations and dwellings, i.e. to protect and maintain the place of residence, especially for a neighbourhood, a community or a village. He is associated with Di Zhuia (fig.), the Chinese protection god for residences, locations and dwellings concerning ones land, home or house, and as such the Chinese equivalent of the Thai chao thih, the animist guardian spirit of the land. A small altar dedicated to Di Zhuia may also be found in many Sahn Peung Thao Kong shrines. Alternatively called Sahn Chao Pho Peung Thao Kong (fig.).

sahn phra phum (ศาลพระภูมิ)

Thai name for a kind of spirit house with one leg, that houses the jawed (fig.), a Hindu household god that protects lands and homes. See also sahn chao thih and compare to Sahn Chao Pho Peung Thao Kong. WATCH VIDEO.

sah paper

Paper made from the paper mulberry tree. In Thai kradaat sah. See also ton sah.

sahrihrikathat (สารีริกธาติ)

Thai. A relic of the Buddha. See also Phramahathat.

Sahtsanah Phraam (ศาสนาพราหมณ์)

Thai name for Brahmanism.

Sa Huynh (Sa Huỳnh)

Ancient civilization that existed about 4,000 years ago in the region of present day southern Vietnam and which is considered the precursor of Cham culture.

sai (ไซ)

A kind of fish trap woven from bamboo and rattan rods. It has a spiked hole at the top to allow small fish and other aquatic creatures entrance. Once they are inside they are entrapped as the funnel-shaped spikes keep them from escaping. There are many different types of sai, named according their form, use or origin, such as sai song hee (northern dialect, trap with two holes - fig.), sai lao (Laotian trap), sai kad kung (shrimp trap - fig.), sai thon (enduring trap), sai nahm tao (water bottle trap), sai hua moo (pig head trap), sai khai jorakae (crocodile egg trap), jib sai (sip trap), sai loy (flaoting trap), etc. It is especially used in water areas with a strong current and in not too shallow water. They are often hung symbolically from the ceiling in commercial establishments, to catch business and fortune, rather than fish (fig.). This practice presumably derives from the fact that in Chinese, fish are called yú (鱼), a word with the same sound as yú (逾) meaning ‘to exceed’ and yú (余), meaning ‘surplus’. Hence, fish traps are symbols for good luck and used symbolically to catch a ‘surplus of money’ or ‘money in excess’. See also saab, son, lob, sang and tum.

sai baat (ใส่บาตร)

Thai. ‘Offering into an alms bowl’. Making merit by putting food into the alms bowl of Buddhist monks. See also tamboon sai baat (fig.) and bintabaat.

Saijai Thai (สายใจไทย)

Thai. Thai Heart Line’. Name of a philanthropic organization under the Royal Patronage of Princess Sirinthon, that collects and manages donations to help soldiers, police and volunteers, who have been injured, disabled, or killed in the line of duty while defending the nation. See also POSTAGE STAMP.

saika (ဆိုက်ကား)

Burmese. Term for a type of tricycle taxi used in Myanmar, which is fashioned with a side car, in which two passengers can take place, sitting in a back-to-back position. Though the term for this Burmese-style rickshaw sounds somewhat like a local pronunciation of the English word cycle, it is in fact the Burmese transliteration of the English side car’. Sometimes transliterated saiq ka. See also POSTAGE STAMP.

sai krok moo (ไส้กรอกหมู)

Thai. ‘Pork sausage’. Dish made of minced pork mixed with boiled rice and lard, stuffed into a pig's entrails and grilled over a gridiron. It is eaten with fresh sliced ginger, cabbage and whole but small chili peppers called prik kih noo. It is usually sold on street side footstalls and comes either as a sausage or as a string of small balls prepared in the same way.

Sailendra (शैलेन्द्र)

Sanskrit. ‘Ruler of the mountain’. A Mahayana Buddhist dynasty that ruled in central Java during the eighth and ninth centuries AD, and in Shrivijaya from the eighth to the thirteenth century AD. Also spelled Shailendra.


See pla bai.

sain (ဆင်)

Burmese for ‘elephant’, and also transliterated shaing or sin. The term is somewhat reminiscent of the Thai term for elephant, i.e. chang. See also Asian Elephant and Kyaukse Sain Pwe.

Sainshin (ဆင်ရှင်)

Burmese. Name of a stupa in Sagaing, which consists of a compound of the word sain, meaning elephant’, and the term shin used to refer to someone or something noble, similar to the Thai word Phra. The white and gilded zedi is built on a concrete platform adjacent to a small brownish-red sala. In the middle it is surrounded by floral motifs and figures of balu pan zwe, i.e. an ornamental motif on pagodas depicting an ogre (balu) clutching a garland with both hands. See MAP.

Saint Andrew's Cathedral

Name of an Anglican cathedral in downtown Singapore and the oldest Anglican site of worship in the nation state. READ ON.

Saint Andrew's Cross Spider

Common name for a commonly found orb-web spider, which actually comprises of two species, i.e. Argiope aetherea and Argiope keyserlingi, which are similar in appearance, but with the females of A. aetherea being generally larger than those of A. keyserlingi. Its common name, Saint Andrew's Cross Spider, derives from the characteristic zigzag, cross-shaped web decorations, known as stabilimenta, that form an X, usually with a hollow centre in which the spider positions itself by aligning its legs in pair with each of the four lines of the zigzag web decorations. Both species display sexual dimorphism, with females being considerable larger than males. Adult females grow to 15 millimeters in body length and their abdomen is oval shaped with transverse white, yellow and reddish-brown stripes and dots, whereas the thorax and head are brownish-silver. Males are dull brown in colour and without a pattern on the abdomen. Also lacking the bright colours of adult females, are juvenile females, who are rather pale brownish grey with just a few with dots, and reside on a web with a circular pattern of zigzag stabilimenta (fig.). The legs of both sexes are brownish with yellowish and beige bands, which are more frequent in females.

sai sin (สายสิญจน์)

Thai. A white thread used in various ceremonies in Thailand, but also in other countries of the region, such as Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos. Its use has an animist aspect to it and besides being used in Buddhist rites, it is also found with most Thai hill tribe people and other minorities, who practice animism. It is symbolic for the sutra, the teachings of the Buddha. It is held by Buddhist monks whilst chanting mantras or put around a temple building (fig.), house or entire village in order to dispel evil spirits. In the seubchatah ceremony it spans the interior of the bot, starting from the main Buddha image in the building (fig.), and on other occasions it is tied around the wrists (fig.) as a talisman, or as a lucky charm with the power to protect (fig.). It is also used in funerals (fig.) and formerly when executing the capital punishment (fig.), as well as in wedding ceremonies (fig.). In India, a similar cord is used by brahmin priests and by devotees during certain occasions, and is known as a brahman cord (fig.). See also yajnopavitam, mongkon and mongkonlasut. WATCH VIDEO.

sai ua (ไส้อั่ว)

Thai. Northern Thai-style, long-coiled, spicy pork sausage, stuffed with a mixture of minced pork, kaeng kua chili paste and herbs, and traditionally grilled for many hours over a smoky coconut husk fire. The sausage is usually served in fairly thick slices, which are sometimes additionally deep fried. The word ua (อั่ว) is Phasa Neua and means to stuff.


Name given to the followers of Shiva (fig.) or his cult, i.e. Shaivism, which has several different sects and which philosophy claims to encompass all facets of Hindu thought. Saivites often wear a pundra, i.e. a sectarian mark, usually a tri-pundra (fig.), which consists of three horizontal lines (fig.). Sometimes spelled Shaivite.

saivite cord

Thin brown thread worn over the shoulder by Saivite priests, crossing their chest. It is akin to the brahman cord (fig.) worn by brahmin priests. In Shaivism, its function is both for identification and to remind the wearer of his vows, but when worn over the right shoulder, it usually signifies that the wearer is performing a death ceremony. The sacred thread has three strands, which symbolize purity in thought, word and deed. See also yajnopavitam and sai sin.

saiyaat (ไสยาสน์)

See reclining Buddha.

sak (สัก)

Thai. ‘To tattoo’. In Thai tradition, tattoos usually have a protective purpose and may have a religious (fig.) or animist significance, and are thus worn by many a monk (fig.) or believer. READ ON.

Sa Kaeo (สระแก้ว)

Thai. ‘Crystal pool’. Name of a province (map) and its capital city in East Thailand, 237 kms East of Bangkok. READ ON.

Sakadagami (สกิทาคามี)

Pali-Sanskrit-Thai. Name of the second of the four stages of Enlightenment in Buddhism, i.e. the stage before Anagami, and in which the partially enlightened person has cut off three of the five chains with which the ordinary mind is bound, namely belief in self (atman); attachment to rites and rituals; and skeptical doubt.

Sakai (ซาไก)

Thai name for the Mani (fig.), an ethnic minority group of Negrito people found in the southern Thailand and in Malaysia, where they are known as Orang Asli.

sake (สาเก)

Thai. Name for the breadfruit and its tree. The species is related to the kanun and is also called kanun sampalo. Its scientific name is Artocarpus altilis and it belongs to the botanic family Moraceae. The fruit may weigh up to 2 kilograms and has a thick green peel that turns yellow when the fruit ripens. In Thailand it is mainly picked when still unripe and used as a vegetable in curries, or deep-fried and eaten as a snack.

Sakhon Yangkhiawsot (สาคร ยังเขียวสด)

Thai. Name of a puppeteer from Nonthaburi, who popularized hun lakon lek. In 1985, he founded the Joe Louis (โจหลุยส์) Puppet Theater, which was named after his nickname, i.e. Jo Liu (โจ หลิว). He gained royal support from Princess Galyani Watthana, who endorsed it to achieve Royal Patronage. He is habitually referred to as Ajaan Sakhon, with ajaan being a honorary title meaning teacher. He was born in 1922 and died on 21 May 2007 in Bangkok, less than a year after he won the Best Traditional Performance Award at the 10th World Festival of Puppet Art in Prague.

Sakka (สักกะ)

Pali-Thai. Another name for Indra, used especially in his position as ruler of Tavatimsa, in Thai also referred to as thao Sakkathevarat.

Sakkya (စကြာ)

Burmese name for Sakya.

Sakoh (สะกอ)

A significant subgroup of the Karen in Thailand. Also Sgaw. MORE ON THIS.

Sakon Nakhon (สกลนคร)

Thai. Province (map) and its capital city in Isaan situated 647 kms Northeast of Bangkok. READ ON.

saksit (ศักดิ์สิทธิ์)

1. Thai. ‘Sacred’ or ‘holy’.

2. Thai. Special spiritual powers attributed to certain Buddhist monks in Thailand. These monks, called Phra saksit, often transfer their powers (saksit) onto amulets and votive tablets (fig.) which are consequently considered a safeguard against evil influences and bad luck. Saksit also means ‘effective’. MORE ON THIS.

sakti (ศักติ)

Thai for shakti.

Sakun Kraison (สกุณไกรสร)

Thai-Pali. ‘Bird-lion. Name of a mythological creature from Himaphan forest, that has the brown body of a lion and the beak, feet and tail of a bird, but unlike Kraison Paksah (the Lion-bird), without any wings. In appearance, it is in many ways reminiscent of Sang Praeng, a mythological lion with clawed feet and a feathery tail, but without a beak. Both creatures are of a different colour, but in art this is not always visible, especially in bronze sculptures. Sometimes transliterated Sagn Kraison or Sagoon Kraisorn.

Sakuntala (ศกุนตลา)

A Sanskrit drama written by the Indian poet Kalikdasa and translated into Thai by king Vajiravudh.

Sakya (शाक्य)

1. Sanskrit-Pali. The clan or tribe to which prince Siddhartha belonged. He became the historical Buddha. Also Sakiya. In Sanskrit Shakya and in Burmese Sakkya.

1. Sanskrit-Tibetan. One of the Red Hat Sects of Lamaism, i.e. Tibetan Buddhism, the other one being Nyingma, and whose monks during special ceremonies wear elongated crescent-shaped hats (fig.).

Sakyamuni (शाक्यमुनि, ศากยมุนี)

1. Sanskrit-Pali-Thai. ‘Sage of the Sakya [tribe]’. A designation for the historical Buddha after he was apprenticed by the brahman master Arada Kalapa and the sage Udraka Ramaputra. In Sanskrit known as Shakyamuni and in Myanmar usually referred to as Mahamuni, though the term Sakya also exists, but usually transliterated Sakkya.

2. Thai. Name of the principal Buddha image of Wat Suthat in Bangkok (fig.), which originates from Sukhothai. It was in 1808 transported by raft to Bangkok on the orders of Rama I, and is fully known by the name Phra Sri Sakyamuni. See MAP.

sa-la (สละ)

Thai. Fruit with the Latin names Zalacca and Salacca and a palm tree with a height of up to seven meters. The tree bears fruit throughout the year. The skin has the pattern of a snake's skin. This nutritious fruit grows in large tight bunches at the top of the tree trunk and its buttery coloured inside (fig.) tastes between a banana and a pineapple but has a rather unpleasant aftertaste. It is nicknamed snake fruit and in Indonesia and Malaysia is known as salak. A variation of the fruit is called ra-kam, but these are slightly shorter and more bulbous in shape (fig.) than the sa-la.

sala (ศาลา)

1. Thai. An open-sided gazebo-like shelter, hall or pavilion (fig.) of a generally permanent nature consisting only of pillars and a roof as protection against the sun and rain. It occurs within the precincts of a temple complex, on waysides and in fields (fig.). The roofed structure offers an open view of the surrounding area, and may be used for relaxation. As a compound or in composition with a name, the final a is often dropped, as in sahn chao tih, and its pronunciation then changes to sahn (ศาล), because a final l is in Thai pronounced n (see Thai Consonants). See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2), (3) and (4), and THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

2. Thai. A hall or pavilion.

3. Thai. A public building.

Sala Chaleum Krung (ศาลาเฉลิมกรุง)

Thai. Pavilion to Celebrate the City. Name of the Royal Theatre in Bangkok. READ ON.

Sala Dusidalai (ศาลาดุสิดาลัย)

Thai. Name of a royal convention hall in Dusit (fig.), located within the compound of Chitralada Palace, adjacent to the private Royal Villa of King Rama IX (fig.) and used by the King or Queen to grant audiences to high-ranking officials and dignitaries, as well as to organize certain royal events, such as banquets, etc. See MAP.

Salah (صلاة)

Arabic. ‘Prayer’. Name for the ritual prayer in Islam, performed five times a day at prescribed times: Fajr (dawn), Dhuhr (midday), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (sunset), and Isha (night). Each Salah consists of a sequence of movements and recitations, starting with the standing position (Qiyam) where verses from the Koran are recited. This is followed by bowing (Ruku) with hands on knees, standing again, and then prostration (Sujud) with the forehead touching the ground, which is repeated twice in each unit of prayer (Rakat). The prayer concludes with sitting (Tashahhud) and the recitation of specific supplications. Salah is a means to maintain a direct connection with Allah, seeking guidance, expressing gratitude, and attaining spiritual growth. The times for the five daily prayers at dawn, midday, afternoon, sunset, and night, are often indicated on a screen in a mosque, displaying the exact times for each prayer, which vary daily based on the position of the sun.

salahkkaphad (สลากภัต)

Thai. A presentation of food to priests by lots.

salahk kin baeng (สลากกินแบ่ง)

Thai for ‘lottery’. The people of Thailand are very fond of gambling and the government lottery is the only officially recognized form of gambling, though illegal forms of underground gambling and betting are widely available too. Unlike the electronic system found in many other countries, the Thai lottery system is still paper-based, and tickets are available from agents, which receive these tickets from retailers. Yet, in recent years, the lottery results of winning tickets are made available in a digital form, i.e. on the website of The Government Lottery Office. Each ticket has two parts with the same ticket number that consists of 6 single digits and are sold in pairs, thus a winning number also carries a double prize. The government lottery is held twice a month and the winning numbers are published on the 1st and 16th of every month, and many can't wait to check the results (fig.). Winning tickets with a prize money of less than 20,000 baht can be cashed with a local agent, who will charge a 2% commission on the amount, whereas winning tickets with higher money prizes need to be cashed at The Government Lottery Office, who will issue a cheque. Many people will buy tickets at boots or from hawkers near locations deemed auspicious, such as important temples, palaces, etc. They will also try to get tickets with the number nine, which is considered to be a lucky number. However, potential players should be vigilant, as there are usually fake lottery tickets circulating too, as part of a well-organized scam. Also called huay (หวย) or huayber (หวยเบอร์). See also POSTAGE STAMP.

Sala Kaew Kuh (ศาลาแก้วกู่)

Thai. Name of a religious-mythological theme park in Nong Kai, along the Mekhong River, opposite from Laos, with —mostly large— statues depicting characters and scenes from Buddhism and Hinduism. READ ON.

Sala Look Khun (ศาลาลูกขุน)

1. Thai. Juror Hall’ or ‘Jury Hall. Name of a building (sala) within Phra Rachawang, i.e. the Grand Palace, where once meetings for government officials and civil servants were held. In English it is usually referred to as the Look Khun Hall and sometimes transcribed Luk Khun Hall and fully known as Sala Look Khun Nai (ศาลาลูกขุนใน), the ‘Inner Juror Hall’, due to its location within the palace. Initially the building housed the Office of the Auditor General and today it is home to the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2) and (3), and MAP.

Grand Palace Office of the Auditor General

2. Thai. Juror Hall’ or ‘Jury Hall. Name of a temporary pavilion or shelter (sala) used as a venue to seat senior government officials, palace officials, and other dignitaries, when they have an audience with the King, or are spectators during certain royal ceremonies in which the King or a senior member of the royal family is present. They are erected adjacent to the Phra Thihnang Song Tham, the ceremonial residence used by the King, usually one on each side of it.

sala pao (ซาลาเปา)

Thai for dim sam.

Sala Rajakarun (ศาลาราชการุณย์)

Thai. ‘Royal Beneficence Hall’. Name of a monument built at Khao Lahn (เขาล้าน), a former refugee camp of the Thai Red Cross Society established by the Queen and used to house Cambodian people during the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot, and located at Tambon Mai Root (ไม้รูด) of Ampheu Klong Yai (คลองใหญ่) in Trat Province. When the Cambodian refugees in 1985 eventually returned home, the camp was closed, but in 1992 it was refurbished into a society centre and a monument with a lotus bud shaped tower by architect Prof. Dr. Bandit Chulasai (บัณฑิต จุลาสัย), and renamed in the honour of Queen Sirikit, who is the royal patron of the Thai Red Cross. In 1997, it appeared on a Thai postage stamp to commemorate the annual Thai Red Cross Fair (fig.).

Sala Sahathai Samakhom (ศาลาสหทัยสมาคม)

Thai. Name of a royal hall located within the compound of Phra Rachawang, i.e. the Grand Palace, in Bangkok. READ ON.

Sala Samrahn Mukhamaht (ศาลาสำราญมุขมาตย์)

Thai. ‘Mukhamaht Front Pavilion’. Pavilion within the compound of the National Museum in Bangkok. It was built in the reign of King Chulalongkorn and designed by Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong, a younger brother of King Rama V, who also designed Wat Benjamabophit, i.e. the Marble Temple in Bangkok (fig.), as well as the seal of Bangkok (fig.), i.e. the image of Indra riding on the elephant Erawan (fig.). The sala was initially named Phra Thihnang Rachareudih (ราชฤดี), which could be translated as ‘Royal Love Hall’, and was used as a royal pavilion where members of the royal family could eat out in the Ngae Taeng (แง่เต๋ง) Garden, located in Dusit Palace, near Phra Thihnang Amphon Sathaan (fig.). In the reign of King Rama VI the pavilion was renamed Sala Samrahn Mukhamaht and in the reign of King Rama VII, when the museum was established, it was relocated to its current location. See also POSTAGE STAMP and MAP.

sala tree

A tree which grows up to 15 meters high and with the botanical name Shorea robusta, yet it is commonly mistaken with another tree, with the Latin designation Couropita guianensis. However, Couropita guianensis was not introduced into South Asia until the late  19th century AD, after which it was mistakenly believed to be Shorea robusta. The Buddha is said to have died stretched out between two sala trees (fig.) and according to some sources he was also born underneath a sala tree, yet due to the mix-up Couropita guianensis was planted at many Buddhist temples throughout South and Southeast Asia. In iconography, this scene is generally depicted as Maha Maya holding a tree branch with her right hand (fig.) and sometimes with an infant emerging from her side (fig.). Some sources speak however of the prince's birth taking place under a teak tree (fig.). Couropita guianensis can be recognized by its typical reddish pink flowers that grow directly from its stem (fig.), and from its large round seeds (fig.) that gives the tree the epithet cannonball tree. The sala tree is often found at Thai temples (fig.) and its large fruits are reminiscent of the look nimit, nine cannonball-like stones (fig.) that are used in Buddhist temples to mark the sacred ground on which the ubosot, i.e. the ordination hall, is built. In Thai, Couropita guianensis is known as ton sala langka, i.e. Singhalese Sala Tree’, perhaps referring to the fact that this tree was introduced from Guyana to a botanical garden in Sri Lanka in 1881, yet definitely indicating the difference from the original sala tree, i.e. Shorea robusta. See also TRAVEL PICTURES.

Sala Wah Kaan Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (ศาลาว่าการกรุงเทพมหานคร)

Thai. Literally ‘Governor's Court’ or ‘Hall where Bangkok is Governed’. Name for the office building of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), in English usually referred to as the Bangkok City Hall, and which includes the offices of the Governor of Bangkok. The building is located at the northern end of Lahn Khon Meuang, i.e. the ‘Citizen's Courtyard’, a large public square and events square, which is usually referred to in English as the ‘City Square’ (fig.). See also TRAVEL PICTURE.

Salawin (สาละวิน)

Thai name of a 2,815 km long river that rises in Tibet and runs through China's Yunnan province, where it is known as the Nù Jiāng (怒江), meaning the ‘Indignant River’ and possibly referring to its raging torrents as it passes through deep gorges. It then continuous to meanders through Myanmar, where it is known as the Thanlwin River (fig. - map). It enters into Thailand in Mae Hong Son province, where it flows for only a short distance through the Salawin National Park and is fed by the Pai (ปาย) and Mey (เมย) tributaries, before leaving Thai soil again near the village of Mae Sam Laep, streaming back into Burma. Near Mawlamyaing it becomes a delta and eventually flows in the Andaman Sea. Though the Pai River originates in the Thai mountainous region of the amphur Pai and which is about 180 km long, feeds the Salawin River in the Kayah State of Myanmar. The Mey (Moei) River is about 327 km long and originates in the amphur Phop Phra of Tak province. Unlike most rivers in Thailand, the Mey (Moei) River flows northward, for some distance, forming the natural border between Burma and Thailand. It unites with the Salawin River in the amphur Sop Mey/Moei (สบเมย) of Mae Hong Son province. In English, The Salawin is known as Salween, also spelled Salwin. See MAP.

saleung (สลึง)

1. Thai. An obsolete monetary unit with a value of a quarter of a baht, i.e. a twenty-five satang coin. It is still found on ancient coins and stamps. See also tamleung.

2. Thai. Weight measurement used by jewelers and pharmacists in Thailand, equal to a quarter of a baht, i.e. 3.75 grams. See also tamleung.

saliang (เสลี่ยง)

Thai. ‘Sedan chair’. When used for royalty or high-ranking monks its is often finely ornamented with kranok motives or rows of thevadas, a decorative feature in Thai known as thepchumnum (fig.). Some saliang, especially those for royalty, are gilded. In Thai also kaanhaam, yahnamaht and yahnumaht. See also palanquin.

saloh (สะล้อ, ซะล้อ)

Thai. A traditional fiddle-like instrument with two or three strings and played with a bow. It is similar to the so sahm saai, but smaller and is typically used in the northern Lan Na region. The saloh is usually made from rosewood and its sound box consists of a polished shell of a special type of coconut with a hole at one side, which is covered with animal skin. Also called so (fig.).

Salted Rock Shield

Common name of a lichen in the group of foliose, whose members grow in flat, two-dimensional, leaf-like lobes. It is of the genus Xanthoparmelia, which has a great numbers of synonyms, e.g. Almbornia, Neofuscelia, Chondropsis, Namakwa, Paraparmelia, and Xanthomaculina, and is known by has the scientific names Xanthoparmelia mexicana and Parmelia mexicana. It grows in a rosette, i.e. a circular arrangement of leave-like lobes, that are gray-green in colour. It can grow up to 10 centimetres in diameter. It is similar and related to the Green Rock Shield, a species of lichen of the same genus and with the scientific names Xanthoparmelia lavicola and Parmelia lavicola.

salt field

See nah kleua.

salwe (စလွယ်)

Burmese term for a set of strings or chains that is worn over the shoulders are fastened at the chest with one or more ornamental plaques. It is usually made from a precious metal, such as gold or silver, and is worn in order to indicate rank, which could be read from the material and the number of strands. Though reminiscent of the European livery collar or chain of office, its use can actually be traced back to the wearing of the brahman cord (fig.) by members of the highest caste in Hindu society. It is also found worn by certain Burmese Buddha images, especially crowned Buddha statues, such as the Nga Htat Gyi Buddha (fig.) in Yangon, as well as by boys under the age of 20 during the shinpyu ordination ceremony (fig.), when they dress in princely attire prior to becoming a Buddhist novice known as shin thamanei. See also Mandarin square.


See Salawin.

Sama (साम)

Sanskrit. The second of the four Vedas, which deals with the knowledge of worship, and is the originator of Indian classical music. Also Samaveda.

samahkhom nak sasom trah praisanihyahkon haeng prathet thai (สมาคมนักสะสมตราไปรษณียากรแห่งประเทศไทย)

Thai name for The Philatelists Association of Thailand.

samahkhom phaet rabob thaang deun ahaan haeng prathet thai (สมาคมแพทย์ระบบทางเดินอาหารแห่งประเทศไทย)

Thai name for Gastroenterological Association of Thailand.

samahkhom tantra (สมาคมตันตระ)

Thai. Tantra Association’ or ‘Tantra Society’. Another name for Wat Phra Siwa Chao, a Thai Hindu sanctuary in Bangkok known in English as ‘Lord Shiva Temple’.


See dhyani and samahti.

samahti (สมาธิ)

Thai for ‘meditation’. The historical Buddha attained Enlightenment seated in a position of concentration or meditation, as is seen in images depicted with a dhyani mudra. Generally meditation is an attempt to experience the deepest realities by inner contemplation. Buddhist monks in Thailand typically meditate on death, often making use of corpses or photos of dead people. Some even go as far as to lock themselves up inside a crematorium for meditation, which is somewhat reminiscent to the sadhu in India, who cover their body and face in vibhuti (fig.), i.e. sacred ash taken from a cremation fire (fig.). In addition, there are weekly magazines available to the larger public, with titles such as Ahdyahkam (อาชญากรรม) meaning Crime’, and 191 (i.e. the emergency number of the Special Branch of the Royal Thai Police), that show gruesome pictures of victims of murder and people killed in traffic accidents. Sometimes transcribed samaati en in popular speech also called wipatsanah and kammathaan (กรรมฐาน).

samana (शमण, สมณะ)

Pali-Thai. ‘One who strives’. A term used for an hermit or ascetic.

samanaborikaan (สมณบริขาร)

Thai. The eight necessary articles or utensils required by Buddhist monks in daily life. These include an alms bowl or baat, clothing or pahkahsahwapad, a needle, a razor, a water filter and an umbrella. Also borikaan.


See naen.

samanasak (สมณศักดิ์)

Thai. Ecclesiastical dignity’. Term for ecclesiastical peerages, i.e. titles or ranks, traditionally given to Buddhist monks in Thailand, who are ordained members of the Sangha.

samanera (श्रामणेर)

Sanskrit. Ascetics, mendicant monks or wanderers of diverse religious discipline in ancient India. The term today refers to a novice in the Buddhist order. Officially transcribed with an ‘r’ following the ‘s’, i.e. śrāmaṇera (shrAmaNera). In Thailand, the term for a novice is samanaen, which is usually abbreviated to naen, and in Myanmar it is shin thamanei.

Samantabhadra (समन्तभद्र)

Sanskrit. ‘Universal worthy one’. The Sanskrit name for Puxian.

Samaveda (सामवेद)

Sanskrit. See Sama.


See Sambar Deer.

Sambar Deer

Common name for a large deer, with the scientific name Cervus unicolor. Its coat is dark brown, with chestnut marks on the rump and underparts, and mane-like hairs on the neck and throat (fig.). Males may have large rugged antlers (fig.), that may exceed well over one meter in length, and of which the brow tines are simple and the main beams typically forked at the tip. Sambar Deer are found in southern Asia, including India and Nepal (fig.); mainland Southeast Asia, including Thailand (fig.) where it is called kwahng pah (กวางป่า), meaning ‘wild deer’ or ‘forest deer’; southern China; Indonesia; and the Malaysian island of Borneo. There are several subspecies and one particular species, i.e. the Sunda Sambar (Cervus timorensis), which is slightly smaller, is known to be a favourite prey of the Indonesian Komodo dragon (fig.). Also called simply Sambar. In 1976, Sambar Deer were depicted on a Thai postage stamp, as part of a series on wild animals (fig.). See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2), and TRAVEL PICTURE.

sa-mee (สมี)

Thai. A former Buddhist monk defrocked as a result of a serious transgression. See also abat and Buddhist precepts.

Sammakon (สัมมากร)

A neighborhood in Bangkok's Saphaan Soong district, which consists of a village-like community, of which a good deal is purportedly royal property. The rather tranquil area off Ramkhamhaeng Road features four large lakes, which are referred to as thale saap sammakon (ทะเลสาปสัมมากร), i.e. ‘Sammakon Lakes’. Also transliterated Sammakorn. See also QUADCOPTER PICTURES (1) and (2), as well as MAP.

Sammanakkha (สำมนักขา)

Thai. Name of a female giant or yak character in the Ramakien. READ ON.

Samnakngaan Khannakammakaan Kitjakaan Krajaai Siang Kitjakaan Thorasap Lae Kitjakaan Thorakhammanahkhom Haeng Chaat (สำนักงานคณะกรรมการกิจการกระจายเสียง กิจการโทรทัศน์และกิจการโทรคมนาคมแห่งชาติ)

Thai for the Office of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, referred to in short as NBTC. It was established in December 2010 and is the successor of the Office of The National Telecommunication Commission or NTC, which is known in Thai as Samnakngaan Khannakammakaan Kitjakaan Thorakhammanahkhom Haeng Chaat, which in turn developed from the Department of Posts and Telegraph, and hence its logo is a Garuda over a post horn (fig.). See MAP.

Samnakngaan Khannakammakaan Kitjakaan Thorakhammanahkhom Haeng Chaat (สำนักงานคณะกรรมการกิจการโทรคมนาคมแห่งชาติ)

Thai for Office of The National Telecommunication Commission, known in short as the NTC, an organization that developed from the Department of Posts and Telegraph, and its logo is a Garuda over a post horn. The organization plays a role in managing radio frequencies for telecommunication activities, as well as supervising telecommunication transactions in order to yield the highest benefits in terms of education, culture, and state security. Other duties include the promotion of free and fair competition, as well as support for research and development, in the Thai telecommunications industry. The organization was established in 2004 and in December 2010 it converged with other departments and was transformed into the Office of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, referred to in short as NBTC and known in Thai as Samnakngaan Khannakammakaan Kitjakaan Krajaai Siang Kitjakaan Thorasap Lae Kitjakaan Thorakhammanahkhom Haeng Chaat (fig.).

Samnakngaan Khannakammakaan Khumkhrong Phoo Boriphohk (สำนักงานคณะกรรมการคุ้มครองผู้บริโภค)

Thai for Office of the Consumer Protection Board, the government agency that ensures the rights of consumers, as well as fair trade, competition, and accurate information in the marketplace. It looks after the interests of consumers nationwide and mediates in conflicts. The agaency is in existence since 1979 and consists of several departments, including a Complaint Centre, known in Thai as Soon Rab Reuang Rahw Rong Thuk (ศูนย์รับเรื่องราวร้องทุกข์), where complaints are reviewed and legal advise is given. The Office of the Consumer Protection Board also has its own police force, a specialized branch of the Royal Thai Police. See also POSTAGE STAMP and MAP.

Samnakngaan Tamruat Haeng Chaat (สำนักงานตำรวจแห่งชาติ)

Thai. ‘Office of the National Police’, which in English is officially referred to as Royal Thai Police.

Samnak Pattibat Tham Sanku (สำนักปฏิบัติธรรมสันกู่)

Thai. ‘Sanku Meditation Institution’. Name of a Buddhist meditation center, located on a forested hill on the outskirts of Mae Rim, just north of the city of Chiang Mai. READ ON.

Samnak Phijahranah Phaaphayon Lae Wihdithat (สํานักพิจารณาภาพยนตร์และวีดิทัศน์)

Thai. ‘Film and Video Consulting Agency’. Government bureau under the Department of Cultural Promotion, which in turn is a division of the Ministry of Culture. It acts as a regulating body in all matters related to moving pictures and the film industry.

sa-moh (สมอ)

Thai. Name for the gall-nut, a medicinal fruit in the form of a small nutlike sphere (fig.), that Indra offered to the Buddha from a tree in heaven in order to strengthen him, during the seventh weeks after he attained Enlightenment, while he was sitting under the Rajayatana Tree to meditate and enjoy the Bliss of Vimutti, i.e. the freedom from suffering, without eating anything during the whole period. The fruit is used as a herbal medicine and in the iconography of Myanmar, a certain pose of Buddha images (fig.) represents the Buddha with his arms hanging at his side, with one hand holding onto his robe and the other holding a gall-nut fruit between thumb and middle finger (fig.). This pose is believed to represent the Buddha offering the dhamma as a cure for suffering. The sa-moh may also be described as fruit from a tree with the botanical name Prunus cerasiferaas, which is commonly known by the names purple-leaf plum, cherry plum, and myrobalan plum. See also Haripunchai.

Samohson Krung Thep Krihtah (สโมสรกรุงเทพกรีฑา)

Thai. Literally ‘Bangkok Athletics Club’. However, the term krihtah, sometimes transliterated kreetah or kreetha, is used for all kinds of track and field sports, and the name is figuratively often translated as ‘Bangkok Sports Club’, yet to avoid confusion with the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, it is in English altogether referred to as ‘Krung Thep Kreetha Sports Club’. It is located in Bangkok's khwaeng Hua Mahk, in the khet Bangkapi, alongside ‒yet somewhat off‒ the Bangkok-Chonburi Highway. It features a golf course, with two club houses, and facilities for fitness, swimming, tai chi, qi gong, and yoga. See MAP.

Samon (สามล)

King from the Thai story Sangthong whose daughter Rochana (fig.) married Phra Sang.

Samonthat (สามลทัศ)

Thai. Name of one of the seven guardian spirits that looks out for children and that are generally known as Mae Seua. This thevada guards all the children that are born on a Wednesday and is represented with a human-like body and the head of an elephant, similar to the Hindu deity Ganesha (fig.).

sampan (สำปั้น)

See reua sampan.

sampannih (สัมปันนี)

Thai. Name of an ancient Thai dessert, usually fashioned in the shape of a beautiful flower, often in white or in a pastel colour. These flowers-shaped biscuits are made with wheat flour or tapioca flour, coconut milk and sugar. They are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and purportedly melt in the mouth. Their taste is described as mellow sweet. The name means ‘darling’ or ‘beloved’, and it is considered a suitable snack and a souvenir to give to a loved one. Its appearance and taste is variable and the recipe has over time changed to suit demand according to the time period. Nowadays, the centre of the flower may be decorated with a little gold powder or gold leaf. See also POSTAGE STAMP.

Samphati (สัมพาที)

Thai. Mythological bird from the Ramakien with enormous power. It is the oldest son of Garuda and the older brother to Sadayu. He has the face of the Garuda and the body of a bird with a red plumage. He is known for his self-sacrifice because he protected his brother from the piercing rays of the sun, after he was being punished for trying to eat it, when he mistook it for a fruit, thus infuriating Surya. The heat of the rays caused his feathers to fall so Samphati remained featherless until the day the curse would be lifted. Also called Nok Samphati.

sampot (សំពត់)

Khmer. A piece of clothing covering the lower part of the body (fig.). Traditionally, it is considered the national garment of Cambodia and comparable to the Thai pah nung and the Burmese longyi. There are various kinds and styles, as well as different fabrics, with the sampot thep apsara being a famous type of sampot from the Khmer Empire era, which is typically found worn by apsaras in Khmer art. Besides the latter, there is also the sampot alorgn, sampot chang kben, sapot chorabap, sampot lberk, sampot samloy, sampot sang, sampot seai sua, whereas the two main fabrics are referred to as sampot hol and sampot phamuong. Compare with the Thai johng kraben (fig.).

samrohng (สำโรง)

See po daeng.

samrong (สำรอง)

A species of tree commonly known as Malva Nut Tree and with the binomial name Scaphium macropodium, found in many parts of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, where it is especially cultivated in Chanthaburi and Trat. Its plum-like fruit is used as a herb in traditional medicine to improve general health, as well as to treat certain respiratory conditions and other ailments, such as cough, phlegm, sore throat, apthous ulcers and fever. It has several other names, depending on the region. In Central Thailand, it is known as phung thalaai (พุงทะลาย) and in Isaan it is called bakjong (บักจอง). Its dried fruit, known as look samrong, is found in bulk in Bangkok's Chinatown.

samsara (संसार)

Sanskrit. The transmigration of the soul caused by the perpetual cycles of birth, aging, death and rebirth, accompanied by suffering. Both Hindus and Buddhists try to break this cycle by striving for the elimination of lust and desire. In Thai called sangsarawat.

Samuha Kalahome (สมุหกลาโหม)

Thai. Name for the High Chancellor of the Interior Command of the southern districts, with the title of Chao Phraya, a post which derived from the Samuha Nayok. It is also referred to as Samuha Phra Kalahome and is sometimes incorrectly translated as Prime Minister, a position with similar powers but which was created only later and thus at best would be its successor.

Samuha Nayok (สมุหนายก)

Thai. Name for the High Chancellor of the Interior Command of the northern districts, with the title of Chao Phraya. READ ON.

Samuha Phra Kalahome (สมุหพระกลาโหม)

See Samuha Kalahome.

Samui (สมุย)

Large island (map) in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of mainland Surat Thani, the southern province of which it is also a part. Although its port and main commercial centre are in Nathon, Chaweng is its main holiday destination, offering many shops and restaurants, as well as nightclubs and accommodation in any category. Another place on the rise is Lamai, just a short distance south of Chaweng. Besides the many pristine sandy beaches Samui also has some waterfalls (map - fig.), numerous coconut plantations, the unusual ‘grandfather and grandmother’ rock formations (map - fig.), a safari park, the Big Buddha (map - fig.) on nearby Koh Fahn island, etc. Only a short boat trip away to its West is Ang Thong National Marine Park and to its North lies the popular ‘hippy island’ Pha Ngan (map - fig.). Samui is often referred to as Koh Samui or Ko Samui, meaning Samui Island. See MAP.

samurai (侍)

Japanese. In the past, a member of the Japanese warrior caste (fig.), who followed a code of conduct and chivalry known as Bushido (武士道), meaning Way of the Warrior. Bushido is related to the ancient Japanese concept of Yamato Damashi, in which a warrior never retreats or surrenders, but fights either until victory or death. These warriors were clothed in elaborate combat dresses, including ornate battle helmets (fig.), that typically had two antler-like projections at the front (fig.), often in the form of two birds' heads facing each other. In Japanese, Rhinoceros Beetles (fig.) are referred to as kabutomushi, literally ‘helmet insects’, as their armour-plated bodies and forked horns are reminiscent of samurai helmets. In Chinese, the Bushido is pronounced Wushidao, with the character dao (道) being the same as that for Tao or Dao, the all embracing, ultimate and primordial principle of Taoism, which is usually translated as the ‘Right Way’. Nowadays the term samurai stands for a Japanese army officer. See also katana and Tamahagane.

Samut Prakan (สมุทรปราการ)

Thai. Fortress at Sea. Name of a province (map) and its capital city in the region of central Thailand, 29 kms south of the centre of Bangkok. READ ON.

Samut Sakon (สมุทรสาคร)

Thai-Sanskrit. Literally ‘Ocean Lake’, but usually translated as ‘Ocean City’. A province (map) and its capital city of the same name on the Gulf of Thailand. READ ON.

Samut Songkhram (สมุทรสงคราม)

Thai. ‘Ocean of war’. Name of a province (map) and its modern coastal capital in West Thailand, 72 kms southwest of Bangkok. READ ON.

Sanam Bin Nahm (สนามบินน้ำ)

Thai. ‘Water Airfield’. Name of an area in Nonthaburi, which prior to ca. 1937 AD was used as an airstrip for floatplanes. Its use declined with the expansion of the Don Meuang Airport and the name is now used to refer both to the area and a major local highway that runs through it.

Sanam Bin Sra Pathum (สนามบินสระปทุม)

Thai. ‘Lotus Pond Airfield’. Name of a former makeshift airfield located on the grounds of a horse racetrack at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club in Bangkok's Pathumwan District, which was used during the onset of aviation in Thailand, in the beginning of the 20th century. It was the first time used for a flying demonstration on 31 January 1911 by the Belgian pilot Charles Van den Born (fig.), who with a flight in his plane the Farman (fig.) introduced aviation to Thailand. Sra Pathum Airfield was utilized until March 1914, when the first real airport, i.e. Don Meuang International Airport, became operational. Whereas the name pathum means ‘water lily’ or ‘lotus’, and derives from the name of its location, i.e. Pathumwan (ปทุมวัน), sra means ‘pool’ or ‘pond’. See also Sanam Bin Nahm.

Sanam Kilah Haeng Chaht (สนามกีฬาแห่งชาติ)

Thai. ‘National Sports Field’. Name for the National Stadium (fig.) in Bangkok.

Sanam Luang (สนามหลวง)

1. Thai. ‘Royal Field’. The Phra Meru (fig.) field in front of the royal palace, in Bangkok. On this large grassland often kite flying fights (fig.), concerts and demonstrations are held, the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony (fig.) takes place and traditionally members of the royal family are cremated (fig.), which is but a short distance from the palace, where a kings' remains are lain in state until his body is transported, placed upright inside a koht, i.e. a royal funeral urn (fig.), by means of a royal funeral procession (fig.) to the crematorium (fig.). In 1948, the first weekend market in Bangkok was established here, which in 1982 was relocated to its present-day site on Phahon Yothin Road and renamed the Phahon Yothin Market, which later became the Chatuchak Weekend Market (fig.). See MAP.

2. Thai. ‘Royal Field’. Name of a royal lawn within the King Mongkut Memorial Park in downtown Phetchaburi (fig.), sometimes referred to as Sanam Luang Phetburi, in order to differentiate it from the Phra Meru field in Bangkok (fig.).

Sanam Supachalasai (สนามศุภชลาศัย)

Thai. Name of the main and oldest stadium at the National Stadium sports complex in Bangkok. It was built in 1937 and named for Navy Captain Bung Supachalasai (fig.), Deputy Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Navy and First Director General of the Department of Physical Education with the title of Luang and considered the Father of Thai Sport, who overlooked the construction of the National Stadium. The top of the gable of the main entrance has a the national tricolour flanked by statues of Indra on Erawan (fig.), fashioned after the emblem of Bangkok (fig.) and in a style reminiscent of Socialist Realism. See also TRAVEL PICTURE, PANORAMA PICTURE, and POSTAGE STAMP

Sanchi (साँची)

Hindi. An important Buddhist site where the emperor Ashoka, in the third century BC, had the Great Stupa built which was doubled in size about a hundred years later.

Sanctuary of Truth

See Prasat Satjathamm.


An aromatic and lightweight kind of wood very suitable for fine detailed woodcarvings and thus highly popular. Commonly found are carved sandalwood fans and various Buddhist artifacts. Clubs or maces made from sandalwood were in the past used to carry out the capital punishment of high raking officials and royalty, such as the execution of king Taksin. Traditionally royal cremation urns are also made of sandalwood. In Thai, it is called mai jan and dok maijan (fig.), artificial flowers made of sandalwood, are used for the ritual lighting of funeral pyres. There are several kinds of sandalwood, including Indian sandalwood, white sandalwood, red sandalwood, etc. Phra Maha Ut images (fig.) often have the imprint of one or more sandalwood-flowers on them, which are a symbol of sammah samphutta (สัมมาสัมพุทธะ), i.e. the Perfectly Enlightened One. In Thai known as mai jan or mai chan (ไม้จันทน์).

sandalwood flower

See dok maijan.

Sanda Muhki (စန္ဒာမုနိ)

Burmese. Name of an ogress, who −desiring to offer something to the Buddha− offered him her own two breasts. For this radical act of merit, the Buddha prophesied that Sanda Muhki would be reborn as a future great king and ardent supporter of Buddhism, who would build a city at the foot of Mandalay Hill. Since in 1857 AD, King Mindon Min (fig.) founded the city of Mandalay, Sanda Muhki is seen as the latter's earlier incarnation. Of course, the cutting off of female breasts reminds of the legendary Amazon, whose Greek name Amazona (αμαζόνα) literally means ‘breastless’, as these forceful Scythian female warriors of Greek mythology were alleged to have cut off their right breast so as not to interfere with the use of a bow or a spear. In Thai, she is known as nang yak Khamukhi (นางยักษ์ขมูขี). Pronunciation Sanda Muni, as in Sanda Muni Phaya.

Sanda Muni Phaya (စန္ဒာမုနိဘုရား)

Burmese. Name of a Buddhist temple located at the foot of Mandalay Hill (fig.), which houses 1,772 marble steles inscribed with the Sutta (395 slabs); Vinaya (1,207 slab); and Abhidhamma (170 slab), erected in 1913 by the hermit Ukhandi (Ukhan Tithe) and placed in numerous freestanding stupas. The temple is named after the ogress Sanda Muhki (pronounced Sanda Muni - fig.), believed to be an earlier incarnation of King Mindon Min (fig.), the founder of the city of Mandalay, who also created the similar Kuthodaw Pagoda (fig.), a Buddhist temple located nearby which also houses a version of the Tipitaka and which is sometimes dubbed the world's largest book. See also MAP and TRAVEL PHOTOS.

Sandbox Tree

Common name for a large, up to 60 metres tall, evergreen tree, with the botanical name Hura crepitans and known in Thai as Phohsri (โพศรี). This monoecious tree has large ovate leaves and while the red male flowers grow on long spikes, the  red female trumpet flowers with no petals grow solitary on stems. The tree' spiny trunk gave it the epithet Monkey No-climb Tree. The pumpkin-shaped fruit of the Sandbox Tree consists of crescent-shaped seeds arranged radially. When ripe, the fruit explodes and the seeds are catapulted over large distances, often landing several tens of meters away from the parent tree. The sound of this ballistic form of dispersal, known as explosive dehiscence, led to the tree also being nicknamed Dynamite Tree.

Sand Bubbler Crab

Name of a species of tiny crab of the genus Scopimera inflata and belonging to the family Ocypodidae. They don't grow much larger than a mere 1.5 centimeter (fig.) and have pincers that point downwards, enabling them to scoop sand into their highly adapted mouthparts at high speed. They feed on organic matter and microscopic small creatures called myofauna that are living in the upper layer of damped soil on sandy beaches. Soon after the tide has exposed the beach these tiny crabs emerge from small burrows in the sand and start sieving detritus from the sand. During this process they pass sand particles through their mouths, filtering the edible elements out and regurgitating unwanted particles in the form of tiny pellets of sand, which they discard all over the beach. In Thai, they are called poo pan saay, which translates as ‘sand molding crab’. Sometimes referred to by the scientific name Dotilla fenestrate. See also piyaw and poo sahaem kaam daeng. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2), and WATCH VIDEO.

sand ginger

Common name for a type of rhizome with the botanical name Kaempferia galanga and known in Thai as krachai dam (fig.), and one of four species of the genus Alpinia, known in Thai as krachai.

Sand Martin

Common name for a circa 12 cm long passerine bird in the swallow family, with the scientific designation Riparia riparia. Adults are brown above and white below, with a somewhat fainter brown band on the breast, while the legs are brown and the bill is black. This species has a wide range, occurring in Europe, parts of northern Africa, Asia and America in summer, while wintering in eastern and southern Africa, and parts of southern America and Asia. It lives near bodies of water and rivers, where it feeds on small insects, mostly flies whose early stages are aquatic. It breeds in colonies, typically nesting in burrows bored in the sand on a river bank (fig.). Also known as Bank Swallow, Collared Sand Martin, and European Sand Martin. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

sandon (สันดอน)

Thai. A sandbank or bar at the mouth of a river, especially the bar at the mouth of the Chao Phrya river in Samut Prakan, where reua khut (dredgers) with the appropriate name ‘sandon’ can be seen (fig.) looking after the draught, that is the depth of the river needed to navigate a ship. See also don.

sand pagoda

See chedi saai.

sang (ซั้ง)

Name for a type of fish trap made from bamboo wickerwork with a spiked entrance to prevent the fish from escaping, once inside. There are many different models and shapes. They are usually slightly oval or round and tapering. Small twigs are placed inside the trap to attract the fish to come and hide in between them, entrapping them inside. When the trap is recovered the entrance is shut with some sticks or sometimes with a net. It is used for entrapping fresh water fish near riverbanks, where the water is shallow and where it is affixed to the bottom using wooden sticks. Sometimes called  gram or glam, or referred to by its local name or according the type, e.g. lob, son, sai and saab. See also tum.

Sang (สังข์)

Thai name for Sankha.

sangbuab (ซังบวบ)

Thai. ‘Fiber gourd’ or ‘cob gourd’. A name for luffa.

Sangha (สงฆ์, संघ)

Thai-Sanskrit. ‘Multitude’, ‘assembly’ or ‘association’. The community of monks that follow the Buddhist canon. It is one element of the Trairat, together with the Buddha and the Dhamma. The Thai Sangha is divided into two denominations, i.e. the Mahanikaya sect and Dhammayutika sect, the first one being the largest with about 35 times as many monks.

Sangharama (सङ्घाराम)

1. Sanskrit term for a Buddhist temple or monastery, literally the arama or araam of the Sangha, i.e. the community of Buddhist monks.

2. Sanskrit. Buddhist name of Kuan U sometimes used after his death and his deification as a bodhisattva and the guardian of the dharma.

Sanghavasa (संघवस)

Sanskrit. The monks quarters in a Buddhist temple complex.

sang-i (囍, ซังฮี้)

Chinese-Thai. ‘Double happiness’. A Chinese sign or character often used during weddings (fig.) to express the happiness that the new couple may befall. The word sang means ‘double’ or ‘couple’ and i means ‘happiness’. In Pinyin also transcribed xĭ, and in English sang hee or sang-hi. See also foo.



Sangkayana (สังคายนา)

Thai-Pali. Grand Council held by the Buddhist Sangha for the purpose of revising the Tripitaka. There was one held in Chiang Mai in 1477 AD. Also called Sangkayanai.

Sangkayanai (สังคายนาย)

See Sangkayana.

Sangkalok (สังคโลก)

Chinese pronunciation for Sawankhalok. Also Sangkhalok.

sangkhaathi (สังฆาฏิ)

Thai. A yellow or orange piece of additional clothing folded in a very particular way into a rectangle and worn by monks over the left shoulder during religious services inside the monastery or temple and as protection against the cold, a kind of winter cloak worn by monks on their robes, yet normally folded over the left shoulder in Buddhist ceremonies. It is one of three pieces of cloth called the traijiewon. Also transliterated sangkaati.

Sangkhalok (สังคโลก)

See Sangkalok.

Sangkhlaburi (สังขละบุรี)

Thai. Name of an amphur in the northern part of Kanchanaburi province with a population of around 40,000 inhabitants. It has a lot of natural attractions such as waterfalls, rough jungle and the Khao Laem reservoir which flooded the local valley as well as parts of the former city and today still reveals the old half-sunken temple (map - fig.). The western part of town, across the wooden Mon bridge (map - fig.) that connects the Thai village of Sangkhlaburi with the local Mon village, consists largely of rafthouses built on the water. It is one of the few places in Thailand where the people, dressed in longyi (long Burmese-style sarong) and often with their faces covered in thanaka powder, can be seen carrying goods on the top of their head, without using their hands. Also on the Mon side is Wat Wang Wiwekaram, a Buddhist temple in a mixture of Thai, Burmese and Indian styles and with its satellite pagoda built in the style of the Mahabodhi pagoda in Bodhgaya (map - fig.). Sangkhlaburi is the last town before reaching the border with Burma at the Three Pagoda Pass (fig.), and along the main road into town is Wat Somdet (วัดสมเด็จ), a temple with features on either way of the road, including an old ubosot that has Buddha images sitting on each of the window sills, on the outer side; a square wihaan with a pointed roof (map - fig.); a few chedis; a row of Buddha images (fig.); as well as a giant reclining Buddha (fig.). Sometimes transcribed Sangklaburi. It was formerly named Wang Ka.

Sang Praeng (สางแปรง)

Thai-Pali name of a mythological creature from Himaphan forest, that has the body of a singha, with clawed feet and a feathery tail. Its body is sometimes depicted with scales and in a yellow colour. Also transcribed Saang Praeng or sometimes Sang Prang. In appearance it is somewhat similar to Sakun Kraison, which besides claws and a feathery tail, also has a beak, and is of a brown colour.

sangsarawat (สังสารวัฏ)

Thai term for samsara.

Sangthong (สังข์ทอง)

Thai. ‘Golden Conch’. Name of a hero from a traditional Thai story of the same name, who is usually referred to as Prince Phra Sang. The prince had a body of gold and married Rochana (fig.), the daughter of King Samon. To avoid unwanted attraction to his golden complexion, Prince Sangthong disguised himself as Chao Ngo (fig.), an ogre (fig.) with characteristics of members of the Ngo Tribe, i.e. with a black complexion and curly hair (fig.). The folk narrative is written in dramatic verse by King Rama II and has also been adapted for stage performance, while it also appears in the Panyas Jataka Stories where it is known by the name Suwana Sang Jataka. It is popular in southern Thailand in the form of a narrative written for chanting. There are several Thai postage stamps that portray characters and scenes from the story Sangthong, e.g. a 1973 stamp in a set of four stamps on Thai literature (fig.), while two complete series of stamps have been dedicated to the theme, the latest one issued on the 2010 National Children's Day (fig.). Also commonly called Hoi Sang, sometimes transcribed Sang Thong, and reminiscent of kumaanthong. See POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2), and (3), THEMATIC STREET LIGHT, and TRAVEL PICTURES. MORE ON THIS.

Sangwaan Talaphat (สังวาลย์ ตะละภัฏ)

Thai. Name of the Princess Mother, i.e. the mother of both King Bhumipon Adunyadet (fig.) and his older brother King Ananda Mahidol. She is officially known as Princess Sri Nagarindra.

Sankha (शङ्ख)

Sanskrit. ‘Conch [of victory]’. An attribute of several gods (fig.) and the instrument used by Vishnu to herald his victories over the demons. It is also a symbol for the primordial sound Aum and is also present in Buddhism. It is seen during certain festival, especially in Hinduism (fig.). In Thai Sang and Phrasong.

sanook (สนุก)

Thai word meaning ‘entertaining, amusing, pleasant, enjoyable, to have a good time, to be vivacious and to enjoy’ as an adjective, and ‘entertainment, amusement, pleasure, enjoyment, a good time, fun and joy’ as a noun.  Also sanook sanahn (สนุกสนาน), and also transcribed sanuk and sanuk sanan. In Isaan, the term for sanook sanahn is muan seuhn.

Sanphat (สรรพัชญ)

Thai. ‘The All-knowing’, a nickname for the Buddha. Also Sanphet.

Sanphet (สรรเพชญ์)

1. Thai. ‘The All-knowing’, a nickname for the Buddha. It is integrated in the name of the temple Wat Phra Sri Sanphet in Ayutthaya (fig.). Also Sanphat.

2. Thai. ‘The all-knowing, he who knows everything’. Crown titles for nine monarchs of the Ayutthaya Period, starting with King Maha Dhammarachathiraat (fig.), with the title Somdet Phra Sanphet Thih I (สมเด็จพระสรรเพชญ์ที่ ๑); followed by King Naresuan (fig.), with the title Somdet Phra Sanphet Thih II; King Ekathotsarot (fig.), with the title Somdet Phra Sanphet Thih III; King Sri Saowaphak (ศรีเสาวภาคย์), with the title Somdet Phra Sanphet Thih IV; King Prasat Thong (ปราสาททอง), with the title Somdet Phra Sanphet Thih V; King Chai (ไชย), with the title Somdet Phra Sanphet Thih VI; King Sri Suthammaracha (ศรีสุธรรมราชา), with the title Somdet Phra Sanphet Thih VII; King Suriyenthrathibodi (สุริเยนทราธิบดี), with the title Somdet Phra Sanphet Thih VIII; and King Thaisa (ท้ายสระ), with the title Somdet Phra Sanphet Thih IX.

Sanskrit (संस्कृत)

An ancient language from India meaning ‘pure’. Etymologically it is of Indo-European origin and is used in the sacred texts of Hinduism. In Buddhism it is the language of Mahayana Buddhism compared to Pali, that is used in Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism. Its position in the cultures of South and Southeast Asia is similar to that of Latin and Greek in Europe and its influence on Thai is significant. Sanskrit uses the Devanagari script. It is sometimes referred to as deva-bhasa, meaning ‘divine language’. The name is derived from the word Samskrtam and may be translated as ‘well put together’, ‘refined’ or ‘highly elaborated’, but is also translated ‘pure’. It comes from the root samskar, meaning ‘to put together’ or ‘to compose’. It is also called Samskrtaa Vaak, meaning ‘Sanskrit Speech’, but which is often translated as the ‘Cultured Language’. In Thai called Phasa Sanskrit.

Santa Cruz Church

Name of a Catholic church, located on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River, in Thonburi. READ ON.

santi (สันติ)

Thai word meaning peace, peaceful, peacefulness, tranquility, quietness, calmness.

Santi Khiri (สันติครีรี)

Thai. ‘Peaceful Mountain’. Nickname for Doi Mae Salong.


Western name for krathon.

san tou liu bi (三头六臂)

Chinese. ‘Three heads six arms’. Iconographic style, especially used in Taoist religious art, in which a certain deity is depicted with three heads and six arms (fig.), to indicate his or her great power. Since the term is used to describe a being of formidable powers, it is also used an idiom for someone who possesses remarkable abilities.

sao inthakhin (เสาอินทขีล)

Thai. ‘Barrier post’ or ‘guardian pillar’. Another name for lak meuang, i.e. the City Pillar, in which the guardian spirit of a city dwells. Also transliterated sahw inthakin. WATCH VIDEO.

sao nang naeb (เสานางแนบ)

Thai. ‘Adjacent lady poles’. Architectural term for decoratively carved, quadrangular, stone pillars, placed at the porch or roofed entrance of certain structures in Khmer style, such as prasat hin, and which aid in the support of the porch's roof. They can be either monolithic or compounded of several stone blocks.

Saopha (စော်ဘွား)

Burmese. ‘Lord of the Skies’. A royal title used by the hereditary rulers of the Shan States of Myanmar. It is the Burmese equivalent of the Thai title Chao Fah.

Sao Sanom (สาวสนม)

Thai. ‘Youthful Concubine’. Name of a perennial plant in the family Burseraceae, with the botanical designation Santiria griffithii, and which grows up to 10 centimetres in height. Its main stem is sparsely covered with hair and it has thin leaves that usually spread along the ground. The flowers consists of three purple petals and three yellow stamens. This species thrives well in the cracks of rocks and is usually found deep in the forest. It is depicted on a postage stamp issued in 2009 as part of a set of four stamps on wild flowers found in Thailand (fig.). It is also found in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Saovabha (เสาวภา)

Another transliteration for Saowapha.

Saowapha (เสาวภา)

Thai. A wife of Rama V and mother to Wachirawut, who as the eldest son of this queen ascended the throne as Rama VI (fig.) in 1910. She was also the mother of Prajadhipok (fig.). Her full name is Saowapha Phongsri and was born as the daughter of King Mongkut and his Consort Queen Piyamawadi Sri Phatcharinthra Mata (ปิยมาวดี ศรีพัชรินทรมาตา), and was hence a full sister of both Queen Sunandha Kumariratana (fig.) and Queen Sawang Watthana. She was eventually bestowed with the title Queen Mother of Thailand by King Rama VII and is also referred to as the Queen Regent. She was born on 1 January 1864 AD and passed away at the age of 55 on 20 October 1919. Her name is usually transliterated Saovabha, and she is also known by the name Sri Phatcharinthra (ศรีพัชรินทรา), which is sometimes transliterated Sri Bajrindra. The Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok (fig.), which also houses the capital's Snake Farm (fig.), is named after her. See also Pig Memorial and POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2) and (3).

Saowaphak Narirat (เสาวภาคย์ นารีรัตน์)

Thai. Name of a royal consort of King Chulalongkorn. She was born as Piu Ladawan (ปิ๋ว ลดาวัลย์) on 26 January 1854 AD. On 15 April 1873, she bore King Rama V a daughter, who was named Chandra Saradavara and bestowed with the title Princess of Phichit. Saowaphak Narirat passed away at the age of 33, on 21 July 1887. She has a memorial at the Royal Summer Palace (fig.) in Bang Pa-in.

Sapaakahchaad Thai (สภากาชาดไทย)

Thai name for the Thai Red Cross Society.

saphaan (สะพาน)

Thai for ‘bridge’. Also transcribed sapaan and saphan. Some of the more important bridges in Thailand include the Industrial Ring Road Bridge (fig.), i.e. the largest bridge in the Kingdom; the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (fig.); Krung Thon Bridge (fig.); Memorial Bridge (fig.); Rama VIII Bridge (fig.); Rama IX Bridge (fig.); Kanchanaphisek Bridge (fig.); the Bridge over the River Kwae (fig.); and the wooden bridge of Sangkhlaburi (fig.), said to be the longest of its kind in Thailand.

Saphaan Atsadaang (สะพานอัษฎางค์)

Thai. Name of a jetty in the sea, located at the former Royal Summer Palace on Koh Si Chang, in Chonburi Province. READ ON.

Saphaan Charoenrat 32 (สะพานเจริญราษฎร์ ๓๒)

Thai. ‘Prosperity 32 Bridge’. Name of an arched bridge that spans Khlong Maha Naak. READ ON.

Saphaan Kwai (สะพานควาย)

1. Thai. Buffalo bridge’. Name of an area in Bangkok, named after its local history. In the past, the area was farmed and there was a great need for water buffaloes to work the fields. Hence, a wooden bridge was built over a local canal to allow buffalo traders to send their animals to the area. Also commonly transcribed Sapaan Kwai and Saphan Khwai, or similar. See also kwai and saphaan.

2. Thai. Buffalo bridge’. In the past, when the land and roads upcountry got flooded during the rainy season, it was common practice to connect dry areas of land by making a live bridge, formed by water buffaloes. The people would then cross the flooded area by walking over the buffalos' backs. Also transcribed Sapaan Kwai and Saphan Khwai, or similar. See also kwai and saphaan.

Saphaan Phon Phracha (สะพานพรประชา)

Thai. Name of an arched and partly covered bridge that spans the Tha Chin River in Suphanburi, and connects the main road towards Chainat to the Sam Chuk City Office and the adjacent Sam Chuk Market (fig.), which is also known as Talaat Roi Pih, i.e. the ‘100-Year Old Market’, because this old-fashioned Chinese community market, complete with wooden shop houses, has retained its authentic Thai character from a century ago. The bridge has a road and staircases for pedestrians on either side of it. This type of arched viaduct with a roof is rather unique for Thailand, yet similar to a style of pedestrian bridges commonly used in Myanmar, especially around Inle Lake (fig.), and is also somewhat reminiscent of the Wind and the Rain Bridges (fig.) found in southern China (fig.). See MAP.


See lamut.

sapparot (สับปะรด)

Thai term for pineapple.

sappaya (สัปปายะ)

Thai term that means ‘a condition that is suitable for living or carrying out various activities with good results, consisting of the four factors from Thai Buddhism and known as patjai sih, and dialogue, with the former encompassing the 4 things that are necessary for human life, e.g. food, medicine, clothing and housing. See also sabai.

Sappayasaphasathan (สัปปายะสภาสถาน)

Thai compound name that consists of the words sappaya, i.e. ‘a condition suitable for living created by dialogue; sapha (สภา), meaning ‘council or body; and sathan, which translates as place’ or ‘location. It is the name for the Thai Parliament Building (fig.) in Dusit, located along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, and in short referred to as Ahkaan Rattasapha. Also transliterated Sappaya-Saphasathan, Sappaya-Saphasathaan and Sappayasaphasathaan.


Name for a genus of parasitic flowering plants (fig.), found in the tropical forests of South and Southeast Asia and that attach themselves to the roots of a host vine, specifically plants of the genus Vitis and Tetrastigma, the latter also being the sole host for parasitic species of the rafflesia. Sarpia flowers are approximately 20 centimeters in diameter and have ten lobe-like petals, which are bright red in colour, with either yellowish or white dots. There are just three species, which all occurs also in Thailand, namely Sapria himalayana, Sapria ram and Sapria poilanei. In Thai, they are generally referred to as krathohn reusih (กระโถนฤๅษี), i.e. ‘reusi's spittoon’, whereas the different species are known separately as krathohn phra reusih (กระโถนพระฤๅษี) or ‘phra reusi's spittoon’, krathohn Phra Ram (กระโถนพระราม) or ‘Rama's spittoon’, and krathohn nang sidah (กระโถนนางสีดา), or ‘lady Sida's spittoon’, respectively.

Sapta Matrika (सप्तमात्रिरिका)

Sanskrit. ‘Seven Mothers’. Name for seven goddesses that are worshipped in South India and that are believed to wield great power. They are usually depicted standing or seated alongside each other, each one dressed in a traditional saree of a different colour. WATCH VIDEO.

Sapta Sindhava (सप्तसिन्धव)

Sanskrit. Term referring to the seven great rivers mentioned in the Vedas, i.e. the Ganges, Jumna, Sarasvati (now replaced by the small present-day Sarsuti river that joins the Ghaggar river), Satlej, Parushni, Marudvridha and Arjikija. Those are the five rivers of the Punjab along with the Sarasvati, which has since disappeared, and the Indus. Sometimes the term refers to the seven great world seas. See also panjanatie.

Saraburi (สระบุรี)

Thai. Name of a province (map) and its capital city in Central Thailand, 110 kms north of Bangkok. READ ON.

sarai (สาหร่าย)

Thai term for ‘seaweed’.

sarai phuang a-ngun (สาหร่ายพวงองุ่น)

Thai. ‘Clustered grapes seaweed’. Name for a kind of edible green algae from the coastal regions of the Indo-Pacific, with the scientific designation Caulerpa lentillifera. It grows in small clusters on a stem as tiny, soft and succulent bubbles. In English, it is known as sea-grapes or grape algae and is sometimes referred to as green caviar.

sarai ruang peung (สาหร่ายรวงผึ้ง)

Thai. ‘Seaweed  honeycomb’. Architectural term for a decorative part, sometimes attached over doorways or windows of traditional buildings, such as temples or palaces. It consists of triangular pieces of carved wood, that seem to droop like jelly or seaweed (sarai) from the lintel on which it is attached, and with a form and pattern that is reminiscent of honeycombs (fig.) that hang from a tree branch (fig.), roof's edge or eave, hence the name.

saranae (สะระแหน่)

Thai umbrella name for various mint plants, such as Mentha cordifolia, an edible, aromatic herb commonly known as ‘marsh mint’ and ‘kitchen mint’, and Melissa officinalis, which is commonly known as ‘lemon balm’ or ‘balm mint’. Whereas both plants have small, bright green, serrated leaves, Mentha cordifolia has purplish-brown stems, while Melissa officinalis has green stems. Both species are used in Thai cooking, but also eaten fresh or used as garnish. It is also the source of menthol, a mint-tasting organic alcohol found in its oil, and used as a flavouring as well as to relieve local pain. Saranae is also used for the terms ‘mint’ and ‘peppermint’, which typically refers to certain extracts of the plants from either species.


A Cham-wind instrument, sometimes referred to as the Cham oboe. In Vietnamese, it is called kèn saranai, with kèn being a similar, yet Vietnamese wind instrument, with a double reed and a conical wooden body, which in turn is reminiscent of the North Indian shehnai. The saranai plays an important role in traditional orchestras of the Cham people, and is used on many occasions, such as festivals and funerals. It consists of three main parts, i.e. 1. the reed, made from a palm leaf of a tree with the botanical name Corypha saribus, and attached to a small metal pipe; 2. the body, a hollow wooden cylinder, which tapers soemwhat towards the end and with eight holes, of which seven are placed in a straight line and at equal distances from each other, and the eighth hole at the end on the opposite side of the last of the seven holes; and 3. the bell, made of precious wood and which gradually gets bigger. It is the Cham counterpart of the Thai pih.

Saranatrai (สรณตรัย)

See Traisarana.

saraphi (สารภี)

Thai name for a flowering shrub or small tree, classified in the family Calophyllaceae and with the botanical designations Mammea siamensis and Ochrocarpus siamensis. It is endemic in Thailand, but also occurs in other countries of mainland Southeast Asia, such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In southern Thailand, it is referred to as sroiphi (สร้อยภี), which is pronounced soiphi. This evergreen tree bears small oval fruits and blooms fragrant yellow or white flowers.

Saranrom (สราญรมย์)

Thai. Name of a former palace in Rattanakosin, which in full is generally referred to as Phra Rachawang Saranrom, i.e. ‘Saranrom Palace’. READ ON.

Sarasvati (सरस्वती, สรัสวดี)

1. Sanskrit. The Hindu goddess of art and learning. READ ON.

2. Sanskrit-Thai. Name of a former river in India, part of the Sapta Sindhava and of which the goddess Sarasvati was originally a personification. When the river dried up in a desert, as mentioned in the Mahabharata, the goddess in question developed an independent identity and got a new meaning. Today the Sarasvati has been replaced by a small river that joins the Ghaggar river and is called Sarsuti.

Sarawat Thahaan (สารวัตรทหาร)

Thai for ‘Military Police’, against thahaan sarawat which means ‘military policeman’. Each branch of the Thai armed forces has its own military police force, all abbreviated สห (SH), initials that stand for ารวัตรทาร (Sarawat Thahaan). See also Royal Thai Police.

saree (साड़ी)

Hindi. Name for the traditional dress worn by girls and women in India, as well as in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. It consists of a lengthy colourful piece of unstitched cloth, often decorated with glittery flecks and bands, and which is wrapped around the waist and draped over the shoulder. The small glittery mirror-like ornaments stitched on the outside not only reflect the sunlight, but are also meant to turn away evil and bad luck, similar to the mirrors placed over doorways in India (fig.). It is typically between 5 and 6 meters long and the loose end of the saree can also be used to cover the head to act as a headscarf or as a ghunghat (घूँघट), i.e. a ‘veil’. Also transliterated sari or sarih. Compare with kurta (fig.).

Sareungka Matsaya (ศฤงคมัสยา)

Thai-Sanskrit. Name of a mythological creature, described as a magical fish with a unicorn, i.e. a single horn, on its forehead. READ ON.

sarikah lin thong (สาริกาลิ้นทอง)

Thai. ‘Golden-tongue Myna’. Name of a kind of bird-shaped charm, either in the form of an amulet or a talisman, as a kind of takrut, a scared tattoo, or printed on a pah prachiad, usually in combination with yan-signs and a kata (or sacred script), and is hence also referred to as yan sarikah. As an amulet, it often appears as a pair of birds, usually in a rather simple shape, e.g. carved from wood in a rough way and typically with some yan-signs written on it (fig.), and −if as a pair− often tied together with a small piece of cloth in several different colours and known as pah phrae mongkon. Also transcribed sarika lin tong and often shortened to just sarikah or sarika. See also nok ihyang sarikah.

Sariputta (สาริพุทธา)

Pali-Thai. Name of a wandering ascetic monk who, when he encountered the teachings of the Buddha, became one of his chief disciples and one of the Ten Principal Disciples. He often preached the Dhamma and was given the title Dhammasenaapati, i.e. ‘General of the Dhamma’. He is regarded as the founder of the Abhidhamma tradition. Sariputta died on a full moon, just a few months before the Buddha, and having achieved parinippahn. In Burmese religious art he is usually depicted together with Mogallana (fig.), seated in front of a Buddha image. In Thailand he is more likely seen in a standing pose, also in front of Buddha images. In Sanskrit Sariputtra.

Sariputtra (शारिपुत्र, สารีบุตร)

Sanskrit-Thai for Sariputta.

Sarnath (सारनाथ)

Location, also known as Isipatana, near Varanasi in North India, where the Buddha held his first public discourse after he had attained Enlightenment. This first sermon was given to the panjawakkie or five ascetics in a deer park. Formerly named Mrigadava. See also dhammachakka. See MAP.

sarong (โสร่ง)

Thai. Garment consisting of a waistcloth hanging from the hips, as worn in India and in some countries of Southeast Asia. In Thailand the pattern of a sarong often indicates which part of the country one comes from. Girls may wear a similar waistcloth called phah thung (fig.). Burmese style sarongs are usually longer than those worn in Thailand. See also longyi (fig.), pah nung and sabong.

sarsom (सरसों)

Hindi for ‘mustard’, i.e. oriental mustard plants of the genus Brassica juncea, a plant related to the edible Brassica campestris, commonly known as Cantonese vegetable or Chinese mustard cabbage (fig.), and in Thai as phak kwahng tung. The seeds of the Indian mustard plant can be prepared into mustard, as well as into mustard oil, while its leaves can be eaten as mustard greens. Many parts of northern India Indian mustard plant fields, as oriental mustard is said to originate from this region, i.e. the foothills of the Himalayas (fig.). The plant and its flowers are confusingly similar to those of rape or rapeseed, another member of the family Brassicaceae, with the botanical name Brassica napus and a leading source in the production of vegetable oil.

Sarus Crane

Common name for a species of crane, with the scientific designation Grus antigone. Standing 152 to 156 centimeter tall, the Sarus Crane is the tallest flying bird in the world. It is found in parts of South and Southeast Asia, as well as of Australia. It is easily distinguished from other cranes by its overall grey colour and the bare red head and upper neck, which often also has some black, and the pale to greyish crown (fig.). Its legs are pinkish-grey. In India, this bird is honoured as a bearer of good fortune (fig.). Sarus Cranes pair for life and their faithful nature has led them to be venerated as symbols of marital bliss. To help strengthen their partnerships the cranes perform elegant courtship dances. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Sarvanivarana Vishkambhin (सर्वनिवारणविष्कम्भिन्)

Sanskrit. ‘Every Hindrance Obstructing’ or ‘Every Obstacle Impeding’. Name of the mediator bodhisattva, who is one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas. READ ON.

satahban (สถาบัน)

Thai for an institution for higher education. See education.

Satahban Kukrit (สถาบันคึกฤทธิ์)

Thai name for the Kukrit Institute, which is named after the former Thai Prime Minister, Momratchawong Kukrit Pramoht, whom in 2009 was named as a World Historic Important Figure by UNESCO. The project to build the institute was begun generating power to celebrate the 100th anniversary of M.R. Kukrit’s birth on 20 April 2011, the day on which the institute was officially opened to the public by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and which was also commemorated by issuing of a set of four postage stamps on M.R. Kukrit Pramoht (fig.). The institute is located on a 3,500m² plot of land owned by the Treasury Department, and which is part of a public park near Bangkok's financial district. The institue celebrates the life of this extraordinary man and features his achievements both in politics and in society. See also Kukrit Heritage Home and MAP.

satang (สตางค์)

Thai. The satang is Thai currency equivalent to one-hundredth part of a baht. Existing coins are the silver coloured coins of 1, 5 and 10 satang, and the brass coloured coins of 25 (fig.) and 50 satang (fig.), although only those of 25 and 50 satang are circulated. See also tambun sai baat (fig.) and satang roo.

satang roo (สตางค์รู)

Thai. Name for a satang coin from the reign of Rama V (fig.), which had a round hole in the center in order to string them together to create a higher value or easily carry them around in bulk (fig.). On one side a chakra (fig.), a weapon of Vishnu (fig.) and an element on the coat of arms of the Chakri Dynasty (fig.), is embossed. Compare with fang kong qian, ancient Chinese coins (fig.).

Satanih Klahng Krung Thep Aphiwat (สถานีกลางกรุงเทพอภิวัฒน์)

Thai. Bangkok Prosperity Central Station’ or ‘Bangkok Revolutionary Central Station’ (fig.). New name granted by King Rama X for the Bang Seu Grand Station in September 2022, on the request of the Cabinet Secretariat, while additionally, the Royal Household Bureau has informed the Cabinet Secretariat that the King also named the State Railway of Thailand’s (SRT) Light Red Line commuter train route, that runs from Bang Seu (บางซื่อ) to Taling Chan (ตลิ่งชัน), Nakhon Withi (นครวิถี), whereas the Dark Red Line commuter train route, linking Bang Seu (บางซื่อ) and Rangsit (รังสิต), received the official name Thani Ratthaya (ธานีรัถยา). See also Bang Seu Grand Station.

satay (สะเต๊ะ)

Thai. Name of any kind of skewered food. READ ON.

sathan (สถาน)

1. Thai for ‘place’, ‘site’ and ‘location’.

2. Thai name for a species of jasmine, with the botanical binomial designation Jasminum grandiflorum.

sathit (สถิต)

Thai for ‘static’, ‘to stand’, ‘to stay’, ‘to remain’, ‘to live’, especially of a person who is in a high position, i.e. ‘to hold a high position’.

Sathorn (สาทร)

Thai. Name of an area, a canal (fig.) and a road in Bangkok, which is also transliterated Sathon and which is named after Luang Sathon Rajayukta.

Sati (सती)

Sanskrit. ‘The virtuous one’. Name of the first consort of Shiva and an aspect or form of Devi, who in her next life incarnated as Parvati (fig.). She is a personification of the divine Prakriti, the basic matter of which the Universe consists, and took human birth as a daughter of Daksha. As a daughter of the latter she is also known as Dakshayani, and because she has a turmeric-golden complexion she is accordingly also named Gauri, the ‘Turmeric-hued One’.

satkona (षट्कोण)

Sanskrit name for a hexagram, i.e. a six-pointed star, which is composed by putting together two equilateral triangles, one pointed up and the other pointed down, with the intersection being the shape of an even hexagon. It is often found as a decorative symbol in Indian architecture, both Muslim and Hindu. In Hindu iconography, the three top triangles of the star represent the Trimurti, i.e. the Hindu divine triad Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva (fig.), whilst the three bottom triangles represent those deities' consorts or shakti, that is Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Parvati respectively, each of whom are positioned on the opposite side of the corresponding male deity's triangle. As such, it represents the union between male and female, and thus creation, akin to the union of the two triangles of the bando held by Shiva, a hourglass-shaped drum (fig.) that represents the primordial sound and rhythm from which the universe emerged. The triangular shape of the drum also 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. The satkona is hence sometimes represented with the ohm sign (fig.) in its centre, which represents the primordial sound that was present at the creation of the Universe. The six-pointed star is also used as a mandala, then called satkona yantra. In Islamic architecture and artifacts, the symbol is referred to as the Star of David, a king and prophet of the Old Testament, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews alike. Also transcribed Sadkona or Shatkona.

sat lomkheun sangkasih (สัตว์ลมขึ้นสังกะสี)

Thai. ‘Zinc wind-up animal’. Name for a toy animal made from tin. READ ON.

sa-to (สะตอ)

Northern Thai name for a briefly deciduous tree to 35 meter high, with a red-brown bark and small buttress roots. It has creamy-white flowers, tightly packed into globular heads on very long, drooping stalks, 30 to 45 centimeters in length. Its strap-shaped, 30 to 45 centimeters long, slightly twisted, pod-like fruit grows in clusters on a swelling known as a receptacle, at the end of a long drooping stalk. They are bright green when young and turn glossy black when mature, with edible seeds arranged horizontally across the pods and clearly visible from the outside. The beans, usually gathered from the wild, are a popular ingredient in several local dishes, such as sa-to phad kung (sa-to seeds stir fried with shrimps - fig.), and can be found on markets, sold in bunches, still in the pod, or just the seeds separately (fig.), sold in plastic bags. The tree is rather uncommon and grows always close to streams. The flowers secrete a nectar and are pollinated by bats. The Thai word sa-to is used to refer to any kind of Parkia Tree (fig.), most commonly Parkia speciosa but also Parkia leiophylla. In addition, there are two subspecies from Central Thailand, i.e. Parkia sumatrana and Parkia timoriana. The pods of Parkia sumatrana are spirally twisted, and its seeds are arranged diagonally across the pods, whereas Parkia timoriana has straight pods, which are slightly swollen over the seeds. Sometimes transcribed sato, sataw or similar, and also known by the names bitter bean, twisted cluster bean and stink bean.

sato (สาโท)

Thai rice wine, an not yet distilled, alcoholic beverage. It is traditionally made from glutinous or sticky rice, yeast mixed with a starter culture called look paeng to assist the fermentation process, and water. Steamed sticky rice is mixed with the starter culture and kept in a fermentation tank for three days to allow the starch in the rice to change to sugar. Then water, twice the amount of the rice, is added and a second fermentation takes of about five to seven days to be completed. After this the rice wine is squeezed from this substance and filtered. It is sometimes mixed with fruit juice. It is produced mainly in Isaan where it is usually sold in large earthen jars. Also known as lao-u (เหล้าอุ). See also lao khao.

sat prajam wan (สัตว์ประจำวัน)

Thai. ‘Animal per day’. System in Thailand in which each day of the week corresponds with a certain mythological or real animal, that is, the Garuda (fig.) for Sunday, the tiger (fig.) for Monday, a lion (fig.) or horse for Tuesday, an elephant for Wednesday, that is a phlaay or male tusked elephant (fig.) before noon and a phang or female tusk-less (i.e. actually short-tusked) elephant (fig.) for the afternoon or evening, a rat for Thursday (fig.), a Guinea pig (fig.) for Friday and a serpent or snake for Saturday. The choice of animals is derived from the mounts of seven important gods, who in turn are associated with celestial bodies laid out in the dao prajam wan system. Animals assigned to the days of the week vary in the different Southeast Asian countries, and may as well differ locally. In Myanmar (fig.), the animals are the same as in Thailand, but the snake for Saturday is referred to as the naga (fig.). See also wan tua, thep prajam wan, Phra prajam wan and sih prajam wan.

Satrud (สัตรุด)

Twin brother of Lakshmana and the incarnation of Vishnu's club.

sattaphan (สัตภัณฑ์)

Thai. ‘Altar screen’. A richly decorated heavy screen intended to be placed in front of an altar. They are made explicitly as tamboon making offerings to monasteries and feature seven spiked candle posts, referring to the seven mountains surrounding Mt. Meru (fig.).

Sattasoon (สัทธาสูร)

Thai. Name of a giant or yak from the Ramakien. He has a red complexion, has tah jorakae, i.e. ‘crocodile eyes’ in which the eyelid covers the upper-part of the eyeball, and wears a chadah-style crown (fig.). He is the king of Krung Atsadong/Asadong (กรุงอัสดงค์), which is also referred to as Meuang Atsadong/Asadong (เมืองอัสดง). He is an ally of Totsakan, whom he joined in battle against Rama, together with Wirunjambang (วิรุณจำบัง), a prince and a son of thao Lastian (ลัสเตียน), i.e. Asuraphong (อสุรพงศ์), with Nang Ratchada (รัชฎา).

Satul (สตูล)

Another transcription for Satun.

Satu Lokapala (စတုလောကပါလ)

Burmese. Four Lokapala or ‘four keepers of the world’. The four guardians that protect the world by presiding over the four points of the compass. In Myanmar, they are often seen at Buddhist temples and pagodas, usually erected around a tall post, which is decorated at the top, usually with mythological animals, such as the hintha, nagas, etc. They are dressed in royal attire and always in a standing pose, most commonly with the hands brought together as in a respectful greeting, though sometimes they may hold a conch (fig.) or a different attribute each, usually with one of them holding a conch and thus reminiscent of Thagyamin (fig.), the Lord of the Nats. The term is related to the Thai-Pali word jatulohkabahn. Satu is pronounced sa-too.

Satun (สตูล)

Thai. Name of a province (map) and its capital city on the southern west coast of the Thai peninsula, 973 kms south of Bangkok. READ ON.

Satya (सत्य)

Sanskrit. Truth’. Another name for Krita, first of the four yugas.

satyagraha (सत्याग्रह)

Hindi. Insistence on (agraha) truth (satya)’. A term coined and developed by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (fig.), i.e. Mahatma Gandhi, and which refers to his philosophy and practice of non-violent resistance, which he used in his struggles for social justice in South Africa and against British rule in India.

saung-gauk (စောင်းကောက်)

See Burmese harp.

Savang Vadhana (สว่างวัฒนา)

Thai. Another spelling for Sawang Watthana.

Savatti (สาวัตถี)

Place in India where the Buddha performed a miracle in an attempt to convince disbelievers.

Sawang Khiri Tham (สว่างคีรีธรรม)

Thai. Name of a Mahayana Buddhist shrine in Loei dedicated to the Chinese goddess of mercy Kuan Yin, who in Thai is referred to as Phra Mae Kwan Im. The complex, which belongs to the Sawang Khiri Tham Foundation, features a large golden statue of Kuan Yin located on the roof of the Wihaan Maha Bodhisat Kwan Im Phankorn (วิหารมหาโพธิสัตว์กวนอิมพันกร), as well as a building known as Wihaan Phuttha Chayanti (วิหารพุทธชยันตี), which is dedicated to various deities from both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. See EXPLORER'S MAP, TRAVEL PICTURE, and WATCH VIDEO.

Sawang Watthana (สว่างวัฒนา)

Thai. Name of Sri Savarindira, a consort of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V - fig.), and who is bestowed with the title Queen Grandmother of Thailand, since she is the grandmother of both King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) and King Bhumipol Adulyadej (Rama IX). She was also the mother of Prince Wajirunhit, the nation's first ever Crown Prince (fig.), whom however died of typhoid at age sixteen, as well as of Mahidol Adulyadej. Queen Sawang Watthana was born on 10 September 1862, as the daughter of King Mongkut and his Consort Queen Piyamawadi Sri Phatcharinthra Mata, which is sometimes transliterated Piyamavadi Sri Bajarindra Mata (ปิยมาวดี ศรีพัชรินทรมาตา), and passed away on 17 December 1955. She was a full sister of both Queen Sunandha Kumariratana and Queen Saowapha Phongsri, all of whom became consorts to Rama V. The 150th Anniversary of the  Chakri  Dynasty  her birth was commemorated with three series of Thai postage stamps, the first one issued on 10 September 2010, the second on 10 September 2011 (fig.), and the third on 10 September 2012 (fig.). She is also known by the name Phra Phanwassah Ayyikah Chao, and the Phra Phanwassah Building (map - fig.) within the compound of the contemporary Somdet Phra Boromma Racha Thewih Na Sri Racha (สมเด็จพระบรมราชเทวี ณ ศรีราชา) Hospital in Chonburi Province, which she founded, is named after her, and today houses a museum dedicated to her majesty (fig.), whilst in the garden a memorial (fig.) contains her statue (map - fig.). She also established the Queen's Housing Resort (fig.), a hospice built on stilts in the sea (fig.), and known in Thai as Reuan Nai Thalae (เรือนในทะเล), i.e. ‘Dwelling in the Sea’ (map - fig.). Pronounced Sawaang Watthanah and also spelled Savang Vadhana.

Sawankhalok (สวรรคโลก)

1. A present-day amphur in Sukhothai, in the North of central Thailand and famous for its ceramic earthenware made there between the 14th and 16th centuries AD. Its old name was Sri Satchanalai, nowadays a historical park with ancient ruins and more than two hundred kilns from the past (fig.). See MAP and WATCH VIDEO.

2. Name of ceramic earthenware from Sawankhalok made between the 14th and 16th centuries AD. The style was influenced by Chinese art from the Song Dynasty and pottery of this period imported by China, from Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, was called Sangkalok, a mispronunciation of Sawankhalok. A typical characteristic is the tattoo-like design on its figurines (fig.).

sawankot (สวรรคต)

Thai. Rajasap for ‘dying’. Also called sinphrachon. See also anchern jut.

sawarot (เสาวรส)

Thai for passionfruit.

sawatdi (สวัสดี)

Thai. ‘Be blessed’. Official greeting used when first meeting someone and to a lesser extend also when parting. READ ON.

Saw Yun (စောယွမ်း)

Burmese. Name of the King and founder of the 14th century Sagaing Kingdom, a small realm on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River near present-day Mandalay, that in 1315 AD gained autonomy of the larger Myinsaing Kingdom, which was ruled by Saw Yun's father King Thihathu, and after whose death Sagaing became fully independent. As the eldest biological son of King Thihathu, Saw Yun had resented and rebelled against his father after the King had appointed Saw Yun's stepbrother as heir-apparent to the throne of Myinsaing, rather than his own son, due to the fact that the latter's mother was a commoner. Instead Saw Yun was made governor of Sagaing, which he consequently seized and made into a rival kingdom. After the split, the remaining part of the Myinsaing Kingdom became the Pinya Kingdom. In full, this ruler is known as Athinkhaya Saw Yun (fig.). He died in 1327, leaving behind four children, three sons and a daughter. All of his sons became king of Sagaing while his only daughter became the mother of the Shan King Thadominbya (fig.), who in 1365 AD founded the Kingdom of Ava.

Sayaam (สยาม)

Thai pronunciation for Siam.

Sayaam Thewathiraat (สยามเทวาธิราช)

See Siam Thewathiraat.

sayaek daang (แสยกด่าง)

Thai name for a succulent ornamental shrub of the family Euphorbiaceae, with the botanical name Pedilanthus tithymaa senior monk or abbot of a monasterydes variegatus. It originates from the Americas and has alternate green leaves mottled (daang) and bordered with pale yellowish, and arranged on thick dark-green zigzag stems, that grow to about 50 centimeters in length. In English, its common name is Devil's Backbone, though it is also known as Zigzag Plant and a variety of other names.

sayadaw (ဆရာတော်)

Burmese. An honorific term for a senior monk or abbot of a monastery in Myanmar. The term literally means ‘royal teacher’ and initially referred to the senior monks who taught at the former Burmese royal courts. The more distinguished ones are sometimes referred to as sayadawgyi, with gyi being an affix of reverence meaning ‘great’. See also Nyaunggan Sayadaw and Thathanabaing.

sayadawgyi (ဆရာတော်ကြီး)

Burmese. ‘Great royal teacher’. Title of reverence used for a more distinguished sayadaw, i.e. a senior monk or abbot of a monastery in Myanmar. It is the Burmese equivalent of a bishop and comparable to the term Luang Pho used in Thailand.

Scaly-breasted Bulbul

Common name for a species of bulbul with the scientific designation Pycnonotus squamatus and which is found in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Burma, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as Borneo and Brunei. It is characterized by scaly white marks on a black breast and flanks, which distinguishes it from all other species of bulbul. Also distinctive is its black head with a contrasting white throat. It has yellow-olive wings with dark grey primaries, whilst its rump and vent are bright yellow to orange. Its tail is black with tiny white tips on the outer feathers (fig.). This fruit-eating bird is a common resident in southern, peninsular Thailand. In Thai named nok parod ok laai kled.

Scaly-breasted Munia

A roughly 11 centimeter tall, small gregarious bird, with the binomial name Lonchura punctulata, and which has at least two subspecies. Adults have a stubby dark bill, plain brown upperparts, often with somewhat paler uppertail-coverts, and a dark brown throat. Its underparts are white, with distinctive brown (in Lonchura punctulata topela - fig.) or black (in Lonchura punctulata subundulata) scale markings, and creamy white undertail-coverts and belly. The sexes are similar (fig.), but juveniles lack the scaly markings and instead have uniform buff underparts, whilst their upperparts are pale brown (fig.). It is a very common resident throughout Thailand, except in parts of the southern peninsula. It frequents open woodland and cultivation, and feeds mainly on seeds. Also known as Nutmeg Mannikin and Spice Finch (fig.), and in Thai as nok kratid khee moo. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

A species of bird, with the scientific name Dicaeum cruentatum. It belongs to the family Dicaeidae and the description cruentatum derives from the Latin verb cruentare, which means to stain with blood and refers to the male's red or bloodstained crown, neck, back, uppertail-coverts and rump (fig.). Besides the red back, males have a white chin, belly and vent, with black bill, legs and feet, whilst the sides of their head and breast is blackish, and their wings blackish blue. Females are brownish olive above with only a red rump and red uppertail-coverts, and pale underparts (fig.). Juveniles are similar to females, but have a slightly darker crown and nape, and no red at all, but instead have orange-tinged uppertail-coverts, and their legs and feet are rather grey, whilst the bill is mostly pinkish-orange with a dark tip (fig.), especially with regards to the lower mandible, whereas the upper mandible may have a more extensive dark tip, sometimes leaving only the base of the upper mandible pinkish-orange. It is found in Southeast Asia, as well as in parts of South and East Asia. In Thailand, it is known as nok sih chomphoo suan, and with a size of a mere 8.5 to 9 centimeters, it is the smallest bird in the country (fig.), together with the Golden-bellied Flyeater (Gerygone sulphurea) and some other species of flowerpecker, such as the Plain Flowerpecker, all with an identical size. See also WILDLIFE PICTURE.

Scarlet Milkweed

Common designation for a flowering plant, with the botanical name Asclepias curassavica. It is widely grown as an ornamental garden plant for its yellowish flowers with hanging reddish-orange petals, that bloom in clusters at the extremity of the stems (fig.). The plant also has medicinal value in herbal therapeutically treatments. The stem is used as medication for heart disease and the fresh leaves are used to repel parasites. Also called Blood Flower and Mexican Butterfly Weed, due to its source of food for butterflies. In Thai, it is known as fai deuan ha (ไฟเดือนห้า), which translates as ‘fifth month fire’.

Scarlet Minivet

Common name of an up to 22 centimeter tall passerine bird, with the scientific name Pericrocotus flammeus. This Scarlet Minivet is found in tropical and subtropical southern Asia, from the Indian subcontinent east to southern China, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Their habitat consists of forests and well-wooded areas, including gardens, especially in montane regions. There are many subspecies, but of the nominate race, males have a black head and black upperparts, and scarlet underparts. In addition, the tail,  rump and long wings also have patches of red, though the scarlet colour varies across populations, and may be any shade of red or even orange. Females are grey above, with a yellow face and underparts. Otherwise they are similar, but the scarlet colour is replaced by yellow. These birds typically glean for insects, which they sometimes flush out of the foliage by beating their wings. In Thai, this bird is called nok phaya fai yai, i.e. ‘Great(er) phaya fire bird’. In 1980, this bird was depicted on the last stamp of a set of four Thai postage stamps featuring Thai birds (fig.). See also Long-tailed Minivet (fig.) and Short-billed Minivet (fig.).

Scarlet Passion Flower

Name of a species of vine and passionflower, that originates from central America and the Amazon region, and has the botanical designation Passiflora coccinea. It is also commonly known as Red Passion Flower and in Thai it is called sri mahlah (ศรีมาลา). Its small wine-red fruits have edible pulp. The vine bears showy flowers, with red petals and white-purple corona filaments that surround the elongated floral axis, that is topped by the ovary, from which sprout three purplish styles with stigmas that consist of lobe-like pads, with a whitish tip and that grow facing downward, while at its bottom the ovary is surrounded by the purplish filaments of the stamen, which have greenish-yellow anthers.

Scarlet Skimmer

Name of a tropical Asian dragonfly, native to East and Southeast Asia. It has the scientific name Crocothemis servilia servilia and belongs to the family Libellulidae. Males are scarlet red (fig.), but females are of a dark yellowish brown colour (fig.). Both sexes have transparent wings with yellow and brown venation, and amber wing patches at the base of their wings. Both also have a characteristic black dorsal stripe at the centre of the abdomen. It is also called Crimson Darter and Ruddy Marsh Skimmer, and in Thai it is known as malaeng poh ban boh. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Schomburgk's Deer

Name for a graceful species of deer with the binomial name Cervus schomburgki, which occurred in Thailand, but is now extinct. It was dark brown with lighter underparts, while the underside of the tail was white. The stag had the largest antlers of all deer species found in the country, with up to 33 tines. It inhabited the swampy plains of central Thailand, especially in the Chao Phraya River valley. Its natural habitat declined with the rise of commercial rice production and avoiding dense vegetation, they were easy targets for hunters. The wild population of Schomburgk's Deer hence became extinct in 1932, probably due to over-hunting, whilst the last captive animal died in 1938. In Thai it is known as saman (สมัน) or neua saman (เนื้อสมัน) and is displayed on the logo of the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand.


See maengpong.

Scorpion Fly

Common name for a flying insect with the scientific designation Panorpa communis. READ ON.

Scott's Market

Former name of a market in Yangon, which was built in 1926 and named after James George Scott, a British civil servant at that time. After independence from British rule, the market was renamed Bogyoke Aung San Market.

Scrambled Egg Tree

See song bah dahn.

scripture cabinet

A lacquer cabinet used in temple libraries to hold palm leaf Buddhist manuscripts to protect them from humidity, insects, etc. It is placed usually in the ho trai or library, generally a wooden building on pillars placed in a basin to keep creeping vermin out. In Thai called tuh phra thamma.

Sea Almond

See hoo kwahng.

Sea Anemone

See dokmai thalae.

sea bean

Name for a seed of any of a number of tropical plants and trees of which the seeds are dispersed by floating upon the ocean currents. In Thailand this mainly refers to a large seed that sits within a long podlike seed-vessel and grows from a large woody vine with the scientific name Entada rheedii which belongs to the family of Leguminosae-Mimosoideae. The shrub grows along brooks and rivers in the tropical rain forest and drops its seeds one by one from its pod into the waterway where they start to drift towards the sea. Once they have reached the open sea they travel with the ocean currents until they wash up on a beach somewhere, perhaps thousands of miles away from their origin. Sea beans are buoyant because of an air pocket within the seed and their hard outer covering helps them survive their long-distance journey. The seeds can be polished to a nice shine and are made into garlands and jewelry by hill tribe people, whereas children use the seeds in tossing games (fig.) and the pod as a musical instrument. Also called drift seed. In Thai called sabah.

sea coconut

Common name for a rare and protected species of coconut palm, with the botanical name Lodoicea maldivica, that bears large seemingly double coconuts and is native to certain islands, hence the name. Its peculiar shape, resembling two kidneys merged together like a Siamese twin, have led to its nickname, i.e. lady's butt coconut. It is so rare and highly prized that a single coconut reportedly can fetch up to 30,000 baht on the market. Also commonly known as double coconut and by the French designation coco de mer. In Thai, it has several designations, including ton maprao faed (ต้นมะพร้าวแฝด), i.e. ‘twin coconut tree’; ton maprao thalae (ต้นมะพร้าวทะเล) or ton taan thalae (ต้นตาลทะเล), i.e. ‘sea coconut’ and ‘sea palm’, respectively; as well as the less flattering maprao toot negro (มะพร้าวตูดนิโกร), i.e. ‘negro's butt coconut’. See also poo maphrao.

sea cucumber

See pling thalae.

SEA Games

Abbreviation for Southeast Asian Games, a biennial sports event (fig.), that was first held in 1959 and hosted by Bangkok. It was initially organized under the name SEAP Games, i.e. Southeast Asian Peninsular Games, and included the six founding members Thailand, Burma, Malaya, Laos, South Vietnam and Cambodia. When Singapore in 1965 gained independence, it was included as a member in its own right. When in 1977 also Indonesia and The Philippines were included the name was changed to Southeast Asian Games (fig.). Though variable per event and organizing country, the games may have as much as 43 different types of sport (fig.) with some, such as takraw (fig.), being typically Southeast Asian disciplines. Currently, the games have participants from Southeast Asian 11 countries and is regulated by the Southeast Asian Games Federation, which is supervised by the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia. Present countries include Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, and East Timor. So far, Thailand has hosted the event six times, the last time in 2007, in Nakhon Ratchasima. Its logo consists of a ring of ten circles, one for each of the the ten ASEAN nations. When the games were first held in 1959, under the then name SEAP Games, the logo had just six circles, one for each of the founding member countries (fig.).

sea grapes

See sarai phuang a-ngun.

Sea Gypsies

See Chao Le.


See mah nahm.

sea jelly

See maeng kaphrun.

Sea Roach

See malaeng saab thalae.


Abbreviation of ‘Southeast Asia Treaty Organization’. Formally established on 23 February 1955 in Bangkok, though the initial treaty was signed on 8 September 1954, as a unified response and collective defense against Communism in China and Southeast Asia, with the support of the United States and as part of the Truman Doctrine, which sought to create collective bilateral defense treaties. During the inaugural meeting, chaired by the Thai foreign minister prince Wan Waithayakon, it was announced that SEATO's headquarters would be located in Bangkok. Besides the US and Thailand, initial members included Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, The Philippines, and Pakistan, which was included because East Pakistan, today's Bangladesh, was geographically close to Southeast Asia. Later, also Taiwan became a member, while South Korea and South Vietnam joined as dialogue partners. During the Vietnam War, the US sought to make the regional conflict into a SEATO collective defense problem, but failed to do so, as members did not agree to help each other militarily. As a result, first Pakistan and later France withdrew from the organization, which eventually was formally dissolved on 30 June 1977. After all, during the first conference, then prime minister Phibun Songkram had told the delegates, that the organization's goal was to ‘preserve freedom and peace with honour, and promote economic and social wellbeing’, rather than promising direct military support. Its flag and logo consists of a sky blue field with a white shield, longitudinal lines, which are blue on white, but reverse to white on blue in the lower right quadrant, and in the middle is a yellow stalk, with seven levels and a pinnacle. Whereas blue symbolizes peace and stability, yellow stands for prosperity, and the lower right quadrant refers to Southeast Asia, the working area of the organization. The seven levels of the stalk are understood to refer to the initial number of country members, headed by the pinnacle, which may either refer to the US, as the initiator of the treaty, or to Thailand, a main player and the initial host, as well as the country where the organization's headquarters were located.

sea urchin

Name for a typically spiny, often globular animal, that lives on the seabed and of which a wide variety of species exist. They belong to the phylum of echinoderms, which also includes sea cucumbers, i.e. their closest relatives. These creatures move about slowly, either crawling with tube-like tentacles or pushing themselves with their spines. They feed primarily on algae but some species also eat slow-moving or sessile (immotile) animals. Among their predators are sea otters, starfish, and humans, notwithstanding their often razor-sharp spikes that in some species are also venomous. The most dangerous sea urchin is the Toxic Flower Urchin (Toxopneustes pileolus) which occurs in the Indo-West Pacific and is capable of delivering extremely painful and medically significant stings when touched. It has venom injecting fangs that deliver a poison that may stay in the victim's system and can keep stinging for years. In Thai known as men thalae, i.e. literally ‘sea porcupine’. In English, they are also nicknamed Hedgehogs of the Sea, as they not only resemble hedgehogs but also because the name urchin derives from the old French term herichun, which means ‘hedgehog’. Sea urchins can live for up to 200 years.


See kok.

see (สี)

1. Thai. ‘Peel’ and ‘rub’. To mill or husk (rice). Also transcribed sih or si, as in silom. See also rohng see khao.

2. Thai for ‘colour’, ‘paint’ and ‘dye’. Also transcribed si or sih.

sek (เสก)

Thai. To charm, to cast a spell. As in sekpao. The term is also used to express blessings, in which water is sprinkled or poured out, as in rod nahm mon. See also kong hod.

sekpao (เสกเป่า)

Thai. To charm or cast a spell (sek) by muttering a magic formula and blow (pao) with the mouth as if to transfer the magic to the object or person. This practice is usually performed by a senior monk, a village headman or an elder to bless or wish someone good luck prior to a long journey, an important task ahead, etc.


See sokushinbutsu.

sema (เสมา)

See bai sema.

sen (เส้น)

Thai unit of length, equal to 40 meters.

Sena (সেন)

Bengali. A Hindu dynasty in East India during the 12th century AD, following the Pala dynasties and which school of art is known as the Pala Sena style.

seng-phe (เซง-เพ)

Thai. A Thai Yai sweet from the province of Tak, cooked from black (deep purple) sticky rice, sugarcane juice and coconut milk, and baked or grilled, with coconut cream topping.

Seni Pramoht (เสนีย์ ปราโมช)

Three-time Prime Minister of Thailand, i.e. from 17 September 1945 to 13 January 1946, from 26 February 1975 to 14 March 1975, and from 20 April to 6 October 1976. Between his second and third term, his brother Kukrit Pramoht (fig.) was Prime Minister, i.e. from 14 March 1975 to 20 April 1976. Usually transcribed Seni Pramoj or Seni Pramoch, but actually pronounced Seni Pramoht (Pramote).


Name of a popular resort island in Singapore, located off the southern coast of Singapore, separated from the main island of Singapore by a channel of water and known for its diverse range of attractions, entertainment, and recreational activities. It is accessible by its boardwalk, a road, a monorail, and a scenic cable car that offers breathtaking views of Keppel Harbour and the South China Sea. The island has a network of walking trails and boasts a wide array of attractions catering to various interests. Some notable ones include Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, and Adventure Cove Waterpark. It is also home to several pristine beaches,, a range of accommodations, and world-class golf courses. It also features natural beauty and greenery for those who appreciate nature and wildlife and there is a Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom and Sentosa Nature Discovery. The island offers a diverse range of dining options, from casual beachside eateries to fine dining restaurants. Resorts World Sentosa houses a shopping complex where visitors can find various retail outlets and entertainment options.  The name Sentosa is Malay and means ‘Tranquility’ and drives from the Sanskrit Santosha, meaning ‘Satisfaction’. Through history, the island has always been of strategic importance and is home to four ancient forts. During World War II is was a British military fortress and the base of the Royal Artillery, but under Japanese occupation it became home to a POW camp. After WWII, the island had a for a while a basic military training camp and the coast artillery was replaced with Gurkha infantry units. Today, Sentosa no longer has a military presence or any significant military activity. WATCH VIDEO.


Penan. Term for branchless, straight, natural wooden stems, that are stripped bare of their bark, after which fine wooden curls are sliced from the pale whitish sapwood at different intervals, yet leaving these curled wooden strips attached on one end, so that they hang around the stick like dangling ornaments. The ca. 2 meter tall sticks are created to honour the forest and its animals on which the Penan people depend for their livelihoods, and are placed in the ground to pay respect to the animals the Penan hunt and to appease their spirits.


Malay. Term for a turban, which in Malaysia is still worn as part of the traditional dress of the sultans (fig.).


The production of silk, also known as silk farming.


Name of an East Indian plant with the botanical name Sesamum indicum. It has about 20 species, whaich are found in tropical and subtropical regions, and is cultivated for its oil-yielding seeds, which may be brown, white (fig.) or black, and are rich in calcium, magnesium and iron. Myanmar, India and China are global commercial hubs for the cultivation and production of black sesame seeds. White seeds are black seeds that have been hulled while brown seeds are white seeds that have been enhanced by toasting. Sesame is an annual plant that grows to about a meter tall, with opposite lanceolate leaves which are between 4 and 14 centimeters long. It bears white to purple, tubular flowers (fig.), which are 3 to 5 centimeters long. However, there are also some wild varieties. One of those, found in northern Thailand, has broad leaves and stalks of which the upper parts are covered with small, 1 to 3 centimeters long, hairy calyces, that are green in colour and grow horizontally, and each of those contains around three tiny seeds. When dried, sesame seeds are edible and are used to make candy bars (fig.). It is said that sesame seeds have a soporific effect and it is given to children to induce sleep, cf. Sesame Street which is broadcast before children's bedtime. In Thai called nga and candy made from it is called nga lua and nga tad. See also krayahsaad and nga mon.

Sesame Leaves

See nga mon.

Sesha (शेष)

See Shesha.

Sethi Khamfan (เศรษฐีคำฝั้น)

Thai. Name of the eight son of Prince Chai Kaew of Lampang and thus a descendant from the house of Thipchakratiwong. Between 1805 and 1815 he also governed as the ruler of Lamphun. Later, from 1823 to 1825, he was a Chao Luang, a Siamese vassal prince who ruled as the third king of Lan Na under the suzerainty of Rattanakosin. See also list of Thai kings.

seua (เสือ)

Thai for ‘tiger’. Tigers are native to much of eastern and southern Asia and the subspecies native to Thailand is known as the Indochinese tiger, which in Thailand still occurs in the wild, mostly in National Parks. A good way to see tigers in the kingdom is in Sri Racha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi province, which claims a population of 200 tigers, a large facility though the infamous Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village (map - fig.) in scenic Guilin (fig.), in southern China, with an alleged 1,800 animals, seems to posses the world's biggest captive population of tigers, but this grim and outdated wildlife park has been accused of being a front for the sinister and illicit trade in tiger body parts and sale of tiger bone wine, and allegedly featured a live feeding show, in which calves were put into tiger enclosures to be mauled to death and eaten in front of whooping family audiences. In Sai Yok district, just North of Kanchanaburi town, is the infamous Tiger Temple (map - fig.) called Wat Pah Luang Tah Maha Bua Yanasampannoh (วัดป่าหลวงตามหาบัว ญาณสัมปันโน), where a Buddhist monk and his supporters rehabilitated domesticated tigers back into the wild. Yet, the temple over time became a tourist attraction and soon allegations were made that the tigers were being mistreated for commercial gain, which led to the confiscation and removal of the ca. 150 tigers by the Thai authorities, and the temple was closed to the public. Though this wild animal is most commonly orange with near white underparts and dark vertical stripes, there are also so-called white tigers (fig.) which are- though technically known by the name chinchilla albinistic- not albinos, but tigers with a genetic condition that all but eliminates fur pigmentation. Besides this, tigers are often depicted in Thai art and in temples. They are associated with reusi who is usually dressed in tiger fur and dwells in, or in the proximity of caves. Shiva is often seated on tiger fur (fig.). In Thai mythology tigers are related to Saturday and the mount of Phra Sao, the god of Saturday, is a tiger. In Chinese and Indian mythology, the tiger is the seat of Zhao Gong Ming and Parvati, respectively. The tiger is also the third animal in the Chinese zodiac. Since its forehead (fig.) has a marking that resembles the Chinese character wang (王), meaning ‘king’, the tiger is in Chinese culture regarded as the King of the Animals (fig.) and represents royalty and fearlessness. Since tigers represents strength they are often associated with certain aphrodisiacs and although they have no scientific medical value traditional Chinese medicine promotes tiger based drugs. Also called phayak (พยัคฆ์), especially in mythology, and in Sanskrit called viagra. See also tiger claw (fig.). See also THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

seua dao (เสือดาว)

Thai. ‘Starry tiger’. Common Thai name for the Leopard.

seua fai (เสือไฟ)

Thai. ‘Fire tiger’. Name for the Asian Golden Cat.

seua kohng (เสือโค้ง)

Thai. ‘Arching tiger’. See Camouflage Tree.

seua kruy (เสื้อครุย)

1. Thai. A long white ceremonial gown as worn by a brahman priest or a candidate for the Thai Buddhist monkhood (fig.).

2. Thai. An academic gown. They can be of any colour, depending on the university's choice or tradition. It typically has one main colour, often indigo, black (fig.), red or white which is then embroidered with colourful borders and/or ribbons, defining the related faculty or specialty. They are worn by students on the day of their graduation when they receive their diploma and sometimes by academic staff and graduate students on special occasions. They are usually available from rental shops (fig.) around the universities.

seua laai mek (เสือลายเมฆ)

Thai name for the Clouded Leopard.

seua mo hom (เสื้อม่อฮ่อม/เสื้อหม้อห้อม)

Thai. A blue cotton farmer's shirt, sometimes worn with a similar pair of trousers and with a pahkaomah around the waist. The blue colour of the shirt is acquired from a plant called krahm, known in Northern Thailand as hom, by soaking it in water. Next this solution is mixed with chalk and left to soak for two days and nights (fig.). The blue substance obtained is subsequently blend with a liquid gained from water mixed with ashes, a procedure that gives a reaction making the blue chalky substance suitable for submerging the cotton. Next, cotton material is immersed repeatedly until it has absorbed the dye, and hung to dry in the sun (fig.). This process is repeated up to four times, until the typical dark blue colour is obtained. Its name is derived from the earthen pot (mo/moh) in which the shirt (seua) is dyed in. Native to northern Thailand it is often produced in Phrae province. Also transcribed seua moh hom.

seua phaew (เสือแผ้ว)

Thai. ‘Clean tiger’. A name for the Fishing Cat, next to seua pla.

seua pla (เสือปลา)

Thai. ‘Fish tiger’. A name for the Fishing Cat, next to seua phaew.

seua racha pataen (เสื้อราชปะแตน)

Thai. ‘Royal pattern shirt’. Name of a long-sleeved jacket with a Mandarin collar or Mao collar, i.e. a stand-up collar, that if white in colour and with five buttons is since 1980 used as the uniform of civil servants, and is the reintroduction of an earlier form of uniform that since the reign of King Rama V until 1932 was commonly worn by civil servants, and consisted of a white jacket worn over a navy blue johng kraben, a loin cloth that is passed between the legs and tucked in at the wearer's lower back (fig.), and that was actually referred to as the purple cloth and typically worn with closed-toe shoes. It was introduced after King Rama V visited India in 1872, and the name racha pataen is a distortion of its original designation racha pattern. Since its initial introduction, the jacket has been popular with the upper and middle classes for a long time. See also TRAVEL PICTURES.

seubchatah (สืบชะตา)

Thai. ‘To follow, to descend from, or to succeed in fate, fortune or luck’. Animist ritual ceremony, initially especially in northern Thailand, but nowadays increasingly also found in other places around the nation. In English, it is usually referred to as the succession ceremony and in it a sacred white thread, called sai sin, is spanned across the interior of the bot, wihaan or even outdoors, usually starting from a Buddha image, often the temple's principal statue. It will be connected to the heads of the monks and the people sitting underneath it on the floor, or on chairs if outdoors, with additional vertical threads hanging from the horizontal ones. This physical connection symbolizes the spiritual one. A shaman will conduct a rite whilst Buddhist monks are invited to preach. The ceremony, believed to prolong life, can be held at any time and its host will reward the shaman for his service, usually with cash, though the event may also be organized by a temple with a senior monk leading it. During this event in northern Thailand, sometimes also wooden logs, known as mai kham or mai kham sarih, are placed against a bodhi tree to symbolically support it (fig.). Compare with Toh Chatah Chiwit. WATCH VIDEO (1) and (2).

seung (ซึง)

Thai. A traditional musical instrument, somewhat comparable to a guitar. It is made from hardwood and has either four or six strings, which are most often made of steel wire, and nine raised frets. This plucked lute-like string instrument is from the northern region of Lan Na and somewhat like the krajab pih, an ancient instrument used in the classical music of central Thailand. Also transcribed sung.

seung swing (เซิ้งสวิง)

Thai. ‘Net song and dance’. A Thai folk dance from Isaan, in which the participants dance while holding a small fishing net called swing, and usually also have a small bamboo basket on their belt to hold the day's catch and which in Thai is known as a takong or kong (fig.). The term seung refers to a kind of musical song-and-dance from northeastern Thailand. See also POSTAGE STAMP.

Seven Gods of Fortune

Name given to seven deities worshipped in Japan, most of whom derive from the Eight Immortals of China. READ ON.

Seven-striped Barb

Common name for a species of freshwater fish, with the scientific designation Probarbus jullieni, and also commonly known as Jullien's Golden Carp. READ ON.

Sgaw (สะกอ)

Another spelling for Sakoh.

shadow play

See nang thalung and nang yai.

Shaikh Ahámad-e Qomi

See Sheikh Ahmad Qomi.

Shaikh al-Islam (شيخ الإسلام)

See Sheikh al-Islam.


The cult of Shiva (fig.), which has several different sects and which philosophy claims to encompass all facets of Hindu thought. Its followers are known as Saivites (fig.). See also Shivaism.

sha ji xia hou (杀鸡吓猴)

Chinese. ‘Kill the chicken to scare the monkeys’. According to an ancient story, there once was a man who raised monkeys, which became more and more naughty and ill-behaved as they grew up, often destroying his belongings. Hence, one day the man caught a chicken and assembled the monkeys. He killed the cock in front of the monkeys and told them that if they wouldn't behave and stop causing trouble, they would end up just like the chicken. The monkeys were frightened and became obedient ever after. Hence this ancient idiom is used metaphorically to mean to frighten somebody by punishing someone else, i.e. to punish an individual as an example to others.

Shakra (शक्र)

Sanskrit. ‘Mighty’, ‘powerful’ or ‘the mighty one’. An epithet for Indra, used mainly in Buddhism. It can also mean ‘radiant’ or ‘bright’, and in mythology it refers to the Adityas, whereas shakradhanus means ‘rainbow’. See also Thagyamin.

shakti (शक्ति)

1. Sanskrit. ‘Strength’. The consort of a Hindu god personifying the female energy of that god. So is Parvati e.g. the shakti of Shiva. In Hindu art, if the shakti is depicted on the side of the corresponding male deity, it is usually to his left, i.e. closest to his heart, which suggests that he holds her close to his heart. In Thai sakti (ศักติ).

2. Sanskrit. ‘Strength’. The name of the Hindu goddess of strength.

shakuhachi (尺八を)

Japanese. Name for a type of bamboo flute played by the mendicant monks the Komuso sect of Zen Buddhism in Japan during the 17th to mid-19th century AD, in order to beg for alms and for meditation so as to achieve the desired state of Emptiness.

Shakya (शक्य)

Sanskrit. ‘Capable, able’. The clan or tribe to which prince Siddhartha belonged who became the historical Buddha. In Pali Sakya.

Shakyamuni (शक्यमुनि)

Sanskrit. ‘Sage of the Shakya clan’. A name for the historical Buddha. In Pali Sakyamuni.


Name for a priest from Shamanism, in which  some priests enter a trance and consequently make contact with the supernatural. Compare with the Burmese natsaw.


A primitive belief in which some priests or shamans enter a trance and consequently make contact with the supernatural.

Shambhala (शम्भल)

Sanskrit. Name of a mythical kingdom in Tibetan Buddhism, said to be ruled by Maitreya, a bodhisattva now living in Tushita heaven and waiting to be reborn as a future Buddha in order to restore faith. In Thai, known as Samphala (ศัมภละ), which is sometimes also transcribed Shambhala.

Shampoo Ginger

Common name for a species of wild ginger with the botanical name Zingiber zerumbet and which is also referred to as Wild Ginger, Bitter Ginger and Pinecone Ginger. It has thick bracts that are initially reddish-pink below and yellowish-green above, and eventually turn completely dark pinkish-red. It bears white flowers that sprout from the bracts. In Thai, it is known as kratheua.

shamuak (ฉมวก)

Thai for harpoon, a barbed, fish-hook-like missile with a rope attached, for catching fish. It is not completely legal. See also pramong.

shan (山)

Chinese for ‘mountain’.

Shan (ฉาน, ရှမ်း)

1. Thai-Burmese. An ethnic group of Tai origin, that lives for the most part in Myanmar's Shan State (fig.), but also inhabits adjacent regions of Thailand and China. There are five major groups, which are further divided into numerous subgroups. Among the five major groups are the Tai Yai (fig.), who also live in West and Northwest Thailand, where they are also known as Ngiaw.

2. A language spoken mostly in Myanmar's Shan State, but also in Kachin State, in northern Thailand, and in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province in southern China.

Shan baun-bi (ရှမ်းဘောင်းဘီ)

Burmese. ‘Shan pants or Shan trousers’. Name for long baggy trousers, akin to the Thai kaangkaeng le (fig.), and commonly worn by men in rural Myanmar, especially as part of the traditional dress of many of the ethnic groups. The Shan baun-bi is lightweight and very spacious. It is worn wrapped around the waist and folded over to keep them in place (fig.), which differs from most Thai models that are usually tied with a string from the back, to form a belt. Also transcribed Shan baung-bi.

Shan Cai (善财)

Chinese. ‘To cherish wealth’, usually referred to as ‘Child of Wealth’. Chinese name for Sudhana, a youth from India who was seeking Enlightenment and on his quest studied under 53 teachers, including Avalokitesvara and Maitreya. He is finally taught that wisdom only exists for the sake of putting it into practice. In the Tale of Kuan Yin and the Southern Seas, he is described as a disabled boy who was given a new, healthy and handsome body, by jumping of a cliff after Kuan Yin, leaving his disabled body in the ravine. After this, he became Kuan Yin's acolyte and is therefore at times portrayed at her side (fig.), often together with Long Nu, a later female acolyte of Kuan Yin. In another story, described in the Precious Scrolls, Shan Cai became her acolyte after she appeared in the middle of the ocean. This episode is often portrayed in art with the boy walking on the waves across the sea to join with her (fig.). In the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West, he is known as Red Boy. Also transliterated Shan Tsai.

Shan Da Wang (山大王)

Chinese. ‘Great Mountain King’. Name of a Mountain-Protection King, a deity in Taoism. READ ON.

shan zi (山子)

Chinese. ‘Mountain offspring’ or ‘small mountains’. Name of a Chinese art form in which miniature sceneries and landscapes are carved from small to medium-sized natural rocks and boulders (fig.), usually in its interior after it has been split open, while using and maintaining existing outlines in the natural shape of the rock. The finished work is typically put on a decorative wooden stand. See also Chinese rockery.

Shaolin (少林)

Chinese. Though the name literally translates as ‘Young Forest’, it in fact refers to the location of a Buddhist monastery in China's Henan province (fig.). Shao (少) refers namely to Mount Shaoshi (少室山), the ‘Young Home’ mountain on which the monastery is built. Lin (林) indeed means ‘forest’, but the full name of the monastery is in reality Shaolin Si (少林寺), with the word si (寺), meaning ‘Buddhist temple’ or ‘court office’. The name should thus be interpreted as ‘Buddhist temple in the woods of Mount Shaoshi’. The monastery initially served as a defense against bandits (fig.) and contributed to the development of a martial arts form (fig.), consisting of nineteen different types (fig.), which lay at the origin of Chinese fighting sports, including the renowned Kung Fu (fig.). It is practiced by the fighting monks (fig.) of the Shaolin order in China, but has followers worldwide. Now the term Shaolin is more often than not used in reference to this martial art, though the Shaolin monastery also stands at the origin of Zen Buddhism. Monks that ordain into the order and accept to follow its nine rules are given the jieba, i.e. nine rounded marks that are burned onto the head with incense sticks (fig.), in three rows of three (fig.). The temple is also known for its famed Pagoda Forest (fig.). See also Bodhidharma. See also TRAVEL PICTURES (1) and (2).

Sharanga (शारङ्ग)

Sanskrit. Name of the celestial bow of the Hindu god Vishnu and one of the objects that surfaced during the Churning of the Ocean of Milk. This bow, along with Shiva's bow, Pinaka, was crafted by Vishvakarma, the divine architect and maker of weapons. Once, Brahma wanted to determine who was the superior archer between Vishnu and Shiva. To this end, he orchestrated a conflict between the two, which escalated into a fierce duel, disturbing the balance of the universe. Vishnu eventually emerged victorious, defeating Shiva with his arrows. Brahma, along with other gods, intervened and declared Vishnu the winner. In his anger, Shiva gave his bow, Pinaka, to an ancestor of King Janaka, Sita's father. Following this, Vishnu entrusted his bow, Sharanga, to a sage who, over time, passed the bow down to his grandson, Parasurama, an incarnation of Vishnu. After completing his life's mission, Parasurama handed Sharanga to Rama, with whom it became primarily associated.


See chalaam.

Sha Wujing (沙悟净)

Chinese. ‘Sand understanding purity’. Name of a fallen immortal who was punished by the Jade Emperor for breaking a crystal goblet. He was exiled from heaven, where he previously was the General who Raises the Curtain, and sent to the mortal world as a hideous sand demon. On earth he dwelt in the quicksand river where he attacked innocent passers-by and received weekly punishments from heaven. In search of powerful bodyguards to protect the monk Xuanzang on his Journey to the West, he was recruited by Kuan Yin in exchange for relief from his punishment. After the pilgrimage he was rewarded and transformed into a luohan. His weapon of choice is a Monk's Spade (fig.), i.e. a double-headed staff, with a crescent-moon blade at one end (fig.) and a spade at the other. In English, he is also known as Friar Sandy. See also .