The Singha figurehead is a type of temple guardian accredited to one of the mythical creatures known throughout Thailand. They are depicted as half-man and half-lion. Some sit atop gateposts while many others tend to guard temple entrances.
You'll find that the marble temple of
Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok city has a number of these large beasts gracing the compound. Smaller specimens can be seen on the grounds of the
Grand Palace including
Wat Phra Kaew.
The name is believed to have originated from the Hindu word Singh which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word Simha which means lion. In western astrology, it can be viewed in the same context as the zodiac sign of Leo.
The final syllable is marked as silent. Sanskrit is a historical Indo-Aryan form of communication as well as being the primary liturgical language of both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Singha is also the name used for a popular local brand of beer. It's often used as place names and for the name of the solar calendar month of August. The latter for which the "ha" is pronounced.
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When you next arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, pause for a while and marvel at some of the giant grimacing images known as Yaksha. They grace the departure hall and simply cannot be missed. They are just so in your face due to their brightly coloured faces and attire. Other examples can be found at Wat Phra Kaew on the grounds of the Grand Palace.
Another interesting mythical creature is one called the Makara. According to ancient Hindu Mythology, is seen as a marvellous sea creature depicted as half-fish and half-animal. In Thailand, they are seen as aquatic monsters made up either as part of a serpent, a part of a crocodile and a part of an elephant. Go and check them all out.
Naga is a serpent-like protector of Buddha.
Garuda is a mythical birdlike creature in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
Kinnari appears in the form of a half-woman and half-bird.
Apsonsi appears in the form of a half-woman and half-lion.
Erawan is a three-headed mythical elephant of Hindu origin. The elephant statue seen in the photo is located in the province of Samut Prakan just outside Bangkok.
Hongsa is often seen as a glittering five-metre tall swan-like figure gracing the prow of a royal barge or perched high on the apex of temple roofs.
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