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Cabbage White

Common name for a butterfly in the family Pieridae, and with the scientific designation Pieris brassicae. READ ON.


See cacao tree.

cacao tree

See ton kohkoh.

Café Amazon

Name of a chain of Thai coffee shops founded in 2002 and owned by the PTT Group, formerly known as the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, and the largest corporation in Thailand. Hence, Café Amazon shops are typically found at PTT fuel stations, though they are also found at shopping malls, in airports, entertainment venues, and so on. Today, there are reportedly well over three thousand Café Amazon shops located around the world, with its first international flagship store in Singapore's Jewel Changi Airport (fig.) at Changi Airport (fig.), which opened in April 2019 as part of its new wave of expansion to develop a global presence. It is currently the sixth largest coffee chain by number of outlets worldwide. The brand's name drives from the idea that Brazil is a large producer of coffee, as well as the land of the Amazon forest, the world’s largest natural rainforest. Café Amazon extends this unique identity and concept to its coffee shops and its logo, aimed at creating a jungle-like style. Whereas the logo features a colourful Macaw against a background of palm leaves. This large, long-tailed parrot, which is endemic to the Amazon, became the chains mascot, whilst its stores are typically designed with a shady, natural forest-like atmosphere, abounding with the charms of nature, plants, trees, streams and wildlife, creating a relaxing, cozy oasis in which one is in many a location surrounded by real trees, water and waterfalls. These usually outdoor gardens are often inhabited by real Macaws and koi fish. See also TRAVEL PICTURES (1), (2) and (3), and WATCH VIDEO.

Cai Shen (财神)

Chinese. ‘Wealth god’, ‘money spirit’ or ‘mammon’. There are numerous distinct Chinese wealth gods, differentiating between formal and informal, as well as civilian and military wealth deities. READ ON.

Cai Qing (采青)

Chinese. Plucking the Greens’. Name of a Chinese tradition associated with the lion dance (fig.), conducted as a fundraising event in a door-to-door parade to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. During this event, lion dance performers collect donations while local community members hang lettuce at their shop entrances or homes, concealing money within. The lion grasps the lettuce with its mouth, retrieves the money kept as a reward, and symbolically spits out the greens to spread prosperity. The parade is accompanied by rhythmic drumbeats and cymbals. Spectators and locals may also contribute by offering money in red envelopes or placing it directly in the lion's mouth to support the performers and temples. WATCH VIDEO.

caitya (चैत्य)

1. Sanskrit. ‘Sanctuary’. An assembly hall for meditation and teaching. Originally an apsidal hall housing a stupa, or a funerary mound enshrining sacred relics of the Buddha, or objects used  by him. It is the precursor of the Thai chedi. Also transcribed chaitya. In Pali cetiya.

2. Sanskrit. A particular style of arch and window construction as found in early cave temples in India. Also transcribed chaitya.


See nahm tao.


Generic Latin name for any of the tropical plants, which in Thai are called bon.


Latin. Generic botanical name for large shrubs that belong to the family Fabaceae and the subfamily Mimosaceae, and with flowers that are often confusingly similar to those on trees and shrubs of the genus Albizia. They are originally from the North of South America and have typifying tassel-like flowers, usually white and pink or red, that grow on top of the branches. Within this large genus, there are two comparable species, i.e. Calliandra surinamensis or Pink Tassel-flower (fig.), and Calliandra haematocephala or Red Powder-puff (fig.), the latter which is also commonly called Blood-red Tassel-flower and Pink Powder-puff. In Thai, Calliandra surinamensis is called jamajurih (จามจุรี), whereas Calliandra haematocephala is called phu jomphon (พู่จอมพล), phu naay phon (พู่นายพล), and phu chomphu (พู่ชมพู), with the latter name also being used for the comparable Persian Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin). In addition, the Thai name jamajurih is also used for a large tree in the same family and with similar flowers, and which is commonly seen in Thailand (fig.). To differentiate between the two, usually the prefix ton (ต้น) is added when referring to the tree, whereas the prefix phreuk (พฤกษ์) is used for the shrub.

Calling Crab

See piyaw.


Thailand's neighbouring country to the East, roughly between Vietnam and Laos, bordering the Gulf of Thailand. The official name is Kingdom of Cambodia and the capital is Phnom Penh. Its covers a land area of 181,040 km² and has a total of 2,572 km of boundaries with Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Its coastline is 443 km long and its highest point is Phnum Aoral, with an altitude of 1,810 meter. Natural resources are timber, gemstones, some iron ore, manganese and phosphates. The currency is the Riel (រៀល), a name that literally means ‘Small Fish’. Besides the often silver colour of fish, akin to that of coin money, the term likely derives from the country's former bartering system, i.e. a mode of payment by exchanging goods for food, especially fish, that was commonly used in the past in the many fishing communities, that today still exist around Tonlé Sap (fig.), the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia (fig.). Cambodia has a population of just over 13 million, of which 90% are Khmer, the rest Vietnamese, Chinese and others. With 95% the majority of the people are Theravada Buddhist. The official language is Khmer, but also French and English are spoken. Following a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh in 1975 and ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns. Over 1 million displaced people died from execution or enforced hardships (fig.). A 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside and touched off almost 20 years of fighting. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy as did the rapid diminishment of the Khmer Rouge in the mid-1990s. A coalition government, formed after national elections in 1998, brought renewed political stability and the surrender of remaining Khmer Rouge forces in 1998. Apart from its well-known recent past, the country is perhaps best known for Angkor Wat, an ancient Khmer temple (fig.) and one of the seven Wonders of the World, which is also depicted on the current national flag of Cambodia (fig.). In Thai called Kamphucha. See also Thailand's Neighbours & Beyond.

Cambodian Lascar

Common name for a species of butterfly, with the scientific designation Neptis tiga. It has a wingspan of 4 to 5 centimeters, and the upper-wings have a dark brown ground colour with orange markings (fig.). On the forewings, these markings consist of broad orange streaks, whilst the hind wing has two orange bands, the one on the top broader than that in the lower area. It is very similar to the Common Lascar (Neptis hordonia), which has a blackish ground colour on the forewings rather than dark brown, a distinction which –depending on the light– is not always easy to differentiate in the field.


A genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae, that are found in eastern and southern Asia, with around 200 described species, and known in Thai as ton cha, i.e. ‘tea plant’, since the leaves of the variety Camellia sinensis are processed to make tea. See also cha and Camellia amplexicaulis.

Camellia amplexicaulis

Botanical name of an unusual species of Camellia native to northern Vietnam, that has purplish-pink to purplish-red flowers, with massive clusters of yellow pollen in the centre. It’s flower buds, after which the plant is sometimes dubbed Pink Bubblegum (fig.), develop over a long period of time. Due to this, it is not uncommon to have many different size flower buds on a single stem, and which allow it to bloom all year if conditions are right. The plant has huge, glossy leaves, that are serrated, may grow up to 28 centimeters in length, and that –in mature plants– are dark green in colour. When the plant was introduced in northern Thailand, it was called yih hub/yee hoob (ยี่หุบแดง), i.e. ‘red coconut magnolia’, which is a rather misleading name as it has nothing to do with the Magnolia. The name however refers to the unopened flowers of the Coconut Magnolia, which –like those of the Camellia amplexicaulis- somewhat resemble small coconuts.

Camellia sinensis

Botanical name of an evergreen shrub or small tree native to East Asia, known for producing tea. It has glossy, dark green, oval-shaped leaves and small, fragrant white flowers. The two main varieties are Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, used for green and white teas, and Camellia sinensis var. assamica, used for black and pu-erh teas. The plant thrives in tropical and subtropical climates with well-drained, acidic soils. Young leaves and buds are hand-picked for quality and processed to create various types of tea. Rich in antioxidants like polyphenols and catechins, these leaves offer health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health and boosted metabolism. See also cha.

Camouflage Tree

Common name for a tall species of eucalyptus tree found in northern Thailand with a peeling bark of a striped army camouflage colour and pattern. READ ON.

Camphor Tree

Common designation of a large, broadleaf evergreen tree, with the botanical name Cinnamomum camphora, and which is also commonly known as Camphorwood and Camphor Laurel. READ ON.

can (蚕)

Chinese for ‘silkworm’. See also Can Shen.

Canda (चन्द)

1. Sanskrit-Pali. Name of the bodhisatta, i.e. a former chaht of the Sakyamuni Buddha, born as a Kinnara, who lived in the Canda mountains of Himavah, together with his spouse Yashodhara, who was born as the Kinnari Candah. Their story is described in the Canda Jataka.

2. Sanskrit-Pali. Name of a mountain range in Himavah (fig.), as described in the Canda Jataka, where it is described as the residence of Canda and Candah, a Kinnara and Kinnari, and former incarnations or chaht of Siddhartha and his shakti Yashodhara. In the jataka, it is described as a silver mountain and is also referred to as Canda-pabbata, i.e. the Mountain of the Moon’.

Candah (चन्दा)

Sanskrit-Pali. Name of a former chaht or incarnation of Yashodhara, when she was born as a Kinnari. See also Canda and Canda Jataka.

Canda Jataka (चन्दजातक)

Name of a jataka as told by the Sakyamuni Buddha and which describes one of his former chaht or incarnations, when he was born as a Kinnara, called Canda. He lived in the Canda mountains of Himavah, together with his spouse Yashodhara, who was born as the Kinnari Candah. One day, while the inseparable lovers were enjoying themselves near a  stream, Anuruddha Thera (fig.), the king of Benares (fig.), was out hunting and saw the couple. He immediately fell in love with Candah. Hence, he took his bow and shot Canda with an arrow, killing him instantly. When Candah wept aloud at the sight of her dead husband, the king revealed himself and offered her his love, as well as his realm. Candah ridiculed the offer and instead protested to the devas for allowing the tragedy to take place, praying for a miracle to happen. Hence Indra, the chief of the devas, who in Burma is associated with Thagyamin (fig.), Lord of the Nats, descended from Tavatimsa heaven in the guise of a brahmin priest and resurrected Canda (fig.). Compare with Shin Mway Loon nae Min Nandar (fig.).


Name of a jataka, which describes one of the former incarnations of the Sakyamuni Buddha, when he was was born as Candakumara. READ ON.


Indonesian. General term for all ancient temples, both of Hindu and Buddhist.

Candi Prambanan

See Prambanan.

Candle Festival

See Wax Candle Festival.

Cangjie (仓颉)

Name of an official historian of the Yellow Emperor (fig.), who is usually accredited with the invention of the Chinese characters, known in Chinese as Han zhi (汉字) and in Japanese as Kanji (漢字, i.e. the traditional Chinese script). Though he is not always considered a historical figure, legend has it that he lived around 2650 BC. He may also not be the sole inventor of Chinese writing, and Fu Xi is often mentioned as the inventor of Chinese characters alongside with Cangjie. According to legend, after unifying the country and to replace an earlier unsatisfying method of recording information, the Yellow Emperor commissioned Cangjie to create a script that could be used to embrace all Chinese languages and dialects. Inspired by an object that fell from the beak of an overflying phoenix (fig.), and which turned out to be an impression of a distinctive hoof-print belonging to a Bi Xie (fig.), different from the hoof-print of any other animal alive, Cangjie set out to create the new script by capturing in a pictogram the special characteristics that set apart each and every thing on the earth, and thus compiled a long list of characters for writing, according to the special characteristics he found in everyone and everything. According to the myth, when Cangjie revealed his invention, the gods cried and the skies rained millet. The Cangjie method, a Chinese character input method, is named after him. In Wade-Giles, transliterated Ts'ang-chieh.

Canna Lily

Common English name for a flowering plant, which is known in Thai as Phuttaraksah.

cannonball tree

Epithet for the sala tree, from its large cannonball like seeds.

Can Shen (蚕神)

Chinese. ‘Goddess of the silkworm’. Nickname of Leizu, the wife of the Yellow Emperor, Huang, who discovered silk at the age of fourteen and is said to have invented the silk reel and silk loom. Also known as the Chinese goddess of silk.


Indonesian term for a pen-like tool to draw wax lines and dots on cotton fabrics in order to make batik. It consists of a wooden or bamboo handle with a small copper vessel. The vessel is filled with wax and heated over a flame to make the wax fluid. At the bottom of this vessel is an thin exit spout that resembles a blunt, hollow needle, through which the wax can flow and controllably be applied on the cloth (fig.). Also spelled tjanting.

Cantonese vegetable

See phak kwahng tung.

Cao Dai (Cao Đài)

Vietnamese. ‘Highest Power’. Name of  a monotheistic religion that was officially established in 1926, in the city of Tay Ninh (Tây Ninh), in southern Vietnam. READ ON.


Architectural term for the uppermost, usually decorated part of a column, pillar or pilaster. See also cornice.


Spanish. Term that derives from a local word in the Philippines and which is used for the East Indian tame buffalo, commonly known as water buffalo and in Thai referred to as krabeua. Carabao is in Thailand also used as the brand name of a well-known Thai rock band.


The seeds of an aromatic Southeast Asian plant, used as a spice and known in Thai as kra-wahn.

carnivorous plant

See ton mai kin malaeng.

Carpenter Bee

Common name for any of the large bees in the subfamily Xylocopinae, of which there are some 500 species, and that are also known as borer bees, deriving their name from the fact that most species make their nests by tunneling into dead wood. They does so by vibrating their bodies while scraping theis mandibles against the wood. Though usually solitary, the females of some species form social groups of cohabiting mothers and daughters. Whereas female carpenter bees have a stinger, males do not. Somewhat similar to bumblebees, carpenter bees can be distinguished by the fact that their often beetle-like bodies are naked and shiny, rather than veiled in dense hair. They have large compound eyes, which in most species are larger in males than in females. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2), and WATCH VIDEO.

cashew nut

Fruit of a tree with the scientific name Anacardium occidentale. The shape of the cashew nut (fig.) resembles that of a mango, resulting in the Thai name ma muang himaphan, the Himaphan ‘mango’. A cashew nut tree bears its nuts at the far end of an edible ‘fruit’ that resembles the rose apple (fig.). Although edible this ‘fruit’ is seldom consumed. Cashew nut shells contain urushiol, a toxin that may cause skin irritation and which must be removed by shelling the nuts before the seed inside is processed for consumption. This is a manual process done one by one with a large nutcracker (fig.), a slow, labour-intensive and because of the toxin- a somewhat hazardous occupation, hence the relatively high price of cashew nuts. Afterwards the nuts are cooked, roasted or fried, making any possible remainders of the toxin non-noxious. Additionally, they may be salted or coated with a seasoned crunchy layer. The different varieties are then sorted and packed, which also is done by hand, which allows for a final quality check (fig.). In Thai also shortened to himaphan. Cashew nuts are a common ingredient in Thai cooking, such as in the dish kai pad med ma muang, ‘fried chicken with cashew nuts’.


Starch from the thickened root of the manioc plant, which is hence also referred to as the cassava plant (fig.). From it tapioca obtained which in Thai is known as paengman. It is the basic ingredient to manufacture monosodium glutamate (MSG), but also an ingredient in many a food product, especially in the form of starch. In addition, it is also used as fodder and to produce bio-fuel.

cassava plant

See manioc.


Term derived from the Portuguese word casta, meaning ‘breed’, ‘kind’ or ‘race’, and which is used to define the four varna or social classes that form Indian society, i.e. the Brahmans, the learned class; Kshatriya, the royal or warrior class; Vaishya, the class of traders; and Shudra, the agricultural and serving class. In China, the four social classes as defined in Maoism and represented in the republic's flag (fig.) are somewhat different, also in order of importance, with the highest class of people being the scholars and officials, who were given examinations to determine government positions; the second class and largest group of people were the farmers, who were considered to be the economic backbone of the country; only then came the artisans, who were considered skilled in crafting things; and finally fourth and lowest class, i.e. that of merchants, who were considered parasites, as they made their living off other people without any valuable skill of their own. Members of any of three upper castes are also called considered Dvija, i.e. ‘Twice-born’. See also chaht.

cast net

A type of circular net used for fishing and with a weight around its edge, usually a metal chain. Its is cast by hand (fig.) in such a manner that it spreads out on the water (fig.) and sinks due to the weight. When the net is hauled back the chain sinks to the middle and fish are trapped in between. It is also referred to as a throw net and net casting is still a popular way to catch fish in most Southeast Asian countries. See also pramong, chonsae (fig.), soom pla (fig.), shamuak (fig.), and cormorant fishing (fig.).

Castor Oil Plant

Common designation for a long-lived perennial shrub with the botanical name Ricinus communis which in suitable conditions can grow to the size of a small tree. It has large glossy leaves that grow on long-stalks and may develop up to 45 centimeters in size. The greenish immature fruits are spiny capsules that contain highly poisonous bean-like seeds, from which highly toxic castor oil can be extracted which is used in toiletries, cosmetics and as biodiesel.

Cat Ba Langur

Common name for a species of Leaf Monkey with the scientific name Trachypithecus poliocephalus and also commonly known as Golden-headed Langur. READ ON.


English. Archaic term used to refer to China or the peoples of China. It comes from the medieval Latin word Cathaya, which in turn is derived from Khitai, the name of a nomadic tribe in northern China. This term was commonly used by Europeans in the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance period to describe the lands beyond the Silk Road, especially during the time of Marco Polo's travels. Today it occurs in the name of Hong Kong's international airline Cathay Pacific. The name Cathay, which as mentioned earlier refers to China, with Pacific, referencing the Pacific Ocean. So, together, the name evokes a sense of connection between China and the broader Pacific region, reflecting the airline's aim to link Asia with destinations across the Pacific and beyond. Note that in the Chinese the name for Cathay is Guó Tài (国泰), whereas Tài Guó (泰国), means Thailand. Hence, the word order is reversed. Literally, Tài (泰) translates to ‘great’ or ‘peaceful’, whilst Guó (国) means ‘country’ or ‘nation’.


Christian church which contains a cathedra, i.e. the throne or seat of a bishop, which in Greek is known as a kathédra (καθέδρα). An example of a cathedral in Southeast Asia is the St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi (map). See also basilica.

Cattle Egret

Common name of a white, heron-like bird with the scientific name Bubulcus ibis. This bird is often seen associating with cattle (fig.), especially water buffaloes, from which it removes ticks and flies, a trait referred to in both its English and Latin names, with the word bubulcus meaning ‘herdsman’. Though officially listed amongst the wading birds, it actually prefers grasslands to marshes or mudflats. There are two geographical races, i.e. the Western Cattle Egret and the Eastern Cattle Egret. They are sometimes each classified as a species in its own right, with the latter being given the scientific name Bubulcus coromandus. The non-breeding plumage of Cattle Egrets is almost completely white, and they have a relatively short, thick neck and a hunched posture (fig.). They have long, greyish legs and a sturdy, yellow bill. The positioning of its eyes allows for binocular vision during feeding (fig.). Its diet consists mainly of terrestrial insects, though it can occasionally be found in shallow waters foraging on aquatic prey. During the breeding season (fig.), adults have some buff colouring  (fig.), which is darker in colour in the Eastern Cattle Egret. In addition, the bill of the latter is yellow near the tip and orange towards the base, its facial skin is purplish, its legs reddish, and the feet are dark grey (fig.). In Thai Cattle Egrets are known as nok yahng kwai.

cao lau (cao lầu)

Vietnamese. Name of a culinary specialty from Hoi An. READ ON.

Cau Thach Han (Cầu Thạch Hãn)

Vietnamese. ‘Thach Han Bridge’. Name of a bridge over the Thach Han River in Hai Lang (Hải Lăng) District of Vietnam's Quang Tri (Quảng Trị) Province, located alongside the historically important Cau Quang Tri (fig.), a railway bridge which during the Second Indochina War saw some fierce fighting. READ ON.

Cau Quang Tri (Cầu Quảng Trị)

Vietnamese. ‘Quang Tri Bridge’. Name of a historically important bridge over the Thach Han River in Hai Lang (Hải Lăng) District of Vietnam's Quang Tri Province, in the North Central Region and which during the Second Indochina War saw some intense fighting. READ ON.

Cave Dwelling Snake

A snake with the scientific names Elaphe taeniura ridleyi and Orthriophis taeniura ridleyi, that occurs in southern Thailand and northern Peninsular Malaysia. It lives in or near limestone caves and preys primarily on bats. The top of its head is grey-blue with large, dark patches behind the eyes and an almost white throat. Its neck is orange-brown and gradates into beige toward the middle of its body, whilst a creamy-yellow vertebral stripe gradually appears, which usually gets darker and more visible as it progresses towards the tail. From the middle onward, the flanks become gradually black, whilst its underside also becomes creamy-yellow. This attractive snake may grow up to 2.5 meters long. Also called Cave Dwelling Rat Snake (Ratsnake) and Black-tailed Rat Snake (fig.), and in Thai known as ngu kaab mahk hahng nin. See also WILDLIFE PICTURE and WATCH VIDEO.

Cavendish banana

See gluay hom.

Cave Swift

See nok naang aen.


A phenomenon that occurs when fast objects travel through fluids. READ ON.

cavitation bubble

See cavitation.


Cayenne pepper or red pepper. A popular spice used as an ingredient in many a Thai dish, as well as in kaeng and in Thai curries, made of chili paste (fig.) mixed with coconut milk. In Thai prik pon. Also named chili pepper and Spanish pepper. See also TRAVEL PICTURES (1) and (2).


Earthenware with a blue-green to gray glaze, named after L'Astrée, a shepherd in the 1610 play by Honoré d'Urfé, who wore a green cloak with grey-green ribbons. Its colour is usually green and sometimes blue, but the hue may vary from pale to dark depending on the clay used, the glaze, and the temperature in the kiln. Modern celadon's finishing is finer (fig.), but the name is also often misused for pottery with a chemical glaze in which copper or lead are used. Originally it was produced in China where it was called ‘green-wares’, and later in other countries, including Thailand, where it first existed as a specialty of Sawankhalok, and in the beginning of the 20th century it was reintroduced by the Shan from Burma. Since celadon glaze is hard to control as it melts at a critical point under extreme temperatures, it was often not completely applied to the base, to avoid it sticking to the baking tray.

celery cabbage

See phak kahd khao


Sanskrit. Temple chamber housing the image or symbol of a god.


Generic name for a small genus of ornamental plants in the family Amaranthaceae. READ ON.


Monument for someone who is buried elsewhere.


Hundred feet. Name for an invertebrate arthropod belonging to the class of Chilopoda. It has an elongated flattened body that consists of several segments with each segment bearing a single pair of legs and with each a dorsal and a ventral plate. READ ON.

centipede tongavine

One of several common designations for a kind of climber or ivy often found on tree trunks and with the botanical name Epipremnum pinnatum (fig.).

Central Plaza (CentralPlaza)

Name of any branch of Central Department Store, which itself is a brand of Central Group, i.e. a Thai family-owned multinational conglomerate active in Asia and Europe, and consisting of subsidiaries in retail, property development, brand management, hospitality, and food and beverage sectors, holding shopping centers, department stores, restaurants, and hotels. It was founded in 1947 by Tiang Chirathivat (เตียง จิราธิวัฒน์), a Thai of Chinese descent, and owns more than 100 department stores and shopping malls. Whereas some branches of Central Department Store operate in Thailand under the name CentralPlaza, many are known as just Central, typically with its location added in a suffix, whilst one location in Bangkok is called CentralWorld. WATCH VIDEO (1) and (2).

century egg

See khai yiew ma.

Cereal Leaf Beetle

Common name for a tiny beetle with the scientific names Lema subapicalis. It is largely black, with a buffish-orange head and neck. Though attractive and small, it is much feared by farmers as its larvae are capable of destroying entire harvests. It is very similar to other leaf beetles, such as Luperomorpha pryeri; Aulacophora nigripennis; Lema diversa, which is known in Japan as the Red-necked Narrow Flower Beetle; Oulema duftschmidi; and Lema melanopus or Oulema melanopus, commonly known as the Red-throated Cereal Leaf Beetle or Barley Leaf Beetle, and which has a black head.

Cetasika (चैतसिक)

Sanskrit term referring to the mental states or mental factors, which in Buddhism are identified within the teachings of the Abhidhamma. READ ON.


Pali for caitya.


Old name for modern Sri Lanka.

Ceylon Ironwood

Common name for a slow-growing tree with the botanical names Mesua nagassarium and Mesua ferrea, and named after the heaviness and hardness of its timber. It is also commonly known as Cobra Saffron and in Thai it is called boon naak (บุนนาค), with naak being the Thai term for the naga, i.e. a mythical serpent with characteristics of a cobra, that in legend is the guardian of the Buddha and protector of the earthly waters. This ornamental tree is the national tree of Sri Lanka and grows to a height of over 30 meters. It has a grayish-green foliage with a beautiful pink to red flush of drooping young leaves, and large white flowers. The flowers are have four white petals and a center of numerous orange yellow stamens, whilst the fruit is spherical capsule with one or two seeds. It is  one of the various bodhi trees under which some of the buddhas known to Theravada Buddhism attained Enlightenment. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2).

cha (ชา, 茶)

Thai-Chinese. ‘Tea’. Name of a small tree of which its dried leaves are soaked in hot water to make the beverage tea. READ ON.

chaab (ฉาบ)

Thai. Name for round, cup-shaped cymbals, similar to ching, but larger, thinner and not joined by a cord. Instead, they have a separate handgrip each, often a colourful tassel. There are two sizes, i.e. chaab lek (ฉาบเล็ก) and chaab yai (ฉาบใหญ่), with chaab lek measuring 12 to14 centimeters in diameter and the larger ones usually about 24 to 26 centimeters (fig.). To play, each cymbal is held in a hand, one in the right the other in the left hand, and both are then struck together, once with an outward sliding movement, then straight on, producing alternately a high-pitched pealing sound and a dampening blocked sound. The Thai name is an onomatopoeia, i.e. it mimics the sound of the instrument when the cymbals are brought together with the outward sliding movement that produces a muffled sound. In Thai, chaab may also refer to any other type of cymbal and hence, the traditional handheld type is also referred to as chaab ku (ฉาบคู่), i.e. a ‘pair of cymbals’. Also transcribed chaap, chahb or chab.

chaam (ชาม)

See cham.

Chaamphoowaraat (ชามพูวราช)

Thai. A monkey soldier in the Ramakien, on the side of Phra Ram. He transformed himself into a bear in order to bite through a large tree, making it fall and thus disrupting Indrachit's (fig.) poison arrow ceremony. Sometimes transcribed Chahmphuwaraht, Champhoovaraat or Champhuvaraj.

chaba (ชบา)

Thai name for the Hibiscus, especially of the type rosa-sinensis, but also used as a prefix to other types of Hibiscuses, as in chabanu, used for the Sleeping Hibiscus.

chabanu (ชบาหนู)

Thai designation for the Sleeping Hibiscus, an up to 1.5 meter tall shrub with the botanical name Malvaviscus arboreus Cav. var. drummondii  and also commonly known as Turk's Cap and Wax Mallow. It was one of seven types of dok maijan, i.e. sandalwood flowers, used in the royal cremation ceremony of King Rama IX, in October 2017, and is said to represents the heartfelt condolences of the people and a symbol of all in paying their final tributes to the late King.

chabathip (ชบาทิพย์)

Thai designation for one of the seven types of dok maijan, i.e. sandalwood flowers, used in the royal cremation ceremony of King Rama IX, in October 2017, and described as a newly created Hibiscus (chaba)-like flower that represents demise and divinity, and offered to pay a final tribute to the late King.

chabu (ชาบู)

Thai name for a kind of Japanese-style soup-like hotpot with thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water or a broth. As the dish originated in Japan, the name derives from the Japanese term shabu-shabu, an onomatopoeia for the sound that it makes when the ingredients are added to the cooking pot and stirred. In full, it is in Thai also referred to as chabu chabu, akin to the Japanese shabu-shabu. In Japan, this dish is usually served with a dipping sauce. As the soup stock is often of a dark colour, it may in Thai be referred to as chabu nahm dam (ชาบูน้ำดำ), i.e. ‘black water shabu’.

Chachengsao (ฉะเชิงเทรา)

Name of a province as well as the capital city of this province (map) in East Thailand, 82 kms to the East of Bangkok. READ ON.

Chachungsao (ฉะเชิงเทรา)

See Chachengsao.

chadah (ชฎา)

Thai. Golden conical shaped ornamented crown, as worn by Thai monarchs and the royal characters in classical Khon performances. Compare with radklao.

chadok (ชาดก)

Sanskrit-Pali-Thai. Each of the in total 547-550 incarnations that every soul needs to take before it is able to be born as a buddha. Generally, it stands for the former life stories of the Buddha. In Thai tradition the last ten incarnations of the Buddha are the most important and are called Totsachat. See also chaht and jataka.

chae im (แช่อิ่ม)

Thai. ‘Soaked to saturation’. General name for a method used to preserve fruits in syrup, or for the preserved fruits themselves, if prepared in this manner. Sometimes the word chae (to saok) is used in combination with the Thai name of the processed fruit, e.g. farang chae, soaked guava or syrup-preserved guava. A suffix may be added to refer to the kind of syrup used, e.g. farang chae buay (green syrup-preserved guava - fig.), farang chae krajiab (guava soaked in a krajiab or roselle based syrup) or farang chae strawberry (red syrup-preserved guava), etc. Other traditional methods of preserving fruits include kuan (boiling and stirring), cheuam (boiled in syrup) and dong (pickling).

chaht (ชาติ)

Thai term that derives from Pali and which means ‘life’, ‘incarnation’, and ‘birth’, but also ‘caste’ or ‘race’, as well as ‘nationality’. See also Totsachat.

chai (ชัย)

Thai for ‘victory’. It often appears as a name or as part of a name, e.g. Chainat, Chaiyaphum, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Mahachai, etc. With words in or derived from Sanskrit, it is sometimes pronounced chaya, as in maravichaya.

Chainat (ชัยนาท)

Thai. ‘Echo of victory’ or ‘celebrated victory’. Province and provincial capital in Central Thailand (map), 194 kms to the North of Bangkok. READ ON.

chai pattana aerator

Name of an invention ascribed to King Bhumipon Adunyadet and used to transfer oxygen to bodies of still water. Since it can be used to solve water pollution problems in natural water sources it is also referred to as a waste water aerator. Research for the aerator was done by the Royal Irrigation Department whilst the Chai Pattana (‘Victorious Development’) Foundation assisted with providing the budget. On 2 February 1993 the Department of Intellectual Property presented the king with a patent for the chai pattana aerator model RX-2, the first ever given to any monarch worldwide. In 2007 a sculpture of the chai pattana aerator (map - fig.) was raised in the King Rama IX Royal Park in Bangkok, on the occasion of the 80th birthday of this monarch. In many aspects the device is similar to the floating paddle wheel surface aerators (fig.) that are found on fish, shrimp and other aquatic products  farms nationwide, and which are used to improve the water quality and odour, and reduce algae and harmful dissolved gases, in order to enhance the health and growth of the aquatic creatures that are being farmed. In Thai the chai pattana aerator is known as kang han nahm chai pattana. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2).

Chai Sing (ไฉ่ซิง, ไฉ่สิ่ง)

General Thai-Tae Chew name for any of the Chinese wealth gods, which in Mandarin are known as Cai Shen.

Chai Sing Ihya (ไฉ่ซิงเอี๊ย, ไฉ่ซิ้งเอี้ย, ไฉ่ซิ่งเอี๊ย)

Thai-Tae Chew name for the Chinese wealth god Tsai Shen Yeh. He comes in two guises, i.e. in a benign appearance, known as bountiful Cai Sing Ihya, where he is depicted holding gold riches and a ruyi (fig.), and provides good fortune, money, wealth and prosperity to his worshippers; and a fierce manifestation (fig.) known as the belligerent Tsai Shen Ye, who befits worshippers in terms of debt collecting or debt clearing, by making them afraid to cheat. He is known by a variety of other names, including the Chinese designations Zhao Gong Ming, Chao Kung Ming, etc. In Thailand, he is known as Phra Thonbodih and Thao Wetsuwan, and associated with Thao Kuwen. When worshipped as one of the Three Star Gods (fig.), he is referred to as Foo. Also transcribed Cai Shen Ye (fig.) and Tsai Shen Yeh.

Chai Sing Ihya Boo (ไฉ่ซิงเอี๊ยบู๊)

Thai-Tae Chew name for the Chinese deity Zhao Gong Ming (Chao Kung Ming), the military Chinese wealth god, who is typically portrayed either seated (fig.) or with his foot on a tiger, his mount that swallows all evil. In Thai-Tae Chew he is also called Uh Chai Seun Yeh. Also transcribed Cai Shen Ye Bu (fig.).

chaitya (चैत्य)

See caitya.

Chaiya (ไชยา)

One of the oldest and historically most significant settlements in southern Thailand where a number of sculptures dating from the Srivijaya period (7th -13th century) were found, many showing Mon and Indian influences. As a port Chaiya played an important role in the trade between the peninsula, India and China. The name is possibly derived from Siwichaiya, the Thai pronunciation for Srivijaya.

Chaiyaamphawaan (ไชยามพวาน, ไชยามพวาร)

Thai name of a monkey-warrior character from the Ramakien. READ ON.

Chaiyanta Mongkon (ไชยันตมงคล)

The birth name of Mahison Rachareuthay. Sometimes transcribed Jayanta Mongkol.

chaiyaphreuk (ชัยพฤกษ์)

Thai. ‘Tree of victory’. Name for the Javanese cassia, a kind of pink cassia tree (fig.) with the scientific name Cassia javanica, in the order of Leguminosae (family of plants with seeds in pods). It is sometimes referred to as the apple-blossom cassia. The names chaiyaphreuk and rachaphreuk are in Thai literature however often muddled up, using one for the other and visa versa, sometimes referring to the cassia agnes (a pink cassia tree) as rachaphreuk. The name is also often confused with another pink cassia tree, i.e. cassia bakeriana or kalapaphreuk. The official botanical list used by the Thai government as well as several prominent books on the subject however, tend to list both the cassia renigera (a subspecies of the cassia javanica which has pink flowers) as chaiyaphreuk, the cassia fistula (with yellow flowers) as chaiyaphreuk (khoon) and the cassia agnes (a pink cassia) as the rachaphreuk.

Chaiyaphum (ชัยภูมิ)

1. Thai. ‘Field of victory’ or ‘victorious land’. The name of a province (map) and its capital, in Isaan. READ ON.

2. Thai. ‘Field of Victory’. The name of a deceptive forest at the entrance to Lanka, created by Phanuraat, a demon or yak in the Ramakien, under orders from the giant demon king Totsakan (fig.). This enchanted forest was designed to ensnare Phra Ram's (fig.) army, with Phanuraat lying in wait underground, ready to bury Rama and his soldiers alive by overturning the land. However, through the intervention of Phiphek (fig.) and Hanuman (fig.), the scheme unravels, Phanuraat is discovered, and he is ultimately beheaded. See also LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS & PLACE NAMES.

chakra (चक्र, จักร)

1. Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Disc’, one of the attributes of the Hindu god Vishnu. In the Ramakien the chakra is incarnated by Phra Phrot. In Thai, it is pronounced chak. See also THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

2. Sanskrit for ‘wheel’, representing the Buddhist Wheel of Law, symbol of the setting in motion of the Buddhist doctrine when the Buddha gave his first sermon, and symbol of the eternal cycle of birth, death and rebirth. One of the marks of an enlightened being. In Thai pronounced chak.

3. Sanskrit. Centre of spiritual energy in the body and symbol of the sun. In Thai pronounced chak. Compare with Shakra.

Chakraphad (จักรพรรดิ)

1. Thai. Term for an emperor. Usually in combination with the prefix Phra Chao. Sometimes transcribed Chakkraphat, Chakrapad, Jakrapat and Chakraphati.

2. Thai. Name of the demon ruler of Maliwan, a city or kingdom in the Ramakien, who had the title of Thao. His sons are Nonyuphak, Banlaichak, and Suriyapop (fig.). Also transliterated Chakkraphat.

Chakraphong Phuwanaht (จักรพงษ์ภูวนาถ, จักรพงษภูวนารถ)

Thai. Name of the 22nd son and 43rd child of King Rama V, with the title Prince of Phitsanulok. He was born on 3 March 1883 and died on 13 June 1920, aged 37. In his youth, he was sent to study at the Page Corps of Tsar Nicolas II in Russia, to be trained as a military cadet. After his graduation, he returned to Siam with a Russian wife named Catherina, with whom he later had a son, i.e. Prince Chula Chakraphong (จุลจักรพงษ์). Field Marshal Prince Chakraphong Phuwanaht went on to serve as Chief of Staff of the Royal Siamese Army and −together with his half-brothers Field Marshal Prince Jiraprawat Woradet (fig.) and General Prince Burachat Chaiyakon (fig.)− became instrumental in the early development of aviation in Siam. In 1911, he and his half-brother Prince Burachat took a ride as a passenger (fig.) in the airplane Henri Farman (fig.) of the Belgian pilot Charles Van den Born (fig.) during his flight demonstration at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club's (fig.). His name is also transcribed Chakrabongse Bhuvanarth or Chakrabong Bhuwanath, with chakra being a disk-like weapon (fig.) typically held by gods and rulers and part of the logo of the Chakri Dynasty (fig.) while the bong or krabong is a club, i.e. a weapon typically held by door guardians (fig.). Both weapons make up the family logo of the House of Chakraphong.

Chakravartin (चक्रवर्तिन्)

Sanskrit. ‘Emperor’ or ‘universal monarch’. Indian royal term used for the Buddha as the spiritual ruler of the universe. He who ruled with a chakra, i.e. the weapon of Vishnu, considered by many to be the supreme deity of the Hindu Trimurti.

chakrawahn (จักรวาล)

Thai for ‘cosmos’. In both Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, it describes the planes and realms in which all beings can be reborn and consists of a vertical cosmology and a horizontal cosmology. The former is divided into three realms, known as the Triloka, while the latter, also known as sahasra, describes the grouping of these vertical worlds. Mt. Meru, the mythological and sacred golden mountain, is believed to be the centre of this universe. At its pinnacle is Tavatimsa heaven, the abode of the god Indra and the 33 gods. It is allegedly located in the Himalayas and from its summit the Ganga river flows to earth, divided into four streams each directed towards the four cardinal points. In architecture this is generally represented as a quincunx, but also in the usually colourful pyramidal frustum-shaped rooftops of Hindu temples, that are typically decorated with images of the gods and goddesses that dwell on Mt. Meru (fig.). Many temples in Thailand, such as Wat Chaiwatthanaram (fig.) in Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya and Wat Arun in Bangkok (fig.), as well as many temples in other Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia, such as Hsinbyume Pagoda in Myanmar (fig.), Borobudur in Indonesia, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia (fig.), are built to mirror the three main levels of Buddhist cosmology, with the pinnacle in the centre symbolizing Enlightenment; the surrounding lesser stupas the smaller surrounding mountain peaks; the enclosing walls, the mountains at the edge of the world; and the surrounding moat, the oceans beyond.

Chakrawat (จักรวรรดิ)

Thai. Name of a giant or yak character in the Ramakien. He has a white complexion and is described as having four faces and eight arms (fig.). In Thai iconography, he is hence depicted wearing a chadah-like crown, with an additional three small white faces, and either with two or more arms. The peak of his crown is shaped like a thick giant plume that bends toward the back (fig.), and which is usually referred to as a cockerel's tail. He is the ruler of Krung Maliwan and a comrade of Totsakan (fig.). He joined Phainasuriyawong, a son of Totsakan, to restore Langka City, capturing Phiphek (fig.) before he had started his enthronement ceremony, and appointed Phainasuriyawong as the new ruler instead, whilst renaming him Thao Totsaphin (ทศพิน). The event thrickered Phra Phrot to attack the city and recapture it, while extending the battle to Maliwan City, though without being able to defeat Chakrawat. This then resulted in a longlasting war, until Phra Phrot finally terminated Chakrawat with his bow, his lethal arrows hitting him in the chest, arms and legs. Thus, peace returned to the city. In Wat Phra Kaew, Chakrawat is one of the gatekeepers, who stands at the first of the three western gates, together with Thao Atsakammalah. His name is also transcribed Chakrawati and Chakravarti, and is related to the Sanskrit term Chakravartin. See also LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS & NAMES, MORE ON THIS, and TRAVEL PICTURE.

chakrayahnyon (จักรยานยนต์)

Thai. ‘Motorbike’ or ‘motorcycle’. READ ON.

Chakri (จักรี)

1. Thai. The dynasty that has reigned in Thailand since 1782 and was founded by General Chao Phya Chakri who was crowned King Phra Phutta Yotfa Chulalok, known to westerners as King Yot Fa. During the reign of King Phra Nang Klao, the third King in the Dynasty, a new royal title system was established giving all the kings the crown title of Rama. His predecessors were posthumously given the titles Rama I and Rama II, whilst taking the title Rama III for himself. All successive kings of the dynasty (fig.) have since ruled with the crown title Rama, including the present King, Rama X. With Rama being the seventh avatara of the powerful Hindu god Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, the link can be seen to the Thai monarch as the preserver of the nation. The Thai royal emblem is likewise the mythical bird Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu. Note that there have been nine avataras of Vishnu with the tenth yet to come, as there have been nine Chakri monarchs, the tenth also yet to come. The coat of arms of the Chakri Dynasty is a trisun (trident) encircled by a chakra (disc), the weapon of Vishnu. In the centre of the trident is sometimes also a small depiction of Narai (the Thai designation for Vishnu), riding on the Garuda (fig.). The Chakri Throne Hall (map - fig.) is the main palace building of the Chakri monarchs, located within the compound of the Grand Palace in Bangkok (fig.) and its central spire contains parts of the ashes of the Chakri Kings of the past (fig.). See also list of Thai kings. MORE ON THIS.

2. Thai. In the Ayutthaya, Thonburi and early Rattanakosin Periods, the title or rajatinanaam for a military commander in service of either a governor of a principality or the King, the equivalent of Commander-in-Chief. The word is related to the chakra, an attribute and weapon of several Hindu gods, including Vishnu and Brahma, and a symbol showing on the ensigns of the Royal Army and Navy today (fig.). The rank of Chakri was the highest military position at that time and carried the bandasak of Chao Phraya.

3. Thai name for a style of female national dress of Thailand, fully known as Thai Chakri, and in 1972 depicted on a Thai postage stamp (fig.).

Chakri Day

Thai public holiday on April 6, on which Phra Phutta Yotfa Chulalok, the founder of the Chakri Dynasty is remembered. In Thai Wan Chakri.

Chakri Nareubet (จักรีนฤเบศร)

Thai. ‘Chakri the Brave’. Name of Thailand's first and only aircraft carrier. READ ON.

Chakri Throne Hall

The largest of the palace buildings of Phra Rachawang, the Grand Palace, which consists of a main facade building, visible to the public and in Thai called Phra Tihnang Chakri Maha Prasat, and a number of other palace buildings built in the back of it and that are part of it. Collectively, this group is referred to by the same name of the facade building, i.e. Phra Tihnang Chakri Maha Prasat Group (fig.). Besides the main building, the group includes Phra Thihnang Moon Sathaan Borom Aht (พระที่นั่งมูลสถานบรมอาสน์), Phra Thihnang Sommathi Thewaraat Uppabat (พระที่นั่งสมมติเทวราชอุปบัติ), and Phra Thihnang Borom Ratchasathit Maholaan (พระที่นั่งบรมราชสถิตยมโหฬาร). The Chakri Throne Hall was designed by the British architect John Chinitz and shows a combination of Thai and European style architecture. The central mondop-like multi-tiered spire on the roof of the facade building enshrines the ashes of each of the Kings of the Chakri Dynasty, whilst the flanking spires house the ashes of princes who never inherited the throne. Today it is the place where royal banquets are held in honour of royal guests. The Chakri Throne Hall at is watched over by a honour guard provided by the ceremonial unit of the King's Own Guard (fig.), whose former barracks are located within the same compound (fig.). Also known as the Grand Palace Hall. See MAP.

Chakri Throne Hall

chak waw (ชักว่าว)

Thai for ‘flying a kite’, ‘kite flying’.

chalaam (ฉลาม)

Thai for ‘shark’, a species of fish of which there are many varieties. They are characterized by pectoral fins that are not fused to the head and multiple gill covers known as slit gills and found also in rays. Most sharks have eight fins, a feature known in Thai as hoo chalaam (fig.) and considered a delicacy in Asian cuisine. One of the more commonly seen shark species off Thailand's coast are reef sharks, such as the Blacktip Reef Shark (fig.). Also pla chalaam.

chalaew (เฉลว)

See talaew.

Chalawan (ชาละวัน)

Name of a crocodile in the Thai classical story Kraithong, a love story that originated in the province of Phichit (fig.). Also Chalawankumphih and sometimes transliterated Shala One. See also POSTAGE STAMP

Chalawankumphih (ชาละวันกุมภีล์)

See Chalawan.

Chalermchai Kositpipat (เฉลิมชัย โฆษิตพิพัฒน์)

See Chaleumchai Khositphiphat.

Chalerm Phrakian (เฉลิมพระเกียรติ)

See Chaleum Prakian.

Chaleumchai Khositphiphat (เฉลิมชัย โฆษิตพิพัฒน์)

Thai. Name of a renowned Thai artist known for his work in art and architecture, particularly for creating Wat Rong Khun (fig.) in Chiang Rai. Chaleumchai was born on 15 February 1953, in Chiang Rai. He graduated from Chiang Rai Technical College and Silpakorn University (fig.) in Bangkok, majoring in painting. After that, he worked as an artist and architect with prominent and well-known works both in Thailand and internationally. Wat Rong Khun is Chaleumchai's most significant work, which began construction in 1998 and continues to develop. The temple is notable for its predominant use of white and its intricate decorations with mirrors that create an exquisite and stunning appearance. Hence, it is in English often referred to as the White Temple (fig.). His name is also transliterated Chalermchai Kositpipat and Chalermchai Kohsitphiphat, or similar.

Chaleum Prakian (เฉลิมพระเกียรติ)

Thai-rajasap. ‘Honour’. Term often used when referring to structures built or projects initiated in honour of the King, e.g. Chaleum Prakian 80th Anniversary Lighthouse (fig.). Also transliterated Chalerm Phrakian, Chaleumprakian Chalerm Prakian, Chalermphrakian, and Chaleumprakian.

Chalky Percher

Another common name for the Ground Skimmer.

chalom (ชะลอม)

Thai. A small round basket made of bamboo strips called tok (fig.), with the vertical strips at the top left unwoven, in order to tie the basket shut. It is used to vend bulked food in at markets. Nationwide, vendors at natural hot springs sell quail's and chicken's eggs in them, to enable visitors to easily cook them. There is a legend of a Sukhothai king, which tells that this ruler was so fast and skilled, that he could even transport water in chalom baskets. See also POSTAGE STAMP.

chalong phra baht (ฉลองพระบาท)

1. Rajasap. Footwear for a king.

2. Thai. Footwear in the form of golden sandals which are a part of the Thai royal regalia or kakuttapan.

chalong phra ong (ฉลองพระองค์)

Rajasap. Term for royal clothes, i.e. clothes for a king or for a member of the royal family.

cham (ชาม)

Thai. Bowl or rice bowl, or a deep plate. Also written chaam.

Cham (Chăm)

1. Vietnamese. The inhabitants of central (map - fig.) and southern Vietnam since ancient times, probably of Indonesian origin. In 192 AD, they founded the Indianized coastal Kingdom of Champa which consisted of a collection of independent Cham polities that extended across the coast of what is today central and southern Vietnam until it in 1832 AD was absorbed and annexed by Nguyen Emperor Minh Mang. Between the 4th and 14th centuries My Son was Champa's religious centre (map - fig.). The Cham produced a unique style of architecture and sculpture, known as Cham art, much of it which is now housed in the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Da Nang (map - fig.) and to a lesser extend in the Vietnamese National History Museum in Hanoi (map - fig.). In 1177 AD the Cham invaded the Khmer Empire and stayed in Angkor until they were defeated in 1181 AD (fig.) by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII (fig.). Afterward, they were briefly annexed and controlled by the Khmer, between 1181 to 1220 AD.

2. Vietnamese. Art style with a unique genre of architecture and sculpture (fig.) between the 7th and 17th centuries AD, made by the Cham people (fig.) of Champa.


Tibetan. ‘Masked dance’. Name of a lively ritual associated with some sects of Buddhism and performed to exorcise evil. The ceremony and local variations of the festival were once practiced in Tibet, Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, China and Mongolia, and consists of a series of sacred dances, in which the dancers dress up as demons or deities in a ferocious form, such as Yamantaka (fig.), wearing ornamented costumes and wraithlike masks, usually decorated with miniature skulls and some even made in the form of a genuine human skull (fig.). Because Chinese officials have in the past prohibited the festival, and still discourage participation, performances in Tibet are now rare and Cham masks have mostly become collectables. Also spelled Tsam, Tscham or Chaam.


See makhaamthet.

Cha Ma Dao (茶马道)

Chinese. ‘Tea Horse Road’. Name of an ancient tea route, i.e. a mountainous trade link that developed about a thousand years ago and over which mainly tea, especially tea bricks, but also salt was transported, both by porters on foot as well as on horseback, typically using ponies and mah klaeb-like horses, and that ran from Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in southwestern China, over Myanmar to India, as well as to central China and Tibet. There is an Ancient Tea & Horse Road Museum on the northern outskirts of the city of Lijiang. See also cha and mah.

Chamadevi (จามเทวี)

Thai. Name for Chamadevi of Lopburi, the former city of Lavo, where she originally came from. She was probably born in 633 AD. READ ON.

chamara (चमर)

Sanskrit. ‘Yak tail’. A whisk or fan made from the hairs of a yak's tail. It is a symbol of kingship and the attribute of several gods from Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism. In Thailand it is one object of the padwaanlawichanih (fig.) a part of the royal regalia, called kakuttapan. In Thai jamajurih.

Chambered Nautilus

Common name of a marine creature in the family Nautilidae, and with the scientific name Nautilus pompilius. It is a cephalopod, i.e. a class of marine mollusks which includes the octopus, squid and cuttlefish. It is the only member of this group that has an external shell, which with other members is either absent or intern. On the underside the shell is plain white, whilst above it is matte white with irregular brownish stripes. This double colouring is a special design for camouflage, known as countershading. Unlike a snail's shell, the Nautilus' shell contains a series of separate chambers, sealed by thin partitions and arranged in a more or less logarithmic spiral (fig.). The animal lives in the largest chamber, which opens to the outside. The remaining chambers are filled with gas, and by adjusting the amount of liquid in them, the Nautilus is able to adjusts its buoyancy and to dive. It has a prominent head and tentacles, and is about 20 centimeters in size. Its seemingly large eyes lack a solid lens and do not actually provide good vision. This marine creature lives in the Indo-Pacific region, in general at depths of about 300 meters, yet rising to around 100 meters at night, to feed. In the vicinity of Thailand, it occurs in the Andaman Sea, for one. Nautilus shells are popular collector's items, used for decoration and to make ornamental cups, usually mounted on a stand (fig.). In Thai known as hoi nguong chang, literally ‘elephant-trunk mollusk’.


A word derived from Greek and meaning ‘ground-lion’. It is the name of a reptile with distinctive eyes and a long tongue, that belongs to the family of Chamaeleonidae. It is able to change colour according to its surroundings, for camouflage or when offended. The term is however, also sometimes used to translate the Thai word king kah, the name for an unrelated, small tropical lizard, known in English as the Oriental Garden Lizard and with the scientific name Calotes versicolor, which belongs to the family of Agamidae (fig.). Measuring just half an inch long from its nose to the base of his tail, the male of the chameleon species with the scientific name Brookesia nana, from the rainforests of northern Madagascar, is purportedly the smallest adult reptile ever found on the planet. This miniscule lizard is so small that its entire body can fit on a fingertip, making it even smaller than the Caribbean gecko, a tiny gecko with the scientific name Sphaerodactylus ariasae which, prior to the discovery of Brookesia nana in 2021, held the record for smallest reptile on Earth.

cham ma liang (ชำมะเลียง)

See phumriang.

Champa (चम्‍पा)

An early Indianized kingdom in the coastal areas of central (map - fig.) and southern Vietnam, existing from the 2nd to the 15th centuries AD and inhabited by the Cham. It was briefly annexed and controlled by the Khmer between 1181 to 1220, then gradually absorbed by the Vietnamese from the late 10th to 17th centuries AD. There are important archeological Cham sites in the region of present-day Quang Nam (map - fig.), Vietnam.

champada (จำปาดะ)

Thai. A species of jackfruit, genus Artocarpus. The fruit is comparable to the breadfruit and the kanun, but slimmer in shape. Like the kanun, the champada's flesh of fruit is dark yellow in colour (fig.). Its fruiting season is from May to November. In English it is commonly known as Chempedak, though also the Thai name is commonly used.

Champagne Mushroom

Common name for a genus of cup fungi in the family Sarcoscyphaceae, with the scientific designation Cookeina sulcipes. In Thai, it is known as hed chaempen (เห็ดแชมเปญ), a literal translation from the English common name. This edible mushroom has a pale, whitish stipe, i.e the stem or stalk-like feature, and an orangey-pink to pinkish-red (fig.), deep cup-shaped pileus, i.e. the cap-like part, 2 to 4 centimeters in diameter and 3 to 6 centimeter tall, a shape somewhat reminiscent of a champagne glass, hence the name. It grows on wood, often in clusters.


Common name for a large evergreen tree with the scientific name Michelia champaca, native to South and Southeast Asia, and known in Thai as jampah. According to Mahayana Buddhism, Maitreya, the future buddha will attain Enlightenment under the champak tree. In iconography, a floral design with the outline or a four-petalled flower is used to represent this and since 1975 it appears in the logo of Thai Airways (fig.).

Champasak (ຈໍາປາສັກ, จำปาศักดิ์)

Lao-Thai. Former capital of the Cham in present  southern Laos. It was a kingdom of the Khun Lo Dynasty, that in 1713 broke away from the Lan Xang kingdom. But it soon became a vassal state of Siam and later, in 1904, a French protectorate. Also called Cyambo.

Chamunda (चामुण्डा)

1. Sanskrit. The goddess of war, death and destruction, as well as epidemics, lethal diseases, famines, and other disasters, and one of the malicious aspects of Devi, the consort of the Hindu god Shiva. It is sometimes described that it was in this form, also known as Mahishasuramardini, i.e. ‘Slayer of the buffalo demon’, that Durga fought and defeated the demon Mahishasura (fig.), an event that is described in the Devi Mahatmyam and which is remembered during Vijayadazaami (fig.), i.e. the last day of the annual Hindu festival of Navaratri, which is also known as Dushera.

2. Sanskrit. One of the seven mothers goddesses or Matris worshiped in Tantrism, who is also described as one of the chief yogini, a group of 64 or 81 Tantric goddesses, who are attendants of the warrior goddess Durga. Her name is a combination of Chanda and Munda, two lesser asuras in the service of Sumbha and Nisumbha, whom Chamunda killed, after they tried to abduct her on the orders of Sumbha and Nisumbha.

Chan (จัน)

1. Thai. Name of one of the famous Siamese twins born on 11 May 1811 in Samut Songkhram, the other one being named In. They are names that describe fruits: where ‘in’ or ‘look in’ means young green fruit, ‘chan’ or ‘look chan’ stands for matured fruit, usually recognized by its yellow colour and sweet fragrance.

2. Thai. Name of one of the eleven heroic leaders who in 1767, at the end of the Ayutthaya period, fought the invading Burmese in defence of the Bang Rajan camp in Singburi.

Chan (ฉันท์)

Thai. A traditional form of verse in dramatic literature, consisting of rhymes and a definite metrical scheme. Sometimes transliterated Chant.

Chan (จันทร์)

1. Thai for ‘moon’. Sometimes transliterated Chantr (fig.). See also Chandra.

2. Nickname for Thep Krasatri. Sometimes transliterated Chantr.


Nepali-Tibetan. ‘Eagle’. A symbol of Vajrayana Buddhism. Pronunciation khaw-nak.

chan atsadong (ชั้นอัสดง)

Thai. ‘Floor set’. Architectural term for a certain part of a chedi and prang. In the prang, it is the base section of the spire, just above the pedestal-like part above the main base called reuan that (เรือนธาตุ), i.e. the place where the actual shrine is. In a chedi, the term refers to the part in between the hemispherical or bell-shaped base and the plong shanai, and which may be built with small pillars in a style resembling a balcony (fig.).

chanchu (蟾蜍)

Chinese. ‘Moon toad’ or ‘toad’. Name for the Lucky Money Toad. Chan means both ‘toad’ and ‘moon’ in Chinese and ‘moon’ in Thai. In Thai, it is called kaangkok sawan.

Chanda (चण्ड)

Sanskrit. Name of a lesser asura in the service of Sumbha and Nisumbha, who was slain by Devi for trying to abduct her. After Chanda and the demon Munda, had encountered the goddess Devi, they were overwhelmed by her beauty and reported this back to Sumbha and Nisumbha. Hence, Chanda and Munda were sent out to abduct her, yet both were destroyed by Devi. See also Chamunda.

Chandaka (ชันดากะ)

Thai-Sanskrit. Siddhartha's servant who initially accompanied him during the Great Departure. In Pali, his name is Channa. MORE ON THIS.

Chandi (चण्डी)

Sanskrit. ‘Cruel’. One of the fierce forms of Devi, also known as Chandika, which means the ‘Violent and Impetuous One’, and Durga Sapthashati, i.e. the ‘Invincible Seven Hundred Verses’. Though she was initially described as a combination of Mahakali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Sarasvati, she is later described as a form of Maha Lakshmi, depicted with eighteen arms holding weapons.

Chandra (चन्द्रा, จันทรา)

Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Moon’. The term is also used to refer to the Hindu moon god, alongside some other appellations, including Soma. It was this lunar god who discovered the deceit by the demon Rahu during the distribution of the amrita, together with Surya, the god of the sun. They reported this to Vishnu, who immediately cut the demon in half with his disc. However, the amrita taken by Rahu already had its effect and both parts lived on separately. Since Rahu never forgot the betrayal by the sun and moon, he now chases them alternately with his mouth wide open, and when swallowing them causes the eclipses of the sun and moon. The name Chandra derived from the Sanskrit word chand (चन्द्), meaning ‘to shine’. The vahana of this deity is the Blackbuck (fig.), though it may also be a goose, or a horse (fig.). In Thai, both the moon and the moon god are referred to as Chan or Phra Jan, whereas in China, the moon god is usually represented as a female deity, i.e. a moon goddess (fig.), referred to as the Moon Empress and known as Tai Shan Niang Niang (泰山娘娘 - fig.). See THEMATIC STREET LIGHT and WATCH VIDEO.

chandrabindu (चन्द्राबिन्द)

Sanskrit. ‘Moon-dot’. A compound word consisting of the words chandra and bindu. It refers to a mark used in the Devanagari script, a stroke in the form of a crescent-shaped moon surrounding a dot. The moon-dot stroke can be placed above the top-line of vowels, in order to emphatically nasalize their sound. The diacritic is reminiscent of the urdhva-pundra worn by Vaishnavas, the followers of Vishnu. The urdhva-pundra is a sectarian mark (pundra) and type of tilaka (fig.) in the form of a U-shape usually with a red dot inside, that Vaishnavas may wear on the forehead (fig.) or on other parts of the body, especially on the torso. The chandrabindu is part of the famous word Aum (fig.), where it is by some believed to represent Vishnu. Also called anunasika (अनुनासिक).

Chandrahasa (ಚ೦ದ್ರಹಾಸ)

Kannada. Name of a prince in the epic Mahabharata, who was the son of Sudharmika, the king of Kerala. He married the princess of Kuntala, with whom he had two sons, and befriended Arjuna, who was accompanied by Krishna guarding the ashwamedha, horse of Yudhishtira, the son of Pandu, leader of the Pandavas in the battle at Kuruksthera.

chandrahasa (चन्द्राहास)

Sanskrit. ‘Smiling moon’ or ‘laughing moon’. Name of the gleaming scimitar in the Ramayana, a curved oriental sword sometimes referred to as ‘moon blade’, that Ravana received from Shiva as a favour.

Chandra Suriyawong (จันทรสุริยวงษ์)

Thai-Sanskrit. ‘Lunar-Solar Circle’. Name of a Chao, a local ruler in Isaan, who in the 18th century AD founded a settlement along the left banks of the Mekhong River which was later moved and became he town of Mukdahan. Also spelled Chandrasuriyawongse.

chandrika (จันทริกา, चन्द्रिका)

Thai-Sanskrit. A traditional Indian silkworm breeding frame made of bamboo and arranged in concentric circles. Depending on its size it can carry somewhere between 250 to over 1,000 silkworms. Sometimes called chandrike. In Thailand, they are usually round flat baskets, called krajo or jo (fig.). In Sanskrit, chandrika literally means ‘moonlight’ and thus conceivably suggests a round shape.

chang (ช้าง)

1. Thai for ‘elephant’. Also transcribed chaang or chahng. See Asian Elephant and teuk chang.

2. Name of one of the main brands of beer in Thailand, in operation since 1995 and winner of some international awards. Since Chang is Thai for ‘Elephant’, the company incorporated two White Elephant in its logo, and designed the entrance gate of its brewery in Ayutthaya in the form of an elephant kraal (fig.), i.e. a stockade or palisade formerly used to round-up wild elephants (fig.) and known in Thai as phaniad.

3. Thai name for any member of the orchid family in the genus Rhynchostylis, also referred to as sakun chang (สกุลช้าง). In 2010, orchids of this family, that occur in Thailand and of the variety Rhynchostylis gigantea, i.e. Chang Kra (ช้างกระ); Chang Som (ช้างส้ม); Chang Pheuak (ช้างเผือก); and Chang Daeng (ช้างแดง), were published on a set of four postage stamps (fig.). Chang Pheuak (Rhynchostylis gigantea var. alba) is both rare and very expensive, as it blooms only in winter, i.e. in December and January.

4. Thai. Name of a district of Trat Province,  located on the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand, as well as the name of an archipelago with 66 islands, including Koh Chang (fig.), with an area of 212.404 square kilometers Thailand's third largest island.

Chang Cheng (长城)

Chinese. Long City Wall or Eternal City. Name for the Great Wall of China.

Chang-e (嫦娥)

Chinese. Name of a legendary beauty who flew to the moon, hence she is also known as the lady in the moon. She was the spouse of Houyi, the god of archery. Whereas the second character of her name translates as ‘good’ and ‘beautiful’, the first character seems to be linguistically related to the Thai word for moon, i.e. Chan. In art, she is often portrayed together with the Jade Rabbit that lives on the moon (fig.).

Changeable Hawk-eagle

Name of a large bird of prey, with the scientific designations Nisaetus cirrhatus and Spizaetus cirrhatus. READ ON.

Chang Heng (張衡)

See Zhang Heng.

Changi Airport

Name of Singapore's main civilian International Airport which serves as a major hub for international flights, connecting passengers to various destinations worldwide, whilst also playing a crucial role in facilitating air travel within the Asia-Pacific region. It is one of the most renowned and bustling airports globally, recognized for its exceptional facilities, services, and efficiency, and in 2023 was named as the World's Best Airport. Situated in the eastern part of the Nation City, the award winning airport serves as a major gateway to the city-state and the wider Southeast Asian region. Changi Airport is renowned for its state-of-the-art facilities, including multiple terminals, each offering a wide range of services, shops, dining options, lounges, and entertainment amenities. It currently has four main terminals, with each catering to different airlines and destinations. Consistently recognized for its operational efficiency, cleanliness, and passenger services, the airport has some remarkable features, such as Jewel Changi Airport, a toroid or donut-shaped mall that is home to the Rain Vortex (fig.), the world's tallest indoor waterfall, that falls from the ceiling of its dome that consists of a complex steel framework with glass panels. Other attractions include a digital waterfall known as the Wonderfall (fig.); an Arrival Garden; a Water Lily Garden; a rooftop Cactus Garden with more than 100 species of cacti and arid plants. (fig.); a Butterfly Garden; a Canopy Park; Chrystal Garden, with 12 spheres of artisan dandelion glass sculptures in various sizes; Changi Experience Studio which offers a journey of fun and discovery through the exciting virtual world of Changi Airport; Discovery Garden, which features tree-like sculptures clad in verdant and diverse foliage; an interactive Enchanted Garden that magically comes to life with sights and sounds; Kinetic Rain, a dynamic art sculpture (fig.); Hedge Maze, Singapore's largest labyrinth bordered by hedges and designed to puzzle and challenge those navigating through them; world-class shopping facilities; local and global cuisines; free bicycle rides for layover passengers; and much more. See also TRAVEL PICTURE, PANORAMA PICTURE, and WATCH VIDEO (1), (2), (3), (4), (5) and (6).

Chang Kuo Lao (張果老)

Chinese. Name of one of the Eight Immortals (fig.), said to be the most unconventional of the group, an alchemist known for making liquor from herbs and shrubs, thought to have therapeutic properties. Being a master of Qi Gong, he could go without food for lengthy periods of time, surviving on only a few drops of his herbal liquor. In legend, he has been described as being a white bat that came out of the primeval chaos and as a hermit who was able to revive the death. He lived in the Zhongtiao Mountains (中条山) during the Tang Dynasty and rode a donkey that could travel thousands of miles a day. Whenever he stopped to rest, he would fold his donkey up like a piece of paper and store it away. When he wished to ride again, he would spew water over it, thus transforming it back into its real size. When he became ill, he retrieved to the Zhongtiao Mountains and reportedly died there, but when his followers opened his tomb, they found it empty. He is also referred to as Elder Chang Kuo and his name is sometimes transcribed Zhang Kuo Lao. His attribute is a fish drum (fig.), a traditional Chinese instrument known as yugu (fig.), that can foretell future events and which he uses to perform divination. He is usually depicted holding this yugu and sometimes while seated on his donkey (fig.). His name is also transcribed Zhang Guo Lao.

Chang Nahm (ช้างน้ำ)

1. Thai. ‘Water Elephant’. Mythological animal with the characteristics of both an elephant and a fish. Similar compound animals with the features of an elephant and a fish are Kunchon Warih, i.e. a creature with  the head of an elephant, two front legs of an elephant and the body of a fish; and Warih Kunchon, an elephant with a fish tail, and fins that run along the backbone, as well as fins that are attached to the back of each of its four legs. Similar to chang nahm, the word warih means ‘elephant’, and the word kunchon translates as ‘water’ or ‘sea’. All these creatures have gills and dwell in the sea, where they are able to submerge and swim at great speed under water.

2. Thai. ‘Water elephant’. Thai name for a hippopotamus.

3. Thai for ‘sea cow’.

chang patjay naak (ช้างปัจจัยนาค)

Thai. Elephant [with the] essence of [a] naga’. Name of a mythical creature that is described as a snake with the head of an elephant. Also known as chang patjay naaken (fig.) and chang hua naak, i.e. ‘elephant-headed naga’. See also naaken.

chang patjay naaken (ช้างปัจจัยนาเคนทร์)

Thai. Elephant [with the] essence of the elephant king and snake king’. Name of a mythical creature that is described as a snake with the head of an elephant (fig.). Also known as chang patjay naak and chang hua naak, i.e. ‘elephant-headed naga. See also naaken (fig.).

Chang Pheuak (ช้างเผือก)

1. Thai name for a White Elephant, though literally pheuak means taro (fig.), the tuberous root in the Araceae family with a brownish pink colour and bulbous shape, features reminiscent of White Elephants, which according to legend are born from lotus flowers (fig.) and hence also have the colour of a lotus, i.e. a pinkish white colour (fig.).

2. Thai name for the Milky Way, also referred to as the Path of the White Elephant, that is Thahng Chang Pheuak.

 3. Thai name for a member of the orchid family in the genus Rhynchostylis, known in Thai as Chang and of which there exist only 6 species, the Chang Pheuak (Rhynchostylis gigantea var. alba) being an orchid with whitish flowers, that has been publicized on a Thai postage stamp issued in 2005 (fig.), and again in 2010, together with three other varieties of Rhynchostylis orchids (fig.). The Chang Pheuak is both rare and very expensive, as it blooms only in winter, i.e. in December and January.

Chang Sanfeng (张三丰)

Chinese. Name of a semi-mythical supposed 13th century Chinese Taoist monk who is believed by some to have achieved immortality. There are many myths and folktales about this figure and according to some sources he was a former Shaolin disciple who had left the Shaolin temple to establish a Taoist mountain monastery. Other sources make record of at least two Chinese emperors sending missions to Chang Sanfeng to ask for his advice, but neither mission is reported to have found him. Due to his legendary status he is frequently presented as a spiritual teacher and master of Chinese martial arts, including as a grandmaster of tai chi chuan. Before he became a Taoist his name is said to have been Zhang Junbao. Also transcribed Zhang Sanfeng.

chang seuk (ช้างศึก)

Thai. ‘War elephant’ or ‘battle elephant’. Name for an elephant used in a form of ancient warfare, known as yutthahadtie. In this hand-to-hand combat, the warrior -often royalty- sat on the neck of the elephant, whilst an aide-de-camp sat in a howdah on the back, to overlook the battle field, give directions and steer the animal, using a pair of fly whisk-like tools (fig.), as well as to hand the combatant his choice of long-handled weapons (fig.), which were stored on the back of the howdah (fig.). These weapons include a kho ngao, a scythe-like weapon used particularly in this kind of combat. The warrior engaged in this kind of hand-to-hand combat typically wore a malabiang, a kind of battle hat with a wide brim and earflaps, which offered protection against the weapons of the enemy. Famous historical battles fought on war elephants include the ca. 1256 scuffle in Tak between Poh Khun Sahm Chon (สามชน), ruler of Chot (ฉอด), and Sri Indraditya, in which the then 19-year old prince Ramkamhaeng, the later king of Sukhothai, intervened by driving away his father's enemy, for which he got the name Ramkamhaeng, which means ‘Rama the Brave’; the 1424 fight over the Ayutthayan Throne between the brothers prince Chao Aai Phraya (เจ้าอ้ายพระยา) and prince Chao Yih Phraya (เจ้ายี่พระยา) at Saphaan Pah Thaan (สะพานป่าถ่าน), in which both were killed; the 1549 War of Tabinshwehti (fig.), in which Queen Suriyothai of Ayutthaya (fig.) was slashed to death by Phra Chao Prae (พระเจ้าแปร) of Burma; and the 1593 Battle of Nong Sarai (map - fig.), in which King Naresuan (fig.) defeated Minchit Sra, the Burmese Crown Prince and a grandson of Bayinnaung (fig.), the King of Pegu. In Ayutthaya, near the phaniad, i.e. the elephant kraal (fig.), is the Battle Elephant Memorial (map - fig.), which displays large bronze statues of war elephants being led into battle. See also THEMATIC STREET LIGHT (1) and (2).

Changshou (长手)

Chinese. ‘Long hand’. Name of a luohan and one of the Eighteen Arahats, as well as of the Five Hundred Arahats, who in English is commonly referred to as the Long-armed Arahat. He is described as having a very sharp mind and the magical property to grow his arms as long as he wants them to be, which enables him to reach for the stars (fig.), as well as to help others. He is sometimes depicted with a beard, and is also known as Bantuo-jia (半讬迦) and Tan Shou (探手), i.e. ‘Search Hand’, whereas in India he is called Panthaka and also referred to as Pantha the Elder.

Chang Ton (ช้างต้น)

Thai. ‘First Elephant’. The Elephant of State on which the kings formerly rode during state ceremonies and which would have been a White Elephant (fig.).

chanih (ชะนี)

1. Thai for gibbon. In this context the word is also used derogatory for women, since the gibbon call sounds like ‘phua’, the Thai word for husband, thus indicating a gibbon sounds like a woman who is calling for her husband. Also transcribed chani and chanie.

2. Thai. A kind of durian.

Channa (ฉันนะ)

Pali-Thai. The male servant of prince Siddhartha, the historical Buddha. In Sanskrit, he is known by the name Chandaka.

Channanie (ชนนี)

Thai. ‘Matriarch’ or ‘mother’. Thai name for the mother of a king, or for a noble widow (fig.). Her full title is Somdet Phra Boromma Raja Channanie or Somdet Phra Pan Pie Luang. See also chanok. Sometimes transcribed Channanee, Channanih or Channanih, and also pronounced Chonnanih.

channarohng (ชันโรง)

Thai name for the Stingless Bee (fig.), of which there are over 500 recorded species, found mostly in tropical countries and classified into five genera, i.e. Melipona, Trigona, Meliponula, Dectylurina and Lestrimelitta. There are ten identified species of Trigona in Thailand, with two of them, i.e. Trigona binghami and Trigona minor, newly added to the list of recorded species, bringing the total to 32 species. The newly recorded species were found in Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden (fig.) in Chiang Mai, for one. Stingless Bees build their nests in holes in the soil or in trees and make tubular entrances to these nests (fig.), i.e. open tubes that form straight chimneys above the nest's holes, in order to raise the entrances above the surrounding vegetation. These chimneys are made from wax mixed with resin and gum, and some species add mud collected by worker bees. Sometimes transliterated literally from Thai as chanrohng (ชันโรง), yet correct pronunciation is channarohng (ชัน-นะ-โรง). See WILDLIFE PICTURE and WATCH VIDEO.

chanoht (ชะโนด)

Thai name for the Taraw Palm, is a species of palm tree with the botanical name Livistona saribus and found in Southeast Asia. The tree grows up to 25-30 meter in height and grows in dense, secondary forests. The trunk is similar to that of the coconut palm (fig.) and the leaves resemble those of the sugar palm (fig.), and along its leaf stems are spikes which resemble shark teeth. In Cambodia, the leaves are used for the thatching of roofs for huts and to make hats. The Taraw Palm produces dark blue fruits and in Thai, this palm is also known as kho s(r)oy (ค้อสร้อย), literally ‘necklace’, perhaps due to these bead-like fruits that grow from long stalks, reminiscent of stringed pearls. In Narathiwat, in southern Thailand, the tree is known as kho (ค้อ) and sihreng (สิ​เหรง). See also Kham Chanoht.

Chanok (ชนก)

1. Rajasap. ‘Patriarch’ or ‘father’. Thai name for the father of a king. His full title is Somdet Phra Borom Raja Chanok. Also Chanoknaht. See also Channanie.

2. Rajasap. Name of the second incarnation of the Buddha in the Totsachat-stories, before his Enlightenment when he was still a bodhisattva.

Chanok Jakrawat (ชนกจักรวรรดิ)

Thai. ‘Father Empire’. Name of a king and hermit (reusi) in the epic Ramakien, who one day found a baby girl in a bowl on the boat landing of his ashram. He decided to adopt her, but until he could do so, he buried her near a banyan tree, invoking the gods to guard it. When he eventually ended his life as a hermit, he returned to his throne in Mithila and ploughed the field in search of the bowl with the girl, that was buried under the ground. He came across a lotus marking the place of the bowl and found inside the girl who had grown into a 16-year old woman, whom he named Sida (fig.). Also spelled Chanok Chakrawat. Not toer be confused with Thao Chakrawat (fig.). See also LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS & NAMES, and MORE ON THIS.

Chanoknaht (ชนกนาถ)

Thai-Rajasap. ‘Patriarch’ or ‘father’. See Chanok.

Chanthabuli (ຈັນທະບູລີ, จันทะบูลี)

1. Lao-Thai. The meaning in modern Lao is ambiguous and could mean either ‘walled city of sandalwood’ or ‘moon city’, similar to the Thai city of Chanthaburi. According to legend this was the original name of Vientiane, which in full was Chanthabuli Si Sattanakhanahud. Also spelled Chantabuly and Chanthabuly.

2. Lao-Thai. The name of a district in the city of Vientiane in Laos. Also spelled Chantabuly and Chanthabuly.

Chanthaburi (จันทบุรี)

Thai. ‘City of the moon’ or ‘moon city’. The capital of Chanthaburi province (map) in East Thailand, 245 kms Southeast of Bangkok. READ ON.

Chanthakumaan (จันทกุมาร)

Thai for Candakumara.

Chao (ชาว)

Thai for a member of a race or group of people, usually translated as ‘ethnic group, tribe’ or ‘native’.

Chao (เจ้า)

1. Thai. A title denoting greatness, used for royalty, princes, lords, potentates and rulers in Thailand and Laos, like in Chaochai (prince), Chaoying (princess) and Chao Phraya (nobleman of the highest rank).

2. A Thai pronoun in the second person, nowadays used only when speaking to an inferior, equivalent to you. In obsolete or poetic usage, it is equivalent to ‘thou’ or ‘thee’, used especially when talking to one's wife.

3. A Thai pronoun in the third person, in obsolete or poetic usage, especially when referring to a woman, equivalent to ‘she’ or ‘her’.

4. A term of assent used by women in northern Thailand to address an equal. It is a polite term identical to the central Thai word ‘kha’ used by women and ‘khrab’ used by men to express agreement or added to a phrase in order to show good manners.

chao ahwaht (เจ้าอาวาส)

Thai. ‘Ruler (chao) of a temple’, i.e. an abbot. The word ahwaht derives from avasa, i.e. the Pali word for ‘temple’.

Chaochai (เจ้าชาย)

Thai for ‘prince’.

Chao Chiwit (เจ้าชีวิต)

Thai. ‘Lord of Life’. Title formerly used for a sovereign, especially during the Ayutthaya period until the beginning of the Rattanakosin period.

Chao Chom Maanda (เจ้าจอมมาร)

Thai-rajasap. Title for a royal mother, i.e. a concubine who gave birth to a prince.

Chao Fah (เจ้าฟ้า)

Thai. ‘Lord of the Skies’. Initially, title given to the son of a king born of a mother who is also of royal blood. Later it was also used for any daughter of a king born of a mother who is also of royal blood, and may hence also be translated ‘Dame of the Skies’. It now is a common title for the offspring of the King and Queen, usually translated as ‘Prince’ or Princess’, depending on the gender. The Burmese equivalent is Saopha.

Chao Jet Ton (เจ้าเจ็ดตน)

Thai. ‘Dynasty of the Seven Lords’. Another name for the dynasty of the house of Thipchakratiwong. Literally the name means ‘lord’ (Chao), ‘seven’ (jed), ‘lords’ (with ton being a classifier for the word chao). Despite its name this dynasty in fact had nine rulers or lords. See also list of Thai kings.

chao kana (เจ้าคณะ)

Thai. Housemaster. A priest who has charge of the monks in a temple building or a portion of a monastery.

Chao Kawila (เจ้ากาวิละ)

Thai. Ruler of Lampang and Chiang Mai (fig.) in the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty. He was born in 1742, the first of ten children of Prince Chai Kaew of Lampang, and a descendant of Phaya Suwareuachai Songkram of the house of Thipchakratiwong. After he had succeeded his father as ruler of the city he joined forces with Prince Chaban of Chiang Mai in a plot to rid the cities of oppressive Burmese rule. They sought the help of King Taksin who sent an army under the command of Chao Phrya Chakri. With combined forces they overthrew the Burmese in Lampang in 1774 and in the night of February 14, 1775 also Chiang Mai fell to the Siamese. However, due to Burmese counterattacks Chiang Mai had to be abandoned and was only formally reoccupied in March 1796. By then Chao Phraya Chakri had become King Rama I and in 1802 he officially appointed Kawila as ruler of Chiang Mai, in lieu of the late Prince Chaban who had died at the end of the Thonburi Period. Kawila continued with campaigns against the Burmese and placed his brothers as rulers of other northern cities, whilst Kawila's sister, Princess Sri Anocha, married to Prince Boonma, King Rama I's only brother. In 1815 Chao Kawila died of fever. He was the first king of Lan Na under Siamese rule. His full title is Phra Chao Boromma Rachathibodi Kawila. See also list of Thai kings.

chao kuay (เฉาก๊วย)

Thai name for a black vegetable jelly, eaten as a dessert in Southeast Asia, as well as in some countries of the Far East, including China and Taiwan. It is made by boiling the aged and slightly oxidized stalks and leaves of a plant known as ya chao kuay, with potassium carbonate and a little starch. When cooled the decoction becomes a translucent black jelly which is usually cut into small cubes (fig.). It is generally consumed mixed with crushed ice and palm sugar, or with soy milk to create a drink. In China, it is mixed with rice water and used as a cooling drink. In English, it is known as grass jelly. Also transcribed chao kuai.

Chao Le (ชาวเล)

Thai. ‘Sea people’. Term for the once nomadic sea gypsies who have a long history in Southern Thailand and are believed to be the first settlers in Koh Lanta and other islands of the Andaman Sea. They are ethnically separated from Southern Thais and have their own language and customs. The sea gypsy people support their families through the fishing trade, which has always been the mainstay of their livelihoods. Structural changes in the modern world and loss of fishing ground due to general development have made their way of life increasingly difficult and has put a strain on their unique culture. During full moon of the 6th and 11th months in the lunar calendar the sea gypsies perform a ceremony to bring prosperity and happiness in the forthcoming year. They build a two meter wooden boat, fill it with mementos (fig.) and then perform a dance before setting it adrift. Also spelled Chao Ley and sometimes called Chao Thai Mai, as well as Moken.

Chao Luang (เจ้าหลวง)

Thai for a vassal prince or the ruler of a colony or protectorate.

Chao Mae Thabthim (เจ้าแม่ทับทิม)

Thai name for Mazu, the Chinese goddess of the sea (fig.), who is worshipped by Chinese-Hainanese people worldwide. Her name means ‘Goddess Ruby’ or ‘Ruby Majesty’, and derives from the red colour of her dress (fig.). She is also known as Chao Mae Pra Sop, sometimes called Mae Chao Thabthim, and is worshipped in many places around Thailand, where numerous shrines, called Sahn Chao Mae Thabthim or Sahn Chao Mae Pra Sop (ศาลเจ้าแม่ประสพ - fig.), can be found, with sahn (ศาล) being a word related to sala. See also Chao and thabthim. See also TRAVEL PICTURES.

Chao Ngo (เจ้าเงาะ)

Thai. A male character from the story of Sangthong, namely the protagonist Prince Phra Sang himself (fig.) disguised as an ugly ogre (fig.) of the Ngo tribe, with a black complexion and curly hair (fig.), thus hiding his golden body underneath. To refer to the Prince's status, the name bears the title Chao. See POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2), and (3), as well as TRAVEL PICTURES and THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

Chao Ngo (ชาวเงาะ)

Thai for ‘Ngo Tribe’. See also Mani.

cha om (ชะอม)

Thai name for a shrub, with the botanical name Acacia pennata. Its young leaves are edible and usually eaten raw with nahm phrik, generally as a side vegetable with other food (fig.), or fried with eggs in a dish called cha om thod khai (fig.), which on markets is usually sold as a thick, greenish omelet, which is cut up into square, cube-like blocks. It is also used as an ingredient in soups, such as kaeng som, i.e. a sour soup made of tamarind paste, as well as in certain curries and stir-fried dishes. The taste of the leaves is rather unusual, somewhat bitter.

cha om thod khai (ชะอมทอดไข่)

Thai name for a kind of omelet, which is mixed with cha om, i.e. young Acacia leaves (fig.). It is usually cut up into thick, square or diamond-shaped blocks and is served with other food (fig.), such as kaeng som, e.g. kaeng som cha om kung (fig.).

Chao Phaya (เจ้าพระยา)

See Chao Phraya.

Chao Pho (เจ้าพ่อ)

1. Thai. ‘Godfather’. A nonspecific name used to refer to the local guardian spirit in Thai-Chinese shrines known as sahn chao (ศาลเจ้า), i.e. deity shrine, often translated as joss house, more general as sahn jihn (ศาลจีน), meaning Chinese shrine, and —if applicable more specific as sahn chao pho lak meuang (ศาลเจ้าพ่อหลักเมือง), which translates as shrine of the city-god. See also Chao Pho Seua and Peung Thao Kong. WATCH VIDEO.

2. Thai. ‘Godfather’. A name used to refer to Thai mafia bosses engaged in organized crime, most of whom are of Chinese descent, work closely with powerful civil servants, police and the military in local administrative positions, and play an important role in the parliamentary elections. According to Thai authorities, there are Chao Pho groups in 39 of Thailand's 77 provinces, from where they operate both legal and illegal businesses, often involved in a variety of crimes, such as prostitution, drug trafficking, illegal gambling, etc. Some are also known to collaborate with Wa Daeng (ว้าแดง), who is involved in human trafficking and drug sales and related to the United Wa State Army, a well-equipped ethnic minority militia in Myanmar.

Chao Pho Chetakup (เจ้าพ่อเจตคุปต์)

See Citragupta.

Chao Pho Ho Klong (เจ้าพ่อหอกลอง)

Thai. Name of a protective deity, 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. In art, he is sometimes depicted standing upright and wearing a chadah (fig.), whilst holding a lotus flower in his right hand and a horn in the left hand. See also Sahn Chao Pho Ho Klong (fig.). WATCH VIDEO.

Chao Pho Seua (เจ้าพ่อเสือ)

Thai. ‘Tiger Guardian Spirit’. Thai name for Xuanwu, a name that translates as ‘Mysterious Warrior’ or ‘Black Warrior’. Shrines devoted to this deity (fig.), often in the form of a Chinese joss house, are found nationwide in Thailand and are known as Sahn Chao Pho Seua. A Thai legend that dates from the reign of King Phra Nang Klao, i.e. Rama III, and related to a shrine in Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, relates that in a certain village, the son of Yai Phong (ผ่อง) 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 a shrine for the tiger that was so loyal to its owner. See also TRAVEL PICTURE.

Chao Phraya (เจ้าพระยา)

1. A Thai ‘nobleman of the highest rank’ (fig.), a title conferred by former kings. Also transcribed Chao Phya, Chao Phaya and Chao Phrya. See also Constantine Phaulkon and Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns.

2. Thai. Name of the Chao Phraya river, Thailand’s most important waterway, that flows through Bangkok and which is formed by the confluence of four rivers near the city of Nakhon Sawan, namely the Ping (fig.), Wang (fig.), Yom (fig.) and Nan, and ends in the Gulf of Thailand (fig.) near Samut Prakan, otherwise known as Meuang Pahk Nahm, the city at the estuary (map - fig.). Due to the meaning of its name, the river is often referred to as Royal River or River of Kings. In the evening (fig.) the river is a popular spot for dinner, both in riverside restaurants of upmarket hotels and on river boats (fig.), that organize evening dinner cruises that offer sensational views of the city's skyline as luxurious hotels and historical sites (fig.) are illuminated. During the daytime, the river also has a river express,  i.e. a public boat service popularly known as reua duan (fig.). Also transcribed Chao Phya, Chao Phaya and Chao Phrya. See also MAP, TRAVEL PICTURE, and WATCH VIDEO.

Chao Phraya Sky Park

See Garden Bridge.

Chao Phrya (เจ้าพระยา)

See Chao Phraya.

Chao Phya (เจ้าพระยา)

See Chao Phraya.

Chao Poo Sri Sutho (เจ้าปู่ศรีสุทโธ)

Thai. Name of a nagaraat who is worshipped especially at Kham Chanoht (fig.) in Udonthani (fig.), together with his consort Chao Yah Sri Patum Mah Naki (fig.). They are both depicted in semi-human form. See also TRAVEL PICTURES (1) and (2), and WATCH VIDEO (1) and (2).

chao taan cheuam (จาวตาลเชื่อม)

Thai. ‘Sugar palm endocarp boiled in syrup’. Name for a sweet dessert, consisting of the endocarp (fig.) of sugar palm seeds, either boiled dry or in a thick syrup. It is often eaten with sticky rice mixed with ka-thi (coconut milk or cocnut cream), additionally it may be mixed with roasted (kua) sesame seeds, sugar, salt and shredded coconut, a version of this dish known as khao niauw tanoht (โตนด), the last word being a part of the Thai name for the sugar palm, i.e. ton taan tanoht. Popularly also called look taan cheuam (ลูกตาลเชื่อม). Also transliterated jaw tahn chueam, or similar.

chao thih (เจ้าที่)

Thai. ‘Spirit of the place’. A kind of nature nature spirit who lives on the land, also referred as phra phum chao thih or simply phra phum. Also spelled chao thee, chao tee, chao thi, chao tih, jao tee, jao tih, or similar. Compare with Di Zhuia and  Peung Thao Kong.

Chao Yah Sri Patum Mah (เจ้าย่าศรีปทุมมา)

Thai. Name of the consort of Chao Poo Sri Sutho (fig.), a nagaraat, and likewise she is a naga depicted in semi-human form. She is hence also referred to with the apex naki, meaning ‘snake’, i.e. Chao Yah Sri Patum Mah Naki (fig.). See also TRAVEL PICTURES (1) and (2), and WATCH VIDEO (1) and (2).

Chaoying (เจ้าหญิง)

Thai for ‘princess’.

chaphlu (ชะพลู, ช้าพลู)

Thai. One generic name given to a herb of which there are actually two different kinds, one with the botanical name Piper sarmentosum, the other with the scientific name Piper lolot. There is no common English name, but both belong to the betel family Piperaceae. In English, the two are sometimes called wild betel or piper betel, but officially they are only identified by their scientific names. Both plants have glossy, heart-shaped leaves (fig.), called bai chaphlu, which are used in Thai cuisine, usually fresh and as a wrapper for miang, like with miangkham (fig.).  The leaves are also used in other Southeast Asian countries, e.g. in Malaysia, where it is known as kadok or kaduk and its leaves as daun kadok which are shredded in a rice dish called nasi ulam, literally ‘rice with raw vegetable’ or used as a wrapper for otak, a spicy fish pâté, reminiscent of the Thai dish khao neung, a dish that is also served with fresh chaphlu leaves (fig.); in Vietnam, where it is known as la lôt and the leaves as bo la lôt, which are used typically as a wrapper for grilling meats or seafood, a dish called bo cuôn la lôt (fig.), i.e. ‘betel leaf rolls’; and in Laos where it is called phak i leut and the leaves bai i leut which are used to make a kind of salad. The leaves are also used to wrap the betel nut (fig.), a stimulant mixed together with some tobacco and lime paste (fig.).

chappannarangsie (ฉัพพรรณรังสี)

1. Thai. Aureole, nimbus or halo. Also radsamie.

2. Thai. Star with six rays or points.


See thaan.


Gujari. Name of a container used to fetch water from a well and which is typically carried on the head by Indian women. It can be either an earthen urn, or a aluminum or brass pot. In Rajasthan, it is used in dance performances known as Chari Dances, in which women dance while balancing the pots on their heads, which at night are often kept ignited with cotton wicks dipped in oil (fig.). In other parts of India it is referred to as ghata (घट), ghatam or ghattam, and matka or matki.

Charles Van den Born

Belgian pilot who in January 1911 brought aviation to Thailand by carrying out the first flight in the Kingdom at Sanam Bin Sra Pathum (fig.), with his aircraft the Farman (fig.), a 1910 French manufactured bi-plane. Though born in Liege on 11 July 1874, though some sources say 1873, his mother was French, and he later became a French national himself. Before taking up flying, he was well-known as a bicycle and automobile racer. He earned his French pilot's license on 8 March 1910 in an H. Farman, and his Belgian license only weeks later, on 31 March 1910. He was one of the earliest licensed pilots. His flying career included flight demonstrations in France, Belgium, Italy, French Indochina, Thailand and China, and he was the first pilot ever to fly in French Indochina, Hong Kong, and Thailand. During WWI, he directed the Belgian aviation school in France. He later returned to Indochina and after the Indochina Wars, went back to France, where he died on 24 Jan 1958.

Charoen Krung (เจริญกรุง)

Thai. Name of a road in Bangkok, also known as the New Road. It is the first road to have been built with Western technology, at the time when the capital was changing its means of transportation from water to the land. It starts to the south of the Grand Palace and runs more or less southward, in part following the course of the Chao Phraya River. It has historical value due to the architectural structures, such as Ban Lek Tih Neung (fig.), that lie along the road, many of them ancient shop houses built in the same style as those in the Singapore of that time, an approach instigated by Phraya Sri Suriyawongse after he visited the city off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Due to its historical significance, the road has been dubbed the ‘Road that Connects History’. It was constructed in 1861 and is often referred to as Bangkok's oldest road. In 2011, it was portrayed on a Thai postage stamp to mark its 150th anniversary (fig.).

chat (ฉัตร)

1. Thai for chattra. See also ton son chat (fig.).

2. Thai. The wide rim of a gong or kong from which it is suspended.

chattra (छत्त्र)

Sanskrit. Multi-layered umbrella held over a honourary figure, usually as a symbol of royalty or honour, in part similar to and often used together with pad yot (fig.). It typically crowns over the throne of the King of Thailand, as well as over certain Buddha statues, referring to the Buddha's royal status as Prince Siddhartha. Production of religiously used chattra may hence be done by Buddhist monks themselves (fig.). It sometimes crowns the mast of a Buddhist stupa or chedi (fig.), and in North Thailand is often seen on the roofs of temple buildings, usually in the middle (fig.). When used as an ornament in such way, on top of a chedi, a temple roof, or even on a chadah, it is referred to as plih. Besides the symbol of a monarch, it also represents the spiritual authority and shelter for all living beings. The chattra is one of the eight auspicious symbols or Ashtamangala. In Chinese-Taoist temples, some Buddhist umbrellas are depicted long and cylindrical in shape and are used decoratively, hung from the ceiling (fig.). Those kind of Chinese-style umbrellas could in some way be considered as the Chinese equivalent of the Indian chattra. See also noppapadon and ton son chat (fig.). In Thai chat or shat.


Elevated pavilion that consist of a dome-shaped roof raised by four or more pillars and used in Indian architecture. It is found on top of buildings in India, where it is used decoratively or to provide shelter from the natural elements, or built over funerary sites. The name and function is hence reminiscent of the chattra (fig.), as well as of the chedi (fig.), which is believed to have derived from the former. Also transcribed chhatri.

Chatuchak (จตุจักร)

Thai. ‘Quadric circle’. Name of a district in northern Bangkok which has a park (map - fig.) and popular weekend market of the same name. The park consist of a small stroke of land squeezed between Phahon Yothin Road and Kamphaeng Phet Road, while acorss the latter road is a cluster of three larger, adjoining parks, i.e. Wachirabenchatat Park, Rot Fai Park, and Queen Sirikit Park, of which the latter in its southwestern corner has a section known as the Garden for the Sight Impaired (map - fig.). Since all these parks are located in Chatuchak district and connect to each other, they are together often also referred to as Chatuchak Park, rather than by their individual names. These are both situated in between the old and new Mo Chit bus terminals. The park is built on a plot of land donated by the State Railway of Thailand to King Bhumipon on the occasion of his fourth-cycle (48th) birthday on 5 December 1975. The king named the site Chatuchak Park on 8 January 1976 and the park was officially opened on 4 December 1980. It features floral plants, herbal plants, several species of palm trees, a multipurpose ground, and sculptures representing some of the first ASEAN country members. There is also a health park built in honor of princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on her third-cycle (36th) birthday. The park has the nation's largest fountain, a musical fountain with regular, animated performances (map - fig.), choreographed to Thai music (fig.), and an educative Banana Garden (fig.), which displays a large variety of different species of banana plant. The park is also used as a site for staging public events by its district's residents. The market is located on a 70 rai plot of land South of the park and is the first weekend market in Bangkok. It originally occupied Sanam Luang, where it had been established in 1948 and was then called Sanam Luang Market. In 1982 it was relocated to the present-day site on Phahon Yothin Road, which the State Railway of Thailand had given to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). The market at the new location was renamed the Phahon Yothin Market and later, in 1987, the Chatuchak Weekend Market. The market, which boasts over 15,000 shops and attracts approximately 200,000 visitors daily, has a significant section dedicated to live pet sales. In the night of 12 June 2024, a fire broke out in the Pet Zone, reportedly caused by a short circuit from an electrical fan left on to comfort the animals. The blaze destroyed 118 shops and sadly resulted in the deaths of 5,343 caged animals, including various species of birds (fig.) and fowl; reptiles, such as snakes, turtles and lizards; fish, mostly Siamese Fighting Fish (fig.); and rodents, such as squirrels, hamsters (fig.) and Guinea pigs (fig.); as well as monkeys, cats, hedgehogs, raccoons, and some other mammals. There is also another weekend market, called Chatuchak 2 (fig.) and which is —despite being its namesake— located in Minburi (มีนบุรี), a district in eastern Bangkok. Somewhat smaller in size than its equivalent, its could be described as an eastern branch of the original market. See also MAP and WATCH VIDEO (1) and (2).

Chaturbuja (चतुर्भुज)

Sanskrit. ‘Four-armed’. Name for the depiction of a Hindu god with four arms, with the Sanskrit word chatur meaning ‘four’. Also transcribed Caturbhuja. See also Hanuman sih kon and Jaturamuk.

chaturanga (चतुरङ्ग)

Sanskrit. ‘Having four limbs’. Name for an ancient Indian strategy game, which became the common ancestor of western chess and from which also other board games, such as sittuyin, derive. It is said to have developed in the 6th Century Gupta Period. The term chaturanga derives from a battle formation mentioned in the Mahabharata, which could be translated as ‘army’, and the four limbs refer to the four described army divisions, i.e. chariots, war elephants, the cavalry, and the infantry. The game board consists of 64 squares, i.e. 8 rows and 8 columns, though without alternating colours, while the pieces and their setup on the game board in starting position are similar to those of western chess, though the King is sided by a minister, counselor or general, rather than a Queen, and a set of elephants act for the bishops in western chess. See also mahk ruk and yutthahadtie.

Chaturanradsamih (จาตุรนต์รัศมี)

Thai. A royal prince of Siam, i.e. the 28th son of King Mongkut and the 3rd son of Queen Debsirindra, also transcribed Queen Thepsihrinthrah (เทพศิรินทรา), and thus a full brother of Prince and later King Chulalongkorn. During his term in office as Finance Ministry, he promulgated the notifications regarding the tax reform and abolished gambling. He was born on Tuesday 13 January 1856 and died on 11 April 1900 at the age of 44. He had 14 children. His portrait is depicted on one of a rare set of unmarked postage stamps of the Royal Family issued in circa 1893 (fig.), as well as on a commemorative postage stamp issued in 2006 to mark his 150th birthday anniversary (fig.). His name is also transliterated Chaturantarasmi and Chaturonrasmi, and his name and title in full are Somdet Phra Chao Borommawonthe Chao Fah Chaturonradsamih Krom Phra Chakraphandiphong (สมเด็จพระเจ้าบรมวงศ์เธอ เจ้าฟ้าจาตุรนต์รัศมี กรมพระจักรพรรดิพงษ์). Chakraphandiphong (Chakrabardhibongse) Road in Bangkok's Pomprap Sattruphai (ป้อมปราบศัตรูพ่าย) District is named after him.

Chauk Htat Gyi (ခြောက်ထပ်ကြီး)

Burmese. Name of a giant (gyi) reclining Buddha image in Yangon's Bahan Township, with a length of 65.85 meter. READ ON.

chaya (ชายา)

Thai term for the consort of a prince.

chayedan (茶叶蛋)

Chinese. ‘Tea-leaf egg’. See tea egg.


See fak maew.

Chequered Swallowtail

Another common name for the Lime Swallowtail.

chedi (เจดีย์)

Thai. A bell shaped monument erected to house a holy statue or an object of a prominent person, such as the ashes of important monks and royalty, or relics of the Buddha. In Thailand they are called phra chedi and are most commonly used as a relic shrine. The bell shaped chedi is a copy of the Indian stupa or caitya, with the Thai name being derived from the latter term. In Burma this structure is known as zedi (fig.) or pagoda, in Vietnam as chua (fig.), in Tibet as chorten (fig.), and in Sri Lanka it is called dagoba (fig.). Its typical bell shape (fig.) probably developed from a chattra (fig.), the multi-layered umbrella carried for royalty as a symbol of their dignity as can be seen above some Buddha images today. Plausibly the chattra was initially placed on top of the grave of a deceased member of royalty thus initiating the idea to later replace this rather fragile mausoleum with more sturdy materials. In that way the relic shrine originated simultaneously with the specific bell shape tapering off to a point. The chattra may still sometimes crown the mast of a chedi (fig.), but is then referred to as plih. The multi-layered chattra form is also clearly seen in the pyatthat (fig.), a typical Burmese style, multi-roofed pagoda. In later structures the triphum is symbolically represented, that is, earth heaven and hell. Visitors to natural parks often create small chedi made from stones or pebbles (fig.), a practice reminiscent  of the mani stones from Tibet, as well as of the chedi saai, sand pagodas that are built in Thai temples as a kind of folk amusement. In addition, the making of small stone pagodas reminds of an ancient Tamil tradition, in which people celebrated their fallen warriors by erecting formless stones in their memory. See also plong shanai (fig.). See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

Chedi Chang Lom (เจดีย์ช้างล้อม)

Thai. ‘Elephants Surrounded Pagoda’. Name of a Buddhist pagoda, located within the temple complex of Wat Chiang Man. READ ON.

Chedi Khao (เจดีย์ขาว)

Thai. ‘White Pagoda’. Name of a small white stupa located along the Ping River in Chiang Mai. READ ON.

Chedi Phukhao Thong (เจดีย์ภูเขาทอง)

Thai. ‘Golden Mountain Stupa’. Name of the second tallest pagoda in Ayutthaya. READ ON.

chedi saai (เจดีย์ทราย)

Thai. A pagoda (chedi) made of sand. Sand pagodas are built as a kind of folk amusement, especially in the northern provinces of Thailand, but also in Myanmar (fig.). It derived from the religious rite of khon saai khao wat, in which people annually bring sand back to the temple (fig.), as compensation for the sand that has been carried out from temple grounds over the past year, sticking to visitors feet. With the sand that is brought back, a chedi or pagoda is constructed. When finished, it is topped with small paper tung and paper flags, known as cho.

Chedi Tham Jindah (เจดีย์ธรรมจินดา)

Thai. ‘Stupa(s) of the Dhamma Gem’. Name of a twin pagoda or chedi in Wat Ta-khe (fig.), i.e. the archeological site of an 18th century AD Buddhist temple complex in Saraburi, located on the eastern bank of the Pa Sak River. It comprises two stupas that stand side by side on the same base on an east-west axis, with one being slightly larger and bulkier than the other, suggesting a certain hierarchy. Whereas one is a 16 redented chedi, the other is a 12 redented chedi (fig.), and whereas the temple is believed to date from the end of the Ayutthaya period, the stupas are probably from the early Rattanakosin period, as the style of the stupa and the techniques used for the stucco decorations became popular only in Rattanakosinsok. See MAP.


See Champada.

chenda (ചെണ്ട)

Malayalam name for a kind of large, cylindrical drum, of which there are various types. All have heads on both ends, though only one side is played, using drumsticks. There are a number of hinges that hold the drum head to the trunk using ropes. This kind of percussion instrument is widely used in the South Indian state of Kerala, as well as in parts of Karnataka, where they also use another yet similar drum, referred to as chende. The chenda is mainly played in Hindu temple festivals, as well as in a variety of cultural activities, such as weddings (fig.). It produces a loud and rigid sound.

Chenla (ចេនឡា, 真腊)

Khmer-Chinese name for a state in Cambodia, that roughly existed between the 6th and 8th centuries AD, after the fall of Funan. In 550 AD, it initially was a vasal of Funan but gradually absorbed this oldest Indianized kingdom of Indochina in the 6th century AD, yet was in 802 AD itself absorbed into the Khmer Empire. It is also known as the Kamboja Kingdom. Sometimes transcribed Zhenla.


Name for a kind of handmade cigar from Myanmar. It is produced (fig.) by rolling tobacco powder made from a locally grown plant (fig.) into a dried and flattened leaf called thana hpe (fig.), or alternatively in a dried corn leaf, and closed off with a filter on one side, whilst the other side is closed off by pressing the leaf's ends into a pointed tip. The filter (fig.) is made from dried corn leaves that have been rolled into paper, often of an old tabloid, and then cut off to the right size using a wooden measuring object, i.e. after it has been fitted into the cheroot. After being rolled with the use of a wooden stick as an aid, the cheroot is fastened with a kind of glue made on the basis of rice, whilst a cigar band –with the brands name printed on it– is added. Unlike regular cigars, the cheroot is not tapering but it is cylindrical in shape. The word cheroot is said to mean ‘roll of tobacco’. In Burmese, the cheroot is called hsei bo lei (fig.), and is smoked by both Burmese men and women alike (fig.).


See kaolad.

Chestnut-bellied Malkoha

Common designation of a species of cuckoo with the scientific name Phaenicophaeus sumatranus. It belongs to the family Cuculidae and is native to Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand. It inhabits subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, mangrove forests, and swamplands. It should not be confused with the Chestnut-breasted Malkoha.

Chestnut-breasted Malkoha

Common designation of a species of cuckoo with the scientific name Phaenicophaeus curvirostris. It belongs to the family Cuculidae and is found throughout Southeast Asia, ranging from Myanmar to eastern Java, the Philippines, and Borneo. This large cuckoo can reach up to 49 cm in length and features grey and dark green upperparts with chestnut-colored underparts, along with a large, curved pale upper mandible. Both males and females have similar plumage. Unlike many other cuckoos, the Chestnut-breasted Malkoha builds its own nest and raises its own young. It should not be confused with the Chestnut-bellied Malkoha.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

See Bee-eater.

Chestnut Rajah

Common name of a species of leafwing butterfly. READ ON.

Chestnut-tailed Minla

Common name for a 16-18.5 centimeter tall bird, with the scientific designations Minla strigula and Chrysominla strigula, and also commonly known as Chestnut-tailed Siva. It is found in South and mainland Southeast Asia, as well as in southern China. Its natural habitat consists of subtropical and tropical moist montane forests. Adults have a golden-rufous crown, a blackish eyebrow, and a black-and-white scaly throat and cheeks, divided by a blackish line and patch. There is a small yellow patch just below the dark bill. Its upperparts are greyish-olive, whilst it underparts are pale yellowish. The wings and tail are rufous and yellowish-orange, with black and white. There are some subspecies, i.e. Minla strigula malayana, which is duller and has broader throat scales, and Minla strigula traii, which is greyer above, has a solid white face and black cheeks, a brighter crown, and yellow-and-black throat scales. In Thai, this bird is called nok siwa hahng sih tahn, i.e. ‘brown-tailed Shiva bird’. In 1980, this bird was depicted on the third stamp of a set of four Thai postage stamps featuring Thai birds (fig.).

Chestnut-tailed Starling

Common name for a bird in the Sturnidae family, with the scientific designation Sturnus malabaricus, aka Sturnia malabarica. READ ON.

Chetasik (เจตสิก)

Thai term used for emotions that arise from the mind. The term derives from the Sanskrit Cetasika.

Chetsadabodin (เจษฎาบดินทร์)

Pali-Thai. Birth name of king Rama III. The first part of his name, chetsada, is Pali and means ‘senior’ or ‘(clerical) brother’, whereas the latter is a name derived from Indra, in Thai In (อินทร์). Also transcribed Chetsadabodintr and Jetsadabodin.

cheuam (เชื่อม)

Thai. ‘To boil in syrup’. A method to preserve fruit and enhance flavour, as in gluay cheuam. Other traditional methods of preserving fruits and vegetables include kuan (boiling and stirring), dong (pickling) and chae im (soaking in syrup).


Name given to a group of small, secretive animals, found only in the tropical forests of Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Among others, it includes the family Tragulidae, which in itself includes the four species of Mouse-deer that are endemic to Thailand, i.e. the Greater Mouse-deer (fig.), the Lesser Mouse-deer (fig.), the Williamson's Mouse-deer and the Java Mouse-deer. The name chevrotain may derive from the chevron pattern on the throat and upper chest of most species, though some sources claim it derives from the French word chèvre, meaning ‘goat’, and that it could be translated as ‘little goat’. In Thai chevrotain are called krajong.

Chiang Hai

Northern Thai dialect for Chiang Rai.

Chiang Kai Shek (蒋介石)

Chinese. Name of the former leader of the Kuomintang, i.e. the Chinese Nationalist Party, who lived from 1887 to 1975. He was a close ally of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, who became the first president of the Republic of China, and took his place as leader of the Kuomintang when Sun Yat Sen in 1925 died. However, Chiang Kai Shek was unable to maintain good relations with the Communists and a major split between the Nationalists and Communists in 1927 led to a civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China, who in 1949 eventually defeated the Kuomintang, forcing the Nationalists to retreat to Taiwan, where Chiang Kai Shek (fig.) ruled as the self-appointed President of the Republic of China and Director-General of the Kuomintang until his death. See also LIST OF CHINESE RULERS.

Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่)

Thai. ‘New City’. The city of Chiang Mai is also the capital of the province of the same name (map) and is situated in North Thailand. READ ON.

Chiang Mai Grand Canyon

Name of a former quarry that has been transformed into a popular tourist attraction, located in the Hang Dong (หางดง) District of Chiang Mai Province and also known as Hang Dong Grand Canyon.  The main attraction is the large reservoir where visitors can swim and enjoy water activities. There are various water features, including cliffs and platforms for diving and jumping. Some areas have been developed to resemble a water park, with inflatable slides and obstacles in the water. Apart from the more adventurous activities, visitors can also enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere by the water, surrounded by scenic views. WATCH VIDEO.

Chiang Mai Philatelic Museum

Museum in housed in the building of the former central post office of Chiang Mai. READ ON.

Chiang Mai Train Station

Name for the main railway station in the northern town of Chiang Mai, officially called  Chiang Mai Railway Station and in Thai known as Satanih Rot Fai Chiang Mai (สถานีรถไฟ), was built in 1922 and the first rail route went only as far as Lamphun. The section of track linking Lamphun to the existing track from Bangkok to Lopburi was finished in 1926, completing the 661 km Northern Line linking Chiang Mai to Bangkok. The original train station was destroyed by Allied Forces' air strikes in 1943 as a result of military action directed against the Japanese Imperial Army whose forces during WWII occupied the Thai nation. The present-day station was rebuilt in 1945 although it did not officially open for travellers until 1948.  Akin to many train stations throughout Thailand, a decommissioned steam engine is on display in front of the station. Today, Chiang Mai Railway Station has 3 platforms and there are a total of 14 trains, intercity and local, that run daily from Chiang Mai to the South towards Bangkok, although only 5 of those travel the full route from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. Prior to departure, rail crew and other staff that travel along on long distance trains assemble at the designated platform for a roll call briefing. WATCH VIDEO.

Chiang Mai Zoo

The first ever commercial zoo in northern Thailand. In 1952, Harold Mason Young, an American missionary, started a private animal collection at his home in Chiang Mai and opened it to the public as a private zoo. As his collection grew and his animals became a nuisance to his neighbors, he applied for permission to use a piece of land to keep his animals, allowing him to open the first public zoological park of the North in April 1957. After his death, the city of Chiang Mai recognized its value and on 16 June 1977 placed it under the administration of the state Zoological Park Organization, which also operates most other major zoos in the country. It is located on the foothill of Doi Suthep, along the road towards Wat Doi Suthep. It covers an area of 531 rai and is home to an estimated 400 animals, including Chuang-Chuang and Lin-Hui, two giant pandas from China (map - fig.), who on 27 May 2009 had a female cub. The cub was named Lin Bing (林冰) or Lin Ping, which is Chinese for ‘Ice Forest’, but in Thai it is also reminiscent of the city's Ping River. In Thai called Suan Sat Chiang Mai. See MAP and WATCH VIDEO.

Chiang Mai Zoo

Chiang Miang (เชียงเมี่ยง)

Thai. Another name for the Thai-Laotian folk tale of Sri Thanonchai, not to be confused with Siang Miang. See also miang.

Chiang Rai (เชียงราย)

Province and provincial capital (map) in North Thailand. READ ON.

Chiang Saen (เชียงแสน)

1. An amphur in Chiang Rai, with its main town at the southern banks of the Mekhong River in northern Thailand, along the border with Laos. To the Northwest is the Shan State of Myanmar and to the North the Laotian province of Bokeo. It was a Lan Na principality, founded in 1328 by King Mengrai's nephew Saen Phu (fig.), though the area was already ruled by kings of the Lawachakaraat Dynasty as part of the Kingdom of Hiran Ngun Yahng. In 1804, during the reign of Rama I, the city was conquered by Chao Kawila because it had been a Burmese stronghold for some time. It was consequently deserted and its inhabitants resettled in other Bangkok-allied Lan Na cities, such as Lampang and Chiang Mai. An ancient legend says that the city was destroyed by an earthquake as punishment for its inhabitants who, when they were starving because they couldn't find food or catch any fish, they ate a sacred naga which they had caught in the river. Today an archeological site still exists and some monuments found here pre-date Chiang Saen by several hundred years. According to a legend that earlier kingdom was called Yonok. Among the several ancient ruins in the old city (fig.) are the temples Wat Pa Sak and Wat Mung Meuang, and on the southern edge of town is a decorative roundabout known as Wong Wian Nakhon Chiang Saen (fig.). See MAP and MORE ON THIS.

2. Thai. Northern Thai art style produced in Chiang Saen during the 12th and 13th centuries AD.

chianmahk (เชี่ยนหมาก)

Thai for betel-set.

Chiasmia Moth

Name for a semi-large moth, known by the scientific names Chiasmia eleonora, Godonela eleonora, Phalaena eleonora Phalaena fasciata, Semiothisa fasciosaria and Semiothisa eleonora. It belongs to the family Geometridae and is found in South and Southeast Asia. It has mostly greyish upper-wings, with some dark and orange markings, and a distinctive whitish bar near the centre of the hind- and forewings, which both also have an outer whitish fringe. It has rather large eyes, and its body is grey with some orange, especially on the underside, as well as brownish-orange legs and antennae. It is also commonly known as Eleonora Angle, and in Thai as mot thong ngeun (มอธทองเงิน), which translates as ‘gold-silver moth’.

chiat (เจียด)

Thai. Literally ‘to allot’ or ‘to distribute’. Term used for a rectangular −or sometimes rounded− receptacle with a foot and covered with a cone-shaped lid used as an emblem of noble rank. Originally, these type of vessels were conferred by the king on a courtier or a prelate. Later on, they became used for keeping a set of fresh cloths in which visitors to the palace could change prior to an audience with the king. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

Chien Li Yen (千里眼)

Chinese. ‘Eyes [that can see] a thousand miles’, sometimes also translated as ‘The Lynx-eyed’, ‘Thousand-mile Eye’ or ‘Thousand League Eyes’. Name of a mythological figure from Taoism. He and his brother (fig.) are said to have been the ruthless generals Kao Chuch and Kao Ming, treacherous brothers in the Shang Dynasty, who having died in a battle on Peach Blossom Mountain, remained there and haunted the place. One day, the Mother-Ancestor Tian Hou (Matsu/Mazu) passed through there and the brothers began to compete for her affection. To get rid of them Tian Hou challenged them to a fight: if any of them won, she would marry him but if she won, they both would have to serve her forever. Tian Hou won and the brothers serve her still, looking and listening for those who need her help. In art and temples, Chien Li Yen is generally depicted with the hand shielding his eyes from the sun and is usually portrayed with a green complexion, and sometimes with a horn. He and his brother are found in mainly Tian Hou temples, where Shun Feng Er (usually with a brown or red complexion, and sometimes with two horns) stands on the left side of the offering tables and Chien Li Yen to the right of the altar. However, their complexion or position to the altar may be reversed thus it is their unique positions of the hands that are the conclusive keys for recognition. However, occasionally, he and his brother may be portrayed in the tou liu bi iconographic style, with three heads and six arms, and with a different complexion, as is the Yu Huang Dian (玉皇殿), i.e. the Jade Emperor Palace Hall at Fengdu Ghost City (fig.). Also called Chin Lei Ngan and often transcribed Qian Li Yan.

chi fan le ma (吃饭了吗)

Chinese. ‘Have you eaten rice yet?’. Informal greeting in China, similar to the Burmese thamin sa bibi la, and the Thai kin khao reua yang. These questions are usually rhetorical in nature, and posed in order to show an interest in the other person's wellbeing, rather than a nosiness into someone's actual eating habits or an invitation to a meal.

Chi Guo Tian (持国天)

Chinese. ‘Deity that watches the land’. Name of the Kingdom-keeper, i.e. one of the Four Heavenly Kings. He correspondents with the Indian lokapala Dhritarashtra, who guards the East, whom is associated with the Hindu god Indra. He is King of the East, where he rules from a palace of gold over the continent of Purva-videha. In Chinese tradition, his attribute is a Chinese lute known as a pipa (fig.), which stands for harmony and represents the balanced power with which he rules. In Vietnam, he is known as Tri Quoc (Trì Quốc), and in full as Dong Phuong Tri Quoc Thien Vuong (Đông Phương Trì Quốc Thiên Vương), i.e. Tri Quoc, Heavenly King of the Eastern Quarter’ (fig.).

Chih Pleuay (ชีเปลือย)

1. Thai. ‘Nudist’. Name of a hermit or reusi character in the story Phra Aphaimanih, who in English is usually referred to as the Naked Maniac. He is depicted as a naked, meager, old man with a long white beard and appears on the seventh stamp in a series of eight Thai postage stamps issued in 2009 to publicize the story of Phra Aphaimanih as a major literary work of the Rattanakosin Era (fig.). Also transliterated Chee Pleuay.

2. Thai. ‘Nudist’. Term used for certain sadhu or ascetics in India, who go around naked and usually rub themselves completely with cremation ashes called vibhuti (fig.). Compare with chih pah kao. Also transliterated Chee Pleuay.

Chi Kung (气功)

See Qi Gong.

Chikungunya (ชิคุนกุนยา)

Name of a viral disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, typically Aedes aegypti, that in Thai is known as yung laai bahn, i.e. striped house mosquito’; or Aedes albopictus, which in Thai is called yung laai suan, i.e. striped garden mosquito. Infected people typically suffer from fever and joint pain, symptoms similar to —and often confused with— those of dengue fever. The name of this RNA virus derives from a word in Kimakonde, the language of the Makonde is eastern and southeastern Africa, and translates to walk bent over, referring to the contorted appearance of sufferers who go about stooped due to joint pain.

Children's Discovery Museum

Bangkok museum for kids, which encourages a hands-on and fun approach to learning, by presenting interactive displays and playful experiments, in which inquisitive young minds are persuaded to ask questions on how the world works. The museum is located in Chatuchak district, adjacent to Chatuchak Park and opposite of the Chatuchak Weekend Market. In Thai it is known as Phiphithaphan Dek, meaning ‘Children's Museum’. See MAP.


See cayenne. Also spelt chilli and chilie.

Chi Lin Nunnery

Name of a Buddhist temple complex run by nuns and located on Diamond Hill, in Kowloon, Hong Kong. READ ON.


Name of a straight, tapering smoking pipe, with an end-to-end channel. It is traditionally made of clay and typically used by Indian sadhus (fig.) to smoke tobacco and gancha (fig.). The word derives from the Hindu chilam (चिलम).


Name for a vast country in Central East Asia which took form in 221 BC through the unification of several feudal states under Qin Shi Huang Ti (fig.), heir to the throne of Qin (Chin), a powerful feudal state in the northwest. After this enforced unification through annexation and warfare, he founded the Qin (Chin) Dynasty, from which China derives its name and proclaimed himself emperor, marking the beginning of Imperial China, a period which lasted until the fall of the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty in 1911 (fig.), and even though the Qin Dynasty collapsed shortly after Qin Shi Huang Ti's death, it formed the model for all later dynasties. In Chinese however, China is called Zhong Guo (中国), literally the ‘Middle Kingdom’ or ‘Central Land’, a name that most likely refers to its self-regarded position as the centre of civilization during its early history. The modern state which today covers an area of 9,598,086 km² and has an estimated population of over 1,321,850,000 is now officially referred to as the People's Republic of China. It is a nation of 55 ethnic groups and 235 spoken languages. The country's capital is Beijing, and with over 23 million inhabitants, Shanghai (fig.) is the nation's most populated city, and the fastest growing city in the world in terms of skyscraper construction (fig.). In Thai called Prathet Jihn (ประเทศจีน). See also Cathay and Thailand's Neighbours & Beyond.


Name for fine white or translucent ceramic ware, porcelain, etc. In Thai called kreuang thuay chaam.


1. Area in Bangkok where a large population of Chinese has been living after they were moved from Banglamphu in 1782 by the then government, to make room to built the new capital Rattanakosin and the Grand Palace Phra Rachawang. It is generally referred to as Yaowaraht, after its main street. The area has many gold shops and several crowded markets, both with food and wholesale hardware produce. On the sidewalk of Charoeng Rung Road the practice of mang ming can often be observed, or undergone (fig.). There are several Chinese restaurants and some tea shops. Places of interest include the Mahayana Buddhist temple Wat Mangkon Kamalawat on Charoen Krung Road; Talaat Sampheng (fig.), the wholesale market at Sampheng Lane; and the thieves market Nakhon Kasem. Thailand today has about 8.5 million ethnic Chinese of which 56% are Tae Chew. Bangkok's Chinatown is purportedly one of the largest of its kind in the world. See TRAVEL PICTURES (1) and (2), PANORAMA PICTURE, MAP, and WATCH VIDEO (1) and (2).

2. Name for ethnic neighborhoods found in major cities worldwide, where Chinese culture and heritage are celebrated, serve as hubs for Chinese communities, and provide a space where visitors can experience authentic Chinese traditions, cuisine, and customs. WATCH VIDEO.

Chinatown Gate

Name of a Thai-Chinese Cultural Arch built on the Odeon Circle in Bangkok's Chinatown. READ ON.

Chinese abacus

Wooden frame with rings or beads as an aid to calculate. READ ON.

Chinese ancestral tablet

A form of ancestor worship, in which usually wooden tablets, inscribed with the titles and names of deceased relatives, are preserved in an altar-like, household shrine, which may additionally have patron deities set up nearby too. Large shrines may hold tablets of an entire clan and tablets usually vary in size and shape, and may occasionally be of stone. They also have the dates of birth and death on them, as well as some additional information, such as the place of burial and isplaying the name of who erected the tablet, which is customarily a son. Often two tablets are made, i.e. one of paper and one of wood. A ceremony then takes place (fig.) in which the dead person’s spirit is transferred onto the wooden tablet. Once the transfer is successful, the paper tablet is either burned or buried with the dead person's remains. The main idea behind this is the belief that the soul is made up of yin-yang components, which at the time of death split. Yin then goes with the body to the grave, whilst yang takes up residence in the ancestral tablet. Since those components are not immortal they need to be nourished, and surviving relatives will feed them with offerings. The tablets are enshrined according to the importance of the ancestor, with the centre of the shrine being reserved for the tablet of the primary family ancestor. In addition to ancestor tablets, the edge of the shrine might also hold spirit tablets, i.e. tablets devoted to spirits that are believed to protect the family circle. It is a key religious custom and ritual throughout China, as well as in many places with a large community of Chinese immigrants. In Chinese, an ancestral tablet is called zhu.

Chinese Bamboo-partridge

Common name for a small partridge, with the scientific name Bambusicola thoracicus and native to mainland China. The underparts are golden-rufous, with some elongated black spots on the sides, that run over the back which is otherwise brownish-grey. Its face and throat are also golden-rufous, whilst the crown, neck and breast are ashy grey. In Manadarin, it is known as huī xiōng zhú jī (灰胸竹鸡), which literally translates as ‘ash-breasted bamboo chicken’, and in Thai it is called nok kratha phai jihn, the Thai equivalent of the English common name. It is one of two species in the genus Bambusicola, the other one being the Mountain Bamboo-partridge (fig.). Its common name is alternatively spelled Chinese Bamboo Partridge. See also Chinese Francolin (fig.).

Chinese broccoli

See kha-nah.

Chinese Bulbul

Common name for an up to 19 centimeter tall passerine songbird in the bulbul family Pycnonotidae, which is also commonly known as Light-vented Bulbul. The species is widespread in East Asia, including mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as in Korea and Japan. It also occurs in parts of Laos, the northernmost part of Vietnam, and in northern Thailand. It has a distinctive black head, with a white throat, small white patches covering the sides of its head, and a large white nape. The underparts are light, yellowish-grey, and the mantle, rump and wings are greyish-olive, wilst the primaries are yellowish-green. This species scientific designation is Pycnonotus sinensis and in Thai it is known as nok parod jihn. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Chinese cabbage

Common name used for a variety of oriental leaf vegetables, including phak kahd khao, phak kahd khao kwahng tung, phak kahd khao plih, phak kahd kiyaw kwahng tung, phak kwahng tung, etc. In Cantonese, cabbages are called bok choy, and in Mandarin bai cai (白菜), which literally means ‘white vegetable’. Since this sounds similar to bai cai (百财), meaning ‘numerous wealth’, cabbages are regarded symbols of wealth, and are hence commonly found as good luck charms. A precious jadeite cabbage is displayed in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, where it is the most famous exhibit and considered among the finest of all artifacts from ancient Imperial China, a masterpiece that stands apart from a long tradition of idealized perfection in jade carving. In this particular artifact, the sculptor has achieved remarkable realism by masterfully incorporating the stone's natural variations in colour, as well as the stone's flaws, into his design, for the latter using the stone's natural cracks as leaf edges.

Chinese calligraphy

Name of an art form and East Asian tradition of writing Chinese characters. There are different types of script being used, i.e. Regular or Standard Script; Semi-cursive or Running Script; Cursive or Grass Script; Clerical, Scribal, Draft or Official Script; and Small or Lesser Seal Script, the latter being the oldest style that continues to be practiced, especially on traditional seals called yin zhang (fig.), but with ever fewer people able to read it. Its predecessor, the rugged and blocky Great Seal Script which was in use prior to the invention of the writing brush (fig.), is not used in contemporary Chinese calligraphy. In Regular Script, often referred to as kaishu (楷书), each of the strokes is placed carefully with the ink brush being lifted from the paper after every stroke. This makes it the most easy style to read and a appropriate base for other, more flowing styles. In Semi-cursive Script (fig.) strokes and sometimes characters are allowed to run into one another with the ink brush leaving the paper less often than in Regular Script, whilst in Cursive Script entire characters may be written without lifting the brush from the paper at all, making the characters flow into one another. Although easier to write more fast, both Semi-cursive and Cursive Script are much more challenging to read. Regular Script is usually written in Traditional Chinese, although Simplified Chinese may occasionally also be used. Traditionally, Chinese calligraphy is written on rice paper and only in black, as the ink used for it is made from soot, a black powdery deposit from smoke, and binders. While performing calligraphy, the rice paper is usually held in place with two Chinese paperweights in a rectangular bar shape, one for each end of the paper and known in Chinese as zhenzhi (fig.). By way of identification and instead of a signature, an artist, also called a calligraphist, will place a Chinese seal (fig.) in red ink, usually at the side (top, bottom or middle) of each calligraphic work. Besides the writing of Chinese characters the term calligraphy may also be used to refer to a similar art form that includes a certain style of ink painting, such as the making of Zen circles (fig.), Chinese blossoms and landscapes (fig.) or other traditional figures. Calligraphy is sometimes referred to as the Soul of Chinese Fine Arts and enthusiasts can sometimes be observed in public piazzas and parks writing on the floor in water (fig.), with a large writing brush (fig.). See also mao bi and wen fang si bao (fig.).

Chinese character cards

See zi pai.

Chinese chess

See xiang qi.

Chinese cloisonné

See jingtai lan.

Chinese Culture Centre

Complex in Bangkok that promotes the culture and arts of China. It was inaugurated on 21 November 2012, in the presence of the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Thai Prime Minister Yinglak Shinawat, and aims to publicize Chinese culture and offer information about the People's Republic of China. It is equipped with an exhibition hall, a small theater, a library, and several training rooms for Chinese music and dance, as well as for painting and calligraphy workshops. The Chinese Culture Centre in Bangkok is the first and largest of its kind built by China in Southeast Asia, and combines both ancient Chinese and modern architectural styles, such as roofs designed in the fashion of a giant Kongming Lock (fig.) and reminiscent of the China Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, which was itself inspired by dougong (fig.), i.e. interlocking brackets as used in traditional Chinese architecture. The Chinese Culture Centre is located in Huay Khwang (ห้วยขวาง) District, adjacent to the Thailand Cultural Centre (fig.) and opposite of the Thai-Chinese Culture & Arts Exchange Centre (fig.). In Thai called Soon Wattanatham Jihn (ศูนย์วัฒนธรรมจีน), and in Chinese known as Zhong Guo Wen Hua Zhong Xin (中国文化中心). In English, it is also referred to as Chinese Cultural Centre, or simply CCC. See MAP.

Chinese door gods

Portraits of two military generals, that are painted in pair on either door of a double-door entrance to a palace, mansion or temple, and facing each other, as it is considered bad luck to place the figures back-to-back. The custom reportedly started in the Tang Dynasty, when its founding emperor was troubled by an evil spirit and had two of his brave generals, i.e. Qin Shubao (Qin Qiong) and Yuchi Jingde (Yuchi Gong), guard the front doors of his palace. Since the generals were not fulltime available, the emperor ordered their portraits painted on his front door instead. Qin Shubao is typically represented with a goatee-like beard and holding a long-handle mace, whereas Yuchi Jingde has a full beard and holds a long-handle battle axe. Usually, though not always (fig.), Qin Shubao is portrayed with a reddish-pink complexion, whilst Yuchi Jingde is rather brownish. The imperial custom was later adapted by commoners and became folk tradition (fig.), sometimes replacing the generals with other mythological figures or legendary heroes. Sometimes, it is understood that one guardian stands guard during the day, whilst the other protects the entrance at night. If so, the figures may be represented in combination with a Chinese character, i.e. the one with the character for sun, i.e. ri (日), and the other with the character for moon, i.e. yue (月), thus indicating their different responsibilities. See also Zhong Kui.

Chinese dragon

See dragon.

Chinese fortune sticks

Flat sticks used in Chinese shrines and Thai temples to tell one's fortune. READ ON.

Chinese Francolin

Name for a species of bird in the Phasianidae family, with the binomial name Francolinus pintadeanus, which is found in South, East and Southeast Asia, including China, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand, where it is known as nok kratah thung, i.e. ‘field partridge’. It is short-tailed and has a body size of about 31-33 centimeters. The male's mantle and underparts are blackish with whitish spots, whereas those of the female are somewhat duller and browner, with whitish bars. Males have a white throat and ear-coverts, surrounded with black, which is similar with females, but the latter's ear-coverts are slightly buff. The male's scapulars are chestnut and the crown is black with rufous on the sides. Females have less black on the crown-centre and only a little chestnut on the scapulars. With both sexes, the bill is short, slightly curved downward and gray in colour. The legs and feet, are dark yellowish to orange. Its natural habitat consists of open forests and woodlands, grass and scrub. See also Mountain Bamboo-partridge (fig.) and Chinese Bamboo-partridge (fig.).

Chinese fret

Term used in architecture and furniture to refer to a repeating ornamental design of interlaced vertical and horizontal lines, that forms a meandering pattern.

Chinese ginger

See krachai.

Chinese gold ingot

See kon tamleung thong.

Chinese Goose

See Swan Goose.

Chinese Grey Shrike

Common name for a bird in the family Laniidae, with the scientific designation Lanius sphenocercus, and which is found in northern East Asia. It has an overall pearl grey body and head, with a black mask extending from the forehead, through the eye, to the ear coverts. The lower wings are black, as is the long tail. This bird is reminiscent of the Long-tailed Shrike (fig.), but without the rufous colours, though juvenile birds do have a brown cast to the grey on the breast and mantle.

Chinese Health Balls

See Chinese Massage Balls.

Chinese Hwamei

Common name for a species of songbird with the scientific designations Garrulax canorus and Leucodioptron canorum, and also commonly known as Melodious Laughingthrush, which in Thai translated to nok krarahng siang sai (นกกระรางเสียงใส). It is a popular cage bird, kept for its attractive song, which consists of a quite high, repetitive, rich and varied, whistling, that increases in volume and may include imitations of other birds. Adults are about 23 centimeters tall, and have a largely light to dark brown plumage, depending on the individual, with streaks above, as well as on the breast. Its most distinctive characteristic is the white marking around the eyes, i.e. a white eyering that extends backwards to form a white -often downward bent- stripe, a feature that actually gave this bird the name hwamei, which derives from the Chinese words hua mei (画眉), that literally mean ‘painted eyebrows’ (fig.).

Chinese Imperial roof decoration

Name for a row of small animal figures, usually made of glazed ceramic and placed on Chinese-style roofs, above the eave near the corners. READ ON.

Chinese knot

Designation for a decorative, mystic knot, with a seemingly endless and repetitive pattern, which is hence a symbol of longevity and eternity. READ ON.

Chinese Lantern

Common name of a plant with the botanical designation Physalis alkekengi, which is also commonly known as Japanese Lantern, Winter Cherry and Bladder Cherry, and in Thai called kohm fai jihn (โคมไฟจีน), i.e. ‘Chinese Lantern’. Its edible orangey to reddish fruits sit in a red papery covering which turns straw brown when ripe, and that derived from the calyx and −rich in Vitamin C, B and Iron− they have some medicinal uses, including being a stimulant for the immune system. In Japan, its seeds are used as offerings to guide the souls of the deceased. In Chinese, the fruits are known as gu niang guo. It is very similar to and sometimes confused with the Wild Cape Gooseberry or Pygmy Groundcherry (Physalis minima), known in Thai as thohng theng (โทงเทง), of which the single berry sits encapsulated in a green papery cover which turns straw brown when ripe. Especially the ripe fruits of both species look confusingly similar.

Chinese Leaf-warbler

Name for a species of Old World warbler in the Phylloscopidae family, though sometimes listed in the Sylviidae family, yet with the scientific name Phylloscopus yunnanensis, i.e. from ‘Yunnan’. It is found from China to the northern part of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, where it is known as nok krajid phan jihn. It has pale, yellowish grey underparts, with a darker throat. Its upperparts are olive to greenish brown, with a characteristic dark bar, flanked by two white stripes, on the wing-coverts. It has a pale supercilium that runs from the nostrils to behind the eyes. The slender and pointed bill, as well as the legs are dark orange. Also spelled Chinese Leaf Warbler.

Chinese Massage Balls

A set (usually a pair) of therapeutic balls, that are manipulated in the palm of one hand using the five fingers, in order to massage it, relax the joints and improve muscle-strength, especially as a form of rehabilitation, although they are also used as an aid in −or a form of− meditation. Its use also claims to prevent high blood pressure. They consist of hollow spheres, generally with a diameter of 4.5 centimeter (though other sizes exist), each with a smaller metal ball inside, that strikes against a coiled chime and thus produces a ding-dong sound, as they are moved. Balls are made of metal and often decorated with patterns in cloisonné. Exercises are initially done with two balls that are rotated slowly in one hand, whilst in constant contact with each other, though gradually the speed of the rotation is increased and the balls are moved without making contact with each other. Chinese Massage Balls have a long tradition and are considered one of the seven biggest traditional medical  inventions in China, which include also acupuncture and tai chi chuan. Also known as Chinese Health Balls, Chinese Medicine Balls, Chinese Meditation Balls, and Baoding Balls, after Baoding (保定), a prefecture level city in Hebei (China), where they originated. In Chinese, known as Jiang Shen Qiu and Baoding Jiang Shen Qiu.

Chinese Medicine Balls

See Chinese Massage Balls.

Chinese Meditation Balls

See Chinese Massage Balls.

Chinese mustard cabbage

See phak kwahng tung.

Chinese New Year

See Trut Jihn.

Chinese Oak Silkmoth

Name of a species of large moth with the binomial name Antheraea pernyi and a member of the family of Saturniidae moths. Its is also commonly known as Chinese Tussah Silkmoth and its larvae are used to produce tussah silk. Like other species in this family, it has feather antennae and no functioning mouthparts. Hence, it does not feed in the adult stage and has an estimated lifespan of about 14 days. It is therefore rarely seen in the wild and even less so in flight. See also TRAVEL PICTURE and WATCH VIDEO.

Chinese Opera

See ngiw.

Chinese pear

See sahlih.

Chinese Pond Heron

Common name for an approximately 46 centimeter tall, East Asian wading bird with the scientific name Ardeola bacchus. Its winter plumage is light brown and streaked, with white underparts and white wings (fig.), making it almost indistinguishable from the Javan and Indian Pond Heron (fig.), apart from the sometimes more dusky  tips at the outermost primaries, which are best visible during flight (fig.). During the breeding season its head and breast become deep chestnut, the back grey and the underparts white, which is clearly different from its relatives. It has a yellow bill with a black tip, yellow eyes and legs. It occurs in lowland regions and its natural habitat consists of shallow fresh and salt-water wetlands and ponds, where it feeds on insects, fish and crustaceans. In Thailand it is a common winter visitor called nok yahng krok pan jihn. See also WILDLIFE PICTURE and TRAVEL PICTURE.

Chinese rockery

An ancient Chinese art style or a form of abstract iconography, in which large natural rocks are used as decoration, both indoor and outdoor, and either erected on their own in homes, gardens, parks and along roadsides, or in group, forming complete rock gardens. Chinese garden rockery may also involve the modeling of natural landscapes and sceneries, featuring peaks, cliffs, winding caves, waterfalls and gorges. Many rocks are obtained from rivers, such as Shanghai's famous Exquisite Jade Rock in Yu Yuan (map - fig.), and while some are smooth, others might be rough with sharp, uneven edges, and holes (fig.). Smooth rocks often have Chinese characters engraved or painted on them (fig.). The history of Chinese rockery can be traced back as far as the early Qin Dynasty and over time it became more popular due to the influence of landscape painting and poetry. In Chinese rock gardens and rockeries are known as jia shan (假山), i.e. ‘artificial mountains’. The art style is also commonly found in Vietnam (fig.). See also shan zi and Stone Forest (fig.).

Chinese sausage

See kun chiang.

Chinese seal

See yin zhang.

Chinese Soft-shell Turtle

See taphaab.

Chinese Stripe-necked Turtle

Name for a species of semi-aquatic freshwater turtle which is found in southern China, Taiwan and Vietnam, and with the scientific designation Ocadia sinensis. It has a series of black and yellow stripes from the head to the neck, and front legs with five toes. Chinese Stripe-necked Turtles grow to a size of about 24 cm and have an elliptical, slightly depressed carapace, which is somewhat serrated at the back. Juveniles have three keels on the carapace, which generally all disappear with age. The carapace is reddish brown to black with yellow seams, especially in juveniles, who occasionally also show some yellow or orange on the projections of the keels. Males have a slightly concave plastron and the vent lies beyond the margin of the carapace, whereas females have a flat to slightly convex plastron with the vent beneath the carapace. In the wild, where it inhabits slow-moving lowland waters with soft bottoms, such as marshes, swamps, ponds and canals, this species is threatened by overhunting and habitat destruction, and in captivity it is vulnerable to crossbreeding (hybridization). Peculiarly, juveniles of both sexes are omnivorous, but males are carnivorous whereas females are herbivorous, feeding on a variety of aquatic plants. Chinese Stripe-necked Turtles are fond of basking. In Thai it is known as tao ko laai, meaning ‘striped neck turtle’.

Chinese tea house

Public establishment in China or of Chinese origin, where primarily tea, but often also other refreshments, are served. READ ON.

Chinese tuber

See man jihn.

Chinese Valentine's Day

See Qi Qiao Jie.

Chinese Violet

Common designation for a fast-growing, perennial creeper in the family Acanthaceae, and with the botanical name Asystasia gangetica micrantha. It has bright green somewhat heart-shaped leaves and long stalks that have small white flowers with purple blotches on the lower lip. It is a very invasive weed that quickly forms dense mats, out-competing native vegetation and thus reducing habitat and food for native fauna. In some countries it must be reported top the proper authorities when found. In Thai, it is known as oum saeb (อ่อมแซบ) and bah yah (บาหยา).

Chinese Water Dragon

See Indochinese Water Dragon.

Chinese wealth god

See Cai Shen.

Chinese wedding box

A rounded, basket-like box, with a lid and a handle on the top. It is often made of lacquered wood or bamboo, and always painted red, the auspicious colour for Chinese weddings. There are two common models, i.e. those with a single container that usually have a decorated handle, and those with multiple containers placed on top of each other, somewhat reminiscent of kheng baskets (fig.), Indian tiffin boxes or the Thai pintoh (fig.). It is used by the groom's family to carry wedding gifts to the bride's house, some time before the couple are married, as well as the so-called ‘milk money’, a sum of money offered to the bride's parents to cover the expenses for her upbringing and education. Then, three days before the wedding day, women from the bride's family reciprocate, bearing gifts and sometimes a kind of dowry to the groom's family, as well as personal things for the bride, so that on her wedding day all of her personal belongings will be in the groom's house. Wedding boxes are typically displayed on Hua Ha depictions (fig.).

Chinese writing brush

See mao bi.

Chinese yo-yo

See kong zhu.

Chinese zodiac

Contrary to the West, people in the Far East have a cyclical concept of time, rather than a linear one and the traditional Chinese calendar, for one, is based on a twelve year cycle. READ ON.

ching (ฉิ่ง)

Thai. Name of a pair of small, cup-shaped hand cymbals, joined by a cord or a leather string. They exist in different sizes and are usually made of a thick and heavy metal, often an alloy of brass and iron mixed with bronze. They are sometimes beautifully decorated. They are used to keep the rhythm in a musical ensemble. To play, each cymbal is held in a hand, one in the right the other in the left hand (fig.), and both are then struck together, once with an outward sliding movement, then straight on, producing alternately a high-pitched pealing sound and a dampening blocked sound. The Thai name is an onomatopoeia, i.e. it is named after the sound the instrument makes. See also chaab.


Term used to express the incorrect use of English grammar, vocabulary (word choice) and pronunciation by Chinese people, often due to interference from their own language, as well as local anomalies and colloquialism. Due to the enormous linguistic and cultural divide, there are many possible pitfalls when trying to convey a message from Chinese into English, as well as the other way around. It is a longstanding myth that when a certain US fast-food chain arrived in China, it ended up translating its slogan Finger-licking Good into actually telling its customers to eat their own fingers...


Common name for a species of small gazelle, with the scientific name Gazella bennettii found in South Asia, especially in grasslands and desert areas. It is widely distributed in India (fig.), where it is mostly found in the northern and central regions, as well as in Bangladesh and parts of Iran and Pakistan. These gazelles are only 65 centimeters tall and their fur is reddish-buff, with a pitch black tail and white underparts. The sides of the face have dark chestnut stripes bordered by white stripes, from the corner of the eye to the snout. Males grow a pair of blackish, ribbed horns, that have a set of rings at the base and usually grow up to around 20-25 centimeters long. The horns typically curve backward and then upward, ending in a sharp point. Females may also grow horns, but with a less thick base and without any base rings. The Chinkara can go without water for long periods. especially in dry, arid areas. However, it does derive essential moisture from herbs and dew. It east grass, leaves, crops and fruits, such as melons and pumpkins. Also known as the Indian Gazelle.

chinlone (ခြင်းလုံး)

Burmese. ‘Rounded basket’. A traditional team sport of Myanmar, very similar to takraw. READ ON.

chintamani (चिन्तामणि)

Sanskrit. ‘Wishing gem’, but literally ‘idea jewel’ or ‘thought gem’. A wish-fulfilling jewel in both Hindu tradition and Buddhism, akin to the Chinese ruyi (fig.) and Tibetan mani-stones. It is said to be one of four relics that fell from the sky, together with a Buddha's bowl, which is by some believed to have been a singing bowl (fig.). In iconography it usually takes the form of a ball wreathed in flames or of a small bowl (fig.), and occurs as an attribute of Mahayana Buddhist deities (fig.), buddhas (fig.) and bodhisattvas. It also occurs in architecture, often on a lotus flower base or pedestal (fig.) and sometimes on top of three other jewels, that represent the Trairat or Triple Gem (fig.). It is also associated with the flaming pearl (fig.) and on occasion described as one and the same thing. As such, it is found on Chinese-style temple and palace buildings, usually on the roof, but sometimes on the gable, and depicted in the form of a circle wreathed in flames (fig.), often in between two dragons that are facing one another (fig.). Besides this, the circle is reminiscent of a Zen circle, wreathed in flames of wisdom, with the circle symbolizing void, wholeness, perfection, strength, and elegance, whilst the flames, as well as the Zen circle, are both symbols of Enlightenment. Though, another explanation says that the halo or sphere with flames (sometimes compared to a pearl with flames) represents the pure energy (Chi or Qi), that emanates from the incense burner in the temple. Also transcribed cintamani.

Chintamani Lokesvara (चिन्तामणिलोकईश्वर)

Sanskrit. ‘Lord of the universe with a wishing gem’. A form of the bodhisatva Avalokitesvara. See also chintamani and Lokesvara.

chintha (ခြင်္သေ့)

Burmese name for the stylized mythical lion seen standing guard at temples. Lions were believed to be the protectors of Buddhist teachings. Also transcribed chin dhei and sometimes spelled chinthe. See also hintha and TRAVEL PICTURES.


See chintha.

chi pa kao (ชีปะขาว, ชีผะขาว)

See chi pah kao.

chi pah kao (ชีผ้าขาว)

Thai. An ascetic with a white cloth or habit. Compare with naang chi and mae chi. Also transcribed chi pa kao, chee pah khao and chih pah khao. Compare with Chih Pleuay.

Chirapravati Voradej (จิรประวัติวรเดช)

See Jiraprawat Woradet.

Chiranjivi (चिरंजीवी)

Sanskrit term for the Seven Immortals of Hinduism.


Another name for the Spotted Deer.

Chitralada (จิตรลดา, चित्रलता)

1. Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Wonderful creepers’. Name of the private residence of King Rama IX, located in Dusit and named after the garden of the god Indra. It is part of the Dusit Palace complex, of which the grounds that are surrounded by a moat (fig.), take up an area of four square kilometers. Besides several palace buildings, there are gardens and an agricultural research centre. Annually, during the nights of the week of Wan Chaleum Phra Chonma Phansa, the western palace gate (map - fig.) and the trees along the moat surrounding the compound are decorated with mini lights to celebrate the King's birthday. The name of the palace in full is Phra Tamnak Chitralada Rahotaan (พระตำหนักจิตรลดารโหฐาน), which translates as ‘Chitralada Private Palace’. See MAP.

2. Thai name of a building within Vajiravudh College, located across the street from Chitralada Palace, that is to the Northwest and opposite of the palace compound. It is in Thai referred to as Ka-na Chitralada (คณะจิตรลดา), i.e. ‘Chitralada Faculty’ (fig.).

3. Sanskrit-Thai name for a kind of verse, also referred to as Maha Chitralada.

4. Thai. Name for a style of female national dress of Thailand, fully known as Thai Chitralada, and in 1972 depicted on a Thai postage stamp (fig.).

Chitralekha (चित्रलेखा)

Sanskrit. ‘Bright communication’ or ‘wonderful writing’. Friend of Usha, the beautiful daughter of Bana.

Chitwan (चितवन)

Nepali. Name of the first National Park in Nepal, which was established in 1973 and covers an area of 932 km² in the Terai Lowlands, at the foothills of the Himalayas in south-central Nepal. READ ON.

Chiwha (ชิวหา)

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

Civil Service

See rajakaan phon reuan.

cho (ช่อ)

1. Thai for ‘panicle’, i.e. a much-branched inflorescence.

2. A northern Thai term for small triangular flags, made from coloured paper or cloth on a wooden stick and used in religious practices in the North, especially to put on top of offerings (fig.) and sand pagodas (fig.). Also called tung (ตุง), thung siauw (ทุงเสี้ยว) and thung sahm liam (ทุงสามเหลี่ยม).

Chocolate Albatross

Common name for a small butterfly with the scientific designation Appias lyncida vasana, which belongs to the family Pieridae, i.e. the Yellows and Whites. This butterfly has a wingspan of 5.5 to 70 centimeters (fig.). The sexes are dimorphic and there is also seasonal dimorphism, making this species very variable. Males are white above with brown or black margins, which are narrower in the dry season, and bright yellow below with brown markings. The female is white and densely clouded with dark-brown, whilst the hind wings may be yellowish or whitish and have broad dark border, and in the dry season it may have more more extensive white markings. It is also commonly known as Vanilla Flavoured Albatross, and in Thai it is called phi seua non bai kum khob tahn mai (ผีเสื้อหนอนใบกุ่มขอบตาลไหม้). See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2).

Chocolate Grass Yellow

Common name for a 4 to 4.5 centimeter small butterfly, with the scientific designation Eurema sari (sodalis) and belonging to the family Pieridae, i.e. the family of Yellows and Whites. It is recognizable by a distinct brown apex on the underside of the forewing, which sets it apart from most other Eurema species. However, above, the wings of males are all but identical to the Hill Grass Yellow (Eurema simulatrix littorea), while some species, such as certain individuals of the Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe hecabe) may also have similar upper wings above. The Chocolate Grass yellow  is found on the Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia. In Thai, it is known as phi seua naen sahri (ผีเสื้อเณรส่าหรี).

Chocolate Soldier

Common name for a butterfly found in South and Southeast Asia, with the scientific name Junonia iphita. The upperside of both sexes is brown of varying depths of colour and with brown lines and a tiny white spot near the front edge of each forewing (fig.). It has wavy lines on the underside of the wings, that vary from wet to dry season forms. Females visibly differ from males by white markings on the oblique line on the underside of the hind wing. It is also known as Chocolate Pansy (fig.). See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2).

chofa (ช่อฟ้า)

Thai. ‘Air tassel’, ‘bunch of the sky’ or ‘panicle of the sky’. The bird's head-like finial at either end of Buddhist temple roofs in Thailand. Although its origin and meaning is disputed it is believed to symbolize either a highly stylized Garuda, the mount of the god Vishnu, or Hamsa, the mount of the god Brahma, both creatures from Hindu mythology. Possibly placed to attract worshippers from Hindu religion to Buddhism. Most temple roofs have a combination of a chofa, bai raka and hang hongse (fig.). Sometimes, a chofa with a different form (fig.) can be seen, whilst some tapering roofs may be decorated with multiple chofa called naakbeuang (fig.). See also THEMATIC STREET LIGHT (1) and (2).

chok (จก)

Thai. ‘To pick’ or ‘to pull’. Term for a type of weaving technique from Central Thailand, which refers to the method used in order to make cloth with a typical design (fig.), i.e. to pick and lift the weft yarn to create a pattern, somewhat reminiscent of embroidery. The technique originates from Laos and was introduced to Thailand by immigrants during the reign of king Rama VI. The cloth that results from using this technique is called pah chok (fig.). Also transcribed jok.

Chola (சோழர்)

1. Tamil. Name of a dynasty and kingdom in South India, during the 10th and 13th centuries AD.

2. An art style from the Chola kingdom, known for its bronze sculpture.

cho muang (ช่อม่วง)

Thai. ‘Purple bouquet’. Name of a traditional hand-made Thai sweet that is fashioned in the form of [a bouquet of] purple flowers and which consist of stuffed dumplings. The purple colour is obtained by soaking fresh Butterfly Pea flowers (fig.), which have purplish blue petals, after which the purple to blue extract is used as a natural food colouring agent that is mixed with the dough. In turn, the dough is made by mixing water, fish sauce, rice flour, starch from arrowroot tubers, and tapioca flour, while the filling is made from chopped hua chai poh wahn, i.e. sweet white radish (fig.), chopped and minced cloves of garlic, coarse roasted peanuts, cut coriander roots, black pepper, salt, and sugar. These stuffed flower-shaped dumplings are depicted on a postage stamp issued in 2018 as part of a set of six stamps on traditional Thai sweets (fig.).

Chom Klao (จอมเกล้า)

Thai name for king Mongkut, the fourth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty, with the crown title Rama IV.

chomphu (ชมพู่)

General Thai name for the ‘rose apple’, a kind of tree and its fruit (fig.), listed in the genus Syzygium, which has several varieties, e.g. Syzygium jambos, which is commonly known as Malay apple, and of which the fruits are usually bell-shaped, somewhat similar to the form of a pear, and vary in colour from pale green (chomphu thunklao) to bright red (chomphu thabthim). The green kind is originally from Thailand, the red from Malaysia. Another related variety is known as chomphu ma-miaw. Its fruits are more egg-shaped and of a dark red, wine-like colour (fig.). The latter has the botanical name Syzygium malaccensis or Syzygium malaccense, and is commonly referred to as the Malay-apple Pomerac, or simply Malacca Apple. Chomphu fruits are refreshing, but not very sweet. In addition, the name chomphu is also used for and entirely unrelated tree called chomphu phanthip, which is the Thai name for the Rosy Trumpet-tree or Pink Trumpet Tree, a tree with pink flowers and the botanical name Tabebuia rosea (fig.). Also transcribed chomphoo.

chomphu ma-miaw (ชมพู่มะเหมี่ยว)

Thai for a variety of ‘rose apple’, a fruit and tree (fig.) with the scientific name Syzygium malaccensis and commonly referred to as the Malay-apple Pomerac or Malacca Apple. It is egg-shaped and of a dark red, wine-like colour. See also chomphu.

Chomphuphan (ชมพูพาน)

Name of a monkey soldier in the epic Ramakien. He was made by Shiva's sweat and became the adopted son of Bali. He is described as a powerful monkey with knowledge about various medicines. He was the ruler of Pangtan/Paangtaan (ปางตาล) and played a crucial role in several battles, including the Battle of Lanka. Despite being cursed by Phra Phrom (fig.), i.e. Brahma, he used his medical knowledge to aid Rama's forces, particularly during the battle with Indrachit (fig.), when Phra Lak and a group of monkeys were struck by Indrachit's poisoned arrows, he came up with an antidote for the poison. Chomphuphan also served as a messenger and warrior, notably in the battle of Maliwan, where he earned Rama's favour and was rewarded with a crown and fine clothing before returning to Pangtan. He is depicted with a pinkish or greyish-brown fur and wearing a chadah-like crown (fig.) of which the tip is slightly bend backward. Also transcribed Chomphoophan while the pronunciation is Chomphoophaan.

chomphu phanthip (ชมพูพันทิพย์)

Thai name for Tabebuia rosea.

chomphu phuang (ชมพูพวง)

See phuang chomphu.

chomphu thabthim (ชมพู่ทับทิม)

Thai. Red rose apple. See chom phu (fig.).

chomphu thunklao (ชมพู่ทูลเกล้า)

Thai. Green rose apple. See chom phu (fig.).

Chom Trai Lohk (จอมไตรโลก)

Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Lord of the three worlds’. A name for Shiva. Also Chom Trai Pop. See Also triphum.

Chom Trai Pop (จอมไตรภพ)

See Chom Trai Lohk.

Chonburi (ชลบุรี)

Thai-Sanskrit. ‘Water City’. The name of  a province on Thailand's west coast (map), as well as its capital city which is located  about 81 kms from Bangkok, on the east side of the Gulf of Thailand. READ ON.

Chong Kai (ช่องไก่)

Thai. Cemetery for the war victims of WW II who died during the construction of the infamous Death Railway in the province of Kanchanaburi. This cemetery is about two kilometers from the centre of town, on the grounds of a former camp for POWs, on the left bank of the river Kwae Noi. 1,750 allied soldiers are remembered here. Unlike mass graves in which soldiers were in the past sometimes dumped, each soldier, whether a general or a private, has his own named grave, whilst the tombstones of unknown victims who fell are inscribed with the words Known Unto God, a text coined by the writer Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, after he had pressed his only son Jack to join the army and whom died in action in WWI whilst his body was never retrieved. See also Don Rak. See MAP.

chongkho (ชงโค)

Thai name for a small tropical tree that growing to 17 meters tall, with purple-white flowers and broad, rounded, bi-lobed leaves. It grows from India to the Malay peninsula and  South China, and is sometimes called Indian orchid. Its Latin name is Bauhinia purpurea. It is very similar to the Hong Kong orchid (Bauhinia blakeana), which is actually a hybrid between Bauhinia purpurea and Bauhinia variegata, and which is the flower emblem of Hong Kong, depicted also on its flag.

Chong Para (จองพารา)

Thai Yai. ‘Castle of wood’. Annual festival in Mae Hong Son during owk pansa, from wan phen of the 11th lunar month, to the night of the waxing moon of the same month, usually in October. During the festival wooden structures covered with colourful paper and decorated with fruits, flags and lamps are placed in the courtyard of a temple or in the garden of a house, as a gesture to welcome the Buddha on his return from Tavatimsa heaven. To celebrate the occasion also traditional dances are performed in which the dancers dress in animal costumes. Also transcribed Chong Phara, Chawng Phara, Jong Phara or similar.

chong ruong gia thu (chồng rường giả thủ)

Vietnamese architectural term for a style of roof support typically used in temples, palaces and traditional houses, and in which the beams are piled up into the shape of a hand with five fingers, i.e. with three horizontal beams and five vertical supports.

Chongsheng (崇圣)

Chinese. Name of a Vajrayana Buddhist temple located on a hilltop in Dali, in China's southern Yunnan Province. READ ON.

chonlamahk (ชลมารค)

Thai-rajasap term that derives from Pali and means ‘water path’ or ‘waterway’, i.e.  ‘[to proceed] over the water’, with the word chon (ชล) meaning ‘water’, as in Chonburi, and the word mahk (มารค) meaning ‘path’. The term is used in the Royal Barge Procession, for one.

chonma pansa (ชนมพรรษา)

Rajasap for ‘age’ of ‘aging’, as in Wan Chaleum Phra Chonma Phansa.

Chonnanie (ชนนี)

See Channanie.

Choochok (ชูชก)

See Chuchok.

chonsae (ช้อนแซะ)

Northern-Thai name for a bamboo net used to catch fish and other aquatic animals. It is woven from thin bamboo strips called tok, into a triangular shape with a long handle. It is for use in places with shallow water such as shorelines, creek and river edges, reservoirs, rice paddies, etc.


See takiab.


Tibetan word for stupa or chedi, usually in a miniature form.

Chou Tsang (周仓)

Chinese. Name of Kuan U's (fig.) aide-de-camp, a fierce looking warlord, who bears the Tiger General's kuandao battle blade (fig.). He is a fictional character from the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He is described as a strong warrior with a dark face and a wiry beard, who became caught up in the Yellow Turban Rebellion and joined the rebels. It was during this time that he first met Kuan U, who impressed him with his courage and sense of honour. However, after the rebellion was crushed by Han troops, Chou Tsang became a renegade bandit. He inhabited Mount Woniu with another former Yellow Turban rebel, Pei Yuanshao, and became infamous as a warrior of great strength and skill. After encountering Kuan U once more on a mountain road, he swore his loyalty to the Tiger General and was appointed to Kuan U's kuandao carrier. A capable boatman, his skills were critical in helping achieve Kuan U's water attack at the Battle of Fancheng. At Fan, he managed to capture the fearsome warrior Pang De during the flooding of the castle. Alas, his strong loyalty to Kuan U would cost him his life, when in 219 AD, upon seeing the heads of his master and his adopted son Kuan Ping (fig.) displayed by the forces of Wu, he committed suicide. In iconography, he is often depicted alongside Kuan U and Kuan Ping, with his face traditionally painted black (fig.) or dark brown. Also transcribed Zhou Cang. WATCH VIDEO.

Chou Tsang


The Christian religion based on the monotheistic principle, the belief in one supreme God (יהוה - Yahweh in Hebrew) and on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ (fig.), as presented in the Bible, especially in the New Testament. As such, Christian heritage is interwoven with that of Judaism and Islam, entwined yet not united, like the filaments of a rope. The most important event in Christianity is the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who atones for the sins of the world and thus brings salvation to humankind, through victory over evil and death. Besides the cross, which was introduced into the church only at a later stage, the icon of Christianity early on was a fish, usually referred to as the Ichtus symbol (fig.), and a Greek acronym for Iesous Khristos Theou Huios Soter (Ἰησοῦς Χριστός θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ), meaning ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour’. An estimated 0.5% of Thais are Christians, of differing denominations and including many of the hill tribe people in Northern Thailand (fig.), who often practice their Christian belief mixed with remaining customs of animism. See also Christmas. See also POSTAGE STAMP.


Festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ (fig.). READ ON.

Christmas Beetle

See duang krismas.

Christmas Flower

Name for the Poinsettia, an up to three meters high poisonous shrub, that belongs to the family of spurges and in Thailand blooms from October to February. Its milky sap or latex, as well as its leaves are very irritating for the eyes, skin and digestive system. There are varieties with flaming red, dark red, salmon, white or pale yellow bracts, that are arranged in a star-shape, around small flowers which are mainly of a yellow colour. Also known by the scientific name Euphorbia pulcherrima and in Thai as dok krismas (ดอกคริสมาสต์). See also Christmas.

chua (chùa)

Vietnamese for pagoda or chedi. In Vietnam, chua is often used as a more generic term referring to any place of worship, such as a temple and its complex in Mahayana Buddhism. As a pagoda, chua are often octagonal and usually have an odd  number of stories, as in the yin-yang concept this corresponds with the yang principle, i.e. the bright aspect, which in turn relates to Enlightenment. See also den.

Chua Bai Dinh (Chùa Bái Đính)

Vietnamese. Name of purportedly Vietnam's largest Buddhist temple complex, located on a 700 hectares compound in Ninh Binh and consisting of both ancient and new structures, including a 34 meter tall hall with a facade of over 59 meters long; a tall, slender pagoda; and a huge outdoor statue of Maitreya, elevated centrally on a hill. It is part of the Trang An eco-tourism area and is since 2014 listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (fig.) under the name Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, which also includes Tam Coc (fig.) and Bich Dong (fig.), as well as Hoa Lu. See MAP.

Chua Linh Ung (Chùa Linh Ứng)

Vietnamese. Name of a large Buddhist temple complex, located on a mountain at the Son Tra peninsula, just north of the city of Da Nang in central Vietnam. It was inaugurated on 30 July 2010 after six years of construction and features several large edifices, including a 67 meter tall image of Kuan Yin, which is visible from the coast of Da Nang, as well as a nine-tiered pagoda. There are numerous large marble images of the Buddha, as well as of the Ten Principal Disciples and of some mythological animals. Many of the temple's buildings, including the main prayer hall, all have Chinese-style roofs with upward curved corners, a feature related to feng shui, in which it is believed that curved lines ward off evil spirits, whilst straight lines are said to attract evil. See also PANORAMA PICTURES (1) and (2), TRAVEL PICTURES (1), (2), (3) and (4), and MAP.

Chua Nam Quang Tu (Chùa Nam Quang Tự)

Vietnamese. Name of a mixed Theravada-Mahayana Buddhist temple (chua) in Hoi An. The main building has and architecture with features that are reminiscent of those of Tibetan Buddhism, such as the dharmachakra on the gable board which takes the form of a wheel with eight spokes with at the end of each of the spokes an additional ornament (fig.) as is typically found in Lamaism (fig.), as well as of Theravada Buddhism, such as the chofa (fig.) and bai raka (fig.) on the roof. The main prayer hall houses a Buddha image seated in the maravijaya or bhumisparsa pose underneath a replica Ficus religiosa, while the courtyard features a marble Buddha image seated in the meditation pose underneath a genuine bodhi tree. The monks (fig.) and novices (fig.) who dwell at this temple wear a saffron-coloured dress with baggy, kaangkaeng le-like (fig.) trousers. See MAP.

chuan chom (ชวนชม)

Thai. ‘To invite admiration’ and ‘attractive’. Thai name for the Desert Rose.

Chuchaka (ชูชก)

Thai name for Jujaka, sometimes transliterated Choochok or Chuchok.

Chuchakoh (ชูชะโก)

Pali-Thai name use in prayer for Jujaka. Also transliterated Choochako.

Chuchok (ชูชก)

Thai name for Jujaka, also transliterated Choochok and Chuchaka.

Chudapanthaka (चूडपन्थक)

Sanskrit. Name of one of the Eighteen Arahats, the younger brother of Panthaka (fig.). Whereas the Sanskrit word paantha (पान्थ) means ‘traveller’, pantha (पन्थक) is a word derived from panthan (पन्ठन्), meaning ‘road’, ‘path’ or ‘way’, and panthaka  is usually translated as ‘produced or born on the way’. The Sanskrit word chuda (चूड) has the same meaning as the Pali and Thai word chula, i.e. ‘tonsure’, though it is often translated as ‘small’, perhaps referring to the fact that he was the younger brother of Panthaka the Elder. He is hence also known as Pantha the Younger. According to legend, when Chudapanthaka went begging for food he would bang roughly on people's doors and on one day he knocked on an old, rotten door which consequently fell apart. The Buddha thus gave him a staff with several rings on it, which he could use to tap on the ground making the rings rattle to get peoples attention, instead of pounding on their doors. This ringed beggar's staff, known as a khakkhara, has become the symbol of this arahat and he is often depicted holding it (fig.). It is also said that he was slow on the uptake and unable to learn even a single verse.  To focus his mind, the Buddha taught him to sweep dust whilst repeating verses, a method that helped him understand that by sweeping he took away all attachment and eventually attained Enlightenment. Symbolically, the sweeping of dust signifies purification. His association with sweeping and doors led to the understanding that he is the doorman who guards the doors of the senses, letting only pure things in. In Chinese he is known as the luohan Kan Men (看门, or in traditional Chinese: 看門), literally ‘To Look [at the] Gate’ or ‘To Examine [the] Door’. In English he is referred to as the Doorman Lohan or Door Watching Arhat. In some ways he can be put on a par with Kalika, the Dust Cleaning Arhat who is a cleaner of dusty minds. For his name in Thai the same pronunciation as in Pali is used, i.e. Chulapanthaka (จูฬปันถกะ), but he is also known as Gujapakyakha (กุจะปักยะขะ). In Vietnam, he may be depicted riding a goat and is known as Khan Mon La Han (Khán Môn La Hán - fig.).

chui tang ren (吹糖人)

Chinese term for ‘blowing sugar’, a traditional folk art in China, in which the artist uses a mouth blowing technique, similar to that of glass blowing, in order to create various kinds of figures, such as animals, out of molten sugar. READ ON.

chula (จุฬา)

1. Thai. A ‘male’ kite, with a pentagonal shape, that is used against the pak pao (fig.), the ‘female’ kite, during contests. These competitions are held at the beginning of the hot season, in Bangkok usually at Sanam Luang, the large field in front of the Royal Palace. The intention of both parties is to try and take out the opponents kite. The male kite is named after King Chulalongkorn during whose reign kite flying became a popular sport, mainly due to his support. Also called kula. See also kite flying fights.

2. Thai for ‘tonsure’.

Chulachomklao (จุลจอมเกล้า)

Thai name for King Chulalongkorn, the fifth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty with the crown title Rama V. The Royal Military Academy (fig.) of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, founded on 5 August 1887 by this King, is named after this progressive monarch (fig.), as are many other places, buildings and projects, e.g. the three-span railway bridge over the Tapih River (fig.) in Surat Thani (fig.). He is one of the Great Kings in Thai history referred to as a Maha Raj and as such his statue (fig.) is included in the monument at Uthayaan Rachaphak (fig.). Despite the official and common transliteration used above, alternative pronunciations of the name are Chunlachomglao and Junlajomklao (see also chunla-). See also list of Thai kings and THEMATIC STREET LIGHT.

Chulachomklao Battle Ship Museum

An open-air museum situated at a modern-day naval yard and base, located on the West bank and at the estuary of the Chao Phya River (fig.) in Samut Prakan, South of the ancient Chulachomklao Fortress, i.e. Phi Seua Samut Fort (fig.), of which it is a newer wing. The museum is named after King Chulachomklao (fig.), i.e. Rama V (fig.), of which the compound houses a magnificent standing monument