The elephant is one of the enduring symbols of Thailand with the Thai elephant (chang Thai) playing an important role in the history and culture of the country. In 1998 the Thai authorities decide to formally recognise the significance of the animal by designating March 13 as National Thai Elephant Day.

Many Thai temples feature depictions of elephants. In Buddhist legend it is believed that Queen Maya (mother of the Buddha) was only able to conceive after having a dream of a white elephant. Therefore, the white elephant is seen as highly auspicious and enjoys royal status in Thailand.

The elephant has appeared on the national flag when the country was known as Siam and a white elephant still appears on the ensign of the Royal Thai Navy. If you look at the outline of a map of Thailand, you can see the resemblance to an elephant with the ‘ears’ in the north and north-east and the ‘trunk’ bending down to the south of Bangkok and extending towards Malaysia.

 

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