Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Animals of Thailand

The Animals of Thailand

The country of Thailand is the home to many,many animals.  Some are huge, like the Asian Elephant and monitor lizard, and some very tiny, like the Bumble bat.  Many live in the rainforests and some right in town.  Let's learn about a few with the most significance in the culture.

The Elephant:  The National symbol of Thailand, the elephant has always been a large part of the culture of Thailand.  It has been featured on the currency, stamps, and until 1917, was on the flag.  Thai kings keep a stable of white elephants because they are supposed to bring luck.  Some Buddhist temples are built on the ground where an elephant has died and many contain shrines to elephants. 100 years ago there were over 100,000 elephants, both domesticated and wild, today there are fewer than 5,000.  This is mainly due to an increase in people and farms, deforestation and conflicts with farmers.  With more money to be made through tourism than logging many elephants are being moved to the cities where they are in danger from the cars and pollution.  Hopefully this beautiful animals numbers can be restored and the symbol of Thailand can regain the respect it is due.

The Monkey: Monkeys are also very special in Thailand because of a character in the epic tales of the Ramayana.  The Ramayana is a Hindu tale that is also important in the Buddhist culture as well.  It is a collection of teachings and lessons in values that have been told for centuries in many countries.  Because one of the heroes was a monkey they are given a lot of respect.  They are rarely chased away and, in fact, are given free reign in many temples.  They are fed by the monks, the people of the village and, of course, the tourists who come to see them.  Some areas train the monkeys to harvest the coconuts from the trees and apparently a monkey can pick 300 coconuts a day!!

The Snake: Called a "naga" in Thailand, the snake plays an important part in Buddhist culture.  In legend a naga changed into a man in order to become a monk, so now a part of the ordination ceremony is confirming that you are indeed a man and not a snake.
Many Buddhist temples have naga decorations on the stairs and the snake is also featured in many superstitions-
  • If a woman dreams about a snake she will find the man of her dreams in the coming days
  • If a woman dreams of being bitten or crushed by a snake she will be united with her true love
  • If a snake crosses your path there is money coming your way
  • If a big snake comes into the temple to sleep it is said to be a spirit returning.
So because the snake is such an important part of the culture and because my daughter has a deep fear of them that I'm trying to get rid of, we are making "Naga" for our craft!

 Paper Plate Naga (Snakes)

For the project you will need:
  • paper plates
  • scissors
  • paint or markers
  • googly eyes (optional but fun)
  • red felt, ribbon or paper for tongue
                                                 1.  Draw a spiral on the paper plate.  Start with a head and make it smaller as it goes. 
2.  Paint, color or whatever you choose to decorate your snake.   Have fun and make up your own pattern or do a little research and copy a real snakes' design.
                                                  3. Cut along the spiral to turn it into a snake.
4.  Glue on eyes and tongue 


1 comment:

  1. I think I might have my kids at work do this sometime, but I'm going to have them copy real snake designs. Thanks Jenny!!