Mythical Creatures of Thailand
All the Spiritual Sagas Surrounding
Hindu and Buddhist Mythology
Three Headed Erewan Elephant
Mythical Creatures are found all around Thailand, but in many
cases foreigners to the country simply walk right past them in their
sheer excitement as they gingerly make their way through the vast crowds
at all the most popular places. Hopefully you are not one of them.
Below is a list of all the most important ones.
It may be of tremendous interest to you to pause for a while before entering any of the Thai temples to observe these beautifully crafted creatures. Many of the exceptionally fine examples found here, represent fearsome beasts which act as temple guardians. Most of these beings originate from the legendary Himaphan forest, a kind of Buddhist Shangri-La somewhere in the Himalayan mountains.
Five Headed Naga Serpent
The Naga Serpent
is a serpent-like protector of Buddha and often act as
guardians against bad spirits. They almost always flank the walls of
temples or the staircases that leads up to them. Many can be seen carved
on roofs, doors, gables and windows. In some cases, they are multi-headed
as seen in the photo above.
is a large mythical bird-like creature which appears in both Hindu and
Buddhist mythology. Its shape is usually that of half-man and
half-bird. The story of Garuda's origins, accomplishments and exploits
are told in the first book of the great epic Mahabharata. Examples of these ferocious figureheads can be seen on the brow
of the gun barge at the
Royal Barge Museum
in Bangkok as well as other fine specimens at various temple complexes around the country.
Garudas at Wat Phra Kaew Complex
The Kinnari appears in the form of a half-woman and half-bird. You will find some
of these mythological figurines in small coves on the second level of
the central prang at
located beside the
Chao Phraya River
Kinnari- Half Woman Half Bird
The Apsonsi materializes as a half-woman and half-lion. Some of these graceful gilded figures can be seen on the upper terrace at the temple of
Wat Phra Kaew
Apsonsi - Half Woman Half Lion
The Hongsa is a swan-like figure of which a fine example can be viewed at the
Royal Barge Museum in Nonthaburi in Bangkok. Not only is there a Hongsa figure perched proudly on the brow of the king's barge, but these mythical creatures can also be seen perched on the apexes of temple roofs in various other parts of the kingdom.
Mythical Creatures at the Royal Barge Museum
The Yaksha takes the shape of a grimacing giant statue often sporting brightly
coloured faces. These spectacularly crafted figures tower above the entrances to a great many of the temple compounds in Thailand, of
which some superb examples can be seen at the
Grand Palace Complex and at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.
Giant Yaksha Statue at the Grand Palace
is an aquatic monster made up of part crocodile, part elephant and part
serpent. Symbolizing rainfall, temples depict these creatures on
Makara Serpent in Chiang Mai
The Erawan is a three-headed elephant of which one of biblical proportions can be found in the almost fifty metre tall Erawan Museum in the town of
south of Bangkok. Other fine examples of these mythical creatures can be seen at the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya. Another example can be viewed on the central tower of Wat Arun in Bangkok and also in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
The Singha takes on the appearance of a lion-like figure whose primary function is
to guard temples. Larger ones grace temple entrances while other
smaller ones sit atop gateposts. The marble temple at
Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok has a number of these giant mythical creatures gracing the compound.
Singha Temple Guards at the Grand Palace
I would really appreciate anyone who was kind enough to read this
article and who may have any other additional information regarding the
details described here, to contact me so that I may improve the subject
for other visitors to enjoy including myself.
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