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1. A people of Borneo, which are also known as the Sea Dayaks, a branch of the Dayak people. In Malaysian Borneo, most of them are located in Sarawak, with just a small portion living in Sabah. They are also found in Brunei and in the West Kalimantan region of the Indonesian part of Borneo, while some of them also live in Peninsular Malaysia. They are well-known for their hunting skills with blowpipes (fig.) and were once infamous for their practice of headhunting, which in the past made them a strong and successful regional warring tribe. They live in Longhouses (fig.) and skulls of their beheaded enemies can still be found hanging in baskets from the ceiling in many a Iban Longhouse (fig.). Many adult men wear traditional tattoo designs (fig.) on their bodies (fig.), with some men having hand tattoos, which signifies that they have taken the head of an enemy. During special occasions and festivities, the Iban people dress up in their traditional attire (fig.). See also Penan.

2. Language spoken by the Iban people of Borneo. See also Penan.

Ice (ไอช์)

The English word ice often occurs as a nickname for Thai people. It is given to somebody who is supposedly jai yen (ใจเย็น), literally ‘cool heart’, i.e. cool or calm. This should not be confused with the English term cold-hearted, i.e. lacking kindness or sympathy. Rather, it is sometimes said to be the Thai equivalent of the British stiff upper lip. Additionally, the final -s is in Thai not pronounced and hence it sounds more as ai’ (), which is both the Chinese and Japanese word for ‘love’. However, nowadays the term ice is also the worldwide nickname for the illicit drug methamphetamine hydrochloride, otherwise known as crystal meth, which is widely used as a recreational drug, especially in the gay online dating subculture, where it is used to facilitate or enhance sexual activity and referred to as Party and Play. For ice, i.e. frozen water, see nahm khaeng and for ice-cream or water-ice, see aitim.

I Ching (易经)

1. Chinese. Book of Changes. Name of one of the oldest Chinese writings in recorded history, that date back to the 3rd to the 2nd millennium BC, and which contain a divination system comparable to geomancy, that makes use of 64 sets of six broken or continuous lines called hexagrams, i.e. 8 x 8 combinations, with a similar principle to the 8 trigrams or bagua. See also Flower of Life.

I Ching (义净)

Chinese. Name of a Chinese monk and writer (635–713AD), who –on his way to study at Nalanda in India in 671 and 695– made several lengthy visits to Sumatra and visited Chaiya in the late 7th century AD, and testified to its religious and cultural sophistication. I Ching was a contemporary of Xuanzang, who was born as Chen I (陈祎). His name is also transcribed Yi Jing, Yiqing, and I-Tsing.

Ichneumon Wasp

Flying insects in the family Ichneumonidae. READ ON.


An image, symbol or statue of a sacred or religious object or subject, as well as the main votive image in a temple. Often confused with the Greek icon or ikon.


Greek. ‘Image description’. Science of the meaning of representation of persons, animals and objects as depicted in art, and the illustration of an object according to this science. In religious art every deity has his or her own iconography. Consequently every artist has to consider particular features and details when creating an image, such as anatomy, dress, pose, position of the legs (asana), and position of the hands (mudra), and certain attributes. A knowledgeable observer will then be able to recognize the deity by the presence of such features. Unfortunately, the sophisticated iconographic rules may not always be known or followed by all artists, could differ from place to place and at times even intermingle with popular beliefs. See also equestrian iconography.

Icon Siam (ไอคอนสยาม)

English-Thai. Name of a huge waterfront shopping mall with annex luxury hotel and high-end residence complex, as well as Thailand’s first floating museum known as the Icon Siam Heritage Museum or River Museum Bangkok (fig.) which is housed in a traditional wooden boat called reua sampao (fig.). The venue also has several permanent art galleries and expositions, and frequently hosts temporary exhibitions. The complex is located on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River (fig.) in Thonburi and officially opened on 10 November 2018. Whereas the upper floors have modern shops, a large part of the ground and second floors is reserved for stores that cater more traditional Thai goods and foodstuffs, and is designed to reflect the theme of Thailand's cultural heritage, with sellers and staff dressed in traditional costumes and decors that mirror the Thai way of life. On the river front, the complex also features an indoor lightshow, as well as a riverside park and walkway with an outdoor musical fountain to entertain its visitors (fig. - map).  Another of its landmark attractions is the indoor Nahm Tok Alangkaan (น้ำตกอลังการ), i.e. Alangkaan Waterfall (fig.), a 15-meter tall waterfall that flows from the ceiling as a metaphor for the rain that blesses the land, symbolized by the lush Thai farm decorations beneath it, complete with a stylized water buffalo. The name Alangkaan (อลังการ), also transliterated Alangkarn, literally means ‘To Be Attractively Decorated’, yet is by some translated as ‘Magnificent’. The concept is reminiscent of the Rain Vortex in Singapore's Jewel at Changi Airport. Officially, the name is stylized IconSiam. See also icon and Siam, as well as MAP, TRAVEL PICTURES (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9) and (10), POSTAGE STAMPS, and WATCH VIDEO (1), (2), (3) and (4).


An open area to accommodate prayers during Muslim festivals, usually placed to the West of a town.

Idsuan (อิศวร)

A Thai name for Shiva and Ishana.

Igor (อีก้อ)

Thai name for Akha. Pronunciation Ikoh and sometimes transcribed Ikaw.

ih-hen kreua (อีเห็นเครือ)

Thai name for the Masked Palm Civet.

ih-hen thammada (อีเห็นธรรมดา)

Thai name for the Common Palm Civet.

ih-joo (อีจู้)

Thai. Name for a kind of traditional fish trap made from woven bamboo strips, shaped in the form of a vase. Though reminiscent of the tum, the ih-joo has a wider mouth above, whereas the tum has a rather cone-like shape, resembling a bottle with a narrowed neck and a bulbous middle. Despite these subtle distinctions, both names are often used interchangeably (fig.), while the term tum is also used in a more generic manner for either type.

ih-kae (อีแก)

Thai for name for the House Crow.

ih-kah (อีกา)

Thai for ‘crow’.

ih-kooy (อีโก่ย)

Name for a kind of wild grapes, that grow in bunches on a vine similar to other grapes, but with brown leaves. Only the full ripen fruits can be eaten, whereas the younger ones, which are dark brown, are not edible as they taste very sour. In Tah Phrayah district of the province Sa Kaeo, a herbal wine is produced from this kind of grapes. Also transcribed i koi, ih koy, i-kohy or similar. See also winery.

ih-raeng sih nahm-tahn himalay (อีแร้งสีน้ำตาลหิมาลัย)

Thai name for the Himalayan Griffon Vulture.


A tie dying technique in  which fabrics are given patterns by tying off and colouring different parts of the same piece of cloth (fig.). See also matmi.

Illuminated Boat Procession

Festival celebrated by the people from most northeastern provinces that border the Mae Khong River. It is intended as a tribute to the river goddess Phra Mae Khongkha for providing ample water, as well as in reverence of the naga or phayanaag. A procession of illuminated boats of approximately 12-meter long and in different shapes and forms takes place on the river, at night (fig.). Over fifty boats (fig.) may take part in the procession and their original shapes may resemble the Garuda, a swan, a naga, etc. The festival takes place in the evening of the 15th day of the waxing moon of the 11th month. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2), and WATCH VIDEO.

imam (إمام)

1. Arabic. Worldly and spiritual leader in the Muslim theocratic system.

2. Arabic. Muslim religious leader and head of a mosque, the minister in ritual prayers.

3. Arabic. Term used by the Shiite Muslims to denote the descendants of the prophet, who they consider to be the true rulers of the Muslim community.

Imperial Examinations

A system of examinations in Imperial China, that was organized in order to select candidates for the civil service. READ ON.

Imperial Guardian Lions

See Rui Shi.

In (อิน)

1. Thai. Name of one of the famous Siamese twins born on 11 May 1811 in Samut Songkhram, the other one being named Chan. 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. Name of one of the eleven heroic leaders who in 1767, at the end of the Ayutthaya period, fought the invading Burmese Army whilst defending the Bang Rajan Fort.

In (อินทร์)

Thai. The name for Indra (fig.), sometimes transliterated Inthara or Intra, but with this Thai spelling pronunciation is In. It is a synonym of Phaya and can in certain contexts be translated as ‘Patriarch’ or ‘King’. When referring to the Hindu deity it is usually preceded by the title Phra, i.e. Phra In.

Inao (อิเหนา)

A legend and classical dance drama from Java, written around 840 AD in the Sailendra Dynasty, and introduced to Thailand around 1760 AD, near the end of the Ayutthaya Period. It was later translated into Thai and rewritten as a verse drama by King Rama II. The legend is set in the ancient city of Meuang Kulaypan and relates the romance between Prince Inao, son of King Kurepan and a heroic warrior, and the stunningly beautiful Princess Butsaba (fig.) of Krung Daha (กรุงดาหา), who ‒when disguised as a forest bandit‒ is also known as Misara Panyi (fig.). Initially, Inao refused to marry her in an arranged marriage set up by the Princess' family. This so enraged her father that he declared he would give his daughter away to the first man who offered to marry her, and gave Butsaba to Joraka, a minor ruling prince. Just at that time, another ruling prince, Kamangkuning, is waging war on the city-state of Daha. Therefore, his father orders Inao to assist Daha in battle. Having arrived in Daha, Inao sees Butsaba for the first time. After a series of complex affairs and interfamily fighting, the couple eventually fell in love out of their own will and got married all the same, but not until Inao kidnapped Butsaba and took her to a cave, in order to prevent the wedding between Butsaba and Joraka, after the war with Kamangkuning was over. The narrative's original name is Inu Panyee Karatapati. In 1916, the story was hailed by the authoritative Literature Club as the greatest of lyrics for dance plays, both in terms of content and suitability for theatrical performance. The story has been portrayed on a set of Thai postage stamps issued in 2012 to commemorate that year's National Children's Day (fig.), and in 1996, a scene from the story is portrayed on one of the stamps in a set of postage stamps on famous classical Thai literary works (fig.). Sometimes transcribed Ih-nao, Enao, or Enau. See also Egg Magnolia.


‘Embodiment’. The personification or representation of a superior being, deity or spirit of a god in another form. In Hinduism usually applied to the guises or transformations of Vishnu. See also chaht and avatara.


Name for an aromatic material which releases fragrant smoke when burned and of which several kinds exist, such as small cones, spiral incense coils which are found hanging from Chinese-style temple ceilings (fig.), small spiral coils against mosquitoes, cored and solid incense sticks, etc. In Thai called kreuang hom.

incense burner

See kratahng toob.

incense coil

A kind of incense in the form of a coil, used in the past to calculate time. The latter spiral-shaped incense is grooved at intervals, which allows for the time to be measured while burning. Other types of incense coils can also be found, hanging from rafters in Chinese-style temple, whilst yet others are used as a repellant against mosquitoes. Incense coils in Chinese-style temples usually have an −often red− tag attached to it, on which a prayer or wish can be written, which will ascend to heaven as long as the coil burns (fig.).

incense stick

Name for both a small wooden stick coated with a tick layer of incense and a solid stick completely made of incense material, without a supporting core. READ ON.

Indian Blue Peafowl

See peacock.

Indian Bushlark

Common name for a 15 centimeters tall bird, with the scientific designation Mirafra erythroptera, which is mainly found on the Indian subcontinent. It prefers bush tops and does not usually perch on trees or wires, hence its name. The Indian Bushlark is pale buff with brown and has a heavily streaked upper breast, head and back. It has a distinctive cheek patch, a dark eye-stripe and a pale supercilium. It is similar to the Bengal Bushlark and the Jerdon's Bushlark, but differs by its longer tail, lighter belly, and a less distinct horizontal blackish stripe below the eyes. Also spelled Indian Bush Lark and sometimes referred to as Red-winged Bushlark or Red-winged Bush Lark.

Indian Chat

1. Another name for the Indian Robin (fig.), a passerine bird very similar to the Brown Rock Chat (fig.), i.e. another species of bird within the same family Muscicapidae. However, whereas the male Indian Robin has black underparts, it is the female which is very similar to the female Brown Rock Chat, but the latter has a blackish undertail, whilst the female Indian Robin has a rufous undertail and a different posture.

2. Another name for Brown Rock Chat (fig.). It is very similar to the Indian Robin, another species of passerine bird within the same family Muscicapidae. However, whereas the male Indian Robin has black underparts, the female is very similar to the female Brown Rock Chat, but the latter has a blackish undertail, whilst the female Indian Robin has a different posture and a rufous undertail. See WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Indian Coral Tree

Common name for a deciduous tree with vibrant red flowers and with the botanical name Erythrina variegata. It is also commonly known as Tiger Claw, yet this name also used for the Flame of the Forest, a similar species with striking orange to red flowers and with the botanical name Butea monosperma. In Thai, this tree has a variety of common names, including parichaat (ปาริชาติ), after a mythological tree that is also known as Indra's Garden Flower, located in the heaven of Indra, a region for the virtuous alone, with celestial gardens called Nandana Vana (नन्दनवन), the ‘Divine Grove’, of which nandana (नन्दन) translates literally as ‘that which gives joy’ and vana (वन) as ‘grove’. It is occasionally regarded as one of the several bodhi trees beneath which certain buddhas, recognized in Theravada Buddhism, attained Enlightenment. However, this is likely a mix-up with the Flame of the Forest, which besides having similar flowers, is also referred to as Tiger Claw (fig.). See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

Indian Cork Tree

Common name for a fast-growing, evergreen tree, with the botanical designation Millingtonia hortensis, and also commonly known as Tree Jasmine. The tree is listed  in the family Bignoniaceae, grows up to 25 meters tall and has a deeply furrowed, corky bark. It blooms from September to January and bears many white, slaverform flowers, some of them drooping. The flowers are fragrant and attract many nectar-eating birds and insects, and when dried, they may be smoked to treat asthma. The tree provides dappled shade and in some sacred scriptures from the Lan Na period, it is mentioned that the Hindu god Indra set up his throne underneath this tree. Hence, worshippers today make garlands from its flowers to offer to Indra. In Thai, this tree is known by the names kasalong and pihb.

Indian Cormorant

Common name for a 61-68 centimeter large bird, with the binomial name Phalacrocorax fuscicollis. Non-breeding adults are mostly blackish, with brownish scapulars, whitish chin and lower head-sides, and uneven whitish to pale brown streak-like markings on the lower throat and breast (fig.). Its bill is yellowish and relatively long, with a longer upper mandible of which the tip is bent downward. Breeding adults are overall black with a bluish gloss, silvery scapulars, dark grey to black legs and webbed feet, and a blackish bill. They also have small silvery patches over the eye and -in full breading season- develop a white tuft on the rear head-side. In Thai called nok kah nahm pahk yao, literally ‘long-billed water-crow’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Indian Darter

See Oriental Darter.

Indian Gharial

See jorakae.

Indian Gooseberry

See makhaampom.

Indian Grey Hornbill

Common name for a species of hornbill, with the scientific designation Ocyceros birostris. Both sexes are greyish-brown, with reddish-brown eyes. They have a dark bill, with a short and upright casque, and pale yellowish edges. In males, the casque is somewhat larger (fig.), whilst the bare skin around their eyes is dark, whereas that of females is pale reddish. Juveniles (fig.) are similar to females, but with a smaller casque (fig.). The Indian Gray Hornbill does not occur in the wild in Thailand, but is commonly found on the Indian subcontinent, especially in the North. Though the species is mostly arboreal, it is also frequently sighted in urban areas, and often occurs in pairs. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Indian Hanging Parrot

Common name for a species of small parrot with the scientific designation Loriculus vernalis, which is found in South and Southeast Asia. The adult male is only about 14 centimeters tall and has a rather short tail. It is mainly bright green, with a red rump, uppertail-coverts and bill, and a faint turquoise-blue throat patch and undertail-feathers, whilst it legs and feet are orange. The adult female is similar, but overall duller and has little to no turquoise-blue on the throat. Its habitat consists of broadleaved forests and clearings. Like the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, the Indian Hanging Parrot gets its name from its peculiar sleeping habit, i.e. hanging upside-down. This bird is also commonly known as Vernal Hanging Parrot and in Thai as nok hok lek pahk daeng.

Indian Heliotrope

See ya nguong chang.

Indian Jackal

Name for a species of wolf-like mammal in the Canidae family, endemic to the Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. It is a subspecies of the Golden Jackal. It lives in forested areas and usually occurs in small packs of three to five animals, especially when hunting. It has the scientific name Canis aureus indicus, and is also commonly known as Himalayan Jackal. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Indian Leaf Butterfly

Name of a species of large nymphalid butterfly, with a wingspan of 8.5 to 11 centimeters, with the binomial name Kallima inachus, and found in South, East and Southeast Asia. The upperside of its wings are of a striking florescent violet-blue colour, with a bright orange stripe halfway up the forewings and a black band with a white spot at the top, lined all around with a light, narrow border. With its wings closed, it is virtually invisible and a textbook example of camouflage, as it closely resembles a dry leaf, usually of a shade of brown with dark veins, especially at the hindwings. The Indian Leaf Butterfly is hence also known as Dead Leaf and Orange Oakleaf, or simply Indian Leaf. In part due to its natural disguise, it is difficult to spot in the wild. In Thai known as phi seua bai mai yai india (ผีเสื้อใบไม้ใหญ่อินเดีย), i.e. ‘Indian large-leaf butterfly’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Indian Mulberry

See yo baan.

Indian Muntjac

See Barking Deer.

Indian Mustard

See sarsom.

Indian Pied Hornbill

Common name for a species of hornbill, with the scientific names Anthracoceros coronatus and Anthracoceros malabaricus leucogaster, which only occurs in North and Central India, and in Myanmar, and which is very similar to the Oriental Pied Hornbill (fig.), which usually has less black colouring on the casque, whereas the casque of the Indian Pied Hornbill is often about three quarters black with only the posterior part being pale yellowish. The Latin word coronatus means ‘crowned’, whereas the word malabaricus means ‘from Malabar’ and refers to the place where the bird was first spotted, i.e. Malabar (today known as Kerala in India), and the Greek term leucogaster means ‘white belly’. The Indian Pied Hornbill is a noisy bird, with high-pitched and strident notes. Flocks of up to ten birds will fly from tree to tree, in a follow-the-leader-style. It feeds a good deal on the ground, picking up fallen fruits or seizing creeping prey, which they pick up with the tip of their enormous bill, jerk into the air, catch in the gullet and swallow. Also commonly known as Malabar Pied Hornbill.

Indian Pond Heron

Common name for an approximately 45 centimeter tall, wading bird with the scientific name Ardeola grayii, which occurs from southern Iran east to parts of Pakistan, India, Burma, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In winter plumage it is light brown and streaked (fig.), with white underparts and white wings, which makes it almost indistinguishable from the non-breeding plumage of the Javan and Chinese Pond Heron (fig.). In breeding plumage, its back becomes dark purplish-brown and the head, neck and breast become a warm yellowish-buff. This bird is also commonly known as Paddybird. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2).

Indian Red Admiral

Common name for a butterfly, with the scientific designation Vanessa indica. Above, the forewings are greyish-brown, reddish-orange and black, with black spots on the orange and white spots on the black background. The hind-wings are are brownish, with dark brown spots towards the base, and a reddish-orange band on the outer edge, which is spotted with black and has a thin, interrupted, white outer edge near the apex. The patterns and colours of the underwings are similar to those of the upper-wings, but somewhat darker. The body of this butterfly is greenish to grey-brown and it has a wingspan of 5.5 to 6 centimeters. It is found in sunny locations in open country, especially in the higher altitude regions of the Indian Subcontinent, including also Nepal. Also known as Asian Admiral and in Thai called phi seua daeng india (ผีเสื้อแดงอินเดีย), i.e. ‘Indian red butterfly’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Indian Rhinoceros

Common name for the Rhinoceros unicornis, which is also known as the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros (fig.), Asian One-horned Rhinoceros (fig.), and in Thai as raed india (แรดอินเดีย). Though it is believed to once have ranged throughout much of Northern India, all the way to Burma and possibly even China, it is now confined to the foothills of the Himalayas, where it inhabits tall grasslands and dense forests, usually in areas that have mud wallows and water (fig.). It does not occur in Thailand, but is very similar to the Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros or Javan Rhinoceros, which has the scientific name Rhinoceros sondaicus. The main difference is that the Indian Rhinoceros has a much larger horn (fig.), far exceeding that of the Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros, which is rarely bigger than 15 centimeters (fig.). Both species have three folds of skin across the back and one horn, in contrast to the smaller Asian Two-horned Rhinoceros, with the binomial name Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, which has two folds of skin across the back and two horns. The Indian Rhinoceros feeds mainly on grasses, but is known to also eat shoots, twigs, young foliage, and fallen fruit. A species of mango from Thailand, known as ma muang raed (fig.), is named after the rhinoceros. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Indian Robin

Common name for a species of bird, with the scientific designation Saxicoloides fulicatus, which is found in the Indian Subcontinent. There are several races, that are divided into groups according to their plumage and geographical position, i.e. a northwestern race (S. f. cambaiensis), a northeastern race (S. f. erythrurus), a southern race (S. fulicatus), a central race (S. f. intermedius), and a Singhalese race (S. f. leucopterus), that is found in Sri Lanka. The southern race (S. fulicatus) is considered the nominate race. Males of the northern race are brownish above, while the southern populations have black upperparts. The males have chestnut undertail coverts and a white shoulder patch. The females are brownish above and greyish below, lack the white shoulder patch, and the vent is a paler shade of chestnut than the of males. Birds of the northern populations are also somewhat larger than those of the southern races. Juveniles are similar to females but have a mottled throat. See also Indian Chat (fig.).

Indian Roller

Common name for a member of the roller family of birds, near passerines related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters (fig.). Its distribution is tropical, southern Asia (fig.) and is said to stretch from Iraq to Thailand, where it is a common resident of open dry areas throughout the country (fig.). It can often be seen perching on bare tree branches (fig.) or on roadside telephone wires, from where it drops to the ground to catch lizards, frogs, etc. It is also known to catch insects in flight. This colourful bird (fig.) has a light brown back (fig.), a metallic bluish-green crown, whilst the underparts, face, wings (fig.) and tail are of a mixed bluish-grey and amethyst colour (fig.). In Thai it is known as nok takaab thung and its scientific name is Coracias benghalensis. There are some subspecies, with those found in Thailand being distinct by having a metallic greenish crown, whereas the ones that occur in India have a bluish crown that is brownish-buff to pale in the front. It is also commonly known as Blue Jay. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1), (2) and (3).

Indian Runner Duck

Name of a peculiar domestic breed of duck, that is native to the Indian Sub-continent, Malaysia and the Indonesian Archipelago. It was first found in the East Indies and –rather than waddling– it runs, hence the name. This duck does not fly and out of the water, it stands or walks with an upright body, which gave it the epithet Penguin Duck. Due to this, these ducks are easily recognized when on land, though not so when in the water, as there are many gene and colour variations, as well as cross-breads and unusual plumage colour mutations, which may complicate correct identification somewhat. Females have an extraordinary reputation for egg-laying, i.e. they lay a large amounts of eggs, yet they only rarely build a nest or incubate their own eggs– instead they drop them wherever they happen to be, as they run about. Like almost all other domestic breeds, Indian Runner Ducks are considered descendants from Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos - fig.), and are hence scientifically referred to as Anas platyrhynchos domesticus.

Indian Scops Owl

Common name for a 23 to 25 centimetres large owl, with the scientific designation Otus bakkamoena, which is a widespread resident on the Indian subcontinent, south of the Himalayas. Adults have greyish-brown upperparts and greyish-buff underparts with fine black streaks and tiny crossbars, though they are variable in colour and morphs with more brown or more grey, as well as an intermediate morph also exist. Its scapulars are barred with black and buff. The eyes are usually dark orange or brown, although they may also be yellow. It is very similar to the Collared Scops Owl (Otus lettia), but the latter has a pale yellowish-white bill without a black tip and is more heavily streaked on the underside, with broader and shorter streaks (fig.). Additionally, it also strongly resembles the grey and brown-grey morphs of the Oriental Scops Owl (Otus sunia), but with a body measurement of only 19 centimetres, the latter is somewhat smaller in size, has more prominent, black and white scapular spots. The Oriental Scops Owl is also more heavily marked below and above, whilst the irises are yellow. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Indian Shag

Another name for the Indian Cormorant.

Indian Silverbill

Common name for a roughly 11 centimeter small passerine bird in the finch family, which is found in South Asia and also commonly known as White-throated Munia. It has the scientific designation Euodice malabarica. The sexes are similar and are buff-brown above, with a darker tail and wings, and whitish below, whilst the flanks are buffy. This bird has a distinctive silver-grey bill, which is conical in shape, with a dark curved upper mandible and a lighter lower mandible. Indian Silverbills feed mainly on seeds, but may on occasion also eat insects and nectar. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES (1) and (2).

Indian Star Tortoise

Name of a species of tortoise with the scientific name Geochelone elegans, found in the wild in dry areas and scrub forest, in India and Sri Lanka. This tortoise's carapace is very convex with dorsal scutes that often form humps and have dark triangular to diamond shaped patterns against a contrasting pale yellow background, thus forming yellow radiating stripes that have star-like designs. Characteristically, it has six to twelve yellow radiating stripes, different from the Burmese Star Tortoise (fig.), which has only six or less yellow radiating stripes. The carapace's lateral margins are nearly vertical, assisting the animal to return to a upright position after it has been turned over, whilst its posterior margin is somewhat expanded and serrated. Indian Star Tortoises are mostly herbivorous, feeding on grasses, fallen fruit, flowers and leaves of succulent plants (fig.), but will occasionally also eat carrion. This species is quite popular in the exotic pet trade and is hence also found in Thailand, where it is known as tao dao india, a literal translation of its English designation.

Indian Tortoiseshell

Common name for a species of a butterfly, with the scientific name Aglais kaschmirensis. It is found in southern Asia and belongs to the family Nymphalidae. The upperside of its wings are brownish to rusty-orange, with black and pale yellowish-white markings, somewhat similar in pattern to those of the Tawny Coster (fig.).

Indian Trumpet Tree

Common name of a smooth, glabrous, evergreen tree, that grows up to 15-20 meters high and bears the botanical name Oroxylum indicum. It is found in deciduous forests and in moist areas, mostly along river banks and hill slopes, throughout South and Southeast Asia. It has several health benefits, including potential anti-cancer properties, and its edible seed pods (fig.), which have a high content of bioflavonoids, have since long been used in local traditional folk medicine, mainly as a remedy against cough, bronchitis and wheeze, whereas a paste made from its stem bark is applied for the cure of scabies and to treat arthritis. Its large fruits have an average length of 70-80 centimeters and they typically hang from separate, leafless stems, that extend well above the tree's top and outside the main leafage. These woody seed pods are dark brown, flattened, bent and slightly curved at the base, with a fine ridge on each side. The flowers are maroon on the outside and creamy white on the inside, whilst their corolla is trumped shaped, hence the tree's name. They grow in clusters near the top of the same stem as the fruits. In Thai, this tree known as pheh-kah, but also has many other, local names, whilst  the edible fruits are called lin fah, i.e. ‘sky tongues’.

Indian Wild Boar

See Wild Boar.

Indian Wolf

Common name for a kind of wolf endemic to the Indian subcontinent, including also Nepal. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.


Name of a natural dye extracted from certain plants, such as Strobilanthes cusia (fig.) and  Indigofera tinctoria (fig.), as well as for the blue to dark blue and —with a repeated dyeing process— even the near blackish colour that this dye can produce. See also krahm and seua mo hom (fig.).

Indigo Dropwing

Name of a tropical Asian dragonfly, commonly found in both lowlands and mountainous regions. It has the scientific name Trithemis festiva and belongs to the family Libellulidae. It prefers a habitat of streams and running waters, rather than still waters and males can often be seen resting on rocks or stream-side vegetation, guarding their territories. Mature males are almost entirely of a greyish blue, overlaid with a fine whitish pruinescence, whilst their abdomen is slender with a dark tail that sometimes ends in a pale tip. Young males look similar to females, sporting extensive yellow patches on their abdomen. In addition, females often have dark patches at the wing tips. When at rest, the wings of this species drop somewhat forward. In Thai this species is named malaeng poh ban tai kohn pihk dam. See also malaeng poh.

Indochina Featherback

Common name for a kind of freshwater fish, with the scientific designation Chitala blanci, and which is found in Cambodia and Thailand, where it inhabits areas with fast flowing waters, deep pools or rapids, including in the Mekhong River. It has a rather small head in contrast to its distinctive hump-like anterior back. It has numerous small black spots in the anterior half of the body, that merge into irregular oblique bands towards the tail, and extend on the anal and caudal fins. This species is also commonly known as Royal Knifefish, and in Thai it is referred to as pla tong laai (ปลาตองลาย). See also POSTAGE STAMP.

Indochinese Cobra

See ngu hao.

Indochinese Forest Lizard

See king kah hua sih fah.

Indochinese Rat Snake

A species of snake with the binomial name Ptyas korros. Also called Chinese Rat Snake and in Thai known as ngu sing (งูสิง), which could be translated as ‘haunting snake’. It is also referred to as ngu sing thammada (งูสิงรรมดา), ngu sing baan (งูสิงบ้าน) and ngu hao talaan (งูเห่าตะลาน). It may grow to a length of about 250 centimeters, with the anterior half of the body olive above and the remainder brown. The scales of the posterior half of the body are usually feebly keeled and it has very large eyes (fig.). The Indochinese Rat Snake is non-poisonous. It is diurnal and preys on rats, frogs and other small vertebrates. This species' habitat consists of agricultural and forested areas.

Indochinese Spitting Cobra

A medium-sized cobra with the scientific name Naja siamensis. In Thai named ngu hao phon phit sayaam, i.e. ‘Siamese venom-spitting barking snake’. It has a rather thick body with a highly variable colour, which may be grey, olive, brown or black, with an irregular pattern of white spots or bands, that can be so abundant that it makes the snake predominantly white, though the head is usually dark brown or black. Its hood mark may be U, V or H-shaped, though is often faint or absent. It may grow to a length of up to 160 centimeters and being a spitting cobra, it is capable to spit out its venom over a distance of about 2 meters, usually aiming at the eyes of an aggressor. The spitting of venom is believed to be used only as a defense and not to obtain food, though it could theoretically be discharged to blind prey, if the venom got into the eyes. The venom is a neurotoxin and potentially fatal to humans. The Indochinese Spitting Cobra is found in Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.

Indochinese Water Dragon

Designation for a reptile with the binomial name Physignathus cocincinus. The overall colour of its skin ranges from light to dark green, with green or turquoise diagonal stripes on the body and a tail which is banded with green and dark brown from the middle to the end. Its undersides may be white, pale green and pale yellow, or a mixture of this, whilst their roughly scaled throats, especially in males (fig.), are often quite colourful, varying in hue from white and yellow, to orange or peach, and sometimes with stripes. Males are distinct from females by a larger, more triangular head, and a larger crest on its head, back and tail (fig.). Its long tail is used for balance, as well as an aid for swimming, but can also be used as a weapon.  On top of their heads, in between their eyes, Indochinese Water Dragons have an iridescent, photosensitive gland, which zoologists believe is part of their system of thermoregulation. This spot or so-called third eye, is officially known as the pineal gland (fig.) and is thought to also help avoid threats from above, such as attacks from aerial predators, as it recognizes differences in light. The Indochinese Water Dragon is also known by the common names Chinese Water Dragon, Thai Water Dragon, Green Water Dragon and Asian Water Dragon, and in Thai as takong, lang and king kah yak, the latter meaning ‘giant lizard’.

Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin

Common name for the so-called Pink Dolphin, a marine mammal in the family Delphinidae. READ ON.

Indra (इन्द्र)

Sanskrit. ‘Possessing a drop [of rain]’, composed of the words indu, which is related to bindu and means ‘drop’, and ra, meaning ‘to possess’. Vedic god of the heavens, weather and war, king of the gods and ruler of the Tavatimsa heaven, a place on the summit of the mythical Mt. Meru. He is the twin brother of Agni, the god of fire, and is also mentioned as an Aditya, a son of Aditi, as is referred to in his name by the legendary Sukhothai king Indraditya. In Thailand, where he is known as Phra In (fig.), Phra Intra or Inthara, he is usually depicted with a green complexion (fig.) and may carry a thunderbolt, disc, elephant goad, sword, a trihsoon (trident) or an axe, and is depicted on the emblem of Bangkok (fig.), as well as on the National Stadium (fig.). Being the god of heavens and weather, his bow (dhanus) is a rainbow (fig.), in Sanskrit called Indradhanus and in Thai known as Inthanu, meaning the bow of Indra. In Buddhist iconography, he is frequently depicted as an attendant of Buddha, along with Brahma (fig.). His consort is Sachi, also known as Indrani, and his mount is the elephant Erawan (fig.) or Airavata (fig.), though he is also found riding in a golden chariot drawn by bay horses with flowing manes, reminiscent of Phra Ahtit, the sun god (fig.). In Hindu cosmology, he is the lokapala of the East. His status is considered equally important to that of Vishnu and Shiva, thought in later Hinduism, his role somewhat diminished (fig.) with the rise of the Trimurti, in which the divine triad Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva, replaced the Vedic triad of Agni, Indra (or Vayu) and Surya. In the Vedas, he is also called Shakra, which in Pali translates as Sakka. Compare with Thagyamin, and see also golden parrot and Amarin.

Indrachit (इन्‍द्रजीत, อินทรชิต)

Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Conqueror of Indra’. Son of Ravana (Totsakan) and one of the demons in the Ramakien, who succeeds in deceiving the monkey-general Hanuman by disguising himself as Indra. It is also Indrachit who shot the nagabaat or nagapasa arrow, the arrow that changed into a naga and tied Rama and Lakshmana down (fig.). However, when the Garuda, the archenemy of the naga, accidentally flew by, the naga from fear released Rama and Lakshmana. Like his father, he has a green complexion, though unlike Totsakan, who has tusk-like canines, Indrachit has protruding vampire-like teeth. He is one of the 12 giants, set up in 6 pairs, that guard the entrances in the enclosure of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, i.e. Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok, where he is erected in pair with Suriyapop (fig.). Also spelled Indrajit and in Thai usually pronounced Intrachit or Intarachit (fig.).

Indradhanus (इन्द्रधनुस्)

Sanskrit. ‘The bow (dhanus) of Indra’, i.e. a ‘rainbow’. Indra is the Hindu god of heavens and weather, hence his bow is a rainbow (fig.). In Thai Inthanu. See also rung.

Indraditya (อินทราทิตย์)

A Poh Khun who liberated Thailand from the yoke of the Khmer. He died in 1268 AD and is the father of King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai. In Thai, fully known as Sri Intaratit (fig.) and also referred to by the title Phra Ruwang.

Indrani (इन्द्राणी)

Sanskrit. Consort of the Hindu god Indra, whose is described as beautiful and having the most beautiful eyes. She is associated with lions and elephants, of which the latter is also the mount of Indra. Her attributes include a vajra sword and a triangular flag with the depiction of a chari pot.

Indrapura (इन्द्रपुर)

Sanskrit. ‘City of Indra’. In about the tenth century AD the capital of Champa. It is located near the present city of Da Nang, in Vietnam.

Indravarman (ឥន្រ្ទវរ្ម័ន)

Khmer. ‘Shielded by Indra’ or ‘Protected by Indra’. Khmer king who reigned between 877 to 889 AD and ruled from Hariharalaya, an ancient city and capital of the Khmer Empire located near modern-day Siem Reap and named for the Hindu deity Harihara (fig.). He is credited for having initiated an extensive building campaign that set the foundations for the future Angkorian kings to follow, including an irrigation network and large baray.

Indriya (इन्द्रिय)

Sanskrit-Pali. Term that literally means ‘belonging to Indra’. READ ON.

Industrial Ring Road Bridge

Another name for the Bangkok Mega-Bridge.

ink brush

See mao bi.

ink stick

Ink made from soot, a black powdery deposit from smoke, also known as lampblack, and binders. The pigment is obtained by burning either pinewood or (tung) oil in earthenware. The soot is collected, mixed with glue, perfumed and then formed in varied shapes through wooden moulds. The solidified powder has thus become a hard stick, which allows for easier transport and preservation, and can be made liquid by rubbing it with some water on an inkstone (fig.), until the right degree of density is achieved. It is used in Chinese calligraphy (fig.) which traditionally is written only with black ink. Chinese ink sticks are often decorated with golden reliefs or characters. The quality of own rubbed ink from ink sticks is superior to that of ready to use bottled ink, as those use too much water to keep the ink from running dry. Hand-rubbed inks also give richer and finer tones. The colour of ink sticks ranges from pure black to brown black. Ink sticks are commonly classified according to the type and quality of pine-soot or oil-soot they are made from, a well-known pine-soot type being jīn bù huàn (金不换) or no exchange even for gold (fig.), a stick used by the pupils in the old-style Chinese private schools since the 18th century. It is still the most popular ink in today's Chinese elementary schools where calligraphy is a required course for new generations. The design of the stick is simple, fit right for the hands of students and can be easily stored in a pencil box. Another pine-soot stick is known by the name Mount Yellow Pine Soot. Well-known oil-soot sticks are Thousand Year Light, Longevity, Tessai Ink Stick, and Orchid, whereas Five Old Men is an old brand of stick, which was made in seventies, when the Chinese Cultural Revolution ended and the traditional brand names came back. The Chinese on this stick's face reads ‘ink for emperor's use; five old men on the river’, and a carving on its back is based on a painting depicting five immortals, from whom Yao, the mythical Chinese ruler, was advised upon regulating the Yellow River. There are two traditional Chinese shop houses that design the traditional style ink sticks as mentioned above, i.e. Hu Kaiwen and Cao Sugong, the latter being awarded a gold medal at the Tokyo Exposition in 1914, for his Longevity sticks, known as one of the best Chinese inks. These sticks carry a carving on the back based on a Chinese painting by Qian Huian (1833-1911), named Longevity, hence the designation for this stick. See also wen fang si bao (fig.). Both in China and in Myanmar, black ink is also used to make landscape drawings, sketched with the use of razor blades (fig.).


See yan.

Inle (အင်းလေး)

Burmese. Name of a large freshwater lake in Shan State in central Myanmar, with an estimated surface area of circa 115 square kilometers, making it the second largest lake in the nation and one of the highest, located in the Shan Hills at an elevation of around 880 meters above sea level. The lake is home to the indigenous Intha people (fig.), who are famous for their distinctive leg-rowing style (fig.),  said to have evolved in order to allow a good view over the many reeds on the lake and when fishing (fig.); as well as for their floating garden agriculture (fig.), for which they dredge up (fig.) grass-like weeds (fig.) from the bottom of the lake, that they mix with water hyacinths that have natural buoyancy (fig.) in order to create floating gardens on which they grow a variety of crops, most commonly tomatoes. In order to fix these raft-like structures in place so they wouldn't drift away with the wind or currents, the floating gardens are pinned down into the soil by long anchor sticks. Those sticks are widely sold on local markets around the lake (fig.) and once installed they make ideal observation posts and resting points for local birds who commonly use them to perch on, making this area of the lake also a good place for recreational bird watching. The lake is also host to a unique and intriguing aquatic plant, with large leaves that are immersed under the surface of water, and pure white flowers, that are emersed, i.e. rise above the surface of water (fig.), as well as to several species of snail and fish, that are found nowhere else in the world. Attractions on and around the lake include Nga Pe Chaung, the Jumping Cats Monastery (map - fig.), Shwe Indein Zedi (fig.), Hpaung Daw U Pagoda (map - fig.) with the Hpaung Daw U Buddhas (fig.), the village of Sagar with its Tha Kaung Buddha Images (fig.), Thaung Tho Hilltop Temple (fig.), etc. On and around the lake there are several communities living in small groups or villages, either located along edge of the lake, along tributary or distributary rivers (fig.), or on stilted houses with canal-like streets (fig.) and connected to each other with typical highly arched, covered bridges (fig.), of which the horizontal middle section can be dismantled (fig.) during the annual Hpaung Daw U Buddhas Procession, in order to allow the larger Hintha Barge to pass (fig.). A wet market is held daily at a different location around Inle Lake, some in a rotating system and thus returning to the same location on regular intervals, reportedly in a —rather illogical— five day system, forcing prospective visitors to make inquiries as to where it will be held each time. Market locations include Nyaung Shwe, i.e. the northernmost location; Thaung Tho (fig.), the southernmost location on the west bank of river to Sagaing; Hpaung Daw U, centrally located around Hpaung Daw U Pagoda; Nan Pan, on the east bank of the southern mouth of the lake; Inle Lake Floating Market, at Ywama village; Indein, the westernmost; Than Taung Market, centrally located somewhat inland on the west bank; and Mine Thauk Market, centrally located on the eastern edge of the lake, just south of the Mine Thauk Pedestrian Bridge (fig.).  Sometimes transliterated Inlay. See also Nyaung Shwe and MAP.

inside painting

See nei hua.

Institute of Physical Education

Name of a school with campuses nationwide, where, as in Chonburi for one, besides modern sports and gymnastics, many of the ancient and traditional Thai sports and martial arts (fig.), such as archery (fig.), krabi krabong (fig.) and muay khaak cheuak (fig.), are also on the curriculum. Also referred to as the Physical Education College or Physical Education High School and in Thai known as satahban kaan phalaseuksah (สถาบันการพลศึกษา), whereas sports schools at mathayom level are known as rohng rian kilah (โรงเรียนกีฬา). See also kaan seuksah.

Intermediate Egret

Name of a medium-sized heron, with the scientific names Mesophoyx intermedia and Ardea intermedia. READ ON.

Intha (အင်းသား)

Burmese. ‘Fishery Son’. Name of a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group of around 70,000 people, that live in the numerous villages on and around Inle Lake in the southern part of Myanmar's Shan State. Whereas the men are referred to as Intha, the women of this ethnic people are in fact called Inthu (fig.), though the name Intha is usually used to refer to the entire group. Living in the Shan State, they wear a traditional dress orangey-salmon to beige in colour and similar to that of the Shan people, though the Intha can be differentiated by the fact that they do not customarily wear a headdress whereas the Shan, who are also known as Thai Yai, do wear a turban-like piece of cloth on the head (fig.). They mostly live in simple bamboo and wooden houses on stilts and are famous for their leg-rowing style (fig.), a distinctive rowing technique used to paddle small reua tae-like boats, by standing at the stern on one leg whilst wrapping the other leg around the oar (fig.). This unique style is said to have evolved to allow a good view over the many reeds on Inle Lake, as well as when fishing. Most Intha people are Buddhists, the Hpaung Daw U Buddhas (fig.) kept in the Hpaung Daw U Pagoda (fig.) being their most revered religious treasure, and of which four out of five are taken  around Inle Lake in a procession (fig.) during the annual Hpaung Daw U Pagoda Festival, stopping at all the main villages and towns, allowing the locals to worship and make merit. They are self-sufficient farmers, specialized in floating garden agriculture (fig.) and besides crop growing, they also practice fishing and some home industries, such as weaving, for which they gain thread from the stems of lotuses (fig.).

Inthakhin Chiang Mai (อินทขิล)

Thai. ‘Indra's pillar’. Name of Chiang Mai's City Pillar (fig.). The city's sao inthakhin was erected by King Mengrai when he founded the city on 12 April 1296 AD and initially stood at Wat Inthakhin Sadeu Meuang (วัดอินทขีลสะดือเมือง), i.e. the ‘Temple of the City Pillar [at the] City's Navel’. In 1800 AD, the lak meuang was moved to its present location on the temple grounds of Wat Chedi Luang Worawihaan (fig.) by the Lan Na ruler Chao Kawila (fig.). In comparison to other city pillars in Thailand (fig.), Chiang Mai's version is rather small in size and has been place in front of, and at the feet of a standing Buddha image in the pahng ram peung pose. See MAP.

inthanin (อินทนิล)

General Thai name for the lagerstroemia or crape myrtle, a deciduous tree of which several species exist. They can grow up to ten meters and are distinguished by bulbous, capsule-like seed heads. Most varieties have pinkish flowers when blooming.

Inthaphlam Bai Ngun (อินทผาลัมใบเงิน)

Thai name for the Silver Date Palm, which is also known as the Indian Wild Date, Indian Date or Wild Date, a palm tree with the botanical name Phoenix sylvestris, of which Phoenix is a Latin form that derives from the Greek word Phoiniks (φοῖνιξ), meaning ‘date palm’, whilst sylvestris, means ‘of the forest’, referring to the fact that the tree thrives well in woodlands. It is suggested by some that the etymology of the word Phoenix perhaps goes back to the Phoenicians, who might have brought the palm with them on their travels, or that it could be a reference to the colour of its dates, since the word phoiniks means ‘crimson’ as well. In Thailand it is also known by the name Inthaphlam India (อินทผาลัมอินเดีย) and by the local names Inthaphlam Korat (อินทผาลัมโคราช) and Inthaphlam Phetchaburi (อินทผาลัมเพชรบุรี), or simply by the nickname Bai Ngun (ใบเงิน), meaning ‘silver leaf’ and referring to the silvery gloss on its feather-like leaves.

Inthanu (อินทรธนู)

1. Thai. ‘The bow of Indra’, i.e. a ‘rainbow’. Indra is the Hindu god of heavens and weather, hence his bow is a rainbow (fig.). It is derived from the Sanskrit term Indradhanus. See also rung.

2. Thai name for epaulettes, i.e. shoulder pieces as worn on the uniforms of military personnel and civil servants, such as police, teachers, etc., in order to indicate rank. See also RANKS OF THAI MILITARY AND POLICE FORCE and POSTAGE STAMP.

Inthara (อินทร)

Thai for Indra, especially used in compound words, and also transliterated and Intra.

Inthria (อินทรีย์)

1. Thai name for the King of Birds.

2. Thai word meaning ‘organism’ or ‘organic’, i.e. living things.

3. Thai for the Sanskrit-Pali term Indriya.

Intra (อินทร์)

Thai. Transliteration sometimes used for Indra, though correct pronunciation is In.

Inwa (အင်းဝ)

Burmese name for Ava, an ancient royal city located about 20 km southwest of Mandalay, on an island formed by the Irrawaddy River (fig.) in the north, the smaller Myit Nge River in the east, and a canal that connects these two rivers and flows in an angle from the north to the southeast, starting to the west of the Myit Nge River. Inwa is officially known as Rattana Pura, and in Thai it is known as Ang Wa. Also transliterated Innwa. See MAP.

Iron Sea

Term for a large, ancient vessel, used in former times in the courtyards of Chinese temples and palaces, to store large volumes of water for use in case of a fire. READ ON.

Ironwood Tree

Common name for a tree species in the family Clusiaceae (Calophyllaceae), with the botanical designation Mesua ferrea, and also commonly referred to as Ceylon Ironwood, Indian Rose Chestnut, and Cobra’s Saffron. The slow-growing tree is named after the hardness and heaviness of its timber, and is cultivated in tropical climates for its wood, form, foliage, and fragrant flowers. It is native to tropical India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, the Malay Peninsula, and Indonesia, but is also cultivated in Assam, southern Nepal, and Indochina. It has simple, narrow, oblong, lanceolate, dark green leaves usually between 7 to 15 centimeters in length, with a whitish underside. Emerging young leaves are reddish to yellowish pink, and drooping. The tree bears large, very fragrant flowers, that have a diameter of circa 4 to 7.5 centimeters, and consist of four white petals and a centre of numerous yellow stamens. Its resin is slightly poisonous, but many parts have medicinal properties. In Buddhism, the Ironwood Tree is referred to as Naga Tree, and whereas the Sakyamuni Buddha attained Enlightenment under the bodhi tree, it is prophesied in the Maitreya Vyakarana Sutra that the future bodhisattva will attain Enlightenment under the Ironwood Tree.

Irrawaddy Bulbul

Common name for a species of Bulbul with the scientific designation Pycnonotus blanfordi, and previously considered to belong to the same species as the Streak-eared Bulbul (fig.), referred to as subspecies with the scientific names Pycnonotus blanfordi blanfordi and Pycnonotus blanfordi conradi. The Irrawaddy Bulbul belongs to the Pycnonotidae family and is found in mainland Southeast Asia, especially in the region of the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. It is nondescript, greyish above and pale below, with brown eyes and whitish ear-covert streaks. It differs from the Streak-eared Bulbul by the far less olive and yellow colouring, which may be almost entirely absent. As such, it is in fact more similar to Streak-eared Bulbul's juveniles, which are paler than adults and have fainter ear-covert streaks and brown eyes (fig.). Also spelled Ayeyarwady Bulbul.

Irrawaddy Dolphin

Common name for a species of oceanic dolphin, with the scientific designations Phocaena brevirostris, Orca brevirostris, Orcaella brevirostris and Orcaella fluminalis. It is found near sea coasts, as well as in estuaries and some rivers in Southeast Asia, especially in parts of the Bay of Bengal and the Irrawaddy River (fig.), where it was first discovered, hence its name. In Thailand, it is known by the names Plah Lohmah Irrawady (ปลาโลมาอิรวดี), i.e. ‘Irrawaddy Dolphin’, and Plah Lohmah Hua Baat Mih Krihb Lang (ปลาโลมาหัวบาตรมีครีบหลัง), which translates as ‘alms bowl-headed dolphin with a fin at the back’, which is often shortened to simply Lohmah Hua Baat, i.e. ‘alms bowl-headed dolphin’, and derives from the fact that the blunt head of this dolphin is somewhat reminiscent of an alms bowl, which in Thai is called baat (fig.). In Thailand, the Irrawaddy Dolphin is found in the Gulf of Thailand, at the estuary of the Bang Pakong River, and has also been spotted in the Mekhong River and in Songkhla Lake. See also POSTAGE STAMP.

Irrawaddy River

Name of the most important waterway in Myanmar, that flows roughly from North to South through the country, and with a length of about 2,170 kilometers also is the nation's longest river. The name, which is also spelled Ayeyarwaddy, derives from Airavata, the multi-headed, four-tusked (fig.), white elephant (fig.) of Hindu-Buddhist religion, in Thailand known as Erawan, which is the mount or vahana of Indra, the Vedic god of the heavens, weather, and war, as well as one of the elephants that support the four directions of the world. It is home to the Irrawaddy Dolphin and the Irrawaddy River Shark, two endangered species that got their names from the river. It originates from the confluence of the N'mai River with the Mali River near the Myit Sone Pagoda in Kachin State, of which the name means ‘Confluence’ or literally translated as ‘Rivers Meet’, around 40 kilometers north of the city Myitkyina, a Burmese name that can be translated as ‘Great River City’. On some maps the confluence is, just prior to becoming the Irrawaddy River, for a short distance indicated by the name Malipzup. The Irrawaddy River has has five major tributaries, i.e. the Chindwin River, Mu River, Myitnge River, Shweli River, and the Taping River, and eventually becomes a delta before emptying into the Andaman Sea. With a length of 3,400 meters, the Pakokku Bridge (map - fig.), located about 30 kilometers northeast and upstream of Old Bagan, is the longest bridge across the Irrawaddy River, as well as the longest bridge in Myanmar. The Irrawaddy River was so conceptually important to the history of the region, that the people in Burma would rarely talk about the country in terms of north and south, but rather use the words for upstream and downstream. See MAP.

iryapatha (ईर्यापथ)

1. Sanskrit term for the four bodily attitudes, or positions of the body, in which the Buddha can be represented (fig.), according to existing iconography, namely walking (fig.), standing (fig.), seated (fig.) and reclining (fig.).

2. Sanskrit. The observances of a religious mendicant.

Isaan (อีสาน)

1. Thai. ‘Northeast Thailand’. A region with 19 jangwat or provinces. Generally understood to be the region that corresponds with the Korat plateau, rather than the East of North Thailand (province of Nan). It is the direction of the compass guarded by the lokapala Phra Isaan (that is Idsuan or Shiva). The amphur Pahk Chong, in Nakhon Ratchasima is generally considered to be the doorway to Isaan, which is symbolizsed by a gate made of two giant kaen (fig.), i.e. the traditional Isaan instrument  (map - fig.). See also Taksin, Udon, Burapah, Ahkney, Horadih, Prajim and Phayap.

2. Thai name for Isana, Ishana, Idsuan and Shiva, the lokapala or guardian of the Northeast. Also Phra Isaan.

Isana (ईशान)

See Ishana.

Ishana (ईशान)

Sanskrit. Guardian or lokapala of the Northeast (fig.). Also a name for Shiva or Rudra. Also spelled Isana, and in Thai called Idsuan or Phra Isaan.

Ishvara (ईश्व‍र)

1. Sanskrit. ‘Lord’, ‘controller’ or ‘god’. A title given to the Hindu god Shiva, as well as a term to designate the lordship of any master, which is often used as a compound, as for instance in Avalokitesvara and Lokesvara, i.e. ‘Lord of compassion’ and ‘Lord of the world’, respectively.

2. Sanskrit. ‘Lord’, ‘controller’ or ‘god’. A philosophical concept in Hinduism.

Isipatana (इसिपतन)

Sanskrit. Another name for Sarnath.

Islam (الإسلام)

Arabic. ‘Surrender/submission (to the will of God)’. The Muslim religion based on the belief in one supreme God (Allah in Arabic) and on the teachings of Muhammad, his prophet who lived in the 7th century AD. The emphasis on a monotheistic belief connects its heritage with that of Judaism and Christianity, whose prophets Muslims recognize but believe that the Koran (recitation) is the final revelation to humankind which fulfills and completes all previous prophet's messages. Its five precepts are: profession of faith, prayer, pilgrimage (Hadj), fasting and charity. The first of these five pillars of Islam is called Shahada and states that ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of God’. This proclamation is recited whenever Muslims perform their five obligatory daily prayers. The Islamic house of prayer is called mosque (fig.) or masyid, literally a ‘place of prostration’ (fig.). These all have an arched niche in one of the interior walls, called an mihrab (fig.) and which indicates the qibla, the direction of Mecca, their most important place of worship situated in western Saudi Arabia and the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad. When not praying in a mosque believers usually use a prayer rug, often with a portrait Mecca (fig.). Islam was at first a religious ideology that would unite the Arab world, but later, after allowing also non-Arabs it spread rapidly in the 7th century to become the second largest religion in the world with around 1,179 million believers. An estimated 2.47 million live in Thailand, mainly in the southern provinces.

ithi (ဣသိ)

Mon term for hermit (fig.), which derives from the Pali word risi, which in turn derives from the Sanskrit word rishi. They typically dress in dark brown robes and wear a distinctive hat, which is similar in shape to that of the Indian rishi (fig.) and the Thai reusi (fig.). An ithi doll made of papier-mâché is sometimes used to perform a dance in the street in order to attract the attention of anyone passing by, inviting those who whish to make a donation. In return the donor in this Burmese-style form of tamboon will gain good karma (fig.). Pronunciation Ya The. See also tapathi.

Itsarasunthon (อิศรสุนทร)

Thai-Pali. ‘Sweet Freedom’. Birth name of king Rama II. The first part of his name, itson or itsara (อิศร) as a compound, derives from itsara (อิสระ) and means ‘freedom’ or ‘liberty’, whereas the latter part, sunthon, is a Pali word that can mean ‘sweet’, ‘mellifluous’, ‘eloquent’ and ‘beautiful’.

Iu Mien

The official name of the Yao or Dao people, as well as for the language they speak. MORE ON THIS.


See nga.

ivory wood

See mohk man.


Latin-English. Compact to more open evergreen plant or shrub, with well over 500 known species. In Thai, it is has the generic name kem (เข็ม), which means needle’. In English, it has a variety of common names, including Cruz de Malta, Rangan, Kheme, Jungle Flame, Jungle Geranium, and West Indian Jasmine, amongst others. It is found all over Thailand as an ornamental shrub, often as a hedge in parks and gardens, and typically on roadsides and central reservations. See also Wan Kruh.