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Maan (มาร)

Thai name for the demon Mara, the god of desire and death, and the personification of evil, who tried to withhold Prince Siddhartha from becoming Enlightened. In Thai iconography, he is often depicted riding an elephant, and during the Buddha's maravijaya, he is usually portrayed drowning in the torrents of water gushing from the hair of Mae Phra Thoranee (fig.). See also mriti and amrita.


Name of a monkey of the genus Macaca. READ ON.


See pla tu.

Macrochenus isabellinus

See duang nuad yao kho malaai.

madan (มะดัน)

Thai name for an evergreen tree and its fruit, with the scientific name Garcinia schomburgkiana and of the family Guttiferae. Its long, oval shaped, edible fruit is green and has a very sour tatse. It is rich in Vitamin C. Besides its fruit also some of its young, lance-shaped leaves and their buds can be used as nutritious food ingredients, e.g. to make nahm phrik. Its root and leaves are used in herbal medicine for a variety of ailments. It has been traditionally used as a cough treatment, a diabetes medication, and a laxative. It has been reported as rich sources of xanthones, which are normally found in higher plants. Garcinia is of the same genus as the mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana).

Madana (मादन)

Sanskrit. Another name for Kama or Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love. The word madana literally means ‘delighting’, but also ‘passion’, ‘intoxicating’ and ‘inebriating’, and the English word mad derives from it. He is also known as Manmatha, i.e. ‘Churner [of the mind]’. His consort or shakti is known as Rati.

Madchanu (มัจฉานุ)

1. Thai-Pali. The son of Hanuman (fig.) and the mermaid queen Suphanamatcha (fig.) in the epic Ramayana, thus having the body of a monkey with a fish tail. Later, Rama cut off his tail so that he was no longer part fish. Also spelled Matchanu. See also TRAVEL PICTURE.

2. Thai-Pali. Name of the submarine HTMS Madhanu, as well as the generic name for this particular type of Japanese-built submarine, of which a total of four were used by the Royal Thai Navy between 19 July 1938 and 30 November 1951, the date on which all U-boats were decommissioned (fig.), after the Navy's Submarine Group had already been dissolved on 16 July, following a group of naval officers' involvement in the failed coup of 29 June 1951. This type of submarine was 51 meters long, 4.1 meters wide, and armed with four 450 millimeter torpedo tubes (fig.). Whereas the HTMS Madhanu is named after the son of Hanuman and the mermaid queen Suphanamatcha from the Thai story Ramayana (fig.), the other three U-boats were named HTMS Wirun, after Wirunchambang, a giant or yak with a navy blue complexion (fig.); HTMS Sin Samut, after a character from the story Phra Aphaimanih; and HTMS Phlaay Chumphon, after a character from the story Khun Chang Khun Paen. Following their eventual dismantlement, parts of the submarines were brought to the Naval Museum (fig.) in Samut Prakan, where they are still preserved today. Also spelled Matchanu. See also Chumphon.

madeua (มะเดื่อ)

Thai name for a kind of fig tree of which there are several species, several being similar to the cluster fig tree. The family includes the madeua kliang or madeua uthumphon, madeua kwahng, madeua ching, madeua plong, madeua chumphon and madeua hom.

madeua kliang (มะเดื่อเกลี้ยง)

Thai name for the ficus racemosa or ficus glomerata, a type of cluster fig tree belonging to the family of Moraceae, with the Thai name madeua. It grows near watersides where it thrives well. Its fruit grows in dense clusters on the main, usually thicker branches, and directly on its trunk. The 2.2-5 cm pear-shaped receptacles, called figs, are initially yellow-green and turn dark red-brown when ripening (fig.). This independent deciduous tree grows up to 24 meters and has a rather open crown and large spreading branches. It sheds its leaves in January. The fig is in fact a compartment enclosing hundreds of small flowers which are pollinated by blastophaga wasps, very small wasps that crawl through the mouth of the fig which opens as the fig starts to ripen, in search of a suitable place to lay their eggs. In turn, the figs provide a safe haven and nourishment for the next generation of wasps. In Sanskrit called udumbara and sometimes referred to as goolar fig, a word derived from its Hindi name. The tree is native to Australasia, South-East Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. Also called madeua uthumphon (มะเดื่ออุทุมพร).

madeua kwahng (มะเดื่อกวาง)

Thai name for a large independent deciduous or semi- evergreen tree with the scientific name Ficus callosa, that grows up to 30 meters and belongs to the family of Madeua. The yellow-green 1.8-2.8 cm figs grow solitary or paired in leaf axils or slightly behind the leaves. The tree has a rounded crown and a long straight trunk that becomes slightly buttressed with age.

madeua plong (มะเดื่อปล้อง)

Thai name for a small independent evergreen or semi-deciduous fig tree with the scientific name Ficus hispida, that grows up to 12 meters and belongs to the family of Madeua. Its 2.5-4 cm figs grow clustered on long stems hanging from the trunk and the main branches.

Madhava (माधव)

A name for Krishna or Vishnu.

Madhavi (माधवी)

A name for Lakshmi, a consort of Vishnu.

Madira (मदिर)

Sanskrit. A name for Varuni, goddess of wine and consort of Varuna. See also Sura.

mae ai (แม่อาย)

Thai. ‘Shy mother’. Nickname for the maiyarahb. Also transcribed mae aai or mae ahy. It is also the name of an amphur in Chiang Mai Province, in the vicinity of the border with Myanmar.

mae chi (แม่ชี)

Thai. Buddhist nun. They have lay status and do not belong to the Sangha. See also bhikkuni.

Mae Fah Luang (แม่ฟ้าหลวง)

Thai. ‘Royal Mother from the Sky’ or ‘Heavenly Royal Mother’, a nickname given to Princess Sri Nagarindra (fig.) by the hill tribe people of Chiang Rai, where she had her home, i.e. Doi Tung Royal Villa (fig.). The name derives from the fact that the Queen Mother often traveled by helicopter and thus arrived ‘from the sky’. WATCH VIDEO (1), (2) and (3).

Mae Fahng (แม่ฝาง)

Name of a National Park in the northern part of Chiang Mai Province. READ ON.

Mae Hong Son (แม่ฮ่องสอน)

The small capital of a jangwat of the same name in Northwest Thailand (map), at 924 kms from Bangkok. READ ON.

Mae Khlong-Mahachai Railway

Thai. An old stretch of rail track, that runs between Wong Wian Yai in Thonburi and Samut Songkhram on the Gulf of Thailand. Originally constructed as a private line to take sea produce from the fishing ports of Samut Sakon (Mahachai) and Samut Songkram to the markets of Bangkok, it later became part of the State Railway of Thailand, though it was never physically connected to the rest of the network. This little known railway line has great charm and passes through still unspoiled countryside, and terminates in the middle of the fresh food market in Samut Sakhon, where vendors sell their groceries along and between the rails, only stepping aside and removing the awnings when the next train is due. From there, one has to take a ferry across the Tha Jihn (Tha Chin) river, where trains connect to Samut Songkhram on the Mae Khlong river, from a parallel station on the west bank. A similar rail track market as described above is found in the centre of Samut Songkhram (fig.).

Mae Khong (แม่โขง, ແມ່ນອງ, មេគង្គ)

1. Thai-Lao-Khmer. Popular and shortened name of Thailand's longest waterway, which is also the 12th longest river in the world, and in full known to as Mae Nahm Khong. It rises in the Himalayas and forms the border between Thailand and Laos (fig.), and Laos and Myanmar (Burma), at the Golden Triangle. It is formed by the melt waters of the Tibetan Himalayas joined by several other rivers. It is 4,590 kms long and passes through 7 countries (or six, if Tibet is seen as part of China), namely:  Tibet, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, where it forms one of the world's largest deltas, before flowing into the South China Sea at five different locations. This delta is in Vietnamese known as Cuu Long, which translates as Nine Dragons’ (map - fig.). In Tibet, the river is known as Dza Chu (ཟླ་ཆུ།), which translates as River of Rocks; in China, it is besides Mei Gong He (湄公河) officially called Lancang Jiang (澜沧江), which literally means Vast Swelling Water River, but which is usually translated as Turbulent River’; but in southern China and the northern part of Laos, it may also be referred to as Lan Xang or Lahn Sahng (หลานซาง), a term related to Lan Chang, though from the Golden Triangle onward it is in Laos also known as Mae Nahm Khong (ແມ່ນ້ຳຂອງ); whereas in Cambodia, it is called Tonlé Khong (ទន្លេគង្គ) or Tonlé Mae Khong (ទន្លេមេគង្គ). The Mae Khong basin is the habitat of the Giant Catfish (fig.), the world’s largest known freshwater fish, and in the Mae Khong delta, wooden boats transporting live fish are a common sight (fig.). Also spelt Mekhong. See also Yunnan.

2. Name of a Thai brand of rice whisky.

Mae Khongkha (แม่คงคา)

See Khongkha.

Mae Klong (แม่กลอง)

1. Thai. Name of a river that is formed in the tambon Ban Tai (บ้านใต้) in Kanchanaburi, by the confluence of the rivers Kwae Yai and Kwae Noi (fig.), literally the ‘Greater Tributary’ and the ‘Small or Lesser Tributary’. From Kanchanaburi, it (fig.) flows through Ratchaburi to empty into the Gulf of Thailand in Samut Songkhram, of which the provincial emblem bears the picture of a large drum (klong) floating on the water (fig.), which is both a reference to the old name of the city, i.e. Meuang Klong, as well as to the river that flows through it. See MAP.

2. Thai. Name of a tambon, i.e. a ‘subdistrict’, in the city and province of Samut Songkhram. It was the hometown of the famous Siamese Twin In and Chan (fig.), and is today best known for the Talaat Rom Hoop Railway Market (fig.).

Mae Ku (แมกุ)

Thai. Name of the King of Lan Na, who reigned from 1551 to 1564 AD. He became a tributary king to the Burmese King Bayinnaung of Toungoo, after the latter captured Chiang Mai during the War over the White Elephants, which is also known as the Burmese-Siamese War of 1563-1564. Since Mae Ku died of illness while being a captive vassal king to Burma, he was integrated as one of 37 nats that belong to the official pantheon of spirits worshipped in Myanmar, and known as Yun Bayin, literally ‘King of the Yun’, with Yun being the Burmese term that refers to the Northern Thai people otherwise known as Tai Yuan, of whom some also live in Yunnan and in Laos. King Mae Ku is officially known as King Mekuti Sutthiwong (เมกุฏิสุทธิวงศ์). See also LIST OF THAI KINGS and LIST OF BURMESE NATS.

Mae Kwan Khao (แม่ขวัญข้าว)

Another name for the Thai goddess of rice Poh Sop. Also spelled Mae Khwan Khaw.

mae mai (แม่ไม้)

Thai term to refer to the various fighting techniques in muay thai, i.e. Thai boxing. Generally, strikes are known as kaanrook (การรุก), whereas defence poses are called kaanrab (การรับ). Punches are called mat (หมัด), but if performed with the elbow they are called tee/tih sok (ตีศอก), with the knee tee/tih khao (ตีเข่า), and when using the feet the strikes are classified as theeb/thihb (ถีบ). See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

Mae Naak (แม่นาก)

Thai. ‘Mother Naak’. Another name for Naang Naak, who is fully also known as Mae Naak Phra Khanong.

Mae Naak Phra Khanong (แม่นากพระโขนง)

Thai. ‘Mother Naak [of] Phra Khanong [district]’. The full name of Mae Naak, i.e. Naang Naak, after the district in Bangkok (fig.) where her story, supposedly based on events that took place during the reign of King Rama IV, is set.

Mae Nahm Khong (แม่น้ำโขง)

Full Thai name for the Mae Khong River.

maeng (แมง)

Thai. Generic name for certain adult invertebrates, including most insects, but also jellyfish and certain species of crab, scorpions, etc. Two kinds are distinguished: i.e. those of which the head and abdomen form one single section, and those with a clearly divided head and abdomen. Maeng typically have 8 or 10 legs, no antennae and no wings. Although terms are often used interchangeably, other kinds of insects are most often called malaeng, whereas pupae or insects in the larval stage usually carry yet another name.

maengda (แมงดา)

1. Thai. Short name for the Giant Water Bug, which is fully known as maegda moh.

2. Thai slang for a pimp.

3. Short for maengda talae, the horseshoe crab.

maegda moh (แมงดาหม้อ)

Thai. Name for the Giant Water Bug. READ ON.

maegda moh

maengda thalae (แมงดาทะเล)

Thai name for the horseshoe crab.

maeng kaphrun (แมงกะพรุน)

Thai for jellyfish’, also referred to as ‘sea jelly’ or simply ‘jelly’, of which there are around 2,000 varieties, in appearance often transparent or translucent and with stinging tentacles, used for protection and to catch prey. READ ON.

maeng kinoon (แมงกินูน)

Thai. Name for a kind of Cockchafer, i.e. a scarab beetle of the genus Holotrichia, that belong to the order Coleoptera and the superfamily Scarabaeoidea. There exist several subspecies, including Holotrichia longipennis and Holotrichia problematica. In Thai the different varieties are called maeng kinoon daeng noi (แมงกินูนแดงน้อย), maeng kinoon daeng (แมงกินูนแดง), maeng kinoon daeng yai (แมงกินูนแดงใหญ่), maeng kinoon thong (แมงกินูนทอง), maeng kinoon dam (แมงกินูนดำ), etc. Depending on the species, they are light to reddish brown, to near black, and about 22 to 25 millimeters in length. They dig into the soil and live near or in the roots of trees and plants, oftentimes causing damage to crops such as ginger. During the day they stay in the earth to avoid the heat, while during the night they come out of the burrows to feed, flying high up in trees in search of young leaves. In some parts of Isaan, they are fried and eaten as a snack. Alternatively called maeng jihnoon (แมงจีนูน) and maeng ihnoon (แมงอีนูน).

maeng mao (แมงเมา)

Thai. ‘Drunken insect’. Thai term for winged termites (fig.). They are the offspring of real termites and are sent out in large swarms (fig.) by the nest, to establish new colonies, typically at sundown during the rainy season. Their Thai designation refers to the fact that they seem to be completely disorientated and once they have dropped onto the floor, they act even more so, going around in circles, as if they are drunk. Although the majority of them will die, it takes only one male and one female to become the king and queen of a new colony. These winged termites aid in the development of hed pluak, literally ‘termite mushrooms’, an edible species of wild mushroom naturally found near termite mounds, as they sprout from the burrows created by the winged termites when leave the old nest.

maengmoom (แมงมุม)

Thai generic name for any kind of spider. Maeng is a generic name for insects with 8 or more legs, and without antennae nor wings, whereas moom means ‘corner’. Maengmoom could thus be translated as ‘eight-legged corner insect’. Many species spin webs to capture insects as food (fig.), though some hunt for prey, such as Huntsman Spiders, which are able to move up to 40 body lengths per second and have rotatable legs that enable them to colapse them down and become really flat so they can easily hide in crevices, such as tree bark. Notwithstanding, all spiders are able to produce silken threads from glands in their abdomen, often in order to make a nest (fig.). Thailand also has some cave spiders (fig.), i.e. spiders that dwell solely in caves. The world's largest spider by leg-span is the Giant Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda maxima), a cave dwelling spider of the genus Heteropoda (fig.) found in Laos, and laying claim to a leg-span of 30 centimeters. Other large spiders include certain species of wolf spider, of which some may additionally be funnel-web spiders, known in Thai as maengmoom yai kruay (แมงมุมใยกรวย), whilst others may resemble nursery-web spiders. Besides this, there are several species of tarantula (fig.), some of which are eaten in some parts of Southeast Asia (fig.).

maengmoom kradoht (แมงมุมกระโดด)

Thai. ‘Jumping spider’. Generic name for any spider in the family Salticidae. READ ON.

maengmoom lang naam (แมงมุมหลังหนาม)

Thai. ‘Spiny-backed spider’. Generic name for a genus of spider. READ ON.

maengmoom mae maay nahm tahn (แมงมุมแม่หม้ายน้ำตาล)

Thai. ‘Brown Widow Spider’. Name for a very venomous spider, with the scientific designation Latrodectus geometricus. Though it was previously only rarely found in a few places outside Africa and the Americas, it recently started to occur also in Thailand. According to the Thai Nature Education Centre this species was introduced in the wild accidentally through some arachnophiles, i.e. fans of spiders, who imported it from abroad. Once escaped, it reproduced rapidly, as females lay between 200 to 400 eggs at a time, and has now spread to about 20 Thai provinces. This bulbous spider, with rather long fore and hind legs, has a body size of about one centimeter. Its neurotoxic venom is purportedly twice as potent as that of the black widow, though usually stays confined to the bite area. If bitten, medical attention is needed.

maengmoom sih thong laai phah batik (แมงมุมสีทองลายผ้าบาติค)

Thai designation for the Batik Golden Web Spider.

maengmoom yai thong laai khanaan (แมงมุมใยทองลายขนาน)

Thai designation for the Golden Orb-web Spider.

maengmoom yak (แมงมุมยักษ์)

Thai. ‘Giant spider’. Another name for beung.

maengpong (แมงป่อง)

Thai for ‘scorpion’. READ ON.

maengpong sae (แมงป่องแส้)

Thai for Whip Scorpion, a literal translation of the English designation.

maeng tab tao (แมงตับเต่า)

Thai name for a species of rather large Water Scavenger Beetle, with the scientific designation Hydrous cavistanum. It belongs to the order Coleoptera and to the family Hydrophilidae (fig.). In Thai, it is also known by the name malaeng niang (แมลงเหนี่ยง). It is black in colour, almond-shaped, and has a strongly keeled abdomen. In addition to scavenging, adults may be predatory or vergetarian. This species of beetle is fried and eaten as a snack in some parts of Thailand, especially in Isaan.

Mae Phra Phai (แม่พระพาย)

Thai name for the goddess of wind and air, who serves as the female counterpart to Vayu, the Vedic god of the wind and air. WATCH VIDEO.

Mae Phra Phloeng (แม่พระเพลิง)

Thai name for the goddess of fire, who serves as the female counterpart to Agni, the Vedic god of fire. The fire goddess is also thought to be the deity of light, possessing the power to rescue humanity from utter darkness, and thus can bring Enlightenment. In iconography, Mae Phra Phloeng is typically depicted wearing a halo of flames. WATCH VIDEO.

Mae Phra Thoranee (แม่พระธรณี)

Thai name for Thoranee.

Mae Poh Sop (แม่โพสพ)

Another name for the Thai goddess of rice Poh Sop.

Mae Seua (แม่ซื้อ)

Thai. Name a kind of spirit or thevada, that looks out for infants, i.e. a sort of guardian angel that looks after kids. There are seven different kinds of those guardian spirits, one for each day of the week, and children will receive their guardian angel according to the day on which they are born, similar as in the dao prajam wan, sat prajam wan, sih prajam wan, and Phra prajam wan systems. The seven Mae Seua are known individually by the names Wichitmahwan, who is represented with a red human-like body and the head of a lion (singh), and who correspondents to Sunday; Wannongkrahn, who is represented with an off-white (khao-nuan) human-like body and the head of a horse, and who correspondents to Monday; Yaksaborisut, who is represented with a pink (or sometimes black) human-like body and the head of a buffalo (fig.), and who correspondents to Tuesday; Samonthat, who is represented with a human-like body and the head of an elephant (fig.), similar to the Hindu deity Ganesha (fig.), and who correspondents to Wednesday; Galohtuk, who is represented with a pale yellow human-like body and the head of deer, and who correspondents to Thursday; Yaknongyao, who is represented with a light blue-greyish human-like body and the head of an ox (ko - fig.), and who correspondents to Friday; and lastly Ekalai, who is represented with either a blackish or an orangey-yellowish human-like body with black cloud-like stripes and the head of tiger (seua), and who correspondents to Saturday (fig.).

Maew (แม้ว)

1. Thai name for Hmong. Also Miao. MORE ON THIS.

2. Language belonging to the family of Miao-Yao-Pateng, a subgroup of the Sino-Tibetan language group that includes Chinese, Burmese and Tibetan. Also Miao. MORE ON THIS.

maew (แมว)

Thai generic name for any kind of cat. See also Siamese Cat.

maew dao (แมวดาว)

Thai for Leopard Cat. Compare with seua dao.

Maew Kwak (แมวกวัก)

Thai. ‘Beckoning Cat’. Thai name for the Japanese cat Maneki-neko (fig.). Compare with Nang Kwak. See also kwak.

Mae Ya Nang (แม่ย่านาง)

Thai. Mascot or spirit guarding a ship or a boat.

ma fai (มะไฟ)

Thai name for a tree (fig.), with the botanical name Baccaurea ramiflora, which is listed in the family Euphorbiaceae and yields small, round, yellowish-orange fruits, that are commonly known as Burmese grapes (fig.) and in some way similar in appearance to longkong (fig.) or langsat (a kind of longkong), but are more spread on the branch, i.e. less clustered, while its skin can more easily be removed. The flesh (fig.) has a sweet citrus-like flavour, a soft creamy texture, and is usually eaten including the seed, which is inextricably attached to the flesh. The tree fruits from April to May and is found all over Thailand. In Thai, also known as sae khreua sae (แซเครือแซ), pha yiw (ผะยิ้ว), hamkang (หัมกัง), and somfai (ส้มไฟ).

ma feuang (มะเฟือง)

Thai name for a tree with the Latin name Averrhoa carambola and its fruit, the star fruit.

Magadha (मगध)

Sanskrit. See Makot.

Magadhi (मागधी)

Sanskrit. Ancient language from Magadha. It is believed to be the language spoken by the Buddha. Also called Magahi.

Magahi (मगही)

Another name for Magadhi.

magan (မကန်း)

Burmese. Name for a mythical sea creature in Myanmar considered to be a local form of the makara and resembling a crocodile (fig.) with a prehensile trunk-like snout. See also Nga Moe Yeik (fig.) and compare with the snout of Pensajuba (fig.).

Magic Cave Land

See Tham Kaew Saraphat Neuk.

Magic Crystal Cave

See Tham Kaew Saraphat Neuk.

Magistrates of the Netherworld

The scribes of Yan Mo (fig.), who is also known as Yan Wang (fig.), the king of death and the counterpart of the Vedic god Yama. READ ON.

mah (หมา)

Thai for ‘dog’. This word has a rising tone and is not to be confused with the same word (mah), but with a high tone which means ‘horse’. Sometimes transcribed ma. See also sunak.

mah (ม้า, 马)

Thai for ‘horse’. READ ON.

maha (महा, มหา, မဟာ)

1. Sanskrit-Pali-Thai, Burmese. ‘Great’ or ‘mighty’. A prefix often placed before the name or title of important persons, things and places. See also prom.

2. Thai. A graduate in Buddhist theology who has passed at least the third grade exam, out of a total of nine. He must be a member of the clergy, though retains the title after leaving the priesthood.

mahaadlek (มหาดเล็ก)

Thai for an officer of a royal or princely household, a royal page.

Maha Atulawaiyan Kyaungdawgyi (မဟာ အတုလဝေယန် ကျောင်းတော်ကြီး)

Burmese. ‘Great Supreme Monastery School’. Another name for Atumashi Kyaung (fig.).

Maha Bali (महाबलि)

Name of the king who became so powerful that he dominated the triloka (three worlds). Vishnu in his avatar of a dwarf (Vamana) eventually subdued him.

Maha Bandula (မဟာဗန္ဓုလ)

Burmese. Name of a Burmese general, who was commander-in-chief of the Royal Burmese Armed Forces from 1821 AD until 1825 AD. READ ON.

Mahabharata (महाभारत)

Sanskrit. ‘The Great Bharata’. Great epic from India dated around the 4th century BC. It contains chronicles of the Vedic times and is composed of eighteen books consisting of one hundred and ten thousand couplets relating the great battle of the Bharatas between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, two related families of a royal lineage. The Hindu god Krishna emerges as one of the protagonists of the poem in which he reveals the Bhagavad Gita. In Thai, the story is known as Mahapharata, thought there is also a Thai adaptation of the story called Mahabharata Yudh or Mahapharata Yuth (มหาภารตะยุทธ), with Yudh or Yuth being a Sanskrit word meaning ‘war’ (compare with Ayutthaya), but which is also an abbreviation of Yudhisthira, i.e. the Dhammaracha and the leader of the successful Pandava side in the Kurukshetra War. The Mahabharata Yudh is a shortened version of the Mahabharata, which varies from the original story and was translated and composed by Karunah Kusalahsai (กรุณา กุศลาสัย) and his wife Reuangurai Hinchiranan (เรืองอุไร หิญชีระนันทน์). Illustrations for the publication of the Mahabharata Yudh were made by Hem Wetchakon and one of those, depicting the archer Arjuna riding a chariot, appears on a Thai postage stamp issued in 2004 (fig.).

Maha Bodhi (महाबोधि)

Sanskrit-Hindi. ‘Great Enlightenment’ or ‘Great Awakening’. Name of a temple with a pagoda at Bodh Gaya in Bihar state in India, built over the bodhimanda, i.e. the exact spot where the Buddha attained Bodh, that is Perfect Knowledge or ‘Enlightenment’. The emperor Asohk erected a monument at this spot which was later destroyed and rebuilt as the Maha Bodhi pagoda, which is in the sikhara-style (fig.), i.e. a truncated pyramidal structure topped with an amalaka (fig.). Over time, the stupa has been rebuilt and restored several times and the current straight-sided pyramid stands arounf 55 metres tall. Many temples in Buddhist countries have been modelled after the Maha Bodhi pagoda, such as Wat Yahn in Chonburi (fig.) Wat Wang Wiwekaram in Sangkhlaburi (fig.), Wat Thammongkhon in Bangkok (fig.), and Wat Mahathat Wachiramongkhon in Krabi (fig.), all in Thailand; Maha Bodhi Phaya in Old Bagan (fig.) in Myanmar; Chua Huyen Khong in Hué (fig.) in Vietnam, etc. Also spelled Mahabodhi.

Maha Bodhi Phaya (မဟာဗောဓိဘုရား)

Burmese-Sanskrit. ‘Temple of the Great Enlightenment’ or ‘Temple of the Great Awakening’. Name of a Buddhist temple in Old Bagan, named and modelled after the famous Maha Bodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, which commemorates the spot where the Buddha attained Bodh, i.e. Perfect Knowledge or ‘Enlightenment’. It was built by King Htilominlo, i.e. Nadaungmya/Zeya Theinkha Uzana, in 1215 AD. The temple consists of a high pyramidal tower on a square base. A Buddha image is placed in the lower storey, as well as another Buddha image in the upper storey, while 465 Buddha images in different postures were placed in the niches all over the surface of the entire spire. At the back of the tower and connected to it, is a small hall with an arched door on either side, that gives a access to a corridor that runs from one door to the other. At the centre, the corridor ceiling has a large round opening, where once a bodhi tree (fig.) grew straight through the hole in the roof, that was specially created for this purpose. See MAP.

Maha Bodhi Ta Htaung (မဟာဗောဓိတထောင်)

Burmese. ‘A Thousand Great Bodhi Trees’. Name of a Buddhist monastery and centre for meditation located in the village of Khatakan Taung, in Myanmar's Monywa Township, just around 7 kilometers eastward down the road from Thanboddhay Paya (fig.). The temple is known for its many surrounding gardens with hundreds of life-sized Buddha images (map - fig.), similar to the Lonepanyi Garden at Hpa-an, and sacred fig trees, a 69 meter tall pagoda known as Aung Sakkya, as well as the giant reclining and standing Buddha statues. The latter is known as Laykyun Setkyar (map - fig.) and including its base is 129.5 meters high, putting it purportedly in the top three list of largest Buddha statues in the world. The standing Buddha statue can be entered and has 31 floors on the inside, reachable only by staircase yet offering panoramic views over the area from its many open windows. See MAP.

Mahachaat (มหาชาติ)

Thai. The story of the last great incarnation of the Buddha, consisting of thirteen chapters (kan) and many episodes (lae).

Mahachai (มหาชัย)

1. Thai. Another name for Samut Sakon.

2. Thai. ‘Great accomplishment or triumph’. Name of a canal that connects Samut Songkhram with Bangkok and runs straight across the province of Samut Sakon where it crosses the Tachin River.

3. Thai. Name for the Thai deity of victory, usually referred to as Phra Mahachai.

Mahachanok (มหาชนก)

See Mahajanaka.

Maha Chomphoo (มหาชมพู)

1. Thai. Name of a monkey in the Ramakien. He has a dark blue complexion (fig.) and is the ruler of Chomphoo City. His queen is from a northern continent and is hence named Kaew Udon. Since they didn't have any children Phra Idsuan granted them a son with a black complexion, who was named Nilaphat (fig.).

2. Thai. Another name for the Veda Bodhisattva Phra Wet Photisat, who in Chinese is called Wei Tuo, and who is associated with Skanda, the Hindu god of war.

Mahadhammaracha (มหาธรรมราชา)

1. Thai. ‘Great righteous king’. Name of a bronze Buddha image in Phetchabun, that is cast in the Lopburi-style and is the focus of the annual Diving Buddha Image Festival. The Buddha image is the kuh bahn kuh meuang of Phetchabun, and today the province also has a giant Mahadhammaraja Buddha statue, the largest in the world, located in Phetchabura (เพชรบุระ) Buddhist Park, off the main highway into Phetchabun City, and which was officially inaugurated on 26 September 2011. Also spelled Maha Dhamma Racha, Mahadhammaraja or similar. See also list of Thai Kings and WATCH VIDEO.

2. Thai. ‘Great Righteous King’. Name of four successive kings of Sukhothai, of the House of Phra Ruwang, that ruled between 1347 and 1446 AD, starting with Phaya Li Thai, i.e. Mahadhammaracha Lithai or Maha Dhamma Racha I, who was succeeded by Phaya Leu Thai (พญาลือไท), followed by Phaya Sai Leu Thai (พญาไสลือไท), and finally Borommaphaan (บรมปาล). See also list of Thai Kings.

3. Thai. ‘Great Righteous King’. A title bestowed upon Maha Dhammarachathiraat (fig.), a king of Ayutthaya, of the House of Sukhothai, who ruled for 21 years, from 1569 to 1590 AD. See also list of Thai Kings.

Mahadhammaracha Lithai (มหาธรรมราชาลิไท)

Thai. King of Sukhothai in the 14th century, who commissioned the casting of the Phraphutta Chinnarat image (fig.) from Wat Phra Sri Rattanamahathat. During his reign, from 1347 until his death in 1376, he moved the city of Phitsanulok, then known as Song Khwae, to its present-day location on the Nan river. Beside his kingship he also taught Buddhist cosmology. Also known as Maha Dhamma Racha I, Thammaracha I or Phaya Li Thai. See also list of Thai Kings.

Maha Dhammarachathiraat (มหาธรรมราชาธิราช)

Thai. A noble from the House of Sukhothai during the Ayutthaya Period, who was made Lord of Phitsanulok and viceroy or uparacha of the northern provinces by King Maha Chakkraphat in gratitude for putting him on the throne, and whom conferred him with the title of Maha Dhamma Racha. From 29 September AD 1569 to 1584 was the vassal ruler of Siam under King Bayinnaung (fig.) of Burma, and from AD 1584 to 30 June 1590, the independent King of Siam. He married the later Queen Wisutikasat (fig.), the daughter of his predecessor's predecessor, King Maha Chakkraphat, whom he had helped elevate to the throne. He fathered three children, i.e. the Princes Naresuan (fig.) and Ekathotsarot (fig.), and the Princess Suphankanlaya (fig.). He is also known by the crown title Sanphet I, is sometimes referred to by his former name Khun Phirenthorathep (ขุนพิเรนเทพ/ขุนพิเรนทรเทพ), while Maha Dhammarachathiraat may also be transliterated Maha Dhamma Racha Thirat or Maha Thammarachathirat, or similar. See also list of Thai Kings and Sanphet.

mahadhatu (มหาธาตุ)

Thai. Another transliteration for mahathat.

Maha Ganayon Kyaung (မဟာဂန္ဓာရုံကျောင်း)

Burmese. Name of a Buddhist monastery (kyaung), founded in 1914 and located on the banks of Taungthaman Lake in Amarapura, south of Mandalay, in northern Myanmar. It is home to ca. 1,300 monks and novices, and is renowned as a centre of monastic and linguistic excellence, where besides Pali, the language of Theravada Buddhism, also English, Chinese, German, and Korean are being taught. Sometimes transliterated Maha Gandar Yone. See also maha.

Mahajanaka (มหาชนก)

Pali-Thai. Name of one of the ten jataka, i.e. life stories of the previous incarnations of the Buddha, which are known in Thai as chadok. In this story, the bodhisatta is born as Prince Mahajanaka, whom after being shipwrecked in the middle of the ocean, is rescued by Mekala.  After that, he succeeded his father and became King of Mithila city. The most important scene of the story is when King Mahajanaka comes across two mango trees, one barren, the other heavy with fruit. However, when the King passes by the pair of trees again later, he finds that the tree heavy with fruit had been ripped apart and pulled down by some of his careless subjects, in order to try and reach for its mangoes. The King became distraught by the greed and self-destructiveness of his people, whom ‒even if they liked mangoes‒ in their ignorance had destroyed the good mango tree. Hence, King Mahajaka decided that only with the establishment of an institute of higher learning will his people know how to balance their acts and cravings. Some time later, he renounced his worldly wealth and became a monk. In 2000 AD, the story was modified into a cartoon version by King Bhumiphon. In Thai, pronounced Mahachanok. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2) and (3).

Mahakala (महाकला)

Sanskrit. ‘Great Time’ or the ‘Great Black One’. The personification of Kala in a terrible form, associated with the destructive aspects of Shiva, and personified as a destructive form of Shiva. READ ON.

Mahakali (महाकाली)

Sanskrit. ‘Great Kali’. The awesome, terrible form of Parvati, with multiple arms, typically ten (fig.), and sometimes with several heads with protruding tongues (fig.). Around her waist she often wears a dress of severed arms and around her neck a garland of decapitated heads. Mahakali is said to be the cosmic form of the goddess, where she embodies the ultimate truth of the universe and holds the power of the other deities in her ten arms. Sometimes depicted standing over Shiva. See also Kali and phuang manao.

Mahakan Fort

See Pom Maha Kaan.

Maha Kassapa (มหากัสสปะ)

Pali-Thai. Name of a brahman of Magadha, who became a disciple of the Buddha and later the monk that succeeded him as leader of the Sangha. Usually represented in iconography and murals as an old man (fig.), generally accompanied by the young monk Ananda, the Buddha's cousin and his most important disciple. He compiled the Buddha's suttas with 500 other disciples and became the first man to preach the Buddha's teachings. He is one of the Ten Principal Disciples. In Sanskrit, he is known as Maha Kasyapa (महाकश्यप).

mahal (महल)

Hindi. A palace or grand building in India, as in Taj Mahal (fig.), as well as the name of the favourite wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, i.e. Mumtaz Mahal (मुमताज़ महल), for whom the former in 1632 commissioned the construction of this mausoleum. Also pronounced mahel. See MAP.

mahamandapa (महामण्डप)

Sanskrit. ‘Great pavilion’. A large porch or pillared hall in a temple, usually in front of the main shrine. See also mandapa.

Maha Maya (महामा‍या)

Sanskrit. ‘Great Illusion’. Wife of King Suddhodana and mother of Prince Siddhartha, who later became the historical Buddha. In Vajrayana Buddhism, she is also a protective deity.

Mahamayuri (महामायूर)

Sanskrit. ‘Great Peacock’. Name of a dharani and of an Indian goddess, who is believed to be the deification of that particular dharani, a magical formula used to ensure protection from snake bites. The goddess has three or alternatively six heads, and eight or twelve arms. She is generally depicted as seated on her mount the mayura and with the colours of a peacock, i.e. overall green in colour with her three faces in green, white and blue. Her very name is suggestive of her close connection with the peacock, which is called mayura in Sanskrit. Two of her hands are usually held in the abhaya and varada mudras, whereas the others hold various attributes and weapons, which may include a sword, a jar, a flower, a bell, a vajra and a jewel. According to legend, there was a newly ordained bhiksu, who was unluckily bitten by a poisonous snake and fainted. On seeing his condition Ananda reported the incident to the Buddha whom out of compassion revealed a dharani, i.e. a ritual speech which was capable of eliminating poisonous harm and malignant diseases. This dharani was Mahamayuri. In another story, there was a golden peacock, named Suvarnavabhasa (fig.), that lived near the Himalayas and used to recite the Mahamayuri dharani daily with great devotion. One day the peacock king travelled with his family to the mountains, forgetting to recite the dharani. He was caught by hunters and thinking of his forgetfulness of the dharani he immediately began to recite it and was able to free himself. The Buddha told Ananda that the peacock king was none other than the Buddha himself. Consequently, the dharani became known as the Golden Peacock Charm and is believed to be efficient in all cases of dangers, on top of a protection from snake bites.

Mahalabamuni (မဟာလာဘမုနိ)

Burmese. ‘Great Father Sage’ or ‘Mighty Father Saint’. A title sometimes given to the Buddha in Myanmar, as well as the name of a Bamboo Buddha housed in Shwe Mawdaw Phaya in Pegu, a city also known as Bago (fig.). The Buddha image is —like that of Nyaung Shwe— woven entirely from bamboo (fig.), using two different kinds of this giant grass species. It was made in 2013 AD and it took 49 days to complete, whilst the preparations, i.e. the cutting of the tiny strips of bamboo, took another two months. The statue is depicted seated in the lotus position, holding a bowl in the one hand whilst the other hand is stretched out forward, with the fingers pointing downward and the thumb at the front, a gesture meaning blessing. The image is described as representing the Buddha's unrivalled diamond reign. See also Mahamuni. See MAP.

Mahamuni (महामुनि)

Sanskrit-Pali-Burmese. ‘Great Sage’. A title sometimes given to the Buddha, especially in Myanmar (fig.), whereas in other countries he is more often referred to as Sakyamuni, i.e. ‘Sage of the Sakya [clan]’, since the title Mahamuni could also be used for any celebrated sage, monk or saint. Also transcribed Maha Muni. Compare with Mahalabamuni, Saadsada and Phra Samasam. See also Maha Myat Muni.

Maha Myat Muni (မဟာမြတ်မုနိ)

Burmese. ‘Great Noble Saint’. Name of the most revered and the oldest Buddha image of Myanmar, currently located in the Mahamuni Buddha Temple in Mandalay, though it originally comes from Arakan and is said to date from the lifetime of the Buddha himself. According to legend, King Sanda Thuriya of Arakan commissioned that an image was cast of himself, though when the Buddha visited Dhanyawadi, the capital of this ancient kingdom, he breathed upon the image and it consequently became the exact likeness of Mahamuni, i.e. the ‘Great Sage’, a designation for the Buddha, who is also known as Maha Sakyamuni. The bronze Buddha image, now almost entirely covered in gold leaf applied by devotees, is about 3.83 meters high, i.e. 8 Burmese cubits (ca. 45.97 centimeters) and 1 Burmese maik (15.24 centimeters), and is seated on a high altar in the bhumisparsa pose. It is said to have a total weight of 6.5 tonnes and when the image was transported from its initial place to its present location by overland routes and waterways, it took 4 months to carry it across the Rakhine Yoma mountain ranges. It may also be transliterated Mahar Myat Mu Ni, a spelling also used for other temples with the same name throughout Myanmar, such as the one near the village of Nar Hee in Shan State (fig.). The temple compound is also home to the History Art Gallery, i.e. a bronze statues museum (fig.), which features six large bronze statues that originate from Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Besides a statue of the multi-headed white elephant Airavata (fig.), there are three statues of mythological lions called simha or singha (fig.), and two warriors said to represent Shiva (fig.). Visitors to the temple used to come here to rub a particular part of their bodies against the statues believing that they have healing qualities, hence the statues were eventually relocated to the centre of the hall and now stand on an elevated platform behind glass panels, thus still allowing for devotees to walk around the statues or even perform a thaksinahwat (fig.), whilst safeguarding the ancient bronzes at the same time. See MAP.

Maha Nakhon (มหานคร)

Thai. ‘Great City’. Name for Thailand's tallest tower, overtaking the position as the highest building of the nation from the 309 meter high Baiyoke Sky Tower between 2016 and 2018. READ ON.

Mahanikaai (มหานิกาย)

Thai. ‘Great Sect’. One of the two major denominations of the Thai Sangha, the other being the Thammayut. It is the larger school of Thai Buddhism whose monks specialize in either meditation or study of the scriptures, not in both, as is the case in the Thammayut sect. Mahanikaai monks are allowed to eat twice a day, before noon, and may accept side dishes, unlike Thammayut monks, who are allowed to eat only once before noon and only what is in their alms bowl. There are about 35 times as many Mahanikaai monks than there are Thammayut monks. In Pali-Sanskrit called Mahanikaya and in Khmer Mohanikay. See also nikaya.

Mahanikaya (महानिकाय)

Sanskrit-Pali term for Mahanikaai. It is a compound of the words maha and nikaya.

Mahantayot (มหันตยศ)

Thai. Twin brother of Anantayot and son of the legendary Chamadevi of Lopburi, queen of the Dvaravati empire in the 7th century AD.

Mahaparinippahn (มหาปรินิพพาน)

See Mahaparinirvana.

Mahaparinirvana (महापरिनिर्वाण)

Sanskrit. The definitive transition of the Buddha to nirvana and his total extinction following death in which all his suffering, desire, and the cycle of rebirths cease. This happened in 483 BC in Kusinagara after he had gathered all his disciples to hear his final sermon. In Thai Mahaparinippahn. See also parinippahn.

Mahapharata (มหาภารต, มหาภารตะ)

Thai name for Mahabharata.

Mahaphrom Rachini (มหาพรหมราชินี)

Thai. Name for a plant, with the botanical name Mitrephora sirikitiae. It grows to about 4-6 meters tall and blossoms in May, bearing one to three large flowers on almost every branch, each of the showy flowers with a diameter of about 10 centimetres, with white bracts and a core that consists of three dark petals that are fused together, each petal with three tips, of which the outer ones are dark red and the one in the middle yellowish-green. It was only discovered in 2004, when it was found at the peak of a mountain in the Nahm Tok Mae Surin (น้ำตกแม่สุรินทร์) National Park, in Mae Hong Son Province, where the best ecological conditions for this flowers is met, namely: steep mountains surrounded by thick forest, and cool weather. It's a rare species of plant and so far found only in Thailand, and difficult to reproduce. It was officially named after Queen Sirikit Kitthiyagon on 12 August 2004, on the occasion of her 6th cycle birthday, whereas the common name is a compound of Maha (Great), Phrom (Brahma) and Rachini (Queen). See also POSTAGE STAMP.

Maha Prajapati (महाप्रजापति)

Sanskrit. ‘Great protector of creatures’. Name of the sister of Maha Maya who served as Siddhartha's guardian when his mother died seven days after his birth. She later married Siddhartha's father Suddhodana. She is also known by the name Gautami.

mahapurusha (महापुरुष)

Sanskrit. A ‘great man’ destined to become a world leader or saviour and recognizable by the 32 lakshanas, the marks of a great person to be.

maharadja (महाराज)

Sanskrit. ‘Great king’ or ‘great monarch’. A compound of maha and raja. In Thai Maha Raj, pronounced and sometimes transcribed Maha Raat or Maharaat.

Maha Raj (มหาราช)

Thai. ‘Great King’ or ‘Great Monarch’. Usually occurs as a suffix with the names of important kings of Thai history, such as King Ramkamhaeng, ruler of Sukhothai from 1279 to 1298 AD (fig.); King Naresuan, Narai, Taksin, Rama I, Rama IV, and Rama V, as depicted together in the monument at Uthayaan Rachaphak (fig.). Due to his royal lineage, the title is in Thailand also used for the Shakyamuni Buddha, especially in the name of certain Buddha images, e.g. the Phra Phutta Maha Raj (fig.) Buddha statue at the ubosot of Wat Ratchaburana in Bangkok. In Sanskrit maharadja. Pronunciation Maha Raat.

maharani (महारानी)

Sanskrit. Great queen, the wife of a maharadja.

Maharddhika (महर्द्धिक)

Sanskrit term from Tantrism or Vajrayana Buddhism and which means ‘very powerful’ or ‘great supernatural power’. It is related to the Pali word mahiddhika, meaning ‘of great magical power’.

maharishi (महर्षि)

Sanskrit. ‘Great rishi, master, teacher or sage’. An honorary title.

Mahar Myat Mu Ni (မဟာမြတ်မုနိ)

Burmese. ‘Great Noble Saint’. Name of a Buddhist temple located near the village of Nar Hee, in the scenic Shan highlands, some 35 kms south of Taunggyi. The main stupa and the adjacent prayer hall are surrounded by a collection of hundreds of smaller stupas, most of them built in ranks with the main stupa at their center, whilst there is another collection of smaller stupas in the northeastern corner of the complex. Though the stupas have recently all been painted gold, in the past most were reportedly white. It may also be transliterated Maha Myat Muni, the English spelling typically used for the Maha Muni Buddha Temple (fig.) in Mandalay. See MAP.

Maha Santing Luang (มหาสันติงหลวง)

Thai-Pali. Kham meuang, i.e. northern Thai, term for an ancient Buddhist prayer for peace and calm, known in Pali as Uppatasanti and of which the authorship dates back to the he Ayutthaya Period and is accredited to the Buddhist scholar Phra Maha Mangkhala Silawangsa (fig.), a Phra Thera monk who lived in Chiang Mai during the reign of King Phaya Tilokarat (1441-1487 AD - fig.).

Maha Sarakham (มหาสารคาม)

Thai. ‘Great independent village’. Provincial capital and province (map) in central Isaan, about 475 kms Northeast of Bangkok, between Khon Khaen and Roi Et. READ ON.

Mahasena (महासेन)

Sanskrit. ‘Having a great army’, ‘General’, or ‘Commander of a large force’. A nickname for Skanda (fig.), i.e. Karttikeya (fig.).

Maha Shivratri (महाशिवरात्रि)

See Shivratri.

mahat (महत्)

Sanskrit. The great intelligence produced during creation. It is related to the word ‘manas’, meaning ‘mind, intellect, understanding’.

Mahathat (มหาธาตุ)

Thai. ‘Great relic’. Term used in Thailand to name the most important relic shrines which usually hold a relic of the lord Buddha.

Mahathat Chedi Ming Molih Sri Burapah (มหาธาตุเจดีย์มิ่งโมลีศรีบูรพา)

Thai. Name of a Buddhist temple in the tambon Nong Khahng Khok of Chonburi. READ ON.

Mahathep (มหาเทพ)

Thai. ‘Great god’. A designation sometimes used for Shiva.

mahatma (महात्मा)

Sanskrit. ‘Great soul’. Honorary title given to sages and teachers, such as Gandhi.

Mahatthai (มหาดไทย)

Thai. Since 1 April 1892 the name stands for the ‘Ministry of the Interior’, but in the Ayutthaya, Thonburi and early Rattanakosin Periods, it was the name for the office responsible for the provinces North and East of the capital and led by a Chao Phraya, who had direct territorial responsibilities. The term Mahatthai is also used to refer to its minister, whose office and title were conferred by the King. In full also referred to as Krasuang Mahatthai (กระทรวงมหาดไทย). See also Damrong Rachanuphaap.

Mahatthai Uthit (มหาดไทยอุทิศ)

Thai. ‘Devoted Mahatthai’. The official name of a historical bridge near Pom Maha Kaan (fig.) and which in Thai is fully known as Sapaan Mahatthai Uthit. READ ON.

Mahavairochana (महावैरोचन)

Sanskrit. ‘Great illumination’ or ‘great sun’. The Adi-Buddha. One of the five jinas or transcendental buddhas from Vajrayana Buddhism. He is positioned in the middle of a mandala and makes the gesture of supreme wisdom by holding the right index finger in the left fist with the thumb pointing upward. His signs are the wheel and the sun. Sometimes transcribed Mahavairocana and also known as Vairochana.

Mahavamsa (மகாவம்சம், महावंश)

Tamil. Singhalese chronicle in Pali containing the history of Buddhism in Ceylon from its beginning in the 3rd century BC to the early 4th century AD. In Thai Mahawong.

Mahavir (มหาวีร)

Thai for Mahavira.

Mahavira (महावीर)

Sanskrit. ‘Great hero’. Title for the last of the twenty-four omniscient great teachers called tirthankaras and the founder of Jainism. He was a contemporary of the Buddha. In Thai Mahavir. See also Vardhamana.

Maha Wizaya Zedi (မဟာဝိဇယစေတီ)

Burmese. Name of a Buddhist temple in Yangon's Dagon Township, which was built in 1980 AD. READ ON.

mahawithayahlai (มหาวิทยาลัย)

Thai for ‘university’. See education.

Mahawithayahlai Maha Chulalongkon Ratcha Withayahlai (มหาวิทยาลัย มหาจุฬาลงกรณราชวิทยาลัย)

Thai. Chulalongkorn the Great Royal Seminary University’. Name of a public Buddhist university in Thailand. READ ON.

Mahawong (มหาวงศ์)

Thai name for the Mahavamsa, the Singhalese chronicle that traces the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Mahayaan (มหายาน)

Thai name for Mahayana.

Mahayana (महायान)

Sanskrit. ‘Greater vehicle’. The branch of Buddhism whose believers rely on bodhisattvas for their salvation from the endless cycle of rebirths and their aim to become a buddha. This sect of Buddhism spread from northern India in the 2nd century AD and is mainly practiced in countries of northeastern Asia, including Tibet, Nepal, China, Mongolia, Korea and Japan, but also in Vietnam and sometimes also in Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia, though the latter three now practice mainly Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism, the other main branch of Buddhism. During prayers, Thai Mahayana monks wear a long orange ceremonial robe (fig.), akin to that of Theravada Buddhist monks (fig.), but otherwise they are dressed in a more leisurely outfit, that consists of an orange jacket and long baggy kaangkaeng le trousers (fig.). However, the dress for Mahayana Buddhist monks and novices differs greatly per country (fig.). In Vietnam, for instance, they wear a pale grey outfit (fig.), which is covered by an orange-brown to dark brown robe (fig.) during prayers (fig.), or when travelling. In Thai called Mahayaan.

Mahayogi (महायोगी)

Sanskrit. ‘Great ascetic’. A name of Shiva.

Mahayommayak (มหายมยักษ์)

Thai. Name of a yak, i.e. a demon character, in the Ramakien, who has a red complexion. READ ON.

Mahazedi (မဟာစေတီ)

1. Burmese. ‘Great Zedi’ or ‘Great Stupa’. Name of a Buddhist temple in Bago. READ ON.

2. Burmese. ‘Great Zedi’ or ‘Great Stupa’. Name of a 13th century Buddhist pagoda in Bagan. READ ON.

Mahendraparvata (महेंद्रपर्वत)

Hindi-Sanskrit. ‘Mountain of the Great Indra’. One of the seven mountain chains of the Himalayas and the early name for Phnom Kulen in Cambodia.

Mahesvara (महेश्वर, มเหศวร)

Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Great Lord’. A name for Shiva. Also Maheshwara. The feminine form is known as Mahesvari (fig.).

Mahesvari (माहेश्वरी, มาเหศวรี)

Sanskrit-Thai. The shakti or feminine energy of Mahesvara, i.e. a form of Shiva, and one of the seven Matris. Also known as Rudrani, i.e. the female form of Rudra, and alternatively spelled Maheshwari.

mah han bai yah soob (ม้าหั่นใบยาสูบ)

Thai. ‘Bench to cut tobacco leaves’. See tobacco cutter.


Pali term meaning ‘of great magical power’. It is related to the Sanskrit word Maharddhika from Tantrism or Vajrayana Buddhism, which means ‘very powerful’ or ‘great supernatural power’.

Mahidol Adulyadej (มหิดล อดุลยเดช)

Thai. The father of Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) and Bhumipol Adulyadej (Rama IX) and husband to Sangwan Talabhat, the Princess Mother, Sri Nagarindra (fig.). He was the 69th child of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) with Queen Sawang Wattana (Savang Vadhana) of whom he was the 7th child. Besides two kings he also fathered a daughter, i.e. Princess Galyani Watthana. He has the title Prince of Songkhla, and though educated as a MD, he was reportedly unable to fully practice his profession, as direct contact between royalty and commoners was at the time –at least officially– strictly prohibited. With his princely status making it near-impossible to practice in the capital, he went to work in a missionary-run hospital in Chiang Mai, where he became a resident doctor. He was born on 1 January 1892 and died untimely from kidney failure on 24 September 1929. The Prince is portrayed on a postage stamp issued in 1983, to mark the 60th Anniversary of the cooperation between the Siriraj Faculty of Medicine and the Rockefeller Foundation, because in 1920, the Prince was the Thai Government's delegate to negotiate with the Rockefeller Foundation for medical aid (fig.). He has appeared on a number of Thai postage stamps, most recently for the occasion of the 120th anniversary of his birthday, in 2012 (fig.). He has been given the title Adulyadejvikrom.

Mahidon Adunyadet (มหิดล อดุลยเดช)

Thai. Pronunciation of Mahidol Adulyadej.

mahingsa (มหิงสา)

Thai pronunciation for mahisha, buffalo.

Mahinthara (มหินธรา)

Thai-Sanskrit compound of maha, which means ‘great’ or ‘mighty’, and Inthara which is Thai for Indra’. However, the compound is in literature also translated as ‘great man’ and lord of the land’ or ‘lord of the mountain’, due to Indra's heavenly home Sumeru, on Mount Meru. It freely translates perhaps best as the ‘Great Indra’ or ‘Lord Indra.

mahisha (महिष)

Sanskrit. ‘Buffalo’. The mount of Yama. In Thai pronounced mahingsa.

Mahishasura (महिषासुर)

Sanskrit. ‘Buffalo demon’. An asura or demon of darkness, with immense powers, who after continuously changing shape eventually transformed into a buffalo (mahisha), and thus got slain by Durga in her fearsome form of Chamunda, who is also referred to as Mahishasuramardini. The episode is described in the Devi Mahatmyam, yet is also found in the Mahabharata, though according to the latter, Mahishasura is slain by Skanda. The event is remembered during Vijayadazaami (fig.), i.e. the last day of the annual Hindu festival of Navaratri.

Mahishasuramardini (महिषासुरमर्दिनि)

Sanskrit. ‘Slayer of the buffalo demon’. The name given to Durga when she is fighting Mahishasura (fig.), the buffalo demon that represents the forces of evil and darkness. In this form, she is also known as Chamunda. See also Devi Mahatmyam.

Mahison Rachareuthay (มหิศร ราชหฤทัย)

Thai. Royal name of the 77th son of King Mongkut, i.e. King Rama IV, whom he begot with his consort Huang (ห่วง). READ ON.

mahk (หมาก)

1. Thai name for the betel palm and its fruit the betel nut.

2. Thai board game or a game played with marbles, dry beans, nuts or fruit stones, such as mahk khum and mahk ruk.

mah kahn kluay (ม้าก้านกล้วย)

Thai. ‘Banana stem horse’. Name of a traditional Thai children's game from the past in which players run each other, whilst holding a banana stem (kahn kluay) that is carried over the shoulder with a string and held between the legs (fig.), as if straddling an imaginary horse (mah - fig.). First a banana stem is selected and its leaf is peeled away, leaving only the tip for decoration, like a horsetail. Then the head of the horse is made from another piece of banana stem of about 20 centimeters long (fig.). This is slightly cut on both sides of the top, to create two ears, and attached to the opposite side of the ‘horsetail’, pierced with a small piece of bamboo to keep it in place. Then a string, usually made from banana stem fibres, is attached near the tail and the head, or –alternatively– at the head and neck.

mahk daeng (หมากแดง)

Thai. ‘Red betel palm’. A palm tree with a reddish trunk up to 6 meters high and the scientific Latin name Cyrtostachys renda, and Cyrtostachys lakka, a similar but slightly shorter species. It is commonly known as Lipstick Palm. Often seen in gardens.

mahk khum (หมากขุม)

Thai. ‘Cavity board game’. A traditional board game from southern Thailand. READ ON.

mah klaeb (ม้าแกลบ)

Thai. ‘Chaff horse’ or ‘husk horse’. Name of a small horse, which in English is known as Thai Pony. Fully grown adults are between 122 and 142 centimeters and weigh around 360 kilograms. The Thai Pony is a hybrid, resulting from crossbreeding between Mongolian and Asian horses. It came to Thailand with minority groups that migrated from China. People in the North, train these horses to trot according to instructions given by a horn, with the intend to familiarize the animals with loud noise, so that they won't get scared too easily when out and about. This type of horse is especially used by hill tribe people, both as beast of burden and as mount (fig.). Also named mah look kaew, after the Poi Look Kaew ceremony, in which it is used. See also phra khi mah bintabaat, mah and WATCH VIDEO.

mahk ruk (หมากรุก)

Thai. ‘Invading board game’ or ‘advancing board game’. Designation for both international chess, which derives from the ancient Indian strategy game chaturanga, i.e. the common ancestor of chess. The name is also used for its local variant known in English as Thai chess (fig.). Besides the many local varieties of chessboard, Thai shops tend to sell foreign chessboards imported from China (fig.), Vietnam (fig.) and other Asian countries, including Burma (fig.), where besides the local variant of Thai chess (fig.) yet another local version exists, which is known as sittuyin. Besides this, local markets and night bazaars usually have a variety of mass-produced chessboards on offer, sometimes even small-sized travel games and souvenir gadgets (fig.). See also mahk.

mahk sum (หมากสุ่ม)

Thai. Name for a tray with a stand on which phum mahk offerings (fig.) are placed. It consists of an ornamental phaan-like tray, reminiscent of a khan kaew, though square in shape and decorated with four naga or stylized naga-like figures, one on each corner and whose tail ends meet at the top, forming a quadruple arch. The name is sometimes used for the phum mahk as a whole.

mah look kaew (ม้าลูกแก้ว)

Thai. ‘Crystal horse’. A Thai designation for the Thai Pony (fig.), named after the Poi Look Kaew ceremony, in which it is used. Also known as mah klaeb.

mah mai (หมาไม้)

Thai. ‘Wood dog’ or ‘tree dog’. Name for the Yellow-throated Marten.

mah mangkon (ม้ามังกร)

Thai. ‘Dragon-horse’. Another name for mah nin mangkon.

mah nahm (ม้าน้ำ)

Thai for ‘seahorse’. A small, upright fish, with a head akin to that of a horse, and of the genus Hippocampus, which drives from the Greek hippokampos (ἱππόκαμπος) LISTEN. Though an endangered animal, it is still caught in the wild for use in Chinese traditional medicine, as an aphrodisiac and as a treatment for a whole range of ailments, stretching from heart disease and asthma, to impotence. And alas, even though there is no scientific proof for any real therapeutic value, medicinal seahorses (fig.) can still commonly be found for sale in dried form, in Bangkok's Chinatown. In seahorses, it are the males that get pregnant. The female transfers her eggs to the male's abdominal pouch, which is made of modified skin, triggering the male to release sperm as they enter, thus fertilizing the eggs and then incubating them for 24 days until they are hatch. seahorses are also associated with the story of Phra Aphaimanih, a Thai epic story in verse about an underwater kingdom. In the seas of Thailand 5 species of seahorse are commonly found, i.e. the Common Seahorse, Estuary Seahorse or Spotted Seahorse (Hippocampus kuda), known in Thai as mah nahm dam (ม้าน้ำดํา); the Spiny Seahorse or Hedgehog Seahorse (Hippocampus spinosissimus), known in Thai as mah nahm hnaam (ม้าน้ำหนาม); the Longnose Seahorse or Three-spot Seahorse (Hippocampus trimaculatus), known in Thai as mah nahm sahm jut (ม้าน้ำสามจุด); the Pygmy Seahorse or Bargibant's Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti), known in Thai as mah nahm khrae (ม้าน้ำแคระ); and the Great Seahorse or Kellogg's Seahorse (Hippocampus kelloggi), known in Thai as mah nahm yak (ม้าน้ำยักษ์). The temporal Hippocampus lobe in the human brain is named after this sea creature as its shape resembles a seahorse. See also THEMATIC STREET LIGHT (1) and (2).

Ma Hne Galay (မနှဲကလေး)

Burmese. Little Lady with the Flute’. Another name for Shin Nemi.

mah nin mangkon (ม้านิลมังกร)

Thai. ‘Dark blue-black (nin) dragon-horse’. Name of a mythological animal in the story of Phra Aphaimanih. It is partly horse (mah) and partly dragon (mangkon). It is the mount of Sut Saakhon. Also mah mangkon and in English dragon-horse.


See mahokkanih.

mahokkanih (มะฮอกกานี)

Thai for ‘mahogany’. Name for a large tree of which there are two genuine species, which are known by the botanical names Swietenia mahagoni and Swietenia macrophylla. Besides a variety of common names, the first species is known by the common name Small-leaf Mahogany, in Thai mahokkanih bai lek (มะฮอกกานีใบเล็ก), whilst the latter variety is commonly known as Big-leaf Mahogany, in Thai mahokkanih bai yai (มะฮอกกานีใบใหญ่). Mahogany is famed for its dark-coloured hardwood and is most easily recognized by its seed pods, woody capsules that enclose numerous long, flat, winged seeds (fig.), which are released when the pods breaks open from below. In the blooming season, from March to July, the tree has tiny, pale greenish flowers, that spread a strong yet pleasant fragrance. These flowers are so tiny that they are hardly noticeable when on the tree, but they can often be seen scattered on the ground beneath the tree. Though it used to be mostly cultivated for its wood, it is now also grown as an ornamental tree and there are several roads in Bangkok that are lined by this tree, e.g. around Chitralada Palace in Dusit and along the path at the northern entrance of King Rama IX Royal Park.

mahorateuk (มโหระทึก)

See klong mahorateuk.

mahori (มโหรี)

Thai. An orchestra chiefly composed of stringed instruments.

Mahosot Chadok (มโหสถชาดก)

Thai-Sanskrit. Name for one of the Totsachat, i.e. life stories of the ten last incarnations of the Buddha, in which the bodhisattva was born as Mahosot, a wise prince born with a golden complexion. READ ON.

Mahothon (มโหทร)

1. Thai. ‘One with a big belly’. Term derived from Sanskrit and used in Hindu iconography to refer to someone with a big belly, such as Ganesha. See also lampothon.

2. Thai. Name of an important yak character from the Ramakien, who belongs to the army of Longka, i.e. the city or kingdom of Totsakan. He has a green complexion, wide open eyes called tah phlohng (fig.), and wears a golden crown with a bulbous tip, which is decorated with pieces of dark green glass. He is very similar in appearance to Phiphek, another yak with a green complexion and a similar golden crown with a bulbous tip, but which is more elongated and usually decorated with pieces of dark blue glass (fig.), and who has eyes of which the upper eyelid partly covers the eyeball and that are known as tah jorakae (fig.). Mahothon usually appears in pair (fig.) with Paowanasoon (fig.), another yak with a very similar crown, but with a white complexion (fig.).


English-Hindi. Herd, caretaker and keeper of an elephant. In Thailand mahouts often belong to the Karen hill tribe (fig.) and are usually assigned to a young elephant when still a young boy, allowing them to stay attached to one another throughout their lives. Also transcribed mahaut and sometimes called kornak. In Thai, kwan chang. WATCH VIDEO (1), (2) and (3).

Mah Pihk (ม้าปีก)

Thai. ‘Winged Horse’. Name for a mythological creature, that consists of a horse with wings, and which is able to fly. READ ON.

mahrah (หมาร่า)

Thai name for the wasp family Sphecidae, which includes mud daubers, digger wasps and other types, that all fall under the category of Thread-waisted Wasps (fig.).

Mahuna Phaya (မနူဟာဘုရား)

Burmese. ‘Pagoda of Mahuna’. Name of a Buddhist temple in the village of Myinkaba, near Bagan. READ ON.

mah yohk (ม้าโยก)

Thai for ‘rocking horse’. Though rocking horses are perhaps not originally Thai, the way they are produced in Thailand, i.e. from old cart wheels, is definitely an original idea. These unique rocking horses are generally known as mah yohk lo kwian (ม้าโยกล้อเกวียน). See also kwian.

mai (ไม้)

Thai. Generic name and classifier for any plant or tree, as well as for wood, a piece of log, lumber, timber, or plank. The word is also often used as part of a compound.

mai (ไหม)

1. Thai for silk.

2. Thai for silkworm. Also called dakdae.

mai faad khao (ไม้ฟาดข้าว)

Thai. Rice-thrashing woods’. A set of wooden sticks connected by a piece of rope, used like large pincers to grab bundles of rice, in order to beat (trash) them and make the grains fall from the ears of the paddy (fig.). The rope is attached through holes at the end of each stick and fixed with a knot. The sticks are often made from ruak and about 60-70 centimeters, whereas the rope is about 50 centimeters long.

mai hok hian (ไม้หกเหียน)

Thai. ‘Turning six tree’. A small manipulated tree or shrub. READ ON.

mai jan, mai chan (ไม้จันทน์)

Thai for sandalwood.

mai kaan haab (ไม้คานหาบ)

Thai. Flexible yet strong bamboo wooden (mai) pole used for carrying loads (kaan) across the shoulder (haab) as often seen in rural Thailand and with itinerant food sellers. Also kaan. Compare with kaanhaam and with lao (fig.).

mai kam ma-lo (ไม้กำมะลอ)

Thai. ‘Self-styled tree’, ‘mock tree or bogus tree. A small, manipulated, bonsai-like tree or shrub. READ ON.

mai khabuan (ไม้ขบวน)

Thai. ‘Procession tree’. A small, bonsai-like tree or shrub. READ ON.

mai kham (ไม้ค้ำ)

Thai. ‘Support wood’. Name of either a cut or carved wooden log, or a smaller natural stick, which has been painted (fig.) and is used to symbolically support a sacred object or place. It is typically forked (Y-shaped) at the top and is most commonly seen placed under the branches, or against the trunk, of a bodhi tree, especially in northern Thailand. These sticks or logs are believed to be auspicious, preventing hardship and prolonging life. It is sometimes done as part of the seubchatah ceremony and the wooden stick or log is therefore also referred to as mai kham chatah. Since they are usually painted, they are also called mai kham see/sih (สี), i.e. ‘painted support wood’, though this is actually a corruption of mai kham sarih (ไม้ค้ำศรี), a name used in Lan Na for these wooden supports and in which the word sarih, spelled srih (ศรี) but pronounced sarih (สะหรี), in Thai has an unwritten vowel ‘a’ whereas the word sri (รี), which has the exact same Thai spelling, is normally pronounced srih, yet typically transliterated sri, and more often than not is pronounced simply sih, in which the second consonant, i.e. the ‘r’, is silent, hence the confusion with the homonymous word sih (สี). The term sarih (รี) derives from ton sarih (ต้นศรี), a northern Thai word for ton poh, i.e. the bodhi tree, and likely derives itself from its respectful name which in full is ton phra sri maha poh (ต้นพระศรีมหาโพธิ์). According to local beliefs the tradition of offering mai kham supports or crutches placed at the east of the bodhi tree will bring forth an abundant offspring; those placed to the west will bring healing from disease; and if all four sides are supported, it will fulfill worldly desires and bring treasure. Hence, these twigs or wooden sticks, that are used symbolically as stilts or crutches, are believed to symbolize support for the enduring nature of Buddhism and aim to bring about prosperity, while safeguarding the donor's destiny. In recent years, with growing local tourism, there has been a prevalent trend among certain groups of tourists to place sticks in nature, especially under overhanging cliffs and rocks (fig.). This has led to the growing phenomena of so-called Laan Mai Kham, entire rows of wooden sticks that have been placed at the foot of mountain ridges or underneath large boulders in numerous natural tourist destinations. See also TRAVEL PICTURES.

mai kham chatah (ไม้ค้ำชะตา)

See mai kham.

mai kham sarih (ไม้ค้ำศรี)

See mai kham.

mai khen (ไม้เขน)

Thai. ‘Shield tree’. A small, manipulated tree or shrub. READ ON.

mai kritsana (ไม้กฤษณา)

Thai. Literally Krishna wood’. Thai name for agarwood. See also mai and Kritsana.

mai kwaat dok yah (ไม้กวาดดอกหญ้า)

Thai. A traditional broom, made from natural grasses, especially a roadside grass called dok yah tong kong (ดอกหญ้าตองกง), known in English as bamboo grass and tiger grass, with the botanical name Thysanolaena latifolia, formerly Thysanolaena maxima, and nicknamed Asian broom grass. The stalk of this grass is straight and divided into clear joints, akin to bamboo. The broom is made of inflorescences that have already been shaken off the fluff, then dried and sewn together, and finally attached to a long handle, that is typically made from bamboo. It is recorded that this kind of broom making originated in the amphur Lab Lae (ลับแล) in Uttaradit. They are usually offered for sale by specialized broom vendors, often driving a motorized pushcart, a literal broom wagon (fig.). See also dok yah (fig.).

Mainland Serow

A species of cloven-hoofed mammal with the binomial name Capricornis sumatraensis, that belongs to the family Bovidae. It is sometimes placed in the genus Naemorhedus and hence called Naemorhedus sumatraensis. Beside this, it may commonly be called Southern Serow or Sumatran Serow. It is distributed from India through southern China, to most of mainland Southeast Asia and some parts of Indonesia. It has a relatively short body and long legs, with a grey to black bristly fur, sometimes with a reddish brown tinge, especially on and around the legs. It has short, slightly curved horns and a mane of long hairs, that are dark near the body, but pale towards the top. At first glance, this animal is somewhat similar in appearance to the male Nilgai (fig.). The Mainland Serow lives either solitary or in small groups and feeds on grasses, shoots and leaves of a variety of plants. Being a territorial dweller, it is has a fondness for its area and doesn't move much when feeding. Mainland Serows mostly inhabit forested, steep mountainous areas, including limestone cliffs, but are also found in lowlands. They are mostly active at dusk and dawn, and spends the rest of the day in dense vegetation and under overhanging cliffs. In Thai it is named liang phah, yiang phah, yeuang, gooram and koram.

mai phai (ไม้ไผ่)

Thai for bamboo. Also phai.

mai sak (ไม้สัก)

Thai for teak.

mai tat (ไม้ดัด)

Thai. ‘Cut tree’ or ‘clipped tree’. A generic Thai term for khao mo, i.e. bonsai, as well as for topiary and other trees or shrubs that are clipped ornamentally or otherwise. See also penjing.

Mai Thai (ไหมไทย)

Thai for hand-woven Thai silk.

maithuna (मैथुन)

Sanskrit. ‘Couple’ or ‘the act of pairing’. Copulating figurines or sculptures as seen in iconography or used as amulets (fig.). Also spelled mithuna. In Thai methun. See also yabyum.

Maitreya (मैत्रेय)

Sanskrit. A bodhisattva now living in Tushita heaven waiting to be reborn as a future Buddha in order to restore faith. He is worshipped in both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, and is sometimes represented as a bodhisattva dressed in royal attire ruling from his throne in heaven. He wears a stupa in his headdress and his attributes may include a vase and wheel. In Tibet, he is depicted with his hand in the gesture or mudra of turning the Wheel of dharma, i.e. the dharmachakra. He represents an unbroken lineage of buddhas through time, appearing in the world to reveal the path to Enlightenment. In another form he is also known as Huan Xi Fo or Budai, the Chinese ‘smiling buddha’ (fig.). Besides this, he is sometimes considered to be one of the Eighteen Arahats, though originally those were to remain in the world to propagate the dhamma until Maitreya came, which is conflicting if he is one of them. He is however also one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (fig.). Also Metraiy and in Pali referred to as Metteya. See also Angaja. See also TRAVEL PICTURE.

maiyarahb (ไมยราบ)

Thai. Name of an omnipresent weed that thrives well and is found all over Thailand. This shrubby, sensitive plant has the scientific name Mimosa pudica. Its leaves fold up with the slightest touch or when they come into contact with rain. This is a self-defence system that scares off any leaf-eating flying insect that may land on it, and also prevents heavy raindrops from damaging this rather fragile shrub. It also protects itself from predators by small spikes underneath its stalks and leaves. It can sometimes grow to a height of well over two meters and blooms globular amethyst flowers. Due to its sensitivity it is nicknamed mae ai (shy mother) and some varieties are known as maiyarahb yak (giant mimosa pudica) and maiyarahb leuay (climbing mimosa pudica vine).

Maiyarahp (ไมยราพณ์)

Thai. Name of a yak, i.e. giant demon from the Ramakien. He lived in the underworld and was the son of Mahayommayak (fig.) and Nang Chantrapraphasih (จันทรประภาศรี), and a nephew of Totsakan. Maiyarahp succeeded his father as the third king of Meuang or Krung Badahn (บาดาล). Despite his father's instructions not to associate with his uncle, and a reminder of this by his mother, Maiyarahp sets out to join Totskan in his batlle against Rama. He performed a ceremony to make a sleeping potion for Rama's army and he succeeded in putting everyone to sleep, but was later killed by Hanuman. He is described as having a pale mauve complexion. In iconography, he is usually depicted with a chadah-like, cockerel tail crown, that seen from the side, is wavy and arches backward at the tip (fig.). In architecture, he is usually portrayed in companion with Virunchambang, a yak with a navy blue complexion. Both stand at the third door of the Northern entrances of Wat Phra Kaew. In 2001, he was depicted on a Thai postage stamp, as part of a set of four stamps with yak that guard temple entrances (fig.). Sometimes transcribed Mayarap or Maiyarap. In the Ramayana, he is known as Ahiravan or Mahiravan, king of the underworld, and is described as a brother of Ravana, rather than a nephew like his counterpart in the Thai version.

Ma Jow (ม่าโจ้ว)

Thai-Tae Chew name for Mazu. In full also called Ma Jow Poh (ม่าโจ้วโป๋).

mak (มรรค)

Thai. ‘Way, path’. One of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.

makanayok (มรรคนายก)

Thai. ‘Temple liaison man’. A layman responsible for the liaison between the clergy of a temple or monastery and the laity, a male appointed to look after the interests of a temple or monastery. Also maknayok.

makara (मकर)

Sanskrit. A mythical aquatic creature symbolizing ‘water’ and ‘abundance’. In architecture, especially in Khmer buildings, it may be found as a decoration on lintels, doorway frames, etc., sometimes in combination with kala. In Thailand, it is usually found on the balustrades of temple buildings, where a naga (fig.) is seen emerging from its mouth (fig.). In India, it has the body and tail of a fish, but in Southeast Asia usually that of a reptile. Though, in Java its head is that of a crocodile with a large jaw and an elephant's trunk. In Champa, it has the head of a lion with tusks and a trunk, or the head of a antelope with forelegs, while in Myanmar, its head is often supported by human-faced lion-figures (fig.), yet it may also take the shape of a crocodile (fig.), and if the latter also has a prehensile trunk-like snout it is known as magan (fig.). It is the emblem of Kama and conveyance of the Hindu goddess Ganga, as well as that of Varuna. In North Thailand, it is called mom and is the mount of the god of the storm clouds, Thep Patchanna. In Thailand, the makara also appears as the bow of certain Royal Barges, both ancient (fig.) and modern (fig.).

Makha (มาฆ)

Thai. The third lunar month corresponding to the sign of Capricorn in the zodiac.

makhaam (มะขาม)

Thai for tamarind (fig.). Besides this it is also known by different local names, depending on the region: in Kanchanaburi it is known by its Karen name muang klohng, in Korat it is called taloob, in the South it is named khaam and in the province of Surin the Khmer name ampial is used. See also makhaampom and makhaamthet.

makhaam kaew (มะขามแก้ว)

Thai. ‘Crystal tamarind’. Name for a sweet made from tamarind (fig.). Fresh tamarind fruits are first peeled and cleaned from their inedible parts, i.e. fibres and pits. The flesh of fruit is then made into a paste by mixing it with water and put in a pot over a fire, to liquefy it. Then salt, pulverized prik khee noo chilies and sugar are added, and the brew is cooked until it becomes sticky. After this, the mixture is cooled off and made into small balls, which are coated by dipping and rolling them in granulated sugar. They are a popular snack and a local specialty from Phichit province, amongst others. In English also referred to as tamarind balls.

makhaam khluk (มะขามคลุก)

Thai. ‘Rolled tamarind’ or ‘mixed tamarind’. Name for a sweet made from tamarind (fig.). Fresh tamarind fruits are peeled and cleaned from their fibres, and then coated by rolling them in, or mixing (khluk) them with, granulated sugar. Also known as makhaam khluk nahmtahn (มะขามคลุกน้ำตาล), i.e. ‘tamarind mixed [with] sugar’.

makhaam khluk buay (มะขามคลุกบ๊วย)

Thai. ‘Buay mixed tamarind’. Name for a tamarind candy, made from fresh tamarind fruits (fig.) which are peeled and cleaned from their fibres, and then coated by rolling them in  a mixture of granulated sugar and buay powder, i.e. powder obtained from the Japanese apricot, a fruit which is also known as Chinese plum (Prunus mume).

makhaampom (มะขามป้อม)

Thai. Name of the Indian gooseberry, a tropical tree and its fruit, which is known by the scientific name Phyllanthus emblica. Its fruit is usually described as having a rather sweet-and-sour taste, though its high acidity makes it actually more likely extremely bitter-sour. Though the green berries at first glance look very similar to western green gooseberries, they are actually quite dissimilar (fig.). In its centre sits is a large green pit, unlike the small multiple seeds found in western gooseberries. They have a hard rind and their acidity is so high, that most people won't like the taste of them. They are hence best peeled and cut into small pieces and sprinkled with sugar and/or syrup. In Thailand, they are typically dipped in a mixture of salt, sugar and dry chili powder. Also known as the emblic tree.

Makhaam Thao (มะขามเฒ่า)

Thai. ‘Old Tamarind’. A regional name of the Tha Chin River, after it splits from Chao Phraya River near Chainat until Suphanburi, where it becomes known by the local name Suphan River.

makhaamthet (มะขามเทศ)

Thai name for the Camachile, a tree and its fruit (fig.) known by the scientific name Pithecolobium dulce. Its fruits are similar to those of the tamarind tree but has a softer skin and a different taste. Its tender curly skin is red-green and its whitish-pink flesh sits around shiny brown seeds. It is also known by the common names Madras Thorn, Manila Tamarind, while the fruits are nicknamed monkeypods.

Makha Bucha (มาฆบูชา)

Thai. Buddhist holiday that commemorates all saints and is held during the full moon (fig.) of the third lunar month (Makha), usually mid-February. It celebrates the 1,250 enlightened monks who, without prior notice or call, simultaneously came to the Buddha to hear him preach the Ovada Patimokkha Discourse at Bamboo Grove Monastery in Rajagaha. This public holiday reaches its climax in candle processions around the main temple buildings or chedi. Also Wan Makha Bucha. See also bucha and POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2) and (3).

makheua (มะเขือ)

Thai. Generic name for plants that produce bulbous vegetables, such as the different varieties of eggplant and the tomato (fig.), which both belong to the family Solanaceae. There are many different varieties, such as the makheua khao (white eggplant - fig.), makheua phuang (pea eggplant - fig.), makheua muang (purple eggplant - fig.), makheua thet (tomato), makheua proh (crisp eggplant - fig.), makheua poo (Thai hairy-fruited eggplant - fig.), etc. Any of the eggplant varieties grown to its full size may in Thai also be called makheua yao (long makheua - fig.), whereas their small appearance may in English be referred to as baby eggplant. Compare with taeng.

makheua cartoon (มะเขือการ์ตูน)

Thai. ‘Cartoon makheua’. Name for a species of eggplant with the scientific name Solanum mammosum. Its fruit's is yellowish-orange and has an udder-like appearance. Due to this, it is known in English as Cow's Udder, Nipplefruit, Titty Fruit, and Apple of Sodom. In China, the gold-coloured fruit is considered auspicious and is known as wu zhi jia (五指茄), i.e. ‘five toes eggplant’, while in Japan it is reportedly referred to as ‘fox face’. Unlike most other eggplant species found in Southeast Asia, the fruit of this one is poisonous and the plant is grown solely for ornamental purposes.

makheua khao (มะเขือขาว)

Thai. ‘White makheua’. Name for the white eggplant, a plant with the scientific name Solanum melongena. It is a variety of the purple eggplant, in Thai known as makheua muang. It produces white, bulbous vegetables that when still young look like round eggs and are full of tiny seeds. Similar varieties may be slightly green or have green stripes. They are edible and usually harvested when still young and hard. Especially in this stage they are popular in Thai cuisine. Cut in half and boiled they are used as an ingredient in red and green curries (fig.), usually together with the seed boxes of the cluster eggplant which in Thai is known as makheua phuang. On occasion they are also eaten fresh.

makheua muang (มะเขือม่วง)

Thai. ‘Purple makheua’. Name for the purple eggplant, a plant with the scientific name Solanum melongena. It is a variety of the white eggplant, in Thai known as makheua khao, and is usually grown to a much larger size. Despite its clear differences, it has the same Latin designation. When grown into an elongated size (fig.), it is also known as purple aubergine (fig.).

makheua phuang (มะเขือพวง)

Thai. ‘Cluster makheua’. Name for the pea eggplant, a species of eggplant with the scientific name Solanum tarvum/torvum. It produces clusters of small green balls, each the size of a large pea. These spherical seed boxes are edible and contain numerous small seeds. They are eaten when still unripe and are mainly used as an ingredient in red and green curries, usually together with the white eggplant which in Thai is known as makheua khao.

makheua poo (มะเขือปู่)

Thai. ‘Paternal grandfather's eggplant’. Name for a species of makheua, with the scientic name Solanum ferox. It has soft furry-like hairs on it and is yellowish orange in colour. Its taste is a little sour and the hair needs to be removed before consumption. In English it is known as Hairy Eggplant, Hairy-fruited Eggplant and Thai Hairy-fruited Eggplant. In Thai also called ma-poo.

makheua proh (มะเขือเปราะ)

Thai. ‘Crisp makheua’. Name for a species of eggplant of which the fruits are either oval-round or round-flat and about the size of a golf ball (fig.). The fruit is crisp and comes in two colours: green-white and purple-white, depending on the type. It is used as a vegetable, mainly quartered as an ingredient in red and green curries (fig.), similar to the white eggplant which in Thai is called makheua khao. In English, this type of eggplant is sometimes referred to as Thai eggplant.

makheua yao (มะเขือาว)

Thai. ‘Long makheua’. Name for any species of eggplant that has grown into a full-grown lengthy size (fig.), although the term is also and in particular used for the elongated green eggplant or green aubergine.

makhwit (มะขวิด)

Thai name for the wood-apple (fig.), locally described as an edible ancient fruit hard to find and that occurs in subtropical and tropical southern Asia. It has a hard, wooden rind, hence its common English name.

maki sushi (巻き寿司)

Japanese for ‘rolled sushi’, a type of sushi made by using a bamboo rolling mat called a makisu. It has a filling made of sushi rice and some other ingredients, usually fish and is wrapped in sheets of dried seaweed called nori, although it can also be found wrapped in other edible wrappers, such as a soy paper, thin omelet, etc. After this the cylindrical roll is cut into small ready-to-eat chunks and served, often in bamboo steaming baskets called kheng (fig.). There are several types of maki sushi, all with their own names, depending on their size and the different fillings. Sometimes transcribed maki-zushi or makizushi.

makisu (巻き簾)

Japanese for a sushi rolling mat, used to make maki sushi. It consists of a collection of round wooden sticks woven together with string into a flat pliable mat (fig.).

makkaliphon (มักกะลีผล)

See makkariphon and nariphon.

makkariphon (มักรีผล)

Thai. Name for the fruit of a mythical tree in Himaphan forest that, according to legend, fruits beautiful women (fig.), which are also known as nariphon, i.e. ‘women fruit’.

Makkawaan (มัฆวาน)

A Thai name for Indra.

maknayok (มรรคนายก)

See makanayok.

makok (มะกอก)

1. Thai. Generic name for any plum tree of the genus Spondias, in the family Anacardiaceae, of which there are several species, the ones most commonly found in Thailand being the genus Spondias mombin and Spondias dulcis, which are known in Thai as makok (fig.) and makok farang (มะกอกฝรั่ง), respectively. The name Bangkok is derived from this tree, which bears oval, edible fruits that grow on long stalks, and which are sometimes referred to as hog plums. The flesh of this fruit is crunchy and it contains a fibrous pit. Eaten fresh, the taste is slightly sour, but it also has several culinary uses.

2. Thai. Name for a plum tree of the genus Spondias, in the family Anacardiaceae, with the botanical name Spondias mombin. It grows to 30 meters tall and its bark is greyish-brown, thick, rough, and often deeply grooved with blunt, spine-like projections (fig.).


1. Thai name for the kingdom of Magadha in ancient India, now called Bihar.

2. Magadhi, the Prakrit language of Magadha, similar to Pali.

makrud (มะกรูด)

Thai for the kaffir lime or kieffer lime, a shrub with the Latin scientific name Citrus hystrix. It is native to Indonesia and Malaysia, where it is called limau purut, but is commonly grown all over South and Southeast Asia, often as a backyard shrub which consist of a thorny bush with leaves that grow vertically in pairs, one on top of the other, somewhat like the shape of a hourglass. Its fruit, a kind of lime with a knobby rind (fig.), as well as its aromatic leaves are widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine, especially in Thai cooking. The leaves are used as a spice, both fresh as in tom yam or dried (fig.) as mixed with nuts or khao mao (fig.), whereas the oil from the fruit's rind can be applied as a mosquito repellant. See also manao.

makut (มกุฎ)

Thai for ‘crown’. It derives from the Sanskrit word mukuta. Also mongkut.

Makuta (မကုဋ)

Mon-Burmese. Name of the last King of the Thaton Kingdom, who reigned from ca. 1030 until 1057 AD, when he was defeated by King Anawrahta (fig.), captured and taken to Pagan (fig.) as a prisoner, together with his consort Queen Ningalade (fig.). His name was corrupted into Manuha and according to some ancient inscriptions, he built Mahuna Phaya (fig.) in Myinkaba, near Bagan, while in captivity.

Makutrajakumaan (มกุฎราชกุมาร)

1. Thai for ‘Crown Prince’.

2. Thai. ‘Crown Prince’. Name of an offshore patrol frigate operated by the Royal Thai Navy. It is usually referred to with the prefix HTMS, i.e. His Thai Majesty's Ship. See POSTAGE STAMP.

malabiang (มาลาเบียง)

See Phra Malah Biang.

Malacca apple

See chomphu ma-miaw.


A copper carbonate hydroxide mineral that is green in appearance. It is one among several minerals that qualify as jade. This semiprecious mineral polishes to a high gloss and is used to produce ornaments. Since the late 19th century, in Europe and especially in Bohemia, i.e. today's western part of the Czech Republic, this mineral is imitated in pressed glass, known as Malachite Glass, and intended to look like malachite.

malaeng (แมลง)

Nonspecific Thai name for several types of adult invertebrates, including most insects, such as bugs, flies, beetles, etc. They consist of three main parts: i.e. a head; an outer part, such as a shell or wings; and an abdomen, which has  6 legs. Some of the invertebrates in this category may have 1 or 2 pairs of wings, though there are some without wings too. Although not completely interchangeable some of those invertebrates may also be called maeng, though this term is usually reserved for those with 8-10 legs. Several species of insect, both of the malaeng and maeng category, are eaten (fig.) by some locals, e.g. scorpions (maengpong - fig.), crickets (jing rihd - fig.), giant water bugs or horseshoe crabs (maengda - fig.), silk pupae (dakdae), bamboo worms (rotduan - fig.), grasshoppers (takkataen), tarantulas (beung - fig.), etc.

malaeng chi pa-khao (แมลงชีปะขาว)

Thai for ‘Mayfly’. READ ON.

malaeng maengpong (แมลงแมงป่อง)

Thai term for the Scorpion Fly (fig.) and literally a compound of the words malaeng and maengpong.

malaeng noon luang (แมลงนูนหลวง)

Thai. ‘Embossed royal insect’. Designation for a large beetle, commonly known as  Sugarcane White Grub, after their larvae, which feed on the roots of sugarcane. It belongs to the family Scarabaeidae and has the scientific name Lepidiota stigma. Females are overall whitish-grey, whereas males are pale beige-brown (fig.). On average, adults measure between 3.5 to 4.7 centimeters. With adults being able to fly (fig.), they can spread over large areas and are considered important pests of cassava and sugarcane, especially in the provinces Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Chonburi and Kamphaeng Phet. In Isaan, they are fried and eaten by some locals. In English, this beetle is sometimes also referred to as the Large Cockchafer. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

malaeng phi (แมลงผี)

Thai. ‘Ghost insect’. The popular name for an insect that camouflages as a stick (fig.), dry twig or withered leave. It comes in many sizes and shapes, the most common being a walking stick. The so-called stick insect or stick bug, the kind that camouflages as a stick and in Thai also known as takkataen king mai (fig.), can grow well over 30 centimeters in length and researchers have identified a species from the island of Borneo with a size of over 55 centimeters, as the world's alleged longest insect. Stick insects are not venomous and apart from relying on camouflage alone for its defence, it also has colourful wings that it can open to scare off enemies and some species can spray an irritating substance from glands on their back onto an attacker. Ranatra linearis is an aquatic species of stick bug that lives in and near aquatic plants in ponds, marshes and other freshwater habitats, and which is referred to as Needle Bug or Water Stick Insect. Though adults can fly this predator typically hunts underwater using its front legs to catch prey while its tail acts as a breathing tube, similar to Water Scorpions (fig.).

malaeng pihk khaeng (แมลงปีกแข็ง)

Thai. ‘Hard-winged insect’. Generic name for any type of beetle, alongside the designation duang. The term derives from the elytra, i.e. the modified hardened fore-wings, that serve as shield-like wing-covers or sheaths to the rear-wings, when not in flight. The elytra of metallic beetles are in Thailand used to make artifacts, which are generally referred to as beetle wing collages (fig.). The life-cycle of metallic beetles is short and they meet a natural death at the due time, leaving their wings scattered around the tree trunks where they used to live. The wings of metallic beetles are bluish-green with a golden-yellow shine and remain vivid and durable, so they can be used to decorate sculptures and ornaments. With a size of up to 13 centimeters, the largest beetles in Thailand are the three-horned beetles, generally known in Thai as kwahng sahm khao, and in English commonly referred to as Atlas Beetles. They belong to the genus Chalcosoma, which includes the species Chalcosoma caucasus, Chalcosoma atlas and Chalcosoma mollenkampi. Though beetles are able to fly, many species are too large and heavy to lift from the ground and must first climb to an elevated point, such as a tree, from where they drop themselves in the air to get airborne. In order to enable them to climb, beetles typically have large claws or hooks on their legs.

malaeng pihk khaeng thee you tahm moon sat (แมลงปีกแข็งที่อยู่ตามมูลสัตว์)

Thai generic name for dung beetles. There are several species and the ones found in Thailand include Onitis sp., which lives in buffalo dung and is, naturally, a local delicacy.

malaeng poh (แมลงปอ)

Thai. Generic name for ‘dragonfly’, as well as ‘damselfly’, though the latter is officially known as malaeng poh khem (แมลงปอเข็ม), literally ‘needle dragonfly’. READ ON.

malaeng poh ban boh (แมลงปอบ้านบ่อ)

Thai name for the Scarlet Skimmer.

malaeng poh ban pihk leuang dam (แมลงปอบ้านปีกเหลืองดำ)

Thai name for the Yellow-Striped Flutterer.

malaeng poh ban pihk taem dam (แมลงปอบ้านปีกแต้มดำ)

Thai name for the Blackspot Widow.

malaeng poh ban seua khiaw (แมลงปอบ้านเสือเขียว)

A Thai name for the Green Tiger Skimmer, besides malaeng poh ban seua laai khiaw.

malaeng poh ban seua laai khiaw (แมลงปอบ้านเสือลายเขียว)

A Thai name for the Green Tiger Skimmer, besides malaeng poh ban seua khiaw.

malaeng poh ban sih mon thong daeng (แมลงปอบ้านสีหม่นท้องแดง)

Thai name for the Black-bodied Skimmer.

malaeng poh ban som leuang (แมลงปอบ้านส้มเหลือง)

Thai name for the Orange Skimmer.

malaeng poh ban song sih khiaw fah (แมลงปอบ้านสองสีเขียวฟ้า)

Thai name for the Ground Skimmer.

malaeng poh ban tahn plaay pihk saai (แมลงปอบ้านตาลปลายปีกใส)

Thai name for the Cleartip Widows.

malaeng poh ban tai kohn pihk dam (แมลงปอบ้านใต้โคนปีกดำ)

Thai name for the Indigo Dropwing.

malaeng poh ban tai phu muang (แมลงปอบ้านใต้ผู้ม่วง)

Thai name for the Crimson Marsh Glider.

malaeng poh seua laai pradap (แมลงปอเสือลายประดับ)

A Thai name for the Common Clubtail, besides malaeng poh seua thammada.

malaeng poh seua thammada (แมลงปอเสือธรรมดา)

A Thai name for the Common Clubtail, besides malaeng poh seua laai pradap.

malaeng saab (แมลงสาบ)

Thai. ‘Musty insect’. Generic name for any kind of cockroach. Species commonly found in Thailand include the American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana), Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae - fig.), Common or Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis), German Cockroach (Blattella germanica), Brown-banded Cockroach (Supella longipalpa or Supella supelectilium - fig.) and the Surinam Cockroach (Pycnoscelus surinamensis). Their life cycle from egg to adult passes through several instars, in which the nymphs (fig.) of winged adult species are still wingless (fig.). Cockroaches can go without water or food for a long period and are able to live without their heads. Cockroaches breathe through the sides of their bodies and as such do not require a nose or head. This, in addition with the fact that they do not have blood pressure like mammals do -which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding- they can live about a week or longer without their heads. A decapitated individual will eventually die of dehydration. It has recently been discovered that special chemicals in the brains of cockroaches enable them to resist a wide range of bacteria and allow them to live in highly unclean environments. Scientists have identified several different molecules in their brains and tissues that are toxic to deadly bugs, possibly opening the way to treat multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

malaeng saab thalae (แมลงสาบทะเล)

Thai. ‘Musty sea insect’ or ‘sea cockroach’. READ ON.

malaeng sahm ngahm (แมลงสามง่าม)

Thai. ‘Three-pronged insect’. Name of a nocturnal wingless insect with long antennae. It has the scientific designation Lepisma saccharina and is commonly known as Silverfish. Whereas the English name derives from the insect's distinctive metallic appearance and its fish-like shape, as well as its wiggling motion that resembles the movement of a fish, the Thai common name refers to its three prongs at the end of its tapering abdomen, which consist of two long cerci (paired appendages that —depending on the kind of arthropod— are either functionless, or serve as pinching weapons, or as sensory or reproduction organs) and one filament, used used by males to vibrate against females during courtship. The Latin name refers to the insect's appetite for matter that contains polysaccharides. Also transliterated malaeng saam ngaam.

malaeng wan (แมลงวัน)

Thai for ‘fly’, literally it reads ‘day insect’, and thus malaeng wan is sometimes translated as ‘day-fly’. See also malaeng.

malaeng wan bian (แมลงวันเบียน)

Thai. ‘Disturbing fly’ or ‘annoying fly’. Generic name for any fly in the family Tachinidae, of which there are more than 2,000 genera, and more than 10,000 species worldwide. They are commonly called Tachina Flies or simply Tachinids, an in Thai also known as malaeng wan tua bian (แมลงวันตัวเบียน). Their larvae are often parasitoids, developing inside a living host and eventually killing it, or sometimes parasitic, just living off the host for a while. Depending on the species, there are different reproductive strategies. Some species lay their eggs on the host insect, others insert them into the host's body, or leave them in the host's environment, where they are either ingested by the host, or the larvae search for the host themselves, some even by using ambush techniques. For this reason, this fly is also referred to as Parasitic Fly.

malaeng wan hua boob (แมลงวันหัวบุบ)

Thai. ‘Dented-headed fly’. Generic name for any species of robber fly, that belongs to the Asilidae family. There are several subfamilies and members all have stout, spiny legs, a dense bristle of hairs on the face, and three simple eyes in a characteristic dent between two larger compound eyes. Furthermore, they have short antennae, with a bristle-like structure, and a short, strong proboscis, used to stab victims, which they then inject with saliva containing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes, that paralyze and digest the internal organs, allowing the robber fly to suck up the liquefied insides. Most robber flies have a rather long abdomen and some species mimic other insects.

malaeng wan hua khiaw (แมลงวันหัวเขียว)

Thai. ‘Green-headed fly’. Name for a species of blow-fly with the scientific designation Chrysomya megacephala, that belongs to the family Calliphoridae. It has large, bright reddish-brown compound eyes, and a metallic greenish-blue body, 1 to 1.2 centimeters in length, with a golden shine and dark, blackish rings. Though found in many places across the globe, it does prefer year-round warmer climates and is particularly prevalent in the Oriental and Australasian region. Whilst it can be a nuisance and cause health problems to both humans and animals, it is also an important tool in forensic entomology, as it is one of the first species to show up on a corpse, allowing pathologists and forensic scientists to determine, or at least estimate, the time of death by calculating a post mortem interval, according to the larvae of this species and their abundance, found on a decaying body. Research done in Thailand was used to examine what species of insects were found on a number of cadavers, grouped in specific environments, e.g. indoor, outdoor, urban, forested, etc. Results showed that flies in the family Calliphoridae were by far the most common of all flies found on all of these cadavers, headed by the species Chrysomya megacephala, which was found on two thirds of the cadavers. For this reason, blow-flies are also called carrion flies. In English, it is commonly known by the less than flattering designation Oriental Latrine Fly. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

malaeng wan pheung (แมลงวันผึ้ง)

Thai for ‘bee-fly’.

malaeng wan ponlamai (แมลงวันผลไม้)

Thai. ‘Fruit fly’. Designation for small flies of the family Tephritidae, one of two families commonly referred to as fruit flies, the other being Drosophilidae, which members are included in a group of insects known as malaeng wih in Thai, said to be named after the sound they make. Worldwide, there are several thousand species belonging to the family Tephritidae, commonly known as picture-wing flies. They are larger than fruit flies of the family Drosophilidae, commonly known as vinegar flies (fig.), and are easily distinguished from other, similar flies, by the dark pattern or banding of the wings.

malaeng wan klaay mot (แมลงวันคล้ายมด)

Thai. ‘Ant-like fly’. Designation for the Stilt-legged Fly (fig.).

malaeng wih (แมลงหวี่)

Thai. ‘Buzzing insect’. Designation for flying insects that include the small flies of the family Drosophilidae, said to be named after the sound they make and which is one of two families commonly referred to as fruit flies, the other being Tephritidae, which members are known as malaeng wan ponlamai in Thai (fig.). Malaeng wih are fruit flies commonly known as vinegar, wine or pomace flies and can be identified by the frontal bristles on their head, usually three on each side above the eye. Since the Thai word for bristle is also wih (หวี), though pronounced with a different tone (i.e. rising rather than low, see tonal marks and rules), it could perhaps be questioned if the name malaeng wih, may have been derived from this, rather than just the sound it makes. Vinegar flies are mostly 2 to 4 millimeter small, pale yellow to reddish brown or black flies, with distinctive red eyes.

malai (มาลัย)

Thai term for ‘garland’, used both for phuang malai (fig.) and kreuang khwaen (fig.).

malai (मलाई)

Hindi. South Asian cooking ingredient made from non-homogenized whole milk.

malai khao tok (มาลัยข้าวตอก)

Thai. ‘Popped rice garland’. Name for a kind of garland or mobile, made of stringed grains of popped rice. READ ON.

malai khlong meua (มาลัยคล้องมือ)

Thai. ‘Wristlet garland’. A round-shaped garland to wear around the wrist. See also phuang malai. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

malai piya (มาลัยเปีย)

Thai. ‘Plaited garland’. An oval-shaped garland, with below a tassel of flowers and at the top a string to be hung from one point. See also phuang malai. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

malai song chai (มาลัยสองชาย)

Thai. ‘Two boys garland’. A double garland with two ends connected with a string or band to wear around the neck. See also phuang malai. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

malai tum (มาลัยตุ้ม)

Thai. ‘Knobbed garland’. A somewhat bulbous garland, with below a floral tassel and on top a bowed band for hanging. See also phuang malai. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

malako (มะละกอ)

Thai for papaya. A small  tree with the Latin name Carica papaja that can grows up to 7.5 meters. When blooming, it bears greenish-white to pale yellowish flowers (fig.), which can be male, female, or hermaphrodite, and whereas the female blossoms can develop into a fruit when pollinated, the hermaphrodite flowers are self-fertile. Its fruits, when still green (fig.), are used as the main ingredient for the popular dish somtam. When ripe the fruit is orange (fig.) and resembles melon. The Hawaiian species is smaller than the usual Thai variety (fig.). Also called melon tree.


Disease that causes a recurrent fever caused by a parasite transmitted by a bite of the Anopheles mosquito, the carrier of this parasite. The ancient Romans initially mistakenly attributed the disease to the breathing in of ‘bad air’ produced by the pestilential fumes exhalated by swamps and marshes, and thus in Latin called the unwholesome atmosphere mala aria, i.e. ‘bad air’, of which malaria is the contracted compound form. In Thai called khai pah (jungle fever) and khai jab san (shivering fever). See also haemorrhagic fever and dengue.

Malayan Bear

Small species of bear whose natural habitat is southern Thailand, the Malay peninsula and the Indonesian archipelago. It has the scientific name Helarctos malayanus and is also known by the name Malayan Sun Bear, due to a creamy-white crescent-shaped curve on its upper chest (fig.). In China and some countries of Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam, Malayan Sun Bears are farmed –often in very poor living conditions, including crush cages– to extract their bile, which is used in Chinese traditional medicine, although the practice is illegal. In Thai, this bear is called mih mah, i.e. ‘dog bear’. See also Asian Black Bear.

Malayan Gharial

See jorakae.

Malayan Peacock-pheasant

Common name of a medium-sized pheasant, with the binomial name Polyplectron malacense. Adult males are short-tailed, measure about fifty centimeters, and have a loose, pointed and upturned, dark blue-green crest on the forehead. Their  plumage is mainly pale brown, with small black spots and bands, and iridescent greenish-blue ocelli with a buff edge. It has a blackish bill and legs, and pink to bright orange-red, bare facial skin. Their eyes have bluish-white irises. Females have less distinct ocelli and no obvious crest. Also known as Crested Peacock-pheasant, Malay Peacock-pheasant and Malaysian Peacock-pheasant. Sometimes spelled Malayan Peacock Pheasant. In Thai it is called nok waen sih nahm tahn (นกแว่นสีน้ำตาล) and nok waen tai (นกแว่นใต้), which translates as ‘brown ringed bird’ and ‘southern ringed bird’, respectively.

Malayan Pit Viper

A venomous and potentially fatal snake, with the binomial name Calloselasma rhodostoma and Agkistrodon rhodostoma, which is found throughout tropical and subtropical Southeast Asia. Its body has a pattern of triangular markings on a light to dark, reddish to purplish brown background. This colouring is perfect camouflage, making it almost impossible to see the snake when it is coiled among dried leaf matter, hence it is easily stepped on. The Malayan Pit Viper is the only Asian pit viper with large crown scales and smooth dorsal scales. Characteristically, on each side of its head, behind the eyes, it has a dark-brown patch, bordered with a fine white line. The top of this patch is straight, the bottom is serrated. Its snout is pointed and curved upward. This snake has long, hollow fangs that fold back against the roof of its mouth and which must be extended before it can bite. As with all pit vipers, it is distinguished by the presence of a heat-sensing pit organ located between the eye and the nostril on either side of the head (fig.). The Malayan Pit Viper is in many ways reminiscent of the in America occurring pit viper Bothrops atrox, including its hemotoxic venom. In Thai ngu kapa. In 1981, it was depicted on the last stamp of a set of four Thai postage stamps featuring venomous Thai snakes (fig.).

Malayan Porcupine

Name of a species of porcupine (fig.) found in South and Southeast Asia, from Nepal to Sumatra and Borneo, including Thailand. It has the scientific name Hystrix brachyura and occurs in various types of forest, as well as in open areas near forests, where it may even stray into agricultural areas. Its habitat is terrestrial, digging into the ground and living in burrows, often inhabiting dens near rocky areas. It resides in small groups and females may give birth to a litter of usually one young, twice a year. Its diet consists largely of roots, tubers, bark and fallen fruits, but they also feed on carrion and insects. Malayan porcupines are characterized by a large and stout, black body, covered with sharp quills. These long quills or spines are actually modified hairs that grow on their upper body parts and are of a white colour with a narrow dark band, often someplace halfway towards the tip. The quills are soft at birth and become hard and rough as the porcupines enter adulthood. The spines on its back can be raised when it is attacked and those on its tail, which are shorter and hollow, are used to rattle when it feels threatened. If a predator persists past these threats, the porcupine launches a backwards assault, anticipating to stab its attacker with its quills. Porcupine quills are needle-sharp and can be released on contact. Their tips have microscopic barbs on them that, once implanted in an attacker, will remain attached and may even move further up into the tissue, due to the movements of the predator. The barbs make them difficult and painful to extract, and animals can be severely injured and even die as a result of quill penetration. New quills will grow to replace the ones that are discharged during an attack or drop out when the porcupine shakes its body. Malayan porcupines have short stocky legs with smooth soles and four claws on the forelegs, and five on the hind legs. In Thai this species is known as men yai phaeng kho yao or just men yai, i.e. ‘large porcupine’. It strongly resembles the Indian Porcupine, but has a much longer mane. Also known as East Asian porcupine and Himalayan Porcupine. See also men.

Malayan Tapir

See Asian Tapir.

malay lukkaew ok kai (มาลัยลูกแก้วอกไก่)

Thai. A redented chedi with a central part of several successive rings (malay) with three angles, in which the outer edge of each ring in profile resembles the form of a chicken breast (ok kai). This part of the chedi resembles a decorative buffer and was popular towards the end of the Ayutthaya Period.


Thailand's neighbouring country to the South. It includes the southern peninsula and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam. Its total area is 329,750 km². It has a total land border of 2,669 km, that is  381 km with Brunei, 1,782 km with Indonesia, and  506 km with Thailand. Its total coastline is 4,675 km long (the Peninsula 2,068 km and East Malaysia 2,607 km) and its highest point is Gunung Kinabalu with 4,100 m. The country's capital is Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a federation of the former British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, including the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo. To indicate the political union between Malaya and Singapore, the first to letters of Singapore were inserted into the name Malaya to form Malaysia. The first several years of the country's history were marred by Indonesian efforts to control Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore's secession from the federation in 1965. It now consists of a federation with 13 member states under one federal government, which are together represented in the 14 stripes and the 14-pointed star of the national flag (fig.), which in Malay is known as Jalur Gemilang, a designation that translates as Stripes of Excellence’. Malaysia has a population of just over 28 million, consisting of 58% of Malays and other indigenous people, 24% Chinese, 8% Indians, and 10% others. Bahasa Melayu is the official language, but a variety of other languages are also spoken, such as English, Chinese dialects (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, and Thai. In addition, in East Malaysia several indigenous languages are spoken, the largest being Iban and Kadazan. Practiced religions are Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity and the Sikh religion. In East Malaysia Shamanism is practiced. The currency is the ‘ringgit’ and natural resources are tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas and bauxite. See also Thailand's Neighbours & Beyond.

malet phak chih (เมล็ดผักชี)

Thai for ‘coriander seed’, a spice used in cuisine for flavouring. It is one of several spices used to make phalo powder, an ingredient to make khai phalo, for one. See also phak chih.

ma-li (มะลิ)

Thai for jasmine, a shrub of the genus Jasminum. There are many different species, including Arabian Jasmine (Jasminum sambac), which is known in Thai as ma-li son (มะลิซ้อน). The Thai varieties have white scented flowers and its flower buds (fig.) are used as the main item in most phuang malai garlands (fig.). In Thailand, it is considered a symbol for maternal love and has been assigned to be the flower of Wan Mae, i.e. Mother Day. Another specific, newly discovered species of Thai jasmine is named after King Bhumipol Adulyadej (Bhumipon Adunyadet), i.e. Jasminum bhumibolianum (fig.). Ma-li is also the first name of Nang Ma-li Duangdi, currently the tallest Thai national. See also POSTAGE STAMP (1), (2) and (3).

ma-li farang (มะลิฝรั่ง)

Thai. ‘Western (farang) jasmine (ma-li)’. Name for a shrub in the family Apocynaceae, with the scientific designation Tabernaemontana cumingiana, and known in English by its generic name Milkwood. It is also called phut farang (พุดฝรั่ง) and phut tuhm (พุดตูม), and is comparable to another shrub known as Tabernaemontana corymbosa, a very similar species of plant in the same family, which is known in Thai as sang lah (สั่งลา). It originates from India, but can also be found in many other countries of South, East and Southeast Asia. It grows to about 2 meters tall and has somewhat spiny branches with milky sap, which is poisonous if ingested. It blooms almost year-round, bearing flowers with white petals and a pale yellowish centre. The flowers are similar in shape to the flower emblem depicted on the flag of Hong Kong, though that is actually supposed to be a stylized representation of a Hong Kong orchid (Bauhinia blakeana), a flower and tree very similar to the Indian orchid (Bauhinia purpurea - fig.).

Malihwaraat (มาลีวราช)

Thai. Name of a wise king in the story Ramakien, who spoke the truth and was just. He decreed that Totsakan must return Sida to Phra Ram, but Totsakan refused. In iconography, he is usually depicted with a white complexion, eigth arms and four faces, and thus often appears very similar to Phra Phrom, i.e. the Hindu god Brahma. Often referred to as thao Malihwaraat and also spelled Maleewaraj.

Ma-li Duangdi (ะลิ ดวงดี)

Thai. Name of a lady from Trat and of Mon origin, who with a length of 212 centimeters is currently the tallest Thai national. READ ON.


Name for a species of dabbling duck, with the binomial name Anas platyrhynchos, which is also commonly known as Wild Duck. It is thought to be the most abundant and wide-ranging duck on the planet. The adult drake has a bottle green head and neck atop a white neckband, a chestnut to purplish coloured chest, a grey body, orange legs and feet, a yellowish-olive bill tipped with black, and a curled centre tail feather. Adult females have a mottled drab brown-buff plumage, with a very faint white collar, and a black and orange bill. Both sexes have iridescent purple-blue wing patches, that are lined with a black and a white bar at both the front and hind edges. In males, these patches are best visible during flight, whereas in females they are sometimes visible on the hind flanks as they rest. Chicks are brown with yellowish cheeks and supercilium, a black eye-stripe, buffy-white underparts, and a dark grey bill. After about two months, juveniles become similar to females, but darker and with heavily streaked underparts. As they reach maturity and slowly change to the adult plumage, males will get a yellowish-olive bill and females a black and orange bill. In the non-breeding season, adult males will change into eclipse plumage, becoming less colourful and more female-like again.

Malunthakeson (มาลุนทเกสร)

Thai name of a monkey-warrior character from the Ramakien. He is an ally of Phra Ram (fig.) and belongs to the camp of Meuang Khiet Kheun (เมืองขีดขิน), which is ruled by Phali (fig.). He is described as having a pale purplish-indigo fur. He wears a golden taab, a decorative and protective neckpiece, as well as a golden kabang-style crown. He is usually depicted with his mouth closed. He is one of the eighteen Wahnon Sip-paet Mongkut, who in his previous chaht or incarnation, was the deity Phra Phareuhadsabodih, the god of Thursday as well as of learning (fig.). Also transcribed Malunthagesorn. See also LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS.

Malva Nut Tree

See samrong.

Ma Mian (马面)

Chinese.Horse-Face’. Name of a guardian of the Underworld in Chinese mythology. READ ON.

ma muang (มะม่วง)

Thai for mango. A tree and fruit of the genus Mangifera indica with a large variety of species, the most popular in Thailand being ma muang ok rong.

ma muang fah lan (มะม่วงฟ้าลั่น)

Thai. ‘Thundering mango’. A mango with a green skin and yellowy spots. Fruits mainly in the month of April. It makes a slight sound (lan) when peeled, hence its name fah lan (thunder). The flesh is yellow and quite sweet.

ma muang himaphan (มะม่วงหิมพานต์)

Thai for cashew nut.

ma muang man (มะม่วงมัน)

Thai collective term for all mangoes eaten when still green and consequently still hard and sour.

ma muang nahm dok mai (มะม่วงน้ำดอกไม้)

Thai. ‘Barracuda mango’. Name for a sweet and soft mango with yellow flesh.

ma muang ok rong (มะม่วงอกร่อง)

Thai name for a popular kind of mango.

ma muang raed (มะม่วงแรด)

Thai. ‘Rhino mango’. A kind of hard mango with a green skin, which is in season from April to May, and is grown especially in the province of Chachengsao, where it is a local specialty. The name derives from the peculiar hook that grows from its side at the top and resembles a rhinoceros' horn (fig.), an animal that in Thai is known as raed.

ma muang maengwan (มะม่วงแมงวัน)

Thai name for the Rajayatana Tree.

man (mẩn)

Vietnamese. Name of a traditional, tubular style of female headdress from northern Vietnam, in which the end of a girl's long hair is tied together like a sausage and worn around the head, somewhat like a turban.

manao (มะนาว)

1. Common Thai term for ‘lemon’, but the word is also used for ‘citron’ and at times even for ‘lime’. In practice the word is used generally for several species. In Hinduism lemons are used as a medium or go-between of the gods, used to eradicate ominous spirits and ghosts, as well as bad things. As an offer they are made into garlands called phuang manao (fig.) and during the festival of Vijayadazaami they are seen everywhere, from decorations on chariots (fig.) to dangling from hooks that are pierced to spiritualist mediums in trance (fig.). Throughout many parts of Southeast Asia, dried slices of lemon are used as natural deodorizer and in Thailand also as replacement for urinal cakes.

2. Thai. Name for a style of Buddhist monk's alms bowl, with a shape commonly used today and usually referred to as baat song manao (ทรงมะนาว), i.e. ‘lemon-shaped alms bowl’. This style of alms bowl has been in use for around 90 years.

manao fak thong (มะนาวฟักทอง)

Thai. Name for a rare kind of lemon (manao) that has the shape and size of a small pumpkin (fak thong). For a lemon it is rather large in size and it has a fairly thick and juicy rind. Its taste is similar to other lemons in general.

manao hoh (มะนาวโห่)

Thai for karanda, besides the full name manao mai ruh hoh.

manao kwai (มะนาวควาย)

Thai for ‘lime’ of the species Citrus medica linn. var. linetta, but the term may also be used for ‘citron’ and for ‘lemon’. Literally kwai manao means ‘buffalo lemon’.

manao mai ruh hoh (มะนาวไม่รู้โห่)

Thai for karanda, in addition to the shorter manao hoh.

Manchurian Crane

Common name of a large bird in the crane family Gruidae, with the scientific name Grus japonensis, and also commonly called Japanese Crane and Red-crowned Crane. It is found from China to Japan, and is similar in appearance to the Common Crane, i.e. with black-tipped secondaries and long, drooping tertials, mixed with black plumes, a blackish head and upper-neck, with a red patch on the crown, and a broad white band from the ear-coverts down to the upper neck, but with an overall white plumage rather than grey. In Thai, it is known as nok krarian mongkut daeng (นกกระเรียนมงกุฎแดง), i.e. ‘Red-crowned Crane’.

mandala (मण्डल)

Sanskrit. ‘Circle’. A complex and mystic diagram symbolizing the universe and used as an object of meditation in Vajrayana Buddhism. They usually comprise one or more circles (fig.) divided into geometrical figures and with representations of buddhas, deities and their pantheons. In the Tibetan branch of Vajrayana Buddhism, the mandala may also be made from coloured sand (fig.), and is usually destroyed once it has been completed, to symbolize the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life. In Tibet, the sand mandala is known as kilkhor and often represents a ‘time-wheel’ or kalachakra. In Thai, the mandala is sometimes referred to as monthon. Besides mystic diagrams, also other religious paintings are created by mandala artists (fig.), which are used both for meditation and as decorative art.

Mandalay Bodaw (မန္တလေးဘိုးတော်)

Burmese. ‘Lord Grandfather of Mandalay’. One of 37 nats that belong to the official pantheon of spirits worshipped in Myanmar. In life, he was the son of a brahmin and was killed for not properly supervising Shwe Hpyin Gyi and Shwe Hpyin Nge, sons of Popa Medaw (fig.), who were negligent in their duties and were consequently executed on the orders of King Anawrahta (fig.) for not having placed bricks near a pagoda, as ordered by the king. Mandalay Bodaw's sister was killed together with him for hiding the two brothers, and thus became the nat Shingwa. Mandalay Bodaw is usually portrayed standing on a pedestal with a sword on his shoulder and a hand raised while pointing a finger upward. See also LIST OF BURMESE NATS.

Mandalay International Airport

Currently, one of three international airports in Myanmar, the others being in Kalaymyo and Yangon. Its terminal is located some 35 kilometers south of Mandalay city (fig.). It has a 4,267 meter long runway, which at its opening in 1999 was reportedly the longest landing strip in use in Southeast Asia. The modern terminal building is fitted with traditional Burmese multi-tiered, spire-like, pyatthat-style roofs, creating an exotic atmosphere. See also PANORAMA PICTURE and MAP.

Mandalay Nandaw (မန္တလေး နန်းတော်)

Burmese. ‘Mandalay Palace’. Name of the Mandalay Royal Palace (fig.), a fortified citadel located to the north of the city center. READ ON.

mandapa (मण्डप)

Sanskrit. ‘Pavilion’. In India an open hall in front of the entrance to a Jain or Hindu sanctuary. In Khmer temples it is the projecting porch to the main shrine. In Thailand it is called mondop, and consists generally of an open square building with a pyramidal or four arched roof, used to house distinguished religious objects or texts.

Mandara (मन्दर)

Sanskrit. The mountain that the gods used with the demons and Ananta to churn the ‘Ocean of Milk’ (fig.). It is believed to be a spur or peak of Mt. Meru (fig.), and the abode of Krishna as Madhusudana, i.e. the destroyer of a demon with the name Madhu, who was killed by Krishna and then buried underneath Mt. Mandara.


1. A high public or government official or a scholar of Imperial China (fig.). Originally, the word meant simply ‘official’ or ‘functionary’ and derives from the Sanskrit word mantrī (मन्त्री), which means ‘secretary’ or ‘counselor’. See also Mandarin square.

2. A loose skinned citrus of China, somewhat flat and orangey in colour, and with the binomial name Citrus reticulata (fig.). In Chinese tradition, oranges are popular fortune fruits given to beloved ones during Trut Jihn, i.e. Chinese New Year. The giving of mandarins or oranges represents the wish to share ones fortune, with their colour symbolizing gold, a commodity that Chinese people typically give to each other during Chinese New Year. In Thai mandarins ar known as som jihn (ส้มจีน), literally ‘Chinese oranges’.

3. A vernacular of China, spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. It was the administrative language of China during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and in Thailand it is referred to as Phasa Jihn Klahng (จีนกลาง), i.e. ‘Middle Chinese’.

Mandarin Duck

Name of a species of medium-sized duck, with the scientific name Aix galericulata. Adult males have a bulky head and striking colours. Its face is buffish-brown, the forehead dark green, the crown blackish-blue and the upper part of the nape dark brown. The lower sides of the face are buffish-brown and appear somewhat streaked, while the throat and breast are very dark purplish-brown, and the lower part of the nape and mantle are blackish-blue to dark green. It has a long whitish supercilium, as well as two vertical white bars that run from the neck to the lower breast, and a reddish bill. Furthermore, it has buffish underparts, with a white vent, brown wings and two orange, upright, sail-like wingtips at the back. Adult females are overall grayish-brown, with whitish spots on the breast and flanks, a white eyering, and a pale eyestripe. In addition, it has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill. Junveniles are similar to females, but more brownish and with a paler eyering, whilst their breast and flank markings are also less distinct. In Thai it is known as pet maendarin (เป็ดเเมนดาริน).

Mandarin square

Name for a large, square, embroidered rank badge for civilian officials, such as scholars, during the Ming and Qing Dynasties in China. READ ON.

mandir (मन्दिर्, मंदिर)

Sanskrit for ‘temple’, as in Dev Mandir (देव मन्दिर्), i.e. the ‘Temple of the Gods’, a name for Hindu temples with a traditional shrine room that houses a pantheon of various deities from Hinduism. See also deva. WATCH VIDEO.


Tamil. Name of a Hindu-Tamil deity, who also referred to as Maneeswaran and Manishvara. His name is a compound of the word mani, which means ‘Saint’, and the name ‘Ishvara’, a title given to Shiva. As such, he is considered a form of Shiva and his weapon is accordingly a trident (trisula). In temples, usually lemons are placed upon the prongs. They are a medium or go-between of the gods, used to eradicate ominous spirits and ghosts, as well as bad things. Maneeswarar is generally worshiped either as a fierce deity, or as a peaceful god. Those who worship him in his fierce form offer animal sacrifices, liquor, and lit cigars or cigarettes, which are placed in his mouth. Those who worship him in his peaceful form offer him roti and rice milk. He is often worshipped alongside Karuppu. Sometimes transcribed Muneeswarar. See also mani.

Man Fatt Lam (万佛林)

Chinese. Name of a Mahayana Buddhist temple in Singapore, that serves mainly as a funeral and cremation centre. READ ON.

Maneki-neko (招き猫)

Japanese. ‘Beckoning Cat’. According to legend, the wooden house of an old woman in Tokyo caught fire one day. Unaware of what was happening, her cat beckoned the old woman to follow her outside, using her paw. Curious of what the cat was up to the lady followed outside and was consequently saved from burning to death. Hence, figurines of a beckoning cat are believed to bring good luck. Later on, statues of a beckoning cat that makes a welcoming gesture with one paw, often holding an ancient coin with the other, appeared. They are said to invite happiness and good fortune, its meaning dependent on its colour. Thus, a white cat invites happiness whilst a golden cat brings richness. If its left paw is raised it invites prosperity. It is often found displayed in shops to attract good business. In Thai called Maew Kwak. See also Nang Kwak.

Mangkala Ubon (มังคลอุบล)

Thai. Name for a species of water lily, with the botanical name Nymphaea mangkala ubol and commonly as the Mangala-ubol Water Lily. READ ON.

mangkon (มังกร)

Thai for dragon.

Mangkonkan (มังกรกัณฐ์)

Thai name of a giant or yak from the Ramakien (fig.). In a previous incarnation, he was the buffalo Torapi (fig.). After he was slain in a fight by the monkey-king Phali (fig.), due to a curse of the god Idsuan, he was now reborn as the son of Phaya Khon (พญาขร), who is also referred to as Phraya Khon (พระยาขร), and Nang Ratchada (รัชฎา). He joined Indrachit in battle against Rama, when Indrachit shot the nagabaat, i.e. the arrow that changed into a naga and tied Rama and Lakshmana down, but was eventually killed himself by an arrow of Phra Ram. He has a green (fig.) to greenish-blue complexion and wears a chadah-style crown, which is topped with the figure of a naga, similar to Wirunhok (fig.). He is one of the 12 giants that stand guard at the check-in hall of Bangkok's International Airport Suwannaphum (fig.), as well as one of the 12 giants, set up in 6 pairs, that guard the entrances in the enclosure of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (fig.), i.e. Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok, where he is erected in pair with Wirunhok (fig.). He is also one of the giants in the thepchumnum (fig.) of the two golden redented chedis at the compound, in which 4 monkeys and 16 giants from the Ramakien support the base of these pagodas, which were built by King Rama I to house the ashes of his parents, i.e. those of his mother in the gilded chedi on the North, and those of his father in the gilded chedi on the South. In Khon, i.e. Thai traditional dance, the masked dancer may wear a mask with a golden face with just a few green decorative lines by which this giant can than be identified as such. See LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS, and TRAVEL PICTURE.

mangkut (มังคุค)

Thai for mangosteen.

mang ming (หมั่งหมิง)

Thai-Chinese. Chinese method in which unwanted facial hairs are removed by putting Chinese toilet powder on the face whilst using a set of strings, that are pinched together to grab the hairs and pull them out. It is amongst others practiced on the sidewalks of Charoen Krung Road in Yaowaraht, Bangkok's Chinatown. The method claims to also help prevent acne, but is said to be rather painful, especially around certain spots, such as the lips, the hairline and the eyes.


Name of an evergreen, long-lived, tropical fruiting tree (fig.), that can grow well over thirty meters tall and has the Latin botanical name Mangifera indica. READ ON.

Mango Baron

Common name for a butterfly with the scientific designation Euthalia aconthea garuda and native to Sri Lanka, India and Southeast Asia, including Thailand, where it is referred to as phi seua baron non ma muang (ผีเสื้อบารอนหนอนมะม่วง).


Evergreen tree of the genus Garcinia mangostana which grows up to twelve meters with fruits of the same name in a purple shell. It is known as the ‘queen of fruits’, with the durian being the ‘king of fruits’. Its sweet cream-coloured flesh is soft, succulent and made up of several pieces. At the bottom of the thick rind is a small flowerlike ‘crown’ of which the number of ‘petals’ indicate how many peaces of flesh of fruit are inside. It is thus possible to tell from the outside how many slices it will have on the inside. It is generally believed that eating this fruit gives renewed strength and lowers the body temperature. Its season is from April to September. In Thai called mangkut. It belongs to the same genus as the madan (Garcinia schomburgkiana pierre).

Mango-stem Borer

A species of beetle in the family Cerambycidae and with the scientific name Batocera rufomaculata. READ ON.


Name of a tropical tree or shrub growing in coastal wetlands near brackish and salt water areas of estuaries, including coastlines and shores. READ ON.

Mangrove Apple

Species of mangrove, with the scientific name Sonneratia alba. It grows up to 15 meters tall and has thick, cone-shaped prickle roots, called pneumatophores, which are used to exclude salt and that allows it to grow in and near saline water. It has no buttresses roots and its bark is creamy grey to brown, with slight vertical fissures. The bark of young trees is covered with a layer of wax, which most likely serves to protect it against water loss, as well as attacks by creatures great and small. Its fruit consists of circa 4 centimeters large, green, leathery berries, with a star-shaped base, that contain tiny, white seeds. They are are flattened and buoyant, and when ripe the fruit is edible and is said to taste like cheese. The rounded, leathery leaves are also edible and may be eaten either raw or cooked. Besides this, the tree is used for firewood, though it is not the preferred mangrove tree for this purpose. In Thai it is known as lamphaen thalae, which could be translated as ‘Sea Sonneratia’. It is one of four species of Sonneratia found in Thailand, the others being Sonneratia caseolaris, Sonneratia ovate and Sonneratia griffithii.

Mangrove Catsnake

A mildly poisonous snake in the family Colubridae and with the scientific name Boiga dendrophila melanota. It is often seen in South-East Asia, including in West Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, and of all Boiga dendrophila subspecies, this is the one with the largest distribution area. The body and tail are glossy black with narrow yellow bars, which sometimes are no more than a few spots and do not usually meet over the back. The Mangrove Catsnake can grow up to about 2.5 meters in length and may have up to 54 bands or groups of spots. This snake is very defensive and will hiss and strike repeatedly when disturbed or provoked. Though rear-fanged, it can open it's mouth very wide and could sink its fangs into a person. Once it bites, it will hold on and chew, though its venom is rarely harmful to humans. Mangrove Catsnakes are found in mangrove swamps and along forest streams in humid lowland forests, where they can often be seen on branches overhanging water. In Thailand they are mostly found in the South. It is generally referred to as Mangrove Snake and in Thai it is called ngu plong thong, meaning ‘Golden-segment snake’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

Mangrove Pitta

Common name for a small terrestrial bird, with the scientific name Pitta megarhyncha. It is one of twelve species of Pitta, that occur in Thailand, and a resident breeder. It is very similar tot the Blue-winged Pitta, which only comes to Thailand to breed, yet differs by a thicker and longer bill, and the near absence of the black line on the crown. Its natural habitat includes mangrove forests. In Thai it is called nok taew laew pah gohng gahng.

Mangrove Pit Viper

A highly aggressive and fierce, venomous pit viper. Though dangerous, its bite is rarely fatal to humans. This nocturnal snake is found in mangrove and lowland forests. It has a blackish olive-brown crown with granular head scales and its body, which is greenish yellow with dark blotches, is strongly keeled. The abdominal scales are white with black edges, whilst the subcaudals, i.e. the scales on the underside of the tail, are mainly black. A light, almost white line on the first row of scales bordering the abdomen may be present. A second colour variety is uniformly purplish brown. As with all pit vipers, it is distinguished by the presence of a heat-sensing pit organ located between the eye and the nostril on either side of the head (fig.). Its diet consists of lizards, birds, rodents and frogs. It has the binomial name Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus and in Thai it is called ngu phang kah. Also known as Shore Pit Viper.

Mangrove Terrapin

Common name for a large species of river turtle with the scientific designation Batagur baska. It is one of the largest turtles in the family of Emydidae, reaching a carapace length of at least 60 centimeters. Its carapace has smooth scutes, making it perfectly modified for swimming in the tidal currents of mangrove estuaries. Typically, it has four claws on its front legs. Adult males are somewhat smaller than females, and have longer, thicker tails. Also known as Giant River Turtle and in Thai called tao kra-ahn.

mangsawirat (มังสวิรัติ)

Thai term for ‘vegetarian’, often used as a synonym for jae, which literally means ‘fasting’, yet traditionally refers to a period of time when one refrains from eating meat, and hence becomes vegetarian. See also Vegetarian Festival.

Mangu (曼谷)

Chinese. ‘Large valley’ or ‘beautiful valley’. Name for Bangkok. See also Big Mango.

Ma Ngwe Taung (မငွေတောင်)

Burmese. ‘Miss Silver Mountain’. Name of a female so-called outside nat, i.e. a nat that does not belong to the official pantheon of 37 nats worshipped in Myanmar. She is described as the spirit of a Hindu woman of Burmese Indian descent, who was seduced by the nat Min Kyawzwa (fig.) when both were still humans. She was eventually abandoned by him and pined for him so much that her brother became angry and pushed her off a cliff near Monywa. As a nat she now helps women abandoned by husbands or lovers. An annual festival is held in her honour, in which devotees would bring offerings, though as she was a Hindu, beef offerings are strictly forbidden. She is also known as simply Ngwe Taung.

mani (मणि, มณี)

Sanskrit. ‘Gem’ or ‘jewel’. Name for flat stones, stone plates, rocks and pebbles from Tibet that have mantras, prayers or sacred script written on them. Mani stones are piled up and are considered very holy, hence they should never be picked up or collected. Mani walls at Buddhist locations are built of stones with sacred inscriptions. The largest pile of mani stones is located in Tibet and has over two billion stones. The idea is that how bigger the pile gets the more benefit it will bring, a principle reminiscent of that with Buddha images of which it is believed that the bigger they are or the more there are gathered together, the more energy they radiate. Buddhist prayer wheels are also known as mani wheels (fig.).

Mani (มานิ)

Name of an ethnic minority group of Negrito people found in the southern Thai provinces. READ ON.

Manibhadra (मनिभद्र)

Sanskrit. Protector of travellers and ruler of the yakshas.

Mani Mekhala (มณีเมขลา)

See Mekhala.


Common name for a small plant (fig.) of the genus Manihot, mainly cultivated in the province of Kanchanaburi for its thick root from which tapioca is harvested (fig.). It is also known as cassava and in Thai called mansampalang and mansamrohng.

man jihn (มันจีน)

Thai. ‘Chinese tuber’. A kind of edible root, also known as man thet (มันเทศ), which is mainly sold on markets, especially Chinese ones, such as along Yaowaraht Road in Bangkok's Chinatown. It is a kind of sweet potato that looks like a elongated potato but with a reddish-purple skin. On the outside, it looks similar to another root called man muang (มันม่วง), but the former has a reddish-purple skin with yellow flesh, while the flesh of ma muang is purple. Both varieties are cultivars of a plant with the same binomial name, i.e. Ipomoea batatas. However, darker sweet potatoes are also referred to as yam and dark purple tubers, i.e. the roots of a plant with the botanical names Dioscorea alata and Dioscorea rubella, as purple yam (fig.).

Manjushri (मंजुश्री)

Sanskrit. The god of learning and wisdom, a bodhisattva of Mahayana Buddhism. His attribute is a scroll or book, which represents the Prajnaparamita, whilst his mount is a lion, and his consort Sarasvati, the wife of Brahma in Hinduism. He is sometimes depicted wielding a flaming sword in his right hand, symbolizing his realization of wisdom, which cuts through ignorance and wrong views, whilst the scroll or book represents his attainment of ultimate wisdom and Enlightenment. In art, especially in Chinese and sometimes in Thai  iconography, he is also depicted riding a lion and holding a ruyi in the form of a lotus (fig.). In China, he is known as ‘the bodhisattva of keen awareness’ and called Wen Shu (fig.), which means ‘Unique Culture’, and in Tibetan art, he is sometimes depicted in a wrathful form, usually with multiple arms (fig.), and in his ferocious manifestation as Yamantaka (fig.). He is one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (fig.). Also spelled Manjusri and Manchusri, and in Thai known as Phra Manchusri Photisat (พระมัญชุศรีโพธิสัตว์ - fig.). Although under dispute, some sources say that the northeastern Chinese tribe, that eventually became the last Imperial Dynasty of China, i.e. the  Manchu Dynasty, which is also known as the Qing Dynasty, was named after Manchusri.

Manmatha (मन्मथ)

Sanskrit. ‘Churner or agitator [of the mind]’. An epithet of Kama, the god of love. See also Madana.

manohara (मनोहर)

Sanskrit for ‘enchanting’. Manohra, the name of the longest existing dance drama in Thailand, is derived from it.

Manohra (มโนห์รา)

1. Thai. Longest existing dance drama in Thailand with similar themes to the Ramakien. READ ON.

2. Daughter of the King of the kinnons, who eventually marries Phra Suthon.

Manorah (มโนราห์)

Thai. Another spelling for Manohra.

Man Phoorithattoh (มั่น ภูริทตโต)

Thai. Name of a revered Buddhist monk, who is usually referred to as Phra Ajaan Man, i.e. ‘Determined Teacher Monk’. He was born in Ubon Ratchathani on 20 January 1870 AD and passed away on 11 November 1949 in Sakon Nakhon. He preferred a solitary life in the forest and in caves, and is credited with establishing the Thai Forest Tradition, in which practitioners dwell in so-called forest temples called wat pah. He was very persistent and became known as the greatest meditation teacher in Isaan. Hence, he was a very sought after personality for advice on Enlightenment and meditation. Being a bhikku from the Isaan region, the largest statue of Luang Poo Man in the world is today found in Nakhon Ratchasima (fig. - map), i.e. the Gate to Isaan (fig. - map). The name Phoorithattoh drives from Phoorithatta (ภูริทตต), which means ‘Dispenser of Wisdom’. See also TRAVEL PICTURE and POSTAGE STAMP.

mansampalang (มันสำปะหลัง)

Thai name for manioc, the plant from which root cassava or tapioca is made. Also mansamrohng.

mansamrohng (มันสำโรง)

Thai name for manioc, the plant from which root cassava or tapioca is made. Also mansampalang.

mantis shrimp

See kang.

mantra (मन्त्र)

Sanskrit. ‘Mystical syllables’. A mystical incantation or religious chant. It has a magical intention when used by Hindus. A stimulating phonetic symbol that evokes and revives the deity being worshipped. Its sound is more important than its meaning. One of the most commonly seen and heard incantations is the six syllable mantra Aum mani padma hum. In Thai pronounced mon. See also om.

Mantrayana (मन्त्रयान)

See Vajrayana.

manussa (မနုဿ)

Pali-Burmese term for ‘human’.

manussaloka (မနုဿလောက)

Pali-Burmese. ‘Human world’, i.e. one of the six lower celestial worlds in Buddhism, that make up the kamaloka, i.e. the world of the five senses. The term is a compound of the words manussa and loka, and the Thai word manut (มนุช), which means ‘human’, derives of the Pali word manussa.

Manuthiha (မနုဿီဟ)

Pali-Burmese. Man-lion. Name of a mythological, sphinx-like creature, with a body that is half man and half lion, found in Myanmar. It is often found as sculptural art in temples, depicted on the corners of zedi. According to legend, it was created by Buddhist monks to protect newborn royalty. It is similar to Narasimha, yet differs in this that the latter has the body of a man with the head of a lion, whereas in Manuthiha the head and front body are those of a man and the back that of a lion. It could rather be seen as the Burmese equivalent of the Thai Thepnorasi (fig.), but sitting rather than standing or walking upright. Statues of Manuthiha can also be found in Thailand (fig.), especially in towns close to the border with Myanmar, e.g. Sangkhlaburi, Mae Hong Son, Mae Saai, etc. Pronunciation is Manu Thi Ha, yet it is also referred to as Manussiha, a compound term that consists of the words manussa, meaning ‘human’; and siha, meaning ‘lion’.

Manutsayanaak Manop (มนุษยนาคมานพ)

Thai. ‘Human naga of the people’ or ‘he who is a naga among men’. Royal name at birth of a prince, who went on to become the tenth Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, in office from 1910 to 1921 AD. He was the 47th child of King Mongkhut, i.e. Rama IV (fig.). As Phrasangkaraat he was given the clerical name Wachirayahnawarohrot. Due to his royal descent, this patriarch may in Thai be referred to as Phrasangkaraat Chao, rather than the usual Phrasangkaraat, which is used for patriarchs who were born as commoners. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.

mao bi (毛笔)

Chinese. ‘Hairy pen’ or ‘furry writing brush’. Name for an ink brush used in Chinese calligraphy and painting (fig.). They are normally made from real animal hair, such as goat’s hair, rabbit hair or the tail hairs of a weasel, and with a stalk from bamboo, although other materials, such as baby hair and stalks made from jade, ivory, sandalwood or other precious materials, are also used for more luxurious brushes. Synthetic materials are not used. In English it is called Chinese writing brush or ink brush and it is part of the wen fang si bao (fig.).

maphlab (มะพลับ)

A Thai name for persimmon.

ma-poo (มะปู่)

Thai. Short for makheua poo.

maprahng (มะปราง)

Thai. Name for a plum-like tropical fruit tree native to Southeast Asia and with the scientific botanical name Bouea macrophylla, commonly known as gandaria. The sweet fruits are edible and have a somewhat hard, yet thin yellowish skin. Its fruiting season is from March to April. When young, also the leaves of the tree can be eaten and may be used in salads. There are two similar varieties, i.e. mapring (Bouea oppositifolia), known by the common names kundang and remenia; and mayong (Bouea burmanica - fig.), commonly known as marian plum. There is yet another species with the binomial name Bouea microphylla, which in Thai is also referred to as mapring. However, since Bouea microphylla shows some differences from Bouea oppositifolia, it has been reinstated as a distinct species, and while the two species are morphologically close, the former differs in its smaller leaves and fruits, as well as its inflorescence position. All varieties are related to the mango tree and are hence in English often indiscriminately referred to as plum mango (fig.) or mango plum.

maprao (มะพร้าว)

Thai for coconut. Also transcribed maphrao.

mapring (มะปริง)

A variety of the maprahng, with the botanical name Bouea oppositifolia and known by the common names kundang and remenia. The Thai name is also used for another species with the binomial name Bouea microphylla. Since Bouea microphylla shows some differences from Bouea oppositifolia, it has been reinstated as a distinct species, and while the two species are morphologically close, the former differs in its smaller leaves and fruits, as well as its inflorescence position. Like the other genera it is also commonly referred to by the umbrella name plum mango (fig.).

maqbara (مقبرا, मक़बरा)

Arabic-Hindu. ‘Place of burial’. A term used either for a Muslim tomb (fig.), or for a chamber or compartment within a larger mausoleum, to refer to the exact location of the grave. The term derives from the word qabr, which means ‘grave’. Though the term in general refers to the graves of all Muslims, it is especially used to refer to the graves of exemplary Muslim figures who dedicated their life in service to Islam.

maqsura (مقصورة)

Arabic. ‘Closed-off space’. The arched façade of a mosque, Also transcribed maqsurah.

ma-ra (มะระ)

See bitter gourd.

Mara (मार)

Sanskrit. ‘Destroyer, tempter’. Name of an important god that rules over the eleven levels of the World of Desire, derived from the Sanskrit root mri of the word mriti, meaning ‘death’, and thus the god of desire and death. He is the personification of evil and one of the five devils that tried to tempt the Buddha just before his Enlightenment. Although Mara tried to hinder him by sending him certain distractions Siddhartha Gautama seated in meditation under the bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya refused to leave until he had found true understanding. He is usually portrayed in a fierce form with several arms, and in India he is found in the pratyalidha asana (fig.). In both Thailand and in Myanmar, he is often portrayed with a sword trying to stop the Siddhartha and his horse Kanthaka during the Great Departure (fig.). In Thai pronounced Maan. See also mriti and amrita.

marapajon (มารผจญ)

Thai. ‘Battle with Mara’. Thai term that refers to the scene during maravijaya.


Another transliteration for maravijaya.

maravijaya (मारविजया, มารวิชัย)

Sanskrit-Pali-Thai. ‘Victory over Mara’. A name for the most common mudra in Thai-Buddhist iconography, also known as bhumisparsa. It symbolizes the episode from the Buddha's legendary life story when he was seated in meditation under a fig tree in Bodh Gaya and vowed not to leave from there until he had gained Enlightenment. Mara, the god of desire and death, tried to hinder him by sending a number of distractions and temptations, including some young girls. Upon this the Buddha touched the earth with his right hand calling for the goddess of earth Mae Phra Thoranee (fig.). She came to his aid by wringing water from her long hair thus washing Mara and his army of demons away, a scene in Thailand known as marapajon (fig.). In this way the Buddha was saved from the temptations of desire and called upon the earth goddess to bear witness of his accumulated merits from former lives. The Buddha made this mudra seated in the half lotus position. Occasionally this episode is portrayed with a pahng nahg prok posture (fig.). Also maravichaya.

Marbled Cat

Common name of a small wild cat with an arboreal life-style, which is found in South and Southeast Asia. Similar in size to a domestic cat, it is easily distinguished by its long and densely furred tail, which may be as long as or longer than its body, as well as its large feet. It has a thick fur, that varies in background colour from dark grey-brown to red-brown, and which is patterned with dark spots on the forehead and crown, that merge into narrow longitudinal stripes on the neck, and irregular stripes on the back. Additionally, the back and flanks are marked with dark, irregular dark-edged marks, whilst the legs and underparts are patterned with black blotches. The long tail has black spots proximally and black rings distally. The Marble Cat has the scientific designation Pardofelis marmorata and is listed as endangered, with an estimated population of less than 10,000. As such, it occurs on a Thai postage stamp issued in 1975 as part of a set on protected wild animals (fig.), and again in 2011, as part of a set on wild cats (fig.) in an effort to promote awareness for this vulnerable animal, as well as for wildlife conservation in general. The Marble Cat is said to be closely related to the Asian Golden Cat (fig.).

Marble Temple

See Wat Benjamabophit.

mareuk (มฤค)

Thai for a male deer.

mareukathaiwan (มฤคทายวัน)

Thai name for Mrigadava.

mareuki (มฤคี)

Thai for a female deer.

Mariamman (மாரியம்மன்)

Tamil. ‘Mother Mari’, with amman meaning ‘mother’ and the word mari meaning ‘cloud’ orclouds, ‘rain andshower’. Name for an incarnation of the goddess Kali in South India, where she is considered to be the goddess of rain. Her mount is the lion. Worldwide, there are many temples dedicated to this Hindu deity, most of them of Tamil origin. She is also referred to as Sri Mariamman, Maha Mariamman and Sri Maha Mariamman. Sometimes transliterated Mariyamman.

Marian Plum

Common name for the mayong, a fruit tree with the botanical name Bouea burmanica (fig.). See also maprahng.

Mariht (มารีศ)

Thai. Name of a giant or yak from the Ramakien. He is the son of Kaaknasoon and has a white complexion. He was ordered to spy on Nang Sida (fig.) and in order to accomplish this goal, he changed himself into a golden deer, referred to in Thai as Kwahng Thong (fig.). When Sida saw the golden deer, she wished to posses it and asked Phra Ram (fig.) to catch it for her. However, Phra Ram realized the deer to be a demon in disguise and hence shot and killed it with his arrow. Also transcribed Mareet and Mahrit. See LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS.


See gancha.

Marina Bay

Name of a vibrant and iconic district located in the heart of Singapore. READ ON.

Marina Bay Sands

Name of an iconic integrated resort in Singapore that is known for its distinctive architecture and luxurious amenities. The building is a resort that houses over 2,500 luxurious hotel rooms and suites with modern designs, making it one of the largest hotels in Singapore. Besides a luxury hotel, it also features a convention center, a casino, and a high-end shopping mall.

Marshal of the Central Altar

A title given to Nezha, the Taoist child-deity, which in Chinese is Zhong Tan Yuan Shua, literally ‘First Commander of the Central Alter’.

Marsh Crocodile

See jorakae.

marsh mint

See saranae.

ma-rum (มะรุม)

Thai designation for a tree with the botanical name Moringa oleifera and commonly known as Horseradish Tree or just Moringa. It has extremely high nutritional value and virtually every part of it can be used, but it are the pods that are the most healthy, containing all the essential amino acids, as well as many vitamins and other nutrients. The green, immature pods can be eaten raw or prepared, whereas the mature pods are usually fried. They also yield an edible oil, which has a nutritional value comparable to that of olive oil and besides being clear, sweet and odourless, it is also said to never becomes rancid. In addition, the tree's leaves can be eaten as greens or used for seasoning, the flowers -which are rich in potassium and calcium- are edible but need to be fried or cooked, whilst its root is used as a substitute for horseradish, and the bark for tanning. Besides all of this, the tree also has several medicinal uses and the seeds, especially the seed-cake that remains after the oil has been extracted, have the ability to purify water. Not surprisingly, this tree is sometimes described as nutritional dynamite. Like the Cassia fistula (rachaphreuk), it is also nicknamed Drumstick Tree.

Maruts (मरुत्)

Sanskrit. Vedic storm gods made by the rishi Kashyapa for the goddess Diti, the mother of the asuras, who had asked him for a son powerful enough to destroy Indra, as a revenge for killing the asuras. Her embryo, however, got cut into pieces by Indra who entered her womb with his thunderbolt, and their number increased somewhere between 21 and 180, depending on the myths that narrate their origin.

masayid (مَسْجِدٌ, มัสยิด)

Arabic-Thai. ‘Place of prostration’. A mosque. Also spelt masjid. Sometimes transliterated masyid.

Masayid Kreu Se (มัสยิดกรือเซะ)

Name of a mosque in Pattani, built by Lim To Khieng, a Chinese immigrant who married a local girl and converted to Islam. His sister Lim Ko Niau however sailed from China on a sampan to try and sway her brother to forsake Islam and return to his homeland. In a negative response he demonstrated his faith and started the construction of the masayid in 1578. His sister then put a curse on the mosque, saying it would never be completed. After a final failed attempt to persuade her brother she eventually hanged herself from a nearby cashew nut tree and from grief her brother was unable to finish mosque which to this day remains uncompleted. In April 2004 over a hundred alleged Muslim separatist rebels were killed here by Thai Army troops after they had attacked local police and fled inside the mosque, resisting arrest. See MAP.

Mashi Khana Wih Mahla Phaya Te Kyaung Taw (မရှိခဏဝိမလ ဘရသေ့ကျောင်းသို့)

Burmese. Full name of a temple monument in Inwa, located adjacent and to the east of Lawkataraphu Phaya Kyee (fig.), as well as to the west of the western city gate (fig.) of Ava. It features two zedi of which the pinnacle is gilded while the base is white. At the corners, these pagodas are guarded by mythological lions that are known as chinthe. In the western side of the temple, adjacent to the main hall, is a platform with large Buddha image seated on a naga, while performing a varada mudra with his right hand (fig.). The main hall itself is has small stupa-like edifices on its roof and in the front, along the road,  is a stall with water pots from which any thirsty passerby is allowed to drink freely. See MAP.

Mashi Khana Wih Mahla Phaya The Kyaung Taw

Masked Palm Civet

A species of civet native to the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and China, where this mainly arboreal mammal is found in tropical rainforest and temperate deciduous forest. Its fur is grayish beige to orange-brown. Unlike most other civets, the Masked Palm Civet has no spots or stripes on its body, though it has dark feet, dark ears and dark spots on the face, which are reminiscent of a mask (fig.). Though omnivorous, this nocturnal predator feeds mainly on fruit, but additionally it also feeds on small vertebrates, such as squirrels and birds, as well as on insects. Following the April 2003 outbreak of SARS in Asia, the virus causing the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome was in May 2003 isolated in several Masked Palm Civets in China, placing the animal under suspicion of having been a likely vector of the SARS virus. As a result, around 10,000 Masked Palm Civets were culled in Guangdong Province, though the virus was later also found in other animals. The Masked Palm Civet is also called Himalayan Palm Civet and its Binomial name is Paguma larvata. In Thai it is known as ih-hen kreua.

Masong (ม้าทรง)

Thai. Term used in Thailand for a Taoist spirit medium. The term derives from mah, the Thai word for horse, and song, which means riding. The latter is rajasap, a specialized vocabulary used when speaking about or to sacred people or things. In songmah, which translates to riding a horse, the term reflects how these individuals serve as vessels for spirits, much like a rider on a horse. Typically, only unmarried individuals without families, regardless of gender, can become Masong. Before becoming full-fledged mediums in the festival, Masong undergo a series of protective rituals at the temple to prepare them for intense practices like flagellation and self-mutilation. The Masong tradition bears similarities to the Tang-ki (童乩) practice, which is also prevalent in Chinese communities in Singapore and Malaysia. Tang-ki is the Hokkien word for Tongji, meaning youth diviner. These practitioners, commonly known as spirit mediums, are believed to be chosen by a specific shen (神), which is a Chinese deity or spirit. As spirit mediums, they act as conduits for divine communication. This function aligns them with the Masong, but they differ from a shaman. In Chinese culture, a shaman, known as Wu (巫), is seen as someone who can exert control over the spirit world. In contrast, a Tongji, or spirit medium, is viewed as someone who is entirely under the influence of spiritual forces. During rituals, Masong enter a trance-like state, in which they are believed to be possessed by spirits of deities or deceased ancestors. While under possession, they perform various activities, many of which involve intense physical feats, such as piercing their bodies with sharp objects, walking on fire, climbing bladed ladders, standing on firecrackers, and other displays related to their communication with deities. The Masong often exhibit distinctive behavior during these trances, like shaking their heads vigorously and appearing disconnected from their surroundings. During special occasions, whilst most devotees wear white trousers—typically loose-fitting fisherman pants—, the male Masong will in addition often wear a colourful apron, whereas the female Masong may wear a similar outfit or a kimono style dress. These outfits usually have colours and patterns that symbolize sacredness and their connection to specific deities. The Masong also stand out from regular devotees because they go around barefoot, even outside the shrine's main grounds. Additionally, they may carry various attributes, typically weapons like dragon whips, axes, and swords, along with square handheld banners called command flags, that are either black or yellow in colour and bear Chinese characters and symbols, often a trigram. To exit their state of trance, the Masong approach the altar dedicated to their deity and perform a dramatic ritual. They strike the altar and then seemingly faint, at which point a helper catches them. Another attendant then whispers some incantations and slaps the Masong on the thigh, arm or chest, in order to revive them from their temporary state of unconsciousness. WATCH VIDEO (1) and (2), and VIDEO (E).


See traditional massage.

Master of Healing

See Bhaisajyaguru.

masyid (มัสยิด)

See masayid.

Matanapatha (มัธนะพาธา)

Name of a drama in verse, written in the traditional Chan form, by King Vajiravudh. The story involves a powerful angel named Suthet or Sudeshna (สุเทษณ์), who is intensively in love with the female angel Mathana or Madana (มัทนา), who ignores him. Infatuated, he harbours a grudge against her and turns her into a rose on earth. However, on every full moon (fig.) she will become human and suffer the pain inflicted by her love. Only when she finds true love will she be able to maintain her human form. Created by King Rama VI in 1923, the play ‒known in English as the Legend of the Rose (fig.)‒ was praised by the Literature Club as well-written, mainly because it is composed of verse patterns which require strict use of alternating short and long vowel sounds, and renders the play unique. In 1996, a scene from the story was published on a Thai postage stamp as part of a set on famous classical Thai literary works (fig.). Compare with Qi Qiao Jie and see also